In Kuwait jail for tweeting

This video is called Being gay in Kuwait will get you seven to ten years in jail.

By Priyanka Motaparthy in Foreign Policy:

Jailed for tweeting in Kuwait

Wednesday, August 24, 2011 – 2:08 PM

Armed security officers wearing balaclavas led Nasser Abul, blindfolded and shackled, into a courtroom in downtown Kuwait City on July 19. Accused of crimes against the state, he answered the judge’s questions from a wood-and-metal cage in the courtroom. His mother, watching the proceedings, hoped her 26-year-old eldest son would finally be released after nearly two months in detention. The judiciary has refused to grant her wish.

Abul found himself in jail because of a few tweets. Twitter was wildly popular in Kuwait even before protests began in Tunis and Cairo, and its use in Kuwait surged as the Arab Spring provided daily inspiration for news updates and commentary. Between January and March, people in Kuwait wrote over 3.69 million tweets — more than any other country in the Middle East, according to a June report by the Dubai School of Government.

Kuwaitis’ prolific Twitter use makes sense in a country known for allowing greater freedom of expression than nearly any other country in the Middle East. But as the government steps up internet surveillance, Abul’s arbitrary and seemingly indefinite detention reflects broader willingness to cast such commitments aside in times of regional instability. Like many Kuwaitis, Abul posted on events in nearby countries, with some postings criticizing the ruling families of Bahrain as well as Saudi Arabia. The particular tweets in question included off-the-cuff remarks calling the Saudi and Bahraini ruling families “impure,” criticizing their crackdown against anti-government protesters in Bahrain, and describing them as interchangeable pairs of bathroom slippers. He provoked the wrong people when he criticized the Gulf monarchs’ club and their efforts to stifle dissent.

Security forces questioned several other tweeters in recent months, according to local activists, and threatened Mohammad al-Jassim, a well-known blogger, that they would shut down his blog if he kept up his criticism. Jassim was jailed last year for 45 days and faced charges (later dropped) for insulting the Prime Minister. In June, authorities also detained another Kuwaiti man, Lawrence al-Rashidi, for posting a YouTube video in which he read a poem insulting the emir.

Meanwhile, Abul faced physical abuse at the hands of government authorities, and has spent a nightmarish two months in detention with no end in sight.

See also here. And here.

Torture of dissidents in Bahrain enabled by Nokia Siemens, charges Bloomberg report: here.

Pakistan has agreed to dispatch more mercenaries to Bahrain to help Al Khalifa regime’s crackdown on anti-government protesters in the Persian Gulf state: here.

3 thoughts on “In Kuwait jail for tweeting

  1. Staff at Kuwaiti private oil firms, ministry stage sit-in

    Staff at private oil companies and the Ministry of Oil staged a sit-in Wednesday in front of the ministry’s headquarters to demand equal privileges with their counterparts in Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC) and its subsidiaries, reported the Arab Times.

    According to Chairman of the Union of Private Oil Sector Workers Salem Al-Ajmi, the lives of about 5,000 workers in private oil companies are in danger, but they do not receive any compensation.

    “Al-Ajmi also unveiled plans to hold massive protest actions in the coming days if their demands are not met. He said the workers in Ahmadi and Al-Khafji, as well as those in the drilling and production sites, will participate in the demonstrations,” said the Arab Times.

    Commerce ministry, stock market employees strike to demand Kuwait salary increases

    Commerce and Industry Ministry employees went on strike Tuesday at the Ministries Complex to demand the approval of their salary increment, wrote the Arab Times.

    “The protesters expressed their resentment towards the concerned government authorities for ignoring their demand for many years,” said the paper.

    The Arab Times also reported on plans by the Kuwait Stock Exchange (KSE) employees “to hold a protest action from 8:00 to 10:00am on Wednesday. Sources disclosed the workers decided to start the protest at 8:00am to make the act symbolic since it coincides with the beginning of the official work hours, while the next hour is crucial because most transactions commence at 9:00am.

    “Sources added the workers decided to stage a strike in protest of an official letter addressed to an undisclosed government department, because it did not specify the date for the payment of the salary increment for the KSE employees in line with Article 157 of the Stock Market Authority Law.”


  2. Pingback: Immigrant workers’ suicides in Kuwait | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Pingback: Kuwaiti disabled helpers protest | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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