Stateless rally in Kuwait for citizenship, rights

Last Updated: Friday, December 23, 2011 - 21:42

Kuwait City: Hundreds of stateless Arabs
living in Kuwait demonstrated for the second week in a row
demanding citizenship and other rights, a news agency journalist
said.

Kuwaiti activists, former MPs and representatives from the
Kuwait Association for Human Rights attended the rally in
Jahra, northwest of Kuwait City, as police watched without
interfering.

Riot police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse
similar protests last week and arrested more than 30 people.

The rally comes two days after Kuwait said it may grant
citizenship to 34,000 out of the estimated 105,000 stateless
people living in the country, and urged the remaining 71,000
to reveal their original nationality.

The stateless, known locally as bidoons, claim the right
to Kuwaiti nationality, saying that their ancestors failed to
register for citizenship when the government began
registration five decades ago.

Kuwait has long said that bidoons or their forefathers
destroyed their original passports to claim the right to
Kuwaiti citizenship in order to gain access to the services
and generous benefits provided to its citizens.

In a bid to force them to produce their original
nationality papers, Kuwait has denied them essential
documentation, including birth, marriage and death
certificates, according to a report in June by Human Rights
Watch.

Because of 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 (2,575 euros).

Fifty-two stateless who were arrested following protests
in February and March are currently on trial for illegal
assembly and assaulting police.

PTI



First Published: Friday, December 23, 2011 - 21:42

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