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Other spellings: Bidun; Bedoon

Bidoon demonstration in Kuwait 2008

Bidoon demonstration in Kuwait 2008.

Group of inhabitants of Kuwait, Arabs with no citizenship anywhere.
Most of the Bidoon are original inhabitants to Kuwait, others are immigrants from other countries but have lost links to, and/or citizenship to their homelands. Official 2006 estimates set their numbers to about 100,000, foreign estimates make it 120,000 plus 240,000 living outside Kuwait.
Reading from several sources, the Bidoon are often said to be the original population of Kuwait, living there before the immigration of the ancestors of today's Kuwaiti nationals.
The Bidoon does not represent any distinguishable ethnic group, they are identified by their official status only.
Their name is from Arabic, meaning nothing but "without", short for "Without citizenship", bidūn jinsiyya. It is also a term quite derogatory.
Kuwait government has in some cases referred to the Bidoon as "illegal residents". For this, they have been strongly criticized by some international organizations.
Until the middle of the 1980's their situation was easier, they were considered lawful inhabitants with status of having citizenship under consideration. They enjoyed many of the same benefits as citizens.
Since the middle of 1980's many discriminatory regulations have been imposed upon them. They now face many obstacles in having official documents issued, are not permitted into public schools or universities, face an near-impossible situation in obtaining birth certificates, civil identification cards, driving licenses and marriage certificates, not to mention travel documents. Not being considered nationals, they do not serve in the military.
They are organized into the Kuwaiti Bidoon Committee, headed by Ahmad at-Tamimi.

1920's: Registration of citizens to Kuwait, certain parts of the population fails to register.
1985: New laws that removes the civil rights of Bidoon.
1986: The Bidoon lose the right to have travel documents issued.
1987: End of public schooling for children, renewing of driver's licenses or registering of cars.
1988: Universities are closed to Bidoon, as well as clubs and associations. Bidoon are now, in official statistics, registered as foreigners. 1991: Bidoon who fled Kuwait during the Gulf War, are not allowed to return. Bidoon working in the state are dismissed.
1993: Bidoon lose their rights to free health care.
2000: New regime for residency permits, in which Bidoon that renounce claims on Kuwaiti nationality are granted 5 year permits and other benefits.

By Tore Kjeilen