Tuesday, October 2, 2007

A Criticism of the UK's Asylum System

an excerpt from:

The callous hypocrisy of our asylum system
- Independent Online Edition

By Nigel Morris and Ben Russell

Gordon Brown has been accused of failing to match words with deeds when it comes to standing up for refugees fleeing some of the world's worst tyrannies.

At the Labour Party conference last week, Mr Brown promised to stand up for those suffering persecution in Burma, Darfur and Zimbabwe, singling those regimes out as the world's "darkest corners" and adding that "human rights are universal".

Yet the Home Office is continuing to reject applications for refuge from Burmese dissidents and is embroiled in protracted court battles to enable the enforced removals of Zimbabweans and Darfuris.

The double standards have been exposed in interviews with asylum-seekers from all three countries and have provoked fury among refugee groups and MPs.

Lay Naing was jailed for several years in Burma for speaking out against the junta that has put down protest so brutally over the past week. Abdul Ismail Mouamen lost his brother, father and cousin to the violence sweeping the Sudanese region of Darfur. Lynn Gambese (her name has been changed to protect her identity) fled Zimbabwe after learning that President Robert Mugabe's henchmen were coming for her. If the Home Office got its way, all three would be sent home to face the threat of repression, brutality and even death.

Donna Covey, chief executive of the Refugee Council, said: "From Burma to Darfur to Zimbabwe, people who have suffered persecution are coming here and asking for safety. Instead of protecting them, we are turning them down and forcing them into destitution. This must end. Apart from anything, what kind of message does it send out to oppressive regimes? If the Government is committed to protecting people who are persecuted, it should not forget those who seek sanctuary on our shores."

Keith Best, chief executive of the Immigration Advisory Service, said: "There's a degree of hypocrisy in government which shouldn't be tolerated. When the public knows what's happening in places like Burma how can even the most right-wing person say people should be returned there?"

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Prime Minister Gordon Brown
10 Downing Street

Ask him politely to stop returning people to countries where they face danger of torture and/or death. It is against all decency and humanity and is against international law.

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