Kuwait yesterday joined the ranks of countries with jailed bloggers, following the arrest of Bashar Al-Sayegh.
Bashar Al-Sayegh was arrested and beaten yesterday by the Kuwaiti Secret Police for an anonymous comment on Bashar’s forum regarding the Amir (which was deleted). Jasim Al-Qames (Al-Jarida Journalist) was also arrested and beaten by the Kuwaiti Secret Police for taking picture; and was forced to sign a unread document. Jasim has been released; Bashar is still in custody by the Secret Police, There was a press conference held today at Al-Tahaluf calling for the release of Bashar. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Bashar and his Family.
Fellow-blogger Bibi Nasser Al-Sabah adds:
A very unfortunate event happened yesterday, A young Kuwaiti who started the website http://www.alommah.org/home/ has been taken in by the secret police along with Jassim Al Qames who has nothing to do with the website but Both guys work for ‘Al-Jareeda Newspaper’. Al-Sayegh was escorted by secret police from ‘Al-Jareda’ headquarters and Jassem was doing his journalistic duties by taking photographs of the detaining, he was then attacked and dragged with Bashar. Bashar was detained because of a comment written about the Amir of Kuwait, Shaikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, on his website's forum by an annonymous person, it was deleted by Bashar because of its inappropriateness but he was 15 minutes late deleting it, the police held him accountable even after it was deleted. As for Jassim he was released but beaten severely and blind folded and forced to use his fingerprint as signature to a document he couldn't read because of the blindfolds.
I refuse to think of our government and its civilized constitution as a police state, especially with many mistakes made in the 30s and 70s and 80s! and especially after the absolutely incredible support received during the invasion of Kuwait by the people…. but they make it hard not to think of them that way.
I, Bibi Nasser Al-Sabah am against the detaining and torchering of Jassim Al Qames and Bashar Al-Sayegh.
Forza Kuwait, meanwhile, provides the above banner on his site to rally support for the jailed blogger. The banner (Ar) says:
Free Bashar Al-Sayegh
No person shall be arrested, detained, searched or compelled to reside in a specified place, nor shall the residence of any person or his liberty to choose his place of residence or his liberty of movement be restricted, except in accordance with the provisions of law.
No person shall be subjected to torture or humiliation
According to Amer:
Yesterday was an ominous, dark day for Kuwait, its people and its Constitution…Writers and Bloggers are responsible for the content of their work. They should not and cannot be held responsible 24/7 for anonymous comments, however inflammatory or distasteful. Nevertheless, the issue is bigger than that, it is an arrest of a Blogger and his continued imprisonment, as well as any physical attacks that may have occurred on the Blogger and on the Al Jarida Journalist, clear violations of their individual and human rights, rights that should be guaranteed and protected by the Constitution…
The Kuwaiti Constitution guarantees our rights. It is the fabric that protects the community and its people, it is the fabric that guarantees basic human rights, individual rights and freedom of the press and it was the document that caused a peaceful transition of power last year from one ruler to the next. All of the Constitution must be respected and abided by at all times.
We are not a police state. We are not a violent country. What occurred should have never happened: two young Kuwaitis attacked and detained by State Security, with their families unaware of their surroundings, a horrible instance of deja-vu reminiscent of barbaric incidents during the Iraqi invasion, not the way Kuwait should be.
This is not an Islamist issue, this is not a Liberal issue, this is not a pro or anti-government issue. This is an issue that affects our rights as Kuwaiti citizens, our identity as Kuwaitis and our way of life.
We hope Mr. Sayegh returns to his family safe and sound.
The arrest of the Kuwaiti blogger has also been blogged about regionally. From the UAE, Secret Dubai writes:
This is disgusting behaviour by the Kuwait authorities and brings disgrace on all of Kuwait.
In Bahrain, Silly Bahraini Girl rants:
Had it been Egypt, I would have swallowed it – especially since Egypt and cyber-repression have become synonyms!
But Kuwait – I just can't stomach it!
for God's sake..it was a public forum.. so anyone could have posted that comment.. Why create this uproar? Why arrest the forum administrator when the comment has already been deleted and the ‘insult’ contained? Why add injury to an insult and drag the reputation of a country that has for long guarded its Freedom of Expression down the drain?
I don't know Bashar Al Sayegh and I haven't seen the insult. But what I know for a fact is that Kuwait has today etched a place of pride for itself among nations which have prided themselves as being the enemies of freedom of speech.
Way to go our Arab brethren! I just wonder which country will be next?
Mideast Youth also weighs in, with its editor Esra'a commenting:
It seems as though Kuwait is following Egypt’s model of curbing free speech by arresting bloggers…
Should imprisonment be the price to pay for bloggers in this region? Especially if it’s against our constitutions? Egypt has similar articles promising freedom, none of which are ever applied.
Stay tuned for more updates on Al-Sayegh's arrest.