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Free Speech in Qatar: "You Can't Talk Everythings"

By       Message William Boardman       (Page 4 of 8 pages) Become a premium member to see this article and all articles as one long page.     Permalink

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According to DohaNews*, the prosecutor denied the irregularities and went on to argue that "two poetry experts from the Ministry of Arts, Culture and Heritage offered identical testimony, confirming that in their interpretation, Al-Ajami's poems called for the overthrow of the regime." 


   Amnesty, Human Rights Watch Weigh In


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For months now, at least two international organizations have been calling on Qatar to release the poet.  In October, Amnesty International initiated a letter writing campaign on al-Ajami's behalf, while issuing a statement that, based on what was known, Qatar had no right to hold him: 


"Mohammed al-Ajami has now spent almost a year behind bars in solitary confinement apparently solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression.  

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" If that is the case, he would be considered a prisoner of conscience and should be released immediately and conditionally."


Amnesty has condemned the life sentence for al-Ajami as "an outrageous betrayal of free speech."   Earlier in November, Amnesty issued a public statement calling on Qatar to end its use of torture and other ill treatment of prisoners and detainees, and in particular to stop its practice of issuing flogging sentences of 40 to 100 lashes.    Also according to Amnesty:  "Freedom of expression -- including press freedoms -- is strictly controlled in Qatar, in addition to which the press often exercises self-censorship." 


In September, Human Rights Watch wrote to Qatar's Attorney General Al-Marri, asking him to drop the charges against the poet:  "We are writing to you to express our concerns over the continued detention of Qatari poet Muhammed Ibn al-Dheeb al-Ajami, and the inconsistency of this action with Qatar's international obligations and its burgeoning global reputation as a center for media freedom."


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   Qatar Flouts International Law & Standards


Expanding its argument, the Human Rights Watch letter stated: 

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Vermonter living in Woodstock: elected to five terms (served 20 years) as side judge (sitting in Superior, Family, and Small Claims Courts); public radio producer, "The Panther Program" -- nationally distributed, three albums (at CD Baby), some (more...)

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