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Kuwait: Human rights defender Hadeel Buqrais and participants in “Walking for Her" campaign threatened

2017-04-07

In Kuwait, human rights defender Hadeel Buqrais, as well as other participants in the "Walking for Her" campaign, were threatened by telephone, e-mail and social media websites after joining the campaign aimed at solidarity with Saudi women and calling for the overthrow of the Guardian System.
 
On 05 April 21017, the "Walking for Her" campaign organised a peaceful march of solidarity with Saudi women at 19:45pm in Kuwait City, in which about 30 human rights defenders and other activists took part. "This is not a sit-in, not a coup d'état, not a departure from religion, not a loyalty to the outside, it's just walking and walking," Buqrais said about the demonstration. "Arab women and the world unite behind women in Saudi Arabia to gain their rights in their peaceful struggle," said journalist and writer Iman Al-Hamoud from Saudi Arabia on her account on Twitter.

Buqrais, the organiser of the march in Kuwait, and other participants were subjected to a fierce media smear campaign by supporters of the Saudi government inside and outside Kuwait, including a member of the Kuwaiti National Assembly. Buqrais and her colleagues received a large number of serious threats via telephone in addition to the various social media networks and they were accused of treason. Those accusations put them at risk.

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) is fully committed to defending human rights defender Hadeel Buqrais and all the members of the "Walking for Her" campaign, and deplores the media distortion campaign as well as the series of threats against them.

The GCHR urges authorities in Kuwait to:

  1. Provide full protection to human rights defender Hadeel Buqrais and all participants in the "Walking for Her" campaign;
  2. Open an immediate, independent, impartial and comprehensive investigation of the media smear campaign and the threats received by Hadeel Buqrais and all participants in the "Walking for Her" campaign with a view to publishing the results and bringing those responsible to justice in accordance with international standards; and
  3. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Kuwait are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment. 

The GCHR respectfully reminds the Kuwaiti authorities that the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted by consensus by the UN General Assembly on 9 December 1998, recognises the legitimacy of the activities of human rights defenders, their right to freedom of association and to carry out their activities without fear of reprisals. We would particularly draw your attention Article 6 (c): “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others: (c) To study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters“, and to Article 12 (2): “The State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present declaration.