Two days ago, Kuwaitis reacted online to a new case of torture. Mubarak Mishaal Mubarak, a 19-year-old Kuwaiti student in Sharjah, was beaten and tortured for three days by two other Kuwaiti students, one of them a member of the ruling family.
According to the Sharjah police reports, Yousef al-Sabah and Hisham al-Jabri confessed to beating Mubarak because of personal and money issues. The police report also stated that Sabah’s cell phone had video footage of the torture episode. Mubarak’s body had torture and burning marks.
Two years ago, in January 2011, the case of Mohammed Ghazay al-Maymouny came as a shock to Kuwaitis. The young Maymouny was tortured to death by a group of police officers because of ‘personal issues.’ At that time, interior minister Sabah al-Khaled al-Sabah (note: all “power ministries,” like the ministries of defense, interior, and foreign affairs, are assigned to ruling family members) submitted his resignation.
The minister stated, “There is no honor in being in charge of a ministry that tortures Kuwaitis.” Of course, no one objected to his specification of the nationality of torture victims. The case against Maymouny’s torturers is ongoing, with verdicts ranging from several years in prison to death.
The Kuwaiti opposition has always used this card to speak of state oppression. Yet both the state and opposition never bothered to make statements regarding the torture of Bedoon activists or migrant workers.
Last year, stateless activist Khaled Ramadan al-Enizi was tortured and threatened with rape by state police for his participation in protests. In October 2012, an Egyptian was beat up in a police station when he tried to submit a car crash report. Human Rights Watch documented cases of police torture and rape of transgender women.
The torture records of ruling families in the Gulf are full of stories. Noura al-Khalifa in Bahrain is facing charges of torturing women arrested during the uprising in prisons, including 20-year-old poet Ayat al-Qurmouzi. In the UAE, a famous graphic video of a ruling family member torturing an Afghan man did not land him in jail. And the case of the Saudi prince getting 20 years in jail for killing his servant is only one of many horrific tales.
Torture has always been around. And as long as there is a corrupt, racist police force and criminal state police protecting royalty, then torture will stay around. Though stories of migrant workers in Gulf police prisons will always shock you, these stories mostly show up on the last pages of Kuwaiti newspapers where ‘citizens’ read them, sigh, and flip the page.
Violating the bodies of non-Kuwaitis has never been an issue. Kuwaitis did not mind the torture of Palestinians and Iraqis after the Gulf War because they were ‘traitors.’ Suspects of terrorism were tortured with silent approval. You approved torture once, and now, it no longer needs your approval.
* Published in AlAkhbar