Socialist Worker

New Labour tells Kurds to return to torture or death

by Sion Reynolds
Issue No. 1928

SCHOOL CHILDREN in Portsmouth are showing the humanity which the governent so patently lacks.

They have rallied to defend three Kurdish Syrians, including two teenagers, who are threatened with deportation.

Fourteen year old Lorin Sulaiman, her sister and her mother are threatened with being sent back to Syria—which they escaped from two years ago.

Becasue they are Kurdish, the family were treated in Syria as “maktoumeens”—unregistered or non-people.

They are not allowed to marry and their children are not allowed to go to school. Neither are they allowed passports.

Lorin’s father and brother are locked up in Syria for speaking out. Her mother also spent some time in prison for protesting against their treatment.

New Labour has repeateldy denounced the lack of human rights in Syria. But the government is happy to send someone back to torture or death.

The eldest daughter, Nasreem, 21, is married to another Syrian Kurd who was also smuggled into the country. The couple won their claim to stay in the country last year.

But the immigration squad recently grabbed Lorin, her mother and her sister from their home and locked them in a detention centre at Gatwick airport to await deportation.

Friends of Lorin at Mayfield School launched a campaign for the family to be released and to be allowed to remain in the country.

Students, staff, parents and sympathetic members of the local community made frantic telephone appeals, sent letters and e-mailed people in parliament, the church, the press, local political associations and asylum support groups.

A petition with 1,512 signatures was sent to the local Labour MP, Syd Rapson.

The family went on hunger strike at the detention centre. At the eleventh hour the deportation plans were halted

The family could still be deported at any moment. The immigration squad took the family’s front door key, so they can enter the house more easily.

Lorin described the family’s experience at the detention centre: “The room was cold and we didn’t get any sleep. They kept coming in to check up on us.”

Her mother said, “We came to this country for human rights—where are they now? I am so proud of my daughters for being strong. Thank you to those who have been supporting us.”

The family’s solicitors have until this Sunday to submit more evidence to Des Browne, the immigration minister.

The campaign is especially significant because some resdients in the Portsmouth and Gosport area have campaigned against the opening of a local immigration detention centre.

The support for the family represents a real challenge to attitudes against asylum seekers seen in that campaign.

Please send messages of support and donations to Tom Ross, treasurer of the Free Lorin Sulaiman Campaign, c/o Mr Reynolds, Mayfield School, Mayfield Road, Portsmouth

PO2 0RH.


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News
Sat 20 Nov 2004, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1928
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