Target: Sultan Qaboos bin Sa’id Al ‘Bu Sa’id
Goal: Defend the rights of online activists to freedom of expression on social media.
Online activists in Oman have been sentenced by the courts for their social media posts. Former diplomat Hassan al-Basham was sentenced to three years for peacefully discussing religious, political, economic and social topics on Facebook and Twitter. The sentence is for insulting God and the country’s leader Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said. Another activist, artist and researcher Sayyid Abdullah al-Daruri was sentenced to three months in prison for a post regarding his regional affiliation.
Al-Basham has been arrested before, including once for his part in popular protests five years ago. He was acquitted of the charges of closing the Sohar Roundabout and insulting senior state officials. The current charges against him are public blasphemy of God’s holiness, insulting the Sultan, and using information networks in prejudice against religious values.
Such charges have become commonplace in the campaign against activists in Oman, and include such vague offenses as undermining the prestige of the state. Al-Daruri was arrested after he published a post that defended the need for unity between Oman and Dhofar, Oman’s largest governorate, which has a rich linguistic and cultural heritage.
These arrests and more like them have become commonplace in Oman following recent protests. Activists and peaceful dissenters are being imprisoned for speaking out and exercising their rights to free speech. Sign this petition and defend freedom of expression for these activists and others.
Dear Sultan Qaboos,
The arrests and punishment of online activists in Oman for freely expressing their thoughts and views is an attack on their human rights and their rights to freedom of expression. The harsh sentences handed down to people such as former diplomat Hassan al-Basham and Sayyid Abdullah al-Daruri for expressing their views on social media are unjust.
The vague charges being levied against al-Basham, al-Daruri and many others like them should be a grave cause for concern for the future of Omani people’s right to speak out and peacefully dissent. Offenses such as insulting the senior state officials and undermining the prestige of the state effectively muzzle people who wish to express their viewpoints online and punishes them disproportionately for doing so.
People’s right to peacefully dissent and voice their opinions should be defended, not violated by loose interpretations of the law. Stop the dismantling of the right to freedom of expression online and stop the arrests of those who have posted their thoughts on the Internet.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Ian Sewell