Omani activists end hunger strike

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Updated 26 February 2013
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Omani activists end hunger strike

MUSCAT: Thirty jailed Omani activists have ended their two weeks-long hunger strike after the country’s Supreme Court began reviewing their appeals, a lawyer defending them told AFP yesterday.
“The detainees suspended their hunger strike after they learnt that the Supreme Court has decided to review their appeals,” Yakoob Al-Harithi said.
The hunger strike was first launched by 17 cyber activists on Feb. 9 as a protest at delays in hearing their appeals after they were jailed for between six to 18 months for “unlawful assembly and violating the cyber law.” They were later joined by 13 other prisoners protesting at their conditions of detention, activists say.
Harithi said that as part of its review the Supreme Court upheld the one year jail term handed down to five of the 30 activists in December.
The five were convicted of insulting Sultan Qaboos and committing cyber crimes, Harithi said, adding that the court will hear the remaining appeals over the next three weeks.
Several groups of activists are on trial on charges of defaming or using online social media networks to insult Sultan Qaboos.
The appeals court has upheld the jail terms of many already sentenced.
Others have been tried after taking part in protests demanding political reforms that shook the 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.


Palestinians protest in Ramallah over Gaza sanctions

Updated 11 min 29 sec ago
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Palestinians protest in Ramallah over Gaza sanctions

  • Hundreds of Palestinians demonstrated Saturday in the occupied West Bank to demand the Palestinian Authority lift punitive measures against the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.
  • Demonstrators in Ramallah chanted “scrap the sanctions!” during protests against the Palestinian Authority.

RAMALLAH: Hundreds of Palestinians demonstrated Saturday in the occupied West Bank to demand the Palestinian Authority lift punitive measures against the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, an AFP reporter said.
Demonstrators in Ramallah chanted “scrap the sanctions!” during protests against the Palestinian Authority, organized by civil society groups.
The Ramallah-based administration has introduced a series of measures against Gaza over the past year.
Tens of thousands of its civil servants in the coastal enclave, separated from the West Bank by a strip of Israeli territory, have gone without full pay for months.
Critics say such moves by the PA, dominated by the Fatah movement of president Mahmud Abbas, further exacerbate the split between the two parts of the Palestinian territories.
The rally passed peacefully, unlike a protest on June 13 during which Palestinian security forces fired stun grenades and tear gas to disperse demonstrators.
On Saturday, policemen were seen handing out Palestinian flags to the protesters.
Hamas has run Gaza since seizing it from the Palestinian Authority amid deadly clashes in 2007.
Since that year, Israel has maintained a crippling blockade on Gaza which it argues is necessary to isolate Hamas.
Rights groups say the siege amounts to collective punishment.
Israel and Hamas have fought three wars in the territory since 2008.
Neighbouring Egypt has also largely sealed its land border with Gaza in recent years, citing security threats.
The United Nations has said Gaza, which is home to two million people, will be uninhabitable by 2020.
Hamas and Fatah signed a reconciliation agreement last October, but it has since collapsed.