A mass deportation flight scheduled for 20 June has led to hunger strikes by asylum seekers and a solidarity protest.
“We are 23 Iraqi and 14 Afghan detainees being held at Campsfield House. The British Government want to send us back to Iraq and Afghanistan. It is not a safe place.”
Guest blog from NCADC volunteer, Liam Docherty
In recent weeks the government has detained at least 70 Iraqi asylum seekers, in preparation for a mass deportation to Baghdad. It appears that a date has been set for 20th June. 37 Asylum seekers in Campsfield detention centre have responded with a hunger strike.
Many of these asylum seekers have been in the UK for several years, making close friends and starting families. Adam Aziz Ali is a Kurdish Iraqi. He has been here for five years, living with his partner, Joanne, in County Durham for almost four years. In that time he has become part of her family. They see him as a son, a brother, and an uncle. They cannot understand why a close member of their family should be removed. The Home Office has judged, rather robotically, that Adam has not developed relationships “beyond normal emotional ties”. His human right to a family life is not being affected “disproportionately”.
Iraq is a rocked by civil unrest: sectarian violence, suicide bombings and, more recently, a bloody backlash against civil rights protests.
The International Federation of Iraqi Refugees has reported that “many of those who have been deported to Iraq in the past are now living in hiding, in fear of the persecution they originally left Iraq to flee. Some have been assassinated. Others have committed suicide only days after being deported or have been kidnapped and killed, while others have had mental breakdowns. Many more have had to leave the country and become refugees again.”
Like Adam, many of the asylum seekers due to be removed are Kurdish. The IFIR has shown particular concern for the situation in Iraqi Kurdistan – a society maligned by corruption, institutional violence and a poverty of basic services such as hospitals and clean water. While protests have been held outside Campsfield, sister protests planned in Kurdistan have been denied permission by the regional government. In Adam’s case, the Home Office suggested that “there is nothing to prevent Joanne from accompanying Mr Ali”. We disagree.
It is clear that the government plan to carry out the removals imminently, unconcerned by the asylum seekers’ right to a family life or by the dangers they will face in Iraq.
Meanwhile the asylum seekers are determined to fight the decision.
“If we don’t get these decisions for us as humans and for our safety we will not eat until we die, rather than to be made to return to these war torn countries”.