Desperate asylum seeker takes own life

Desperate asylum seeker takes own life

Written by: Harmit Athwal

At the end of January, an inquest into the death of Kurdish asylum seeker Ako Mahmood Ahmed recorded a verdict of suicide. He died after jumping from a bridge at a Coventry shopping centre in August 2004.

Ako Mahmood Ahmed arrived in the UK in May 2004 and was ‘dispersed’ to Coventry in June where he was supported by the Coventry Refugee Centre. His asylum claim was rejected and he lodged an appeal. However, because of new legal aid limits, Ako was unable to find a solicitor to act for him despite help from Coventry Refugee Centre. As a result, he was faced with destitution on the streets of Britain and the prospect of deportation to Iraq.

Mohamad Rasul, Chairman of the Coventry Kurdish Association, told IRR News that Ako had no friends or family in the UK and was one of 5,000 asylum seekers living in the Coventry area, at least 500 of whom were destitute. By the time that the Coventry Kurdish Association had located Ako’s family and raised the funds to repatriate his body to Kurdistan, Ako had already been buried in Coventry by the authorities. But the money raised will help support Ako’s wife and two children back in Iraqi Kurdistan.

  • IRR News has also learnt that the Prison and Probation Ombudsman (who, since April 2004, has investigated all deaths in prison, immigration detention centres and probation hostels) is investigating the death of Necati Ozcan, an immigration detainee, who reportedly died of cancer on 10 December 2004 in Southampton General Hospital.

Related links

Coventry Refugee Centre

IRR News Story – Did undue pressure on an asylum seeker lead to his suicide?

IRR News Story – Huge response to Omid Jamil Ali appeal

IRR Press Release – Death trap: the human cost of the war on asylum

IRR News Story – Sent to Coventry

National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns

For further information contact either Mohamad Rasul at the Coventry Kurdish Association - 07752 958 762 or Coventry Refugee Centre - 02476 227 301. The IRR is currently researching the suicides of asylum seekers and undocumented workers in the UK, if you have any information please email:

The Institute of Race Relations is precluded from expressing a corporate view: any opinions expressed are therefore those of the authors.

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