Oman: Prominent Human Rights Defender Said Jadad Arrested Again, Demands Justice
On 22 January 2015, Alkarama sent an urgent appeal to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) and several other Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council regarding the case of Said Jadad, a 56-year-old prominent Human Rights Defender (HRD) arbitrarily arrested and secretly detained at least four times in the past two years for his peaceful activism for justice and human rights.
In the evening of 21 January 2015, a large group of the riot police raided Jadad's house in Salalah, the capital and seat of the governor of the southern Omani province of Dhofar, and arrested him using brutal and unnecessary force against him and his family, terrifying his children aged 6 and 10. Prior to his arrest, Jadad had warned that, if he were to be re-arrested, he would go on hunger strike and refuse to take medication until his release.
In a letter published by Watan on 20 January 2015 and addressed to all free men of Oman and the world as well as to all international human rights organisations, Jadad wrote: "I refuse to go to a politicised court, whose actions have nothing to do with law or justice, and which does not respect human rights and human dignity. I refuse to recognise all the parodies of trials conducted by the security apparatus. I refuse to participate in these theatre scenes of which the results are known in advance. Should I be arrested, I declare that I will go on a hunger strike to death [...] If his Majesty Qabus ibn Said he can hear me, I only ask for justice, justice and justice."
Extremely preoccupied by his situation, Alkarama has called on several UN Special Procedures for the protection of human rights – including the WGAD, the Special Rapporteur (SR) on the rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association (FPAA), the SR on the situation of HRDs, the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID), the SR on torture and other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment (SRT), and the SR on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression – to act urgently in order to put an end to this clear violation of Jadad's most fundamental rights and freedoms.
"The case of Said Jadad who, despite the continued harassment against him, continues to speak up bravely and peacefully for human rights in his country, is a striking example of the increasing crackdown by the Omani authorities on dissent and peaceful activism for democracy and human rights," said Radidja Nemar, Regional Legal Officer for the Gulf at Alkarama.
Jadad is expected to be presented before the Muscat Court on 25 January 2015, for the first hearing of a trial in which judges will pronounce themselves on charges that are all based on acts falling under the legitimate exercise of freedom of speech, opinion and assembly in order to promote universally recognised rights in his country.
Today, with all the charges against him, Jadad faces 15 years in jail, he explained in the letter published by Watan, adding that "this is also the figure given to me in 2013 by the security officer in charge of my case, who then vowed that if I dared to utter a single word after my release from custody, he would make me disappear in prisons and detention centres for 15 years [...] If I die in the prisons of injustice, I bequeath my death to all the free people of this nation. I advise you to be patient, to stand your ground for justice, to continue your peaceful struggle to achieve freedom, social justice and respect for human rights and to fight against corruption. Nobody can enslave you as long as you keep your head up."
This is the fourth time that Alkarama refers his situation to the UN Special Procedures on Human Rights after several reprisals carried out against him by the authorities. On 14 January 2013, because of his relentless human rights advocacy, in particular in the media and social media, Jadad was summoned by the Royal Omani Police and was detained incommunicado for several weeks before being released. Alkarama had then solicited the urgent intervention of the WGEID.
Continuing his advocacy despite being the victim of constant harassment, in October Jadad attempted to attend a workshop on human rights advocacy in Istanbul. As he was boarding his plane, the authorities confiscated his passport, informing him that a travel ban had been issued against him with no further explanation. Alkarama had then sent a communication to both the SR on the rights to FPAA and the SR on the situation of HRDs requesting them to urge the authorities to put an end to these reprisals. It was indeed obvious that the travel ban had been issued to prevent Jadad to continue his advocacy, in particular after his meeting with Maina Kiai, SR on FPAA, during his official visit to Oman in early September 2014.
At the time, Jadad spoke to Alkarama of his fear of being retaliated against, a fear confirmed by in December 2014 when he was rearrested without a warrant and detained in a secret location for 12 days, during which he was victim of ill-treatment and psychological torture, and questioned continuously about his human rights activism and links with international human rights organisations. Alkarama had again sent an urgent appeal to several UN Special Procedures, including the WGEID, calling on the UN experts to urge the Omani authorities to stop their reprisals against peaceful activists, a practice that has seemingly increased in Oman since Maina Kiai's visit.
Following his visit to Oman, Kiai had expressed serious concerns over the deterioration of the situation of fundamental freedoms and rights. After his meetings with civil society, victims and activists, he described his "distinct impression of a pervasive culture of silence and fear affecting anyone who wants to speak and work for reforms in Oman. They are afraid to speak their minds, afraid to speak on the telephone, afraid to meet."
Alkarama will relentlessly defend him and call for his release before the UN Human Rights Mechanisms, and the upcoming Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Oman in October-November during the 23rd session of the Human Rights Council (HRC).
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