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Three members of Omani Group for Human Rights detained

(ANHRI/IFEX) - Cairo, 31 May 2012 - ANHRI condemns the detention of three activists, Habiba Hana'ei, Ismail Meqbali, and Yacoub Kharousi, by the Omani security services. Their detention is further evidence of the systematic violations of human rights in the Sultanate of Oman and the unfulfilled promises of reform.

According to activists, the three were detained on May 31 while on their way to Fohoud oil field in the desert to check on the conditions of workers on strike since May 24. Press reports have been released about measures these companies are taking in cooperation with the Omani government and security services to repress and deter the workers through wrongful termination, threat of military force, and the cutting off of electric, water, and food supplies.

The activists informed ANHRI that the last contact with Meqbali was on May 31 at 11 in the morning, when he stated that security men harassed them as they were meeting with the strikers, and that he did not rule out any measure taken against them, especially that he had seen security men following them since they left Muscat, the capital of Oman. Nearly 4000 workers in the oil sector are participating in the strike, exacerbated by the government's procrastination and non-implementation of its promises.

It is worth noting that Hana'ei and Meqbali are members of the Omani Group for Human Rights, which consists of a number of independent activists. They are also members of the Humanitarian Initiative for the Release of Protesters in Oman.

Hana'ei had published her testimony on a visit to detained protesters earlier in the month of May. She spoke of systematic torture of detainees and their ongoing suffering in prisons. This suggests that she has been under surveillance by the authorities because of her humanitarian activities.

On a different note, a number of prisoners of conscience in Samail prison have been on a hunger strike for six days. They cite ill-treatment and humiliation by guards as a primary reason for the strike. Press reports cited that a military force had stormed the cells of the prisoners on strike and put them in solitary confinement on May 31.

"The detention of Hana'ei and her companions, the presence of security forces, and the torture of prisoners of conscience demonstrate that the Omani regime is worried by the noble appeals of activists and the ongoing calls to respect human rights," said ANHRI.

ANHRI calls on all stakeholders to pressure the Omani government to immediately release the three activists and all prisoners of conscience in the country, and to put an end to torture in prisons.

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