Last updated: 10 February, 2013

17 jailed Omani activists on hunger strike

Seventeen jailed Omani cyber activists have begun a hunger strike in protest against delays in their appeals, local media reported,

The activists in Samayl central prison launched a hunger strike on Friday “to protest against what they claimed to be a delay in reviewing their appeal by the Supreme Court,” Times of Oman quoted their lawyer Yaqoob al-Harthi as saying.

“The activists will only drink water until their demands are met,” Harthi said, adding that the activists’ families had submitted a letter to the Supreme Court demanding a speedier hearing in their cases.

The hunger strikers are accused of “unlawful assembly and violating the Cyber Law and are serving jail terms from six to 18 months,” the daily said.

Several groups of activists are on trial on charges of defaming or using Internet social media networks to insult Sultan Qaboos, who has ruled the Gulf sultanate for 42 years.

The appeals court has so far upheld the jail terms of many activists.

Many others have been tried after taking part in protests demanding political reforms that shook usually calm Oman in 2011.

Riot police used force to disperse the demonstrations, but Sultan Qaboos responded to the unrest by reshuffling the cabinet and increasing the powers of the consultative assembly.