Sushil helping to raise awareness of asylum seekers at Sharrow Festival in 2013 Sushil helping to raise awareness of asylum seekers at Sharrow Festival in 2013

The planned deportation of asylum seeker Sushilananda Sraman exposes our government’s disregard for human rights

A Buddhist monk who made Sheffield his home after seeking refuge from persecution in his native Bangladesh is facing immediate deportation [see update].

Sushilananda Sraman, known to his friends as Sushil, has been detained at Morton Hall Immigration Centre, Lincoln and is due to be deported tomorrow.

Sushil, aged 46, arrived in the UK in 2005 and has been living in Gleadless Valley, Sheffield, since 2011.

As a Buddhist monk in Chittagong Bangladesh, Sushil was targeted by local fundamentalist muslims, who forbade him to campaign for girls education and began persecuting him.

Sushil, who I spoke to from inside Morton Hall, said that since 1992 he has been campaigning for girls education and trying to encourage families to send their daughters to school.

As a monk, Sushil undertook multi-faith social work and provided education for girls and boys of all religions. He said he ended up becoming a community leader as he gained support from his community in the face of persecution from fundamentalists.

Supporters claim that, after Sushil campaigned against well known war criminal Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury at local elections in 1996, there was an escalation in the harassment against himself and his community. He was accused of the murder of a local fundamentalist and was convicted and sentenced in absentia.

Sushil said that he was tortured and beaten by the fundamentalist group Jamaat-e-Islam:

They harassed me and tortured me, I still have scars on my legs from when they beat me. They broke my jaw with a shovel and did so many terrible things that I don’t even want to remember.

They burnt my house down and the houses of villagers nearby.

Sushil was targeted by fundamentalists between 1992 and 2004 when he was advised by his devotees to flee for safety to the UK.

‘My life is in danger’

Campaigners say that Sushil’s claim for asylum in the UK reached the European Court of Human Rights last year, but the UK government offered to settle it domestically. The Home Office then refused Sushil’s claim and appeals and placed him in detention. He has a removal flight booked for 28th August back to Bangladesh, where he fears for his life.

Sushil said that he doesn’t even know if his mother, sister and relatives in Bangladesh are safe and that he fears the strength of Jamaat-e-Islam:

I gave all the evidence to the Home Office, but they do not believe me and they have disclosed all my information to the Bangladeshi authorities, so I fear for my safety.

My life is in danger, my life is not safe, if the government doesn’t imprison me, the fundamentalist muslims will kill me.

Campaigners say that they believe political intervention may be the only way to keep Sushil in the UK and they are urging everyone to sign their petition to the Home Secretary Theresa May.

Ian Nesbitt, who volunteers with Sushil said:

Sushil is a key member of Sheffield’s community and it is totally wrong that he is facing deportation from the place he now calls home, to a country where his life could be in danger.

We call on the Home Secretary to stop this deportation and look very closely at Sushil’s case and note the contribution he makes to life in his home, Sheffield.

Gina Clayton, chair of ASSIST Sheffield, a charity who have been supporting Sushil since he arrived in Sheffield in 2004, said:

Sushil is caught in a situation where complex legal rules make it hard for him to prove his case, but people who know him are confident his fears are well-founded. If they are right, his situation will be terrible.

Update: 2 Sept 2014

Despite numerous and exhaustive efforts of campaigners to halt what they claim is an illegal deportation, Sushilananda Sraman was deported from the UK at 8am on Monday 1st September.