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Kuwait's Bidun protesters face excessive force on International Day of Non-Violence

Hundreds of people marched in protest in Jahra, Kuwait on 2 October 2013
Hundreds of people marched in protest in Jahra, Kuwait on 2 October 2013

AP Photo/ Nasser Waggi

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) denounced the use of excessive force by Kuwaiti security forces when dispersing the Bidun (stateless) demonstrations that took place in Tiama, Sulaybiyah, and Jahra on 2 October 2013, also known as the International Day of Non-Violence.

Security forces used tear gas bombs and stun grenades to disperse peaceful demonstrations in which Bidun protesters called for their right to obtain Kuwaiti citizenship and for the general improvement of their social and economic circumstances.

Kuwaiti forces committed multiple violations during their dispersal of the demonstrations; many protesters were attacked in the streets and people were being randomly arrested throughout.

Kuwait's Bidun are a stateless people who do not possess citizenship rights. They do not enjoy the same rights entitled to other Kuwaitis. There is no accurate estimate of their population, but it ranges from 93,000 to 180,000. Kuwait's government has promised to grant a big number of them the Kuwaiti citizenship, but such promises are yet to be realised.

"The excessive use of force by Kuwait's security forces in addressing these demonstrations is the latest in violations being committed by the authorities against Kuwait's Bidun communities," said ANHRI. "Authorities have repressed several demonstrations during the last two years and arrested many protesters along the way."

ANHRI pointed out that the Kuwaiti authorities still believe that a security solution to the problems of the Bidun community is the best way to resolve the issue; these solutions have continuously failed in the past.

Despite the parliament's support of many bills aimed at resolving this issue, no actions have been taken yet.

ANHRI demands that the Kuwaiti authorities use peaceful methods to deal with the problems of the Bidun community and that they urgently release any protesters detained during demonstrations.

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