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Uproar in Kuwait as minority Bidoon man attempts self-immolation in protest

The 27-year-old had recently been dismissed from his job for not renewing his security card, without which Bidoon are not allowed to work
In 2012, Bidoon protested against their living conditions, insisting that the only solution to their plight was to gain Kuwaiti citizenship (AFP)

A Kuwaiti man attempted to kill himself by self-immolation on Monday, in protest against his living conditions in the Sulaibiya region, Kuwaiti media reported.

The 27-year-old man, Talal al-Khulaifi, is from Kuwait’s Bidoon minority which, according to several human rights organisations, has suffered ethnic cleansing, genocide and marginalisation at the hands of the Kuwaiti state.

Khulaifi survived his attempt on his life, but suffered severe burns. 

Online, users have responded with outrage by calling on Kuwaiti officials to end the suffering of the Bidoon community, using the hashtag “Bidoon suicide in Sulaibiya”. 

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Translation: The suicide of the Bidoon is a crime, the perpetrator of which is the one who is responsible for creating this problem and these harsh conditions. The victim is the deprived person who tried to gain salvation from this long hell. In the end we must end the suffering and hold the perpetrator accountable.

Meanwhile, some users have expressed their sympathy for the Bidoon community and the discrimination they face, which has led many to take their own lives.

Translation: I fear that suicide has become a solution in the minds of Bidoon youth. Believe me, your suicide is not a solution, do not let them take away life from you as they have robbed you of the rest of your rights, do not leave this land to them. Fight for the last breath.

One source told Sama News that Khulaifi tried to kill himself following his dismissal from his job, after he had failed to renew his security card, which Bidoon need in order to work. Khulaifi is said to have blamed the Kuwaiti authorities for obstructing the process of renewing his card. 

Kuwait Times reported that lawmakers have warned they will approach Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al Khalid Al Sabah if the government does not provide a solution for the issue of thousands of stateless Bidoon.

Bidoon, which literally means “without” and implies that the members of the community are stateless or without nationality, are regarded as foreign nationals or illegal immigrants in Kuwait. Most Bidoon belong to the Shia sect of Islam. 

In Kuwait, Bidoon are banned from obtaining birth and death certificates, and restricted from identification documents, which highly limit access to job opportunities and travelling abroad.

Bidoon are also not allowed to be educated in Kuwaiti schools or universities. 

The rate of suicide among Bidoon has risen sharply in recent years.

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