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Fears for health of 30 jailed Oman hunger strikers


A member of Oman's consultative council voiced concern Wednesday for the health of 30 jailed activists who have been on hunger strike for the past 12 days, as activists said some of them were in hospital.

"We are concerned, as are their families, about the deterioration of the health conditions of the detainees after 12 days on hunger strike," said Malek al-Abri, a member of Oman's elected Majlis al-Shura (consultative council).

The council "is in contact, at all levels" with the government to allow a delegation to visit Samayl central prison, 60 kilometres (37 miles) south of Muscat, to "inquire about the situation of the hunger strikers," Abri told AFP.

The hunger strike was first launched by 17 cyber activists in protest at delays in their appeals after they were jailed for between six to 18 months for "unlawful assembly and violating the Cyber Law."

They were later joined by 13 other prisoners protesting their conditions of detentions, according to activists.

Their appeals will be considered by the Supreme Court on February 25 and a final decision will be made on March 4, according to Abri.

An activist, who requested anonymity, said that "some of the hunger strikers were hospitalised after they lost consciousness".

Two of them -- Saeed al-Hashmi and Abdullah al-Arimi -- were still in hospital, the activist said.

Several groups of activists are on trial on charges of defaming or using Internet social media networks to insult Sultan Qaboos, who has ruled the Gulf sultanate for 42 years.

The appeals court has upheld the jail terms of many already sentenced.

Others have been tried after taking part in protests demanding political reforms that shook usually calm Oman in 2011.

Riot police used force to disperse the demonstrations, but Sultan Qaboos responded to the unrest by reshuffling the cabinet and increasing the powers of the consultative assembly.