Photos of the activities of the Free Kuwait Campaign in London, UK, August 1990 through March 1991
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Interview 1

What was the Free Kuwait Campaign (FKC)?
It was the immediate response of the Kuwaiti people outside their homeland to the Iraqi regime’s invasion of Kuwait on August 2, 1990. It encompassed all the activities of these Kuwaitis to restore their legitimate government. It included persuading the citizens of the world to support use of military force to liberate Kuwait after the Iraqi regime refused to leave peacefully. It included creating solidarity among hundreds of thousands of exiled Kuwaitis, offering sustenance to those in financial need, and giving hope to those inside Kuwait that everthing possible was being done to end their ordeal. It included the efforts of our many foreign supporters. It stood for all that was right and it was against all that was wrong. It lasted 7 months till Kuwait regained its freedom on February 26, 1991.

Though the campaign had different titles in different nations, the goal was exactly the same. This website’s main focus is on the activities in London, UK, because it’s where I was living during the occupation of my country and where I used my camera to document most of the events of that momentous time.

Who was in charge of the FKC in Britain?
The National Union of Kuwaiti Students for the UK & Ireland, part of the worldwide students’ organization known as NUKS, was the British campaign’s focal point. By the invasion’s second day, several of their graduate students who held office in NUKS or had activist experience formed an executive group called the Kuwaiti High Committee to coordinate all responses to the crisis and to act as liaison with other national and international organizations. Also named as KHC members were several non-student activists and an official of the Kuwaiti Embassy. FKC headquarters was the NUKS building at 41 Porchester Terrace, just northwest of Hyde Park in London.

Why did you create this website?
I didn’t want the era of the Free Kuwait Campaign to be forgotten. It’s part of Kuwait’s history. After liberation, for years I waited for the government to acknowledge the efforts of the groups in the UK, UAE, and many other nations around the globe. There was nothing – no monument, no publication, not even a tea party. No one got credit for all the sacrifice and hard work, and as time passed the danger grew that their contribution wouldn’t be remembered. My first response was to publish a book of photos in 1997 called Free Kuwait Campaign: a Testimony from London. I sent 500 free copies to the Ministry of Education for distribution to school libraries.

As the 20th anniversary of liberation was approaching, it became clear that a website was the best way to keep this era alive. I was dissatisfied with the book. I had not joined the FKC right at the start and I had taken photos with no intention of creating a book, so the coverage was random. I missed many activities, which means the website does not represent the FKC’s entire history but rather my personal view of the FKC. Nevertheless, the website contains more than the book especially since I opened it to other contributors.

 

How did you come to be FKC’s photographer?
As soon as I heard of the FKC, I determined to pitch in. I kept offering to do Media Committee work, but, since I had no particular writing skills or public relations experience, nothing ever happened. It was also clear the committee’s office space in the Porchester Terrace basement was limited. I used to show up and help with small chores. Gradually the members came to trust me. After photographing the first major march on September 9, I considered myself FKC’s volunteer photographer without formally being hired.

Were you the only FKC photographer?
No. Omar Buhamad was the official photographer and perhaps there was one other. I was the unofficial one. Others also made audio and video recordings, some privately and some government sponsored. The KHC offered to reimburse me and have me be an official photographer, but I declined. My reasons were that I wanted autonomy to go where I pleased and that I wanted to retain ownership of my photos. Fortunately I could afford the cost so I paid personally for all my photography.

What kind of events did you photograph?
Indoors I photographed public meetings, ceremonies, performances, committee members at work, and diwaniyas. Outdoors I photographed the major marches and rallies from near and far, gatherings and speakers in Hyde Park, Kuwaiti men and women leaving London to assist the coalition forces, and ceremonies.

How many photos did you take in London?
I took more than 8,000 photos from early August 1990 to mid-March 1991. For the website, I chose about an eighth of these.

Besides photos, do you have other FKC mementoes?
I kept documents like leaflets, newsletters, and magazines. I kept memorabilia like campaign buttons, stickers, pens, posters, postcards, and the FKC’s official tea mug, umbrella, and sweatshirt.

Did you perform other kinds of work on the campaign?
I helped to create the placards before marches. I performed small chores for the Media Committee, such as making tea. Every night from 8 to midnight I attended the Kuwaiti People’s Committee diwaniya at Dorset Square. Once I paid to bring Fahmi Huwaidi, a famous Egyptian author and political columnist, to address the diwaniya and deliver a lecture to a wider audience. I also commissioned and funded the design of a Free Kuwait postcard.

Was this the only diwaniya associated with the FKC movement?
At first it was, but later the Kuwaiti High Committee organized its own daily diwaniya on George Street. After this, I went back and forth to photograph both diwaniyas especially when they had notable guests.