Thursday 27 June 2013

PRESS RELEASE - Dignity, not Destitution: Asylum seekers across the country standing up in a national day of action

Asylum seekers across the country are making a stand for ‘Dignity not Destitution’ this Saturday 29th June, in Bristol, Bradford, Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield and Glasgow and Birmingham[1], for the first asylum seeker-led national day of action aiming to highlight the government policy of forced destitution[2].
Since 2002[3] destitute asylum seekers[4] have not been permitted to work or claim any support. This means that they are unable to provide for themselves and are forced to be dependent upon charities and friends for housing, money and food. They are also unable to access education and some healthcare. Asylum seekers can be in this situation for years.

Marching just one week after refugee week[5], a celebration of all refugees have contributed to the UK, destitute asylum seekers are asking for the right to contribute.
Manesh, 29, former student in electrical engineering, from Iran says “I came here to be safe, I had to leave Iran because I was part of a humanitarian political group. I have had no support for over 4 years. I would like to share my skills and contribute to society, to pay taxes.”
Councils in Glasgow, Bristol and Sheffield[6] have all passed motions against the policy of forced destitution over the past year. "We should not tolerate destitution in our city for any reason" said Bristol Mayor George Ferguson,[7] in January. However the national policy means the situation remains unchanged, with charity Bristol Hospitality Network estimating that over 100 people are destitute in Bristol alone.

The asylum seekers, who started self-organising last year,[8] have had to overcome language barriers and traumatic personal experiences to arrange the day of action and they plan to continue working together to build a strong national campaign in order to change the policy that forces them into destitution.

Twitter hashtag #Dignity2013

[2] “.. The Government has indeed been practising a deliberate policy of destitution” The Joint Committee on Human Rights ‘The Treatment of Asylum Seekers, Tenth Report of Session 2006-7
[3] Until 2002 asylum seekers were allowed to work to support themselves and their families.   
[4] Asylum seekers who are seeking safety due to war or persecution, who are applying to be legally recognised as refugees by the home office. 
[6] Glasgow June 2012, Bristol January 2013, Sheffield April 2013
[8] 250 people marched through the streets of Bristol in June 2012 and camped out to highlight destitution in January 2013.

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