Last updated: 6 March, 2012

Kuwait urged to stop mistreatment of stateless

Refugees International, a rights body which assists displaced people, urged Kuwait on Tuesday to stop mistreating more than 100,000 stateless people and to address their citizenship demands.

In a report on the issue of stateless people in Kuwait, known as bidoons, the US-based organisation RI urged US, British and UN diplomats to directly engage the Kuwaiti government on the issue.

The report was prepared following a visit by a delegation from the organisation to Kuwait last month.

“The bidoon protest movement, which re-emerged last year, powerfully demonstrates this community’s desire to be treated as full and equal members of Kuwaiti society,” said RI statelessness programme manager Sarnata Reynolds.

“But the Kuwaiti government’s response to their demands has been deplorable,” he said.

“During their visit to Kuwait, RI advocates found that Kuwaiti special forces used excessive force to disperse peaceful demonstrations, including beatings, tear gas, and rubber bullets,” the report said.

Thousands of bidoons have staged protests in Kuwait over the past 12 months demanding citizenship and a host of basic rights they have been denied.

Riot police cracked down on the protests and arrested around 150 people who are facing trial in Kuwaiti courts.

Last month, the lower court acquitted 31 of them and on Tuesday opened the trial of 68 others who denied the charges of taking part in illegal protests, assaulting police and damaging public property.

The court set May 1 for the next hearing.

Kuwait says only 34,000 out of the 105,000 bidoon present in the oil-rich Gulf state are eligible for citizenship, accusing the remaining 71,000 of concealing their true nationalities.