Government urged to free jailed activists, lawmakers

KUWAIT: A group of senior activists, including former opposition MPs, yesterday called on authorities to cooperate to issue a General Amnesty Law for dozens of activists and ex-MPs who were handed jail terms for storming the National Assembly building in 2011. The group said in a statement that pardoning those activists, who have been staying abroad for the past several months, is essential to solidify the domestic front in the wake of soaring regional tensions and threats of war.

The statement said that the group of opposition activists who received jail terms had been convicted on criminal charges that they had never committed and they never had any intention to violate the law. The convicts, who include former prominent MPs Waleed Al-Tabtabai, Jamaan Al-Harbash, Mussallam Al-Barrak and Faisal Al-Muslim were among hundreds of protesters who entered the National Assembly building following a protest against corruption that called for the resignation of the former prime minister.

The statement recalled that the protest took place in the wake of uncovering a major corruption case in which MPs in parliament were involved amid official reports about financial wrongdoings at the office of the then prime minister, with all the events connected to a media campaign to fuel sectarian, factional and racist divisions in the society run by corrupt media
It said that thousands of Kuwaitis reacted positively with such developments by staging massive protests and by electing a National Assembly dominated by the opposition that was scrapped by the court four months later. The statement said that a majority of reformists found themselves either in jail or were forced to leave the country or were punished by revoking their citizenship which was used as a weapon by authorities.

The statement called for issuing a General Amnesty Law to pardon all those jailed in the storming of the Assembly case or those convicted in opinion cases to strengthen the country. Opposition MP Mohammad Al-Mutair said the statement represents the overwhelming majority of the Kuwaiti people and hoped that this message reached members of the National Assembly.

By B Izzak