Aziz and Gemma need help urgently
On Monday, the UK Border Agency arrested 18 year old Aziz Hussini on his wedding day, bursting into the Registry Office and dragging him away. Waiting to walk down the aisle was Gemma, his distraught fiancée. She is a British citizen. She did not know what was happening until 2 Border Agency officials in their stab proof vests came out to tell her that her wedding could not happen because they had detained Aziz.
Aziz is currently in detention, due to be forcibly removed from the UK to Kabul, Afghanistan on Monday 12th March.
Aziz and Gemma have been together for over a year, and were planning a life together before they were torn apart by Border Agency officials. Gemma is beside herself with worry, and hasn’t eaten or slept properly since Monday, when she was supposed to get married. Gemma first met Aziz in February last year. “When I first saw him, the connection was there straight away, we’ve been together ever since”. This is not a ‘sham marriage’. In fact, Gemma had an ‘A’ tattood behind her ear at Christmas as a symbol of her commitment to Aziz, and is learning Dari, Aziz’s native language. They want a future together in the UK. The Border Agency has never recognised the relationship.
Aziz arrived in the UK 2009 as an unaccompanied minor. Despite a difficult start, Aziz is flourishing in Glasgow. When he first arrived in the UK, he couldn’t speak a word of English, but is now hoping to study at University and has many close friends who he has met through college. After first studying English, Aziz is now working for an HNC in Computing, where Gemma says he worked twice as hard as everyone else. In Glasgow, he was completed a voluntary work placement as a textiles artist with Little Persia, a Persian rug shop in Glasgow. He has also received awards from the John Muir Environmental Award, and an accreditation from the ASDAN charitable foundation, illustrating his commitment to his local community.
Forcibly removing Aziz to Afghanistan would be a devastating violation of his Human Rights. Under Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights, he has a right to respect for his private and family life. Article 12 gives him the right to marry. The Border Agency has simply claimed that “There is no evidence that the appellant has any close family in the UK”.
However, Aziz is also terrified that if he is returned, he will never be reunited with Gemma. His life is in danger in Afghanistan. He fled three years ago, after being commissioned to make satirical depictions of a fundamentalist party leader on a carpet. Aziz has lost contact with his family, so will have no-one to support or protect him. At only 18 years old he will be alone and afraid in an impoverished and dangerous country.
It is worrying that Afghanistan has become “safe” to send people to. Only last month, Human Rights Watch warned that young people being returned to Afghanistan are faced with violence and destitution. Many are simply recruited to the armed forces to fight the Taliban. Towards the end of February, Amnesty International reported that there half a million refugees in Afghanistan, displaced because because of the war. They inhabit slums in the cities, with have little access to food, water, decent shelter, or education. Last winter, more than 40 people froze to death in the camps. Aziz has nothing to return to, and could shortly find himself in a slum, fighting for scraps to survive.
Aziz is due to be forcibly removed on one of the infamous charter flights used by the UKBA for mass deportations of people to the same country. Flight number PVT 081 is scheduled to depart at 23.10 to Kabul on Monday evening.
These charter flights have been regularly criticised. In particular, guards accompanying the detainees have been criticised for using excessive force as there are not any other passengers to act as witnesses. Similarly, concern has been expressed about the UKBA’s practise of substituting people at the last minute without warning to fill spaces on the flight left by people whose lawyers managed to successfully get them off the flight.
Please urgently contact the Home Secretary, Theresa May, your MP, and Aziz’s MP, Ann McKechin, to ask them to halt the forced removal of Aziz. On all correspondence, please make sure that you state:
– The flight number – charter flight PVT081 to Kabul 23:10, 12th March 2012
– Aziz’s Home Office reference number – H1206065
You can download and use this model letter to the Home Secretary, or use your own words, but please act fast.
The Home Secretary:
Theresa May, MP
Secretary of State for the Home Office
2 Marsham Street
Contact Aziz’s MP
Ann McKechin MP,
154-156 Raeberry Street
tel:0141 946 1300 or 020 7219 8239
fax:0141 946 1412 or 020 7219 1770
Link to coverage in the Glasgow Herald