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  • Technorati: graph / links

    Schools and the forgotten children

    by Rumbold on 11th September, 2008 at 10:26 pm    

    There have been many debates over faith schools, what should be taught in schools, what should be worn in schools, and the suggestion from Ken Livingstone’s closest ally (what lovely people he hangs around with) that racial segregation would be in order.

    All these issues affect children already in education, but what about those not in the school system? Johann Hari reminds us about them. His section on the children of asylum seekers is especially good:

    “Every year, 2,000 kids who have committed no crime are jailed in Britain’s “immigration centres”. They are forcibly seized from their homes or their classrooms – without time to gather their belongings – and locked away behind iron doors. They do not know when they will get out; some are held for more than six months. They are not allowed out to play in a park or to kick a ball. They are given virtually no schooling. Their “offence”? To come to Britain fleeing persecution.

    I’ve written before about the racked, trauma-soaked children I have found in Yarl’s Wood detention centre. In this week’s New Statesman, a typical child-inmate tells her story. Fourteen-year-old Meltem Avcil tells how, when she was seven, her mother brought her here from Turkey, where they were being terrorised for being Kurdish. Meltem has been here for half her life, and says in a London accent: “I feel English through and through.” After their asylum claim was declined, they were seized. Guards took them to Heathrow to force them to board a flight to Turkey. They beat Meltem’s mother in front of her and said to the girl: “You know if you refuse to go on the plane, we’ll put handcuffs on you and tie your feet.” The pilot refused to fly such obviously distressed people, so they were taken back to the detention centre for three months – where they won their appeal. Jasmine is back at school and says now: “One day I will show everyone what I am capable of. But I will never forget Yarl’s Wood.”"

    Sunny adds: There’s a New Statesman campaign on this issue. Go there to read more.

      |   Trackback link   |   Add to del.icio.us   |   Share on Facebook   |   Filed in: British Identity, Culture, Current affairs

    6 Comments below   |   Add your own

    1. Amrit — on 12th September, 2008 at 1:34 am  

      A necessary piece of perspective, considering the furore over the faith schools article…

      A very good article by Johann Hari too, glad you linked to it. It makes me think of season 4 of The Wire, which deals with more or less the same issue in America.

    2. Rumbold — on 12th September, 2008 at 9:40 am  

      Thanks Amrit. How is it that you are able to link everything into the Wire? Heh.

    3. Amrit — on 12th September, 2008 at 12:53 pm  

      I don’t link EVERYTHING…

      However, the fourth series deals with a similar situation - kids who are from the wrong side of town and who nobody really gives a crap about. The repercussions of this are painted in heartbreaking detail.

      OK… I will now STOP with the proselytising!

      (I think you may have scored a slight own-goal with this post, because I don’t think this is something anyone’s going to disagree with you on…)

    4. ashik — on 12th September, 2008 at 4:39 pm  

      Responses to this article will depend on ones viewpoint on Immigration.

      In my opinion Immigration detention is necessary at the very least for failed asylum seekers and their families and those who are appeals rights exhausted (gone through the system). In Australia I hear asylum seekers used to be incarcerated until their claims were determined and even now they are only allowed to reside on an island ie. away from Australian mainland.

      As for guards using force and beating people, allegations need to be proven.

    5. ashik — on 12th September, 2008 at 4:44 pm  

      Parents can shield their children from the unpleasant environment of Immigration detention centres (I have visited my fair share) simply by complying with UK laws and RETURNING VOLUNTARILY to their countries of origin. The UK govt even finances those returning to some countries eg. up to £4,000 to those returnees to Afghanistan.

    6. MaidMarian — on 12th September, 2008 at 8:02 pm  

      It is perhaps nothing to be proud of, but fundamentally, ashik is correct in principle, if not hyperbole.

      The stark reality is that these people, whatever the ins and outs of individual cases, are in breach of the law and are at very high risk of going on the run. That they have children does not per se change that.

      It may well be that asylum caseworking is too tight, and it may be that it is tight for the wrong reasons (ie the media demands it). However deportation is the end-point of a statutory process.

      I am also a believer that if there were not so many people ‘vanishing’ then it would be easier for legitimate cases for immigration, be it as a asylum seeker, visitor or whatever, to be heard smpathetically. My wife, (British citizen) has just had her parent’s visit visa application rejected for a third time.

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