Kuwaiti riot police use tear gas to disperse stateless Arabs, known as bidoon, during a protest
Kuwaiti riot police use tear gas to disperse stateless Arabs, known as bidoon, during a protest to demand citizenship and other basic rights in Jahra, 50 kms (31 miles) northwest of Kuwait City. Kuwaiti riot police fired tear gas and used water cannons to disperse hundreds of stateless protesters who demonstrated for the second time in four days demanding citizenship. © Yasser al-Zayyat - AFP
Kuwaiti riot police use tear gas to disperse stateless Arabs, known as bidoon, during a protest
AFP
Last updated: December 19, 2011

Kuwaiti police disperse stateless protesters

Kuwaiti riot police fired tear gas and used water cannons to disperse hundreds of stateless protesters who demonstrated for the second time in four days demanding citizenship.

A number of Kuwaiti activists joined the protesters to press the Gulf state government to resolve the decades-old problem of more than 100,000 stateless people many of whom are deprived of most basic rights, witnesses said..

"Peaceful, peaceful ..freedom, freedom," shouted the protesters who carried Kuwaiti flags and sang the national anthem as they gathered in Jahra, northwest of the capital Kuwait City.

Riot police chased the demonstrators into the narrow streets of the residential area, the exclusive home of the stateless, locally known as bidoons, as a police helicopter hovered overhead, witnesses said.

Police arrested at least six protesters, the same sources said.

No injuries were reported as the Kuwaiti Progressive Movement claimed on its Twitter account that rubber bullets were also used but this could not be confirmed by an independent source.

Riot police used force to disperse a similar protest on Friday, arresting 20 people, who were freed on Sunday without charge.

Ahead of the assault, police cordoned off the area and turned back many journalists and photographers for the first time since February when bidoons began the protests.

Local Al-Rai newspaper said on its SMS news service that its reporter was beaten up and arrested.

The interior ministry warned on Sunday that it will not allow bidoons to protest because Kuwaiti law prevents non-Kuwaitis from demonstrating.

Pro-bidoon political and youth groups plan to stage another rally later Monday in Kuwait City.

The new wave of protests comes after Kuwaiti courts began the trial of 52 bidoons who were arrested in February and March for participating in similar rallies.

Kuwait launched a crackdown on the bidoons in 2000, depriving them of health care, education and jobs in a bid to force them to produce their actual nationalities.

The stateless claim they are Kuwaiti citizens who have been denied nationality while the government insists that a large number of them hold nationalities of other countries.

The wealthy Gulf state, which considers bidoons illegal residents, has said it is studying the issue of the stateless people and is prepared to grant citizenship to some deserving candidates.

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