Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Urgent Appeal for Cameroonian playwright Lydia Besong and her husband Bernard Batey




 Dear Reader,

As you may remember, we have been in touch on a number of occasions over the last couple of years with news of Cameroonian playwright Lydia Besong and her husband Bernard Batey who have been living in the UK since 2006.
 
We have just learnt from our colleagues at the Lydia and Bernard Must Stay Campaign that at 7.30am yesterday, Monday 5 September, at least five UK Border Agency officers went to Lydia and Bernard’s home in Bury, Greater Manchester. They took Bernard from the address - Lydia was not at the house at the time as she was on her way to the local immigration reporting centre.
 
Bernard is currently being held in Colnbrook IRC and is due to be forcibly removed from the UK  on Kenya Airways flight KQ526 at 8pm this Saturday, 10 September 2011, from UK to Nairobi for onward transit to Cameroon . The indications are that the UKBA want to deport Lydia as well.
 
Lydia and Bernard’s supporters were shocked to learn that Bernard had been detained whilst the UKBA were deemed to still be considering fresh evidence put forward by the couple's lawyer in July. There had been no indication to the couple or their legal representative that the new evidence had been rejected. It was only when their lawyer phoned Dallas Court Reporting Centre to find out why Bernard had been detained yesterday morning that the UKBA informed them that the further submissions had been turned down. The UKBA later faxed the legal representative with the reasons for rejection and removal instructions for Bernard, indicating that the decision to reject the further submissions was taken on 17 August, but it remains unclear why no-one was informed of this decision.
 
Lydia and Bernard are human rights activists who fled Cameroon , where they suffered from persecution as a result of their membership of the Southern Cameroon National Council, a peaceful pressure group which campaigns for the rights of the English speaking minority in Cameroon . Both had been imprisoned and tortured, and Lydia had been raped by a prison guard. There are widespread fears that both Lydia and Bernard will be in grave danger if they are returned to Cameroon .
 
Further information on Lydia and Bernard’s case can be found here:
 
Cameroonian playwright faces deportation:
http://www.englishpen.org/writersinprison/bulletins/ukplaywrightfacesdeportation/
 
Lydia Besong appeal for funds successful:
http://www.englishpen.org/writersinprison/wipcnews/cameroonlydiabesongappealforfundssuccessful/
 
Playwright refused asylum:
http://www.englishpen.org/writersinprison/wipcnews/cameroonukplaywrightrefusedasylum/
 
Justice for asylum seekers 60 years on:
http://www.englishpen.org/writersinprison/wipcnews/justiceforasylumseekers60yearson/
 
TAKE URGENT ACTION
 
Please write letters of appeal to the following – sample letters follow:
 
Write to Theresa May, Home Secretary
 
-          Asking her to exercise her discretionary powers to prevent the forced removal of Bernard Batey from the UK on Kenya Airways flight KQ526 at 8pm on Saturday 10 September 2011;  
-          Urging her to ensure that he is released from detention in the UK immediately.
 
Rt. Hon Theresa May, MP
Secretary of State for the Home Office,
2 Marsham St
London SW1 4DF
Fax: 020 7035 4745
Emails: mayt@parliament.uk
Emails: Privateoffice.external@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk / UKBApublicenquiries@UKBA.gsi.gov.uk
 
Write to Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister
 
 - Asking him to intervene with the Home Secretary Theresa May to stop the forced removal of Bernard Batey on Saturday 10 September 2011 and urging her to ensure his release from detention immediately.
 
Nick Clegg - Deputy Prime Minister's Office
Cabinet Office
70 Whitehall
London
SW1A 2AS
Fax: 020 7276 0514
Email: leader@libdems.org.uk
  
SAMPLE LETTERS
 
The following sample letters can be used as the basis of your appeals. Please do write a more personal letter if you have time and if so, please remember to quote Bernard Batey's Home Office Reference number B1236372. Please also send copies of all correspondence to admin@rapar.org.uk and cat@englishpen.org
  
SAMPLE LETTER TO THERESA MAY, HOME SECRETARY
  
Rt. Hon Theresa May, MP
Secretary of State for the Home Office,
2 Marsham St
 London SW1 4DF
Fax: 020 8760 3132
  
Dear Ms May,
  
Re: Lydia Besong & Bernard Batey, HO Ref: B1236372
  
I am writing as a member of English PEN, the charity which campaigns for writers and playwrights internationally, to urge you to intervene immediately in the case of Lydia Besong and Bernard Batey, two human rights campaigners from
 Cameroon . 
  
According to PEN’s information, at 7.30am on Monday 5 September, at least five UK Border Agency officers went to
 Lydia and Bernard’s home in Bury, Greater Manchester. They took Bernard from the address -
 Lydia was not at the house at the time as she was on her way to the local immigration reporting centre.
  
Friends and supporters were shocked to learn that Bernard had been detained whilst the UKBA were deemed to still be considering fresh evidence put forward by the couple's lawyer in July. There had been no indication to the couple or their legal representative that the new evidence had been rejected. It was only when their lawyer phoned Dallas Court Reporting Centre to find out why Bernard had been detained that the UKBA informed them that the further submissions had been turned down. The UKBA later faxed the legal representative with the reasons for rejection and removal instructions for Bernard, indicating that the decision to reject the further submissions was taken on 17 August. It remains unclear why no-one was informed of this decision.
 
As of Monday 5 September, Bernard Batey has been held in Colnbrook IRC with removal directions set for Saturday 10 September. It appears that the UKBA also want to deport Lydia on the same date.
  
Lydia and Bernard sought asylum in the
 UK on 18 December 2006. Their asylum claim is based on their activities with the Southern Cameroon National Council, a peaceful political pressure group which campaigns for the rights of the English-speaking minority of
 Southern Cameroon . In Cameroon , both
 Lydia and Bernard suffered beatings and imprisonment as a result of their involvement with the SCNC and
 Lydia was raped by a uniformed guard. These experiences have left them both traumatised and subject to severe depression.
  
Lydia was an English teacher in
 Cameroon and has written three plays, including one which is critical of
 Cameroon president Paul Biya. She was detained in Yarl's Wood IRC over Christmas 2009 and came within 72 hours of deportation. A campaign to gain her release saw an overwhelming response from people and communities across Greater Manchester and beyond, and a High Court judge granted an injunction to prevent their deportation from the
 UK .  
  
The chairman of the SCNC has since affirmed that
 Lydia and Bernard were active human rights practitioners in
 Cameroon and their human rights work in the
 UK stands as a testimony to that.  Bernard and
 Lydia have worked tirelessly at RAPAR (Refugee and Asylum Seekers Participatory Action Research) and WAST (Women Asylum-Seekers Together) with refugees in similar situations to their own.  They have also worked as volunteers with other charitable organisations and have been extremely active in their church community at
 St Ann 's Church, Belfield, Rochdale , where they are valued members of the congregation.  
  
I am writing to respectfully urge you, as Home Secretary, to exercise your discretionary powers in order to prevent the forced removal of Bernard Batey from the
 UK on Kenya Airways flight KQ526 at 20:00 this Saturday 10 September 2011, and to ensure that he is released from detention in the
 UK immediately. I also request that you grant both Bernard and
 Lydia some form of refugee protection, so that they may continue to make a valuable contribution to our society.
  
I would welcome your comments on my appeal. 
  
Yours Sincerely,
 
Name
Address
  
  
SAMPLE LETTER TO NICK CLEGG, DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER
 
Att: Nick Clegg
Deputy Prime Minister's Office
70 Whitehall
SW1A 2AS
 
Dear Mr. Clegg,
 
Re: Lydia Besong & Bernard Batey, HO Ref: B1236372
 
I am writing as a member of English PEN, the charity which campaigns for writers and playwrights internationally, to urge you to intercede with the Home Secretary in the case of Lydia Besong and Bernard Batey, two human rights campaigners from Cameroon .
 
According to PEN’s information, at 7.30am on Monday 5 September, at least five UK Border Agency officers went to
 Lydia and Bernard’s home in Bury, Greater Manchester. They took Bernard from the address -
 Lydia was not at the house at the time as she was on her way to the local immigration reporting centre.
  
Friends and supporters were shocked to learn that Bernard had been detained whilst the UKBA were deemed to still be considering fresh evidence put forward by the couple's lawyer in July. There had been no indication to the couple or their legal representative that the new evidence had been rejected. It was only when their lawyer phoned Dallas Court Reporting Centre to find out why Bernard had been detained that the UKBA informed them that the further submissions had been turned down. The UKBA later faxed the legal representative with the reasons for rejection and removal instructions for Bernard, indicating that the decision to reject the further submissions was taken on 17 August. It remains unclear why no-one was informed of this decision.
 
As of Monday 5 September, Bernard Batey has been held in Colnbrook IRC with removal directions set for Saturday 10 September. It appears that the UKBA also want to deport Lydia on the same date.
  
Lydia and Bernard sought asylum in the
 UK on 18 December 2006. Their asylum claim is based on their activities with the Southern Cameroon National Council, a peaceful political pressure group which campaigns for the rights of the English-speaking minority of
 Southern Cameroon . In Cameroon , both
 Lydia and Bernard suffered beatings and imprisonment as a result of their involvement with the SCNC and
 Lydia was raped by a uniformed guard. These experiences have left them both traumatised and subject to severe depression.
  
Lydia was an English teacher in
 Cameroon and has written three plays, including one which is critical of
 Cameroon president Paul Biya. She was detained in Yarl's Wood IRC over Christmas 2009 and came within 72 hours of deportation. A campaign to gain her release saw an overwhelming response from people and communities across Greater Manchester and beyond, and a High Court judge granted an injunction to prevent their deportation from the
 UK .  
  
The chairman of the SCNC has since affirmed that
 Lydia and Bernard were active human rights practitioners in
 Cameroon and their human rights work in the
 UK stands as a testimony to that.  Bernard and
 Lydia have worked tirelessly at RAPAR (Refugee and Asylum Seekers Participatory Action Research) and WAST (Women Asylum-Seekers Together) with refugees in similar situations to their own.  They have also worked as volunteers with other charitable organisations and have been extremely active in their church community at
 St Ann 's Church, Belfield, Rochdale , where they are valued members of the congregation.  
 
I respectfully urge you, as Deputy Prime Minister, to call upon the Home Secretary to exercise her discretionary powers in order to prevent the forced removal of Bernard Batey from the UK on Kenya Airways flight KQ526 at 20:00 this Saturday 10 September 2011, and to ensure that he is released from detention in the UK immediately.
 
I would welcome your comments on my appeal.
 
Yours Sincerely,

 
Name
Address


Source: English PEN

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