The government of Kuwait has resorted to revoking the citizenship of citizens vocally opposing the status quo in Kuwait City and the rest of the country. The moves are widely viewed as an attempt to silence political dissent in the country. Some fear that the government is using citizenship as a way to reward supporters and punish opponents and those demanding change.
While much of the world has been focused on the atrocities committed by ISIS across the Middle East, the Kuwaiti authorities have been quietly revoking the citizenship of opponents to the ruling class. The punishment is considered quite severe for the minor actions that seem to trigger it, often for nothing more than disagreeing with the government near someone willing to report you. Many citizens are also facing jail terms for attending protests and other acts seen to be politically motivated.
Over the last three months, more than 20 people have had their citizenship revoked in Kuwait. One of those people was a man that ran media platforms that allowed opposition figures and those with antigovernment positions to broadcast information to the masses. At first, the media outlets were merely suspended. Then in July, the media platforms were shut down and the owner found himself without Kuwaiti citizenship.
In past years, Kuwait was considered the most politically open of the conservative monarchies around the Persian Gulf. Citizens were allowed to vote for parliamentary members and lawmakers had no fear of publicly criticizing official corruption. Now, some fear that Kuwait is starting to become more like its repressive neighbors in the region.
Human rights workers have watched several gulf monarchs tackle threats to their power in recent years using new laws and the threat of citizenship revocation to contain dissidents. Bahrain revoked the citizenship of 31 people in 2012 and another nine in the past couple weeks. The United Arab Emirates revoked the passports of several naturalized citizens, allegedly because the men demanded political changes.