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Sep-30-2012 12:27printcomments

Kuwait: Secure the Social and Cultural Rights of Bidun

William Nicholas Gomes contacts Kuwaiti leadership to highlight plight of the Bidun.

HH Sheikh Sabah IV Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah
HH Sheikh Sabah IV Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah

(SALEM) - Today more than 100,000 stateless residents of Kuwait, commonly referred to as Bidun, live a very difficult life.

Lacking the support of their own government, the legal, social, and economic vulnerability of the Bidun has long been a source of unease to humanitarian organizations and world governments.

In fact the plight of the Bidun has grown increasingly more difficult and perilous since the beginning of the demonstrations in 2011, and the Kuwaiti Government’s treatment of the Bidun has deteriorated to such an extent that it has eroded Kuwait’s ability to fulfill its international human rights commitments.

Kuwait has significantly curtailed the rights of Bidun to free speech and expression, in particular their ability to assemble, demonstrate peacefully, and publicly criticize government policy. The government keeps warning members of the Bidun community against organizing peaceful protests, claiming that only Kuwaiti citizens have the right to demonstrate. Kuwaiti security forces are accused of using excessive force against peaceful Bidun protestors in 2011 and 2012, and investigations of these abuses has not happened.

The United States and its allies rallied to overthrow Libya and now they are pursuing similar action against the government of Syria, all the while ignoring the unconscionable actions of its ally Kuwait.

It is not a fair scenario when so much hangs in the balance. The government of Kuwait itself must act in the interest of its own citizens and appreciate the heightened public image that accompanies such political moves of improvement.


HH Sheikh Sabah IV Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah
Al Diwan Al Amiri
Seif Palace– Building 100
State of Kuwait

Your Highness,

I am William Nicholas Gomes, Human Right Ambassador for Salem-News.com.

I came to know about the situation from a letter signed by Andrea Lari, Director of Programs,Refugees International; Philip Luther, Director, Middle East and North, Africa Program, Amnesty International and Sarah Leah Whitson, Director, Middle East and North Africa Division, Human Rights Watch.

I do agree with the point raised on the letter and for deeper human rights advocacy, I am resending the letter to you.

I write to you regarding the more than 100,000 stateless residents of your country, commonly referred to as Bidun. The legal, social, and economic vulnerability of the Bidun has long been a source of unease to our organizations and to governments around the world.

Since the start of demonstrations in 2011, however, the Kuwaiti Government’s treatment of the Bidun has deteriorated to such an extent that it has eroded Kuwait’s ability to fulfill its international human rights commitments.

I feel bound to convey my concerns to Your Highness directly

In the realm of civil and political rights, the Bidun are not treated equally before the courts and continue to be denied protection conveyed through nationality and residency; and have been subjected to repeated abuse and discrimination.

  • Instead of acting decisively to resolve claims to nationality, The Central System for Resolving Illegal Residents’ Status, the “Bidun Committee,”  made matters worse in the first quarter of the year by proposing that the Bidun population be separated into four categories. Each category would have different rights based on arbitrarily-determined factors, such as whether a family participated in the 1965 census or served in the army or police. All Bidun born in Kuwait should be recognized as citizens, and those who have resided in the country for a reasonable amount of time should be eligible to apply for citizenship and acquire citizenship, if they would otherwise be stateless, following a fair and transparent process;
  • In contravention of its obligations under international human rights law, the government has significantly curtailed the rights of Bidun to free speech and expression, in particular their ability to assemble, demonstrate peacefully, and publicly criticize government policy. The government has repeatedly warned members of the Bidun community against organizing peaceful protests, claiming that only Kuwaiti citizens have the right to demonstrate. Kuwaiti security forces stand accused of using excessive force against peaceful Bidun protestors in 2011 and 2012, and detained Bidun have complained of police abuse. A promised investigation of these abuses has not happened.

Progress on securing the social and cultural rights of Bidun have also stagnated in recent months.

The 11 benefits for Bidun that were promised by the Government in April 2011 have not been implemented, leaving many Bidun without access to employment, health care, education, and other vital public services, as well as documents such as birth certificates. Particularly egregious is the government’s exclusion of Bidun children from primary and secondary education – a problem that is exacerbated by a recent government ban on charitable contributions, including tuition, to Bidun individuals and organizations.

For decades, Kuwaiti, Arab and international human rights activists and organisations, along with United Nations human rights bodies, have called on the government to implement policies to resolve the plight of the Bidun.

The absence of such policies, rooted in human rights standards, is a stain on the country’s international reputation. It deprives thousands of families of their basic political, economic and social rights and bars them from contributing fully to Kuwaiti society.

I firmly believe it is in Your Highness’s interest to address this issue decisively, and we urge Your Highness to initiate five steps to:

  • Enable Bidun residents to go to court to challenge decisions taken by the Bidun Committee and to make the case for their recognition as Kuwaiti nationals;
  • Provide, without further delay, proof of nationality to the 34,000 individuals acknowledged to be Kuwaiti nationals by the Bidun Committee, and start a fair and transparent adjudication of the other 80,000 pending applications for nationality, including by providing the right to appeal;
  • Guarantee the right to peaceful assembly to Bidun and end the use of excessive force as a response to peaceful demonstrations for Bidun rights; investigate and address allegations of police abuse; and ensure that the Bidun detained during demonstrations are freed, or if charged with a crime afforded fair, transparent, and expeditious trials;
  • Eliminate regulations that discriminate against Bidun in terms of access to employment and public services, especially with respect to education and health care;
  • Revoke rules barring individuals and private organizations from donating to individual Bidun or Bidun organizations.


Sincerely,
William Nicholas Gomes
Human Rights Ambassador for Salem-News.com
www.williamnicholasgomes.com

Donate to Support William's Human Rights Stories; donate through PayPal

Donate to: williamgomes.org@gmail.com

______________________________

Salem-News.com Human Rights Ambassador William Nicholas Gomes is a Bangladeshi journalist, human rights activist and author was born on 25 December, 1985 in Dhaka. As an investigative journalist he wrote widely for leading European and Asian media outlets.

He is also active in advocating for free and independent media and journalists’ rights, and is part of the free media movement, Global Independent Media Center – an activist media network for the creation of radical, accurate, and passionate telling of the truth. He worked for Italian news agency Asianews.it from year 2009 to 2011, on that time he was accredited as a free lance journalist by the press information department of Bangladesh. During this time he has reported a notable numbers of reports for the news agency which were translated into Chinese and Italian and quoted by notable number of new outlets all over the world.He, ideologically, identifies himself deeply attached with anarchism. His political views are often characterized as “leftist” or “left-wing,” and he has described himself as an individualist anarchist.

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Christian Petersen September 30, 2012 2:11 pm (Pacific time)

Great to see you are getting the Skeikh hip to this outrageous injustice. I'm sure he is looking into this now, and acting upon it, as we shall surely see soon. Thanks for your great effort William, I am watching your work very closely, very enlightening stuff.

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