• Saturday, August 20, 2022

HEADLINE STORY

Move to strip Shamima Begum’s British citizenship politically motivated, says lawyer

Shamima Begum fled to war-torn Syria at the age of 15 in 2015. (File photo)

By: Keerthi Mohan

A LAWYER representing Shamima Begum’s family has accused home secretary Sajid Javid of “human fly-tipping” over his decision to revoke the teenager’s British citizenship.

Mohammed Akunjee has blamed Britain for failing to protect Shamima from being “groomed” and accused Javid of using her case to further his political career.

Shamima, 19, was one of the three schoolgirls who left Bethnal Green in east London to join the Daesh (Islamic State) in 2015. She resurfaced earlier this year at a Syrian refugee camp.

In a letter published by The Times, Akunjee said the stripping of her citizenship amounted to “the most profoundly egregious, capricious and politically-driven abuse of power.”

He says the “cynical” decision was unlawful, “unprincipled” and “amounts to human flytipping.”

“Ms Begum was a pawn to your vanity. Her baby died,” he added.

Shamima was heavily pregnant when she was interviewed at the Al-Roj camp in northern Syria on February 13 this year. She had expressed a desire to return to the UK, saying she wanted a better life for her unborn child.

The baby, named Jarrah, was born three days later, but died of pneumonia on March 8.

Revoking her British citizenship, Javid said she might find a home in Bangladesh because of her family background. But Bangladeshi officials have denied she was eligible for Bangladeshi citizenship.

The letter added: “Shamima Begum’s parents never contemplated a life for her in Bangladesh. They did not register her birth with the Bangladeshi High Commission.

“They did not take her to Bangladesh on holiday as a child. Indeed she has never visited the country.

“Rather, Shamima was born, raised, groomed and radicalised here in the UK.

“The suggestion that Shamima is to you genuinely a Bangladeshi citizen is unsustainable.’

It added: “It is the responsibility of a British Secretary of State to deal with British problems.

“Rather than take responsibility for Shamima Begum and her son, you took a British problem and illegally dumped it on our innocent international neighbours.

“You have dishonourably left it to the Kurdish people to bear the financial and security burden of Shamima’s safety and upkeep. You left them to minister to her sick child and to bury him. Through sleight of hand, you have sought to burden the Bangladeshis with her in the longer term.

“Your cynical decision amounts to human fly-tipping.”

Shamima could face the death penalty if she is sent to Bangladesh.

Eastern Eye

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