Gulf | Oman

Rights group ‘has no knowledge of hunger strikers’ in Oman

Prisoners claim to have handed over letter to Oman prison authorities with a copy for National Human Rights Commission

  • By Sunil K. Vaidya, Bureau Chief
  • Published: 15:21 March 31, 2013
  • Gulf News

Muscat: The National Human Rights Commission Chairman (NHRC), Mohammad Bin Abdullah Bin Masoud Al Riyami, has denied any notice given to them about a hunger strike by prisoners in the high-security Central Prison in Sumayil.

“I have no comment to make about news doing the rounds about the hunger strike as we have received no letter, no notice from prisoners as claimed,” he told Gulf News on Sunday.

Ali Hilal Al Muqabali, a Sohar-based activist, who was recently released after Sultan Qaboos Bin Saeed announced a pardon, told Gulf News that four prisoners of the 14 serving a sentence for their role in the Sohar protests in 2011 had gone on hunger strike from Saturday after giving notice of their intention to the prison authorities a week ago.

The OmaniaAffairs, a handle on micro-blogging social media website Twitter, claimed that it had confirmed with the prison authorities and there was no truth in the rumour about a hunger strike by four prisoners.

The activist said that the prisoners had given the letter to the prison authorities and had asked them to send a copy of the letter to the NHRC. “We stand by our statement that the four are on hunger strike,” the activist said.

Al Muqabali also said that he had personally sent a message about the prisoners’ hunger strike to NHRC members — Jihad Abdullah Mohammad Al Taie and Majidah Bint Shekhan Bin Majid Al Maamari — on their Twitter accounts.

Hilal Al Alawi, Khalid Al Badi, Khalid Al Alawi, from Saham, and Khalid Al Saeedi, from Sohar, are reportedly on a hunger strike inside prison since Saturday.

There are 14 serving prison terms, seven for five years and others sentenced to 30 months for their alleged role in violent protests that rocked Sohar in 2011.

In February, 23 activists had gone on a hunger strike demanding speedy trials. After that the Supreme Court had ordered a retrial for eight activists held for wrongful gathering in Muscat in May last year. However, before the Appeal Court could conclude the retrial Sultan Qaboos pardoned all activists, who were held for insulting the Sultan as well as wrongful gathering.

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