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Kuwaiti authorities clamp down on stateless activists

(ANHRI/IFEX) - Cairo, October 7, 2012 - ANHRI denounces the use of excessive force by Kuwaiti authorities in dispersing a peaceful demonstration for the stateless population of Kuwait which led to arrests and injuries.

The demonstration took place at the freedom square in Jahraa on October 2, 2012, where stateless activists were demanding Kuwaiti citizenship and other rights. The Kuwaiti forces used tear gas bombs and smoke bombs to disperse the crowd resulting in injuries to some demonstrators. The forces chased demonstrators through alleyways and side streets. Eleven demonstrators have now been arrested, some of whom are Kuwaiti citizens. Among those arrested were also a number of children; they were released a few hours later.

Security forces also banned some stateless journalists from entering the square to report on a sit-in which took place on October 5, wherein Kuwaiti citizens showed up in support of the stateless. The police harassed and threatened some activists and organisers, including Abdul-Hakim El-Fadly, who has been arrested several times in the past.

Activists Hamed El-Anzy and Mohamed Habib were both arrested on October 4 without a warrant - they were released a few hours later.

The stateless are a group of people who have lived in Kuwait for decades but are still not recognized by the government as citizens. They are constantly being refused citizenship. There are differences in estimating the size of the stateless population in Kuwait. This problem is not unique to Kuwait alone, but is also present in other gulf countries like Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

ANHRI stated that "the dispersion of the stateless demonstration is deemed to be a continuation of the procrastination on behalf of the Kuwaiti government and a clear sign of its indifference towards nationalizing the stateless and acknowledging their rights as citizens."

"The security forces' solution proved its failure and the suppression of activists will not convince the people to step down and forego their rights. The Kuwaiti government must form an ad-hoc committee to review the case of the stateless population and resolve it," added the organization.

ANHRI calls on the Kuwaiti authorities to immediately release the detainees and guarantee their safety. They also call on the authorities to respect the residents' right to peacefully demonstrate.

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