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Kuwait Sentences Opposition Politician Mussallam Al Barrak to Two Years in Jail for “Insulting Ruler”

Kuwaiti opposition leader Mussalam Al Barrak was sentenced to two years in jail for insulting the country's ruler. Photograph shared by @AlziadiQ8 on Twitter.

Kuwaiti opposition leader Mussalam Al Barrak was sentenced to two years in jail for insulting the country's ruler. Photograph shared by @AlziadiQ8 on Twitter.

Kuwait sentenced leading opposition politician Mussallam Al Barrak to two years in jail for “insulting the country's ruler.” The former member of the Kuwaiti National Assembly (parliament) is charged for a speech he gave in October 2012, in which he threatened to depose the Amir of Kuwait Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmed Al Jaber Al Sabah, telling him that the people of Kuwait would not allow him to practice “autocratic rule.”

He was arrested on October 29, and released on bail four days later pending trial. In April 2013, he was sentenced to five years in prison, and a Kuwaiti appeals court reduced the sentence to two years yesterday.

When Al Barrak was first arrested in 2012, Amnesty International issued the following statement, describing his arrest as “outrageous”:

“The arrest and prosecution of Musallam al-Barrak, on account of his peaceful criticism of Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al Sabah, is outrageous and is yet another manifestation of the increasing restrictions on freedom of expression and assembly in Kuwait,” said Ann Harrison, Deputy Director for Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

“He did not incite violence or hatred but was engaged purely in exercising his right to peaceful freedom of expression – the Kuwaiti authorities must drop the charges against him and against anyone else facing similar charges for peacefully expressing their views.”

For many, the charges are aimed at silencing Al Barrak, 59, an outspoken Popular Action Bloc member, who has been an MP since 1996.

According to Kuwaiti blogger Mohammed Almutawa:

He explains:

The sentencing of Al Mussallam for his views,

Bahraini human rights defender Nabeel Rajab explains to his 260K followers on Twitter:

The jailing of Mussallam Al Barrak for views he holds or views he expressed is a stark violation of human rights and his right to free expression. It also shows that Kuwait is regressing in its human rights record

In another tweet, he adds:

The jailing of Mussallam Al Barrak in Kuwait is a violation of international human rights accords and all activists and politicians, including those who disagree with him, should condemn it

And Kuwaiti university professor and columnist Dr Bader Aldaihani explains to his 17K followers on Twitter:

The jailing of Mussallam Al Barrak is a political sentence as his case is political, from its start to finish, and political problems should be solved politically and not through criminal cases

In another tweet, he notes:

People can't believe how an activist who has lived his life fighting corporate corruption is in jail while those who steal public money and are lead corruption are free

Many Kuwaitis took to Twitter to raise alarm about the jailing of Al Barrak under the hashtag #سجن_ضمير_الأمة, which translates to “the jailing of the nation's conscience” as Al Barrak is referred to by his supporters.

According to Suhail Al Yamani:

A living conscience is a big and concerning problem.. this is why some countries get rid of its conscience so that corruption can continue

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