Oman Jails 12 for Illegal Gathering, 8 for Incitement
According to Reuters, an Omani court sentenced 12 people to up to one year in jail for “illegal gathering” Wednesday, in what appears to be continued dissent over joblessness and the pace of reform. The 12 defendants are now arranging to pay a bail of 1,000 rials ($2,600) each since they say they want to appeal against the sentencing. However, “Since the judgement came at the end of the day’s proceedings, we had no chance of filing appeal or applying for bail,” Badar Al Bahry, a lawyer representing the defence, told Gulf News.
On Monday, eight others were sentenced to a year in prison for internet posts a court considered “incitement” against the government. A court official told Reuters, “They have been convicted of abusive writing and incitement on the Internet and were also found guilty of slander and violation of the Information Technology Law,” adding that the defendants criticized the government for inefficiency in job creation and crackdowns on recent protests. Oman has now sentenced 29 people for either allegedly defaming Sultan Qaboos Bin Saaed and committing cybercrime or for wrongful gatherings.
Meanwhile, a recent editorial in the Washington Post criticizes recent U.S. policy in nearby Bahrain. According to the editorial board, efforts to strengthen the position of moderates within the monarchy like Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa, are “clearly not working.” Instead, the editorial recommends taking the position of Tom Malinowski, who “proposed that officials and security force members linked to human rights crimes be denied U.S. visas and access to the U.S. banking system.” “Since Bahrain regularly denies visas to critical U.S. journalists and human rights activists,” the editors note, “it should have no cause for complaint if those who are sustaining its repression are similarly sanctioned.”