Stateless Arabs, locally known as bidoons, take part in a demonstration in demand of the Kuwaiti citizenship in Jahra on October 2, 2013
Stateless Arabs, locally known as bidoons, take part in a demonstration in demand of the Kuwaiti citizenship in Jahra on October 2, 2013 © Yasser al-Zayyat - AFP
Stateless Arabs, locally known as bidoons, take part in a demonstration in demand of the Kuwaiti citizenship in Jahra on October 2, 2013
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AFP
Last updated: October 2, 2013

Kuwait police disperse stateless protest

Kuwaiti security forces fired tear gas and stun grenades Wednesday to disperse hundreds of stateless residents demanding citizenship and basic rights, activists and witnesses said.

Known locally as bidoons, the demonstrators turned out to mark the international day of non-violence despite a stern warning by the interior ministry that it would deal firmly and harshly with any protest.

At least eight people were arrested when riot police backed by armoured vehicles tried to break up the protest by force, the National Committee for Monitoring Violations -- a non-governmental rights group, said on its Twitter account.

The head of the Kuwait Society for Human Rights, Mohammad al-Humaidi, said on Twitter that police used tear gas to disperse the peaceful rally and that several arrests were made.

Earlier in the day, stateless school children gathered outside a number of schools in Jahra, 50 kilometres (31 miles) west of Kuwait City, carrying banners calling the 106,000 bidoons to be granted citizenship.

Riot police have forcibly dispersed protests over the past two years, using stun grenades and tear gas, and arresting hundreds who are now on trial for holding illegal gatherings and assaulting police.

Bidoons were born and raised in Kuwait and claim they have the right to Kuwaiti citizenship, but the government says only 34,000 of them qualify for consideration, while the rest hold other nationalities.

Although parliament has repeatedly supported government plans for granting bidoons citizenship, the process has been slow.

Kuwait has alleged that stateless residents, 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 bidoons to produce their original nationality papers, Kuwait has refused to issue essential documents to many of them, including birth, marriage and death certificates.

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