'I'll fight to stay here'
A CAMPAIGN has been launched in north London to stop the New Labour government sending a young refugee back to Kosovo. Besnik Gashi is 18 years old and arrived alone in Britain last year after both his parents had been killed during the war in Kosovo.
The British government is now threatening to send Besnik back to Mitrovica, an ethnically divided city in the north of Kosovo, which is plagued by violence. Socialist Worker spoke to BESNIK GASHI about his reasons for coming to Britain, how he has tried to rebuild his life, and why he fears being sent back.
"WHEN THE war started I was sent to my aunt in the south of Kosovo, but when NATO started bombing we were forced to flee to the giant refugee camp in Kukes in Albania. We lived hand to mouth. After the NATO bombing had finished I went back to find what was left in Mitrovica.
My family house was burnt down, and my mother and father were killed. I have a younger brother, but I do not know if he is dead or alive. I was 17 years old and I decided that I had to leave the country. I travelled in the back of a truck for days with two bottles of water and a little food. I did not know where I was going, but somehow I ended up in Britain, in Haringey. I had nothing to start with, but gradually I have tried to rebuild my life. I go to the College of North West London where I have many friends. My ambition is to go to university. But the government wants to deport me, and they have put me on vouchers because I am 18 now.
All I want to do is to put my life on the right track, to look to the future with a positive opinion. I don't want to end up killed in a back alley in Kosovo like so many of my generation. There is nothing for me in Kosovo except bad memories. Why are the government sending me back? If things are so peaceful in Kosovo now, as they say, then why are K-For troops still there? I think that there is an election coming in Britain, and the government want to say to people that they are getting rid of asylum seekers. That is why they want to deport me. But I am going to fight to stay here."
- Get petitions, leaflets, and send messages of support and donations to Besnik Gashi Must Stay campaign c/o Haringey Trades Council, c/o Trade Union Office, St Ann's Hospital, St Ann's Rd, London N15.
- Send protests demanding Besnik stays to Home Secretary Jack Straw, Home Office, 50 Queen Anne's Gate, London SW1H 9AT. Quote Besnik's reference number, G1014034.