Socialist Worker

Will the Home Office let six refugees die?

by Siân Ruddick
Issue No. 2250

Asylum seekers in London on hunger strike against threats to deport them to Iran: “The West said it would supoport us, but now I need help they are nowhere”  (Pic: http://www.guysmallman.com/Guy Smallman )

Asylum seekers in London on hunger strike against threats to deport them to Iran: “The West said it would supoport us, but now I need help they are nowhere” (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Six Kurdish Iranian refugees are on hunger strike in London in protest against British government plans to deport them to Iran.

The men have refused to eat since 4 April. Some have sewn up their mouths with fishing wire.

They are terrified of being sent back to Iran where they were detained and tortured by Iranian state forces after protesting over the country’s disputed 2009 presidential election.

Some of the men are camped outside the UK Border Agency (UKBA) offices in Croydon, south London. Others have set up a protest outside the Amnesty International offices.

Bahari is one of those camping out in Croydon.

He said, “When I was back in Tehran, I was seeing Barack Obama and British officials on our illegal satellite TVs, encouraging us day in day out to continue our protest.

Raped

“They said that they will support us. But now that I’m stuck in here and need help, they are nowhere.”

Mahyar Meyari is 17. He was arrested following a demonstration on al-Quds day in 2009.

“I was blindfolded and taken to an unknown place where I was kept for a week,” he said.

“I was kicked on the head many times and even raped.”

Mahyar paid a smuggler to get him out of the country but didn’t know where he was being taken until he arrived in Britain.

“When I claimed asylum with the Home Office, at first they didn’t believe that I’m 17-years old. They said I was lying,” he said.

“There’s a culture of disbelief in the Home Office.

“Everybody thinks you are lying by default.”

Hundreds of people seeking asylum in Britain have their claims denied.

They are then trapped in the complex, expensive and painfully slow appeals process and face being deported to countries where they could be tortured.

The UKBA refuses 76 percent of asylum claims.

Meanwhile, the British government has admitted that almost all gays and lesbians who seek asylum on the basis of persecution for their sexuality are refused at first application.

The supreme court ruled last July that gay men and lesbians should not be refused asylum on the basis that they can hide their sexuality by living discreetly.

The ruling was supposed to take immediate effect.

But because Britain systematically fails to keep a record of people claiming asylum on this basis, it does not know how many are still being deported.


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