Renew the call to release poet and student Mohammed al-Ajami in Qatar

Renew the call to release poet and student Mohammed al-Ajami in Qatar

Grant Hutchins, PEN Center USA Freedom to Write Programs Coordinator, Ali al-Hattab,
representative of Mr. Ajami, and Adam Somers, PEN Center USA Executive Director

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PEN Center USA is renewing its call for the immediate and unconditional release of Mohammed al-Ajami, a poet and third-year literature student who has been sentenced to prison for 15 years for his 2011 poem “Tunisian Jasmine,” which expresses support for the Tunisian revolution and skepticism towards Qatari authorities. He was kept from his own trial, which was held in secret and in violation of international norms. Mr. Ajami has been held in solitary confinement since his arrest.

It is clear to PEN International and PEN Center USA that Mr. Ajami is being imprisoned for the peaceful expression of his opinion. PEN America has recently attempted to visit Mr. Ajami, but was denied entrance by Qatari authorities.

Ali al-Hattab, a representative of  Mr. Ajami, recently met with PEN Center USA Executive Director Adam Somers and Freedom to Write Programs Coordinator Grant Hutchins at the PEN Center USA office to discuss the case of Mohammed al-Ajami. Mr. Hattab believes that the Qatari government can be persuaded to end its senseless and illegal imprisonment of Mr. Ajami and grant an unconditional amnesty in observance of the longstanding tradition of mercy and clemency associated with the observance of the Islamic month of Ramadan. Ramadan lasts from Saturday, June 28 through Monday, July 28 this year. It is vital that our appeals are rushed to the Qatari government during this critical period.

In light of Mr. Hattab’s visit to the United States, PEN Center USA has signed a joint statement with PEN America demanding Mr. Ajami’s immediate release, which is embedded in this RAN. Click here to read the statement.

The al-Ajami family extended its gratitude through Mr. al-Hattab to PEN International and its members for steadfastly advocating for Mr. Ajami’s freedom. Please make sure to sign our petition if you have not already, and feel free to handwrite your own letters to the addresses provided. It is a crucial time to remind the Qatari government of its responsibilities to respect its citizens’ universally guaranteed right to free expression.

Read the original RAN for al-Ajami here and the November 2012 update here.
Please send appeals immediately:

• Protesting the continued detention of poet Mohammed al-Ajami, solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression.

• Urging the authorities to immediately and unconditionally release poet Al-Ajami and for defamation to be decriminalized in Qatar.

• Demanding that whilst imprisoned Mohammaed al-Ajami is allowed to associate with other prisoners, and that restrictions on visits from family, friends, and independent observers are lifted as mandated by UN principles.

• Urging Qatar to accede to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights without delay.

Send appeals to:

Amir of the State of Qatar Shaikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani 
PO Box 923 
Doha, State of Qatar 
Fax: + 974 4436 1212 
Salutation: Your Highness Minister of the Interior 

Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani 
Ministry of the Interior 
PO Box 920 
Doha, State of Qatar
Salutation: His Excellency

And copies to:

Attorney General
Dr Ali bin Fetais Al Marri
PO Box 705
Doha, State of Qatar

Fax: +974 4484 3211 

Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for Qatar in your country if possible.

For further information please contact Cathy McCann at PEN International Writers in Prison Committee, Brownlow House, 50/51 High Holborn, London WC1V 6ER, Tel.+ 44 (0) 20 7405 0338, Fax: +44 (0) 20 7405 0339, email:


The period for signing this petition is now over.