Kuwait warns stateless residents over protests

AFP , Monday 30 Sep 2013

Kuwait's interior ministry warns it will respond 'firmly' to 2 October demonstrations by stateless residents aspiring to attain citizenship

Kuwait's interior ministry Monday warned stateless residents against demonstrating to mark the international day of non-violence on 2 October, warning it will deal firmly with protesters.

Online activists have been urging stateless residents of the oil-rich Gulf state, known locally as bidoons, to demonstrate peacefully to renew their demands for Kuwaiti citizenship and basic rights like education and healthcare.

The ministry "will deal firmly, in accordance with the law and procedures, with any gatherings or rallies," said an official statement, which described the stateless people as "illegal residents."

Kuwaiti riot police have dispersed previous protests by bidoons with force, using stun grenades and tear gas, arresting hundreds who are now on trial for holding illegal gatherings and assaulting police.

Bidoons were born and raised in Kuwait and claim they have the right to Kuwaiti citizenship, but the government says only 34,000 of a total of over 106,000 qualify for consideration, while the rest hold other nationalities.

Although parliament has repeatedly supported government plans for granting bidoons citizenship, the process has been slow.

Kuwait has alleged that stateless residents, and in some cases their ancestors, destroyed their original passports to claim the right to citizenship in order to gain access to the state-provided services and benefits.

In a bid to force bidoons to produce their original nationality papers, Kuwait has refused to issue essential documents to many of them, including birth, marriage and death certificates.



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