Government Actions Leave Questions in the Gulf

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Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah provoked outrage by opposition groups after suggesting an amendment to a key constituency electoral law. Demonstrations comprised of between 5,000-20,000 people also broke out yesterday. Speaking to the protesters, former lawmaker Musallam al-Barrak called on the Emir to avoid “autocratic rule.” Following a government response to the demonstration, the son of a prominent opposition leader, Ahmed al-Saadoun, was detained by Kuwaiti security forces. An anonymous writer known only as “Mohammad” wrote an op-ed on the protests, which he labeled as “unprecedented,” and included a purported video of al-Saadoun’s arrest.

Meanwhile in Bahrain, authorities detained the president of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights, Mohammed al-Maskati, days after he gave a speech against the monarchy in Geneva. The Bahraini government has yet to release the charges made against al-Maskati. Activist Nabeel Rajab’s appeal was also pushed back to November 8. In the UAE, the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information condemned the “relaunch of an arrest campaign by Emirati authorities,” directed against judges and reform activists. The arrests are reported to be in violation of standing judiciary laws which prohibit “detention and preemptive jailing of judges except in flagrancy cases, and only after obtaining permission from the disciplinary board.” Two activists were also reportedly arrested by UAE authorities without cause.