Omani Association for Human Rights https://en.omanhr.org Sun, 04 Sep 2022 09:39:04 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=6.1.1 Oman: Three businessmen forcibly disappeared immediately after declaring a peaceful sit-in https://en.omanhr.org/oman-three-businessmen-forcibly-disappeared-immediately-after-declaring-a-peaceful-sit-in/ Sun, 04 Sep 2022 09:39:04 +0000 https://en.omanhr.org/?p=619

On 27 August 2022, businessman and internet activist Hani bin Ali Al-Sarhani announced, in a video recording posted on his YouTube account, the start of a peaceful sit-in by him and his two colleagues Mahmoud bin Al-Murr Al-Ghabshi and Saud Al-Mardouf Al-Kathiri. Several hours after the sit-in began in the capital, Muscat, they were arrested and taken to an unknown location.


In his recorded speech, which was also posted on his Twitter account, Al-Sarhani confirmed that their sit-in was being undertaken “with less than 10 people in implementation of the law that prohibited gatherings of more than 10 people.”


As for the goals they seek, he mentioned “improving the level of income for us and citizens, activating the internal economic trade movement and simplifying government procedures, and opening and facilitating the tourism and commercial movement in the country.” In addition, they called for “activating the role of oversight, holding accountable those who are negligent in their tasks, fighting corruption and all those who deliberately harm the homeland and the citizens.”


They also called for “employment for young people looking for work besides giving them the means to lead and to earn a decent living, support for retirees, protection for those who are laid off from work, increasing the salaries of beneficiaries of social security, protecting the insolvent from forced imprisonment … and working towards a comprehensive reform.”

The Internal Security Service (ISS) issued strict orders for their immediate arrest after the video of the sit-in went viral on social media. They were arbitrarily arrested a few hours after they started the sit-in, and they were taken from the place of their sit-in in Muscat to an unknown location. The security authorities did not announce the place of their detention or the nature of the charges against them. They are completely cut off from the outside world and have not been allowed to communicate with their families or to hire a lawyer.


Al-Sarhani was previously arrested on 09 August 2022, after being summoned by the Special Division of the Omani Police Command in the Muscat after using his Twitter account to appeal to officials to provide support to businesspeople and citizens alike due to what he called the difficult period that everyone is going through. The Special Division is the executive arm of the Internal Security Services (ISS).


The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and the Omani Association for Human Rights (OAHR) strongly condemn the arrest of the three businessmen, Hani bin Ali Al-Sarhani, Mahmoud bin Al Murr Al-Ghabshi and Saud Al Mardouf Al-Kathiri, in flagrant violation of their right to peaceful assembly, and demand the Omani government release them immediately and unconditionally.


GCHR and OAHR also call for an immediate end to the policy of silencing people and restricting public freedoms, such as freedom of peaceful demonstration. 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, when they peacefully demand their civil and human rights.

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Oman: Businessman and environmental activist arrested https://en.omanhr.org/oman-businessman-and-environmental-activist-arrested/ Thu, 11 Aug 2022 07:00:00 +0000 https://en.omanhr.org/?p=613

Two men were arrested for their online activities in Oman, and only one has been freed, say the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and the Omani Association for Human Rights (OAHR), who call for his release and an end to arrests of those who express themselves online peacefully.


On 09 August 2022, businessman and Internet activist Hani Al-Sarhani was arrested after being summoned by the Special Division of the Omani Police Command in the capital, Muscat. The Special Division is the executive arm of the Internal Security Services (ISS).


Al-Sarhani has used his Twitter account to appeal to officials to provide support to business people and citizens alike due to what he referred to as the difficult phase that everyone is going through.


On 05 August 2022, he posted on his YouTube account a recording of him speaking in a meeting that included a number of his fellow businesspeople, and later posted it several times on Twitter as well. His speech included an appeal of distress to Sultan Haitham bin Tariq and all officials on behalf of businessmen, announcing that they have reached a difficult stage amid the deterioration of the purchasing power of citizens. He also said that, “high prices broke everyone’s back” and “taxes reduced spending power.” Al-Sarhani added, “This led to consequences that we did not see in the past for everyone, including businessmen and citizens, who became unable to live a decent life.”


He also criticised the lifting of government support for public services and explained that, “the government’s efforts were not sufficient to manage the crisis of the Covid-19 pandemic and its consequences and recover from it.” He concluded his speech by saying, “The economy is collapsing and exhausted and we are dying.” And “I am looking for my treatment and it is in the hands of the government, and they should listen to us.”


Reliable local sources confirmed his release on 10 August 2022.


In another separate case, on 04 August 2022, prominent environmental activist Dr. Ahmed Issa Qatan was arrested by the ISS.


His Twitter account is pinned with the following tweet: “Oman urgently needs fundamental reforms… through the Shura Council choosing the government and holding it accountable… electing all local councils and taking over the management of the provinces… Removing merchants from the state administration and ending hidden trade… Putting young people in all production jobs … Reducing duties and taxes to stimulate the economy.” He placed it over the portrait of the Sultan of Oman.
Reliable local sources stated that his arrest is related to his peaceful activities on the Internet, including the above tweet.


He was previously arrested on 23 February 2021, due to his relentless efforts to preserve normal life in Dhofar Plain and not to damage its current composition or change the lifestyle in it, which extends for hundreds of years. It will allow the creation of residential complexes in these green spaces. He was released on 03 March 2021.


While GCHR and OAHR welcome the release of businessman and Internet activist Hani Al-Sarhani, they call on the Omani government to release prominent environmental activist Dr. Ahmed Qatan immediately and unconditionally.


GCHR and OAHR also call for an immediate end to the policy of silencing voices and restricting 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.

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Oman: Stand in solidarity with journalist and human rights defender Mukhtar Al-Hinai https://en.omanhr.org/oman-stand-in-solidarity-with-journalist-and-human-rights-defender-mukhtar-al-hinai/ Sat, 16 Jul 2022 12:41:49 +0000 https://en.omanhr.org/?p=609

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and the Omani Association for Human Rights (OAHR) declare their full solidarity with journalist and human rights defender Mukhtar Al-Hinai, as he faces a trial tomorrow that threatens to deprive him of his right to independent journalistic work. His trial is highly indicative of the perilous situation facing freedom of the press in Oman.


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


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 for trial under Article 249 of the Omani Penal Code, which provides for 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 that are under embargo by the court. Also, in other arbitrary measures, he was informed that he has been placed under a travel ban and was forced to immediately delete his tweet at the end of the investigation.

The first session of his trial was scheduled to take place before the Muscat Court of First Instance on 08 May 2022, but he received a phone call informing him that his trial had been postponed until 19 June 2022. This was followed by the pleading session held on 21 June 2022. Upon conclusion of the pleadings, the court announced that it would issue its final verdict on 17 July 2022, in a case whose ruling will have significant implications for freedom of journalism in the country.


The trial was marred by serious violations of due process and fair trial standards, including the insistence of the Public Prosecution Department to refer the case to trial and issue a travel ban, despite the absence of a formal complaint from any party. Furthermore, the tweet which was the source of the case was not reported to have caused any material or moral harm to anyone. All of this is evidence of a systematic pattern of targeting independent young journalists and has the effect of intimidating all Internet activists who exercise their legitimate right to express their opinions about public affairs or criticise the government’s poor performance.


The GCHR and the OAHR believe that the completion of the trial at remarkable speed and within just a few weeks leaves no doubt that influential figures in the state as well as the Internal Security Service are using the judiciary as a means of repression to silence dissenting views. This represents a continuation of the systematic pattern in recent years of directly targeting human rights defenders, including bloggers, journalists and Internet activists, and reflects the entrenched repressive mentality of the highest authorities in the country.


The GCHR and the OAHR call on the authorities in Oman to discontinue the trial of journalist and human rights defender Mukhtar Al-Hinai, and drop all false charges against him. The authorities in Oman should protect freedom of the press in the country, as well as freedom of expression on the Internet. The authorities should ensure in all circumstances that human rights defenders and journalists in Oman are able to carry out their legitimate human rights work without fear of reprisals and without significant restrictions, including judicial harassment.


The GCHR and the OAHR also call on the international human rights movement to declare full solidarity with Al-Hinai and demand an immediate end to his unfair trial.

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Oman: Two Internet activists sentenced to prison https://en.omanhr.org/oman-two-internet-activists-sentenced-to-prison/ Thu, 09 Jun 2022 15:29:13 +0000 https://en.omanhr.org/?p=598

The authorities in Oman continue to target the public liberties of citizens on an ongoing basis. The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and the Omani Association for Human Rights (OAHR) denounce the authorities’ use of the judiciary to sentence Internet activists to prison in violation of their rights to freedom of expression online and offline.


On 07 June 2022, the Sohar Court of Appeal held a session during which it sentenced two Internet activists to prison for blasphemy, and referred two others to another court.


Internet activist Ali bin Marhoon Abdullah Al-Ghafri was sentenced to five years in prison after the court convicted him of “insulting and offending God.”


Internet activist Maryam Bint Youssef Bint Ali Al-Nuaimi was sentenced to three years in prison after being convicted of insulting religions.


It also decided to confiscate their phones, and to close their Twitter accounts.


Reliable local sources confirmed that the reason for the prison sentence against Maryam Al-Nuaimi was a sentence she wrote in a WhatsApp group several years ago. Her right to privacy was violated as she was forced to give access to exchanges between members of this group during her interrogation by security authorities. Al-Nuaimi was also previously arrested and held in solitary confinement, and although she was released on bail at the time, she suffered health and psychological damage, in addition to losses in her work.


As for Internet activist Ghaith Matar Hamad Al-Shibli, the court decided not to prosecute him for the charges he was accused of, due to the lack of criminal responsibility, according to the text of the verdict. He was charged with “insulting and offending the Divine Essence” and “using the Internet and information technology means to incite and tempt the commission of debauchery.”


The court, due to its lack of jurisdiction, also referred misdemeanor cases against Internet activists Ghaith Matar Hamad Al-Shibli and Abdullah Hassan Jaber Al-Muqbali, to the competent Misdemeanor Court.


Both GCHR and OAHR denounce this arbitrary trial, and call for their sentences to be overturned, as well as for an end to the prosecution of Internet activists, which 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.

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Oman: On the occasion of IFJ’s 31st Congress in Muscat, Omani authorities must respect public freedoms https://en.omanhr.org/oman-on-the-occasion-of-ifjs-31st-congress-in-muscat-omani-authorities-must-respect-public-freedoms/ Tue, 31 May 2022 06:00:00 +0000 https://en.omanhr.org/?p=591

The International Federation of Journalist (IFJ), based in Belgium, will hold its 31st Congress in Muscat between 31 May and 03 June 2022. The Omani Journalists Association (OJA) will represent Oman in hosting this event.


The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and the Omani Association for Human Rights (OAHR) take this opportunity to call on both IFJ and OJA, to highlight during the four-day event, the extensive human rights violation that are taking place in the country. We hope they will also urge the government of Oman to respect public freedoms, in particular freedom of expression offline and online, freedom of the press, and freedom of peaceful assembly.


In recent years, GCHR and OAHR have documented many violations to freedom of expression including attacks on the press, journalists, other media professionals and Internet activists. They have been summoned, harassed and imprisoned solely for expressing their views about public affairs on social media networks.


In 2016, the country’s only independent newspaper “Azamn” was shut down and its leading journalists Ibrahim Al-Maamari, Yousef Al-Haj and Zaher Al-Abri were imprisoned solely due to their purely journalism work.


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 prominent broadcaster Kholoud Al-Alawi on Hala FM Radio.


On 15 March 2022, journalist and human rights defender Mukhtar Al-Hinai was summoned by the Public Prosecution Department in Muscat for an investigation over a tweet. He was subjected afterward to a campaign of judicial harassment, in flagrant violation of his freedom of expression and jeopardising press freedom in Oman.


GCHR and OAHR urge authorities in Oman to:
Protect the freedom of the press in the country as well as freedom of expression offline and on the Internet; and
Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders including journalists, writers and online activists in Oman are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.

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Oman: Authorities must stop targeting journalist and human rights defender Mukhtar Al-Hinai https://en.omanhr.org/oman-authorities-must-stop-targeting-journalist-and-human-rights-defender-mukhtar-al-hinai/ Fri, 06 May 2022 08:22:20 +0000 https://en.omanhr.org/?p=587

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.

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Oman: The arrest of engineer and internet activist Ahmed Muslim Al-Kathiri https://en.omanhr.org/oman-the-arrest-of-engineer-and-internet-activist-ahmed-muslim-al-kathiri/ Fri, 04 Mar 2022 12:07:36 +0000 https://en.omanhr.org/?p=581

On 28 February 2022, a tweet posted by engineer and online activist Ahmed Muslim Al-Kathiri stated the following: “After the court ruling today, which stipulated the rejection of the case, it became clear to us that the authority is still in control of the judiciary and not, as it is rumored, that the government has no authority over it. The policy of states is to bring the ruler and the people closer to consolidate national unity, and the injustice that takes place in the corridors of the judiciary does not cement it, but rather alienates it.”


Al-Kathiri, who works as a project engineer at the University of Technology and Applied Sciences in Dhofar Governorate, uses his Twitter account to express his personal views on public issues that concern citizens, especially the issue of Al-Morouj lands.


On the same day, the Administrative Court of the Dhofar Governorate dismissed the case filed by some citizens against the Minister of State and Governor of Dhofar, Mohammed bin Sultan Al-Bousaidi regarding the unlawful distribution of the Al-Morouj’s lands to influential people and high-ranking government officials.


Reliable local sources confirmed that on 02 March 2022, the security authorities arrested and detained Al-Kathiri. He has been completely isolated from the outside world and has not been allowed to contact his family or lawyer.
As soon as the news of his arrest spread, a large campaign of solidarity calling for his release was launched on social media. He has been described as a patriotic figure who wants the good and justice of the citizens.

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Oman: Internet activist Abu Al-Yasa Al-Rawahi arrested https://en.omanhr.org/oman-internet-activist-abu-al-yasa-al-rawahi-arrested/ Wed, 23 Feb 2022 12:41:54 +0000 https://en.omanhr.org/?p=573 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.

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Oman: “All Questions” program presented by broadcaster Kholoud Al-Alawi has been suspended https://en.omanhr.org/oman-all-questions-program-presented-by-broadcaster-kholoud-al-alawi-has-been-suspended/ Sun, 26 Dec 2021 09:00:00 +0000 https://en.omanhr.org/?p=562

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.

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Torture in the Sultanate of Oman: Lost Liberties and Suppression of Human Rights Activists https://en.omanhr.org/torture-in-the-sultanate-of-oman-lost-liberties-and-suppression-of-human-rights-activists/ Thu, 26 Aug 2021 10:33:44 +0000 https://en.omanhr.org/?p=557

The Omani Association for Human Rights has Produced a report on torture in Oman in Cooperation with the Gulf Centre for Human Rights With Support from the European Union in August 2021

Read the full report

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