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Kuwait riot police on Tuesday used all means possible to disperse a few hundreds of stateless demonstrators demanding citizenship. Using tear gas, smoke bombs, banned bird shots and, in a replicate scene from Egypt's Tahrir Square, running over demonstrators with security forces vehicles.
The stateless of Kuwait, a community estimated of more than 100 thousand, called here: the bidoons, were commemorating the International Day of Non-Violence, demanding to end their long lasting dilemma of more than 50 years with no proper access to documentation, health care and education.
The demonstration took place on Freedom Square, a sandy open area in Jahra (31 miles) west of the capital Kuwait city.
27 stateless were arrested, some of the injured including 4 minors. Minors were kept overnight under custody, whilst the rest of detainees to be presented to the public prosecutor later Thursday. One of the injured protesters is suffering eye injury caused by a rubber bullet and being traumatized under intensive security surveillance beyond the reach of Human rights activists. Most of the injured were removed from civilian hospitals under police escort to the military hospital in Jahra.
Stateless people of Kuwait have been protesting regularly since 2010. More than 200 weer arrested in earlier protest and are still under trial for illegal assembly. Overlooking Kuwaiti Constitution articles permitting peaceful assembly and freedom of expression, security forces have been constantly imposing their interpolation of these articles restricting them only for Kuwaiti nationals.
The new protest comes a week after three international human rights groups sent an unprecedented letter to Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah urging him to end abuse against stateless people.
The letter by Refugees International, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International highlighted the plight of bidoons and called for a solution.
"The bidoons are not treated equally before the courts and continue to be denied protection conveyed through nationality and residency, and have been subjected to repeated abuse and discrimination," the letter said.
The government says only 34,000 of bidoons qualify for citizenship and fail to declare their names officially r allow the remaning 70,000 to take their case to the court.
- Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Refugees International, open letter to the Emir of Kuwait PDF Document
- Group 29, Report Observing and Documenting the Violations Of Stateless (Bidoun) Children’s Rights Website and PDF Document