By Ahmed Elbassiouny
As part of the Arab Spring, protests continue across Kuwait against autocratic rule and systematic oppression.
The Western-backed Sabah family has ruled for over 250 years, considering itself “immune and inviolable” in the constitution. It has maintained a regime of oppression, especially towards the Bedoun—or stateless people—who face continuous systematic discrimination by the government and its agencies.
The Bedoun don’t have citizenship of any country and are not eligible to attend schools or to get any services like other citizens. They have been under continuous attacks from Kuwaiti forces. On international non-violence day, October 2, Bedoun members were attacked severely, and the Ministry Of Interior blocked any medical help to the injured. According to a Bedoun’s solidarity website (launched by Bedoun to cover the continuous oppression they face), there were many severe injuries resulting from baton blows, violent dragging on the street, burns caused by smoke and sound bombs, and rubber bullets from the Kuwaiti special forces.
But the Arab Spring has inspired people to fight back. After mass protests last November the prime minister and cabinet resigned, and there have been ongoing battles demanding a Parliament that represents the opposition. This October 7 the Emir dissolved Parliament and called elections for December 1, and on October 19 announced changes to the electoral system that the opposition describe as a “coup against the constitution.”
On October 21 people took to the streets once more to march towards government headquarters. Kuwaiti police used tear gas and stun grenades—injuring dozens and arresting at least 15, including a former Islamist member of the parliament.
As elsewhere, the demands of the Arab spring have not been met in Kuwait–another military dictatorship armed by the West, including Canada–so protests continue.