Gulf Countries Continue Crackdown, Nobel Winner Boycotts Dialogue
Three former members of the Kuwaiti parliament were sentenced today to three years hard labor for insulting the country’s ruler. The charges relate to speeches the three men gave at a rally opposing new voting laws. Kuwait is usually viewed as one of the Middle East’s most free states, however, insulting the emir is illegal. On Sunday, youth activist Mohammad Eid al-Ajmi was sentenced to five years in prison for insulting the emir on Twitter.
In Bahrain, the Ministry of Health dismissed eight medical professionals from their ministry jobs after they were convicted in connection with aiding protesters during the 2011 uprising. Deputy Director of Physicians for Human Rights Richard Sollom condemned both the convictions and the dismissals, saying “These medical professionals were arrested simply for carrying out their ethical duty to treat injured people. They were then tortured, forced to confess to crimes they did not commit, convicted on trumped-up charges, and imprisoned unjustly. For them now to be forced out of their government jobs merely continues a long chain of baseless abuse by the regime.”
In Yemen, Nobel Peace Prize winner Tawakkol Karman announced via Facebook that she would boycott the upcoming National Dialogue. She declared that her decision to not participate in the dialogue was a result of the misrepresentation of youth, women, and civil society organizations. Karman indicated that she would consider participating if the lists were changed to better represent the population.