A look at the website of KUNA, the Kuwaiti state news agency, includes many articles about Kuwait’s support for human rights and international institutions – though given the recent actions of the government, this does not appear to extend to Kuwait itself. These articles are an example of the government appearing to support reform and democratization while stalling and attempting to clamp down on dissent in Kuwait.
The government of Kuwait has urged that Sri Lanka take additional steps to improve its human rights record. Human rights in Sri Lanka is indeed a serious issue, as the country has only recently emerged from a civil war and the current government has frequently faced criticism over its human rights record. Indeed, the candidate who President Rajapska defeated in 2010, Retired General Sareth Fonseka, was recently released from prison in July after being prosecuted following the election – allegedly for corruption. This is an important issue that should be addressed, but is supporting human rights in Sri Lanka while arresting members of the royal family who tweeted in favor of the opposition, and also arresting Musallam Al-Barrack for mildly criticizing the Emir, and going after Mohammad Abdul Qader al-Jasem for a blog post urging Saudi Arabia and the UAE to stay out of Kuwait’s affairs.
The Kuwaiti Ambassador to Bahrain met with the Deputy Prime Minister of Bahrain to discuss relations between the two countries – it is worth noting that both of them clamped down on dissent when faced with protests. Meanwhile, at the United Nations, Kuwait urged nations to strengthen support for UN peacekeeping efforts. Perhaps they view these peacekeeping operations as being in line with the involvement of Jordan in the crackdown on demonstrations. Kuwait also urged Japan to ratify the UN Convention on Handicapped Rights and to improve the treatment of the disabled within their society. There’s more – the Ministry of Information has announced it is participating in the Sharjah Book Fair, at an event where, according to Kuna, readers expressed interest in Kuwait’s political system.
What all this adds up to is a government that is focusing on improving its image elsewhere in the world while ignoring the situation at home. They are trying to improve their image (clumsily) while doing little to nothing in the way of real reform. This is why the opposition is set to boycott the December 1st elections, and why next Sunday we may see a rally the likes of which has not been seen in the history of modern Kuwait.