Sunday 13 January 2013

Asylum Seekers Sleep Out to Dream of Ending Forced Destitution

Press Release

Asylum Seekers Sleep Out to Dream of Ending Forced Destitution

On Monday 14th January 40 destitute asylum seekers from the group Dignity for Asylum Seekers will sleep within a 'Chain of Destitution' on College Green to publically condemn the governments policy of forced destitution [1] and to encourage Bristol Council to do the same.

Esam Amin, a refused Kurdish asylum seeker from Iraq and volunteer chef at Bristol Refugee Rights Welcome Centre said “My asylum application has been refused wrongly because the Home Office chooses not to believe me. They asked for more evidence and my mum put herself in danger getting this and they still refuse me and then leave me destitute”.

Destitute asylum seekers and supporters [2] will set up tents within a giant chain to highlight how asylum seekers who have had their asylum applications wrongfully refused [3] are made destitute by unjust laws. 
Patrick from East Africa and volunteer at St Nicholas Church saidWe are young. We are here. We have many skills. We want to contribute to this society, pay taxes and help to generate money for the economy. Refused asylum seekers are not allowed to work but nor do we receive any government support. These unjust laws leave us with no shelter or food. It is inhumane and degrading. We are made to feel inferior and have lost our confidence. The government needs to change this policy. We need to be treated as humans. We want dignity”

The group will stay on College Green until 2pm on Tuesday 15th January, facing sub-zero temperatures. They will then go in to the City Hall to encourage councillors to agree to publically deplore this government policy, join the Still Human Still Here campaign and encourage Bristol MP's to organise a debate in the House of Parliament.

The government has rejected my case and they try to reject me from society. This situation brings up mental problems and I forget my background due to the hard pressure I am under. Its a kind of amnesia. I feel I am not able to connect with people and I have lots of thoughts in my mind of doing harm to myself. But I also dream of asylum seekers getting basic human rights.” said Manesh, a refused asylum seeker from Iran and a regular writer on the Asylum Seekers in Bristol blog.

The group will be there from 7.30pm on Monday until 2pm on Tuesday. They will take the tents down at 1pm and at 2pm walk within the Chains in to the Council House. 

Claire Hall from Bristol said “My friends and I are going to support this sleep out. It is going to be a long cold night but this is nothing compared to what destitute asylum seekers experience. We want be part of this amazing movement of people who are doing something positive to bring an end to forced destitution.” 

[1] See report by Refugee Action for more information about the forced destitution on Asylum Seekers:

[3] People are refused for many reasons; lack of English and stress when interviewed on arrival in UK; not understanding the legal process; cuts to legal aid make it difficult to get a solicitor;  standards of evidence required by Home Office which are near impossible to reach; a culture of wilfully disbelieving people.

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