No end in sight

Kuwaiti special forces crackdown on Bedoon protesters in February

One more time, the 50 year old misery of over 100,000 people is handled with the utmost disregard and indifference by the members of Kuwaiti National Assembly. Another long awaited session, that was supposed to bring legislations aimed to grant the Bedoon population of Kuwait their basic human and civil rights was postponed, “for lack of quorum”! I don’t know what would be worst, to come and not pass the legislation, or not to come at all. Either way, this shows just how insignificant is the agony of this marginalized group of people in the eyes of Kuwaiti lawmakers, and in the eyes of influential groups in Kuwaiti society.

There are many Kuwaitis who understand the importance and urgency of resolving this issue. On the other hand, there are people in Kuwait who are exerting all sorts of pressure on government and MPs to prevent any resolution for this four-generations-old tragedy.

Just as Mary Antoinette said about the French revolutionists “Why don’t they eat cake instead?” Many Kuwaitis thought that the Bedoon demonstrations last month were wrong, “because they will ruin the celebration of the country’s 50th anniversary of independence.” The basic human rights of people are weighed against the luxury of enjoying the celebration. That’s how big the gap is between those two groups of people.

Kuwait is one of the few countries in the world that was able to be completely liberated and recovered from an atrocious occupation. Of all people in the world, Kuwaitis should be humbled by this experience. They should know more than anyone else in the world, what it means to be without a home. Yet, many people still fail to appreciate the second chance to have their own sovereign country that was given to them by God.

Among the many common beliefs about the Bedoon in Kuwait is that they are Iraqis, they came here illegally, and they hide their original passports. I ask, were they also illegal residents when the government hired them to work in the army, in police, and in the oil company, and treated them like Kuwaitis, all the time when the country needed them? Are they now more foreigners than they used to be 30, 40, or 50 years ago?

Some people accuse the Bedoon of only demonstrating after the head of the government authority for the issues of Bedoon handed the Iraqi PM Nouri Al-Maliki a list of the names of the Bedoons to verify whether they are listed on the citizens’ list in Iraq or not. They say that the Bedoons demonstrated because they were afraid that their true identities will be revealed.

First of all, I don’t think that a sane person will agree with what the Kuwaiti government is doing. I mean handing the Iraqi PM a list of names, where he can basically tell the Kuwaiti government who’s to give a permanent residence and who should they kick out is very stupid! How can they know for sure that what the Iraqi PM will say will be for the best interest of Kuwait not Iraq?

Nonetheless, even if we will assume that Al-Maliki will indeed be concerned about Kuwait, and will honestly answer their request. And that we will eventually discover that the names of Bedoons are not listed in Iraq, would the people who accuse the Bedoon of demonstrating in fear of revealing their true identity acknowledge the fact that Bedoon are just people deprived of their basic human rights by the Kuwaiti government? Would they then support nationalizing the Bedoon, or will they then come up with a new excuse? I think this will be the case exactly.

It is at least an indication of ignorance to explain the demonstrations of the Bedoon in Kuwait with anything other than the aspiration for their rights, that was inspired by the revolutions in other parts of the Arab world.

Next Friday there will be another demonstration, after the parliament failed the Bedoon again, and no one in the world can blame the Bedoon for demonstrating for their basic human rights. Let’s all hope that the government will allow them to peacefully express their grievances this time, without using excessive force against them like they did last time. Let’s also hope that the government and the national assembly take some tangible steps before it’s too late.

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