Socialist Worker

Home Office finally forced to compensate Kurdish children detained for record 13 months

by Ken Olende
Issue No. 2285

STUC march on Dungavel detention centre in September 2003 (Pic: Duncan Brown)

STUC march on Dungavel detention centre in September 2003 (Pic: Duncan Brown)

The Home Office has been forced to pay six-figure compensation to a Kurdish family who were detained as children for a record 13 months.

The Ay family was arrested in 2002. Four children were detained with their mother Yurdagul. Their father Salih was forced back to Turkey—where he disappeared.

The two parents had fled persecution and applied for political asylum in Germany in 1988. This was not granted. In 1999, facing imminent deportation, they came to Britain.

Margaret Woods from the Glasgow Campaign to Welcome Refugees recalls, “The Ay family case sent shockwaves round Scotland. I was closely involved in the campaign alongside the lawyer Aamer Anwar.

'The eldest daughter, Beriwan, who was only 14 at the time was such a great campaigner. She led things despite the fact her father had already been deported and her sister was very ill.

“We organised a link up from a meeting to the detention centre so journalists and the public could hear Beriwan talking. People were really shocked by what they heard.”

Beriwan recently told the Guardian, “We spent 13 months with my mum and the four children crammed into one room. Before we went to sleep each night the guards counted us, something we really hated.”

The family was deported to Germany but luckily was never sent on to Turkey as was feared. Ironically they were granted asylum in Germany after a court received psychiatric reports into the emotional health of two of the girls as a result of their incarceration in Dungavel.

Margaret added, “The case marked a watershed in Scotland. We got the STUC involved and that led to a demonstration at Dungavel detention centre of a couple of thousand people.

“Every refugee campaign since then has benefited from their courage and their bravery. In Scotland today there are no immigration dawn raids and no children are detained. We need to extend what we have gained here to the rest of Britain.”

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Tue 10 Jan 2012, 19:50 GMT
Issue No. 2285
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