A new project has been established in Leeds in memory of Manuel Bravo, an Angolan asylum seeker, who was found hanged in Yarl’s Wood removal centre on 15 September 2005, where he was detained with his 13-year-old son pending deportation.
Before his death, Manuel had settled in Leeds and regularly attended church with his family. Following his death, Leeds local community and church representatives met and decided that they could help asylum seekers by providing legal representation. As a result, the Manuel Bravo project has been established: a ‘Christian initiative committed to social justice’ which will serve asylum seekers in the Leeds area by providing a free legal advocacy service specifically aimed at those seeking representation at the appeals stage. The project, which will run as a pilot scheme for two years, should be able to offer this service by the end of 2006. Funds are still being sought.
Remembering Manuel Bravo
Manuel and his son, Antonio, were detained for deportation in an early morning raid and taken to Yarl’s Wood in Bedford. Within 24 hours, Manuel had taken his own life after telling his son ‘be brave, work hard, do well at school’. While being held at Yarl’s Wood, Manuel had told a friend, the Rev Alistair Kaye, he could not understand why he and his son were facing deportation despite having received no decision on the asylum claim. In October 2002, Manuel was forced to represent himself at his asylum tribunal hearing, after his solicitor failed to show up. Despite contacting the Immigration Service Manuel was still awaiting a decision. On the morning of his death, Rev Kaye received a letter notifying him of Manuel’s asylum refusal. Twenty minutes later he heard Manuel was dead. Manuel’s son, Antonio is now in the care of family friends in Leeds. (Also see IRR news story: Two asylum seekers took their own lives within 24 hours)