14 stateless rally demonstrators released

October 10, 2012

Kuwait on Wednesday released 14 detainees arrested in relation with the demonstration staged by stateless people to press for more rights.

Their release occurred one day after five demonstrators, one Kuwaiti, one Saudi and three stateless people, also arrested in connection with the demonstration were allowed to go home on a 200 Kuwaiti dinars (Dh2,608)bail each.

Nine other detainees will know their fate on Thursday, Al Aan news site reported.

The bidoons have lately resumed public demonstrations despite warning of a zero-tolerance policy by the interior ministry towards rallies or demonstrations staged by “people residing illegally in the country”.

“There are calls on social networks to assemble and hold rallies in the Tayma area in Al Jahra,” the ministry said in a statement on Thursday. “Being involved in the assemblies or organising them is a flagrant violation of the law and will be treated as such by the force of the law and all strict measures will be applied to maintain security and stability,” the statement said.

Several stateless Arabs, know as Bidoons, have called for the rally to press for more rights, days after a similar gathering resulted in riots and arrests.

The interior ministry said that it had issued warnings against similar assemblies and gatherings that broke the law and undermined security and order.

“We do expect all people to comply with the law and the related instructions, to avoid contacts with the security servicemen or engage in riots and violence or damage private and public property. Any violation of the law will result in the full application of the law,” the statement said.

Bidoons have been pressing for their recognition as citizens. The term “Bidoon” is used to refer to foreigners who migrated to Kuwait mainly during the oil boom of the 1960s and 1970s, without passports or whose passports had expired. It also refers to those who concealed their nationality in order to remain in Kuwait.

However, Kuwaiti authorities say that 71,000 of the 105,000 people who are considered stateless in fact hold the nationality of countries such as Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Syria.

Earlier this year, the interior minister said that the 34,000 stateless people who qualified for citizenship fell under one of the four groups that included people in the police or army, people who were recorded in the 1965 population census, relatives of Kuwaiti nationals and children of Kuwaiti women divorced from foreign husbands.

In April, the authorities said that bidoons staying illegally in Kuwait could be granted five-year residence permits under a new scheme.

The new status will allow those above 21 years of age to sponsor themselves for the next five years.

Those who are below 21 will be granted a five-year residence visa as family members.

Beneficiaries of the scheme will not pay fees for the duration of their permits and will be handed special cards that will guarantee them free health and education services.

However, those who wish to benefit from the new scheme must regularise their status by producing the passport of their country of origin.




About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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