Despite a last minute plea to Deputy Prime minister Nick Clegg, Immigration Minister Damian Green and Theresa May Home Secretary, Sehar Shebaz and her 8 month old baby were yesterday deported to Pakistan.
Friends from Glasgow took a bus down to say goodbye to her at the airport and to take her the few belongings that were left behind in her flat when she was detained by Brand Street Reporting Centre last week. Dr Imtiaz Rasul and his family from Birmingham also went to say goodbye at the airport. Dr Imtiaz said:
"It was really terrible. Sehar looked very small and quiet. She had security officers and police around her as if she was a criminal. It was truly humiliating to say goodbye to her like that. Other people in the airport were watching. Sehar told us to say thankyou to everyone, she tried to smile but in front of police we could feel what she was feeling.My country takes in more asylum seekers than the UK. If the UK only wants to humiliate people then why have an asylum policy, just tell people don't come here. I feel very sad for Sehar and her baby was just upset. We hope in her hearts that her pain does not continue but we are very worried about what might happen."
On behalf of Sehar, thank you for writing into support Sehar. In total 579 people wrote letters. Some of your letters were heart breaking, others gave us new leads to claim clemency for Sehar. Thanks especially to Jeremy Cram, the emergency solicitor who stepped into make representations on behalf of Sehar, Baroness Shirley Williams, Ann McKechin MP, Clare Sambrook, John O (Free Movement), the Unity Centre, Liza Schuster of City University, Carole Ewart, John Wilkes of the Scottish Refugee Council, Heather Jones who visited Sehar in Yarl’s Wood, Dr Imtiaz Rasul and many many others.
This campaign was particularly vociferous because Sehar and her baby girl were incarcerated in Dungavel on the same day that the new coalition government told us that child detention would end - and end immediately in Scotland - whereupon Sehar was summarily removed from Scottish soil and driven down to Yarl’s Wood Detention Centre to be locked up there instead. Sehar was so distressed to see the other families locked up in Yarl’s Wood.
In particular she mentioned an Iranian couple who have been detained eight months and the wife is due to give birth next month, having spent her entire pregnancy in detention and clearly not fit to travel on a plane so why detain her?
Sehar was instrumental in ensuring that the letter to Nick Clegg was seen by the outside world. She was then swiftly separated from the other families and prevented from communicating with anyone else. The new coalition government had a chance to redress the previous government’s human rights abuses of asylum seekers - let’s call it what it is after all. They never took that chance.
We are now concerned about the remaining eleven Yarl’s Wood families, four of whom are on hunger strike. We also remain concerned about exactly what the new government means when they say they will end child detention.
Will families be able to claim asylum without fear of being separated and children being taken into care while parents are locked up? After the latest debacle about ending child detention, we have to be cautious about exactly what the politicians mean when they come out and say these things.
At present, it means Scottish asylum families being driven straight away hundreds of miles away form their communities and sources of support to the controversial Yarl’ s Wood facility which even the Chief Inspector of Prisons has branded as unsuitable for children. Let us not forget that UKBA themselves admitted that FAMILIES DO NOT ABSCOND.
In the spirit of the new government’s commitment to end child detention, Positive Action in Housing is calling on the government to release with immediate effect all remaining Yarls Wood families back to their communities so that their children can return to a normal life and schools and so that the asylum claims of their parents can be properly investigated in a humane and civilised way - this is the least recompense we could give as a society for the inhumane way we have treated these families.
Thank you again for your support.
Positive Action in Housing
End our children's nightmare
The following letter was sent to Nick Clegg and an edited version was published in today's Observer:
First of all may we take this opportunity to congratulate you and wish you every success in the new job. We parents in this detention centre need to express our concerns about our children here detained. We need your help as we believe you as leader and participant in this government can take action to protect our civil liberties and human rights.
We do appreciate your courage to speak openly about the immigration problems and that makes us think very highly of you. We know that it has been agreed that no children should be detained for immigration purposes but we are still here in the detention centre with children facing deportation.
All of us are vulnerable people with medical conditions suffering from depression and fear of persecution if returned to our country. We feel angry to know that the court allows people to stay in this country who are trying to blow up buses, underground, airports and have not been deported. We have been dragged up and down from our houses to detention causing so much stress to families and children.
Is this because we are a soft touch? Is this because we can not afford to pay good lawyers? We have been often victims of the political system where every time there is a crisis we get the whiplash.
There are about 12 families here in the detention centre and 14 children, plus two pregnant women and one of them has been here about eight months. The children's ages range from one year old to 16 years old. They have been out of school for a long time. Most of them speak English as their first language and do not speak their mother tongue.
They were born in this country and do not know any other country apart from England. They ask questions about why they are here, why they are different from other children and we often haven't got the answers for them. We do think that we have been harshly treated by the Home Office where every case is refused and go through the courts wondering if we are living in the perfect world.
We sought protection from a country we believe in and which has a tradition and good values of democracy. We have escaped our countries because of fear of persecution. Our lives and our children's are in danger. We are living an endless nightmare. We have been in the country for a long time from two years to 11 years. All we want is to have a life and live with decency. We do not want to be a burden on tax payers. We want to take part in building the economy. We want to demonstrate to our children the decent way of living, not the culture of laziness.
We want a system working wisely. We do agree to maintaining border control but not to the extent where families can be destroyed and human rights abolished.
We hope that our voices can be heard and our children will be the last in detention.
Please we are kindly asking you to take action and end our nightmare for families and children.
Shpresa, Kalpesh, Sejal, Sheila, Nazik, Leila, Iman, Akbar, Naeema, Sehar, Khoa and all the families in the detention centre Yarls Wood detention centre, Beds
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