Online Activists and Protesters Subjected to Arrests, Raids and Judicial Harassment in Oman
Oman frees dozens of activists arrested during unemployment protestshttps://t.co/zuLc3xcx8n pic.twitter.com/dkI8m0JJEa— Middle East Eye (@MiddleEastEye) June 3, 2021
The Omani authorities recently released several 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 with violating instructions and precautionary measures for preventing the spread of COVID-19. A broadcaster who criticised the government’s handling of COVID-19 was also released after almost two weeks in detention.
The protesters, who were mostly young people, included: Abdullah Salem Obaid Al-Badi, 23, who was arrested in late May 2021; Abdullah Salem Abdullah Al-Badi, 30, who was arrested on 28th May 2021; Mohammed Al-Qarini, 23, who was arrested on 30th May 2021; and Nahyan Al-Badi, a young man in the last year of his secondary studies, who was arrested on 30th May 2021. They are all from the province of Saham. The fifth protester is 28-year-old Ali Al-Saadi, from the province of Shinas, who was arrested on 30th May 2021.
A number of separate charges were brought against each individual, including incitement to assembly, closure of the highway, assaulting policemen and misuse of information technology. All charges, except the first two, were subsequently dropped.
The five men had all participated in the recent peaceful protests calling for reform, job opportunities, improved living conditions and the eradication of corruption, which started in Sohar on 23rd May 2021 and spread to other provinces. The protesters demanded that the government provide job opportunities, improve the living conditions of citizens, carry out reforms and eradicate corruption. Several Omani women also staged a sit-in in front of the General Directorate of Housing and Urban Planning in the city of Dhofar demanding that they be granted the right to own land. The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and the Omani Association for Human Rights (OAHR) documented violations of the rights to freedom of assembly and expression at these protests, as well as the arrest of dozens of protesters, the majority of whom were subsequently released after being forced to sign a pledge not to participate in any future demonstrations.
#Oman: Internet activist Ghaith Al-Shibli arrested and writer Saud Al-Zadjali targeted online— The Omani Association For Human Rights (@HR_OMN) July 26, 2021
#سعود_الزدجالي #عُمان #غيث_الشبلي @Galshbli @muladdah #مساحة_غيث #الحريه_لغيث_الشبلي #اتضامن_مع_سعود_الزدجالي https://t.co/XbfYmmpRXA
On 23rd July 2021, internet activist Ghaith Al-Shibli was arrested after security forces raided his home in Sohar. Reliable local reports confirmed that he is still in the custody of the North Al-Batinah Governorate Police Command in Sohar, which is the regional centre of the governorate.
Al-Shibli, who has more than 7,000 twitter followers, uses his account to peacefully express his views. He uses the hashtag #Ghaith_spaces to organise dialogues on various popular topics in Oman. Although the authorities did not immediately announce the nature of the charges against Al-Shibli, it is thought that his arrest was in retaliation for his twitter activities.
In separate developments, on 25th July 2021, Dr Saud Al-Zadjali announced in a tweet that he would take legal action against anyone who threatens him for exercising his right to freedom of expression. This tweet came after he was the subject of a twitter hashtag calling for him to be prosecuted for his publications on twitter, where he is followed by more than 25,000 people.
Civic Space Developments