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Kuwait Bidoon student’s suicide attempt reignites debate on discrimination

There are some 100,000 stateless people in Kuwait, deemed to be 'illegal residents' by the government

June 25, 2020 at 3:23 pm

A suicide attempt by a member of Kuwait’s stateless Bidoon community has led to outcry in the Gulf state and has once again highlighted the discrimination faced by the community.

According to Arabi21, the unnamed medical student took an overdose of medicine on Monday in the capital Kuwait City’s Sulaibiya area. He is reportedly in a serious condition after being taken to an intensive care unit at a local hospital.

The Arabic news website also reported that at least three people of the Bidoon community committed suicide last year, owing to persecution they have suffered. One of them, a 20-year-old man, killed himself after being turned down for a job due to not having the necessary state-issued security card. The incident prompted social media users to call for an end to discrimination.

READ: Official: 92,000 expats left Kuwait in the past 3 months

The latest case appears to have also prompted some online users to use the Arabic hashtag “Bidoon Lives Matter”. Others have also reacted angrily towards the Kuwaiti authorities who they say tried to “cover up” their oppression of the Bidoon, by claiming the student had underlying mental health issues.

There are some 100,000 stateless people in Kuwait, deemed to be “illegal residents” by the government and there are estimates of 500,000 Bidoon across the Gulf. Human rights groups have long campaigned against the mistreatment and marginalisation of the community, however, Kuwait insists that a majority of the Bidoon originate from neighbouring countries and are not eligible for citizenship. Many Bidoon contest this and say they are indigenous to the Gulf state. Many lived in remote, tribal areas of the undefined borders of the nascent Kuwaiti state when it gained independence from Britain in 1961 and were deemed ineligible for citizenship.

READ: Bidoon man accuses Saudi hospital of refusing to admit his pregnant wife