Road show seeks to highlight plight of asylum seekers
“Asylum seekers are not out to claim benefits”, the people of Merseyside were told recently.
Ben Kamara, a caseworker of the UK based charity organization, Asylum Link, was speaking on the concept of asylum and the need of support for asylum seekers, as part of a forum recently organized to create awareness about the phenomenon.
Asylum Link dedicates itself to promoting the welfare of asylum seekers in the UK. Its caseworker, Ben Kamara, was addressing spectators at a “Road Show” organized by the Nerve Centre in Liverpool Bold Street as part of a four-week activity that took the form of arts display, discussions and musical performances.
In addition to slideshow presentations, the audience also heard personal testimonies with questions and answers involving notable participants.
In a 45 minute briefing, Ben Kamara, through an audio visual explanation, took the audience through a rather captivating lecture, describing the concept of asylum and the needs of asylum seekers.
They are people who have fled their native country after being persecuted or for fear of persecution, he said. He added that asylum seekers were not in the country to claim benefits “because they are not entitled to it and are not permitted to take any employment or get married.”
According to Kamara, every asylum seeker in the UK receives only £35 a week, 5 Pound every day for food, clothing and transport, and he went on to elaborate on the numerous kinds of assistance offered to them by his organization. Mr. Kamara then urged all “kindhearted” individuals to support Asylum Link in any way possible as a way of extending assistance to asylum seekers.
Also speaking on the occasion was Gambian journalist, Pa Modou Bojang, who narrated his experience to the audience as an exiled journalist from the tiny West African Commonwealth nation of The Gambia.
Mr Bojang, who was persecuted in his home country for his work as a journalist, managed to flee to the UK in search of safety. He narrated his ordeal which culminated in the recent refusal of his asylum claim and subsequent month-long detention by the United Kingdom Border Agency (UKBA) in Oakington, Cambridge.
My name is Pa Modou Bojang, I was born on the 16th of February 1975 in the West African Commonwealth nation of The Gambia
I was the manager of the banned Yiriwa Community Radio station in Brikama, Gambia. After being detained in Gambia for expressing my political beliefs, I fled to the UK as a place of safety to claim asylum in 2009. I fear that if I am sent back to my home country of Gambia, I will face imminent death or torture at the hands of the state, because simply of being a vocal journalist in both the written and electronic media.
Over the years, I have written and spoken extensively about the dismal practices and exploitive system of governance in the Gambia, writing and speaking passionately and openly about my political values and beliefs. While I worked for the Yiriwa Community Radio in Gambia, I have continued as a journalist here in the UK by writing with the US Freedom Newspaper for 11 months. The Freedom Newspaper is an online-based newspaper reporting on the latest political situation in Gambia and other stories of public interest across the world. As an independent news organization, it is committed to defending press freedom, good governance and democracy on the African continent. The group strongly advocates its devotion to “zero tolerance of censorship” and political patronage. This involvement puts me even more at risk if forcibly removed,
By now, the publicity behind my case is being closely monitored by the regime back in The Gambia, and the regime could be salivating in anticipation of laying their hands on me right at the airport.
I have a real and genuine fear and threat that I will be killed or harmed if returned to Gambia. Since 2006 journalists in Gambia, like me, are routinely subjected to daily harassment, torture, unlawful arrests and detentions, unfair trials and in certain cases, forced into exile out of fear for our lives. The prevailing climate of fear and the continued violations of the right of freedom of expression raise profound concerns over the rights and freedoms enshrined in international instruments that should be afforded to all citizens.
Journalists in Gambia are naturally considered enemies of the state as we disagree of being praise singers. I also believe that as a member of the fourth estate, it is our responsibility to create awareness through information, education and communication to the people and it is simply against this background that the president of the republic, one time branded journalists as the illegitimate sons of Africa.
I claimed asylum in September 2009, a month after my arrival in the UK and in January 2010 my claim was refused by the UKBA. In March 2010 I appealed against the decision of the home office at the tier tribunal, the immigration judge also refused and denied me in all grounds, including humanitarian protection. In June 2010 all my support was stopped, but Asylum Link, Merseyside came to the rescue. In July 2010 I was arrested and detained at Oakington Immigration detention centre waiting for my deportation. My flight was only cancelled after the High court accepted my injunction. Finally, the high court has granted judicial review on my case, but no date has yet been fixed for the hearing.
I am urging every one of you to consider the plight of destitute asylum seeker and come to our aid, because we have left our countries of origin for one reason or another.
For more info regarding Pa Modou campaign for asylum read his blog www.jamano.wordpress.com
Comment left by dazza on 9th November, 2010 at 21:18
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