Kuwait: Prominent advocate of Bedoon rights, Dr. Ebtehal Al-Khateeb, targeted by twitter campaign

23.06.19

On 10 April 2019, academic and human rights defender Dr. Ebtehal Al-Khateebdelivered a speech at the symposium organised by the Kuwait Democratic Forum under the title "Lights on the Bedoon issue". As a result, she was the target of a vicious Twitter campaign.

In her speech, which lasted for 17 minutes, she stated that "human rights guarantee the creation of a strong person capable of supporting himself." She added by saying "The state created from the Bedoon today for no reason a group that is unable to support itself."

She focused on the ongoing violations against the Bedoon community in Kuwait, where she demanded serious work to preserve their civil and human rights. Despite this, the President of Group 80, Adil Al-Zawawi, published on his Twitter account a provocative statement against Dr. Al-Khateeb, including a small fragment from her speech, accusing her of "shameful questioning of Kuwait and its Emir," although what she stated in this small piece is the need to provide in Kuwait a high degree of human rights to truly make it the best country in the world, rather than an empty title that was paid for.

This publication on twitter was followed by an intense campaign by some Twitter accounts that attacked Dr. Al-Khateeb and published personal information about her and her family. This was the same tactic used against other activists who defend Bedoon rights, underscoring fears that these attacks are coordinated by one group. 

The group known as Group 80, one of whose members is the head of the Central Apparatus for Illegal Residents Saleh Al-Fadala, was founded in March 2019 by Adil Al-Zawawi to oppose any amendments to the laws of nationality that guarantee the rights of members of the Bedoon community to acquire the nationality of the country and other privileges enjoyed by citizens.

Dr. Al-Khateeb is an academic working in the Department of English Language at the Faculty of Arts at the University of Kuwait. She has previously served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Kuwait Society for Human Rights. She was one of the founders in 2012 of Group 29, based on Article 29 of the Kuwaiti Constitution, which calls for equality and non-discrimination among all people, focusing on the rights of the Bedoon community. Over the past few years, she has been at the forefront in her defense of the Bedoon community in Kuwait.

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) declares its solidarity with Dr. Ebtehal Al-Khateeb and also fully supports all the peaceful human rights activities organised by her or other human rights defenders in Kuwait. GCHR decries the twitter attack on Dr. Al-Khateeb and calls for an investigation into threats against her and her family.