Kuwaiti Opposition Protests Turn Violent

Police used batons to halt the progress of protestors marching towards the Kuwaiti parliament on Monday.

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Protests by opposition activists in front of the Kuwaiti parliament turned violent on Monday after police forced the group to disperse with batons, local media reported.

More than 500 activists gathered outside Kuwait’s National Assembly protesting the imprisonment of the opposition leader Musallam Al Barrack, who was charged on counts of insulting the emir.

The opposition has been staging similar protests during the last two Mondays, most of which passed peacefully, Kuwait Times reported.

However, on Monday, the police started beating the protestors to halt their advance towards the parliament, hurting several of them in the process.

A private rights group Kuwait National Committee for Monitoring Violations said that several activists in the group, which included both women and children, were also arrested.

Prior to the protests, the interior ministry had warned protestors to abide by the laws when organising public gatherings.

Unlike many other Gulf countries, Kuwait allows large public gatherings if activists obtain permission from the concerned authorities.

Kuwait has been hit by a wave of opposition-led anti-government protests since 2012 over a controversial electoral law, which they claim gives the ruling Sabah family more power to manipulate election results. They have also called for fresh elections.

Large public protests broke out in July last year after Al Barrack was detained for five days for insulting the judiciary.

The government too has cracked down on mass protests, arresting and handing out heavy jail terms to some activists.

Last year, Kuwait also revoked the nationalities of around 33 citizens and most of their family members. The government justified the recall of their citizenship citing security reasons.

These actions have drawn criticism from rights groups, which say the Gulf country is endangering the right to free speech and risking its reputation as a tolerant country.

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