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Written by HRDs and Journalists
Oman- Human rights defenders on hunger strike in protest against their on-going detention
Beirut, 15 June 2012 -- The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) has received information that human rights defenders Basma Al-Rajehy and Basma Al-Keumy are on hunger strike in protest against their on-going detention and the lack of access to their families and lawyers.
Basma Al-Rajehy is a radio presenter and broadcaster who was detained and tortured by the authorities in 2011. Basma Al-Keumy is a human rights defender and lawyer.
Both women were arrested on 11 June 2012 along with approximately 20 other protestors when security forces and anti-riot police broke up a three-day protest held in front of the
General Police Headquarters in the capital of Muscat. The protestors demands included, respect for human rights and the release of all detained human rights defenders in Oman.
The GCHR issued an appeal following the arrests of the protestors, which came in the context of an on-going crackdown against human rights activists in the country. For further information see GCHR appeal dated 12 June 2012 (http://gc4hr.org/news/view/170).
Following their arrest Basma Al-Rajehy and Basma Al-Keumy commenced a hunger strike against their detention and prison conditions. They are reportedly being held in a group of over thirty people including six women. They continue to be denied access to their families and lawyers.
On 13 June 2012, the Omani Public Prosecutor issued a statement in which he referred to the increase in insulting and slanderous statements and incitement to sit-ins, protests and strikes. He stated that these were “incompatible with the values and ethics of the Omani society and the
principles of freedom of expression” and that they could prejudice national security and damage national interest. By way of reference to the protestors detained he claimed “the instigators have been arrested and will be investigated and brought to the judicial authorities according to legal procedures in force.”
In a telephone call, on the morning of 14 June 2012, Basma Al-Keumy, reported that the Omani Attorney General had visited them in Samail Central prison on June 13 2012. The Attorney General informed her that she and Basma Al-Rajehy will be tried on charges of disrupting traffic and that he has decided to extend their period of imprisonment by another week. She added that all
detainees are still on hunger strike and that they decided after the Attorney General's visit and the decision to extend their detention to stop even taking water.
In a telephone call, on the morning of 14 June 2012, Basma Al-Keumy, reported that the Omani Attorney General has visited them in Samail Central prison on June 13 2012. He told them that they will be tried on charges of disrupting traffic and that he has decided to extend the period of imprisonment for them to another week. She added that all detainees are now on hunger strike and that they decided after this visit and the extension of their imprisonment to stop even taking water.
The GCHR sees the detention of Basma Al-Rajehy and Basma Al-Keumy as being directly related to the legitimate and peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression and believes that their on-going detention constitutes a blatant violation of their basic human rights. The GCHR expresses concern for the physical and psychological security of Basma Al-Rahejy and Basma Al-Keumy as they continue their hunger strike and calls on the authorities to immediately secure their release.
The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) urges the authorities in Oman to:
- Immediately and unconditionally release Basma Al-Rajehy and Basma Al-Keumy and all other human rights defenders detained as a result of their legitimate human rights activities;
- Grant Basma Al-Rajehy and Basma Al-Keumy immediate and unfettered access to their lawyers and families;
- Take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and security of Basma Al-Rajehy and Basma Al-Keumy while they remain in detention;
- Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Oman are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.
GCHR respectfully reminds you that the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted by consensus by the UN General Assembly on 9 December 1998, recognises the legitimacy of the activities of human rights defenders, their right to freedom of association and to carry out their activities without fear of reprisals. We would particularly draw your attention to Article 5: “For the purpose of promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, at the national and international levels: (a) To meet or assemble peacefully ” and to Article 12 (2): “The State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration.”
The Gulf Centre for Human Rights is an independent centre and has been registered in Ireland. The Centre works to strengthen support for human rights defenders and independent journalists in Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.