Monday, June 04, 2012

Stateless in the UAE; Bidoun

In the UAE, the bidoun’s difficulties have surfaced in the curious case of the Comoros passports. At least a thousand stateless residents have taken the documents, says Zoubert A Soufiane Al Ahdal, Comoros ambassador to the UAE. 
Bidoun in the UAE say the Comoros documents make it easier for them to meet tougher official identity requirements for securing papers such as vehicle renewals – and perhaps even eventually, somewhat paradoxically, a UAE passport. 
It is unclear who is paying for the passports: two of four bidoun interviewed by the Financial Times said they thought the UAE government had paid for theirs. Ambassador Ahdal denied this, while the UAE authorities declined to comment. 
While the Comoros passports seem on one level to offer a little respite for the bidoun and a convenient partial solution for the UAE government, some rights activists say moves by stateless people to secure foreign nationality have a darker dimension that has grown in significance since the Arab uprisings began....In another UAE case, Human Rights Watch said last month that Ahmed Abd al-Khaleq, a detailed UAE-born bidoun campaigner, now fears deportation on the basis of his recently acquired Comorian nationality. Mr Abd al-Khaleq was one of five pro-democracy activists imprisoned last year for insulting the UAE’s leaders and later pardoned. 
The UAE authorities declined to comment on Mr Abd al-Khaleq’s case. Officials have previously said thousands of other bidoun have been given UAE nationality, after a 2006 pledge by Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the president, to resolve the problem once and for all.