The Pretense of Citizenship
Here, in this nation of ours, exists a problem which we don’t really hear much about. We drive our cars, attend our schools, work at our jobs without ever realizing there are others among us being oppressed. The Bidoun, or the Stateless, are a group of people residing in Kuwait who’ve been denied basic civil rights, and sometimes even their human rights. They cannot legally obtain birth, death, marriage or divorce certificates. The same applies to driving licenses, identification cards, and passports. They do not have access to public education, health care, housing or employment. The stateless of Kuwait have always been an underrepresented minority, but now is the time for change. New laws and policies must be passed to secure the Bidouns’ rights as citizens and ensure their injustices be addressed.
There is little to deny when it comes to the apparent problem of the Bidoun in Kuwait. The issue has been raised countless times by MP’s trying to rectify our injustices. Human rights groups have constantly reprimanded Kuwait on its discriminatory actions towards the Bidoun. Refugees International, a Washington DC based human rights organization, stated that “Kuwait must begin immediate and transparent reviews of all bidun cases towards providing naturalization.” (McLeod) Another RI report commented on the government’s “sluggish reaction” to the issue at hand and stated that the designated committees actions “[have] been deplorable.”
Statelessness has existed in Kuwait since its independence in 1961. After an initial registration period ended, authorities shifted Bidoun citizenship applications to a series of committees that have avoided resolving the claims while maintaining sole authority to determine the Bidoun access to civil documentation and social services. Um Walid, a 43-year-old Bidoun widow, said that she had no paperwork establishing her relationship to her deceased husband. "When a Bidun dies, there is...