This missive was circulated yesterday:
Take action Tomorrow: Stop the Deportation of Amar!
The Home Office plans to deport our friend Amar, a refugee from Sudan,on a British Airways flight to Italy this Tuesday 1 July. Amar has finally found safety in the UK after years of exile, racism, attacks and harassment. He is part of a crucial appeal case for refugee rights – the Home Office is trying to rush him out of the country before it comes to court.
***Our friend and his story.***
Amar is a refugee from war-torn Darfur, in Sudan. Up to half a million people have been killed in the war in Darfur, and some three million people chased from their homes as refugees. In 2008, then aged nineteen, Amar fled the massacres and famine to try and find safety in Europe. Like many exiles from East Africa he arrived first in Greece, a country that accepts almost zero refugees. Tens of thousands of immigrants are left sleeping rough on the streets, regularly attacked by neo-nazi gangs from the ‘Golden Dawn’ party and the police.
Amar escaped once again, to Italy. Here the welcome was no better. First the Italian authorities just put him on a boat back to Greece. The Greek police locked him in prison then sent him back to Italy. He managed to stay in Italy this time, but with no support or information, nowhere to live, no right to work. Again he was homeless, and subject to racist assaults at least twice a week. The police not only refused to help, but themselves harassed and attacked Amar and his friends. Finally the police burnt down the house where they were staying.
Amar arrived in England in 2011. After three years of wandering, assaults, hunger, imprisonment, indignity, he had finally found somewhere safe to stay. Amar settled in Leeds, where he made a strong network of friends, studied English at college, and volunteered in local community projects (as an asylum seeker, he is not allowed to do any paid work).
Amar is asking for the chance to live in a way many take for granted, free from constant violence and insecurity. But the UK Home Office wants to tear his life apart once again. The Home Office refuses to let him stay as a refugee in Britain, saying that the Italian authorities have responsibility for him. Last week he was arrested and put in Moreton Hall detention centre near Nottingham. The Home Office plans to force him onto a flight to Milan on Tuesday 1 July.
Amar knows very well what kind of welcome is waiting for him in Italy. At best, homelessness and danger on the streets. Or worse, being sent on to Greece or even Sudan.
***Amar’s case is crucial for many refugees.***
Amar’s case is far from unique. British and European courts have recognised the appalling situation for refugees in Greece, and banned all deportations back there. There is an ongoing legal struggle for a similar ruling about Italy, backed by reports and other evidence from the UNHCR and human rights organisations.
Amar, along with five other refugees, is part of an important test case at the Supreme Court. Their lawyers are currently preparing a crucial appeal based on UN evidence. This appeal could overturn a previous ruling allowing Italy deportations. The Home Office seems to be trying to get Amar out of the country before it can come to court. This battle is not just for Amar, but for hundreds of refugees from East Africa and from Syria, Iran, Afghanistan and many other places who will be directly affected by what happens in his case.
Many deportations have been stopped through public pressure on the airline, as airlines have the power to refuse to fly any passenger.
Contact British Airways and tell them not to fly Amar against his will on Tuesday morning. The flight details are: flight A572 from London Heathrow (terminal 5) to Milan at 7.50 AM.
British Airways main customer phone number: 0844 493 0787.
Email (of chief exec): firstname.lastname@example.org
The good news is that Amar was not on that flight this morning.