Sunday, March 13, 2011

Article: MPs, human rights groups condemn violence against bedoon protesters

Published Date: March 13, 2011 Kuwait times

KUWAIT: A number of MPs and local human rights organizations have strongly condemned the use of tear gas and batons by security officers to disperse bedoon (stateless) protesters attending demonstrations to demand their human rights in Taima, Sulaibiya and Ahmadi on Friday.

The cabinet failed to commit to the promises they made to the bedoons' [parliamentary] committee," said prominent anti-government MP Musallam Al-Barrak. Speaking to Al-Qabas, he pointed out that the cabinet had given assurances that a decree offering bedoons a range of basic rights would be passed before the March 8 parliamentary session, "but they failed to live up to their promise as usual.

Fellow MP Faisal Al-Duwaisan urged the interior minister Sheikh Ahmad Al-Humoud to avoid "using violence against demonstrators", suggesting that beating people carrying Kuwaiti flags is "inappropriate," reported Al-Qabas. MP Hassan Jowhar also expressed his "utter rejection" of the use of violence and "turning bedoons' protest areas into warzones.

On her part, MP Dr. Aseel Al-Awadhi said that the government's announcement of a decree offering human rights to stateless residents "is a step in the right direction" to resolving this decades-long problem, adding that "practicing the right of peaceful demonstration must not by suppressed.

Another parliamentarian, Dr. Rola Dashti, was critical of the bedoons, however. Whilst acknowledging the right of people to express themselves and protest peacefully, Dr. Dashti accused the protesters of damaging Kuwait's reputation and assaulting police, saying, "Damaging the state's reputation and attacking police officers is unacceptable." The MP urged the Ministry of Interior and protestors alike to stay committed to the law.

MP Ali Al-Deqbasi, meanwhile, asserted that no good could result from the use of violence, adding that good could only come in this instance from enforcing human rights for bedoon people. Al-Deqbasi accused the cabinet of stalling over the imposition of its decree giving bedoon people basic human rights.

Another MP, Yousef Al-Zalzalah, was also highly critical of the government's handling of the situation, saying, "The way the government is dealing with the bedoon issue reflects its lack of serious will to solve the problem.
Fellow parliamentarian Adnan Abdulsamad also slammed the government over the situation, asserting that "the government's continuous neglect of the bedoons' human rights made the problem more complicated," while MP Mubarak Al-Waalan questioned whether "the use of violence and tear gas the best method which the government could use in ending the issue?

Another MP, Salwa Al-Jassar, was strongly critical of the protests by bedoons, however, suggesting that they pose a threat to national security and calling them "unacceptable practices which stall the process of solving their problems." She called on the interior ministry to maintain the country's security and "reject any attempts to threaten it.

MP Adel Al-Saraawi also condemned the protests, calling them an "abuse of freedom of expression to insult Kuwait and its sovereignty," despite the protesters carrying many Kuwaiti flags and other symbols expressing their pride in the nation. He added at the same time that "practices seen recently from stateless residents are incited for the purpose of demanding random naturalization which we all refuse and reject.

Two local human rights organizations have also issued statements condemning the security forces' "unjustified and excessive use of force" in dispersing the bedoon (stateless) protesters. In its statement, the Kuwait Human Rights Society (KHRS) criticized both the cabinet and parliament for failing during its March 8 session to enforce the decree recently passed to parliament by the government for approval, which is intended to provide Kuwait's bedoon residents with a range of basic human rights. The KHRS a
lso condemned the "excessive use of force in firing tear gas against peaceful protesters in residential areas," also slamming the arrest of some of the protesters and calling for their immediate release.

The KHRS statement also demanded the introduction of "mechanisms to follow up on the enforcement of bedoons' rights," reported Al-Qabas. Another organization, the Kuwait Society for Basic Principles of Human Rights (KSBPHR), also strongly condemned "the use of tear gas against unarmed protesters who went out to protest in demand of their basic rights, which they have been deprived of for decades.

The organization urged the Ministry of Interior to employ a calm and measured approach to policing demonstrations by bedoon people, although it also indicated that "Bedoon residents ought to keep in mind the regional repercussions of their actions before they attend demonstrations", urging bedoon people to give the government's Central System for the Remedying the Status of Illegal Residents (CSRSIR), the latest state body set up to resolve the longstanding problems facing Kuwait's bedoon population, time
to find a solution to their problems.