General News – Omani Association for Human Rights Fri, 06 May 2022 08:23:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 General News – Omani Association for Human Rights 32 32 Oman: Authorities must stop targeting journalist and human rights defender Mukhtar Al-Hinai Fri, 06 May 2022 08:22:20 +0000

The Omani authorities continue to target human rights defenders, journalists, bloggers, and Internet activists in a systematic pattern that they have pursued for many years. Journalist and human rights defender Mukhtar Al-Hinai is subjected to a campaign of judicial harassment, in flagrant violation of his freedom of expression and jeopardising press freedom in Oman.

On 09 March 2022, Al-Hinai posted on his Twitter account the following statement, “The Muscat Court has issued a ruling convicting 8 defendants of a felony of embezzlement and forgery… that occurred in one of the ministries.”

Subsequently, on 15 March 2022, he was summoned by the Public Prosecution Department in Muscat to investigate this tweet. The investigation lasted two hours, after which he was informed that he had been referred to trial under Article 249 of the Omani Penal Code, which includes a prison sentence of no less than one month and no more than two years, and a fine of no less than one hundred (approx. 247 EUR) and no more than one thousand (approx. 2470 EUR) Omani riyals, for anyone who publishes rulings regarding the lawsuits that the court prevented them from publishing. Also, in another arbitrary measure, he was informed of his travel ban. He had to delete his tweet right after the investigation ended.

The Court scheduled the first session of his trial on 08 May 2022, but he received a second phone call informing him that his trial was postponed until 19 June 2022.

Reliable local sources confirmed that the lawsuit is a public one that was filed by the Public Prosecution, while other sources stated that the Ministry of Information had filed a judicial complaint against him.

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and the Omani Association for Human Rights (OAHR) believe that the only reason for postponing his trial is because Oman is hosting the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)’s 31st Congress from 31 May to 03 June 2022 in the capital, Muscat, with the participation of more than 300 journalists representing more than 100 countries.

Al-Hinai is a well-known human rights defender, and one of the prominent activists of the 2011 mass popular protests. He was arrested several times after that, subjected to interrogation and targeting, yet he worked within the shrinking civic space in order to defend the civil and human rights of citizens.

GCHR and OAHR announce their full solidarity with journalist and human rights defender Mukhtar Al-Hinai and condemn the use of the judiciary to violate his rights. We call on all international mechanisms, including those of the United Nations, as well as the International Federation of Journalists, to exert their strenuous efforts to protect him and help put an end to the efforts of the authorities in Oman to silence him. We call for the lawsuit filed against him to be dismissed without conditions.

A fair judiciary can only be completely transparent when it comes to corruption in state departments and ministries, and in these cases, which are of public interest, the law should not be used to punish journalists who seek to reveal the truth to citizens.

The authorities in Oman should immediately stop their systematic campaign aimed at stifling the public freedoms of journalists and other citizens and severely restricting freedom of the press, freedom of opinion, freedom of expression, and freedom of peaceful assembly. They must fulfill their obligations to protect civic space and not harass human rights defenders, including writers, journalists, and Internet activists.

Oman: Internet activist Abu Al-Yasa Al-Rawahi arrested Wed, 23 Feb 2022 12:41:54 +0000 On 17 February 2022, the security forces arrested Internet activist Dr. Abdulmajeed bin Hamoud Al-Rawahi (Abu Yasa Al-Rawahi) due to his criticism of the ruling family. He was released after four days of detention on 21 February 2022.

On 14 February 2022, Abu Yasa Al-Rawahi tweeted on his Twitter account a comment on a photo published on the same day on the Twitter account of the ruling family in Oman, in which he said: “The people are waiting for you to save them from what they are facing and not waiting for you to show family photos wherever you go…. the people are in debt and lack your initiatives and ideas, not photos of a parade.” Informed local sources confirmed that this tweet was the main reason for his arrest.

Abu Yasa Al-Rawahi uses his Twitter account to express his views and defend the civil and human rights of citizens. On 25 December 2021, he tweeted, “Where are the members of the Shura Council… are they alive or among the dead?” The tweet was posted in solidarity with prominent media figure Kholoud Al-Omari, after the Ministry of Information decided on 01 December 2021, in an arbitrary measure that puts freedom of expression in great danger, to remove from the air the “All Questions” program that she was presenting.

On 14 February 2022, Abu Yasa Al-Rawahi asked the following question in a tweet to him, “Why did the government not monitor the electricity, water and sewage companies and give them the right to dispose of fees and pricing on citizens, residents and institutions… Are there founders of these companies who have priority in doubling profits at the expense of the sons of the homeland and the residents?”

Abu Yasa Al-Rawahi lives and works as a specialised veterinarian in the city of Barka, where he previously obtained a doctorate from Murdoch University in Australia. Barka is a coastal city located 85 km from the capital, Muscat.

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and the Omani Association for Human Rights (OAHR) condemn the arbitrary arrest and detention of Internet activist Abdulmajeed bin Hamoud Al-Rawahi (Abu Yasa Al-Rawahi) by the security authorities within a common and systematic pattern adopted that aims to withhold other opinions and completely restrict public freedoms, especially freedom of expression online and offline. The Omani government must seriously protect public freedoms, including the right of citizens to express their opinions freely without any security or judicial harassment.

Oman: “All Questions” program presented by broadcaster Kholoud Al-Alawi has been suspended Sun, 26 Dec 2021 09:00:00 +0000

In an arbitrary measure that greatly endangers freedom of expression, the Ministry of Information decided on 01 December 2021 to prevent the broadcast of the “All Questions” program, presented by the prominent broadcaster, Kholoud Al-Alawi, on Hala FM radio.

The “All Questions” program enjoys a wide following amongst the citizens of Oman due to the important and pertinent topics it raises for the daily lives of Omani citizens.

Local reports confirmed that the Ministry of Information informed the Radio administration of its decision over the phone. As soon as the news of the decision was circulated, the hashtag, #Solidarity _ with _ Kholoud_Al-Alawi, started trending on Omani Twitter.

The decision was issued on the same day that Al-Alawi hosted Shura Council member Dr. Mohammed Al-Zadjali on her program. During an interview with him, he criticized the presidency of the Shura Council and said, “The media outlets handed over their necks to the Ministry of Information.”

Furthermore, the Ministry of Information issued a circular on 23 December 2021, requiring the media to coordinate the hosting of members of the Shura Council with the Ministry. Observers consider this to be yet another restriction on media freedom.

Oman: Authorities carry out a new series of arrests of internet activists Thu, 19 Aug 2021 08:00:00 +0000

The authorities in Oman have continued their campaign of arrests of Internet activists, imposing strict control on citizens, including writers and intellectuals, who provide their opinions on public issues through social media. The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and the Omani Association for Human Rights (OAHR) call on the authorities to respect freedom of expression.

The security forces arrested Internet activist Ghaith Al-Shibli on 23 July 2021 after they raided his home in Sohar. Reliable local sources confirmed to GCHR and OAHR that he is still being held in a prison belonging to the North Al-Batinah Governorate Police Command, which is based in Sohar province, the regional centre of the governorate. These sources further added that he is subjected to ongoing interrogation on several alleged charges against him, including insulting and ridiculing religions.

His arrest was followed by the arrest of a number of Internet activists who were participating in the dialogues that Al-Shibli was organising using the hashtag #Ghaith_spaces, which dealt with various intellectual and social topics. This contributed to the rise in his popularity, and the number of his followers on Twitter reached more than 7,000 followers.

Among those who were recently arrested for participating in Al-Shibli’s dialogues is Internet activist Maryam M., whose Twitter account was suspended after her arrest, which was followed by calls for her release on Twitter using the hashtag #Maryam_arrest. Internet activist Abdullah Hassan, whose Twitter account was also suspended upon his arrest, and the account of a third Internet activist who tweeted through his Twitter account under the name “A Liberal Mind”, was also suspended after his arrest.

In a separate case, on 09 August 2021, citizen Talal bin Ahmed Al-Salmani was arrested after he submitted a request to the director of Bausher Police Station in the Governorate of Muscat with his signature, requesting the organisation of a peaceful march on 11 August 2021. This was followed by a video recording in which he called on other citizens to participate in the march.

Also, online activist Khamis Al-Hatali published on his Twitter account, on 13 August 2021, a video including a speech he addressed to Sultan Haitham bin Tariq, saying, “We are the nation talking….You are oppressor.” He announced his quest to raise a sign bearing the slogan “Haitham is the oppressor” in Tharmad roundabout in Al-Suwaiq province the following day. Security forces quickly arrested him after more than 120,000 Twitter users watched the video.

Both GCHR and OAHR denounce this series of arbitrary arrests, and call for the authorities to immediately release all detained Internet activists, as well as to stop targeting them, as this violates their legitimate right to freedom of expression.

The Omani government should work to respect public freedoms, and in particular freedom of expression, both online and offline.

The Pegasus Project: MENA Surveillance Coalition demands an end to the sale of surveillance technology to the region’s autocratic governments Mon, 26 Jul 2021 15:00:00 +0000

We, the undersigned human rights organizations, call for an immediate halt to the use, sale and transfer of surveillance technology to autocratic oppressive governments across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). In light of revelations exposing the staggering scale of surveillance targeted at human rights defenders including journalists, bloggers and Internet activists facilitated by NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware, we urge all states to enforce a moratorium until a clear human rights regulatory framework is established.

Since the 2016 investigation by Citizen Lab identifying one of the early uses of Pegasus by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to spy on prominent Emirati human rights defender Ahmed Mansoor, now serving 10 years in prison in inhumane conditions, the surveillance industry has only flourished, undeterred. Amnesty International and Forbidden Stories’ breaking investigation, the Pegasus Project, exposed the leaked data of 50,000 phone numbers identified as potential surveillance targets, including four NSO Group government clients from the MENA region —  Bahrain, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Journalists and activists are being targeted

Amongst the Pegasus Project’s shocking revelations, the mass scale surveillance operations by the Moroccan authorities with a target list of 10,000 phone numbers including those of world leaders, activists and journalists, stood out. 

The analysis identified at least 35 journalists who were targeted with Pegasus by the Moroccan government, and later prosecuted under questionable circumstances or subjected to state-sanctioned campaigns of intimidation and harassment, including Taoufik Bouachrine and Soulaimane Raissouni, Akhbar El-Youm newspaper editors. Bouachrine was sentenced to 15 years in prison on charges of human trafficking, sexual assault, rape and prostitution. His colleague Raissouni was also arrested on sexual assault charges in May 2020, and was sentenced to five years in prison on July 9, 2021. Both of their prosecutions were marred by violations of due process and fair trial rights.

Moroccan journalist and human rights activist Omar Radi was also sentenced on July 19, 2021 to six years in prison on dubious charges of espionage and rape. In June 2020, Amnesty International revealed that Radi was targeted using NSO spyware just three days after NSO Group released its human rights policy. 

Further frightening evidence unearthed by the Pegasus Project shows that friends and family members of the slain and dismembered Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, were targeted with Pegasus spyware before and after his murder. According to a forensic analysis by Amnesty International’s Security Lab, the iPhone of Khashoggi’s Turkish fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, was targeted and successfully infected four days after Khashoggi’s murder, and multiple times in the subsequent days. Other targets include his son Abdullah Khashoggi, his wife Hanan Elatr, his friend and former director-general of Al Jazeera, Wadah Khanfar, and the British human rights lawyer Rodney Dixon who represented Cengiz in filing legal action against the murder of Khashoggi. 

These revelations demonstrate that no one is safe, with even the names of people who have fled the country for their own safety, surfacing in the leak. Paris-based investigative journalist and co-founder of the Moroccan Association of Investigative Journalists Hicham Mansouri, who after years of harassment, violence and imprisonment sought asylum in France, was identified as a surveillance target. 

Other notable surveillance targets who appear on the leaked Pegasus list include Alaa Al-Siddiq, an Emirati activist and the executive director of ALQST, who was killed in a traffic accident in June 2021, and ALQST founder and Saudi human rights defender Yahia Assiri. Both Al-Siddiq and Assiri relocated to the UK to flee persecution. 

NSO’s justifications are groundless

The scandalous targeting of hundreds of journalists and activists in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Algeria, Bahrain, UAE, Lebanon, Morocco, Turkey and Egypt — many who have long been the subject of surveillance, harassment, arrest, torture and assassination — refute the repeated groundless claims made by the NSO Group that its spyware is exclusively used to deter crime and terrorism. Their proclaimed statements that they are willing to investigate misuse of their technology and take action accordingly appear unfounded against the backdrop of last week’s mammoth exposé. 

These dangerous tools should not be readily available in the MENA region

In the absence of any oversight or regulation of the thriving, opaque surveillance tech industry, autocratic governments in the region have found their go-to tools to further repress human rights defenders and journalists, and suppress freedom of expression and the media with full impunity. 

In authoritarian contexts where there is no transparency nor oversight over the use of this highly invasive technology, no privacy safeguards, no fair trial and procedural safeguards, and no avenues for victim remediation, the sale and use of surveillance technology leads to serious human rights violations, and must be immediately ceased.

It has been two years since the first call for an immediate moratorium on the sale, transfer and use of surveillance tools by the former United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye, following the atrocious murder of Jamal Khashoggi. It is now high time for States to heed the call and immediately enforce the moratorium until there is a global human rights regulatory framework in place.

We, therefore, urgently call on all States to take the following steps:

  1. Implement an immediate moratorium on the use, acquisition, sale and transfer of surveillance technology. This moratorium should extend until adequate global controls and safeguards against abuse are in place.
  2. Revoke all export licenses of surveillance technology and business ties to non-democratic states in the MENA region that systematically commit human rights violations.
  3. Initiate an independent, transparent and impartial investigation into cases of targeted surveillance, particularly in the cases of extraterritorial targeting of journalists, human rights defenders and political asylum seekers, and ensure that victims of unlawful surveillance have access to remedy and reparation.
  4. Adopt a legal framework that requires transparency about the use and acquisition of the surveillance technologies, and proactively make this information available in public registers, including on products and services purchased as well as business contracts with private surveillance companies, to allow for public scrutiny and accountability.
  5. Engage in and support international regimes and human rights mechanisms that put controls on the use, development and export of surveillance technologies.
  6. Initiate a follow-up criminal investigation into the killing of Jamal Khashoggi and the targeted surveillance of his family members and associates; and renew international efforts, through judicial and diplomatic means, to achieve justice and accountability.
  7. International mechanisms including the UN system and relevant governments must put an end to the targeted surveillance of human rights defenders including journalists, bloggers and Internet activists.

Coalition Members:

  1. Access Now
  2. Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR)
  3. Masaar-Technology and Law Community
  4. Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
  5. INSM Network (Iraq)
  6. SMEX
  7. Red Line for Gulf
  8. Jordan Open Source Association (JOSA)
  9. Article 19

Signed by:

  1. Muwatin Media Network
  2. MENA Rights Group
  3. Skyline International for Human Rights
  4. Pen Iraq
  5. Oman Association for Human Rights (OAHR)
  6. Metro Centre to Defend Journalists
  7. Iraqi Observatory for Human Rights (IOHR)
  8. ACAT Germany (Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture)
  9. Omani Centre for Human Rights (OCHR)
  10. Syrian Center for Legal Studies and Researches
  11. Yemen Organisation for Defending Rights and Democratic Freedoms
  12. Iraqi journalism rights defence association
  13. Yemeni Institute for Strategic Affairs
  14. International Center for Justice and Human Rights (ICJHR)
  15. Salam for Democracy and Human Rights
  16. Bahrain Press Association (BPA)
  17. International Association of People’s Lawyers (IAPL)
  18. El Nadim center for rehabilitation of victims of violence, Egypt
  19. Syrian Center for Democracy and Civil Rights in Syria
  20. No to Violence group
  21. Youth Without Borders – Tunisia (JSF)
  22. Sada Organisation to Support Woman & Child
  23. ACAT Belgique (Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture)
  24. ACAT Italia (Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture)
  25. Association of Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE)
  26. ALQST for Human Rights
  27. Organisation for Rights and Liberties
  28. Baynana
  29. Samir Kassir Foundation
  30. Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor
  31. ImpACT International for Human Rights Policies
  32. No Peace Without Justice
  33. International Campaign for Freedom in the UAE (ICFUAE) 

Oman: Internet activist Ghaith Al-Shibli arrested and writer Saud Al-Zadjali targeted online Mon, 26 Jul 2021 08:01:21 +0000

home in Sohar. Reliable local reports confirmed that he is still being held by the North Al-Batinah Governorate Police Command in Sohar, which is the regional centre of the governorate.

Al-Shibli has a Twitter account with more than 7,000 followers, which he uses to peacefully express his views. He also uses the hashtag (#Ghaith_spaces) to organise dialogues on various topics that gained wide popularity in Oman, and which likely led to his arrest. The authorities have not announced the nature of the charges against him, but it is widely believed that they are related to his opinions and those of the participants in his conversations online.

Upon his arrest, a hashtag was launched in Oman on Twitter calling for his release, and a large number of citizens, including bloggers, circulated the call: #Freedom_Ghaith_Shibli

Another hashtag was launched on Twitter calling for the writer Dr. Saud Al-Zadjali to be prosecuted because of his personal opinions published on his Twitter account, where he is followed by more than 25,000 people. On 25 July 2021, he announced in a tweet that he would take legal measures against anyone who distorts his views or threatens him because of them.

Both the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and the Omani Association for Human Rights (OAHR) denounce the arrest of Internet activist Ghaith Al-Shibli, which violates his right to freedom of expression, and call for his immediate release. GCHR and OAHR also call for an end to the targeting of writer Saud Al-Zadjali in violation of his right to freedom of expression.

The Omani government should work to respect public freedoms, in particular freedom of expression, both online and offline.

Oman: Five participants in peaceful protests in May released, in addition to popular broadcaster Mon, 12 Jul 2021 09:41:24 +0000

The Omani authorities have recently released five peaceful protesters after detaining them for several weeks. All of them were charged with participating in a gathering of more than ten people without a permit, and violating the instructions of the higher committee in charge of examining the mechanism for dealing with developments in the spread of Covid-19 related to precautionary measures. A broadcaster who criticised the government’s handling of Covid-19 was also released after almost two weeks in detention.

A number of other separate charges were brought against each individual, including incitement to assembly, closure of the highway, assaulting policemen, and misuse of information technology, but these charges were quickly dropped, and the first two charges were kept.

The protesters are, Abdullah Salem Obaid Al-Badi, 23, who was arrested in late May 2021; Abdullah Salem Abdullah Al-Badi, 30, who was arrested on 28 May 2021; Mohammed Al-Qarini, 23, who was arrested on 30 May 2021; and Nahyan Al-Badi, a young man in the last year of his secondary studies, who was arrested on 30 May 2021. They are all from the province of Saham. The fifth protester is Ali Al-Saadi, 28 years old, from the province of Shinas, who was also arrested on 30 May 2021.

The five men all participated in the recent peaceful protests that started in Sohar on 23 May 2021, and moved from there to other provinces. They are job seekers who called for reform and the eradication of corruption.

They were held in Sohar Central Prison, which is supervised by the Royal Oman Police Command, and were permitted visits.
Abdullah Salem Obaid Al-Badi and Abdullah Salem Abdullah Al-Badi were released after more than two weeks of detention on bail. On 12 June 2021, Nahyan Al-Badi was released on bail, while Mohammed Al-Qarini and Ali Al-Saadi were released on bail on 05 July 2021.

In a separate case, on 03 July 2021, popular broadcaster Nasr Al-Bousaidi was released after being detained since 30 June 2021 for interrogation about tweets in which he criticised the procedures of the higher government committee in charge of examining the mechanism for dealing with developments in the spread of Covid-19. During his detention, the hashtag #Free_Nasr_Al_Bousaidi was trending on Twitter in Oman.

Al-Bousaidi is from the province of Nizwa and resides in the capital, Muscat. He is currently working as a talk show host on Al-Shabiba (Youth) Radio. He is also an Internet activist.

On 25 May 2021, in the midst of the popular protests that swept Oman and as part of his call for the government to implement the ideas of Omani youth, he tweeted on his Twitter account, “In many crises, do not plan who to arrest. Rather, make all your focus towards the solution. Whatever you think, only the solution will end everything.” Al-Bousaidi uses Twitter to follow up on issues of public interest, as well as to defend the rights of the Palestinian people.

While the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and the Omani Association for Human Rights (OAHR) welcome the release of the five peaceful protesters, in addition to broadcaster Nasr Al-Bousaidi, they call on the Omani government to immediately end the policy of silencing and repressing public freedoms, including freedom of peaceful demonstration and freedom of the press. The authorities in Oman must respect public freedoms, including freedom of expression and opinion, both online and offline. The security forces must carry out their duties to protect citizens, not oppress them, as they peacefully demand their civil and human rights.

Oman: Freedom of assembly and expression violated during recent popular protests Wed, 02 Jun 2021 05:00:00 +0000

Popular protests have receded in Oman, after they started in the province of Sohar on 23 May 2021, and spread to the provinces of Salalah, Ibri, Sur, Ibra and Rustaq. The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and the Omani Association for Human Rights (OAHR) have documented violations related to the rights to freedom of assembly and expression.

The protesters, the majority of whom are young, have demanded the government provide job opportunities, improve the living conditions of citizens, carry out reforms and eradicate corruption. A number of Omani women also demanded that they be granted the right to own land. Dozens of protesters were arrested, most of whom were later released after being forced to sign a pledge not to participate in any future demonstrations.

On 26 May 2021, human rights defender Ibrahim Al-Balushi was arrested in front of his home, after returning from work before midnight. He has been held in solitary confinement since his arrest due to his participation in the recent peaceful protests.

Reliable local sources told GCHR and OAHR that Al-Balushi started an open hunger strike after being placed in solitary confinement in a prison belonging to the Special Division of the Omani Police Headquarters in Sohar. The Special Division is the executive arm of the Internal Security Service (ISS). He was later transferred to the Central Prison in Sohar. Reports confirmed that he is still on hunger strike.

Al-Balushi took part in the popular protests of 2011, and he was arrested several times, including being imprisoned for 10 months. He was previously arrested in the United Arab Emirates in May 2014 and then released.

GCHR and OAHR received information confirming that the ISS is putting pressure on him to give a public apology for his request from the protesters who gathered in Sohar on 25 May 2021, chanting the slogan, “The people want to reform the system” which means eliminating corruption, as shown in this video.

On 26 May 2021, protesters in Sohar cut off the main street under the Sohar Bridge by placing a truck transporting vehicles in the middle of it. Police personnel then dispersed them using tear gas canisters, as this video clearly shows. Also, due to their massive gathering, the protesters cut off the traffic over the Sohar Bridge itself.

On 27 May 2021, as part of the popular protests, a group of women staged a sit-in in front of the General Directorate of Housing and Urban Planning in the city of Dhofar. They protested the decisions of the Minister of Housing and Planning that sets unfair conditions on the rights of women to obtain land and they raised several slogans including, “It is my right to have a piece of land in my country”.

Civil society activist Abdulaziz Al-Balushi appeared in a recorded video while delivering a speech to a group of protesters in Sohar on the evening of 26 May 2021, in which he showed signs of torture on his back that he reported date back to the days of his previous arrest and detention after his participation in the protests of 2011. Al-Balushi also asked the protesters to show steadfastness and not to retreat as they are defending their rights. He was arbitrarily arrested the next day, and detained for one day. Many demanded his release through the following hashtag spread on Twitter: #Freedom_To_Abdulaziz_AlBalushi

On 26 May 2021, civil society activist Alwi Al-Mashour published a tweet, in which he responded to what he described as the Oman News Agency’s defamation of the image of the demonstrators, in which he said, “It is clear by God … now the media remember to report the news of the demonstrators after it used to ignore them .. Now distorting their image is used to give the green light to break up the demonstrations and turn simple, oppressed and crushed youth in this life into saboteurs and criminals … I swear by God, they are more keen on the homeland than you …. #No_for the intruders.”

Also, Al-Mashour appeared on the same day in a video spread on social media, in which he defended the protesters and called on the government not to use violence against them, and to start a dialogue with them.

Al-Mashour, who resides in Muscat, was subjected to a major smear campaign, and as a result, a solidarity campaign was launched with him on Twitter with the hashtag:


Reliable press reports confirmed that the Special Division of the Omani Police Command in Muscat summoned him on 27 May 2021, detained him for several hours before releasing him.

On the night of 28 May 2021, the security forces arrested all young protesters in the city of Salalah and then released them after several hours of detention. Also, on the same day, the security forces released all detained protesters in the city of Dhofar.

Reports received by GCHR and OAHR confirmed that the ISS forced the detained protesters to sign pledges that violate their rights to freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful protest in exchange for their release.

Following the popular protests, Sultan Haitham bin Tariq issued directives to implement a plan to create more than 32,000 job opportunities during this year, including 12,000 job opportunities in the civil service and military.

Once again, GCHR and OAHR declare their absolute solidarity with the Omani citizens who exercised their right to demonstrate and peacefully assemble in order to demand improvement in their living conditions. By forcing them to sign undertakings not to protest, the security forces have violated the civil and human rights guaranteed by the Omani constitution for all citizens.

The Omani government must release human rights defender Ibrahim Al-Balushi and all other detainees who are peaceful protesters, and it must also work to immediately end the policy of silencing and restricting public freedoms, including the freedom to demonstrate peacefully and freedom of the press. The authorities in Oman must respect public freedoms, including freedom of expression and opinion, on and off the Internet. The security forces must fulfill their duties to protect citizens, not to oppress them, while they peacefully demand their civil and human rights.

Oman: Security forces suppress popular protests demanding job opportunities for unemployed youth Wed, 26 May 2021 10:27:55 +0000

(OAHR) call on the authorities to respect freedom of expression and assembly after protests spread across several areas of the country, and the authorities attempted to restrict the media from reporting about demonstrations.

On 23 May 2021, protests erupted in the city of Sohar, which is 234 km north of the capital, Muscat, by unemployed or laid-off Omani youths, who raised numerous slogans, including:
“Young people are the homeland’s wealth!!! So why are they wasted?? (Omani citizen) demands their most basic rights!!!”

surrounded by large security forces on foot and in cars. Reliable reports received by GCHR and OAHR confirmed the arrests of a number of protesters, who were transported away from the gathering place to an unknown destination.

The Ministry of Labour issued a statement on the same day in which it confirmed that, “A number of citizens gathered in front of the General Directorate of Labour building in Al-Batinah North Governorate, demanding job opportunities and solving the problems of some of those who were laid off.” Al-Batinah North Governorate comprises six provinces, including Sohar.

day, 24 May 2021, in front of the Al-Batinah North governor’s office, where security forces used tear gas heavily to disperse them. The news received by GCHR and OAHR confirmed more arrests of protesters and the confiscation of their mobile phones. There are reports that the security forces surrounded the protesters, arrested them, and transferred them all to an unknown destination.

Later, on the same day, a mass march of enthusiastic citizens began, chanting slogans such as “Come out, come out, you oppressed. Seek your rights no matter what.”
Reliable local sources confirmed to GCHR and OAHR that on the evening of 24 May 2021, all the detained protesters in Sohar were released.

In Dhofar, an appeal was distributed on 23 May 2021 which stated, “To every job seeker and every person concerned with the interest of youth in this country. Tomorrow there are two points of peaceful gathering in solidarity with our brothers in Sohar, in the celebrations square, and the Ministry of Labour.”

The mass demonstrations began the next day, with the participation of hundreds of citizens at these two points, who were met with a massive mobilisation by the security forces. A group of them were arrested and then released later that same day.

Also, there are news reports that confirmed the occurrence of demonstrations and protests in Salalah, who raised the same demands that the protesters demanded in other regions, including providing job opportunities for unemployed youth, returning laid-off workers to their jobs, and improving the living conditions of citizens in general.

The hashtag that became the most popular in Oman and trended on Twitter on 24 May 2021 is #Ibri_Respond. Ibri is one of the cities in Al-Dhahira Governorate, and a call was distributed to, “All unemployed and laid-off youths of Al-Dhahira (Ibri), tomorrow we organise a peaceful gathering at eight in the morning near the Ministry of Labour, in solidarity with our brothers in Sohar and the rest of the states to demand reforms and draw attention Officials in the country to the conditions attained by the citizens.”

Reliable sources in Oman stated that a strongly worded circular was issued by higher authorities to all media outlets, including daily newspapers, not to address the issue of peaceful assembly in Sohar, Dhofar, Salalah and the rest of the Omani regions, otherwise permits will be withdrawn. The authorities were forced to backtrack on this decision later after many international media reported on these events.

The recent events in Gaza and its citizens’ steadfastness in the face of brutal aggression, have motivated the citizens of Oman to carry out their current protests.

The first Omani protests also started in the Governorate of Sohar on 25 February 2011, after a large wave of massive protests swept through the Arab world, especially Egypt and Tunisia. These protests were led by Omani civil society activists, and citizens of all types participated in them, especially the youth, who staged a sit-in in Muscat, Sohar and Salalah, which are the areas where the protests were focused. They called for comprehensive political, economic and social reforms. Security forces used rubber bullets and water cannons to disperse the protesters and arrested a large number of activists who faced unfair trials that resulted in unfair prison sentences and fines. They were all released after the former Sultan, Qaboos bin Said, issued his royal pardon for him, shortly before they completed their sentence.

While the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and the Omani Association for Human Rights (OAHR) declare their absolute solidarity with the Omani citizens who exercised their rights to demonstrate and peacefully assemble in order to demand improvement in their living conditions, the two NGOs strongly condemn the security forces’ intimidation, repression and arrest of a large number of peaceful protesters.

The Omani government should immediately end the policy of silencing and restricting public freedoms, including freedom of peaceful protest and freedom of the press. The authorities in Oman must respect public freedoms, including freedom of expression and opinion, on and off the Internet. The security forces must fulfill their duties to protect citizens, not to oppress them, while they peacefully demand their civil and human rights.

Oman: Royal Guard disperses peaceful gathering of protesting workers in front of Royal Palace Sat, 17 Apr 2021 10:00:00 +0000 On 11 April 2021, more than 400 workers, who were temporarily dismissed in March 2020 by BGP Oil and Gas Services, began a peaceful gathering in the green area in front of the Royal Palace in the Governorate of Seeb in Oman. The company claimed they were fired due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the effects of low oil prices, and they paid their salaries for one year.

In February 2021, the company’s activities returned to their normal state, but they did not re-instate all the workers except a small number of them, leaving 405 of them still without work. Therefore, they peacefully gathered together demanding to return to work and continued to gather daily for four consecutive days. Some of them lay down on the ground and did not leave the gathering place despite the hot weather and the advent of the holy month of Ramadan.

The company made a promise to pay them another year’s salaries, so a large number of them left the site on the evening of 14 April 2021, but 50 workers remained who refused the offer.

On the morning of 15 April 2021, a number of military vehicles comprising dozens of Royal Guard members left the Royal Palace, and set up barriers in the square opposite the Palace in their quest to end the peaceful gathering and intimidate the participants, who left after noticing the Royal Guard’s advance outside the Palace.

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and the Omani Association for Human Rights (OAHR) declare their full solidarity with the dismissed workers who have not been returned to work, while strongly condemning the Royal Guard’s intimidation and suppression of the peaceful protest.

The Omani government should immediately end the policy of silencing and restricting other opinions, and targeting human rights defenders, including Internet activists. The authorities in Oman must respect public freedoms, including freedom of expression and opinion, on and off the Internet, in addition to the right of freedom of peaceful assembly.