News24

Kuwait stateless protest for citizenship

2012-01-06 22:08

Kuwait City - More than 4 000 stateless people in Kuwait demonstrated on Friday for the fourth week, insisting that the only solution to their plight is by getting Kuwaiti citizenship and other human rights.

"There is no solution without citizenship," read one banner carried by the protesters in Jahra, northwest of the capital Kuwait City, who rallied peacefully as riot police looked on.

The crowd, which was the largest so far, carried hundreds of Kuwaiti flags and pictures of Kuwait's ruler, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, insisting that they are Kuwaitis and should be granted citizenship.

Last week Interior Minister Sheikh Ahmad al-Humud al-Sabah announced that the oil-rich Gulf state was preparing legislation to grant citizenship to stateless individuals who fulfilled certain criteria.

The stateless, locally known as bidoons, claim the right to Kuwaiti nationality, saying that their ancestors failed to register for citizenship when the government began registration five decades ago.

Kuwait has long said that most of the 105 000 bidoons or their forefathers destroyed their original passports to claim the right to citizenship in order to gain access to the services and generous benefits provided to citizens.

In a bid to force them to produce their original nationality papers, Kuwait has denied them essential documentation, including birth, marriage and death certificates, according to a report in June by Human Rights Watch.

About 52 stateless men are on trial over protests while 32 others have been interrogated and freed on bail.