Tuesday, September 25, 2018

“civil genocide”

Five years ago almost to the day, families across the Dominican Republic woke up to the news that they had lost their citizenship overnight. On 23 September 2013, the country’s Constitutional Court passed a ruling that stripped nationality from tens of thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descentIt’s hard to imagine that something as integral to our identity as our nationality could be taken from us at the stroke of a legislator’s pen. Yet history is littered with examples.

Russian exiles under the Soviet laws of the 1920s, Jews under the Reich citizenship laws enacted by Nazi Germany in the 1930-40s, Kurds in Syria under the “Arabisation” policy of the 1960s, Rohingya in Myanmar after the passing of an ethnicity-based citizenship law in the 1980s, and the list continues.

 Today, there are an estimated 15 million stateless people in the world – individuals and communities who are not recognized as citizens by any country. And those who are made stateless are almost always condemned to pass that on to their children, perpetuating exclusion for generations to come.

A pensioner caught up in the “Windrush” situation in the UK who needs cancer treatment is asked to produce documents issued more than half a century ago before he will be assisted under the National Health Service.

A Hispanic man in Texas, USA, who tries to renew his passport is turned away until he can produce further proof of her birth in the country because the authenticity of his birth certificate is suddenly being questioned.

Families in Assam, India, who are desperately hunting for evidence to demonstrate that they were present in the country before 1971 in order to get their names onto the new National Register of Citizens – with 4 million people at risk of losing their citizenship by the year’s end.

Ever more cracks become visible in citizenship around the world.  Long-standing discrimination against various populations had devolved into their complete exclusion from the political community. It has been described as a “civil genocide”.


For more background read this article

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