Socialist Worker

Kenyan asylum seeker: ‘I fear for my life if I am deported’

by Ken Olende
Issue No. 2132

Steve - fighting to stay

Steve - fighting to stay

Steve, an asylum seeker living in Manchester, fears for his life if he is sent back to Kenya.

His story sheds some light on the inhumane and illogical nature of the British government’s treatment of asylum seekers.

Steve told Socialist Worker, “Back home I worked with human rights and civil society organisations.

“I was a co-founder of the Kenya Debt Relief Network which fights for the cancellation of Kenya’s foreign debt.

“I came across a group called Mungiki. It was creating work for unemployed young people in the slums and demanding respect for the poor. It seemed like a good organisation, so I joined. In 1999 I became its youth coordinator for Kenya’s capital, Nairobi.”

Mungiki is a secret organisation based among the Kikuyu people. Its early demands harked back to the Mau Mau rebellion against British rule in the 1950s.

But its emphasis soon changed. Steve explained, “Some politicians did a deal to hire Mungiki members for security for their meetings. That wasn’t what I joined for. We were becoming a gang for hire.”

The organisation started killing opponents and forcibly circumcising women to re-establish Kikuyu traditions.

Steve was horrified. “I wanted no more to do with them,” he said. “But, anyone who tried to leave was killed.

“I fled, but I knew as long as I was in Kenya they would catch me eventually. So I paid an agent to bring me to Britain.”

The agent abandoned him soon after they arrived in Britain in March 2003.

Steve said, “I was in a new country. I didn’t even know what city I was in. I had hardly any money and I knew nobody.

“I was so desperate that I just approached an African lady on the street and explained my predicament. She told me to seek asylum.

I didn’t even know what that word meant.”

Steve found out how to apply and went through the whole process of reporting to the police, filling in forms and attending court. This lasted over a year, during which time he was unable to work.

But Steve’s application was refused in 2004. He was told that the Kenyan government had stated it was cracking down on Mungiki, so there was no longer any reason to fear going back.

Steve’s experience of Kenyan politics meant he didn’t believe such a crackdown would work.

He explained, “It was a very depressing time. I was kicked out of my accommodation. I was destitute. I was told I had to get a private solicitor if I wanted to go any further. But I had no money.

“Luckily I had friends by now. They gave me moral support, somewhere to stay and food to eat.”

Steve’s worries about Kenya have proved all too real. Far from being wiped out, the Mungiki was heavily involved in the post-election violence at the beginning of 2008.

If this wasn’t enough, only this September even Sky TV showed an episode of Ross Kemp On Gangs that highlighted the growing danger of Mungiki.

Steve concluded, “I think the Home Office should watch the documentary and then discuss my case.”

Steve and his supporters have set up the Steve Must Stay Campaign. They are petitioning and raising money to help him hire a new solicitor, and to keep up pressure on the authorities to let him remain in Britain.

To support Steve’s campaign please phone Tony on 07958 450 545 or email [email protected]

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Article information

Mon 15 Dec 2008, 19:00 GMT
Issue No. 2132
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