Kuwaiti police use tear gas against protesters

Kuwaiti riot police used tear gas to disperse hundreds of stateless Arabs who demonstrated for the second day today to demand basic rights and citizenship.

Updated: Feb 20, 2011, 00:33 AM IST

Kuwait City: Kuwaiti riot police used
tear gas to disperse hundreds of stateless Arabs who
demonstrated for the second day today to demand basic rights
and citizenship.

Police arrested dozens from around 300 protesters
who had gathered in Sulaibiya, 25 kilometres southwest of
Kuwait City, to press for their demands.

Yesterday, at least five people were wounded and
local media said as many as 100 protesters were arrested when
around 1,000 stateless Arabs, also known as bidoons, clashed
with police in Jahra, west of Kuwait City.

Like in Jahra, protesters in Sulaibiya carried
Kuwaiti flags and pictures of the ruler and also demanded
their right to work.

The bidoons, who are estimated at more than
100,000, claim they have the right to Kuwaiti citizenship, but
the government says that ancestors of many of them came from
neighbouring countries and they are not entitled to
nationality.

Kuwait launched a crackdown on the bidoons in 2000,
depriving them of basic rights including the right to health,
education and jobs, in a bid to force them to reveal what the
authorities say are their true identities.

Many bidoons have no right to a driver`s licence,
cannot get birth certificates for their babies or death
certificates for the dead. They are also banned from getting
their marriage contracts attested.

Due to stringent government restrictions, a
majority of them are living in dire economic conditions in
oil-rich Kuwait, where the average monthly salary of native
citizens is more than USD 3,500.

Authorities said that following the crackdown, some
20,000 bidoons disclosed their original citizenship and were
given residence permits like other foreigners.

Most bidoons claim to be Kuwaitis whose
forefathers, who lived as Bedouins in the desert, failed to
apply for citizenship when the state first introduced its
nationality law in 1959.

Kuwaiti MPs have called on the government to
quickly resolve the problem of bidoons and Kuwait`s society
for human rights called in a statement today for the release
of detainees.

PTI