Kuwait to deport US citizen, Bidoon activist visiting her family

Kuwait to deport US citizen, Bidoon activist visiting her family
Bidoon activist Mona Kareem said she is being deported from Kuwait with no given reason after airport authorities 'kept intimidating and yelling' at her.
3 min read
03 January, 2023
The activist says she will be deported on Tuesday evening [Getty] 

A Kuwaiti poet and activist who holds American citizenship said on Tuesday that she is being deported from Kuwait, where she had intended to visit her family.

Mona Kareem is from Kuwait’s Bidoon community – a stateless Arab minority group who were not registered for citizenship at the time of the country's independence or shortly thereafter. They continue to be denied their rights to citizenship.

Kareem had flown into Kuwait International Airport from Beirut on Tuesday.

She was interrogated for one hour and waited another at the visa centre before being told she would be returned to the Lebanese capital, she told The New Arab.

"I am really low on energy and I will be boarding the Beirut flight in three hours," Kareem told The New Arab at 16:20 GMT.

Speaking about her interrogation, Kareem said authorities "kept intimidating and yelling" at her, without providing her with any reasons for her deportation.

"I sat on the floor and said I am not going to move and then they threatened to remove me by force."

She said that because her Bidoon status deprives her of a passport, her only way of seeing family at home is "to risk my life and go to Kuwait and risk being deported or arrested".

The US embassy did not respond to her calls for help right away, so she started tweeting as a final resort, she said.

"The Embassy said they cannot do anything, they said all they want to do is make sure I leave safely."

"I wanted to fight this because I know it happened with Bidoon activists before… so [I] needed to go out fighting," she added.

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Kareem describes herself as having been exiled from Kuwait since 2011, after she left on a scholarship abroad with temporary travel documents, she told AFP.

After getting asylum, and later becoming a US citizen last summer, she travelled to Kuwait to see her family after over a decade of separation from them.

She told The New Arab that she had no expected trouble on this visit to Kuwait because it was not her first such trip back.

She said that when she visited Kuwait last summer, she was subjected to hours of interrogation and detention before eventually being allowed into the country.

The Bidoon minority are discriminated against in healthcare, education and other essential services, and due to their inability to obtain relevant paperwork or access government schools or universities, unemployment among the population is believed to be very high and has led to protests.

The New Arab has contacted the Kuwaiti Embassy in the UK, and the Migrant Rights group for comment.