STOP DEPORTING ASYLUM SEEKERS TO PERSECUTION & TORTURE
Two Victories this Week - Josephine & Mariama Still Here!
URGENT ACTION! Stop the Deportation of Ugandan Lesbian Aisha N!
(Call/email Kenya Airways & Home Office - See details below)
Build the Fight to Stop the Home Office Returning Women Fighting FGM, Anti-Lesbian Violence, Forced Marriage, Trafficking etc to their Tormentors!
Shut Down Yarl's Wood!
This week the fight by asylum seekers, women detainees in Yarl's Wood detention centre, refugees and supporters organised by the Movement for Justice, and the determination and leadership of Josephine Komeh and Mariama N themselves stopped the deportation of both these courageous women. Josephine & Mariama with other Movement for Justice women in Yarl's Wood organised their own petition campaigns inside the detention centre in co-ordination with the petitioning, demonstrating, calls and e-mails to the Home Office and the airlines and the online publicity organised outside.
Josephine Komeh was trained to follow her grandmother and mother as the 'cutter' carrying out female genital mutilation (FGM) in their community in Sierra Leone, but she refused to continue the brutal practice and to stood up against the threats from traditional elders. She was brutally tortured and escaped to join her son & daughter in Britain where she claimed asylum. Josephine resisted one attempt to deport her on 5 June and won the time to build her support, gather more evidence and get new legal representation. The attempt to deport her this week was an outrageous attempt by the Home Office to get rid of her before her 'Fresh Claim' could be submitted. It failed: on Tuesday afternoon her removal was cancelled.
Mariama N is a lesbian who escaped from anti-gay persecution in the Gambia. Like every asylum seeker she has been through the systematic miscarriage of justice whereby you are assumed to be a liar and the 'burden of proof' is on you to demonstrate otherwise. Mariama has fought back against this system. She was one of the women who petitioned the Home Affairs Select Committee to come to Yarl's Wood and hear from them as part of their inquiry into the asylum system. At Heathrow on Wednesday evening she stood her ground, refused to get on the Royal Air Maroc plane, resisted all the threats of the guards, challenged them on the policy and injustice they were implementing, and rejected their warnings of what would happen to her 'next time'. Her fight has given her the confidence to dump her lawyer and she knows that like Josephine she has won herself the time to organise and win for herself and others.
If there was an ounce of sincerity in the Government's fine words about the universal rights of women and LGBT people and against FGM, then Josephine and Mariama and the women like them (who currently fill Yarl's Wood) would be cherished as 'role models' not treated as criminals. Instead they are at the centre of the fight against this Government for women's rights, immigrants' rights and human rights in British society.
The Movement for Justice will continue to build this fight by any means necessary, through collective organising outside and inside detention, mass action, exposing racism and brutality to the 'court of public opinion', and fighting case-by-case and plane-by-plane.
Read MFJs statement on the parliamentary Asylum Inquiry HERE
Aisha N - Ugandan Lesbian - MUST STAY!
Remember Jackie Nanyonjo!
No More Deportation Deaths or Brutality!
Take action today!
Our urgent action is needed over the next three days to stop the deportation of another Yarl's Wood lesbian asylum seeker, this time to Uganda. Aisha N has lived here for 11 years. Like most LGBT people seeking a sanctuary in Britain she did not claim asylum on sexuality grounds - you don't know if it is safe to 'come out', and indeed sexuality was not clearly or securely established as a possible basis for asylum at that time. Instead she claimed asylum on political grounds - in fact she had been involved in political activity against the Kenyan government even though that was not the main reason for her seeking asylum - but she was refused anyway. Like so many victims of inherently racist immigration policies Aisha had to stay here by any means necessary - until she was arrested and imprisoned for possessing a false passport in 2010, making her, in the Government's eyes, a 'foreign national criminal'. Her history has been used by the Home Office and the Immigration Judge as reasons not to accept her credibility as a lesbian: everything that the immigration and asylum system forced Aisha to do in order to stay safe from anti-gay violence in Uganda has been turned into a so-called 'justification' for sending her back there.
In January another lesbian held in Yarl's Wood, Movement for Justice member Jackie Nanyanjo, was deported to Uganda. Jackie had lived for many years in Britain under similar conditions to Aisha and been refused asylum on similar 'reasons' (her years of work for the National Health Service was turned into a reason for not believing the ample evidence of her sexuality). Jackie was so brutalised by her Reliance 'escorts' on a Qatar Airways flight that she died as a consequence several weeks later. Soon after Jackie's death fellow lesbian Mary K was taken from Yarl's Wood detention centre and forced onto Kenya Airlines flight KQ101 to Uganda. She was subjected to the same brutal 'restraint' tactics used against Jackie, but fortunately the Movement for Justice was able to arrange for a Ugandan refugee rights worker to meet her. The worker reported:
"Mary K. arrived this morning.... she was mistreated and excessive force applied on her by four escorts from Tascor. This happened while she was at the holding facility at Heathrow, at the time of boarding the plane and during transit. Her handcuffs were tightly secured which has caused her hands to swell, her legs were shackled, she was shoved around, one of the escorts grabbed and pulled her by the hair, which came off as a result of the force applied, she was held by the neck and mouth, she now has pains around her throat and sustained a cut above her lip, she was elbowed in the chest and is in pain. We drove straight to a Hospital where she is currently receiving treatment."
Now Aisha has been given 'removal directions' via Kenya Airlines for this Saturday, 27 July at 8.00pm on flight KQ101 from London Heathrow, Terminal 4.
KQ101 is a death flight for LGBT Ugandans!
Bombard Kenya Airlines with phone calls, voicemail messages, e-mails and faxes demanding that they immediately cancel Aisha's ticket. Remind them what happened to Jackie. Remind them of the refugee right's worker's words, "This happened... during transit": they could have said NO and since they didn't, they are complicit in the assault and injury of Mary K. They must say NO this time.
Please use or adapt any part/s of this message in your e-mails or faxes if you wish.
Quote Aisha's Home Office reference: N0157846.
CONTACTING KENYA AIRLINES:
Central Office: 020 8283 1800
Heathrow Office: 020 8759 7366
Passenger reservations: 020 8283 1818
Fax: 020 8283 1880
Kenya Airlines is Kenya's national 'Flag Carrier' - Contact the Kenyan High Commission in London - Ask them to tell Kenya Air that they should not be flying Aisha N to Uganda - to do so will make their government complicit.
Telephone: 020 7636 2371/5
Fax: 020 7323 6717
E-mail/Fax the Home Secretary and the Immigration Minister.
THIS MUST BE DONE FRIDAY
Home Secretary Theresa May: firstname.lastname@example.org, Fax: 020 7219 1145
Immigration Minister: email@example.com
And copy to the following Home Office & UKBA addresses:
Remember to quote HO ref N0157846!
Finally copy messages to Aisha's MP Andy Love (Labour, Edmonton) who has previously made representations on her behalf. Ask him to intervene again with the Home Office and put his weight behind our efforts to secure justice for Aisha.
Constituency Tel: 020 8803 0574
Constituency Fax: 020 8807 1673