Desert Causes

"One voice can make a difference" - or so they say. Everywhere in the world, there are events and circumstances where each of us can make a difference - even if it is for something as simple as passing it along. Heard of a cause? I will post it. Send an e-mail to Let me know the progress.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Animal "Rights" in Kuwait

... lack thereof.

Kuwait is not the animal rights capitol of the world. The list of abhorrent abuses is long and generally not often discussed. To bring to light some of the abuses happening here:

  • No regulations for animal pet shops. Cats and dogs are often kept in tiny cages for months at a time in dirty conditions.
  • Dog fighting. Although betting/gambling is forbidden by Islam, it happens. There are a large number of pit bulls and Indian-breed dogs in the country used for dog fights.
    Poor treatment of race horses. Lack of proper medical care, lack of conditioning often leads to inhumane euthanization by government-approved lethal injection of T61 – a terribly inhumane way for an animal to die.
  • Overwhelming cases of animal torture and cruelty, mostly due to lack of education.
  • Hunting of wildlife in government “protected” areas. “Kill anything that moves” philosophy when it comes to hunting.
  • Neglect
    ­ Use of inappropriate feed.
    ­ Lack of proper sheltering -– often in temperatures upwards of 100 degrees Fahrenheit
    ­ Lack proper vaccinations and grooming
  • Import of endangered species: Monkeys, orangutans, tigers, and others.
  • Sheep import trade: inhumane shipping and slaughter conditions. Sheep arrive in Kuwait from Australia on ships holding up to 80,000 after weeks being crammed together – often leaving their home country in winter, arriving in blazing heat of Kuwait summers.
  • In-humane conditions in slaughter houses: Livestock is brought to slaughter houses where they see/hear/smell animals before them dying while they slip on bloody floors. They are not stunned before their throats are slit, leaving a 30-40 second delay to death while choking on their own blood.
  • Strays: Large stray cat population throughout the country. Stray dogs are often either poisoned or shot by authorities.
  • Zoos in Kuwait are full of animal abuses. Animals are caged in improperly sized enclosures. They have no activity, so they often display “kennel stress” by pacing up and down.
  • Animal shows/circuses. The Little Jungle is probably the most notorious, but Kuwait brings in several circuses where animal abuse is high, as is the case in the dolphin shows which are regularly brought to small swimming pools throughout the country.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

AGEC Horse Update

3 more horse carcasses have been dumped this week outside the Ahmadi Governorate Equestrian Club. Club representatives "claim" that the horses aren't coming from inside the club, but that others in the area are dumping them there. Hmmmmm.... fishy.

Have the authorities at the Kuwait Municipality gone back to smoking cigarettes and drinking tea?

Meanwhile, PAAAFR has begun weekly inspections of all stables at equestrian clubs in the country. Dr. Fareeda Al-Mulla - you go girl!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Bidoon Information Links

Kuwait Bidoon English Forum:

Links to information on Bedoon issues in Kuwait


Scores of bidoon kick off campaign to press for their basic rights in Kuwait. Published 2006-11-07.

Kuwaiti Bidoon, Kuwaiti Bidoon Human Rights Organization (KBHRO), by Lafy Almutairy

Central Chronical, November 8, 2006:

DG's Bidoon Friends: More "With" than "Without"

I used to think that the bidoon/ bedoon/ bidun [depending on how you want to spell it – meaning “stateless” “without (nationality)”] issue was something limited only to Kuwait. I was wrong. There are many places in the world where people are without nationality; Bahrain, UAE, and Iraq are some examples.

Long before the imperialists carved up the world into parcels, we were all without nationality, weren’t we? Now, bidoon fight to gain the same types of basic rights that many of us take for granted: the ability to move freely from one country to another; documentation and identification papers; healthcare; education; and more.

I have dear friends in Kuwait who are bidoon. You wouldn’t know it from looking at them, or by their family names. It isn’t like they are any different than anybody else. It is only after hearing their stories that I have come to understand how deep the problem is and how much they suffer.

I met one of my funniest friends on the internet. He’s bidoon and he fights to make things right. In ‘merican, he’d be known as a “ball buster”. He’s always pushing and it works for him. I love him because of his strength and courage. When he is the most upset and down, the guy always makes jokes. He was afraid to tell me at first that he is bidoon. The way he was acting, I thought he was going to tell me that he had some kind of an infectious disease. His hands were all shaky and he found it hard to speak. He was muttering something about “Kuwaitis” and “people who don’t have citizenship” and I’m like, “Oh, so you’re bidoon? Big phuckin deal!” Anyways, he’s always at the Bidoon Council stirring up trouble and he’s on all the bidoon forums out there and in diwaniyas around Kuwait raising hell for the bidoon cause. You go, boyyyyy!

Some bidoon friends I know are held prisoner by members of their own families with Kuwaiti nationality (yes, that happens); having to depend on these relatives for “names on paper” to provide car titles, business licenses, etc. One friend’s Kuwaiti wife holds so much power over him that he has trouble moving. He is constantly depressed and sees no way out. The Landcruiser HE paid for is in her name and she takes it back when she's pissed off at him. The apartment is in her name. The kids would go with her if he left and he probably wouldn't get visitation. When he first told me he was bidoon, I thought he was going to cry. When I told him I couldn’t care less if he was green and lived on Mars – that I liked him for the person he was – he was shocked. He literally expected me to run away.

My kind-hearted friend, Hilal, who took his own life in 1997. He had given up all hope. He was a gentle giant and I used to think of him as the cowardly lion in the Wizard of Oz. I think about him and how his life could have been different with a piece of paper. I think about how much I have and how much I take for granted and what my life could have been like if I had been born in a different country to a different family.

One of my Kuwaiti friends told me, “I don’t understand why they are bidoon. My father went to school with their grandfather.” A few years later, the 2 brothers I worked with received their Kuwaiti nationality after years of trying. I remember congratulating them at the time; yet it happened at a time when I was new to Kuwait, so I didn’t understand full implication of what it meant. I see how their lives have changed now and how they appear to have rocks lifted from their shoulders. They have better jobs and they laugh a lot more often.

I have a friend whose whole family moved to New Zealand to get nationality there. Generations of their family had been brought up bidoon in Kuwait and they never saw an end, so they headed to a place they had never been before and returned after years to live here again with the rest of their family. They now have options they never had before.

Some people choose to go to other countries to get nationality (either through naturalization or through purchase of nationality with willing governments). Others refuse saying (as I have heard), “No. I am Kuwaiti. I will someday get my citizenship.”

There are a lot of stories and no one will know about them unless people openly discuss the bidoon issue. So, go ahead, send comments.

Through this blog, I won’t tolerate intolerance, hatred, finger-pointing or nay-sayers. If I even get those types of comments, I will most likely delete them because I believe it defeats the purpose of positive efforts and energy. Stop the hate, find a solution.

Operation Hope Needs Toothpaste/Magazines/Cosmetics

Operation Hope needs help:

"I’ve received a request from a TB Hospital staff member for toothpaste. The recipients of these goods are TCN’s who have no one except us to help them. Anyone wishing to contribute a tube or two may drop your donation at my homeat your earliest convenience. Also any old magazines or novels would begreatly appreciated. They have nothing but time on their hands!", says Sheryll Miarza.

...if all they are asking for is toothpaste, they might also want cosmetics as well.

Contact: Sheryll Miarza -

PAWS Needs a Porta-Cabin

January 21, 2007 Update
PAWS has obtained a portacabin!

PAWS animal rescue league ( is looking for a portacabin (new or used) that someone would like to either sell at low cost or donate. This is an excellent opportunity for free publicity for organizations willing to assist.

"We are trying to secure a portacabin that we can use as an isolation cabin - we desperately need this and have shopped around but the going rate seems to be 8-10,000 KD - our budget barely makes a dent in this - if you know anyone who can get us a much better price - or ideally donate! - please can you let me know."

Operation Hope

Operation Hope is a grass-roots organization started by an American lady, Sheryll Miarza who is married to a Kuwaiti. Sheryll has been working for several years now, coordinating efforts to help those in need in Kuwait.

OH benefits underprivileged workers in Kuwait. Too often these third world employees are under dressed for the winter season and are without the means in which to purchase extra clothing and basic necessities for themselves. Most of them live in sub-standard housing located in large camps.

“It is our intention to bring hope to many who are in a seemingly hopeless situation by organizing a gift bag for approximately 3,500 men and women. Each bag will contain a warm hat, scarf, gloves, socks and thermal under-clothing. Additionally some bags may contain a brush, comb and other hygienic products.”

This is an on-going effort by Operation Hope and they welcome donations and volunteers (for packing and distribution).

You can help! Please contact Sheryll for further details.

Field of Dead Horses

Field of Dead Horses

Yesterday I took Desert Dawg to IVH because her hair was mangled while I was away. She stays with a very nice family who doesn’t seem to understand that yuh – you do have to comb out her hair (just like a little kids) when you give her a bath because otherwise, she’ll be a matted mess of snarls (which is just what happened). Anyhoo, on the way back, The Romanian and I looked over and saw a field of dead horses. It looked like a battleground and they had lost. I sent pics (the one shown here is from the Arab Times) and a little story to the Arab Times and they ran the story today. They have promised to do a follow-up because they are equally disgusted. It was so horrific and appalling that I still can’t believe that nothing has been mentioned in the papers before (and if they have, I haven’t seen the stories). This is unlike dead cattle; cattle generally isn’t regarded as someone’s beloved pet. I was shocked at myself for being not-as-shocked as I probably should have been; but alas – nothing much in Kuwait truly shocks me anymore. Had I seen these dead horses 15 years ago, I probably would have started crying and not stopped. It just saddens and disgusts me.

At the very least, they should have been covered in sand. Best case scenario – maybe a mass horse grave. I speak from personal experience when I say that in the US, a horse must be burried 6 feet under (even in February when the ground is frozen so hard that you have to hire a backho to the tune of $1,000 to put it in the ground) so that disease is not spread. Gee, I guess no one in Kuwait cares about disease, do they? Obviously not too much because there were camps purty close to the field.

Since relaying the story to other people, I have heard “maybe they died from the cold” “Maybe they died from a disease…” Well yeah, but in any case, they should have been buried – not left out for other animals to cannibalize or spread disease. These horses are lying in a field not 200 meters away from the front gate of Ahmadi Equestrian Club – in plain sight from the road (306 towards Wafra). You would think that the Ahmadi Equestrian Club would NOT want the negative advertising brought about by dead horses from their club! Yes yes, come to our club – board your horse here. We will put it right next to these other ones…

January 7 Update: Arab Times published a follow-up story January 7, 2006. After the race... a fall from grace: Dumping carcasses of horses in open areas is the normal method used by all horse owners and members of the Ahmadi Governorate Equestiran Club (AGEC) with the full awareness of the administration, says a trainer at the club. "...any horse which fails to keep up with competition due to broken bones or sickness will either be shot or injected with poison at the request of its owner and then dumped outside." Apparently, the Kuwait Riding Center on 6th Ring Road adopts a completely different attitude than the AGEC. January 8 Update: The Arab Times published another front-page story. Because of their efforts, the horse carcasses have been removed from the field!!! The next step in the game is to ensure that the horses aren't being needlessly slaughtered by people who just don't care. And if they are indeed "salvageable", to find people who will adopt them. From what we have been able to learn, the Kuwait Sports Federation is responsible for the AGEC. Are they in compliance with Kuwait law?? It has been a very busy week!

Are their Blinders to Blame

It is interesting that the Chairman of AGEC's board of directors didn't see the carcasses of dead horses, not 50 feet from the side of the road and not 200 meters from their own front driveway; regardless of the time of day. Further, as Mr. Haif Al-Howaila states in your front-page article of January 13th, "some of the carcasses found dumped outside the clubs are Arabian breeds while the horses within AGEC's stables are thoroughbreds."

It is interesting because in the same paper on January 13, on page 41 in the Sports Section, under the heading "Ahmadi Equestiran Club hosts weekly horse race", the photos of the horses running are not all thoroughbreds! Further, many of the carcasses I personally saw in that field on January 8 had ankle/hoof bandages similar to those used on racing horses for endurance.

Carcasses of large animals do not decompose overnight. I have heard this week from people who have passed by these same carcasses for the past several years - not weeks, not months. How is it possible that they could have been overlooked? And if one chairman doesn't see them - right outside the gates - is he not responsible for the workers in his charge? Has everyone at the club turned a blind eye?

Further, if people in camps in the surrounding areas are indeed dumping horses right next to their club, why isn't the club doing something about it? Why not post signs? Put up a fence? Notify authorities? Why would a group of people who supposedly love horses not want to do something about this horrific situation; especially if -as they claim - it is coming from an outside source? Why did the media have to bring this to public attention?

Why not take responsibility and see that it doesn't happen again? Why is it that some people find it necessary to "pass the buck" and not just do the right thing? Acknowledge that there have been and continue to be problems, and do something to resolve it and make it better for everyone - especially the horses. "Not our problem" is never the answer.

Do Something!

Incase you haven’t tuned in lately to happenings in the desert, the horse slaughter saga in Ahmadi continues – and probably will continue until someone higher up champions the case. Do you (yes you, reading this) want to do something about it? You can help. Make your voice known. Write to newspapers. Send a letter to the Emir. Write to the ministers in any ministry in Kuwait. Write to animal rights organizations around the world. Damn - write to Oprah! All of the contact information is available on the web through a simple search. Get the word out. Public pressure gets things accomplished - especially here where "face" is the name of the game. It is a national disgrace to Kuwait!

Arabs and horses have been together throughout history. Horses are part of the culture, the civilization, the folklore of the Middle East. They are beloved animals. Why are we turning a blind eye while a small group of people cruely slaughters them right here??? 25 minutes (without traffic) from downtown Kuwait and 10 minutes from the largest US base in Kuwait, Arifjan?

Here is the story: At the Ahmadi Governorate Equestrian Club (AGEC), horse owners are running the horses to win prizes - sometimes as large as cars. The horses are often not trained or conditioned for racing. They might not even be race horses, but these guys think that if they whip them hard enough, they'll win a race and they'll get something out of it. As for the horse - it runs like hell, often injuring itself or just collapsing from exhaustion. Then, these prize-crazed barbarians (who can often be seen in the paper, smiling with their honorary plaques, all happy with themselves) either shoot the horse in the head (which is actually the more humane solution as compared to the alternate) or inject it with a combination of drugs which has been banned in the US called T-61.

T-61 shuts down the heart and lungs, but the horse remains conscious, and drowns on its own blood. That is why many of the horses found dead outside the Ahmadi Governorate Equestrian Club (AGEC) have their hooves tied because the horse will struggle to live. T-61 has been banned in the US as inhumane. The horses are sometimes walked out to the field among other carcasses (although most have been recently removed) to suffer its own death, slowly and in agony.

As per the Arab Times article of Saturday, January 13, the chairman of the Ahmadi Equestrian Governorate Club, Haif Al-Howaila, denies that his club has anything to do with it; odd, because it is happening not 100 feet from their club. As he stated in the paper that members of the club didn't notice these carcasses immediately, "we usually come to the culb after sunset when it is difficult to spot them." Where do these mysterious horses with their ankles wrapped for racing endurance come from, pray tell? I don't think that anyone trying to go to a party 2.5 kilometers into the desert on a night with no moon has any problem finding a tent (stone cold drunk even), and yet these guys can't see 14 dead horses left there for years right outside their premises? Come on, give me a break!

Saturday, January 13, 2007


Bedoon: Kuwait's Dirty Little Secret

Kuwait, a strategic US ally, harbors a startling little-known civil rights secret: its stateless people, the Bedoon.

Bedoon means "without" in Arabic (Bedoon is different than "Bedouin" meaning nomadic/formerly nomadic tribes.) Bedoon refers to people with no nationality.
Kuwait is one of the only few countries in the world where there are citizens within the country who have no nationality. In Kuwait, Bedoon must pay to obtain any official documentation (if they are lucky enough to get that far) including: permission to marry, birth and death certificates, drivers licenses, identification, etc. They have to go to the official Kuwaiti office called the "Bedoon Council" and beg to get any rights at all. Many are not allowed to work. They can not own property. Many can't obtain travel papers. Recently, the Kuwaiti authorities agreed to issue travel documents for the religious journey, Haj, to Bedoon – on the condition that they "solve their identity problem" before returning to Kuwait (therefore not being allowed back into their country).

If a Bedoon man marries a Kuwaiti woman, their children are Bedoon (it is the opposite if a Kuwaiti man marries a Bedoon woman – both she and her children can obtain Kuwaiti citizenship). If the Bedoon man has any difficulties and wants a divorce, the Kuwaiti x-wife can not only be granted full custody of their children, but ask for alimony and child support in almost the full amount of the husband's salary, leaving him destitute. Therefore, Bedoon men are at the mercy of their Kuwaiti wives.

If you drive by Sulaybia, Kuwait, North on 5th Ring Road towards the area of Jahra, you will notice a tin shanty town which is inhabited mainly by Bedoon. Depending on the whims of the Kuwaiti government, there have been several attempts to destroy this area and "relocate" the Bedoon living there. To where? It is often said that they can "go back to their countries". Where are their countries if several generations (some going back to the 1964 census) have been born and raised in Kuwait? If a Bedoon person speaks out, he/she is ostracized and may face legal action including deportation (again – to where?).

Many Bedoon fought for Kuwait; many were in the Kuwaiti military and stayed in Kuwait, fighting as resistance. In a radio address while in exile in Saudi Arabia during the occupation of Kuwait by Iraq, the late Emir, Jaber Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah, stated that those Bedoon who fought for their country would be granted their Kuwaiti citizenship. Like the promise of women's suffrage, perhaps it is just a long time in coming, but it isn't being discussed at the top levels YET. Kuwait is openly pleased about its ties with the US and foray into world democracy, and yet the Kuwaiti Government is doing nothing to solve the inhumane Bedoon issue.
Often, you can't tell who is Bedoon and who isn't within the same tribes or families; sometimes cousins have Kuwaiti citizenship and others don't. Familial links can be easily established by DNA tests, and yet when they are conducted by the Kuwaiti Government (at the 80 KD expense per person of the Bedoon) the results are locked away and kept from the families.
The older generations of Bedoon were/are mostly proud people who blended into society without discussion of suffering or hardships. As younger generations of Bedoon are coming up, they are learning more about democracy and civil rights. They are an intensely angry group. When people face oppression, stress and psychological abuse take tolls: Petty crimes have been growing (and are likely to continue to grow) in this small country. If people feel that they have no hope, no future, no care – they become desperate. It is a tremendous security risk to an already security-strained nation.

If Kuwait strives to be a pillar of democracy in the Middle East, why not put an end to the suffering of so many of its inhabitants.