Musallam Al-Barrak

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Musallam Al-Barrak
Personal details
Born (1956-01-30) January 30, 1956 (age 59)
Nationality Kuwait
Residence Al-Khalidiya, Kuwait City

Musallam Al-Barrak (Arabic: مسلم محمد البراك‎) is a Kuwaiti politician. He was a member of the Kuwaiti National Assembly, representing the fourth district.

Background[edit]

Born in January 30, 1956, Al-Barrak studied Arab literature and worked in the Municipal Council before being elected to the National Assembly in 1996. Al-Barrak affiliates with the Popular Action Bloc.[1] Al-Barrak had been elected for six consecutive terms, making him the longest-serving member of parliament.[2]

Parliamentary career[edit]

Al-Barrak was a member of the opposition parliamentary group Popular Action Bloc.[1] In the 2006 parliamentary election, he won re-election with over 8,000 votes, the highest total in the election and an all-time record.[3] In the February 2012 parliamentary election, Al-Barrak set a national record for the highest votes received in Kuwait elections history.[4]

In 2011 and 2012, Al-Barrak played a significant role in protests. In April 2012, he was stripped of his parliamentary immunity by the National Assembly for participating in the storming of the parliament building by protesters. In October 2012, Al-Barrak made a speech in which he broke with Kuwaiti precedent by saying that "we will not allow you (Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah) to rule individually..." He was arrested on 29 October for undermining the Emir and released on bail four days later.[5] On 15 April 2013, he was sentenced to five years in prison.

In May 2003, Al-Barrak spoke against visiting Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri, criticizing him for opposing the US-led invasion of Iraq. Holding an egg, he said: "This is what you are worth Hariri,... a rotten egg from the Kuwaiti people".[6]

Along with other Popular Action Bloc MPs, he criticized the government's Project Kuwait, which proposed international development of northern oil fields; Al-Barrak stated that they should be developed by a Kuwaiti company.[7] In 2006, he and fellow MP Ahmad Al-Saadoun questioned the government's cancellation of several contracts, and began meeting with the Audit Bureau.[1] lso in 2006, he and Mohammed Al-Sager led opposition to Minister of Information Mohammed Al-Sanousi's re-appointment, due to the limits they said he had placed on freedom of the press.[8] Al-Sanousi resigned on 17 December 2006, one day before he was due to be grilled by parliament. Al-Barrak suggested Al-Sanousi had been forced to quit, calling it "a victory for the constitution, democracy and freedom".[9]

Public prosecutors requested in July 2010 that the National Assembly strip Al-Barrak of his parliamentary immunity so that he could face charges of harming the national security, but the request was refused.[10] In December 2010, the television station Al Jazeera was shut down in Kuwait after refusing to censor a broadcast of a telephone interview with Al-Barrak. Following the incident, Al-Barrak, Jamaan Al-Harbash and Saleh Al-Mulla called for Prime Minister Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Sabah to be grilled before parliament.[11] On December 29, Al-Barrak and nine others filed a motion of no-confidence against the PM.[12]

In August 2011, following reports that some MPs had received millions of dinars to their accounts, Al-Barrak called for the governor of the Central Bank of Kuwait to resign.[13] In November, he participated in the storming of the parliament by protesters calling for Nasser Al Mohammad Al Sabah's resignation for corruption charges. He told reporters, "We are now waiting for the dissolution of government and the parliament ... Until this happens, Wednesday was only the first step among many. We don't fear anything except God."[14]

Loss of immunity and arrest[edit]

In April 2012, the Public Prosecutor requested that the National Assembly strip Al-Barrak of his parliamentary immunity for his role in the November 2011 storming of the parliament. On April 24, the Assembly voted in favor of removing Al-Barrak's immunity, as well as that of eight other MPs.[15]

On 20 June, the Constitutional Court ruled the February 2012 parliamentary elections unconstitutional, dissolving the new parliament in favor of the previous. Al-Barrak assailed the decision, calling it a "blatant attack on the choice of the people"[16] and "a coup against the constitution".[17]

Al-Barrak was arrested on 29 October for charges of "undermining the status of the emir".[5] On 1 November, thousands of people marched to the prison to protest his arrest. After the crowd refused an order to disperse, police fired smoke bombs and tear gas to break up the protest.[18] Amnesty International issued a statement on Al-Barrak's behalf, stating that he had been detained "purely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression" and calling for the charges against him to be dropped.[19]

On 15 April 2013, Al-Barrak was sentenced to five years in jail for his critical comments about the Emir.[20] Thousands of people took to the streets in protest of the verdict.[21] A lawyer for Al-Barrak stated that "the ruling is null and void because it violated the legal procedures and for failing to provide the defence team with sufficient guarantees".[22] The Kuwaiti Ministry of Information released its own statement saying that "Kuwait has a transparent and independent judicial system ... All citizens, regardless of their position, are equal in the eyes of the law. Anyone accused of a crime in Kuwait will get a fair trial with a comprehensive legal defense and open appeals process."[23]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c A Saleh (9 December 2006). "Popular Group to exert more pressure on govt.". Kuwait Times.  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). Retrieved 2 November 2012. 
  2. ^ "KUNA proceeds broadcasting reports, analytical studies on parliamentary". Kuwait News Agency  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). 6 January 2012. Retrieved 2 November 2012. 
  3. ^ Ahmad Al-Khaled (3 July 2006). "Sheikh Nasser in the hot seat again". Kuwait Times.  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). Retrieved 2 November 2012. 
  4. ^ Kristian Coates Ulrichsen (22 October 2012). "Kuwait: Political crisis at critical juncture". BBC News. Archived from the original on 2 November 2012. Retrieved 2 November 2012. 
  5. ^ a b "Kuwait: Ex-MP Mussallam al-Barrak freed on bail". BBC News. 1 November 2012. Archived from the original on 2 November 2012. Retrieved 2 November 2012. 
  6. ^ "Lawmakers say Lebanese prime minister not welcome in Kuwait". Associated Press  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). 4 May 2003. Retrieved 2 November 2012. 
  7. ^ "MPs step up anti-Project Kuwait rhetoric". Middle East Economic Digest.  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). 16 September 2005. Retrieved 2 November 2012. 
  8. ^ Ahmad Al-Khaled (5 July 2006). "Lawmakers want 'clean' ministers". Kuwait Times.  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). Retrieved 2 November 2012. 
  9. ^ B. Izzak (18 December 2006). "Sanousi makes backdoor exit". Kuwait Times.  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). Retrieved 2 November 2012. 
  10. ^ "Nat''l Assembly rejects lifting immunity of MP, lifts it on another". Kuwait News Agency  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). 1 July 2010. Retrieved 2 November 2012. 
  11. ^ "Kuwait shuts down Al Jazeera amid 'unrest' row". TradeArabia.  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). 13 December 2010. Retrieved 2 November 2012. 
  12. ^ "10 Kuwaiti MPs table no-confidence motion against PM". Kuwait News Agency  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). 28 December 2010. Retrieved 2 November 2012. 
  13. ^ "Central bank governor of Kuwait faces ultimatum from lawmaker". Global Banking News  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). 25 August 2011. Retrieved 2 November 2012. 
  14. ^ "Kuwaiti Protestors Storm Parliament". Kipp.  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). 17 November 2011. Retrieved 2 November 2012. 
  15. ^ "Parliament approves lifting immunity of MPs". Kuwait News Agency  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required). 24 April 2012. Retrieved 2 November 2012. 
  16. ^ Hussain al-Qatari (20 June 2012). "Kuwait Court Rules 2012 Elections Unconstitutional". Associated Press. Archived from the original on 2 November 2012. Retrieved 2 November 2012. 
  17. ^ "Kuwait court reinstates previous parliament". Al Jazeera. 20 June 2012. Archived from the original on 2 November 2012. Retrieved 2 November 2012. 
  18. ^ "Kuwaitis protest jailing of opposition figure". Al Jazeera. 1 November 2012. Archived from the original on 2 November 2012. Retrieved 2 November 2012. 
  19. ^ "Kuwait: Charges against Musallam al-Barrak must be dropped". Amnesty International. 1 November 2012. Archived from the original on 2 November 2012. Retrieved 2 November 2012. 
  20. ^ Habib Toumi (15 April 2013). "Kuwait opposition leader jailed for 5 years for insulting Emir where the law in Kuwait prohibited anyone to creticize ruler of Kuwait". Gulf News. Archived from the original on 16 April 2013. Retrieved 16 April 2013. 
  21. ^ Ahmed Hagagy (15 April 2013). "Kuwaiti politician jailed for insulting emir". Reuters. 
  22. ^ "Kuwait jails former MP for 'insulting emir'". Al Jazeera. 15 April 2013. Archived from the original on 16 April 2013. Retrieved 16 April 2013. 
  23. ^ Fiona MacDonald (16 April 2013). "Kuwaitis Protest Against Sentencing of Opposition’s Al-Barrak". Bloomberg. Archived from the original on 16 April 2013. Retrieved 16 April 2013.