Sunday, February 20, 2011

Bidoon Protests in Kuwait

I heard about the protests through US Embassy Warden notices, but I didn't know who was doing the protesting or why.  There's a lot of change happening in the Middle East.

.... and then... there was a spark....

2nd Day of Protests- Kuwaiti police use tear gas against protesters

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

Police arrested dozens from around 300 protesters who had gathered in Sulaibiya, 25 kilometres (16 miles) southwest of Kuwait City, to press for their demands.

On Friday, 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 $3,500 (2,575 euros).

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 Saturday for the release of detainees.
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Abdullah Q. said...

the Protests only started after word got out that the Kuwaiti Goverment requested the list of Iraqi Nationals living in Kuwait (Bidoon) From the Iraqi Government.
In order to Divert attention away from the true matter, the protests began with the branding of "we want (jinseya) Nationality" and pulling the others around them. they are afraid of being deported as they do not wish to go back.

Desert Girl said...

Emmmmmmm... sorry Abdullah, but I don't believe that to be true.

Abdullah Q said...

neither do i, but thats what is coming ot from within parliament.
and i dont mean the members themselves.

Desert Girl said...

More propaganda and still no solution to the problem.

Does anyone really believe that Iraq even has records.... and further of nationals living in Kuwait??? Very doubtful.

One of the stories today said that it made no sense for Bidoons to protest since they are now in the process of fixing the Bidoon problem. Oh yeah? Really? Now? Today? Again, very doubtful since it hasn't taken place in how many generations.

Hey - go ahead and open up the DNA files. Bidoons had to go through testing (at 85KD per person), so why not reveal the results?

Abdullah Q said...

politics is a complicated issue, especially when it comes to Bidoon in Kuwait, people who deserve to get citizenship dont, and people who dont do get it. Im not saying all deserve it, but there are who do, like your friend PG whom i just read her story and i wish her luck.
But there are those who are trying to exploit the benefits of a Kuwaiti Citizenship.
so the truth will never be truly revealed.

Anonymous said...

I second Abdullah, DG. Some bedoons have an Iraqi, Syrian, & Saudi accents. Do you actually believe them when they say they are Kuwaitis. It's even mentioned in your post, that they claim that they lived in the desert when the government gave citizenships. About the Kuwait-Iraq talks regarding the documents that many bedoons are Iraqi was addressed by The prime minister of Iraq and the head of the bedoon committee Saleh Al-Fidhala in the past few days, as the Iraqi PM states that the Iraqis who claim they are bedoons belong to Iraq. Straight from the horse's mouth. Everything Abdullah mentioned is true. As a Kuwaiti, I don't want people coming to Kuwait from neighboring countries & speak ill of the Kuwait government, for not accepting them as Kuwaiti citizens. The Kuwaiti citizenship is not a charity. Some bedoons deserve the citizenship but they are a minority compared to the illegal ones. Sorry, DG for the long comment.

Desert Girl said...

Anonymous 3:32:

"The prime minister of Iraq and the head of the bedoon committee Saleh Al-Fidhala in the past few days, as the Iraqi PM states that the Iraqis who claim they are bedoons belong to Iraq" Yeah. I enjoy reading good propaganda too: Sometimes comic books. Sometimes fairy tales.

Again, I doubt seriously that they have the records.

I don't believe everyone will be qualified for citizenship and I'm not stating that.

You know what - like I said, bring out the DNA tests that the government mandated bidoons have. BAM - resolution.

Anonymous said...

You're right, DG.

q8teacher said...

I really ADMIRE you for writing this article and the issue is so important at this time (as always for the "bedoon" people who go without basic human rights). As the Kuwaiti government trys to figure out ways to spend its oil surplus, and hands out multi-billion dollar freebies to its people, there ARE Kuwaitis who have nothing --- no status, recognition, or opportunities. Shame on Kuwait for taking so long to help those who really need and deserve the nationality.

Not everyone should be granted the "jinseya"; some are trying to take avantage. However, others --- like my friend, whose father was serving in a war during the registration period, for the Kuwait army --- are victims. Unknowing / unable family members didnt realize the seriousness of the "registering" and it has made generations of their ancestors (people born and raised on Kuwait soil) into victims.

Kuwait has the finances to support many of the bedoon population; so do the right, or at least charitable thing Kuwait!

Thanks again for raising awareness, DG! Too bad that Kuwaitis with nationality too often dont care about those not as fortunate :(

Desert Girl said...

Thanks Q8Teacher. I didn't write it - I just pass along what is already out there. I wrote an article years ago that was distributed all over the internet and I am very proud of that. It was about 10 years ago before it was acceptable for a lot of people to write about the situation.

I think the older I get, the more I realize what a truly global village we live in. There just isn't enough compassion for humanity; and often the needy are right in your own back yard.

Anonymous said...

I agree with DG and I applaud her for defending the rights of the Bidoons. I'm sure there are bound to be opportunists trying to pass off as Bidoons to gain a slice of the Kuwaiti benefits. And no I don't pity them.

But what about people who were genuinely born and raised here? Many of them failed to be classified as citizens when the country did the registration? They were all told that they were considered for citizenship. But this wait has extended to a forty year wait.

Worse still, what they used to receive such as education, healthcare, driving license etc were all taken away from them. Even the rights to register their births and death? That is a little too much.

These people are immobile. They have no passports. The problem is not going to disappear by sweeping it under the carpet. Something has to be done to resolve this, and I think examining the DNA test results would be a good start.

Anonymous said...

There appear to be much misunderstanding about the Bidoon and whether they deserve Jinssya or not.but before i answer that question, lets examine what is the make up of current kuwaties with Jinssya. they are original pearl divers (small percent) the rest from Iraq, Iran, saudis and Bedouins from the desert. this is no secret, most gained citizenship in the early 60's. The beduins (desert) were uneducated and did not take advantage of registrations fro Jinssia in the 60's. laws became tough and only those who have wasta could gain citizenship. so the current bidoon are only a sample of the current so called real kuwaities.
the only difference between Kuwaiti with Jinssya and without is the Jinssya itself.