Kuwait: Authorities Crackdown on Peaceful Protests Over Bidoon Death

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Between the 11 and 14 of July 2019 Kuwaiti authorities have arrested at least 15 protestors following peaceful protests demanding greater recognition and implementation of rights for the Bidoon people.

These demonstrations started after the death of Ayed Hamad Moudath, a 20-year-old Bidoon (bidoon jinsiya meaning “without nationality”) who committed suicide after being denied civil documentation. Such documentation is necessary to access basic public services, in addition to being required to study and work.

Over 100,000 Bidoon people live in Kuwait and have lived there for generations but are either severely restricted or blatantly denied access to documentation in order to access health care, education, employment and other state-supported services permitted to Kuwaiti citizens.

Prior to the sit-in scheduled on July 12, authorities surrounded the homes of previous demonstration organizers, and confiscated cell-phones and computers and arrested them. Those arrested included prominent human rights defender Abdulhakim al-Fadhli among several others who remain in prison under charges that are not considered criminal offences.

These “crimes” included spreading fake news, harming allied countries, calling for public gathering, among others that focused on the destruction of basic systems and harming allied countries.

In recent years, the Kuwaiti government’s language and policies towards the Bidoon community has become increasingly negative and restrictive. Past demonstrations have been faced with similar repression, such as in September 2017 when a Bidoon man set himself on fire. 

The European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR) calls on the EU to encourage Kuwait to lift its restriction on the fundamental rights in the country, and to address the oppression and denial of citizenship of the Bidoon people.