A Response to the Shamima Begum Ruling

Mohamad Hafez – Baggage #1 (2016)

I’m not an completed Tweeter. Once I tried to Tweet about an occasion I spoke at lately and typed ‘Shamima’, the autocorrect modified it to ‘shaming’.[1]It’s funny how typically that occurs – some unintended link to a fact recognized by autocorrect (my own surname autocorrects to Sikhism – which is a part of who I’m). It’s a fact of Shamima’s id – there has been an lively shaming of who she is, what she represents, to how she doesn’t belong and is not Britain’s drawback/ question to cope with. My question, in the face of this shaming, was: dorights work? The Begum case is about many issues; a scarcity of empathy or mercy, Islamophobia, misogyny and, crucially, everyday violence as Lyndsey Stonebridge identifies[2]– and it’s also a few failure in rights. So, I needed to ask, as a crucial human rights scholar: Is our juridical body of rights truly a distraction from questions of belonging and response(-)means? Do we’d like new conceptions of freedom and new buildings to make room for livable ways of being together? Should rights be about proper treatmentover a essentially justiciable proper – and what might that seem like?

Rights don’t recognise (her) belonging. When Quentin Somerville interviewed Shamima Begum and her husband, Yago Riedijk in March, he used the phrases ‘someone undesirableto Britain’, ‘when you say you’re a victim that’s sickening’ – and Shamima’s husband described only now seeing the ‘privilegeof living there (The Netherlands) as a citizen’, and Shamima stated, ‘I made a mistake, a big mistake… I got tricked’.[3]Sajid Javid has defended his order to strip Shamima Begum of her citizenship as ‘stripping dangerous nationals of their citizenship’ as he referred to the new legal guidelines in the 2019 Counter-Terrorism and Border Safety Act.[4]The facility to deprive Shamima of citizenship derives from s40(2) of the British Nationality Act – wherein we find that now famous phrase ‘satisfied that the deprivation is conducive to the public good’. In the face of undesirability, citizenship as a privilege and the ‘conducive to the public good’ rationale, we now have heard counter-arguments based mostly in rights: Jeremy Corbyn, defending Shamima Begum’s proper to authorized assist, argued ‘she is a British national… she has legal rights just like anybody else’;[5]Gracie Bradley (Policy and Campaigns Officer for Liberty) has commented that ‘it’s a breach of international human rights regulation to make somebody stateless’;[6]and Michael Spencer from One Crown Workplace Row points out how the case raises the ‘difficult question’ of whether or not citizenship ought to be a privilege or a right, especially given Shamima ‘may not have personally engaged in any violent activity’.[7]That citizenship is a privilege shouldn’t, at the very least, come as a shock. Since Tony Blair’s Third Approach, by means of David Cameron’s Huge Society, now morphed into Theresa Might’s Group and Society, we are regularly seeing the alternative of rights with duty.[8]Group is one thing we now have chosen and for which we’re accountable – as lively residents. Lively citizenship itself betrays the promise of particular person right, replacing it as an alternative with group rights. We’re autonomised and responsibilised into lively citizens who participate in NCS, group regeneration programmes, help renovate pubs and parks – we don’t riot on the streets of London, we definitely don’t ‘make mistakes’ and be a part of ISIS. All of that is good, isn’t it? I’m not saying it’s dangerous – however it’s dangerous. Duty works to distract us from how the political rationality of group and police energy produces a new ethic of responsibilised behaviour the place the state gets to determine who does and doesn’t belong. Our right to resist, to not take part, even to make mistakes isn’t recognised.

As an alternative, we’d turn out to be someone else’s drawback. Sajid Javid, in his speech to Parliament on 18 March, claimed it’s ‘morally right to export the problem’ to Bangladesh.[9]As Bradley and others have commented, this capacity of the state to strip individuals of their citizenship is ‘by its nature very racialised’;[10]comparable to the Windrush Scandal, the Begum case reveals the tendency of the British to flip citizens, typically like Shamima, born in the UK – but specifically black and minority ethnic citizens – into immigrants. It strikes me that the descriptors ‘undesirable’, ‘dangerous’ and ‘not conducive to the public good’ apply to the mistaken actions of our just lately sacked Protection Secretary (Gavin Williamson) and his leaking info from Nationwide Security Council conferences.[11]Yet right here there isn’t a signal of prosecution, let alone revoking of citizenship. The revoking of state duty and lively state abandonment is a forgetting of colonial pasts, a continued demonisation of the black and brown ‘other’. Change the phrase to ‘response-ability’, as Donna Haraway does, and that is no responseat all – ‘response-ability’ refers to a ‘learning to staying with the trouble’, learning to be really current, to make kin – because we’d like each other in sudden collaborations and mixtures; we develop into with each other or by no means.[12]In Staying with the Hassle, Haraway explains: ‘The task is to make kin in lines of inventive connection as a practice of learning to live and die well with each other in a thick present. Our task is to make trouble, to stir up potent responseto devastating events, as well as to settle troubled waters and to rebuild quiet places.’[13]How might we have now responded? For many who have learn Kamila Shamsie’s vivid novel House Hearth, the parallels between fiction and fact are astounding. Shamsie’s British house secretary, Karamat Lone is speaking to the Pakistani Excessive Commissioner (in Punjabi, as a result of it permits a breach of etiquette) a few state of affairs not dissimilar to our case – ‘The issue is, my government has no reason to intervene’, the Excessive Commissioner says (just as Bangladesh are not looking for Shamima). To which Karamat replies, ‘Intervene on decency’s behalf’.[14]Decency is rich coming from the House Secretary right here; and, decency is just not in the rights handbook.

Rights are the present discursive framework within which to ask for decency, or extra appropriately, human dignity to be respected, protected and fulfilled. The Common Declaration of Human Rights protects nationality for granted in article 15 (as does the Conference on the Elimination of All Types of Racial Discrimination, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Conference on the Rights of the Baby and the Conference on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Towards Ladies, to record a couple of more); domestically, this may increasingly find realization by way of the unfavourable impression depriving Shamima of her citizenship would have for the right to personal and household life protected in article eight of the European Convention on Human Rights. But these instruments include no proper to decency, no proper to make mistakes, no proper to come house. Critically knowledgeable debates on the troubled future(s) of rights ask do rights ‘work’,[15]are rights the ‘last utopia’,[16]are rights at an ‘endtimes’,[17]do we’d like to use rights in a more strategic means to ‘play a different game’,[18]andmaybe our method to escape the neoliberal fishbowl is if we have been to resurrect our concern with spirituality and discover different methods of expressing freedom (as Ratna Kapur argues).[19]But what the Shamina Begum case exhibits is that rights are a distraction from the lived actuality of what belonging and conditional acceptance of your status means.

We’d like to ‘make trouble’ (as Haraway suggests) by inventing new ways of considering how to make room for livable ways of being together. The main target is on the makingwhen we speak, as Haraway does, of creating kin; that is about forging ourselves not as individuals with rights, not as communal but as relational beings. As relational beings, we will have relational rights; these are usually not associative rights that belong to a specific group – relational right refers to ‘a right to gain recognition in an institutional sense for the relations of one individual to another individual, which is not necessarily connected to the emergence of a group.’[20]The idea challenges the limited juridical conception of rights. A relational right ‘permits all possible types of relations to exist and not be prevented, blocked or annulled by impoverished relational institutions’.[21]Relational rights are ethical not juridical concepts – a few means of being and behavior, and performing a proper relatively than just being able to claim a proper that exists solely as a result of it’s written down. For instance, why not have a proper a right to be treated decently? A right to make errors? A proper to come residence? Response-ability turns into then not about rights however proper remedy.

Who is the ‘we’ who will ‘respond’? I’m reminded of something that Lowkey stated when he visited Sussex lately to converse on Grenfell:[22]I requested him who the ‘we’ in the lyric, ‘Until we face, what they face we will never know what fear is’, from Ghosts of Grenfell,referred to.[23]He stated he meant those who have been instantly there; however went on to describe a relation during which we are (all) ‘intimate but simultaneously distant’ in our want to reply to Grenfell. This is powerful message. It speaks to the risk of innovating impersonal and yet intimate bonds between ourselves which might be based mostly in a sort of shared estrangement. We will’t all really feel the instant worry of the hearth, or its aftermath. However we will relate, at a distance, to it. We could be directly intimate with the pain however we’ll all the time be distant from it, because we (a minimum of, I) weren’t there. However despite our impersonal connections, we could be open, we could be hybridly human, we will do incremental resistance that ‘breaches the boundaries of gender, race, class and generation and that encourages radically democratic forms of citizenship and civic participation’.[24]At a juridical degree, we don’t have a rightto belong; but we know what belonging is as a result of we apply it. Shamima Begum has repeatedly said her want for a household, ‘the perfect family life’.[25]Can we permit her to apply it? Not based mostly on a justiciable declare but a performative, relational one – that is impersonal, estranged and uncomfortable because institutionally we will’t recognise the performance of a proper to make mistakes, to respectable remedy, to come house? Can we call this estranged relation ‘friendship’[26]– can we do friendship as a challenge to the limits of rights?

I knew the danger of this sounding ludicrous, and given the proven fact that establishments can’t recognise complicated affective bonds that exceed practical utility and institutional codes. I do know the conversation – and response-ability – is interrupted by anxieties and frustrations: like the tedious and vexed administration of PREVENT insurance policies, the labour of talking about ‘belonging’ as brown ladies. And of course rights are an necessary software in the response to these anxieties, in the battle for liberation and towards shaming– as Gayatri Spivak famously stated, ‘we cannot not want rights’. However they will’t be the solely software. We’ve got to, no less than as complicated individuals and scholars doing radical considering, look additional – we now have to look to how we apply not (just) rights but proper remedy.

Bal Sokhi-Bulley, Senior Lecturer in Regulation & Crucial Principle, University of Sussex

[1]‘Conditional Conditional Citizenship & Belonging: Britain’s ‘Muslim Question’ after the Shamima Begum Ruling’, Sussex Centre for Migration Analysis, Friday three Might 2019 – my thanks to @scmrjems for the invitation, to fellow panelists Moazzam Begg and Amanda E Rogers and to the viewers for his or her thought-provoking contributions.

[2]L Stonebridge, ‘Shamima Begum and the Logic of Everyday Violence’, four March 2019, Prospect Journal, obtainable:

[3]Q Somerville, ‘Shamima Begum: What was life like for the IS couple in Syria?’, three March 2019, BBC Information, out there:

[4]‘Sajid Javid on Shamima Begum’, 18 February 2019, out there:

[5]O Bowcott, ‘Jeremy Corbyn defends Shamima Begum’s proper to authorized help’, 15 April 2019, The Guardian, out there:

[6]G Bradley, ‘Stripping Shamima Begum of her Citizenship is Racist and Dangerous’, 22 February 2019, Vice, obtainable:

[7]M Spencer, ‘Shamima Begum: is striping her of her citizenship the right response?’, 1 March 2019, UK Human Rights Blog, out there:

[8]B Sokhi-Bulley, Governing By means of Rights (Hart Publishing, 2016) Chapter 4.

[9]‘Sajid Javid on Shamima Begum’, above n four.

[10]Bradley, above n 6.

[11]H Stewart, D Sabbagh and P Walker, ‘I was tried by kangaroo court – then sacked’, 1 Might 2019, The Guardian, out there:

[12]D Haraway, Staying with the Hassle: Making Kin in the Chthulucene(Duke College Press, Durham and London 2016) 2, 4.

[13]Ibid, 1.

[14]Okay Shamsie, House Hearth (Bloomsbury, London 2017), Kindle Version, Location 3066 and 3074.

[15]As per Sikkink, who insists there’s ‘evidence for hope’ – Okay Sikkink, Proof for Hope: Making Human Rights Work in the 21stCentury (Princeton University Press, Princeton NJ 2017).

[16]As asks Samuel Moyn, in uncovering an alternate history for rights – S Moyn, The Final Utopia: Human Rights in Historical past(Balknap Press of Harvard College Press, Cambridge MA 2010); see further S Moyn, Not Sufficient: Human Rights in an Unequal World(Balknap Press of Harvard College Press, Cambridge MA 2018).

[17]Questions Stephen Hopgood, in The Endtimes of Human Rights (Cornell College Press, Ithica and London 2013)

[18]As Ben Golder suggests in Foucault and the Politics of Rights (Stanford College Press, Stanford 2015).

[19]R Kapur, Gender, Alterity and Human Rights: Freedom in a Fishbowl (Edward Elgar Publishing, Cheltenham 2018) 180-20.

[20]M Foucault, ‘The Social Triumph of the Sexual Will’ in Ethics: Quantity 1: Subjectivity and Fact: Important Works of Foucault 1954-1984(P Rabinow, ed; R Hurley, trans) 157, 162.

[21]Ibid, 158.

[22]Lowkey, ‘Grenfell: From micro to macro and back again’, 11 March 2019, College of Sussex (event organised by the Centre for Colonial and Postcolonial Studies and the Sussex Centre for Cultural Studies).

[23]The official music video might be discovered on-line at:

[24]T Roach, Friendship as a Means of Life: Foucault, Aids and the Politics of Shared Estrangement (Albany, State University of New York Press, 2012), 12.

[25]Q Sommerville, above n three.

[26]M Foucault, ‘Friendship as a way of life’ in Ethics: Volume 1: Subjectivity and Fact: Essential Works of Foucault 1954-1984(P Rabinow, ed; R Hurley, trans) 135.