A series of short online videos by Manchester-based groups tells the ‘untold stories behind the political and media hype’ surrounding asylum seekers.
Asylum seekers, the National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns (NCADC), the Basement café, Community Arts North West and No Borders Manchester have joined forces for this project that focuses on asylum seekers in the Greater Manchester area.
The Right To Stay videos, which are freely accessible on the website of the Digital Diaries project, document the stories of several asylum seekers who face deportation and draw attention to the campaigns that have grown up around these people in order to protect them from the death, violence and torture they may face in the countries from which they have fled.
The videos are informative of the situation of asylum seekers and offer the public the opportunity to hear the stories of those people whose voices often go unheard. They also address the issue of getting ‘sympathetic people involved in the asylum struggle’ and to join in the solidarity already present between asylum seekers and anti-deportation campaign groups.
Mansoor, Ziadah, Moses and Aamir, alongside their families and friends, talk of the threats, intimidation and torture that led them to flee their countries and explain the situation surrounding their asylum applications. There is also the opportunity to watch interviews and scenes from the anti-deportation rally that was held in Manchester on 2 April 2005.
One case documents how Aamir came to the United Kingdom with his wife, Hummera, due to the threat of an honour killing, which, it is claimed, the Pakistani police do not offer adequate protection against. They had married in Pakistan against the wishes of their families, and some family members published an article against them in a Pakistani newspaper. Now that Hummera’s asylum claim has been rejected and Aamir’s opposed by the Home Office, they fear for their safety if it is decided that they should be deported to Pakistan.
In another video, Ziadah, who fled Uganda in 2003 after suffering torture and rape by members of the Tabliq sect and witnessing the killing of her father, speaks eloquently of her pain and her determination to fight deportation. She states that ‘the situation I am living in is a situation of uncertainty. The UK government has not granted me any status. In fact, I am not recognised. I’m not living as a human being. To them, I don’t exist.’ Later, she pronounces: ‘I am campaigning for my life.’
The resources presented on the Digital Diaries website play a valuable educational role, and would be particularly useful for schools, campaigners, faith centres and other interested groups. The multimedia content of the Right To Stay project provides a fresh way to examine and discuss issues surrounding asylum applications.