This is the text of Positive Action’s Statement to Supporters of the Sehar must stay in Scotland campaign.
We made a last minute plea this morning at 8.30 am to all the key players including Deputy Prime minister Nick Clegg, Immigration Minister Damian Green, Theresa May Home Secretary, but to no avail.
Sehar Shebaz was deported on a PIA flight at 17:00 HRS today. 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 dont 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