21st August Update – Bashar Al-Sayegh was released this afternoon by the authorities. An English-language report can be found at Kuwait Times; Arab-language commentary and pictures can be found at Belkuwaiti Alfasih.
Yesterday was an ominous, dark day for Kuwait, its people and its Constitution.
Word has reached citizens that Kuwait State Security police have allegedly detained and assaulted Al Ommah blogger and Aljarida journalist Mr. Bashar Al-Sayegh, continuing to hold him accountable for an anonymous post lambasting HH The Amir (which Al-Sayegh quickly deleted from the Al Ommah domain before his arrest). Additionally, a journalist for Aljarida Newspaper, Mr. Jassim Al-Qamis was additionally arrested, attacked and detained for taking a picture of Al-Sayegh during his arrest at the premises of Aljarida Newspaper (owned by MP Mohamed Al-Saqer).
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.
If the above information is factual then the actions of the State Security individuals were illegal, abhorrent to our principles and a clear violation of the following Kuwait Constitution clauses:
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.Article 32
No crime and no penalty may be established except by virtue of law, and no penalty may be imposed except for offences committed after the relevant law has come into force.Article 34
An accused person is presumed innocent until proved guilty in a legal trial at which the necessary guarantees for the exercise of the right of defence are secured. The infliction of physical or moral injury on an accused person is prohibited.Article 36
Freedom of opinion and of scientific research shall be guaranteed. Every person shall have the right to express and propagate his opinion verbally, in writing or otherwise, in accordance with the conditions and procedures specified by law.Article 37
Freedom of the press, printing and publishing shall be guaranteed in accordance with the conditions and manner specified by law.
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 last year facilitated a peaceful transition of power 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 arrested without a warrant or court order 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 citizens, our identity and dignity and way of life.
We hope Mr. Sayegh returns to his family safe and sound.
The Kuwait Constitution (English)
Safat Square (Arabic)
K The Kuwaiti (English)