The protestors accuse the Kuwaiti government of backing down on its promises on their naturalization and rights (see below).
The Interior Ministry however has said that the bedoons do not have the right to gather and demonstrate on the street and according to reports the police used excessive force to disperse the protest.
Members of a human rights group “The Human Line” monitored the protests and in their observations they reported how riot police chased protestors, arrested protestors and used sound bombs.
One of the protestors Dr. Fatima Al-Mattar was beaten by a member of the riot police during the protest as she attempted to stop the official from beating a young Bedoon protestor.
Dr. Fatima Al-Mattar has attended such rallies in the past and lectures on Bedoon rights and the on-going struggle of the community in Kuwait. Following the incident she went to the police station in order to file a complaint however, she was denied access to any information concerning the officer involved and was told that she could not file a complaint with the police but that she should go to the Interior Ministry.
Those currently detained by the police include Saad Khuwaitir, journalist Abdullah Mayah Al-Otaibi, Nawaf Al-Khaldi, Jafar Abdullah, Ahmad Abdullah Al-Enizi, Faisal Qased Al-Fadhli, Asaad Hammad Al-Shammari, Nasser Hussain Obaid, Ahmad Hlail Saad, Ali Marzooq Shamran, Ghazi Qased Al-Fadhli, and Mohammed Jaser Mnady. The identities of the others in detention have not yet been established. It is reported that no charges have yet been brought against the human rights defenders. All are members of the Bedoon community and have been transferred to the criminal investigations jail. Kuwaiti Lawyer Mohammed Al-Fadhli was also reportedly arrested at the protest but was released a short tie later.
Prior to the protest, supporter of the Bedoon protestors and leader of the Eniza tribe, Jidaan Al-Hathal was detained by authorities in the airport in for over twenty-four hours on his arrival in Kuwait City. During this time he was reportedly interrogated about his support of the Bedoon community many of whom belong to the Eniza tribe. Hundreds of people gathered together in solidarity outside the State security headquarters calling for his release. According to information received Jidaan Al-Hathal did not attend the protest due to phone calls received from high-ranking officials asking him not to attend.
The excessive use of force by the police at the protest, the detention of protestors and the harassment of supporters of the Bedoon community are the latest incidents in an on-going crackdown against members of the Bedoon community. The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) issued appeals following similar protests on 4 May 2012 (http://gc4hr.org/news/view/135) and 17 April 2012 (http://gc4hr.org/news/view/122).
Human Rights Watch 2006
Bedoon means "without" in Arabic (Bedoon is different than "Bedouin" meaning nomadic/formerly nomadic tribes.) Bedoon refers to people with no nationality.
Kuwait is one of the only few countries in the world where there are citizens within the country who have no nationality. In Kuwait, Bedoon must pay to obtain any official documentation (if they are lucky enough to get that far) including: permission to marry, birth and death certificates, drivers licenses, identification, etc. They have to go to the official Kuwaiti office called the "Bedoon Council" and beg to get any rights at all. Many are not allowed to work. They can not own property. Many can't obtain travel papers. Recently, the Kuwaiti authorities agreed to issue travel documents for the religious journey, Haj, to Bedoon on the condition that they "solve their identity problem" before returning to Kuwait (therefore not being allowed back into their country).
If a Bedoon man marries a Kuwaiti woman, their children are Bedoon (it is the opposite if a Kuwaiti man marries a Bedoon woman both she and her children can obtain Kuwaiti citizenship). If the Bedoon man has any difficulties and wants a divorce, the Kuwaiti x-wife can not only be granted full custody of their children, but ask for alimony and child support in almost the full amount of the husband's salary, leaving him destitute. Therefore, Bedoon men are at the mercy of their Kuwaiti wives.
If you drive by Sulaybia, Kuwait, North on 5th Ring Road towards the area of Jahra, you will notice a tin shanty town which is inhabited mainly by Bedoon. Depending on the whims of the Kuwaiti government, there have been several attempts to destroy this area and "relocate" the Bedoon living there. To where? It is often said that they can "go back to their countries". Where are their countries if several generations (some going back to the 1964 census) have been born and raised in Kuwait? If a Bedoon person speaks out, he/she is ostracized and may face legal action including deportation (again to where?).
Many Bedoon fought for Kuwait; many were in the Kuwaiti military and stayed in Kuwait, fighting as resistance. In a radio address while in exile in Saudi Arabia during the occupation of Kuwait by Iraq, the late Emir, Jaber Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah, stated that those Bedoon who fought for their country would be granted their Kuwaiti citizenship. Like the promise of women's suffrage, perhaps it is just a long time in coming, but it isn't being discussed at the top levels YET. Kuwait is openly pleased about its ties with the US and foray into world democracy, and yet the Kuwaiti Government is doing nothing to solve the inhumane Bedoon issue.
Often, you can't tell who is Bedoon and who isn't within the same tribes or families; sometimes cousins have Kuwaiti citizenship and others don't. Familial links can be easily established by DNA tests, and yet when they are conducted by the Kuwaiti Government (at the 80 KD expense per person of the Bedoon) the results are locked away and kept from the families.
The older generations of Bedoon were/are mostly proud people who blended into society without discussion of suffering or hardships. As younger generations of Bedoon are coming up, they are learning more about democracy and civil rights. They are an intensely angry group. When people face oppression, stress and psychological abuse take tolls: Petty crimes have been growing (and are likely to continue to grow) in this small country. If people feel that they have no hope, no future, no care they become desperate. It is a tremendous security risk to an already security-strained nation.