Author, poet and film-maker Abdullah Habib has been arrested in Oman. It is being assumed that he was arrested due to one of his post on Facebook, but no one really knows for sure.
On the evening of 15 April 2016, the Omani Internal Security Service (ISS) summoned Habib to appear for investigation before the Special Division of the Omani Police General Command in Muscat. He has been held in detention there ever since, without access to his lawyer. Habib was granted access to his family earlier this week. According to PEN’s information, the authorities have yet to bring charges against him.
Pen International wrote about Abdullah Habib, 52, that he 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. A member of the founding committee of cinema in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), he has also directed several short films, including ‘The Statue’ and ‘This is Not a Pipe’, for which he received the Abu Dhabi Cultural Association Award in 1992. 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.”
Authorities in Oman have not yet given a reason for his arrest, though it has been reported that it is likely related to a post Habib wrote on his Facebook profile in which he called for the Omani government to reveal the location of the bodies of rebels executed during the Dhofar Rebellion, an insurgency which took place in the south of Oman between 1962-1976.
A petition drafted by Omani writers, and signed by many following its publication, passionately denounced the “shameless and contemptible violations of freedom of expression” faced by writers and activists in Oman.
Photo on top of this page: Abdullah Habib. Courtesy of Middle East Eye
» Middle East Eye – 19 April 2016:
Oman arrests leading writer over government criticism: Rights group