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Kuwait: Stateless Protesters Attacked for Demanding Rights

This post is part of our special coverage on Refugees.

There are more than 100,000 stateless in Kuwait struggling to have the rights to documents, education, health care, employment, and most importantly naturalization. Back in February and March, hundreds of them took to the streets to demonstrate for those rights, where they faced police brutality and arrests.

This month, after the replacement of Kuwait's Prime Minister, following public pressure due to protests, Kuwait's stateless population felt more encouraged to protest again. Last week, there were several small protests in reaction to the trials of protesters. On Friday, the protest led to the arrest of 20 men, later released on Sunday.

On Monday, a bigger protest took place in Taimaa, where protesters gathered, in which police used tear gas, rubber bullets, water cannons, and smoke bombs to disperse them. Later on in the evening, Kuwaitis wanted to protest side by side with the stateless for their rights in front of the parliament, but security forces decided to not let anyone inside the Erada Square, unless they showed a valid civil ID card, which proved they were citizens.

Monday also marked the arrest of around 30 men who entered a hunger strike on that same day. I tried to cover the protest through Twitter, translating the observations of activists on the ground, tweeting in Arabic.

Here is a run down of some of what happened on Monday.

@monakareem: Activist @NawafAlbader says #Kuwait riot police using rubber bullets, smoke bombs, & water cannons against (est. 500) #stateless protesters

@monakareem: Activist @NawafAlbader says security is using dirty discriminatory language with #stateless protesters & chasing them between houses

Rubber bullets and smoke bombs used against stateless protesters in Kuwait. Photo credit: Shared by @tayartaqadomi on Twitter

Rubber bullets and smoke bombs used against stateless protesters in Kuwait. Photo credit: Shared by @tayartaqadomi on Twitter

Stateless protesters get water-cannoned. Photo shared by KhalefaAlwatan on Twitter.

Stateless protesters get water-cannoned. Photo shared by KhalefaAlwatan on Twitter.

Protesters marching towards Freedom Square in Taima. Photo shared by @al_saher_666 on Twitter.

Protesters marching towards Freedom Square in Taima. Photo shared by @al_saher_666 on Twitter.

Marks of rubber bullets on the back of a stateless protester, who was earlier arrested. Photo shared by @m_f7 on mobypicture.

Marks of rubber bullets on the back of a stateless protester, who was earlier arrested. Photo shared by @m_f7 on mobypicture.

Kuwaiti citizens lashed out at the treatment of their stateless brethren. Ali Al Saibie tweets:

@AlSaibie: I'm Kuwaiti & I refuse to see ANYone oppressed or disrespected in my country. This is a land of freedom & dignity.

Despite this sentiment, shown by many Kuwaitis, the crackdown continued:

A stateless protester getting arrested. Photo shared by @Alshee3ly78 on Twitter

A stateless protester getting arrested. Photo shared by @Alshee3ly78 on Twitter

Security vehicles in Taimaa. Photo shared by @althuwaini on Twitter

Security vehicles in Taimaa. Photo shared by @althuwaini on Twitter

Leftist political group “The Progressive Movement” was present to cover the protest and reported violations [ar]:

استخدام طلقات مطاطية على المتجمهرين وإصابات و حالات اختناق من القنابل الدخان
@tayartaqadomi: Rubber bullets were used against protesters, injuries, and suffocating incidents due to smoke bombs.

Kuwaiti activist Khaled Al-Fadala was one of the few citizens who went to Taimaa to protest and tried to help. He reported through Twitter [ar]:

اعتقالات بالعشرات و ضرب بالمطاعات و الغاز.. اعتقال أنور الفكر (الراي) و إصابة محمد الشرهان (الجريدة) و جرح فارس البلهان
@Alfadala: Tens of arrests, protesters getting beaten with batons and attacked with gas. Journalist Anwar Al-Fikr from Al-Rai newspaper was arrested and journalist Mohammed Al-Sharhan from Al-Jarida newspaper was injured. Activist Faris Al-Balhan was injured too.
Security forces attempting to block entrances between houses. Photo shared on Twitter by @fares_albalhan

Security forces attempting to block entrances between houses. Photo shared on Twitter by @fares_albalhan

On Twitter, @nashmiq8 posted this photograph saying it is tear gas. Others said it is more likely to be a smoke bomb.

On Twitter, @nashmiq8 posted this photograph saying it is tear gas. Others said it is more likely to be a smoke bomb.

Protesters marching. Photograph shared on twitpic by @nashmiq8

Protesters marching. Photograph shared on twitpic by @nashmiq8

On Twitter, @faisalalmana shares this photograph showing the arrest of Al-sabah TV correspondent

On Twitter, @faisalalmana shares this photograph showing the arrest of Al-sabah TV correspondent

Moe Qasem reacts:

@MoeQasem: the attack was savage n cruel! Even animals won't be treated like that! Special forces would literally say: move u shit !

Others shared videos they took at the protests. Among them is Althuwaini, who tweets a video he took of the attack on the stateless protesters:

@althuwaini Storming #Bidun protesters in video yfrog.us/28uhsbz

This video (uploaded by Fares AlBalhan) shows the security attack on protesters:

While this video footage (uploaded by a stateless netizen nicknamed 7mgan) puts together different scenes from police attack on protesters:

Other netizens shared still photographs of the attack. Here are some of them:

The attack by security forces begins. Photo credit: @bodalal2, shared on Twitter

The attack by security forces begins. Photo credit: @bodalal2, shared on Twitter

Hot water cannons used on protesters. Photo credit: @bodalal2, posted on Twitter

Hot water cannons used on protesters. Photo credit: @bodalal2, posted on Twitter

Stateless protester trying to stop forces from attacking the protesters. Photo credit: @bodalal2, shared on Twitter

Stateless protester trying to stop forces from attacking the protesters. Photo credit: @bodalal2, shared on Twitter

A close up shot of protesters getting doused with water by riot police using water cannons. Photo credit: @Mohd_AlSalem, shared on Twitter

A close up shot of protesters getting doused with water by riot police using water cannons. Photo credit: @Mohd_AlSalem, shared on Twitter

This post is part of our special coverage on Refugees.

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