Sunday, July 12, 2009

Kuwait Police - to protect and to serve?

I'm not entirely sure how a citizen experiences our Police Force. It may be that the words 'to protect and to serve' apply here like they do in some other countries. All I know is my own experience of local law enforcement has not been pleasant.

My first experience of Kuwait police was in high school, when they arrested a friend of mine for not having his civil id on him. My friend protested to the rough treatment and talk he was recieving. So before they locked him in his cell, they beat him over and over again until he had nothing left in him.

The trauma led to my friend leaving school shortly after that, unable to focus in class, and drifting from low salary job to job in Kuwait. He never went to college. He was a student at UAS. I realise that these choices are ultimately left to the individual - but you have to wonder what he could have done if things had been different.

I spent some hours in jail as well for not having my civil id on me. We (the other prisoners and I) were roughly tossed back and forth, spoken to as if we were cattle, or idiots with no understanding, denied even one phone call (I wanted to call my dad to pick up my civil id). I wonder if Citizens have to worry about civil ids and getting to make a phone call?!

My wife overheard a kafeel at al razi hospital, offering policemen a certain amount of money, to take the woman and deposit her in the desert in a dangerous part of town.

A maid who complained to the police about her employer not feeding her, and beating her badly, came to the house and beat the maid severely himself, before returning her to her employer.

My mother called the police, on witnessing two men (employers) beating and shoving an Indian maid into their car though she was crying and screaming. After three calls, they still had not come. My mother stepped in saying 'haram' but the men told her to get lost, saying they were CID (which they clearly weren't) The police never came. They had not even bothered to pretend to be interested on the phone. It was after all a hindi calling about another hindi.

But my personal, ultimate experience of Kuwait Police was last week. A woman was being transported to the airport. This elderly Indian lady had suffered broken legs, broken jaw and was unable to walk without crutches. She was supposed to get into the police jeep. So these policeman - one middle aged man and one young guy- yelled at her, laughing at her, shouting 'yalla, yalla' cursing her saying 'teez umuk' etc because.. because she couldn't get in the jeep fast enough because of her leg. The ferocity of their yelling made her try to hurry but she hit her leg hard against the side of the car. She was crying and in tears as the policemen laughed at her, then continued... 'yalla yalla'.

I was so angry that without thinking I said, perhaps louder than I should have, "why are you saying yalla yalla? She is old enough to be your mother and my mother. For what reason are you hurrying her - because she is Indian?" The younger policeman was so enraged that I answered back that he started shouting at me in that typically guttural,curled lip, arrogant jaw-lined manner that I've become so used to. He used the word hindi so many times I can't even count, but because of our lack of language skills, the talking was futile.

Vijaylakshmi (the Indian maid), explained to me later when we met at the airport before her flight, that the policemen had deliberately hit every single speed bump on the way very hard, banging aunty's leg against the back of the seat of the very cramped jeep. Over and over again, in agonising pain while they laughed and smoked cigars and compared blingy watches.

What can we do against these 'good guys'? Because of course the entire reason for a police force is so that the good guys can prevent the bad guys from doing bad things. How insane I feel when I realise suddenly that WE are the bad guys and these law enforcement, the good guys, are here to put an end to US. And these good guys terrify me so much that when I meet cops in other countries, like in Canada and the UK, cops who actually want to help, i am terrified.

To protect and to serve? Not here. Not for us. Not even close.


Anonymous said...

I am usually quick to respond to whatever blog I read, but yours. Only your posts leave me, for several minutes, completely immobilized and debilitated. I'm still unable to convey how devastating - to the core - these incidents are, which is why I'm going to head to a number of humanitarian organizations to try and do something.

I am completely .. I feel so debilitated since there should be more efforts in regards to this issue, more efforts.

Sami said...

Kuwait's police and army are havens for the worst possible type of people. I remember the "bad" kids in my government high school; they never study, never do their homework, skip classes, fail classes, smoke, bully, drive recklessly, swear at teachers... well guess where the majority of them work today? the police or the army!

The system in our country actually rewards these people. Do you know how much benefits people in the interior and defense ministries get? And all you needed is "pass" in high school to get in.

If you read the crimes news in local newspapers, you will notice that most Kuwaitis who commit crimes are employees in the ministry of interior or defense.

What can you do you ask? The only thing I can think of is "investigative journalism". But for some reason, our newspapers are very weak in doing this. Maybe the laws are against them.

Bloggers can have a role perhaps, where they photograph, video and then publish abuses.

I never had any incidents with the Kuwait police, but I do feel afraid of them even though I didn't do anything wrong.

sv9211 said...

Hello Nabeel,

I have been following your blog recently, and find it very enlightening...I know all Kuwaitis are not like that but there are many who don't just care for others as they are blind only because of the KDs they have in their pockets. I wonder what will they do once they have no oil left in another 40-50 years from now?

Nabeel, I am an admin for a forum for Indians in Kuwait called Please do visit, register and post often in the forum. Lot of local Indian bloggers have reviewed our forum and If possible, would appreciate if you could review the same.

Thanks and Keep up the good work!

Raven said...

To the author of this post:
It probably isn't worth much, but... I'm a 21 year old Kuwaiti student, and I don't think I could be anymore ashamed of my fellow countrymen's actions towards you/the people in your circle.

For what its worth I apologize to you and to anyone else who has ever been treated like this whilst being on Kuwaiti soil...

I hear about these things constantly yet almost never experience them which is probably due to me being a Kuwaiti citizen...

I'm half english, and my parents were strict enough to literally drill basic concepts into my head such as being well mannered, considerate and at all times respectful towards ANY other human being that I'd ever encounter...

I honestly DO.NOT.CARE for things like free education, free health-care, free god-knows-what.. ESPECIALLY when my fellow countrymen cant -for the life of them- show the LEAST bit of respect towards foreigners residing/working in Kuwait... I cannot stress enough how extremely shameful and downright despicable it is!

I am probably going to get bashed by other Kuwaiti readers of this comment for being unpatriotic and ungrateful for all our freebies and services... but that is how this cookie crumbles...

Nothing is worth anything if it cannot be delivered with common courtesy, respect and humanity.

If this makes me unpatriotic then so be it. People who laugh at other people's misfortunes and get to go home and sleep on it thoughtlessly don't deserve to breathe air, not on Kuwaiti soil or ANY OTHER soil for that matter.

nabeel said...

Raven: thanks for your response. It DOES help knowing that there are people out there who want things to be different. But of course, there's nothing for you to be sorry about.

When I go to India, and listen to Indians cheer at the latest strike on Pakistani soil, I feel shame for my country and myself. I wonder where the blame should fall. Certainly on my culture. Culture is a good thing mostly but any part of it that cheers at the death of a 'foreigner' is nothing short of evil.

Hence, in Kuwait, there is blame to be placed, but none of it is deserved by individuals who want to see Kuwait become something better and work towards it. It is to be placed on the criminal individuals who do these things, and the aspects of culture which encourage racist thinking and the supreme value of money.

I really felt the your response. And yet again, the most compassionate people have proven to be the ones whose parents have taken special pains to raise them up well. Thank you and remember the most patriotic are those that want to save their country, even from itself.

sv - I will certainly visit the site and see what assistance I can be. Thanks

Anon at 6:23
wow - i think your inability to convey has conveyed it quite well. Im excited about the plans you have - please go out, make a difference, in any and every way you can.

God bless!

nabeel said...

Sami - are you serious? I had no idea - although it does explain a lot!!

Anonymous said...

Just read Sami and Raven's comments.

I'm proud of these two, and many others who have the courage and common sense to speak out against what's happening against defenseless domestic workers in Kuwait.

As for patriotism, there is nothing more patriotic than standing up to wrongdoings in one's country; ending this type of criminal behavior towards expatriate workers would bring benefit for all of us as a community.

I have started to end all my comments with an invite to your blog. Hope it works by increasing awareness within the "enlightened" blog circle. If it does not work let me know as well.

All the best Nabeel.

Anonymous said...

Piece of advice: let your posts simmer for a while; they're very powerful. You post at a very quick pace when you should wait for more readers to read and respond.

Chax said...

I think it's basic human nature that most people in power will try to mess with less powerful people if they can get away with it. Which is why it should be a priority of any governing system to see that nobody can get screwed over by the system through no fault of their own. And I know this is a bit self-evident, but you have to have the separation of church and state if you want the notion of equality to have any meaning.

Sharia law (if not in concept, then certainly in implementation) seems to support these kind of power imbalances, which in my opinion makes it fundamentally flawed as a holistic governing system. Not to imply that George W claiming that "God told me to invade Iraq" bodes any better.

7aneen said...

Because only ignorant losers who are too dumb to get into college, or even know people to get "wasta" and get into college become policemen in kuwait. They do not represent real kuwaities and they disgust me. I feel so sorry for what I just read.