Last updated: 12 June, 2012

Omani protesters demand release of rights activists

Omani police peacefully dispersed on Tuesday a demonstration in Muscat by a small group of people demanding the release of more than 30 rights activists arrested in the past few days for demanding reforms.

The protesters had gathered in front of a police station in the the commercial neighbourhood of Quiram and were convinced by police, who had established a cordon around it, to leave so as not to block traffic.

Speaking of the detainees, a police officer said “they are in good hands and in good health.”

Meanwhile, civil society groups in the Gulf states called on Oman to immediately release the rights activists.

The Gulf Forum for Civil Societies, an organisation of liberal activists in the Gulf, said Omani authorities arrested 22 activists on Monday who were demanding the release of 10 others held the previous week.

“We call on the Omani government to free the detainees immediately without any preconditions in respect for international charters signed by Oman,” said a statement signed by GFCS secretary general Anwar al-Rasheed.

The 10 activists were arrested on June 1 when they gathered outside police headquarters in support of striking oil workers who were demanding wage raises and better working conditions, Rasheed told AFP.

Those arrested include writers, poets, bloggers, lawyers and journalists, among whom were five women, the statement said.

Oman was hit by a wave of protests last year demanding political reforms and riot police dispersed the demonstrations with force, killing several activists and arresting many others.