Kuwait: Hadeel Buqrais and Youssef Bou Hamad attacked on Twitter, while 15 Bedoon activists remain in prison
Since the crackdown on Bedoon activists began in July 2019, human rights defenders Hadeel Buqrais (pictured at right) and Youssef Bou Hamad (pictured at left) have been subjected to a systematic smear campaign by fake Twitter accounts run by individuals reportedly working for the Central Apparatus for Illegal Residents’ Affairs in Kuwait.
Since 201, both Buqrais and Bou Hamad have been working to defend the civil and human rights of the Bedoon community and have led recent campaigns for solidarity with detained Bedoon activists.
The smear campaign questioned their human rights work and attempted to create a gap between them and the Bedoon community.
On 08 August 2019, a judge in the Magistrate's Court renewed the detention of Bedoon activists Hamoud Al-Rabah, Khalifa Al-Anzi and Reda Al-Fadhli until 25 August 2019. They were then transferred from the State Security Prison to the Public Prison, bringing the number of imprisoned Bedoon activists to 15.
On 29 July 2019, at the request of the Public Prosecutor's Office, the Magistrate's Court agreed to extend the detention of a dozen Bedoon activists for an additional 21 days and to refer them to the Public Prison. The following 12 activists are already detained at the Public Prison: Abdulhakim Al-Fadhli, Ahmed Al-Onan, Awad Al-Onan, Abdullah Al-Fadhli, Mutaib Al-Onan, Mohammed Khudair Al-Anzi, Yousif Al-Osmi, Nawaf Al-Bader, Hamid Jamil, Yousif Al-Bashig, Jarallah Al-Fadhli, and Ahmed Shaya Al-Anzi. The judge also decided to reduce the charges against them to only three charges: misuse of the phone, calling for an unauthorised gathering, and joining an unauthorised gathering.
The 12 activists were again brought before the Magistrate's Court on 14 August 2019, when the judge extended their detention until 25 August 2019.
Reliable local sources have reported that Mutaib Al-Onan has been seen by the doctor twice due to his extreme fatigue, while Hamid Jamil complains of a wound that resulted from an operation before his detention. Also, Yousif Al-Osmi is in a disturbing state of health due to some chronic diseases.
The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) strongly believes that the continued targeting of Bedoon human rights defenders as well as the detention of Bedoon activists is a flagrant violation of Kuwait's international human rights obligations and a serious blow to the protection of human rights defenders.
GCHR urges the Government of Kuwait to:
- Stop the ongoing smear campaign on Twitter against Hadeel Buqrais and Yousif Bou Hamad and take appropriate legal action against those involved in these campaigns;
- Immediately and unconditionally release all human rights defenders and activists from the Bedoon community, and drop all charges against them;
- Fully recognise the civil and human rights of the Bedoon community in Kuwait; and
- Ensure, in all circumstances, that human rights defenders in Kuwait are able to carry out their legitimate work in the field of human rights without fear of punishment and free from all restrictions including judicial harassment.