Plymouth Kurd family detained and split up by immigration authorities


Plymouth Kurd family detained and split up by immigration authorities

Written by: Arun Kundnani


The two children of Ruir Thaha have been taken into care after first being detained with their mother and then separated from her after she twice attempted suicide over the weekend.

Last week, IRR News reported on the case of Sabrin and Hanna Thaha, two Kurdish sisters from Iraq, who, along with their mother, were snatched by immigration officers on Thursday morning and detained at Tinsley House, near Gatwick Airport. The family was told that they were to be deported to Germany the following day. Sabrin, 15, and Hanna, 14, have lived in Plymouth for three years but were forced to leave Parkside Community College last autumn because of the high levels of racial harassment they found there.

During her first night in detention, the sisters’ mother Ruir Thaha attempted to take her life. The authorities responded the next day by taking Ruir’s two daughters away from her and placing them in the care of West Sussex County Council social services, who found a foster home for the two sisters a short distance from Tinsely House. At the same time, officials at Tinsley House told supporters of the Thaha family that Ruir was nevertheless in a fit mental state to be detained.

The next day, Ruir again attempted to take her life. The authorities responded to this second suicide attempt by moving her to Yarl’s Wood detention centre in Bedfordshire, hundreds of miles away from her children. Ruir’s deportation is now scheduled for the end of this week, according to the Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND), although it is unclear whether Ruir’s daughters will be deported with her.

The family is being helped by The Monitoring Group (TMG), which supports victims of racism in the South-West, and has found widespread support in Plymouth. An emergency picket of the city’s immigration office on Friday lunchtime was attended by twenty people and a local newspaper has written an editorial in support of the family.

Jon McKenzie, of TMG, who has been in regular contact with Sabrin Thaha, said that she was extremely upset, frightened and confused by the actions of the IND.

UPDATE, 3 MARCH 2005: The deportation that was scheduled to take place today has been postponed for an unspecified period. Sabrin and Hanna have been taken out of care and are now with their mother at Yarl’s Wood detention centre.

Related links

Plymouth school students detained after escaping racist harassment – IRR report

The Monitoring Group

National Civil Rights Movement (South West)


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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