Misery of a Yemeni with Indian origin [Archives:2004/720/Letters to the Editor]

March 15 2004

Tariq Ali
University of Leeds, UK
[email protected]

Being a Yemeni born of Indian origin seems to exclude me from the most basic rights that this country should give to its citizens. For the record, I was born and raised in Yemen. Then at the age of 15 my family decided to immigrate abroad for many, frankly obvious reasons.
When I decided to go back to my birth place (Hodeidah city) I loved the fact that I can look at the place, the people and 'feel' like I belong to this society. After all, this is where I spent my childhood.
This is where I took my first swimming lessons, where I went to school for the first time, etc. My Yemeni passport had expired (because my name was included under my mothers), so I felt the need to get myself the national ID card.
However, when I got there, and after a good few hours in the 'social welfare' building in Hodeidah city, from one office to another I finally got to meet a man who was in military uniform. He began asking me questions regarding my family which I answered, then he asked me where my father is, I told him he's currently living in London, so he rudely replied 'in London or Karachi?'
That was the point when I realized that this place may not be for me after all. Yemen, the place is full of happy memories, but there are harsh realities which I feel your paper has an obligation to address.
The state of Yemeni people of Indian origins is surely one of many. Though I would concede that it may not be the most important issue in Yemeni affairs if compared with the ever-growing corruption for instance, I certainly feel that it is an issue which is barely covered in today's media. And this is precisely the reason why I'm writing this short article. I sincerely hope that this letter does not get to see the dust bin.