By Faten Omar
KUWAIT: A number of Bedoon activists gathered to stage a sit-in at the Freedom Square in the Taima area of Al-Jahra Governorate, in protest against what they describe as “the injustice inflicted on them” by Kuwait’s government, demanding of their civil rights and a resolution for their decades-old unresolved case. The ‘Bedoons’ or stateless residents are classified by the Kuwaiti government as illegal residents.
The activists went to the square to join Bedoon activist Fadel Al-Shammari, known as Abu Turki, and activist Basel Al-Shban, who started the sit-in about a week ago. “We held a sit-in last Thursday, August 4. We protested to remove the Central Agency for the Remedy of Situation of Illegal Residents, which oppresses the Bedoons with its decisions and forces them to sign papers with incorrect nationalities,” Shammari said.
He added, “We are two people who have been protesting daily in the same place for 24 hours a day. This is the third sit-in this year. In the last sit-in, we went on a hunger strike for 19 days without a response from the government. We were only visited by politicians, but without any solutions involved.”
Shammari called for an urgent move to abolish the Central Agency for the Remedy of Situation of Illegal Residents and transfer stateless people to courts to get a final resolution to their case, adding, “If we are not worthy of the Kuwaiti citizenship, just deport us. We are living as prisoners. The government has enough data about each (Bedoon) person. If I am a person with a known nationality, as they say, why am I not deported? Even when they say, ‘you came from this or that country’, we are being rejected by the embassies of the countries from which they claim we are from.”
The protesters stressed that their movement is peaceful, and aim to convey their message to the Kuwaiti government and people in general. They call for the government to fulfil their legitimate demands, and for a rapid solution to the issue of the stateless people by granting them their civil rights and citizenship.
They also call for dissolving Central Agency for the Remedy of Situation of Illegal Residents, and considering all decisions issued by it as null and void, as well as canceling all restrictions against children of Bedoons. They stressed that they would continue their sit-ins in Freedom Square unless the government works to find quick solutions to their humanitarian and just cause.
Many Bedoons claim that there is discrimination practiced against them and there is difficulty in enjoying basic state services such as education, housing, work, health care, and others. They have resorted to organizing protests to highlight their cause.