Kuwait police fire tear gas to break up stateless demo

AFP – Kuwaiti riot police on Tuesday used tear gas and smoke bombs to disperse hundreds of stateless demonstrators who were demanding citizenship and other rights, witnesses and activists said. The stateless, known in Kuwait as bidoons, converged on the Freedom Square in Jahra area, 50 kilometres (31 miles) west of the capital Kuwait City to observe the International Non-Violence Day.

Witnesses and activists said at least three people, including a policeman, were slightly wounded and 10 stateless were arrested as security forces laid a siege on Taima suburb in Jahra which houses tens of thousands of bidoons. Encouraged by Arab Spring protests, stateless people estimated at more than 105,000 have been regularly demonstrating since February 2011 to press Kuwaiti authorities to resolve their decades-old problem, especially their claim to citizenship.

The government of the oil-rich Gulf state has made many promises in the past but failed to implement most of them as stateless still claim they are deprived of most basic rights including the right to jobs and medical care. Around 200 stateless were arrested in the previous protests and are still on trial for illegal assembly, assaulting police and resisting arrest.


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