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(Redirected from Banishment)

Exile is a form of punishment in which one has to leave one's home (whether that be on the level of city, region, or nation-state) while either being explicitly refused permission and/or being threatened by prison or death upon return. It is common to distinguish between internal exile, forced resettlement within the country of residence, and external exile, deportation outside the country of residence.

When an entire people or ethnic population is forced or induced to leave their traditional homelands, it is called a diaspora. Throughout history, numerous nations have been forced into diasporas. For the Jews, whose diaspora lasted more than two thousand years, until the founding of the modern State of Israel in 1948, theological reflection on the meaning of exile has led to the insight that God, who dwells amongst his people, also lives and suffers in exile.

Exile can also be a self-imposed departure from one's homeland. Self-exile is often practiced as form of protest or to avoid persecution or prosecution for criminal activity.

Whatever the cause or circumstances, exile necessarily causes emotional pain to all involved. Leaving one's homeland means breaking the first and most essential bonds developed to one's family, community, and the natural environment. Prevented from reuniting with those people and places cherished from youth, human hearts can never be whole.


Exile, also called banishment, has a long tradition as a form of punishment. It was known in ancient Rome, where the Senate had the power to exile individuals, entire families, or countries (which amounted to a declaration of war).

The towns of ancient Greece also used exile both as a legal punishment and, in Athens, as a social punishment. In Athens during the time of democracy, the process of "ostracism" was devised in which one man who was a threat to the stability of the society was banished from the city without prejudice for ten years, after which he was allowed to return. Among the more famous recipients of this punishment were Themistocles, Cimon, and Aristides the Just. Further, Solon the lawgiver voluntarily exiled himself from Athens after drafting the city's constitution, to prevent being pressed to change it.

In the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, a court of law could sentence a noble to exile (banicja). As long as the exile (banita) remained in the Commonwealth, he had a price on his head and lost the privileges and protection granted to him as a noble. Even killing a banita was not considered a crime, although there was no reward for his death. Special forms of exile were accompanied by wyświecenie (a declaration of the sentence in churches) or by issuance of a separate declaration to townfolk and peasantry, all of them increased the knowledge of the exile and thus made his capture more likely. A more severe penalty than exile was "infamy" (infamia): A loss of honor and respect (utrata czci i wiary) in addition to exile.

On October 23, 2006, for the first time in United States history, a judge in the United States imposed exile on a U.S. citizen for crimes committed in the U.S. The case concerned Malcolm Watson, a citizen of the United States and a permanent resident of Canada, who resided in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, across the border from Buffalo, New York. Watson, a teacher at Buffalo Seminary and a cross-border commuter, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor sex crimes against a 15 year old former student. Watson received a sentence of three years of probation, but wanted to serve this time in Canada where he, his wife, and their children lived. This was approved subject to the condition that Watson had to remain out of the U.S. except for meetings with his probation officer, effectively exiling Watson for three years. Watson, however, was arrested upon his re-entry to Canada amid public outcry, and faced possible deportation to the U.S.[1]

Personal exile

Exile has been used particularly for political opponents of those in power. The use of exile for political purposes serves the government by preventing their exiled opponent from organizing in their native land or from becoming a martyr.

Exile represented an especially severe punishment in times past, particularly for those, like Ovid or Du Fu, who were exiled to strange or backward regions, cut off from all of the possibilities of their accustomed lifestyle as well as from their families and associates. Dante described the pain of exile in The Divine Comedy:

«… Tu lascerai ogne cosa diletta
più caramente; e questo è quello strale
che l'arco de lo essilio pria saetta.
Tu proverai sì come sa di sale
lo pane altrui, e come è duro calle
lo scendere e 'l salir per l'altrui scale …»
… You will leave everything you love most:
this is the arrow that the bow of exile
shoots first. You will know how salty
another's bread tastes and how hard it
is to ascend and descend
another's stairs …"
Paradiso XVII: 55-60[2]

Exile has been softened, to some extent, in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, as exiles have been welcomed in other countries. There, they have been able to create new communities in those countries or, less frequently, returned to their homelands following the demise of the regime that exiled them.

Deportation serves as a modern form of exile. This involves either the expulsion of persons of foreign citizenship from a country (usually back to that person's country of origin) or forcible relocation within a nation. Deportation is imposed either as the result of a criminal activity, including illegal immigration, or based on the needs and policies of a government.

The British and French governments often deported people to penal colonies, such as Australia or Georgia. These colonies were usually underdeveloped pieces of land owned by that government in which conditions were harsh enough to serve as punishment.[3]

Famous people who have been in exile

Government in exile

A "government in exile" is a political group that claims to be a country's legitimate government, but for various reasons is unable to exercise its legal power, and instead resides in a foreign country. Governments in exile usually operate under the assumption that they will one day return to their native country and regain power.

Governments in exile frequently come into existence during wartime occupation. For example, during the German expansion of the Second World War, numerous European governments and monarchs were forced to seek refuge in the United Kingdom, rather than face certain destruction at the hands of the Nazis. As well as during a foreign occupation, after an internal coup d'etat, a government in exile may be established abroad.

Actions of governments in exile

International law recognizes that governments in exile may undertake many types of actions in the conduct of their daily affairs. These actions include:

  • Becoming a party to a bilateral or international treaty
  • Amending or revising its own constitution
  • Maintaining military forces
  • Retaining (or "newly obtaining") diplomatic recognition by sovereign states
  • Issuing identity cards
  • Allowing the formation of new political parties
  • Instituting democratic reforms
  • Holding elections
  • Allowing for direct (or more broadly-based) elections of its government officers

However, none of these actions can serve to legitimatize a government in exile to become the internationally recognized legal government of its current locality. By definition, a government in exile is spoken of in terms of its native country; hence it must return to its native country and regain power there in order to obtain legitimacy as the legal government of that geographic area.

Past governments in exile

  • Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea
  • Crown Council of Ethiopia, led by H.I.M Prince Ermias Sahle Selassie and based in the Washington D.C. area, claimed that the Emperor was still the legal head of Ethiopia
  • The government in exile of the Free City of Danzig
  • Spanish Republican government in exile after Franco's coup d'état. Based in Mexico City from 1939 to 1946, when it was moved to Paris, where it lasted until Franco's death
  • The Provisional Government of Free India was established by Indian nationalists in exile during the war
  • Other exiled leaders in England included King Zog of Albania and Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia

Many countries established a government in exile after loss of sovereignty in connection with World War II:

  • Belgium (invaded May 10, 1940)
  • Czechoslovakia (established in 1940 by Beneš and recognized by the British government)
  • Free France (after 1940)
  • Greece (invaded October 28, 1940)
  • Luxembourg (invaded May 10, 1940)
  • Netherlands (invaded May 10, 1940)
  • Norway (invaded April 9, 1940)
  • Poland (from September 1939)
  • Yugoslavia (invaded April 6, 1941)
  • Commonwealth of the Philippines (invaded December 8, 1941)
  • Denmark's occupation (April 9, 1940) was administered by the German Foreign Office, contrary to other occupied lands that were under military administration. Denmark did not establish a government in exile, although there was an Association of Free Danes established in London. The King and his government remained in Denmark, and functioned comparatively independently for the first three years of German occupation. Meanwhile, Iceland and the Faroe Islands were occupied by the Allies, and effectively separated from the Danish crown.

Nation in exile

When large groups, or occasionally a whole people or nation is exiled, it can be said that this nation is in "exile," or diaspora. The term diaspora (in Ancient Greek, διασπορά—"a scattering or sowing of seeds") refers to any people or ethnic population who are forced or induced to leave their traditional homelands, the dispersal of such people, and the ensuing developments in their culture.

Nations that have been in exile for substantial periods include the Jews, who were deported by Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon in 597 B.C.E., and again in the years following the destruction of the second temple in Jerusalem in the year 70 C.E. The Jewish diaspora has lasted more than two thousand years, until the founding of the modern State of Israel in 1948, which finally opened the possibility of returning to the ancestral homeland. The Jewish diaspora brought on many distinctive cultural developments within the exiled communities. Theological reflection on the meaning of exile has led to the insight that God, who dwells amongst his people, also lives and suffers in exile. The Hasidic master Israel Baal Shem Tov said, "Pray continually for God’s glory, that it may be redeemed from its exile."[4] In modern Israel, there is a Ministry of Diaspora Affairs, and Jews from around the world are encouraged to make aliyah (ascend)—to end their exile by emigrating to Israel.

History contains numerous diaspora-like events. The Migration Period relocations, which included several phases, are just one set of many. The first phase Migration Period displacement from between 300 and 500 C.E. included relocation of the Goths, (Ostrogoths, Visigoths), Vandals, Franks, various other Germanic tribes (Burgundians, Langobards, Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Suebi, Alamanni, Varangians), Alans, and numerous Slavic tribes. The second phase, between 500 and 900 C.E., saw Slavic, Turkic, and other tribes on the move, re-settling in Eastern Europe and gradually making it predominantly Slavic, and affecting Anatolia and the Caucasus as the first Turkic peoples (Avars, Bulgars, Huns, Khazars, Pechenegs) arrived. The last phase of the migrations saw the coming of the Magyars and the Viking expansion out of Scandinavia.

Here is a partial list of forced exiles in recent times:

  • After the partitions of Poland in the late eighteenth century, and following the uprisings (Kosciuszko Uprising, November Uprising, and January Uprising) against the partitioning powers (Russian Empire, Prussia and Austro-Hungary), many Poles chose, or were forced, into exile, forming large diasporas (known as "Polonia"), especially in France and the United States.
  • The Acadian diaspora—the Great Expulsion (Grand Dérangement) occurred when the British expelled about 10,000 Acadians (over three-fourths of the Acadian population of Nova Scotia) between 1755 and 1764. The British split the Acadians between different colonies to impose assimilation.
  • Armenian diaspora—Armenians living in their ancient homeland, which had been controlled by the Ottoman Empire for centuries, fled persecution and massacres during several periods of forced emigration, from the 1880s to the 1910s. Many Armenians settled in the United States (a majority of whom live in the state of California), France, India, Iran, Lebanon, Russia and Syria.
  • Circassians—fled Circassia—Kabardey, Cherkes, Adigey Republics and Shapsug Area in 1864. Exiled 90 percent of Circassians are by Russian colonialists to Ottoman Empire or imperial Turkey. The Circassian Diaspora is over four million worldwide, with large Circassian communities in Bulgaria, Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Romania, Syria, Russia as well the former USSR, and 100,000 Circassians in North America (the United States and Canada), as well over 10,000 Circassians in Australia.
  • The entire population of Crimean Tatars (200,000) that remained in their homeland Crimea was exiled on May 18, 1944, to Central Asia as a form of "ethnic cleansing" and collective punishment on false accusations.

The twentieth century saw huge population movements. Partly this was due to natural disasters, as has happened throughout history, but it also involved large-scale transfers of people by government decree. Some diasporas occurred because the people went along with, or could not escape, the government's plan (such as Stalin's desire to populate Eastern Russia, Central Asia, and Siberia; and the transfer of hundreds of thousands of people between India and Pakistan in the 1947 Partition). Other diasporas occurred as people fled the decrees; for example, European Jews fleeing the Holocaust during World war II), and Hutu and Tutsi trying to escape the Rwandan Genocide in 1994.

During the Cold War era, huge populations of refugees continued to form from areas of war, especially from Third World nations; all over Africa (for example, over 50,000 South Asians expelled from Uganda by Idi Amin in 1975), South America (for example, thousands of Uruguayan refugees fled to Europe during military rule in the 1970s and 80s) and Central America (for example, Nicaraguans, Salvadorians, Guatemalans, Hondurans, Costa Ricans and Panamanians), the Middle East (the Iranians who fled the 1978 Islamic revolution), the Indian subcontinent (thousands of former subjects of the British Raj went to the UK after India and Pakistan became independent in 1947), and Southeast Asia (for example, the displaced 30,000 French colons from Cambodia expelled by the Khmer Rouge regime under Pol Pot). The issue of untold millions of Third World refugees created more diasporas than ever in human history.

Tax exile

A wealthy citizen who departs from a former abode for a lower tax jurisdiction in order to reduce his/her tax burden is termed a "tax exile." These are people who choose to leave their native country for a foreign nation or jurisdiction, where taxes on their personal income are appreciably lower, or even nothing. Going into tax exile is a means of tax mitigation or avoidance.

Under UK law, a person is "tax resident" if they visit the country for 183 days or more in the tax year or for 91 days or more on average in any four consecutive tax years.[5]

Tax haven

A tax haven is a place where certain taxes are levied at a low rate or not at all. This encourages wealthy individuals and/or businesses to establish themselves in areas that would otherwise be overlooked. Different jurisdictions tend to be havens for different types of taxes, and for different categories of people and/or companies.

Often described in different ways, it is difficult to find a satisfactory or generally accepted definition for what constitutes a tax haven. The Economist tentatively adopted the description by Colin Powell (former Economic Adviser to Jersey): "What … identifies an area as a tax haven is the existence of a composite tax structure established deliberately to take advantage of, and exploit, a worldwide demand for opportunities to engage in tax avoidance." The Economist pointed out, however, that this definition would still exclude a number of jurisdictions traditionally thought of as tax havens.[6]

One way a person or company takes advantage of tax havens is by moving to, and becoming resident for tax purposes in, a particular country. Another way for an individual or a company to take advantage of a tax haven is to establish a separate legal entity (an "offshore company," "offshore trust," or foundation), subsidiary or holding company there. Assets are transferred to the new company or trust so that gains may be realized, or income earned, within this legal entity rather than earned by the beneficial owner.

The United States is unlike most other countries in that its citizens are subject to U.S. tax on their worldwide income no matter where in the world they reside. U.S. citizens therefore cannot avoid U.S. taxes either by emigrating or by transferring assets abroad.


  1. www.canada.com, U.S. sex offender serving probation in Canada was not "exiled," says N.Y. judge. Retrieved December 6, 2006.
  2. Read Easily, Dante Alighieri. Retrieved December 6, 2006.
  3. Public Book Shelf, History of Colonial Georgia. Retrieved December 12, 2006.
  4. Martin Buber, Hasidism and Modern Man (New York: Harper & Row, 1958).
  5. www.hmrc.gov.uk,Taxable UK Residents. Retrieved December 6, 2006.
  6. Caroline Doggart, Tax Havens and Their Uses (Economist Intelligence Unit, 2002, ISBN 0862181631).


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