Friday, November 23, 2007

Reading and Weeping is not enough

MELTEM AVCIL’S TESTIMONY: THURSDAY 22 NOVEMBER 2007
re HER MEETING WITH THE UK CHILDREN'S COMMISSIONER SIR AL AYNSLEY-GREEN;

I met him with my mother for half an hour in Bedford Hospital where i had been admitted. The guards stood with us. He [Sir Al Aynsley-Green] had kind eyes. Then he said to the nurse he wanted go to a private room. We went into the private room and the guards were sat outside.

Then, he asked me what is going on, i told him everything, my problems. And then he asked me “how were you before you were detained in Yarlswood?” I said i was really really happy with my friends. then he said “well how do you feel in yarls wood?” I said, “i feel really unhappy”. He was writing everything down. And then he said he was really really angry about what was happening to me.

He asked me if we went back to Germany what will happen? I said obviously the Germans will send us back to turkey and turkeys dangerous for us. And then he understood we were Kurds and didn't ask anymore about that.

He asked me how my mum was, i told the truth that she is really really depressed and I looked after her, she needs me. He said he understands.

He said why did you hurt yourself. I said because i was locked up in the detention centre for almost three months now. he said did you ever think about suicide outside the detention centre. I said i never even had that thought because i had my school and friends and my mum next to me.

After he spoke to me, I said to him look Mr Green are you going to after this conversation act like you never knew me or are you going to help me get released. Then he said I’m going to help you get released from here, and I guarantee you I will speak to the minister privately.

And then we just stood up and shook hands and left the room and he walked straight out. Me and my mum walked to our ward with the guards. After like twenty minutes or so, the manager of the guards was speaking on the phone, and then I heard him say "the stupid commissioner has got involved..." I felt bad, like Mr Green could not help me now.

I said to the nurse about my supporters sending emails to the hospital for my birthday and could I see the emails because they were taking me back to yarls wood. The nurse said ‘yes of course you need to go the administration office’. I asked the guards but they said I couldn’t go, but I would have liked to read them. We waited until they discharged us. The guards didn’t speak to us at all. then we came back to yarls wood. it feel bad inside because we are locked up again, i don't know for how long. most of all, if i had a choice i would want to go back to school. I just wish I was with my friends, doing ordinary stuff, not being locked up like this.

COPY OF LETTER TO THE UK CHILDREN'S COMMISSIONER SIR AL AYNSLEY-GREEN FROM ROBINA QURESHI, DIRECTOR OF POSITIVE ACTION IN HOUSING

Dear Sir Al,

I implore you to please do everything in your power to secure Meltem Avcil's release alongwith her mother so that they can pursue their legal battle to remain in the UK in relative freedom. Neither Meltem or her mother ever tried to abscond from their home despite repeated threats from the immigration authorities, there is no reason for them to be locked up in Yarlswood.

As you will be aware, Meltem has suffered considerable psychological trauma as a result of her incarceration. She has gone from being a happy child to a depressed self harmer seeking out suicide pacts with fellow young 'detainees' at Yarlswood, where some fifty other children are locked up. At her last bail hearing, the judge wanted to see medical evidence of her unhappiness, the existing medical notes from Medical Justice now confirm the obvious. Surely the Minister you plan to meet can now instruct the immigration officials to grant Chief Immigration Officers bail to allow Meltem and her mum back home to Doncaster?

This country effectively allowed Meltem Avcil to remain here for over six years, while officials dithered over whether she is a refugee or an asylum seeker. As you know better than me, a child growing up in a country for six of the most formative years of her life doesn't see a refuge or a temporary place; she sees her home, her country. And her fluent English with perfect Doncaster accent tells us that too. This is her home and noone has the right to take that - or her liberty for that matter - away from her. This child was also taken away from her home at dawn in August 2007, like a criminal, without so much as a chance to say goodbye to her friends and neighbours.We are fighting hard for Meltem to go back home to Doncaster, because that is her home in the truest sense of the word.

The current political situation in Turkey, where Germany will eventually return them to should they be deported to Germany, is such that they face certain persecution because they are Kurds. There is nowhere else for this family to go. Give it another year and Meltem would have had a legal right to stay here because of the seven year rule.

In 2003, I was involved in a campaign for the Ay Family, Kurds fleeing Turkey. The mother and five children were locked up in dungavel removal centre for 1 year until this country saw fit to deport them to Germany. Ironically, the Germans saw fit to grant the Ay family leave to remain on the grounds of the psychological trauma the children suffered in UK detention centres. You would have thought we would have learnt something.

Meltem's story has become something of a cause celebre. You will know that Diane Abbot MP raised the case two days ago, and the Independent newspaper gave the case extensive coverage on November 21, as well as Doncaster based newspapers and radio. Hundreds of emails went to Meltems MP, Rosie Winterton, who replied with template emails to each one saying she could not interfere in the 'legal process'. Hundreds of emails also went yesterday to the Prime Minister and the home secretary. Meltem has gathered more than 1200 supporters.Right now, we are hoping that the NUT will join in pressuring the government on this case. A petition by Doncaster schoolchildren to the Prime Minister is also planned.

All I am saying is, please, please do everything to help this young girl. She's our future lifeblood and might one day do this country proud - if only we would let her.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Best wishes,
Robina Qureshi
Director

COPY OF COMMENT LEFT ON PAIH BLOG

Im One of Meltems friends at school and we are all very upset with what she is going through at this moment, we are going to help her as much as we possibly can, and are going to talk to our head of year and the head-master about the case, asking them to help aswel.
There is no need for Meltem and her mum to be tret like this , what has Meltem done? what exacly has she done! Nothing! so there is no reason for the way she is bieng treated, its disgusting!
Meltem We are all thinking about you and are going to help !
we are also going to write to you!

See also here (scroll down)

And here's a letter from Meltem to YOU!

If you are now feeling distressed, ashamed, angry ...
please check my previous post and ensure your voice is added to those who are appalled that this
attack on the human rights of a child can happen in this country

UPDATE SAT 24/11: MELTEM AND HER MOTHER WERE FINALLY RELEASED FROM YARLSWOOD YESTERDAY.

THIS IS WHAT MELTEM HAD TO SAY:
"I am so happy I think I will burst. This is my best moment ever. I want to say thank you to the children’s commissioner for not forgetting me. He had the kindest eyes ever."

PLEASE REMEMBER - THERE ARE 50 OTHER CHILDREN STILL LOCKED UP IN YARLSWOOD!

3 comments:

Verilion said...

I agree that reading and weeping is not enough and I'm glad that the public pressure worked.

Debi said...

In this case and only partially, V.

Meltem and her mother are currently in B&B accommodation. The struggle continues to ensure they are allowed to stay in this country.

And of course they are certainly not the only ones!

Verilion said...

Well keep on keeping on Debi. It's important that somebody stands up for these people. You are making a difference - you're keeping me informed for a start.