Socialist Worker

The blind woman facing cruel deportation

by Sarah Cox
Issue No. 1931

A BLIND woman from Sri Lanka faces deportation unless David Blunkett uses his discretionary powers to grant her exceptional leave to stay in Britain on humanitarian grounds.

“I do not want to comment on David Blunkett’s current problems or to take advantage of them,” says Violet Pethiyagoda, “simply to say that if he can think about me and understand my situation from his experience as a blind man, I hope he will allow me to stay”

Violet fled Sri Lanka after her husband and brother were murdered by the Tamil Tigers guerrilla movement. She came to Britain almost six years ago. Violet did not apply for asylum immediately because she did not understand the system.

Eighteen months after her arrival, Violet developed Stargart’s disease—a condition which left her registered blind.

Violet is anxious to work. She worked for a year at Redhill College and now does voluntary work. If granted leave to remain, she would be able to seek permanent work.

In Sri Lanka there are very few resources, and disabled people face almost consistent discrimination.

The Home Office claims that Sri Lanka is peaceful and safe, but community violence is currently flaring up again. Violet would in fact be in constant danger if she is forced to return.

She has many supporters, including community organisations, staff and students from Redhill College, and the Natfhe lecturers’ union, whose general secretary Paul Mackney has written personally to the home secretary about her case.

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Article information

Sat 11 Dec 2004, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1931
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