• Video
  • 5 minutes

Do you know who you are? Introduction

Updated Saturday, 11th December 2010
You may think you have a right to your nationality and that the state will protect you, however, we hear from Ruth Barnett, a Jewish refugee, and Moazzam Begg, an ex-Guantanamo detainee, about the stark realities.

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Audio

Text

Commentary:
We may have many freedoms, but nationality isn’t one of them.

Ruth Barnett:
The government gives and the government takes. The Nazi German Government took away nationality from all German Jews. It’s as easy as that. 

I found myself having to travel with a piece of A4 sheet paper with ‘Person of no nationality’ written across the top. I shudder even now when I remember how awful it felt.

Commentary:
Citizenship is NOT a choice. We are governed by sovereign powers that decide who we are and which nation we belong to.

Engin Isin:
There is a sense in which there is some origin to us that is not changeable, that we gain that origin by birthright, and that that origin remains an undeniable aspect of our identity that we carry with ourselves forever.

Commentary:
Individuals who try to change their nationality, soon realize who holds the power.

Engin Isin:
You decide your membership in a club, membership in organisations and so on, but state remains the only organisation that does not really give you the choice of not being a member.

Commentary:
People only usually think about their citizenship and nationality when confronted with situations that question their legal identity.

Moazzam Begg:
To say that all of a sudden now you are persona non grata, as a result of a foreign policy that you had nothing to do with, as a result of attacks that you didn’t believe in or agree with - it shakes you to the very core.

I think I may have thought, well, because I’m British, surely I’m gonna get a better deal, but that works both ways - because you speak English, more people want to talk to you; more people want to interrogate you.

The British Intelligence services said to me that they really can’t do anything for me. 

I actually felt the words that I used to be called when I was a child, ‘Paki’. I felt, they must think, why should we care about this Paki? I couldn’t help but to feel, why is it that they’re abandoning me?

Commentary:
We may have many freedoms, but nationality isn’t one of them.

Ruth Barnett:
The government gives and the government takes. The Nazi German Government took away nationality from all German Jews. It’s as easy as that. 

I found myself having to travel with a piece of A4 sheet paper with ‘Person of no nationality’ written across the top. I shudder even now when I remember how awful it felt.

Commentary:
Citizenship is NOT a choice. We are governed by sovereign powers that decide who we are and which nation we belong to.

Engin Isin:
There is a sense in which there is some origin to us that is not changeable, that we gain that origin by birthright, and that that origin remains an undeniable aspect of our identity that we carry with ourselves forever.

Commentary:
Individuals who try to change their nationality, soon realize who holds the power.

Engin Isin:
You decide your membership in a club, membership in organisations and so on, but state remains the only organisation that does not really give you the choice of not being a member.

Commentary:
People only usually think about their citizenship and nationality when confronted with situations that question their legal identity.

Moazzam Begg:
To say that all of a sudden now you are persona non grata, as a result of a foreign policy that you had nothing to do with, as a result of attacks that you didn’t believe in or agree with - it shakes you to the very core.

I think I may have thought, well, because I’m British, surely I’m gonna get a better deal, but that works both ways - because you speak English, more people want to talk to you; more people want to interrogate you.

The British Intelligence services said to me that they really can’t do anything for me. 

I actually felt the words that I used to be called when I was a child, ‘Paki’. I felt, they must think, why should we care about this Paki? I couldn’t help but to feel, why is it that they’re abandoning me?

 

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