Socialist Worker

Manchester asylum seeker says ‘At home I faced persecution. Here I live in fear of the UKBA’

The government and UK Border Agency’s treatment of asylum seekers is appalling—but campaigns give people confidence. Refugee Manjeet Kaur explains why to Ken Olende

Issue No. 2391

Manjeet Kaur on a protest at the Tory party conference last year

Manjeet Kaur on a protest at the Tory party conference last year (Pic: Sophie Gardiner)


Manjeet Kaur fled to Britain from India in 2011 after her husband, a journalist and human rights activist, went missing and she was attacked. 

But as with many refugees who flee their homes, the British government is refusing to help her.

Manjeet, who is originally from Afghanistan, moved to India in 2003.

She told Socialist Worker, “I got married in India and my husband went missing because of his work.

“My relatives told me the British government was compassionate. But I was not treated that way, even though I am disabled and was in a very vulnerable position.”

Manjeet’s asylum case was fast tracked—and refused. She was about to be made homeless when she started campaigning with the refugee organisation Rapar.

Campaigning stopped her from being evicted. But when the UK Border Agency (UKBA) reconsidered her case earlier this year, they refused her asylum again.

Manjeet has been politically active while she has been in Britain. She now chairs Rapar and has volunteered with the UK Disability Coalition. She has also campaigned with Disabled People Against Cuts. 

But her activity seems to count against her with immigration officials.

Housebound

“They say if you are independent enough to survive here you can survive anywhere,” explained Manjeet. “But back home with no support I would be housebound.”

Her appeal against the new ruling will be heard in court on 6 March. Her campaign has produced a petition and a model letter and supporters are asking for donations to help with legal costs.

Manjeet added, “I’m a lone disabled woman. If they don’t give someone like me asylum, who will be eligible?

“Back home I lived in fear of persecution. Here I live in fear of the UKBA. Since my refusal I have had letters from UKBA about voluntary return and letters cutting my money. 

“But I’ve also been encouraged by what I’ve seen during the fight. And organisations like Rapar have helped me build my confidence.”

Even as she fights deportation Manjeet is still active in other campaigns. She said, “It’s very important for someone like me to be involved in demonstrations like Stand Up to Racism and Fascism on 22 March. 

“I am dark skinned. I am an asylum seeker. I am a woman.

“When I first went to disability meetings here someone asked me to go on a demonstration. I said, ‘No, I have back pains’. 

“He said, ‘When you go a station or the shops and you see disabled toilets and facilities, that didn’t just appear one day. We had to protest. You have a responsibility for other people.’

“He was right about that. It is my responsibility to be there with people who can go, also for those who can’t come. I don’t think this fight is just about me alone.”


Build anti-racist protests on 22 March

There is one month left to build the Stand Up to Racism and Fascism protests in London, Glasgow and Cardiff on Saturday 22 March.

With backing from all the major trade unions and many migrant organisations, support for the protests can be raised in workplaces, school assemblies and trades councils.

Already coaches to London are booked from cities including Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Manchester, Oxford, Portsmouth and Sheffield.

The TUC has produced thousands of leaflets and posters.

What you can do to build the protests:

  • Book transport through your trade union branch
  • Organise leafletting outside train stations and workplaces
  • Invite speakers to your workplace, school or college

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