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: Mohammed Ibn al-Dheeb al-Ajami
The prisoner of the month for August is Mohammed Ibn al-Dheeb al-Ajami, a Qatari poet sentenced to 15 years in prison on charges of “incitement to overthrow the regime” and “insulting the Amir.” The charges stem from a poem written in 2011 called, “Tunisian Jasmine,” which expressed support for the Arab Spring revolution and criticised Gulf state rulers as “thieves.” Previous poems written by al-Ajami had specifically targeted members of the Qatari ruling family.
Mohammed Ibn al-Dheeb Al-Ajami was arrested in November 2011 after being summoned by the state security services, and held incommunicado under ill treatment for several months before his family was finally allowed to visit. In 2012, he was sentenced to life in prison after secretive court proceedings that flouted international standards of fairness and transparency.
Although al-Ajami's life sentence was reduced to 15 years on appeal, his imprisonment remains a gross violation of Qatar's domestic and international commitments to uphold the right to freedom of expression and contradicts Qatar's claim to be a “bastion of free speech,” in the region.
Tweet for Mohammed
Help us expose the blatant injustice of Qatar's attempts to silence the criticism expressed in the poetic work of Mohammed Ibn al-Dheeb al-Ajami. Share the tweet provided above and speak out for the rights of al-Ajami and others imprisoned for expressing their opinions in Qatar!
Want to do more?
- Contact Qatari officials and urge the release of Mohammed Ibn al-Dheeb al-Ajami;
- Post the photo of the prisoner of the month on your accounts, blogs or websites;
- Encourage the press in your country to write about the case of the prisoner of the month.