Wednesday, 9 November 2016

SumTips: 140 Characters Stifled by More Than Space

Human Rights Watch logo
140 characters is not just a tweet limit. 

Human Rights Watch’s latest report, 140 Characters, shares the stories of 140 well-known Bahrani, Kuwaiti, Omani, Qatari, Saudi and Emirati social and political rights activists and dissidents—and the retaliation they have encountered for making their perspectives heard. The report asks their governments to cease their acts of intimidation and harassment against activists and dissidents and to review their laws to comply with international human rights standards. 

The 140 stories of inhumane treatment towards activists and dissidents include:

Co-founders of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) Nabeel Rajab and Abdulhadi al-Khawaja have been imprisoned for their human rights activism. Most recently, Rajab was put on trial for “spreading false news,” “offending a foreign country,” and “offending national institutions.” Al-Khawaja is currently serving a life sentence for contributing to anti-government protests in 2011. The report includes 29 additional Bahrainis.

Kuwaiti teachers Huda al-Ajmi and Sara al-Drees were arrested on separate occasions for charges including insulting the emir. In 2013, al-Ajmi was sentenced to 11 years in prison for charges she denies; later that year, al-Drees received a prison sentence of 20 months. The report includes 42 additional Kuwaitis.

Former Omani parliamentarian Talib al-Maamari recently received a royal pardon from a four-year prison sentence for participating in an environmental pollution protest. Al-Maamari was convicted of “illegal gathering” and “blocking traffic.” The report includes 15 additional Omanis.

Qatari poet Muhammad ibn al-Dheeb al-Ajami’s 15-year prison sentence was pardoned in March of this year. In 2011, Al-Ajami had been found guilty of “inciting the overthrow of the ruling regime” when poetry that was critical of the ruling family was discovered online.

Saudi Arabia
Activists Manal al-Sharif and Samar Badawi have suffered the consequences of advocating for women’s rights. Al-Sharif’s “Women2Drive” campaign fought for women’s independence behind the wheel, and then led to her own imprisonment. Further activism cost al-Sharif her job as an internet security consultant. Badawi ran away from an abusive father, only to be imprisoned for seven months under the charge of “parental disobedience.” The report includes 24 additional Saudis.

United Arab Emirates
Social media activists Obaid Yousef al-Zaabi and Waleed Al-Shehhi were arrested for their tweets. Al-Zaabi’s punished crimes included the “founding and maintenance of an electronic page on Twitter…disseminating his thought and stories that stir hate and disturb public order.” Al-Shehhi received a two-year prison sentence for tweets critical of government conduct in the UAE 94 mass trial. The report includes 15 additional Emiratis.

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