Annual Report on the Human Rights Situation in Oman (2021)
The Omani Centre for Human Rights (OCHR) presents its ninth annual report, reviewing human rights in Oman for the year 2021. This has been the second year since the present Sultan, Haitham bin Tariq, came to power in January 2020, yet the government is still using its powers to violate human rights and mount attacks on freedom of opinion and belief, by means of legal restrictions, summoning people for interrogation, and unjustified arrests. Gender-based discrimination has also continued, and the rights of women in Oman continue to be violated in the areas of politics, education, health and social life. In addition, certain subject matters continue to be censored and blocked.
Transfer of Dhofar Plains land ownership:
23 February: Environmental activist Dr Ahmed Qutn was arrested after criticising and protesting against the transfer of ownership of camel grazing lands to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, and was charged with harmful use of social media. He went on trial on 3 March 2021, having been released on bail that day.
31 March: Salem al-Maashani, who had tweeted against the Dhofar Plains land transfer and in support of Dr Qutn, was sentenced to prison and fined. He later, 1st June, had his one-month sentence upheld on appeal with stay of execution and reduction of the fine from 1,000 riyals ($2,600) to 500 riyals ($1,300).
Online censorship and blocking:
12 March: Muwatin Media Network’s website was blocked in Oman for the second time.
13 March: Audio chat app Clubhouse was blocked in Oman for not having a licence.
26 March: The Royal Oman Police released a statement in response to social media debate over a widely viewed Instagram video in which Omani citizen Sultan Ambusaidi talked about having been tortured in 2017 by named members of the Internal Security Service.
9 May: Omani citizen Buthaina Ahmad Mahmoud was deported from Bahrain, arriving in Oman on 12 May, after serving a six-month prison sentence in Bahrain because of a comment she made in a WhatsApp message.
A Refugee Status:
28 May: Omani citizen Majda Hafez applied for asylum in the United Kingdom, having suffered increasing harassment by the security forces and been dismissed from her job in Oman.
Peaceful assembly and the right to protest:
23 May: A series of peaceful protests over unemployment and corruption broke out in Oman, beginning in the northern city of Sohar.
24 May: The protests spread to Salalah, where a number of peaceful demonstrators were arrested.
25 May: Peaceful protests now spread to Al-Suwaiq, Ibra’, Sur, Nizwa, Badiya, Ibri and Khabura, followed by Muscat, Sama’il and Al-Buraimi.
26 May: Clashes continued between the demonstrators and security forces in Sohar, with the security forces using tear gas and closing off a number of main streets.
27 May: A number of Omani women gathered and demonstrated outside the Directorate of Housing and Planning in Salalah, while elsewhere the arrests continued.
Arbitrary arrests for exercising freedom of expression:
30 June: Omani media personality Naser Busaidi was arrested for criticising the actions of the Supreme Committee responsible for handling the Covid-19 pandemic. He was released without charge on 3 July.
24 July: Ghaith al-Shibli was summoned for questioning after hosting some discussions in Twitter chat rooms on topics such as the freedom to have atheistic views or no religious belief, and the freedom to criticise Oman’s religious heritage.
2 August: Abdullah Hassan and others were arrested for their regular contributions to al-Shibli’s Twitter chats, and for tweeting in support of religious freedoms.
On or about 2 August: The authorities raided the flat of Maryam al-Nuaimi and arrested her after she took part in an online discussion about the position of women in Oman.
11 August: Omani citizen Talal al-Salmani was arrested after calling for a demonstration against the sale of alcohol in Oman, even though he had sent a letter to the head of Bousher police station seeking permission to organise the rally. He was eventually released without charge on 13 October.
14 August: The authorities arrested Omani citizen Khamis al-Hitali on the very day he published a personal video in which he criticised the economic situation in Oman, holding the present Sultan, Haitham bin Tariq, responsible.
For details see: https://ochroman.org/eng/2021/08/arrests-oman/
1 December: The Ministry of Information ordered the suspension of veteran broadcaster Kholoud al-Alawi’s “All Questions” programme on the private radio station Hala FM, after she hosted an episode in which Shura Council member Muhammad al-Zadjali criticised the Council’s President.
To have a look at the report, please visit our website: