Solidarity with Cardiff family facing deportation

Us gremlins expresses our full support and solidarity with Mrs Saleh and her two children facing forcible deportation…

PRESS RELEASE FROM CARDIFF MIGRANT SOLIDARITY

For Immediate Release: 19/10/2012

UK Border Agency to Unlawfully Deport Family.

A family of three faces forcible deportation after being dragged out of bed and restrained by UK Border Agency officials. Mrs Saleh and her two children were asleep in their Cardiff home yesterday morning when the UKBA carried out a dawn raid, dragging the family out of the house before the eyes of Mrs Saleh’s eldest daughter, who fears that she may never see them again. The family’s lawyers believe the UKBA may have acted illegally in this case as the Border Agency has acted against due process, seeking to remove Mrs Saleh and her children before their asylum case can be heard at judicial review in November. An energetic anti-deportation campaign is now building with celebrity support.

Mrs Saleh’s eldest daughter, Shrouk, 20, who has her own asylum claim under different grounds, was present during the raid and witnessed her mother being led away, potentially to be sent back to a country where her life will be in danger. Friends and neighbours arrived out of concern as the family was led out onto the street. A short film is now going viral online, in which the family is bundled into cars to the heartbreaking sound of Shrouk weeping on the doorstep. Friends and activists scrambled to mount a campaign and the family’s lawyers attempted to get an injunction passed before the family could be deported on a 3pm Egypt Air flight to Cairo. In the end, though, it was a stroke of luck that saw the family miss their flight, as an internal security mix-up at the airport saw them arrive too late to board. They are now being held at the euphemistically named ‘Cedars’ family detention centre at Pease Pottage, near Gatwick, under imminent threat of deportation.

Mrs Saleh and her children arrived in the UK legally in 2007 and claimed asylum after fleeing a violently abusive home life in Egypt. Mrs Saleh’s husband, who endangered the children’s lives on several occasions, managed to avoid prosecution for rape and domestic violence because of his connections in the Egyptian judiciary and police. The family believe they will be at serious risk of so-called ‘honour killing’, rape and harassment if they are returned to Egypt. However, due largely to poor legal representation, serious issues with the translation of evidence, and the failure of the UKBA to pass their full case file to their new lawyer, the family’s asylum claim is in jeopardy. The family have lived in Wales for five years, with the children spending their formative years in Cardiff, and have come to identify with the city and integrate well into their community.

Mrs Saleh’s eldest daughter Shrouk, who was not detained, had this to say:

“I had to watch my family being dragged away right in front of my eyes with the threat of never seeing them again. All I felt at the time was a huge sense of terror and I felt paralysed. It felt completely unreal and I lost some memory from the day. I remember collapsing in tears on the doorstep watching them manhandling my mother and younger siblings. When the UKBA officers would try to walk past me in the doorway they would threaten me for ‘obstructing’ them. We are being treated like criminals but we have done nothing but seek refuge in this country.”

Shrouk’s friends recall that she passed out and vomited during the incident, but she cannot remember this at all.

The public reaction to these events has been astounding, and not limited to the local area. Shrouk has had hundreds of messages of support, some from as far away as Mexico, and author Neil Gaiman has reposted the video ‘Family’s House Raided by UKBA’ on his Twitter feed. Jonathan Evans, MP for Cardiff North, is among those appealing to the Home Secretary to halt the deportation, and so many people called Egypt Air to protest their involvement that they temporarily disconnected three phone lines to block calls.

Although the response has been overwhelmingly positive, a Facebook page claiming to represent the UKBA has sent insensitive messages to campaign supporters, claiming that “we had no choice,” and that the family had “made it here illegally so pity wasn’t given to them. We try our best to remove illegal migrants to make the country and the world a better place ..I hope you understand?”

ENDS.

NOTES FOR EDITORS:

The Video: ‘Family’s House Raided by UKBA’ has had more than 800 views since it was released this morning and can be found at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1NXwTOnzp8

The Petition: Cardiff Migrant Solidarity is asking people to sign a petition calling for the family’s release. There are already more than 900 signatures. http://www.gopetition.com/petition/38944.html

Cardiff Migrant Solidarity is a part of No Borders, a transnational network of autonomous groups advocating freedom of movement and equality for all. http://noborderswales.wordpress.com/

‘Cedars’ ‘Pre-Departure Accommodation Unit’ is a newly built family detention centre at Pease Pottage, near Gatwick. The centre has come under criticism from various campaign groups for being build after the UK government pledged to end child detention. It is run with the complicity of Barnardo’s, who have also come under fire for their part in the locking up of children. The detention centre can be reached at: 01293844900

CONTACT:

Shrouk: 07858268373

Mrs Saleh’s son, Ibrahim can be reached in the detention centre on: 07596162523

Cardiff Migrant Solidarity: cardiffsolidarity@riseup.net

About Gremlin Alley Social Centre

We are a newly squatted social centre in the heart of City Road, Cardiff, and we have hopes of turning the derelict, disused space of what was formerly known as 'Spin Bowling' into the flourishing heart of a newly-blosomed community. We have been resisting eviction since 4th October 2012.
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