Prison hunger strike and Amiri amnesty

Muna Al Fuzai

The Kuwait Human Rights Society issued a report on the hunger strike by some prisoners in Kuwait. Such a move by prisoners is universally known, as the prisoner sees that this is the only means he has to express his demands. It is a nonviolent act that is used by prisoners, especially activists and politicians, in countries around the world to protest against the deprivation of their rights. But do these strikes lead to a positive end? KHRS is committed to the standards of humanitarian organizations internationally as per all treaties and conventions on human rights, which call to preserve a prisoner’s dignity and allow him to express his right in any peaceful way.

The prisoners held in state security cases (related to freedom of opinion) announced that they will launch hunger strikes in order to achieve their demands and obtain their rights in the same manner as others. They want the authorities to activate article 87 of the Kuwaiti penal code and demand an inclusion in the Amiri amnesty (half-term) similar to other amnesty cases. The hunger strikers issued a statement in which they stressed that Kuwait must respect freedom of expression. Accordingly, prisoners considered their detention to be contrary to international law and international covenants and treaties which the government has to comply and abide with.

Hunger strikes have become a common expression for prisoners in penal institutions to express their tragic situation. Hardly a month passes without an announcement by prisoners somewhere in the world of a hunger strike, which increases the concern of defense bodies and human rights activists and fears of their families.

I think the hunger strike in Kuwait reflects a negative image of Kuwait regionally and internationally, because it reveals an improper face of the state’s dealing with its citizens, especially those who object to its policies or the way of running the state. They find themselves in prison with criminals convicted over drugs, murder and theft, and are not treated any better, as if they are murderers or drug dealers.

We have an annual and humanitarian gesture in Kuwait that is a pure right of HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, called the Amiri pardon. It is an initiative of the Amir through an annual Amiri amnesty decree for immediate release or reduction of penalties and fines. The justice ministry, the judicial department, the public prosecutor’s office, the Amiri Diwan and the interior ministry work on the processing of this humanitarian gesture.

The prisoners’ strike occurred for a reason, and I hope that the reasons will be looked into and perhaps end this disturbing subject once and for all. We are a small community and a country of goodness, mercy and humanity. Soon, Kuwait will celebrate its independence and liberation from the Iraqi invasion. This is an opportunity for all to celebrate.

By Muna Al-Fuzai

This article was published on 11/01/2018