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Oman activist's health rapidly worsening: Amnesty

On hunger strike in protest of his detention, Saeed Jaddad must be released 'immediately and unconditionally', Amnesty International says
In 2011, an 'Omani Spring' saw thousands of protesters seek change in the Gulf nation (AFP)

The health of a human rights activist in Oman has deteriorated seriously, Amnesty International warned on Monday, as Saeed Jaddad continued a hunger strike in protest of his detention.

Jaddad, whom Amnesty has declared a prisoner of conscience, was hospitalised on 23 January in the city of Salalah, two days after starting a hunger strike after his arrest on 21 January.

Police have ignored medical advice stating he is unfit to travel, and instead plan to move him to the capital, Muscat, for a court hearing, Amnesty reported.

"The authorities in Oman are endangering the health and life of activist Saeed Jaddad, who should not be facing trial in the first place,” Amnesty's Philip Luther said in a statement.

Luther called on the Omani authorities to release Jaddad "immediately and unconditionally".

According to the rights group, two local doctors concluded that Jaddad was unfit to travel by plane to Muscat. The police, however, moved him to their headquarters in Salalah on Monday, ahead of a flight to Muscat.

Jaddad reportedly has a pre-existing heart condition, but has refused medication in protest of his detention. He is also refusing to consume liquids.

He was charged with “undermining the status and prestige of the state” after calling for reform in Oman and meeting with members of the European Parliament in 2013.

In December, Human Rights Watch reported that Omani security officials "routinely harass, detain, and imprison rights defenders, social media users, and others critical of governmental policies".

“The pattern of arrests and interrogations in Oman has clearly had a chilling effect on the ability of Omanis to speak out,” said HRW's Joe Stork in a statement.

Demonstrations swept across the tiny Gulf nation in 2011, with thousands of many young Omanis calling for political change and better socioeconomic opportunities.

To quell the Arab Spring-inspired protests, Oman's leader, Sultan Qaboos bin Said al-Said, replaced several high-ranking officials and promising to boost minimum wage.

Amid persistent health rumours, uncertainty is growing in Oman over who will eventually take over for Qaboos after his death.

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