This blog is part of an AlertNet special multimedia report on statelessness
Albert Einstein was one. So was Nobel prize-winning author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. And so are up to 15 million others worldwide – people living without nationality, without passports, without rights.
Einstein and Solzenitsyn were only stateless for a time. Millions of less famous people who on paper don’t exist can look forward to entire lives barred from education, healthcare, credit, overseas travel and formal employment.
Cello supremo Mstislav Rosropovich, who was stripped of his Soviet citizenship in 1978 for political reasons, poignantly described his feelings when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, ending his period of “obliteration”.
“There, in front of that wall as it lost its stones, I suddenly regained my lost citizenship,” he said in an interview some years later, as quoted in the U.N. refugee agency’s Excluded magazine.
“Those who have been deprived of their identity understand what I had to put up with – the sheer pain, the most intimate of wounds. That moment lit up my whole life. It wiped away 15 years of disgrace and humiliation.”
In a special multimedia report, AlertNet looks in depth at the causes and consequences of statelessness, a condition one person we spoke to described as being “between the earth and the sky”.
Be part of the discussion. What is the human toll of statelessness? What is its psychological impact? What does it mean to live life in a legal limbo?
If you are stateless yourself, we’d especially like to hear from you.
But even if you aren’t, we invite you to take part in a collective thought exercise.
Imagine your life without a birth certificate, passport or any form of identification. What basic rights and opportunities would be denied to you? What could you no longer take for granted? How would you feel if forced to live between earth and the sky?
Please leave a comment below.
Following is a list with all links related to the report.
VIDEO: Who is stateless? – Emma Batha and Alex Whiting, AlertNet
VIDEO: What is statelessness? – Aubrey Wade/Open Society Foundations
VIDEO: Stateless Nubians - Katy Migiro, AlertNet
VIDEO: Stateless Rohingyas - AlertNet
VIDEO: Stateless children in Sabah –Thin Lei Win, AlertNet
VIDEO: Stateless Dominicans – Jon Anderson, Open Society Foundations
GRAPHIC: Stateless people worldwide - Reuters
Invisible millions pay price of statelessness - Emma Batha, AlertNet
Bedouns suffer uncertain fate in Kuwait - Emma Batha, AlertNet
Colonialism renders Nubians stateless in Kenya - Katy Migiro, AlertNet
Millions of Nepal children risk statelessness - Nita Bhalla, AlertNet
Citizenship worries compromise Ivory Coast stability - George Fominyen, AlertNet
Roma must get citizenship, says Europe rights chief - Megan Rowling, AlertNet
EXPERT VIEWS – Did statelessness fuel the conflict in Congo? - George Fominyen, AlertNet
Brazil bill gives hope to Latin America’s stateless – Anastasia Moloney, AlertNet
FACTBOXES AND RESOURCES
FACTBOX: Stateless groups around the world - Emma Batha, AlertNet
FACTBOX: How countries have tackled statelessness - Astrid Zweynert, AlertNet
LINKS: The world's most invisible people? - AlertNet
HAVE YOUR SAY: What does it mean to be stateless? - Tim Large, AlertNet
How DNA is helping young Thais get citizenship – Plan International
‘Drowning nations’ threaten new 21st Century statelessness – Maxine Burkett, ICAP
No rights for stateless Rohingya fleeing Burma - Refugees International