Call on Jordan to release political prisoners and concern about the retraction of rights
Majed Al Sharari, the former mayor of the city of Maan has been on a hunger strike for twenty days. He has been charged with attempting to undermine the political regime in Jordan, participating in an illegal crowd, placing community security in danger, and hurting the national economy.
Jordanian authorities succeeded last December in ending the protests that included a large section of Jordan, especially cities in the south. The protests that were focused on the rise in the price of fuel led to the arrest of political activists among them Majed al Sharari.
Tens of detainees for their opinions, and a source denies
The National Forum for the Defence of Rights in Jordan, a coalition of rights activists says that the number of political detainees is around two hundred but a source who asked not to be identified denied to AMMANNET that.
The source refused the description of political prisoners and says that they are “arrested for violating Jordanian law and for specific circumstances because of blocking the roads, burning tires during the recent truckers' protests last December.”
Dr. Sufyan al Tal a political activist who has been regularly targeted by the Jordanian authorities was also accused of trying to change the political regime and causing sedition along with other activists like Omar Abu Rasa and Abed Al Tawahneh are in jail.
Jordanian security forces broke into the home of Tal who is a senior man in his eighties, last December just before he had planned to make a video statement using a social media platform. He wanted to talk about the political situation in Jordan. He was detained on orders of the state security court for three days and then released.
Al Tal, who is the coordination of the Movement for Change in Jordan tells AMMANNET that “the governing powers in Jordan do not want to talk to people and attempt to impose a total gag on information regarding life in Jordan. I was accused of undermining the region, but we call for a new order that does not impose opinions imported from outside.”
According to al Tal, “the arrests has reached different sectors including the unified Hirak where twelve out of sixteen of the executive committee of the movement for change were arrested in an illegal and unconstitutional way. It is clear to us that every active Jordanian organization like parties and unions is targeted.”
Jordan has also targeted the most popular writer who uses sarcasm in Jordan, Ahmad Hassan Zoubi and has charged him with incitement and “publishing false rumors” regarding the protests the rise in Diesel and Kerosine prices.
The Jordanian authorities use elastic charges like “undermining the ruling establishment” and “public insult” as well as attempting to change the basis of society and creating regional feuds. These elastic and undefined charges in Jordan’s legislation allow the detention of tens of political activists including retired military personnel teachers and others. All are usually taken to state security courts because they expressed an opinion using social media or were involved in peaceful protest.
Ahmad Zoubi is pessimistic about the status of media rights in Jordan. He told AMMANNET that “I have never seen in the media and rights history in twenty years the retraction that I see now. There is pressure on journalists by censoring journalistic content or denying their ability to cover events and even charging them with violations of press and publication laws as well as the cybercrimes law.”
“I do not understand this restriction. We used to have much more freedom than we have now. Unfortunately, it is inaccurate to say that we have freedom. We have self-censorship. We have fifty censors, a security one a judicial one even a community censor that forces us to live in tension every day.”
“The worst thing that a journalist feels today is the security threats and the possibility that he will be sent to court and prison. Next is the concern about losing your income and being under financial pressure through the denial of advertising to the media outlets that you can work with freely.
The US State Department human rights report about Jordan criticized the government for having nearly 200 political detainees in Jordan. The 2022 annual report quoted an earlier report published in the Middle East Eye about pressures that have affected families of Jordanian activists who live abroad.
The US is the biggest contributor to Jordan providing $4.6 billion in the last seven years. Part of these funds is connected to political and democratic reform as well as issues of good governance.
Call to release prisoners
The Committee for the defense of Political Prisoners in Jordan, a coalition of lawyers and activists, has called on the Jordanian government to release political prisoners held for their thoughts in Jordanian jails.
Activists and jurists stated in a press conference Wednesday that they are concerned about the retraction of Jordan in international indexes about general freedoms.
Retired judge Loay Obeidat said at the press conference that “what is going on in terms of a violation of general rights in Jordan, is a source of concern and puts Jordan in the focus and target of reports that we receive every day. This has led to the retraction of the country in various levels in this area.”
“We are not happy, and we are not proud to see the reports about the retraction of freedoms in Jordan. We have a responsibility to defend human rights and therefore we are calling for the release of all political prisoners who are charged because of their thoughts like Sufyan Al Tal, Omar Abu Rasa, Sufyan Khreish, and Majed Sharari as well as others.”
The Forum for the Defense of Rights in Jordan considered the detention of Majed al-Sharai to be a legal violation because he is being held for held in a prison in the capital Amman for his political thoughts. They said this is a violation of article 59 (a reference to the Nelson Mandela Principle) which regulates the process of detaining citizens. Being detained for over three months without trial is a clause 3 from article 9 of the international covenant for political and civil rights which Jordan joined a confirmed.
Activists called on King Abdullah II to listen to their voices and to speed up the changes in the political and economic decisions such as returning to the people their rights. They called on a genuine parliament to stop these security interventions in the public sphere and end the efforts to obstruct the work of political parties and unions and activate the policy of supervision of how public money is spent.