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18 inmates on hunger strike in Oman prison

Activists want courts to decide on their pending cases while they serve term

  • By Sunil K. Vaidya Bureau Chief
  • Published: 11:54 February 9, 2013
  • Gulf News

Muscat: Eighteen jailed activists began a hunger strike today (Saturday) to protest the delay in the Appeal Court hearing for cases on cyber law violations as well as their appeal not being taken up so far by the Supreme Court.

“We have been requesting the court to hear another case against some of the activists, who are already serving six-month terms for wrongful gathering,” Esmail Al Muqabali, who is serving an 18-month prison term for insulting the Sultan and violating cyber laws, told Gulf News over the phone from Sumayil Central Prison.

He added that they also want to draw attention to conditions at the prison. “We also want the judges to ignore any influence by the security forces and take up the pending hearing against some of us already spending time in prison,” he pointed out.

Esmail, who has been at the forefront of protests, was first arrested from Fahoud when he went to show solidarity with tstriking Omani workers hired by the contracting companies for Petroleum Development Oman (PDO).

The Sohar-based activist, who is on suspension from his employers PDO, added that the delay in taking up the cases for some who are already sentenced in one case could increase their stay in prison. “If the judgement is passed in their second case now, then they do not have to spend additional time and complete prison terms simultaneously in both cases,” he said.

“We are 18 of us,” another activist and freelance photographer Mohammad Al Habsi, who is also serving a term for insulting the Sultan and violating cyber laws, told Gulf News referring to inmates going on a hunger strike.

With time constraints on talk time for inmates at the prison, they could not give the names of the 18 inmates taking part in the hunger strike.

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