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LETTERS: I came to seek asylum—but they locked me up instead

This article is over 5 years, 5 months old
Issue 2517
Asylum seeker Gideon Iwoi
Asylum seeker Gideon Iwoi

I come from Cameroon, where it is illegal to be gay. In 2012 I was caught with another man in a hotel and arrested.

At the police station we were stripped naked. Our legs were tied up and we were put face down on the floor while the police kicked, punched and beat us with their belts.

I was released on medical bail. My arm was broken and my head split open after one officer used his gun to hit me.

I was supposed to return to the station but I knew that if I did I would face a five-year prison sentence.

When my dad found out that I was gay he travelled for four hours to come and cut me up with a machete. I had to run for my life.

I sought asylum in Britain in February last year. I was detained for two weeks at Harmondsworth detention centre before being released.

I have to show proof that I am gay. I’ve given pictures as evidence and letters of support from LGBT+ groups but it’s still not enough.

Maybe my case worker wants a video of me and my partner having sex.

On 8 July I went to report at Croydon Immigration Centre where I was detained and taken to the Verne detention centre in Dorset.

I was held there for a month—but no one told me why I was being detained.

Now I fear that I may be detained again.

I feel like I’m being messed about. Like I’m always being cheated.

When I go to sign on at the immigration centre I get the feeling that I’m not welcome here.

I’m currently feeling very low and suicidal.

I don’t know what is going to happen to me—but I know it’s happening to other people as well.

That’s why I’m a Black Lives Matter activist and have joined protests outside Yarl’s Wood detention centre.

I want to speak out and tell people what is happening.

Gideon Iwoi, Kent

Reading Trotsky

You’d have thought we Trotskyites would have noticed a hundred-fold increase in our numbers.

But leaving that aside, I think the accusation may be having unintended consequences.

Corbyn-supporting friends are now asking me for reading lists on Trotskyism. Happy to oblige!

Ben Drake, York

For more reading on Trotsky and other aspects of Marxist theory go to


We need more than Facebook

Martin Langley (Letters, 10 August) was right to say that the rich exercise political control by presenting their system as natural.

Social media is a good platform for exposing more people to socialist ideas—as Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership campaign shows.

But all sorts of other political forces, such as the Labour right, can also use it as a weapon.

What opens people up to socialist ideas in the first place is the feeling that we can actually do something to overcome our isolation and powerlessness.

That means we need more than just sharing information. We also have to organise political movements that allow workers to assert control over their own lives.

Richard Donnelly, South London

Blaming mental health doesn’t help anyone

Over the last few years a growing insidious false connection between “radicalisation” and mental health has entered into politics.

On the one hand its purpose is to avoid any serious analysis of why young Muslims become “radicalised”. But attention is also lacking when looking at the other side of this false connection—those who suffer from mental ill health.

I suffer from a particularly acute form of depression.

Does this therefore mean that I am at risk because as a revolutionary socialist I hold that capitalism needs to be overthrown by a workers’ revolution? Am I “mad” for thinking this?

The insult is that I am not capable of holding alternative ideas because I have a mental illness.

John Curtis, Ipswich

Too much sexism at Olympics

I love the Olympics. I love watching people push their bodies to achieve the seemingly impossible.

But the 2016 Olympics has been rife with sexist commentary. One of the worst examples is the reporting of the volleyball match between an Egyptian and a German woman.

Headlines such as “Burqa vs Bikini” reduced the athletes to nothing more than their clothes.

Sun columnist Rod Liddle doesn’t even bother to hide his bigotry. He wishes we could all go back to watching football rather than “a bunch of burqa-clad hags playing volleyball”.

No one actually competed in a burqa. But who cares about accuracy when you can have sensationalism?

Alice Clark, Newcastle

GMB made a big mistake

Does the GMB union leadership really think they’ll have as much support from an Owen Smith-led Labour Party as from Jeremy Corbyn?

I really hope they don’t ever have to find out the hard way.

Steve Coles, on Facebook

Trump or Clinton?

In many respects Hilary Clinton could do more damage than Donald Trump if elected US president.

She is perceived as the mainstream, reasonable candidate. So she’s more likely to be taken seriously over issues of foreign intervention.

On the other hand if Trump suggests attacking another country he would be lampooned around the globe. Quite rightly of course.

Mike Heaney, Sheffield

Geoff Bridges says it would be better to vote for Trump over Clinton (Letters, 10 August).

People are right to say warmonger Clinton isn’t the “lesser evil” and no one should vote for her.

But if you think millionaire bigot Trump is the better “anti?establisment” candidate you’re kidding yourself.

Ellen Warner, Doncaster

Who’s more suit-able?

Owen Smith responds to Corbyn:

“Of course I agree with everything you’ve just said but just look at your dress sense. You’re not even wearing a suit! And how can the voters of Britain take you seriously when your jacket is all crumpled?

“If we are going to unify this party we must all wear suits, Jeremy.

“And where’s your tie? It’s no use just being a protester, Jeremy, by refusing to wear a tie.

“I feel absolutely passionately about the way I dress, because that is what is going to get us votes.

“If I become leader I promise you all that every Labour MP will wear a suit and at least one tie!”

Olly Duke, Cessenon, France

















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