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Activists condemn Kuwaiti crackdown on opposition

Prime minister faces questions in parliament for latest suppression of freedom in the emirate

AFP, Sunday 19 Dec 2010
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Human rights activists and academics in the Gulf condemned on Sunday a crackdown by Kuwaiti police earlier this month on a public gathering of the opposition.

"We express our regret and condemn the excessive use of force against citizens and MPs" which threatened Kuwait's status as "an advanced example" of democracy for the region, said a statement signed by 52 activists.

"As Gulf intellectuals, we regret the retreat in democratic reforms and human rights in the Gulf Cooperation Council states and many Arab countries," it said.

Kuwaiti special forces on December 8 used batons to disperse the gathering organised by the opposition to protest what they said was a government plot to amend the 1962 constitution in order to suppress public freedoms.

At least four opposition lawmakers and a dozen others were hurt at the time, with some of them requiring hospital treatment.

In their statement, the activists also deplored the Kuwaiti government's "policy of suppressing media coverage" and the closure of the Doha-based pan-Arab satellite Al-Jazeera news channel for covering the police action.

Among those who signed the statement were Kuwaiti writer Anwar al-Rasheed and Saudi rights activists Ali al-Dumaini and Najeeb al-Khunaizi, in addition to others from Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

Kuwait was the first among its energy-rich Gulf neighbours to create a constitution and form a parliament in 1962. But the emirate has been rocked by a series of political disputes during the past five years between opposition MPs and the government that have forced the ruler to dissolve parliament three times.

As a result of the police crackdown, three opposition MPs on Monday filed to quiz Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammad al-Ahmad al-Sabah in parliament for suppressing freedom.

 

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