In May of 2015, Maharat Foundation and the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) launched the prisoners of conscience campaign in association with IFEX. The campaign seeks to shed light on the many activists and human rights defenders who have been imprisoned across the Arab region simply for expressing their opinions and beliefs.
Every month, a new Arab prisoner of conscience will be spotlighted and their stories will be told. There are many ways that you can get involved to help demand their release, an improvement of their conditions, or at the very least, to let authorities know that these individuals will not be forgotten.
Join us as we make it known around the world that #TheirFreedomIsTheirRight!
This Month's Prisoner: Muawiyah al-Rawahi
The prisoner of conscience for the month of September is Muawiyah al-Rawahi. Rawahi is an Oman-born author and poet and runs the popular blog Dilated Pupil, as well as a self-titled Youtube Channel.
Rawahi was detained by UAE security forces at the border on February 24th, 2015. He has been accused of inciting hatred towards the UAE's regime, which is believed to stem from his 2013 criticism on Twitter of Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi. No specific criminal charge has been laid against him to date, despite his long detention. Rawahi's trial was initially scheduled for September 14th, but has been postponed to October 5th.
Rawahi has been persecuted several times by the Omani state. In 2012 he was arrested by the state, and arrested again following his blog post “I'm finally free”, in which he criticized the conditions he was confined under. In 2014 he was involuntarily confined to the Sultan Qaboos psychiatric hospital, from which a colleague smuggled out a picture of him with his legs shackled. The confinement followed his blogging in support of teachers that had gone on strike. Most recently he was jailed for a week in Oman, immediately prior to his border detention by the UAE.
In November 2014 Rawahi posted on Facebook that he was giving up blogging, and would write only poetry and novels in the future. He reportedly told a colleague that he had given up on the potential of blogging to make a difference.
Tweet for al-Rawahi
Let's show Rawahi and Crown Prince bin Zayed that the world is watching and social activism does not go unheard. Share the tweet below and help us send the message to the UAE that social criticism on Twitter or any other medium is not a crime.
Justice is freedom for @MuawiyahalRawahi, writer and prisoner of conscience held in the #UAE. @MBZNews #TheirFreedomIsTheirRight
Want to do more?
- Email the national office of the UAE (email@example.com) and ministry of foreign affairs of Oman (firstname.lastname@example.org) urging the release of al-Rawahi;
- Tweet the official account of Crown Prince bin Zayed (@MBZNews) and urge the UAE to respect international standards for free expression;
- Post the photo of the prisoner of the month on your accounts, blogs or websites;
- Encourage the press in your country to write about Rawahi’s case, and those of the other Prisoners of the Month.