Socialist Worker

Defending refugees

Issue No. 1914

Arshad Suhail Masih is one of the many refugee prisoners held at Dungavel prison near Glasgow.

This was the site two weeks ago of a protest by supporters of asylum rights.

Arshad has been living in Glasgow for nearly two years, appealing against the refusal of his asylum application. Arshad, a Christian, fled Pakistan after being threatened by certain Muslims who accused him of blasphemy.

Glasgow police stopped the car Arshad was driving in because the driver was not wearing a seatbelt. The police found out that Arshad and two of his friends are asylum seekers.

The immigration authorities then interviewed Arshad and his friends for three hours, finally instructing them to appear at the National Asylum Support Service (NASS) in Glasgow the following Monday.

On his appearance there Arshad was arrested and imprisoned in Dungavel.

His friends from the Pakistani Christian community are angry and bewildered.

They have set up a group, Voice for the Voiceless, who marched and protested outside the NASS offices last week.

For Arshad, deportation to Pakistan is tantamount to a death sentence.

They intend to carry on with the campaigning until they get justice.


Send messages of support to Voice for the Voiceless on 07904 083 058

Naseh Ghafor

POLICE INTERVENED to block an appeal to home secretary David Blunkett last weekend.

The appeal was on behalf of a Kurdish asylum seeker on hunger strike.

Supporters of Naseh Ghafor, an Iraqi Kurd who stitched his lips together a month ago, were prevented from handing over a letter to Blunkett. They were then escorted away from stately home Chatsworth House—where the home secretary was opening a sensory garden.

“The freedom and democracy we hear so much about British troops fighting for in Iraq doesn’t apply to Britain,” said a member of the Sheffield Committee to Defend Asylum Seekers.

“The Home Secretary is refusing to save the life of a man who would rather die than be sent back to Iraq where his family was persecuted.”

Campaigners have been asking Mr Blunkett to intervene to save the life of Naseh, a victim of Saddam Hussein’s regime. Naseh has been refusing food, liquid and medical attention since early July.

Naseh was refused asylum in Britain and his support was withdrawn. Denied the right to work, he has been made destitute and homeless.

Naseh is sleeping on the floor at the Refugee Support Accommodation Unit in Sheffield.

He could die if Blunkett does not use his discretion to help this desperate man. A lobby was held outside Sheffield’s Labour council, but leaders have also refused to intervene.

Tham Sarki

OVER 30 campaigners lobbied the appeal hearing of Nepalese asylum seeker Tham Sarki last week.

Among them was actor Maureen Lipman (pictured with Tham, right) who has played a key role in the campaign for Tham to stay in Britain.

She said, “I have a daughter who, like Tham, is 30 years old. The idea that this young life could be put in danger saddens me.”

Tham fled Nepal in 2001. His activity in the resistance movement during the eight year long civil war in Nepal, which has claimed 8,000 lives, has made it certain he would be picked up by government forces if he returned.

The campaign for Tham will be redoubling its efforts to ensure a larger turnout at the new hearing on Wednesday 1 September at Taylor House, 88 Rosebery Avenue, London EC1.

Pat Carmody

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Article information

Sat 14 Aug 2004, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1914
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