Oman: Update: Oman: Internal Security Service continues targeting human rights defenders and Internet activists

05.08.15

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) has received reliable reports that the Omani Internal Security Service has recently ratified a plan to systematically target human rights defenders and Internet activists in the country.

On 4 August 2015, security forces arrested two human rights defenders and Internet activists, Muktar Al-Hanaei and Ahmed Al-Blushi, while they were on their way to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from Oman. According to the latest information received by the GCHR, after a few hours Al-Blushi was released while Al-Hanaei is still being detained incommunicado at the Special Division in the Al-Qurum area of Muscat.  

Al-Hanaei is a well-known human rights defender and blogger in Oman. On 11 June 2012, he was arrested together with several human rights defenders during a peaceful protest in which they demanded the release of three of their colleagues. 

On 16 September 2012, Al-Hanaei was sentenced to one year in prison and a fine of 1000 Rials (2600 US$) for allegedly insulting the Sultan by publishing “offensive writings and violating the information technology law.”  As a result of this verdict, he spent some time in prison and was only released in 2013 after a pardon from Sultan Qaboos himself.

The arrests this week of the two human rights defenders follow the arbitrary detention of human rights defenders Dr. Saleh Al-Azri, Ali Al-Muqbali and Talib Al-Saedi only the day before. For more information about recent human rights violations committed by the Internal Security Service, see the following link: https://www.gc4hr.org/news/index/country/6

Once again the GCHR expresses serious concern about the continued acts of arrests, threats, intimidation and surveillance directed at human rights defenders in Oman and calls on the international community to put pressure on the Omani government to release all the detained human rights defenders and prisoner of conscience immediately and without any conditions. 

The GCHR also urges the authorities in Oman to 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.