From the Editors
Oman – Release Immediately and Unconditionally all Detainees of Human Rights Defenders and Activists
The undersigned human rights organizations declare their full and complete solidarity with all Omani human rights defenders who are currently in detention, especially those undertaking hunger strikes. Twenty-four defenders and activists (including Basma Al-Kiyumi, Bassima Al-Rajhi, Saeed Al-Hashemi, Hamad Al-Kharusi, and Bassam Abu Qasida) undertook a hunger strike on 9 February 2013 in Samail Central Prison, protesting the delayed ruling on the appeals that they brought to the Supreme Court against the judgments that were passed against them.
Confirmed reports reveal that the conditions of some of the hunger strikers have deteriorated seriously to the point that some are currently at risk of death. Saeed Al-Hashemi was transferred to the Royal Hospital in Muscat, where a neurologist examined him and confirmed that he is in urgent need of physiotherapy or surgery as a result of an injury on his right side sustained when he was beaten by unknown assailants during peaceful protests in Oman in 2011. The same reports reveal that Hamad Al-Kharusi and Bassam Abu Qasida were transferred to the jail's clinic due to exhaustion caused by their hunger strike.
These human rights defenders were incarcerated following the decisions of the Appeals Court on 5, 12, and 19 December 2012 which upheld sentences of between six months and one year in prison issued against them by the Muscat Court of First Instance in July and August 2012. The defenders were charged with defaming the Sultan, violating the cyber law, unlawful assembly, and disturbing the public order.
The recent series of trials against human rights defenders and activists in Oman started on 31 May 2012, when three human rights defenders - Habiba Al-Hana'i, Ismail Al-Mikbali, and Yaqob Al-Kharusi - were detained while visiting a workers' sit-in. These three defenders had previously established the Omani Group for Human Rights.
The crackdown on rights defenders and democracy activists in Oman escalated when the public prosecutor issued a statement on 4 June 2012 in which he threatened that a lawsuit would be filed against human rights defenders and activists who continued to exercise their right to freedom of expression and to call for reforms, respect for human rights, and the release of detained human rights defenders. This statement was followed by arrests and trials against dozens of activists, including writers, bloggers, human rights defenders, and demonstrators, who were accused of the aforementioned charges.
The undersigned organizations believe that the detention of human rights defenders and activists due solely to their legitimate, peaceful exercise of their rights to free expression and demonstration constitutes a flagrant violation to these basic rights. The organizations are also deeply concerned for the security and safety of human rights defenders and prisoners of conscience who are currently being held in prisons and detention centers in Oman.
The undersigned organizations call on Sultan Qaboos and the Omani government to:
- Immediately and unconditionally release all human rights defenders who were detained as a result of their legitimate participation of their rights to freedom of expression and assembly; and drop all charges related to the exercise of these rights;
- Take all necessary measures to ensure the physical and psychological integrity and security of all detainees;
- Ensure the ability of human rights defenders, activists, and journalists in Oman to carry out their legitimate work freely and without fear of reprisal or judicial harassment.
Moreover, the undersigned organizations call on Omani government to pay special attention to fundamental rights and freedoms guaranteed in the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, especially Paragraph (a) of Article (5), which reads, "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", as well as Paragraph (2) of Article (12), which reads, "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."
- Gulf Center for Human Rights.
- Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies.
- The International Federation for Human Rights.
- Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies.
- The Arab Organization for Human Rights in Syria.
- The Arab Organization for Human Rights.
- Palestinian Center for Human Rights – Gaza.
- Palestinian Human Rights Organization in Beirut.
- Al Haq Center – Palestine.
- Amel Association – Lebanon.
- Arab Women Organization in Jordan.
- Libyan Center for Development and Human Rights.
- Bahrain Center for Human Rights.
- Bahrain Human Rights Society.
- The Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council.
- Amman Center for Human Rights Studies.
- Moroccan Association for Human Rights.
- Yemen Organization for Defending Rights and Democratic Freedoms.
- Mauritanian Association for Human Rights.
- Sudanese Organization for Defending Rights and Freedoms.
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