Kuwait: Intensification of the repression against peaceful demonstrations
Between 2 and 7 July, Kuwaiti police forces have made excessive use of force against peaceful demonstrators asking for the release of Musallam al Barrak, a leading opposition figure arrested for accusing top judges of implication into a recent corruption scandal. Dozens of peaceful protesters were also arrested and have since been held in arbitrary detention.
Amongst the 7 July demonstrators was Fawaz Sahoud Hilal Al Anzi, Secretary General of the International Association of Rights and Freedoms (IARF), a network coordinating collective action to promote social justice and human rights. Al Anzi was severely beaten and his medical record showing the proof of multiple head injuries, including a fractured nose, was confiscated by the police. Several other peaceful demonstrators – including human rights activist, Mohamed Ajami and Journalist at Derwaza Newspaper, Abdurazak Boursili – suffered multiple injuries by the police or special forces through excessive beating and the use of rubber bullets on the head and upper parts of the body, in violation of the legal standards of use.
On 2 July, the police forces also arrested 45 persons during another peaceful protest calling upon the release of Musallam al Barrak. If al Barrak was released on 7 July, these 45 individuals have been held in arbitrary detention since their arrest.
In blatant violation of Kuwait's domestic and international obligations, these events come in the wake of numerous acts taken by the authorities to considerably restrict the Kuwaitis' right to freedoms of expression, association and assembly, as documented by Alkarama in its shadow report for Kuwait's Universal Periodic Review in March 2015. Alkarama is worried about the intensification of the repression against peaceful demonstrations in Kuwait. Despite the several international treaties consecrating this right, the Ministry of Interior stated on 4 July that the Police would "continue to prevent and tackle with all force such practice," that is "any form of rioting, violence and incitement".
As a consequence Alkarama submitted an urgent appeal to the United Nations' special procedures on 9 July to highlight the recent violations of the Kuwaitis' right to express their opinions peacefully. The Kuwaiti authorities should ensure that no excessive force be used against peaceful demonstrators; investigate all cases of brutality committed against them; and hold the perpetrators to account. In particular, Alkarama asks that prompt investigations on the brutalities committed against Fawaz al Anzi be conducted and due compensation be provided to the victims.
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