Manama: Kuwait’s interior ministry on Thursday pledged a zero-tolerance policy towards rallies or demonstrations staged by people residing illegally in the country.
“There are calls on social networks to assemble and hold rallies in the Tayma area in Al Jahra,” the ministry said in a statement. “Being involved in the assemblies or organising them is a flagrant violation of the law and will be treated as such by the force of the law and all strict measures will be applied to maintain security and stability,” the statement said.
Several stateless Arabs, know as Bidoons, have called for a rally to be held on Friday to press for more rights, days after a similar gathering resulted in riots and arrests.
The interior ministry said that it had issued warnings against similar assemblies and gatherings that broke the law and undermined security and order.
“We do expect all people to comply with the law and the related instructions, to avoid contacts with the security servicemen or engage in riots and violence or damage private and public property. Any violation of the law will result in the full application of the law,” the statement said.
Bidoons have been pressing for their recognition as citizens. The term “Bidoon” is used to refer to foreigners who migrated to Kuwait mainly during the oil boom of the 1960s and 1970s, without passports or whose passports had expired. It also refers to those who concealed their nationality in order to remain in Kuwait.
However, Kuwaiti authorities say that 71,000 of the 105,000 people who are considered stateless in fact hold the nationality of countries such as Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Syria.
Earlier this year, the interior minister said that the 34,000 stateless people who qualified for citizenship fell under one of the four groups that included people in the police or army, people who were recorded in the 1965 population census, relatives of Kuwaiti nationals and children of Kuwaiti women divorced from foreign husbands.
Salah Al Fadhala, an official tasked with addressing the issue of people staying illegally in the country, in August said that 275 citizenship applications spanning the four groups would be submitted to the competent authorities.
“That was the third list since the beginning of the year and we are now working on the fourth batch of those who will be eligible for naturalisation,” he told Kuwait News Agency (Kuna). “The move is part of the roadmap to address the issue of those staying illegally in the country.” The first naturalisation list was submitted in February, followed by a second list in April, he said.
In April, the authorities said that Bidoons staying illegally in Kuwait could be granted five-year residence permits under a new scheme.
The new status will allow those above 21 years of age to sponsor themselves for the next five years.
Those who are below 21 will be granted a five-year residence visa as family members.
Beneficiaries of the scheme will not pay fees for the duration of their permits and will be handed special cards that will guarantee them free health and education services.
Those who wish to benefit from the new scheme must regularise their status by producing the passport of their country of origin.