Kuwaiti riot police disperse protesters

Tear gas and water cannons used against some 400 stateless demonstrators who are demanding citizenship in the Gulf state

    Under Kuwaiti law, only citizens have the right to hold public gatherings, while foreigners are banned [AFP]

    Kuwaiti riot police have used tear gas and water cannons to disperse hundreds of stateless protesters who were
    demanding citizenship and other basic rights, the AFP news agency reports.

    The police attacked some 400 people who gathered following noon prayers on Friday in Jahra, 50km northwest of Kuwait City, raising Kuwaiti flags and banners reading: "We demand Kuwaiti citizenship".

    Police arrested at least six stateless people, a journalist and a photographer of a local newspaper.

    The assault came after the protesters refused to disperse, defying a police deadline to clear the area within 15 minutes. Security forces chased protesters to their nearby homes, while a helicopter hovered overhead.

    The demonstration came four days after a Kuwaiti lower court began the trial of around 50 stateless people, locally known as bidoons, who were arrested during similar protests in February and March.

    The men were charged by the court of illegal assembly with the intent to commit crimes and assault security forces. All the defendants denied the charges and said they committed no offence.

    Under Kuwaiti law, only citizens have the right to hold public gatherings while foreigners are banned.

    Kuwait launched a crackdown on the estimated 100,000 bidoons in 2000, depriving them of health care, education and jobs. The stateless claim they are Kuwaiti citizens who have been denied nationality.

    The wealthy Gulf state, which considers bidoons illegal residents, has said that it is studying the issue carefully and is prepared to grant citizenship to those deemed deserving. 

    SOURCE: AFP


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