Posts Tagged ‘Kuwait’

Finalists for the 2017 Front Line Defenders Award come from Ukraine, Nicaragua, Vietnam, South Africa and Kuwait

March 31, 2017

The Jury has selected human rights defenders from Ukraine, Nicaragua, Vietnam, South Africa and Kuwait as finalists for the 2017 Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk:

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Emil Kurbedinov, Crimea/Ukraine

Emil Kurbedinov is a Crimean Tatar and human rights lawyer. Since the occupation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, Emil has been defending the persecuted Crimean Tatar minority, civil society activists and journalists. He also provides emergency response and documentation of rights violations during raids and searches of activists’ homes. In January 2017, masked representatives from Crimea’s Centre for Counteracting Extremism detained Emil and took him to a local directorate of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) for interrogation. A district court found him guilty of “propagandizing for extremist organisations” and sentenced him to ten days in detention.

Pham Thanh Nghien

Pham Thanh Nghien, Vietnam

Vietnamese blogger Pham Thanh Nghien spent four years in prison for her work publicising violations against and defending the rights of relatives of fishermen killed by Chinese patrols. Following her release, she was kept under house arrest, during which time she spearheaded numerous human rights campaigns and co-founded the renowned Vietnamese Bloggers’ Network. Nghien has had her home raided, been blocked from attending medical appointments, had a padlock placed on her door from the outside, and been refused a marriage certificate. Nghien has also survived numerous physical assaults aimed at stopping her powerful, peaceful work uncovering and publicising human rights violations in Vietnam.

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Nonhle Mbuthuma, South Africa

Nonhle Mbuthuma has persisted in her struggle for land and environmental rights in South Africa’s Eastern Cape despite assassination attempts, ongoing death threats and the murder of her colleague. She is a founder and current member of the Executive Committee of the Amadiba Crisis Committee, formed to unite community members in five villages of the Amadiba Tribal Authority region opposing destructive mining projects. In July 2016, Nonhle and other activists successfully forced the biggest shareholder in a titanium mining project to withdraw, but threats to activists continue as the community now fears the project will continue with funding from local “front” companies.

Abdulhakim Al-Fadhli

Abdulhakim Al Fadhli, Kuwait

Abdulhakim Al Fadhli is currently imprisoned for his peaceful activism on behalf of Kuwait‘s stateless Bedoon and other minority communities in Kuwait. The term Bedoon, meaning “without” in Arabic, refers to the community of stateless persons, native to Kuwait, who are prohibited from obtaining any official state documents including, but not limited to, birth, death and marriage certificates. Abdulhakim is currently serving a one-year prison sentence and faces deportation upon release. Throughout his imprisonment, he has protested and staged hunger strikes against the inhumane and unsanitary conditions in the Anbar 4 prison facility, where he has also been subjected to solitary confinement. [see also https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2014/02/27/car-chase-in-kuwait-bedoun-human-rights-defender-the-target/]

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Francisca Ramírez Torres, Nicaragua

Human rights defender Francisca Ramírez Torres‘ children were attacked in attempt to stop her powerful work advocating against a destructive inter-oceanic canal in Nicaragua. Francisca is the coordinator of the Council for the Defence of Land, Lake and Sovereignty, which educates communities on their rights, campaigns for the repeal of laws allowing land-grabbing. The proposed canal would displace thousands of small farmers and indigenous peoples, without respecting their right to free, prior and informed consent. Francisca has been detained, harassed, and had her home and family attacked for her peaceful resistance to this destructive canal project.

The annual Front Line Defenders Award seeks to focus international attention on the human rights defender’s work, thus contributing to the recipient’s personal security, and a cash prize of €15,000 is awarded to the Award recipient and his/her organisation in an effort to support the continuation of this important work.

Source: 2017 Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk | Front Line Defenders

Academic Freedom monitored by Scholars at Risk which celebrates its 15th anniversary in Montreal

May 27, 2016

Attacks on higher education threaten the safety and well-being of scholars, administrators, staff and students; undermine academic work and instruction; and deny everyone the benefits of expert knowledge and scientific and creative progress. Too often such attacks go unreported. Scholars at Risk (SAR) publishes an Academic Freedom Monitor which tracks key attacks with the aims of protecting vulnerable individuals, promoting accountability and preventing future violations. In the period February – April 2016  SAR reports 20 incidents:

Read the rest of this entry »

Nawaf Al Hendal: portrait of a human rights defender from Kuwait

February 9, 2015

“I recognise that I may never be granted these fundamental rights in my life time, but I want more for our children. We should promise them that.”

On 30 January 2015 the ISHR Bulletin did a good write-up on Nawaf Al Hendal, a Human rights defender from Kuwait.

The Universal Periodic Review of Kuwait took place at the Human Rights Council in Geneva on 28 January 2015. Prominent human rights defender, Nawaf Al Hendal, who travelled to Geneva for the review of Kuwait’s human rights record, was advised that an arrest warrant awaits him on return to Kuwait in connection with allegations of damaging foreign relations and using Twitter to insult lateSaudi King Abdullah. Nawaf discussed the situation for human rights defenders in Kuwait and the on-going threat of reprisals with ISHR.

Nawaf Al Hendal, the founder of Kuwait Watch, has been an active human rights defender in Kuwait since 2004. Nawaf’s drive to become a human rights defender initially arose when he witnessed his colleagues being subject to unfair work standards imposed by his employer at the time. Nawaf could not allow his colleagues’ rights to be eroded without any resistance. For this reason, when his colleagues felt unable to do so, Nawaf decided to fight for the protection of their rights.

‘I love my country and its people. I believe that every person in Kuwait should have access to fundamental and equal rights.’

When Nawaf realised he was able to have an impact in the protection of his colleagues’ rights, his focus extended to the protection of people’s rights more generally in Kuwait.

Nawaf is well known for his work defending the rights of stateless persons, including the Bedouin community who are deprived of the right to employment, education and healthcare in Kuwait. Nawaf, now through Kuwait Watch, is active in engaging with the UN human rights system, including making submissions to the UPR, various treaty bodies and States active in the human rights system, as well as international NGOs. Kuwait Watch also actively engages in grass roots advocacy, including organising peaceful protests and consulting with employers and medical practitioners to gain employment and medical care for Bedouin people.

Nawaf is adamant about the importance of social media in the work of human rights defenders.

‘We use social media to demonstrate the restrictions on fundamental freedoms placed on people in Kuwait to the rest of the world. We also use social media to make it clear to the Kuwaiti authorities that we will continue to defend the rights of all people in Kuwait.’

Overall, Nawaf considers that his work thus far has not gone unnoticed by the Kuwaiti authorities. Despite the troubling implications for Nawaf as an individual, he considers that the fact that a warrant for his arrest was issued simultaneously with his travel to Geneva for the periodic review of Kuwait is indicative of the Kuwaiti Government’s concern in relation to the increasing influence of Kuwaiti human rights defenders.

Nawaf explains that his advocacy is not politically driven, it is rights driven. He emphasised that Kuwait Watch is not seeking a political transformation in government but simply the development of legal protections for people in Kuwait.

‘We [Kuwait Watch] commended the Kuwaiti Government’s decision to make primary and intermediate education free and compulsory for children and prohibit children under the age of 15 years from working.’

The prosecution of human rights defenders, opposition activists and bloggers for allegedly undermining the status of the emir of Kuwait is widespread in the country. Lese-majeste, national security and ‘national unity’ laws have recently been used to prosecute activists who are critical of the human rights records of heads of state with which Kuwait has diplomatic relations, including Saudi Arabia and Egypt. According to Nawaf, the Public Gatherings Law, the Penal Code, national security legislation, press regulations, and lese-majeste and blasphemy laws, are all used and abused to criminalise free speech in the country.

‘As a human rights defender in Kuwait you are always at risk. In an attempt to silence dissenting voices, human rights defenders are often imprisoned for unrelated, and often fabricated, offences.’

Nawaf tells the story of his arrest in 2013 on his return to Bahrain, where he had been studying at Delmon University for Science & Technology since 2008. Nawaf was advised that he could no longer enter Bahrain as the Kuwaiti authorities intended to arrest him in connection with terrorist activities.

‘Since my arrest in 2013, I have not been able to return to Bahrain and my five years of study in Bahrain have not been recognised.’

Nawaf explained that in an additional attempt to silence dissenting voices, national newspapers and television channels have been known to print articles in an attempt to invalidate the work of human rights defenders.

‘In addition to legislation restricting fundamental rights of people living in Kuwait and the independence of human rights institutions, the legislative framework limits the number of human rights organisations to one’

Given the restriction on the number of human rights organisations in Kuwait, Kuwait Watch is registered in the United Kingdom.

‘We engage with the UN human rights system in the hope that the UN will require the Kuwait Government to enact and reform legislation to protect human rights defenders as well of the rights of all people in Kuwait.’

Nawaf emphasises the importance he places on ensuring that the next generation will have the fundamental rights they are entitled to.

‘I recognise that I may never be granted these fundamental rights in my life time, but I want more for our children. We should promise them that.’

 

Nawaf Al Hendal: Human rights defender from Kuwait | ISHR.

Car chase in Kuwait: Bedoun Human Rights Defender the target

February 27, 2014

Frontline NEWlogos-1 condensed version - cropped reports that on 24 February 2014, human rights defender Abdulhakim Al Fadhli was chased by state security cars and then taken to state security headquarters, where he remains in detention. Earlier that day, human rights defenders Mr Nawaf Al Hendal and Ms Hadil Abo Qoreis were summonsed via news broadcasts to appear before state security investigations service.  Abdulhakim Al Fadhli had also been unofficially informed of a summons against him. As in a B-film, state security cars, chasing Abdulhakim Al Fadhli, Read the rest of this entry »

update: Abdullah Fairouz in Kuwait released on bail on 15 April 2013

April 15, 2013

Having just reported on his trial, it is fair to add that today we were informed byFrontline NEWlogos-1 condensed version - croppedthat human rights defender Abdullah Fairouz was released on bail on 15 April 2013 upon payment of 200 Kuwait Dinars (approximately €536).  A court date has yet to be set.  During his detention period, Abdullah Fairouz was not permitted access to his lawyer including during interrogation. The human rights defender reported that police officers insulted him whilst in detention.

 For more information on this case see the urgent appeal <http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/22298>  concerning his arrest on 11 April 2013.

Human rights defender Abdullah Fairouz arrested in Kuwait for insulting the judiciary via Twitter

April 15, 2013

On 9 April 2013, the Criminal Investigation Department in Kuwait detained human rights defender Mr Frontline NEWlogo-2 full version - croppedAbdullah Fairouz on charges of insulting the judiciary using social media. The Prosecution Office has ordered ten days of detention pending interrogation on the charges. Abdullah Fairouz is a prominent Kuwaiti human rights defender and writer who has worked for several years on the rights of the Bedoun (citizens without identity cards or any prove of their citizenship). The human rights defender is also a member of the Bedoun Committee at the Kuwait Society for Human Rights.  Hours after the disappearance of the human rights defender, it was confirmed that he had been detained at the Criminal Investigation Department after a judge ordered his arrest on accusations of insulting the judiciary by publishing tweets and blog posts. The human rights defender had been criticising the issue of a default judgement against Dr Obaid Al Wasmi and Saud Asfour. The defendants had not been notified of their hearing date and the judgement was issued without their knowledge.  A request to visit the human rights defender by Mr Khalid Al-Hamidi, director of the Kuwait Society for Human Rights, was rejected by the Criminal Investigation Department without motive.

Front Line Defenders believes that the detention of  Abdullah Fairouz is solely motivated by his peaceful and legitimate human rights work, and views this act as part of an ongoing campaign of judicial harassment against human rights defenders in Kuwait.

ICSRF announces the creation of new “Freedom – Network of Human Rights Defenders”

February 5, 2013

The goal of the International Centre for supporting Rights and Freedoms (ICSRF) is “the provision of legal assistance to human rights activists in all countries of the world and its commitment to establish a new generation of cadres working in the field of defense of human rights“, although strangely its website http://www.icsrf.org/ is at the moment only in Arabic and the scope of its activities seems to be restricted to the Arab-speaking world.
The creation of the new network was announced at the conclusion of a regional training course entitled “supporting skills of the defenders of human rights in the Arab countries”, held from 24 to 25 January 2013 in Kuwait with the participation of 32 participants from Kuwait, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Oman including human rights organizations, human rights defenders and activists monitoring and documenting human rights violations.
The ‘Freedom – Network of Human Rights Defenders’ is established under the management of the International Centre for supporting Rights and Freedoms (ICSRF) and the members of the network will be selected from the participants who attended one of the training courses of the ICSRF or from those who work closely with the ICSRF. They will be trained on how to use international law and communication skills with media – both at the theoretical and practical level – in addition to the role of each member in monitoring and documenting violations. The ICSRF aims to create “a new generation of human rights defenders who are able to practice human rights work in a professional manner in line with the international law and the latest international developments as well as to establish a network of human rights defenders.”

Although everything points more to a regional than an international network, one can only wish them success as the Middle East is a region where Human Rights Defenders require support and freedom.

Bedoon Human rights defenders arrested and detained in Kuwait

December 3, 2012

On 30 November the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) reports the arrest and detention of  Yousif Al- Zhairy and Khaled Al- Battah. GCHR believes that these arrests form part of on-going harassment of the Bedoon Community at the hands of State authorities. No grounds were provided for their arrest and no charges have been brought against them. The two human rights defenders are sharing a cell and it is reported that they will be detained for ten days as criminal investigations are carried out. Both Khaled Al-Battah and Yousif Al-Zhairy are peaceful human rights activists who have campaigned and protested for the rights of the Bedoon in Kuwait.

via Kuwait- Human rights defenders Yousif Al- Zhairy and Khaled Al- Battah arrested and detained as harassment of Bedoon community continues.