Oman: Security forces suppress popular protests demanding job opportunities for unemployed youth

25.05.21

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and the Omani Association for Human Rights (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!!!"

They gathered in front of the General Directorate of Labour in Sohar, where they were 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.

Despite the arrest of a group of protesters, dozens of citizens gathered again in Sohar the next 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.