Oman's Misdemeanour Court of First Instance in Muscat sentenced 13 protesters [Times of Oman report] on Wednesday, handing five-year sentences to seven of the activists. Those seven were charged with shutting down a government organization. Six others were given fines and between three and four-month sentences for blocking roads and assaulting government employees. An additional 55 [Reuters Africa] were sentenced for vandalism the day before. The indicted were arrested after protests in February [Al-Jazeera report] where at least two were killed. Activists were reportedly demanding a higher living standard, more media access, and an end to government corruption.
The protests in Sohar were prompted by the recent wave of protests in the Middle East. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] applauded [JURIST report] the establishment of national human rights institutions (NHRIs) [official website] in Oman last year, noting their "growing effectiveness" in promoting human rights. The 2010 Failed States Index [index; FP special report] released in 2010 declared Oman one of the most stable countries in the world [JURIST report]. Oman was also praised by the US [JURIST report] in 2009 for enacting legislation to improve labor conditions. Despite Oman's reputation for being a peaceful state, protesters were sentenced to 7-20 years in prison in 2005 [JURIST report].