Kuwait cabinet backs crackdown on bidoon protests
KUWAIT CITY - Kuwait's security forces were right to suppress protesters demanding citizenship rights, the cabinet said Sunday, after recent demonstrations by the so-called "stateless" turned violent.
"The council of ministers expresses its backing and support for the measures being taken by the interior ministry to ... confront all forms of violence," said a statement issued after Kuwait's weekly cabinet meeting.
It said that only "enemies of Kuwait" benefit from such chaos and warned that stateless, officially known as illegal residents or bidoons, will not be able to achieve their demands through violence.
Demonstrations by stateless people turned violent in the past two days when riot police fired tear gas and used batons to disperse protesters who were demanding citizenship and other basic rights.
Dozens were wounded and over 100 arrested, according to the Kuwaiti Bidoons Committee, while the interior ministry said 21 policemen were injured, five of them hospitalised.
Interior Minister Sheikh Ahmad al-Humoud Al-Sabah charged Sunday that the people who demonstrated are those who know they do not qualify for Kuwaiti citizenship and were being instigated by people outside Kuwait.
Kuwaiti officials have said that only 34,000 bidoons out of a total of 105,000 qualify for consideration for Kuwaiti citizenship while the rest must produce their original nationality.
Sheikh Ahmad told a press conference that the Gulf state has a plan to resolve the bidoons problem over the next five years which includes granting citizenship to deserving candidates.
Since March, 526 people have been naturalised and others will be announced soon, the minister said.
Kuwait has long alleged that bidoons, 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 the bidoons to produce their original nationality papers, Kuwait has refused to issue essential documents to most of them, including birth, marriage and death certificates, according to a June HRW report.
Fifty-two bidoons are on trial and another 32 are under investigation for taking part in previous protests.