Date Thu, 4 Apr 91 193125 CST Human Rights In Kuwait The following article is to appear in

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----------------------------------------------------------------------------- Date: Thu, 4 Apr 91 19:31:25 CST From: bertoldi@astro.Princeton.EDU (Frank Bertoldi) Human Rights In Kuwait The following article is to appear in our local (Princeton) bi-weekly newsletter "The Information Gulf" (if you are interested in receiving a sample issue, please send me your mailing address (The Information Gulf aims to print news that you normally dont find in the mainstream media)). Feel free to make use of it as you like. ...frank HUMAN RIGHTS IN KUWAIT: DOUBLE STANDARDS? by Frank Bertoldi In Kuwait, human rights groups are currently working to document human rights abuses by the Iraqi forces during their occupation as well as those of the Kuwaiti forces since the US-led forces evicted Iraq from Kuwait on Feb. 27. So far, "no proof has emerged of allegations that thousands of Kuwaitis were executed by the Iraqis," the Washington Post reported on April 1. Middle East Watch, a New York-based human rights group, says evidence suggests those deaths number 300 to 600. "Moreover, it said, a charge that Iraqi troops killed hundreds of premature babies by stealing their incubators - a widely circulated story repeated by President Bush - has proven `totally false'," the Post reports. However, according to Middle East Watch, during the Iraqi occupation thousands of people were beaten or tortured, hundreds seriously. Whereas such reports are widely published in the American media, human rights abuses by Kuwaiti forces since Feb. 27 have received very little attention and are commonly portrayed as marginal, unauthorized revenge actions by angered Kuwaitis. Recently however, reports have emerged that point at a different reality. An Associated Press story from March 29 cites a high-ranking diplomat who confirmed that some members of Kuwait's ruling family were involved in the killings of Palestinians and other Kuwaiti residents. AP further reports that "for the first three weeks after Kuwait was liberated Feb. 27, members of the Sabah family could be seen patrolling the streets, harassing civilians." Seven scions of the ruling Sabah family were identified as among the chief culprits. Kuwaiti pro-democracy activists claim that the royal family had formed private militia "death squads" to execute people suspected of collaborating with the Iraqis or members of the political opposition. According to AP, "Abdulla Hebari, a former member of Parliament and head of the newly formed Kuwaiti Democratic Forum, has claimed that one group had already executed 15 people. Hebari blamed the gangs in the shooting of Hamad Juan, an opposition activist and former parliamentarian, at his front door on Feb. 28." Middle East Watch said on March 21 that Kuwaiti security forces and freelance gangs are using lighted cigarettes, knives and other instruments to torture hundreds of people. In a telephone interview to The Information Gulf, Aziz Abu-Hamad, an investigator for Middle East Watch who just returned from a three weeks stay in Kuwait to document Iraqi human rights abuses during the occupation, investigate abuses since the liberation and to asses the situation of the Kuwaiti pro-democracy movement, detailed some of his findings. He estimates that approximately six thousand Palestinians, Iraqis, Sudanese, North Africans, and Kuwaiti resident aliens are currently detained without formal charges. The internment camps are divided into two categories: approximately six are operated directly by the Kuwaiti military (as the military hospital and prison complex where the Kuwaiti high command is temporarily housed), whereas another dozen camps are run, under military supervision, by former Kuwaiti resistance fighters, vigilante gangs, fractions of the security forces, or "private" Kuwaitis. The military camps contain the larger number of prisoners and are overcrowded to an extent that inmates are dying of lack of food and medical attention. Abu-Hamad based his findings on interviews with former camp inmates, family members of inmates who were able to visit their relatives (only very few were allowed to), sympathetic military sources, and Red Cross officials who were allowed to visit a camp for the first time on March 23 (two weeks after they obtained formal permission from the Kuwaiti government to do so). According to Abu-Hamad, most almost all inmates are tortured in some form, usually beatings, by their capturers. He estimates that at least 30 to 40 prisoners were executed and another 20-30 died in the camps due to lack of food, water, or medical attention. According to Abu-Hamad (as quoted by the Washington Post), some of the methods used by Kuwaitis to detain, torture, and kill suspected collaborators have been remarkably similar to those used by the Iraqi occupiers against Kuwaitis. Many detainees are Palestinians, who appear to be victimized as a group because some Palestinians helped the Iraqis after they occupied Kuwait on Aug. 2. Before that date, about 350,000 Palestinians lived in Kuwait, often for generations, but today, only about 150,000 remain, and even this number rapidly decreases as many continue to flee the hostility brought towards them. An AP report from March 27 quotes a grave digger at the Riqqa Cemetery in Kuwait, where mass graves holding six to 10 bodies apiece have been in use since the US-led forces evicted Iraq from Kuwait: "We buried three men here yesterday. They were all Palestinians. Two were killed with gunshots. One man had a severed head." Dr. Louise Cainkar, director of the Chicago-based Palestine Human Rights and Information Center, is currently traveling through Iraq on a fact-finding tour. From Baghdad she reported interviews with four Palestinian men who escaped Kuwait after being imprisoned there, saying that they were beaten with metal rods, burned with cigarettes, and interrogated by Kuwaiti officials during their imprisonment in Kuwait City. In an April 2 New York Times op-ed, Andrew Whitley, executive director of Middle East Watch, cites testimony (to his group and the International Red Cross) by released detainees that "puts U.S. officers in places of detention in Kuwait where torture has taken place." Still, Kuwaiti officials continue to claim that Kuwaiti authorities are not involved. "Interviews with more than 100 people who were detained and released," Whitley writes, "revealed that those responsible for their mistreatment in "safe houses," schools and police stations often wore Kuwaiti Army uniforms. Eyewitnesses described how soldiers dropped bodies off in Palestinian neighborhoods during the night." Although both Abu-Hamad and Whitley report that the presence of U.S. troops has somewhat "restrained" Kuwaiti human rights abuses, the U.S. authorities tolerate them to some extent. On March 4, Robert Fisk writes in the London Independent: "When three Kuwaiti soldiers began to beat up a Palestinian boy on a bicycle in Hwali yesterday Colin Smith of the Observer and I intervened, physically restraining the Kuwaiti troops and ordering them to lower their weapons. Several of the Kuwaiti armoured vehicles were flying American flags. But the Special Forces troops accompanying the Kuwaitis did nothing to help. When I asked the American officer why he allowed the Kuwaitis to beat civilians, he replied, `You having a nice day? We don't want your sort around here with your dirty rumors. You have a big mouth. This is martial law, boy. Fuck off.'" via fledgist@weber.ucsd.edu fledgist@ucsd blythenet:1033/101 via The NY Transfer 718-448-2358/718-448-2683 --- [ This file has travelled through the Socialism OnLine! BBS at +1-719-392-7781, 24 hours, 300-9600 bps HST/MNP/V42bis, on its way to you, the reader of this file. Please share any information you have about "big brother." Venceremos! ]

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