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Oman court begins trial of 15 human rights activists

An Omani court on Monday began a hearing against protesters who have been accused of defamation and illegal assembly, according to a local newspaper. The Omani authorities have detained more than 30 individuals who have been protesting against the government demanding political reform, promoting human rights and calling for the release of human rights defenders whom Omani authorities have detained. The court proceedings opened with hearing [Reuters report] the case against 15 protesters, four of whom have been charged with defamation and incitement to further protests and strikes in an oil factory and the remainder of whom have been charged with illegal assembly. Protesters joined a strike led by oil facility workers inciting protests leading to more detentions. The hearing is expected to resume on Tuesday.

Earlier this month the Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR) [advocacy website] urged [JURIST report] the government of Oman to release all human rights defenders who have been detained solely because of their legitimate human rights work, drop all charges against them, ensure security of the protesters in detention and take measures to protect human rights defenders when pursuing legitimate human rights activities from any harassment. Last year Oman's Misdemeanour Court of First Instance in Muscat sentenced [JURIST report] 13 protesters with to five years in prison for shutting down a government organization, blocking roads and assaulting government employees.

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