Socialist Worker

Refugees

Issue No. 1764

Refugees

'Racial justice! There was none for Nassar'

NASSAR AHMED was found dead on Tuesday morning. He had fled for his life from war-torn Eritrea, found his way to Britain and, just over a year ago, was sent to Nelson, near Burnley, through the dispersal system.

Nassar was separated from his cousins who were in London. He spent over eight months in Nelson and then he was summarily moved to Sheffield where he knew no one.

Nassar asked to be moved back to Nelson where he at least had a support network of friends amongst other asylum seekers. He came back and, although his depression grew worse, his friends helped him to get through, cooking meals for him and spending time with him. The Home Office rejected his claim for asylum and just over a month ago he received a Home Office letter telling him that his appeal had been unsuccessful. Last weekend his friend had to go to London to see her solicitor about her own case and, while she was away, Nassar hanged himself in the basement of the house which he shared with other asylum seekers.

Faisal, who also lives in the house, found his body when he came home from work. The Reverend Sally Thomas, who has been working with asylum seekers and refugees in the area over the last year, said, "I feel physically and emotionally sick. Racial justice! There was none for Nassar. "Right now it feels as though this delightful, sensitive and vulnerable man was a victim of murder by bureaucracy. I also feel angry. The callous indifference meted out by the Home Office to those who have fled torture, abuse and victimisation to seek sanctuary here has resulted in countless numbers of young and able people fearful for the future."

There is a tremendous feeling among asylum seekers in Nelson that we should do something to mark Nassar's death-a vigil or demonstration. One asylum seeker said, "We must do something now. We must organise a big demonstration of asylum seekers and their friends to let the government and the people know about the desperate situation we are in." ALISON GANDER, Burnley and Pendle Committee to Defend Asylum Seekers


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News
Sat 1 Sep 2001, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1764
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