Kuwait: Release of a blogger, the president and members of the Charitable Committee as well as the Bedoon activist Mohammad Al-Barghash after a brief detention

08.02.22

On 07 February 2022, the Bedoon rights defender, Mohammed Al-Barghash, participated in a gathering organised by Kuwaiti civil society in Al-Irada Square, located opposite the National Assembly. The aim of the gathering was to defend the civil and human rights of citizens and fight corruption. While participating in this peaceful sit-in, which began at six in the evening, Al-Barghash distributed leaflets calling for another peaceful sit-in to be held on 11 February 2022, in the Taima area located in the Al-Jahra Governorate. This sit-in, which the authorities have already been informed about, would demand the rights of the Bedoon citizens.

As soon as he left Al-Irada Square, at half past seven in the evening, Al-Barghash was arrested by four persons affiliated with the Criminal Investigation Directorate. They confiscated his mobile phones, prevented him from contacting his family or lawyer, and took him to the criminal investigation section of Salhiya police station where he was investigated for illegally distributing flyers. Two hours passed before he was released after being forced to sign a pledge not to distribute any leaflets throughout Kuwait in the future. 

Al-Barghash is a human rights activist known for his peaceful and tireless defense of the rights of the Bedoon community. The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) previously documented his summons for investigation by the State Security Apparatus on 26 July 2021, regarding his peaceful human rights activities.

After his release, Al-Barghash told the GCHR, "I will continue to defend the rights of Bedoon citizens peacefully and steadfastly, regardless of the challenges."

In another case, the Public Prosecution Office in Kuwait decided to release the president and members of the Charitable Committee, which collects and distributes donations to orphans, people with special needs, the elderly and poor families. Local sources reported that the old age and poor health of most of them forced the authorities to release them.

On 24 January 2022, the president of the Charitable Committee, Habib Ghazanfari, and two of its members, Jassem Dashti and Adel Dashti, were released on bail of 5,000 Kuwaiti dinars.

On 02 February 2022, the Charitable Committee member, Khaled Al-Baghli, was released, followed by fellow members Jamal Al-Shatti, Mousa Al-Masri andAbbas Jarkhi who were released the next day after providing bail of 5000 Kuwaiti dinars.

The Afghan national, Ghulam Ali, who had been arrested in connection with this case, was released on 04 January 2022.

Thus, only three members of the Charitable Committee remain in detention pending the case of the Charitable Committee, namely, Anwar Al-Hazeem, Jalal Jamal, and Abdulamir Al-Attar.

In a third separate case, on 16 January 2022, the pilot, Captain Ahmed Ashour, was released after serving a three-year prison sentence for offending the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia through his criticism on Twitter of the Decisive Storm Operation, a Saudi-led bombing campaign and military operation in Yemen.

Captain Ashour had started a hunger strike on 25 November 2021, after the Central Prison administration carried out the orders issued by higher authorities to transfer him to the cells occupied by Da’esh detainees.

For more information on these issues, see:

https://www.gc4hr.org/news/view/2881

https://www.gc4hr.org/news/view/2895

https://www.gc4hr.org/news/view/2899

Recommendations

The GCHR deplores the continued targeting of the Bedoon rights defender, Mohammed Al-Barghash, and calls on the authorities in Kuwait to fully respect his rights to freedom of expression and to peacefully demonstrate.

The GCHR calls on the government of Kuwait to expedite a solution to the problems of the Bedoon community by immediately granting them their human and civil rights as full citizens of Kuwait.

While the GCHR welcomes the release of the president of the Charitable Committee and most of its members, as well as the blogger, Captain Ahmed Ashour, it calls on the Kuwaiti government to immediately and unconditionally release the three citizens detained in the Charitable Committee case because charitable work is not a crime under Kuwaiti law.