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Kuwait: Imprisoned human rights defender Sulaiman Bin Jassim on hunger strike

2018-01-07

According to reports received by the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR), human rights defender Sulaiman Bin Jassim is on hunger strike in the Central Prison in Kuwait where he is being imprisoned.

On 03 January 2018 at 3pm, Bin Jassim began his hunger strike to protest the unfair way in which the authorities dealt with his trial, as well as to draw the attention of the international community, including human rights organisations, to his case.

His father, Yousif Bin Jassim, published a tweet on his Twitter account that, "After my son Sulaiman was on hunger strike for 69 hours, his health started to deteriorate so he was rescued by being given IV fluid. I hope that Allah protects you, my son Sulaiman."

On 27 November 2017, the Court of Appeal in Kuwait sentenced 67 people to prison for allegedly storming Parliament in 2011, including Bin Jassim, prominent opposition leader Mussalam Al-Barrak, and current and former members of parliament. Bin Jassim, who is co-founder of the National Committee for Monitoring Violations (NCV), was sentenced to seven years in prison, although he had previously been acquitted by the Court of First Instance with the other accused in December 2013, after the court accepted evidence that the people entered parliament to get away from violence in the streets. See: http://www.gc4hr.org/news/view/1741.

On 27 November 2017, Bin Jassim wrote on his twitter account the following: "Believing in my innocence and secure stand, and in respect for the judiciary, although I’m in agreement with its rule, I go with some of my brothers - sentenced without providing a defense - to surrender ourselves. Leaving my family with God and also what remains of my homeland. God is the best keeper.”

On 16 November 2011, following street demonstrations protesting the (former) Prime Minister, 70 people entered the National Assembly. Two were acquitted and one died, leaving 67 in the case. The Public Prosecutor's Office filed charges against the Kuwait 67 relating to the use of force and violence against public servants, namely the National Guards of the Parliament, in order to break into Parliament, as well as "unauthorised assembly" and "destruction of state property."

It is worth noting that the judgement of the Court of Appeal is enforceable after issuance, but members of the Kuwait 67 are waiting the opportunity to bring the case before the Court of Cassation, which is the highest court in the land. However, a hearing date has not yet been set.

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) expresses serious concern at the fabricated charges and unfair trial of the Kuwait 67 including Sulaiman Bin Jassim, who has been targeted solely for his peaceful and legitimate human rights activities.

GCHR urges the authorities in Kuwait to:

  1. Immediately and unconditionally drop all charges against Sulaiman Bin Jassim;
  2. Immediately and unconditionally release Sulaiman Bin Jassim, in addition to other prisoners of conscience;
  3. Barring that, guarantee proper medical treatment for Sulaiman Bin Jassim in prison; and
  4. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Kuwait are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities, and that everyone is free to exercise their rights to freedom of expression and assembly peacefully, without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment. 

GCHR respectfully reminds you 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 to Article 12 (1 and 2): “(1) Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms. (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.”