Kuwait stateless protest for rights

Saturday, February 19, 2011

A thousand or more non-citizen residents of Kuwait demonstrated yesterday demanding rights given to Kuwaiti citizens. Police used water cannons in dispersing the protest. There were injuries among both protesters and police, and several protesters were detained.

Citizens of Kuwait receive substantial welfare benefits, including education and health care. There are estimated to be around 100,000 non-citizen residents, called "bidoons" (from bedoun jinsiyya, Arabic meaning without nationality). Many bidoons claim descent from desert nomads who did not apply for citizenship in 1959. Many bidoons live in economic hardship, and cannot get legal recognitions such as birth and death certificates, driver's licenses, and attested marriage contracts.

Interior Ministry spokesman Adil Al-Hashash said "security forces on the ground talked to the protestors in a nice and civilized way", telling them "they should go to the legal channels for their demands rather than protesting." The government says police acted in self-defense after protesters threw rocks.

Independent Kuwaiti Member of Parliament Daifallah Buramia said "[t]he protest of bidoons is legitimate and the government is responsible for this because it has failed to resolve the problem".

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