Kuwait: Bedoon rights activist Mohammed Al-Barghash faces on-going targeting
Mohammed Al-Barghash, a human rights activist in Kuwait who advocates for the rights of the Bedoon community peacefully and diligently, was summoned for investigation over his human rights activities.
He uses his Twitter account, which has a banner stating: "Our message must be clear, we will no longer accept being ignored," to defend his civil and human rights as a Bedoon citizen and the rights of his fellow members of the Bedoon community in Kuwait, foremost of which is their legitimate right to obtain Kuwaiti citizenship.
On 02 July 2021, he pinned a tweet to his account about "Corruption and the issue of the Kuwaiti Bedoon", which included a video in which he said that despite successive governments, corruption has caused the lack of a fundamental solution to the Bedoon issue.
On 26 July 2021, Al-Barghash received a phone call from the State Security Apparatus summoning him to attend at 10:30 in the morning the next day. He arrived at the appointed time and subsequently three persons from the State Security Service began interrogating him at intermittent intervals until 16:30 in the afternoon.
He was asked questions about the reason for his participation in the peaceful weekly gatherings in Al-Irada Square at 19:00 pm every Saturday, in which groups with different demands participate. Among the demands raised is not making the Covid-19 vaccine compulsory, issuing a general amnesty law, and a demand by Al-Barghash and his colleagues calling for a just solution to the issue of the Bedoon community. The security forces often block the roads leading to Al-Irada Square to harass those who want to participate in the Saturday rallies. In addition they prevent protesters from raising banners, interrogate people who arrive at the square and prevent them from participating in the protests, sometimes violently attacking participants for flimsy reasons.
He was also questioned about the video he posted on his Twitter account on 27 June 2021, in which he addressed Prime Minister Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Sabah, saying, "The Bedoon issue is the first issue in Kuwait."
In order to ensure that he is not detained, he has had to sign a pledge to reduce his peaceful online activities, including on his Twitter account, as well as the panel conversations he holds on Clubhouse, after it turns out that his movements were monitored for a long time.
He was released after the investigation was completed and no specific charges were brought against him.
The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) declares its full solidarity with human rights activist Mohammed Al-Barghash, and calls on the state security apparatus to respect the civil and human rights of citizens, foremost of which is freedom of expression.
GCHR calls on the Kuwaiti authorities to:
- Protect public freedoms, especially freedom of expression online and offline, as well as the freedom to demonstrate peacefully, including an immediate halt to the targeting of human rights activist Mohammed Al-Barghash; and
- Ensure in all circumstances that human rights defenders in Kuwait can carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals or restrictions, including judicial harassment.