Echo and the Burundimen | 18.09.2008 09:45 | Sheffield
Life in the UK
Annociate had been making a life for herself in Sheffield, studying English, singing in St. Marie’s cathedral choir, working as a volunteer in charity work, and socialising in refugee and asylum seeker clubs. She had also been speaking in churches for the registered charity, ASSIST. Most important of all, she had developed a close and loving relationship with another Burundian who had won status here as a refugee, and she had just received Home Office permission to marry him when she was arrested.
Traumas in Burundi
Annociate already suffered from post-traumatic stress as a result of her experiences in Burundi, and she has been receiving regular counselling. Her parents were killed by a rebel group over whom the Burundian authorities appear to have little or no control. Burundians who know her and her situation say there is a strong likelihood that she too will be killed if she is returned.
She was taken on Friday to a detention centre far from Sheffield – Dungavel in South Lanarkshire, Scotland. Her campaign group has been in touch with her and we have received a despairing message in which she states that she would rather die here than be deported to face what awaits her in Burundi.
Experience of the Home Office
This is not the first time the Home Office have tried to deport her. In late February she was arrested and detained before being deported to Burundi in early March, despite a concerted campaign on her behalf. She spent 3 days in solitary confinement in Bridge Street police station before being taken to Yarlswood detention centre and then deported. Fortunately for her, on that occasion the Burundian authorities would not allow her into their country, and she was returned after what was a very stressful and harrowing experience.
Now, after 6 months in which the relationship between herself and her fiancée has developed and grown, she has been taken away from her new life to face possible rape, torture and death. A Home Office country report has admitted that rebels continue to commit numerous serious human rights abuses against civilians, including killings, kidnappings and rapes. Burundi has been described as the 5th most dangerous country in the world.
Not surprisingly, a petition asking for Annociate to stay in the UK has been signed by over 1200 people. Among the signatories is Nick Clegg MP, and she has received the warm support of her church, the college where she is studying, and the charity groups with which she is involved.
The case of Annociate Nimpagaritse is an extreme example of a vulnerable young woman who has been tragically and wrongly disbelieved when she presented her appeal for refuge in this country. Worse, the Home Office admit that they do not monitor what happens to people after they have been forcibly returned to the authorities from which they have fled.
Her life is therefore now in their hands. If she remains here, she will have a husband with a job and a home who is able to support her, and a network of close friends. She will contribute in many positive ways to life in the UK. If, on the other hand, if she is deported, her fate may indeed be a terrible one, and might not even ever be known. How can such an action be justified? Her friends will fight to save her and will never give up. We appeal to everyone with a sense of compassion and decency to support the campaign for Annociate.
For further information see http://freeannociate.blogspot.com/
Echo and the Burundimen