Women's group protests deportation, arrest of democracy advocates in Kuwait

Sarah Carr
5 Min Read

CAIRO: Egyptian human rights groups and political activists have condemned the arrest of 33 expatriate Egyptians in Kuwait attempting to create a branch of the National Coalition for Change.

Elbaradei2010.com, the website of Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the National Coalition, says that the men were detained on April 8 and 9. Four men, Mohamed Farag, Tamer Farag, Walid Nasr and Tareq Thawrat were taken from their places of work.

According to Human Rights Watch (HRW) a group of 30 people met at a restaurant in Kuwait on April 9 to discuss a response to the arrest of demonstrators. An attendee of the meeting told HRW that state security officers appeared and seized between 15 and 20 of those present at the meeting.

While some of the detainees were freed on April 10, 21 were deported back to Egypt. A group of eight still remain in detention.

Lawyer Rajia Omran from the New Woman Foundation told Daily News Egypt that there are unconfirmed reports that the men are being released on condition they sign pledges not to be involved in political activity.

“As we speak we have been informed by human rights lawyers in Kuwait that they’re being released but because of the pressure on the Kuwaiti government, they are making them sign undertaking not to carry out political activity there, Omran said.

Omran was speaking in the Cairo area of Dokki, where a small group of female activists, members of the Egyptian Women for Change group, had assembled in order to protest the arrests and deportations at the Kuwaiti Embassy. The group also planned to present a letter of protest to the Kuwaiti ambassador.

They were prevented from approaching the embassy by tens of riot police and plain-clothed security officers who closed off all roads to it. Police also prevented the media from approaching the embassy. One officer physically attacked Al-Dostor photographer Ahmed Gomaa and had to be restrained by other officers.

Members of the Egyptian Women for Change group, led by Gamila Ismail, unsuccessfully attempted to push their way through the security cordon while chanting “Down with the servant of the Kuwaiti ambassador at police officers.

Nabil El-Qott, Walid Nasr’s brother, was also prevented from going to the embassy to enquire about his brother’s whereabouts. El-Qott says that the only thing he knows for certain is that his brother, a lawyer who has been working in Kuwait for four years, is being held by Kuwaiti state security investigations.

“The last time Walid spoke to his friends was on Thursday. He went to work on Thursday and didn’t come back. Nobody knows what’s happened to him and we don’t know how to reach him. He’s completely disappeared, El-Qott told reporters.

El-Qott said that he has been unable to secure any information either from the Kuwaiti embassy in Cairo or the Kuwaiti authorities in Kuwait itself.

The letter of protest Egyptian Women for Change had intended to present to the Kuwaiti ambassador condemns the arrests, saying, “The arrests have no legal basis, and there is no evidence that the [arrested men] violated Kuwaiti national security. They have neither interfered in Kuwaiti domestic affairs, nor done anything to threaten public order .

The letter, signed by Khaled Ali, director of the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights, calls on the Kuwaiti authorities to release the names of all those detained and deported and protect the interests of Egyptians deported from Kuwait.

NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) quotes Kuwait’s Interior Minister, Sheikh Jaber Al-Khaled Al-Sabah as saying that the men “broke Kuwait’s laws on public gathering and slander by criticizing Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak .

“They are visitors in Kuwait, and we look at them as visitors in Kuwait. When somebody breaks the law, he has to go back to his country, Al-Sabah stated. “We don’t allow demonstrations in this country.

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Sarah Carr is a British-Egyptian journalist in Cairo. She blogs at www.inanities.org.
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