- Posted June 1, 2012 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Election 2012: Your stories
Stop System Induced Statelessness in USA
My name is Victoria Sethunya. I am a human rights activist and have been involved in activism to varying degrees since the South African Apartheid. I speak out against injustice in a wide spectrum of issues but mainly on issues in the area of immigration and government corruption.
I take immigration issues seriously and personally. That is why I took it upon me to add one more voice to demand justice for Mikhail Sebastian, who is a stateless man waiting for an answer in American Samoa.
Anyone could be Mikhail!
I met Mikhail Sebastian on Twitter @UtahHumanRights and he asked me if I would speak to raise awareness about Statelessness in America.
Mikhail Sebastian said he has been waiting in American Samoa for about 5 months for a response on his case on Humanitarian Parole. As I understand, he spoke with several US and UN authorities
before he left the US for American Samoa, but is now barred from re-entering the US despite directions US and UNHCR officials allegedly gave him. As he and I were discussing his dilemma on Twitter on May 23, 2012, it became apparent that if he had played his cards right, he would have been on the same plane as Chen Guangcheng to qualify for a portion of Chen's dignity granted to a stateless person.
Based on my readings of his webpages and on the story from Change.org, Mikhail's story further exposes severe jaundice between various US Departments for immigration: ICE- a US immigration office purportedly issued a document indicating that Mikhail is stateless but airport immigration offices denied him.
The UN office in DC, is said to have advised Mikhail to obtain a World Passport, which turns out to be a useless or defective or harmful tool in his already-stateless case. Yet, in the time that Mikhail has waited outside the US these offices have not displayed the Guangcheng type aggression towards his being stateless or Sebastian would be in his newly found home in California, in USA
How? Why? Why is Mikhail Sebastian different from Chen Guangcheng? Maybe he needs to speak Chinese to command the calibre of respect that Chen received on the grounds of "Statelessness". I am sure he would.
Mikhail said he took advise of US and UN authorities into his plan for a trip that has now barred his re-entry. Without any criminal background and for his contribution to the US economy it looks like there must be more to the story than I am recounting here, and, yes, there is:
It is imperative that the United Nations, UNHCR and other relevant and responsible departments take action in Mikhail's case to curb statelessness arising from misinformation by legal and government authorities. Accounts in Change.org and on iCNN show that Mikhail Sebastian was misinformed by US authorities and others or he would not have left the US to go to American Samoa in order to "deport himself".
In Mikhail's case, the UNHCR cannot say they did not have the opportunity identify and to address Mikhail's statelessness. They cannot say that they did not have the opportunity to protect a stateless person who sought protection long before Chen Guancheng. Statelessness is a crime against humanity. No one should have to say "ming tian tian" to gain respect as a human being. I am sure Chen does not want that either.
This case is a test on whether all the US Stateless need to be Chen Guancheng to command US government's active and ongoing involvement in reducing statelessness. Most importantly is an opportunity for all of us including those who made errors to put compassion first.