Abdulmajid Hassan Ismail went to the Vulcan House Home Office Reporting Centre in Sheffield as usual last Friday. He left in a police van bound for Oakington Detention Centre where he is now. The Home Office say they will forcibly deport him back to Sudan on Thursday 11th December at 16.15 (one day after United Nations Human Rights Day) Abdulmajid is from west Darfur in Sudan. He came here to avoid the Sudanese Government’s genocide against Darfuri people. He knows that if he returns to the capital Khartoum (where his deportation flight will arrive) he will be subject to arbitrary arrest, violence, possibly execution: because he is Darfuri.
Even the Home Office recognises such dangers. That is why they have stated "there will be no enforced removals of non-Arab Darfuri asylum seekers” (until a review in February 2009) in a letter to the campaigning organisation Waging Peace dated 27th November – the day before they abducted Abdulmajid.
The Home Office can’t deny that they have been forced into suspending deportations of Darfuris to Sudan. So they continue to claim that Abdulmajid is not Darfuri. It’s hard to know what evidence they require as proof: Abdulmajid is from a minority ethnic group, the Marareit, in Western Darfur. He speaks the Marareit language and is familiar with Marareit culture; has a detailed knowledge of the area; Khamis Haroun, the vice-chair of the Darfur Union in the UK (an acknowledged expert on these matters) has vouched for him and other speakers of the Marareit language can confirm his ethnicity.
Abdulmajid’s case has received national media interest and the South Yorkshire Migration and Asylum Action Group (SYMAAG – which Abdulmajid has been involved with) asks that you send emails and faxes of protest to Lin Homer at the Borders Agency and call the airline – BMI – to protest at their cooperation in his forcible deportation.
Meanwhile, Abdulmajid seems remarkably strong: speaking from his cell at Oakington, he explained that he had been wrongly detained by the Home Office before.
What You Can Do
1. Phone BMI airline to complain at their co-operation in Abdulmajid’s forced deportation
Quote Flight Number BD 997 from Heathrow to Khartoum. Departs Heathrow at 16.15. Call BMI Head Office: 01332 854000 – open 8am-6pm.
• Try to complain to the right person – always ask to be passed up their structure of command when you get “I can’t comment” or if they ask for irrelevant information (like the booking number of the ticket)
• First, ask them if they “are aware that some passengers on the flight will be traveling against their will”. Ask them what company policy is on this matter. If they claim ignorance or will not discuss the matter then…
• Speak airline language – money, profit and image. Would BMI want headlines reading “BMI Flies People to their Death”? Is trading people’s lives a source of their massive profits?
• Be patient, be as calm as you can and don’t take “no” for an answer. Good luck!
2. Email or fax Lin Homer of the Borders Agency
Lin Homer: Tel 020 7035 1678
Fax 0870 3369050
Please also copy your email to Abdulmajid’s Rotherham MP Denis McShane at email@example.com
There is a model letter below….
(Be sure to include Abdulmajid’s Home Office reference: J1104674)
Dear Ms Homer,
I am contacting you regarding a Darfuri asylum seeker, Mr AbdulMajid Hassan Ismail (Home Office reference is J1104674).
On 28 November 2008, Mr Ismail was detained and taken to Oakington during one of his regular signings at the Home Office. He was then informed that he would be deported to Khartoum on 11 December 2008.
This news is obviously extremely worrying since Mr Ismail is from the Marareit tribe, a non-Arab tribe from Darfur, and he will be at risk of persecution if returned to Sudan.
We are all the more surprised at this news since the Home Office announced in July 2008 and reiterated in a letter to our organisation dated 27 November 2008 that "there will be no enforced removals of non-Arab Darfuri asylum seekers until the outcome of the guidance case is known". The case being scheduled for February, Mr Ismail's deportation due for 11 December is not consistent with statements made by the Home Office.
We have also been informed that the Home Office was not satisfied that Mr Ismail was definitely from the Marareit tribe. Having contacted the Darfur Union and organized for one of their members to call Mr Ismail, it has been possible to ascertain that Mr Ismail is indeed from West Darfur and speaks the Marareit language. Mr Khamis Haroun, the Vice Chairman of the Darfur Union, has ascertained and documented this fact.
As can be confirmed by talking to Mr Haroun and other respected members of the Darfuri community, the Marareit are a non-Arab tribe persecuted by the Sudanese Government on the basis of their ethnicity. As such, it is not safe for Mr Ismail to be returned to Khartoum. Indeed, as reported by Human Rights Watch in June 2008 and quoted in Mr Ismael's refusal letter from the Home Office dated 28 November 2008, "the only basis that [Sudanese authorities in Khartoum] used when arresting people was the fact that they appeared to be from Darfur".
With Mr Ismail's deportation date set as 11 December, I would be extremely grateful for your urgent response regarding his case and more generally on returns of non-Arab Darfuris to Khartoum.