By Nawara Fattahova

KUWAIT: About 200 bedoons (stateless residents) gathered in a yard opposite Sulaibiya police station for a press conference organized by political activists, who called on seven bedoons who have been on hunger strike since March 27 to end their fast. They promised to work on their demands and find other ways to help them achieve their rights. The protesters agreed to suspend their hunger strike for two months in order to give an opportunity for serious steps to address the bedoons' issue.

"We don't even have the most basic of rights. Even those who are supposed to help the bedoons make their lives more difficult. An example is the Central Agency for Illegal Residents, which contacted a charity that was helping us and asked them to stop," said Mohammed Al-Barghash, one of the seven hunger strikers.

"Any struggle takes different forms. Today it is a hunger strike or protest, but tomorrow it may be different according to the needs of our case. Our case is facing challenges from the government and some institutions, but we have to resolve it wisely. We don't want our hunger strike to end and die; rather we want to transfer it to another form that will deliver our message," said Barghash.

"We don't want our issue to remain just words and slogans - we have a clear goal. This strike is serious, and we believe that our case and demands are right. We will continue till the end. We believe God is with us, as we are only demanding our just rights," added Barghash.

Fadhel Al-Shimmari told Kuwait Times the government is not giving them their rights, so they had to go on hunger strike. "Unfortunately, after 19 days of this suffering, the neglect continues. Some officials don't care if we commit suicide or die. Our goal was to deliver the message that our suffering is unjustified. We will continue to demand our rights," he vowed.

"We were only drinking water and leben. When our blood sugar dropped, we drank juice. I collapsed on the fifth day and was taken to hospital. But I came back to join the strike. We have now ended the hunger strike temporarily for two months to see if the government resolves our issue. If they still don't help us get healthcare, education, citizenship and other rights, we will go back to hunger strikes in larger numbers," Shimmari warned.

During the gathering, activists made speeches in which they expressed their support for the bedoons' demands, highlighting that the fight for their rights is peaceful. They also lamented that the government and the parliament don't have any serious role in resolving the bedoon issue.