The Omani Association For Human Rights (OAHR) and the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) have received reliable information about the release of Internet activist and writer Sultan Al-Maktoumi on 07 November 2018, and the arrest of Internet activist Uday Al-Omairi on the very same day. It is noteworthy that the Internal Security Service (ISS) has launched an ongoing campaign against bloggers and Internet activists who are supporters of the Palestinian cause.
The reports received by GCHR and OAHR confirmed that the reason for Uday Al-Omairi’s arrest was his publications on social media, including his posts on Facebook page, in which he declared his support for the Palestinian people and his rejection of normalisation.
He works as a teacher and lives in a province in the interior, which was visited by an Israeli official recently, touring the historic fortress of Nizwa.
Also, Internet activist Salem Al-Arimi is still detained since 27 October 2018 by the Special Division of the Omani Police Headquarters in Muscat after they summoned him because of his writings, which also called for reform and his rejection of normalisation.
All activists were prevented by the ISS from communicating with their families or with a lawyer, and were arbitrarily detained without a warrant. Also, there are reports about some other arrests that have taken place but families are not keen to disclose any information in fear of retaliation by the ISS.
Once again GCHR and OAHR condemn the arbitrary practices of the ISS and appeal to the Omani government to put an immediate end to the systematic targeting of bloggers and Internet activists by the security forces.
GCHR and OAHR urge authorities in Oman to:
Release online activists Uday Al-Omairi and Salem Al-Arimi immediately and unconditionally;
Protect the freedom of the press in the Oman as well as freedom of expression on the Internet; and
Ensure in all circumstances the ability of human rights defenders and journalists in Oman to carry out their legitimate human rights work without fear of retaliation and without any restrictions, including judicial harassment.
GCHR and OAHR respectfully remind the Omani authorities that the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognised Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted by consensus by the UN General Assembly on 9 December 1998, recognises the legitimacy of the activities of human rights defenders, their right to freedom of association and to carry out their activities without fear of reprisals. We would particularly draw your attention to Article 6 (b and c): “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others: (b) As provided for in human rights and other applicable international instruments, freely to publish, impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms; (c) To study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters”, and to Article 12 (1 and 2): “(1) Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms. (2) The State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration.”