On my old blog, I touch upon the issue of the Bedoun (although mostly my ignorance of the matter). This is what I wrote then – from the observation deck of Kuwait Towers:
I’m soon joined by the only other westerner here. A journo from a Central European country, he is there to cover the issue of the Bedoo. ‘The Bedouins?’ I ask. Not quite. The Bedoo, it appears, are Kuwait’s stateless people; no basic rights, no passports, no freedom of movement.
I have never heard of the Bedoo. Some research is in order. Amnesty, perhaps?
I’ve yet to learn how to import the comments along with the posts to this blog. Instead I’ll quote a commenter on this post, explaining the issue in greater detail. Rosa writes: Hi Sophie. Nice pictures. Just wanted to say that it’s the bedoon/bedoun. not the bedoo, and you can indeed find out more about them through Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch, both of which have issued damning reports about their treatment. Bedoons/Bedoun/Bidoun are denied birth or death certificates – so can’t obtain passports, have no access to healthcare, education, housing or employment and live in conditions that the Kuwaiti government isn’t keen on advertising.
In light of the current unrest in the Middle East, I thought I’d see if the issue of the Bedoun has come up. It has. On two occasions this year, Bedoun protesters have clashed with police.
According to Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Watan Daily, the issue of the Bedoun was on the agenda for the Kuwaiti Parliament on 8 March, with one MP calling the government “sluggish” in addressing the Bedoun issue. The MP announced a vote to grant the Bedoun civil and social rights, “whether the government likes it or not”. Read the Al-Watan article here.
The following day, Kuwait Times reported Parliament voted against debating the Bedoon issue, instead focussing on the problem of unemployment for Kuwaiti nationals.
It’ll be interesting to see how this unfolds.