3/24/2012

KUWAIT:Police break up stateless demo – Bedoons demand citizenship, social rights

kuwait times

KUWAIT: Special task forces dispersed a peaceful demonstration staged by bedoons (Stateless people) yesterday in Taima. Some protesters were briefly detained, a news report stated. Dozens of stateless residents gathered at Taima’s main square following the weekly Friday prayers. Protesters were asked to leave despite several attempts made by a team from the Kuwait Human Rights Society (KHRS) to allow demonstrations to take place for a set period.
The Ministry of Interior’s Assistant Undersecretary for Security Affairs Major General Mahmoud Al-Dousary, Major General Ibrahim Al-Tarrah, General Director of Jahra Security Department led police’s side of negotiations. According to a report published by Al-Aan news website, special task forces went in pursuit of protesters after they were asked to disperse when demonstrators refused to cooperate. Some bedoon residents were arrested but were eventually released without facing charges.
Yesterday’s demonstration comes after weeks of stability which followed demonstrations held on a weekly basis late last year. These events saw dozens of bedoons being arrested and made to appear before the court for demonstrating illegally. Stateless residents who live in Taima and the nearby Sulaibiya districts of Al-Jahra, demand citizenship as well as civil and social rights they have been deprived of, given their illegal residence status. The government argues that a part of them are Arabs who deliberately disposed of their original passports after coming to Kuwait to seek citizenship in the oil-rich country.
The government established a central agency for illegal residents a couple of years ago with the goal of sorting out stateless residents’ issues and naturalizing those who meet the conditions, including residents whose forefathers failed to register for citizenship. Last year, the agency adopted measures to grant bedoons several rights including obtaining marriage, birth and death certificates. The agency was given a five-year ultimatum to resolve the decade-long issue. The word ‘bedoon’ is Arabic means ‘without,’ and is used to refer to the fact that stateless residents live without nationality. – Agencies