Thursday, May 19, 2011

New Amnesty appeal for latest arrests. Protesters in court. HM makes CBS list of World's enduring Dictatorships.

Amnesty International have just updated their campaign in support of the arrested peaceful protesters. They also report the verdicts from todays trial in Al Khuwair.

Since February, Omanis have called for change in largely peaceful protests
© Demotix

18 May 2011
The Omani authorities must say where and why they are holding some six people arrested during a recent peaceful protest in the capital Muscat, Amnesty International said today, as more than two dozen others faced trial on protest-related charges.

Fifteen people were arrested by Omani security forces on 14 May during a protest in Muscat calling for the release of others detained two days earlier in pro-reform protests.

Prominent female lawyer Basma al-Kiyumi was released on 16 May, and on 17 May some eight other activists were released, among them Muhammad al-Habssi and Ibrahim Sa’id al-Hajri. It is not known where the remaining six – including Nabhan al-Hanashi – are, or if any charges have been brought against them.

“The authorities in Oman must immediately provide details on the whereabouts of all protesters being held and either charge them with a recognizable criminal offence or release them,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme Director.

“If they are being detained solely for participating in a peaceful public protest they should be released immediately and unconditionally.”

“Any charges should be made public, and trials against the accused must conform to international fair trial standards.”

Amnesty International is concerned that those who continue to be held following the protest in Muscat on 14 May are being detained incommunicado and may be at risk of torture or ill-treatment.

Basma al-Kiyumi was charged in connection with participating in an unlawful gathering and released on bail to await trial at future date. It is not clear if other protesters who were released on 17 May were charged or not.

Another group of 27 men who had taken part in protests during March and April appeared before a Muscat court today and were charged with a number of offences including banditry, setting fire to government buildings, and insulting officials. The men pleaded not guilty and the case was adjourned until 23 May. Two of the men, Khaled al-Hantholi, and ‘Ammar al-Hani’i, were not granted bail and remain detained at the Central Prison.

At least three people have been killed and others injured during recent public protests in Oman amid allegations that the security forces have used excessive force against protesters. Many people have been arrested, including dozens who were detained in the northern city of Sohar on 29 March.

More 'Oman in the news'
CBS, mega US media corp, just released their latest edition of 'Enduring Dictators, show casing all the world's dictatorships. Naturally, it's Oman. There are a few small errors, but, this is how Oman is seen in some circles.

CBS News: Enduring Dictators.
May 18, 2011 4:54 PM

The world's enduring dictators: Qaboos bin Said, Oman

By Joshua Norman

Oman's leader Sultan Qaboos bin Said attends the third day of celebrations marking 40 years since he took the throne at Midan al-Fath Stadium in Muscat on December 1, 2010. (Credit: Getty Images) This is an installment in the WorldWatch series, "The world's enduring dictators," inspired by events in Tunisia and Egypt, in which takes a look at the men who continue to rule their lands unimpeded by law. See a complete explanation of the series and a list of others profiled here.
Qaboos bin Said, Oman

Length of rule: 41 years.
Sultan Qaboos took the throne in 1970 after deposing his father in a palace coup, and has put his stamp on his country in many ways, even changing its name from "Muscat and Oman" to the "Sultanate of Oman." His part of the Arabian peninsula has been ruled by the al-Said family since 1744.

Most despotic acts:
The current "Arab Spring"-inspired protests in the country have seen at least two deaths. Protesters have complained about rampant government corruption, high unemployment and the lack of a parliament with legislative powers. There has been several waves of arrests of anti-government protestors amid an ongoing and aggressive crackdown against discontent. Although Oman has been accused of human trafficking - especially of foreign laborers - for some time, the government has allegedly begun enforcing laws against on the practice.

Outlook for change:
As mentioned earlier, several protest leaders have been detained and released in rolling waves of arrests in the past few months, and dissatisfaction with the state of affairs in the country is high. While disgruntlement amongst the populace is obvious, the extreme dearth of foreign press coverage and lack of general press freedom there leaves it unclear as to whether the protesters want the sultan to leave, or simply want their government to function better. Beyond the recent protests, there is concern about succession in the country, as there is no heir apparent or any clear legislation on who may be the next Sultan.

Read more:


  1. Oman is no different from every other Arab country in that democracy does not exist. Yes it's a friendly little place but we who have worked and lived there know about the corruption and that it is effectively a police State.

    No Arab truly understands freedom until he goes abroad.

  2. Every country is different, Arab or not. Although the structural economic problems are genuine, I'd question whether allowing people to bring the country to a standstill until the Government pay their car loans is really a useful thing to campaign for. Oman's not a democracy, and never has been. Most democracies aren't even democracies. Would life really be better if it were? Really? Imagine tomorrow everyone was free to form a political party, buy ad space, campaign on TV, and get themselves elected as head of state for five years. You think that would lead to LESS corruption? Democracy can't be imposed overnight, and that is why the Omani model is an iterative process towards it, which has moved a pretty long way under this "long-serving dictator". Which brings my to my point:

    The issue I have with Amnesty, CBS and a million bloggers, politicians and commentators, is this: Painting all Arab countries as identical is racist, ignorant and simply misleading. For instance, the CBS piece above cites "the absence of a parliament with legislative powers". Powers that were announced two months ago. Meanwhile Amnesty want you to write to the Minister of Interior. Who isn't responsible for the police or internal security in this country.

    Campaigning for justice is a good thing. But I'd say to all these media organisations, politicians, NGOs etc: If you're going to have a campaign to "liberate" the Omani people, at least try finding out a little more about them...

  3. Yeah well posted UD. This is stuff that has to be put into the MSM, hopefully in country, but otherwise regional outlets.

    All that DA says above is also spot on.

  4. Ouch. Hope you don't get blocked for that one.

  5. I can't see what all the fuss is about. There is a perfectly good National Human Rights Commission. Its chairman might, I suppose, suffer from some credibility problems because his name is remarkably similar to that of a Major General, formerly Assistant Inspector of Police and Customs for Operations.

    He should, though, be able to interface well enough with the Public Prosecution, where the Assistant Public Prosecutor would appear to be fairly closely related.

    The Omani people are in safe hands. Remember, the process of recruiting a further 10,000 to the ROP in in full swing.

    Shayba Fulan

  6. Of course democracy is not perfect and has many flaws but when all is said and done...yes it can be is 'democracy'! ALL Arabic countries have a totalitarian regime, some like Oman are better than others but they are still dictatorships!

    Do you really want an artificial life where everyone believes what is written in The Week and Hi? No crime, all is well?

    I can read what I want and see what I want, something that cannot be done in Oman!

    Isn't it interesting that the refugees from the 'Arab Spring' who are fleeing their countries are not fleeing to other Arab/Muslim countries but to the freedom and fresh air of a democratic European country!

    After all this is why we have this blog!

  7. This CBS article is very harsh - and I'd wager that it's wilful rather than out of ignorance. It's hard to do any research about Oman and Qaboos without reading that people are generally happy, protests were generally small scale, and the Sultan is generally popular. The article purposely neglects to report this side, and so it is paints Oman as darker than it is for the sake of a story.

    No surprise there I suppose!

  8. Linoleum Surfer has summed everything up very well. I would add that in a tribal society democracy is not possible in my opinio

  9. maryam, the Tribal system is actually a very good form of 'democracy' in that the elders have earned the right and respect to be there! It matters not that it is an Arab country or African, this system actually works and a Western form of democracy would not. However, this is not to be confused by how Oman and other Arab countries are Governed! This is a dictatorship albeit a nicey nicey one! There is nothing tribal about HM's rule!

  10. Why so called HR activists are silent when it comes to China? Might is right.
    In the name of HR now Libya is being smashed and media is not even reporting it? Do they also not have their own rights? What authority has Nato to bomb Libya? Do they again suspect WMD hoax there?

    Suppose it was an Asian country who sent stuxnet virus to USA or Europe's will they keep quiet

  11. justcurious. No one can dissagree with your sentiments. After Tianamen square the Chinese get the Olympics! Mugabe murders and starves his own people but just gets a ticking off!

    China has power, no one gives a shit about Zimbabwe so just keep picking on the Arabs, easy targets.

  12. DA the irony is Obama is still quiet about Syria while bombing at Libyan targets. There is more HR violation there. Maybe there is no oil in syria or may be Bashar is close to US interests.

  13. It still annoys me that Amnesty and CBS have completely omitted to mention the rapid and important reforms that were made on 13 March, within days of the first demonstrations. Oman might not be a democracy, but I wouldn't underestimate how much the Government try to take into account the will of the people. I've just blogged on this issue here:

    justcurious: I agree completely. Libya was an easy target as even the other Arabs don't like their leader and wouldn't complain. The West has no real interest in promoting democratic revolution all over the place - but as they claim to be doing so, they needed to pick one place to be the example. I wrote about it a couple of days ago:

    (UD, sorry if this looks like ad ad, just want to contribute to the debate!)

  14. Where are you UD.
    I remember your post about problems at Oman Aviation and problems being kept secret. Now skeltons are falling out. PIA had almost had a midair collision recently. But see how media has changed in Oman. The news is published in Muscat Daily. They have even dared to publish about the barbaric practice of female genital mutilation being practiced in Oman. See the links.

  15. today , I am convinced tht whether in Oman or not,you are an asshole....

  16. So which prison are you in. Presumably one without the Internet.


  17. Aint it funny that now UK is thinking about withdrawing from Human rights agreement after they got the taste of what was coming for them.


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