Human Rights Issues Persist in the Gulf
Kuwaitis have spent much of the last two months protesting changes to the parliamentary electoral law. According to Human Rights Watch, Kuwaiti security personnel used excessive force to disperse largely peaceful protests. Interviewed protesters said, “Masked riot police used tear gas and sound bombs without warning to disperse demonstrations and beat protesters while arresting them for participating in ‘unauthorized protests’.” The Kuwaiti Interior Ministry responded saying, “authorities were required to maintain law and order when illegal marches and demonstrations took place.”
The Bahraini High Criminal Court of Appeals overturned the death sentences for two men convicted of killing two policemen to life in prison. Additionally, the court commuted the life sentences for two others involved in the same case to 15 years in jail. The court also cut to 15 years in prison the life sentences for 13 men for killing a Pakistani citizen during pro-democracy protests. Another man was released from custody. ”The appeals court also reduced sentences of 15 years in prison… to 15 people for the attempted murder of a soldier, vandalizing the buildings at the University of Bahrain and ‘inciting hatred of the ruling system’,” said defense lawyer Mohammed al-Jishi.
In a New York Times op-ed, human rights activist Zainab al-Khawaja blasted the U.S. double-standard on human rights in Bahrain. She said current U.S. policy is, “costing America its credibility across the region; and the message being understood is that if you are an ally of America, then you can get away with abusing human rights.”
Abdel Hadi Khalaf wrote a piece on issues of citizenship in the Gulf, pointing out that “threatening to revoke one’s citizenship has become one of the tools used by security forces to control citizens, as well as a form of punishment for those whom the authorities wish to deny their generosity.” He predicts that these policies “will only increase the structural crisis impeding them from transforming from political/tribal organizations into nations that belong to the 21st century.”