Security Guards or Hired Thugs? Tale of Abuse in Kuwait

I’m collecting all the thoughts I previously shared on the internet and grouping them into my blog for ease-of-reference. This incident happened to me 2 years ago, I got in touch with the people at Jarir to file a formal complaint, and tried to reach the man in charge of Hawalli Park, emails lead to nothing, I got a single response and that was that.

A colleague of mine faced a similar incident afterward. He was @ TSC Salmiya a while ago, and the guard outside refused to let him enter, also dressed in national dress. One thing lead to another, guard said “I will whipe the floor with you”,  then assaulted my colleague, who wears glasses, shattering said glasses in his eyes. A complaint was filed but the office told him to drop the charges, guard was a “bedoun” and they feared retaliation on my colleague as a response. The charge was dropped.

Law in Kuwait, favors the nationals, not the expats.

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What happened to me on Saturday is something out of an action thriller. It was a hate crime. I was assaulted at an amusement park called Hawalli Park by the security officers there. The story I have sent out to various local new agencies, I shall add it here as well.

You must be asking yourself, What is the global issue of this? I had to endure racial slurs which hurt more than the actual beating. “Working class” citizens here live in fear of the police, who only show Kuwaiti/ GCC/ Foreign nationals any shred of decency. They call me Egyptian like it’s an insult. I have had to tolerate their uncivil manner since high school. Unfortunately, a majority of Kuwaiti citizens are taught at an early age to look down upon others; they see us as invaders, even though we work here legally, and their government more than compensates their salary as compared to a foreign national.

The grim reality we live in is as follows: Had my situation escalated to requiring the police to intervene, they would have done exactly as the first offending security guard hinted — taken me and my brother into custody, shaved our heads, beat us up, and kept us locked up for two days, no justice, no statement. Just the word of a bored security guard because he is a national.

Human Rights need to be informed of the vicious maltreatment of foreigners here. Let us not consider the plight of the Bangladeshi workers, whose struggles I am sure you are aware of, and the fact that they are being deported now.

My story is as follows:

I am a resident of Hawalli. I was out walking with my younger brother, and we decided to visit Hawalli Park, more specifically Al-Jarir Bookstore. If you are not familiar with the park, it has three entrances: one on the main road, one on the side near the parking lot, and one in the back, the farthest of the three. Being “bachelors,” we were denied entrance through Gate A, the closest from our walking path, and even Gate B, and told to go to Gate C. I was extremely agitated.

Let us analyze this situation please: All gates lead to the same park — there are no familial areas/bachelor areas. However, the rule is enforced by the guards dressed in national clothes. Guards, that you shall come to see, are no more than petty thugs without a shred of decency or training.

I walked to Gate C, extremely agitated. As I was walking in, I was accosted by one of the guards in an unfriendly manner and yelled at him. That was a mistake on my part, but it was a result of having to walk three times across the length of the park just to walk into a bookstore.

The guard got into my face and started yelling back. I explained the situation: I had walked across three sides to get to an entrance, and he was denying me entrance? I am no common criminal. He then orders me to leave; I stubbornly refuse. He calls his “superior” or “raba” who comes and listens to the situation and sides with the guard, and also tells me to leave. By then, the first guard’s language is starting to turn foul, so I claimed I was leaving of my own accord.

As we walked away, and were in the parking lot, three guards were following us, insulting and taunting. I paid them no heed and kept on my way; they rush by my side, now joined by some other “national” felons whom they invited to join in on the fun. I was unceremoniously grabbed by my collar and lead back into the park area and dragged to a back room, with my brother in tow. Three of the guards assaulted me and tore my T-shirt. I was brutalised and sustained scratches and injuries to my neck.

They were then “asked” to cease-and-desist and we were lead to an office where an older man asked for our IDs and started with the whole “we will turn you over to the police” routine (I failed to mention that the age of my assailants was roughly late 20s/early 30s). I spoke to him and explained the situation, and told him I was out of line. What else could I do?

I was then asked to go and apologise to the first offender, who took it as a personal insult upon his person that someone like me, a non-national, could dare talk back to him. He started a racial slur from when we were in the senior man’s office, saying I claimed I was this and I could do whatever I wanted. Those words never left my mouth; I may be proud but I am not ignorant.

He kept the verbal abuse going, saying how he didn’t accept our apology, how he is a national and above us, how he wants us to be transferred to the police department, where they would shave our heads and beat us as they did, and keep us there for two days; how he was really a police officer and could charge both of us with fines worth 1,000 KD for assaulting him. He then accepted and spoke through his walkie-talkie. We went back to the senior, who had accosted my brother’s ID (I did not have mine on me at the time). He then proceeded to order me to sign an affidavit that I can no longer enter Hawalli Park, and that the guards had every right to act the way they did.

I ask you, where is the fairness in all of this? These security guards are supposed to protect us, however they acted no less than a bunch of hooligans and thugs, with little to no respect for the human being. When I asked why we cannot walk through any of the gates as they all lead into the same area, I was answered with an abrupt “keifi.” (arabic for word meaning “because I feel like it”)

My story portrays the ill training and ill respect of these guards. What if some person with a mental disorder were to have acted in an unruly manner? Would he also be dragged and beaten up? Where is the sense in that? What happened to me was uncalled for; I had already turned my back and walked away, only to have to endure further taunting from the initial perpetrator.

I would very much like to hear from you on this matter, as I feel I have let my brother down in this. He did nothing and was also assaulted. These shenanigans should not be tolerated.

August 2011 ( View complete archive page )

September 2011 ( View complete archive page )

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