The Palaver Hut
Asylum seekers are famous for being depressed at some point during their claim. This usually comes to light when an asylum seeker expresses feelings of anxiety and frustration about having had to wait and live with uncertainty for long periods, without being able to plan for the future.
And if such people’s asylum claims are rejected, they get angry, upset and it becomes self-defeating. Unfortunately, some tend to take it too far over the edge and do what they feel is inevitable in such situations. But my own understanding of all these sad portraits of being raped by the UK immigration system simply lies on the experience of an asylum seeker I met a few years ago, whom I would re-name Mr. B.
Mr. B fled his home country, running away from death and persecution. He said that when he walked in to the UK immigration office to claim asylum, an immigration officer asked him why he didn’t claim asylum in one of the nine countries he passed through on his road journey before arriving in the UK.
Mr. B had no answer to that question and the Immigration officer made a note on his file and allowed him claim asylum. I always thought that international asylum definitions revolved around escaping to the nearest safe country. To me, that looks more like a change of lifestyle choice for someone who fancies a move to somewhere nice followed by a variety of tricks to try and make it legit afterwards.
Anyway, Mr. B went through the normal asylum process, was interviewed with the help of an interpreter and housed as well. Several months into his asylum application, he got a refusal letter and felt suicidal. He claimed the only best thing was to kill himself because he lost all hope of living.
After numerous obvious attempts by Mr. B to carry out his threats, eventually, the Home Office relented and granted him an Indefinite-Leave to remain in the UK for this reason; to prevent him from killing himself, while the rest of us, who didn’t have the urge to kill ourselves were refused asylum and pushed on the street to rot, as refused asylum seekers.
This story looks typical of asylum seekers who kill themselves because of refusal of their asylum claims in the UK. But vivid analysis of what ‘Asylum’ stands for will tell a lay-man that it is specifically for those running away from death and persecutions in their home countries and not for other reasons. I believe that if one door closes, another one opens. Why attempt to run away from death in your home-country and come to another country to kill yourself simply because you are not allowed to stay? I, for one will refuse to throttle my neck dangling from a rope because of a rejected application.
In as much as I disagree on asylum seekers killing themselves because their applications have been rejected, I also think that locking people up in detention like prison for having committed no crime at all, rather than seeking refuge is inhumane and could drive any sane man to go mental, and take to the rope-option to end it all.
The trauma I went through in the Immigration system; I mean the whole experience of my immigration arrest, detention, and release made me feel like I’d been enrolled in the school of hard-knocks.
When I first found myself in that situation, different horrible questions hustled in my brain like honeybees, and that only made matters worse for me emotionally. Staring at the contents of the IS96 letter that stated the ‘Immigration Act 1971 law’ served to me, I couldn’t help but think that the classification of being liable to be detained breached my human rights and amounted to ‘psychological torture’ compared to what I’d gone through, and what other inmates are going through in detention as well.
Clearly, the Asylum laws pertaining to how asylum seekers should be treated need radical reform coupled with some smart laws to reduce refuge-shoppers before this system shove more people to their untimely death.
By Joseph Spencer