British hypocrisy over Shamima
Protik Chakraborty, works at the Centre for Research and Information (CRI)/ BDnews24
When Bangladesh asks the UK to extradite a convicted war criminal like Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin, all possible measures are taken to stonewall the efforts to deport him. War crimes trials in Bangladesh are questioned, as is a possible death penalty.
Shamima was born in Britain and grew up in a British environment. She was attracted, like some other citizens of Britain, to ISIS. How can Britain hold Bangladesh liable for Shamima’s actions like travelling to Syria and marrying into ISIS?
She has not helped her cause by insisting she does not regret her decision to join ISIS in 2015, or saying how unfazed she was when she witnessed the horrific scenes like a beheaded head. The question is, again, what her actions or views have to do with Bangladesh?
Many in Britain relied on her Bangladesh ancestry as a reason behind denying her UK citizenship, which will, according to many in Bangladesh and even in the UK, make her stateless. (Britain is acting against its own law on ISIS bride Shamima: Bangladesh PM’s aide – bdnews24.com, Feb 20, 2019/ Diane Abbott: Shamima Begum is a grooming victim and is losing citizenship due to heritage – Daily Mirror, Feb 21 2019).
The denial of citizenship to Shamima by Britain often looks like part of an anti-immigrant streak, which tends to blame Britain’s present woes on the changing colour of its society and betrays a white supremacist line always suggesting migrants from South Asia and the Middle East are a huge liability.Bangladesh, unlike Pakistan and many other Muslim-majority countries, is not home to an Islamist polity. It was born in 1971 through a Liberation War embedded in secular and linguistic values. Its present government is repository of those liberal inclusive values. It is tragic for this government to come in for bitter criticism from the UK and other Western countries, which cite ‘grave human rights violations’ when it pursues those values and seeks to punish Islamist radicals by observing the due process of law.
And now the UK is denying Shamima, of Bangladeshi parentage, citizenship on legally untenable grounds hugely in contrast with facts that she was a British citizen radicalised and recruited by ISIS in Britain.
Shamima does not hold Bangladeshi citizenship either, which means she has become stateless when the UK stripped her of citizenship. The UK is bound by its law to refrain from making anyone stateless by revoking their citizenship. The barrister David Anderson QC, who previously served as a reviewer of terrorism legislation, told the Press Association: “Those born as British citizens who are not dual nationals cannot be stripped of their citizenship in any circumstances.” (Shamima Begum: will the plan to revoke her citizenship succeed? – The Guardian: Feb 20 2019).
So how the UK authorities are planning to revoke her citizenship?
If Shamima had been a naturalised citizen, or had obtained her passport by fraud, the home secretary may have been justified in revoking her citizenship, but there is no suggestion that had been the case.
UK home minister Sajid Javid is relying on sections 40(2) and 40 [4A (b)] of the British Nationality Act 1981 to strip Shamima of her passport. These sections say: “The Secretary of State may by order deprive a person of a citizenship status if the Secretary of State is satisfied that deprivation is conducive to the public good… because the person, while having that citizenship status, has conducted him or herself in a manner which is seriously prejudicial to the vital interests” of the UK.
“It is understood Javid will use the fact that Shamima could apply for a Bangladeshi passport to justify revoking her UK citizenship”, The Guardian’s Police and Crime Correspondent Vikram Dodd wrote.
If that becomes the case, Bangladesh will need to answer one more question: can Shamima become a Bangladeshi citizen?
“Shamima Begum, never having travelled to Bangladesh and never having applied for a Bangladeshi citizenship, cannot be considered to “have a right” to Bangladeshi citizenship,” clarified Shah Ali Farhad, who is a barrister by training and works as the Prime Minister’s Special Assistant.
The foreign ministry of Bangladesh has also asserted: “She is a British citizen by birth and has never applied for dual nationality with Bangladesh. It may also be mentioned that she never visited Bangladesh in the past despite her parental lineage. So, there is no question of her being allowed to enter into Bangladesh.”
Javid’s reaction to Bangladesh’s response raised hope for Shamima as the UK home minister said he “would not take decision to leave anyone stateless”.
But his attempt to strip Shamima of UK citizenship has already raised questions about the British government’s intentions. Will the UK now begin sending back British-born citizens of immigrant parentage to the countries of their ancestors whenever an excuse is there?
This is a relatively rare case, although one legal source claimed the government had tried this before and lost. Most such cases have featured those with dual citizenship.
So, here is the country that claims it gave the world the rule of law involved in classic double standards, trying to circumvent its own laws and practice with alacrity.