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Oman: release of prominent poet and intellectual

Wednesday 20 June 2018 - 5:01pm

Oman : Abdullah Habib

20 June 2018

Update #4 to RAN 09/16

النسخة العربية متوفرة Arabic version available in PDF 

PEN International welcomes the release of prominent poet Abdullah Habib on 13 June 2018, who was serving a six-month prison sentence on politically-motivated charges. Habib was released under a general amnesty issued by ruler Sultan Qaboos on the occasion of the Eid Al-Fitr which is an Islamic celebration to mark the end of Ramadan.

 On 2 April 2018, Habib was arrested following a decision of the Muscat Appeals Court, which upheld a three-year sentence against him, with only six months to be served in prison. The remaining two and a half years of the sentence have been suspended, but during this time Habib is prevented from travelling. Therefore, Habib’s passport has not yet been returned to him. During his detention at the accommodation centre at Samail Central Prison, Habib was denied regular access to his medication. Habib was convicted of contempt of religion, spreading hatred, blasphemy, and using the internet to publish material that prejudice religious values or public order.

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Send Appeals:

  • Welcoming the release of poet Abdullah Habib, and calling for the full respect of his right freedom of expression;
  • Calling for the immediate and unconditional release of all other writers currently detained in Oman solely in connection with the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression and assembly;
  • Urging the Omani authorities to accede to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights without delay and reminding them that, in line with the UN’s 1998 Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, the government must provide protection to human rights defenders, including against any violence, threats, retaliation or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of the legitimate exercise of their rights.
  • Calling for Habib’s suspended sentence to be quashed, for his passport to be returned and for the removal of his travel ban;

Send appeals to:

Sultan Qaboos bin Sa’id

Head of State

Diwan of the Royal Court

The Palace, Muscat 113

Sultanate of Oman

Salutation: Your Majesty

Abdulmalik bin Abdullah Al Khalili, Minister of Justice

Ministry of Justice

Al Khwair - Al Wazarat Street

P.O.Box: Ruwi , 354

Postal Code: Ruwi, 112

Muskat - Sultanate of Oman


Salutation: Your Excellency

Hamoud bin Faisal bin Saeed Al Busaidi, Minister of Interior

Ministry of Interior

Al Khwair - Al Wazarat Street

Sekat 3415 - Muskat - Sultanate of Oman


Salutation: Your Excellency

It is recommended that you send a copy of your appeals via the diplomatic representative for Oman in your country. Contact details for embassies can be found here

** Please keep us informed of any action you take in regard to Abdullah Habib’s case, including any responses you receive from the authorities.


Abdullah Habib is a prolific writer, film-maker and intellectual who has written extensively on film. He holds a PhD/ABD (2005) in Critical Film Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where he has taught courses in “Third World Cinema”, and “Cinema and Social Change”. Habib has also published twelve books of poetry and short story collections. In 2013, Habib was honoured by the General Secretariat of the Gulf Cooperation Council for his excellence in cultural production.

PEN International has been campaigning for Habib as we believe that he has been targeted for his peaceful activism and writing. The situation for freedom of expression and opinion in Oman continues to deteriorate. Many writers and activists have been arrested or forced to flee the country.

To see our previous actions on Abdullah Habib please click here.

For any further information, please contact Nael Georges, PEN International, Koops Mill Mews, 162-164 Abbey Street, London SE1 2AN | Tel: +44 (0) 207 405 0338 | Email: