Welcome to No 10, now please leave the country?

Submitted by Janine on Wed, 12/13/2006 - 10:29

From the National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns (NCADC), Monday 11th December

Asylum seeker who was invited to Buckingham Palace, now invited to 10 Downing Street

"In recognition of services to the voluntary sector, The Prime Minister and Mrs Blair request the honour of the company of Farhat Khan at a Reception at 10 Downing Street, Whitehall on Tues. 12th December 2006 from 6.30 to 8.00 pm"

Like the queen, Tony Blair has made an excellent choice of who to invite home.

Tomorrow Tony Blair will be shaking hands with one of his own statistics - in September 2004 he set an arbitrary target on deportations saying that the number of forced removals each month should exceed the number of new unfounded applications. It's so easy to set targets affecting tens of thousands of men, women and children, splitting families up. Tony Blair's government told Farhat and her children to get out of the UK, but now he and his wife "request the honour" of her company at his place.

Two years ago Farhat Khan, failed asylum seeker, was in the process of being removed from the UK by the Home Office when she received an invitation from Buckingham Palace in recognition of her "recent significant contribution to national life".

On Tuesday 12th December 2006 she attends 10 Downing Street. The Prime Minister and Mrs Blair "request the honour of the company of Farhat Khan, in recognition of services to the voluntary sector". Two years almost to the day from her visit to Buckingham Palace, Mrs Khan is still an asylum seeker, anxiously waiting for a decision on a fresh asylum claim.

Farhat has a sense of déjà vu; just as she herself two years ago was obliged to attend an immigration interview so the Home Office could make travel documents with which to deport her, she received the letter from Buckingham Palace; last week it was her daughter Sara who was undergoing the same process when the invitation from Downing Street arrived.

The recognition comes as a result of Farhat's voluntary work for Cheetham Hill Advice Centre in Manchester, where she has worked hard without pay ever since February 2004, when as a failed asylum seeker the Home Office withdrew her right to undertake paid employment. Cheetham Hill Advice Centre's volunteer project receives Goldstar funding from the Cabinet Office as an exemplar project for other voluntary organisations. The Advice Centre nominated Farhat because of her outstanding contribution to the Centre and the local community where she is held in high regard. Farhat was previously a volunteer at the Centre between September 2001 and January 2003.

"I am glad to be given the chance to demonstrate to the public (who most of the time only hear negative stories about asylum seekers) the potential that we have to make a positive contribution to this society when we are given the opportunity to do so." Farhat Khan, volunteer advice worker

Farhat has been waiting for over two years for a decision on her fresh asylum application. The Home Office refused to give her back permission to work even though EU Law states that an asylum seeker who does not get an initial decision on their case within one year should be given permission to work. Farhat was going to have to take the Home Office to the High Court for a judicial review of their refusal but last week the Home Office reversed their decision and have given her back permission to work.

"Farhat is an outstanding volunteer whose compassion, skills and hard work have benefited hundreds of people in the local community. She is an inspiration in overcoming the difficulties in her own situation to help others and we are very proud that she has been chosen to meet the Prime Minister." Sarah Sedge, Chair of Trustees, Cheetham Hill Advice Centre

As well as her work for Cheetham Hill Advice Centre (CHAC), Farhat has also helped set up and run a self-help organisation for women asylum seekers (Women Asylum Seekers Together) to help counter the isolation of women in her situation.

"Farhat has been able to use her own experience of domestic violence and seeking asylum not only to help many people as an advice worker but also to inspire others to overcome their own problems and have the confidence to volunteer". Margaret Manning, Volunteer Development Worker, Cheetham Hill Advice Centre

It is now almost two and a half years since the family's fresh claim for asylum was made, and six years since their first failed claim. Farhat and her five children hope that the fear and uncertainty of their daily lives as asylum seekers with the threat of deportation hanging over them will soon be over. They hope that the Home Office will now feel able to make a positive decision on the fresh claim after their long wait.

"We were shocked when Farhat and family's appeal was refused three and a half years ago and have been campaigning since then for them to be allowed to stay in this country. We have seen the terrible pressure they are under each day of not knowing what the future holds. We ask that the case be resolved so that the family can finally have the freedom from fear and violence that they have hoped for for so long". Mary Atkinson, Chairperson, Farhat Khan and Family Campaign

Available for interview - contacts ;
Farhat Khan - 0161 740 2461 / farhat@cheethamadvice.co.uk
Mary Atkinson, Chairperson Farhat Khan and Family Campaign - 07752 909069 / mary@dmt1.net
Sarah Sedge, Chair of Trustees, CHAC - 0161 740 2461
Margaret Manning, Volunteer Development, CHAC - margaret@cheethamadvice.org.uk
Emma Ginn, NCADC - 07703 189665 / ncadc-north-west@ncadc.org.uk

Background

Farhat Khan and her five children fled from 10 years of domestic violence in Pakistan in November 2000 and claimed asylum. At the time of Farhat's appeal her husband was in Canada and the Appeal was refused. However, her husband has now returned to Pakistan. They face being sent back to Pakistan where they are at real risk of becoming the victims of 'Honour Killings'. Her husband's family had arranged engagements for her two younger daughters, then aged 6 and 8, which would have resulted in forced marriages at puberty if they had not left Pakistan. They come from the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan, on the border of Afghanistan, where the 'honour system' allows violent retribution on women who challenge their male relatives' authority. Prior to fleeing to the UK Farhat worked for 21 years in community development, the last 3 of which were for the UK's Department For International Development.

In June 2004 Graham Stringer MP presented Immigration Minister Des Browne with a 10,000 signature petition in support of the Khan family and held an in-depth meeting about the case. As a result of this Des Browne invited Farhat to submit any new evidence as a fresh asylum claim. This was submitted in August 2004 and in January 2006, following a meeting between Graham Stringer and the then Immigration Minister Tony McNulty, the Home Office agreed to treat the further representations as a fresh claim for asylum. The family have yet to receive a decision on this new claim.

Graham Stringer MP, Manchester City Council Leader Richard Leese and more than half of the city's Councillors have pledged their support to the 'Farhat Khan and Family Must Stay Campaign'. Helena Kennedy QC and the Bishop of Manchester have both made representations to the Home Office on behalf of Farhat and family. It is currently the biggest anti-deportation campaign in the country. In May 2006 Farhat was a key speaker at an event at the ICA organized by Women for Refugee Women where she told an audience of 200 prominent women about the reasons she was forced to flee Pakistan and the injustices she has faced in the asylum process in this country.

Cheetham Hill Advice Centre is an independent generalist advice agency, which provides confidential advice, information and support to residents of Cheetham and Crumpsall in North Manchester.

Farhat Khan and Family Campaign
http://www.ncadc.org.uk/archives/filed%20newszines/oldnewszines/newszine45/farhat.html
Woman fighting deportation gets palace invitation, The Guardian, Monday December 6, 2004
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,,1367269,00.html
Cheetham Hill Advice Centre - www.cheethamadvice.org.uk / www.goldstar.org.uk

What you can do to help

The Farhat Khan and Family Campaign is organising a letter writing campaign to persuade the Minister for Immigration, Liam Byrne, to allow Farhat and her family to stay in the UK. Please print off the attached model letter which you can copy/amend write your own version (please quote the family's Home Office ref. no's. K1069042, K1070008 and K1109330), and send to:

Liam Byrne, Minister for Immigration
Home Office
3rd Floor
Peel Building
2 Marsham Street
London
SW1P 4DF

Please send copies of your letter to Farhat Khan and Family Campaign

Contact the Farhat Khan and Family Campaign
Farhat Khan & Family Campaign
400 Cheetham Hill Road
Manchester M8 9LE
Tel: 0161 740 8206
Fax: 0161 740 7113
Email: farhatmuststay@dmt1.net

End of Bulletin:

Source for this Message:
Farhat Khan and Family Campaign

Hat tip: Ben

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