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Blaise Kamba

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Leitishia and Jeanine – help us keep their hope alive……… (HO REF: K1226380) Leitishia and Jeanine Kamba were just children in the war torn Democratic Republic of Congo when they lost both their parents. Their older brother Blaise, took responsibility for his sisters and has been mother, father and mentor to them ever since. This week they lost Blaise..... In 2005, Blaise was arrested because of his political activity on behalf of the Mouvement National Congolais Lumumba. Many political parties took part in a demonstration in June 2005 protesting against the delay in elections. President Kabila's persecution and torture of political opponents is widely documented. Blaise was detained, imprisoned and ill-treated. He escaped from prison and in 2005 brought his very young sisters to the safety of the UK where they claimed asylum as a family on Christmas Day 2005. Slowly they began to put the horrors of their experiences in DRC, where 5 million people have lost their lives and hundreds of thousands more have been displaced, behind them. They were dispersed to Stockton-on-Tees where they integrated into the local community. By 2009 Blaise, Leitishia and Jeanine were all attending Riverside College; studying diligently towards obtaining the qualifications that would help them to achieve their dream of stability in the UK. However, these three courageous young people did not know they had been refused asylum until the early morning of 28th April, when Immigration Officers took them to a detention centre prior to their planned removal on May 1st. Without a solicitor, Blaise wrote an application for Judicial Review and the removal directions were cancelled. However, in a desperate attempt to protect themselves and keep the family together, Leitishia and Jeanine made separate applications for asylum, believing that their case would be treated with understanding and sympathy by the Home Office. Instead, their action prompted the Home Office to separate them from Blaise a few days later, to remove the girls from detention in the morning and 4 hours later to issue Blaise with removal directions. The outrage across Tees Valley at what was deemed to be a cynical act of manipulation by the Home Office is palpable. Despite hundreds of people petitioning the Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, despite the intervention of Stockton North MP Frank Cook, despite concerns expressed by senior Bishops of the Church of England and local press coverage, Blaise was forcibly returned to DRC on Tuesday 26th May. Just a few days before he was forced onto the ‘plane, Blaise had written to friends expressing his despair at the situation and begging the Home Office to keep him and his sisters together under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights; the right to family life. They have no other relatives; just each other, and without a family network would return to poverty and danger. Learning of his removal and fearing for Blaise’s safety, friends from their church alerted contacts in Kinshasa who agreed to meet Blaise at the airport and take him to a safe house. However, reports were received on 27th May that Blaise had been handed over by his British escorts and immediately arrested and taken to a prison in Kinshasa. There is fear that he is again being ill-treated in prison, a fear well founded according to the Guardian's report on the torture of asylum seekers returned to Congo from the UK in March. (May 28th 2009) Leitishia and Jeanine are distraught and it is difficult to find words to express the hopelessness of a situation that has been imposed upon them by the unremitting cruelty and callous intransigence of the UK asylum process. We, the undersigned ask the Home Secretary why these young people, who are so loved by their many friends and supporters, have been treated so shamefully Why does the UK government consistently refuse to take notice of the Human Rights Watch report of November 2008, which clearly documents the violent repression of opposition groups by forces loyal to Kabila, allegations supported by the Guardian article How many more Congolese must be tortured on return before the Home Office listen to the voices of those on the ground and change their policy Early Day Motion 814, which is supported by 43 MPs outlines the dangers of the current position and calls for an end to removals - why must it be left to our back-bench representatives to persuade those in power to show some compassion We ask the Home Secretary to instigate an urgent review of the cases of Leitishia and Jeanine and to take responsibility for the consequences of the ill-advised removal of Blaise, who has been returned to danger and whose life is now at risk in a country which does not respect human rights and to explore ways to reunite him with his sisters. For Previous Post Prior to Blaise's Removal See Below Give the Kamba family back their future and their dreams! Blaise Kamba HO Ref. No K1226380 Blaise and his sisters, Leitishia and Jeanine, now aged 16 and 19, fled the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2006. Bliase was an active member of the MNCL (Mouvement National Congolais Lumumba). When he attended a demonstration in June 2005, Blaise was detained and imprisoned. Blaise managed to escape from prison, from certain death and he and his sisters were helped to flee the country to the UK. There is no-one else to care for the girls, as they lost their father in 1995 and there had been no news from their mother since 2003. They have been living in Thornaby and Stockton on Tees, where they attend the Riverside College. Leitisha is studying hair dressing and English and Jeanine, having done her GCSEs at Thornaby Community School, is studying child care. They have been detained in Tinsley House since the 28th of April. Jeanine and Leitisha were wrongly advised in the detention centre to make their own applications for asylum. Jeanine, 16, was interviewed by Immigration officers before she had the opportunity to speak to a lawyer. This has resulted in the girls being released from detention but hours later their brother was issued with removal directions to Congo on Kenya Airways flight KQ 101 on Tuesday 26th May at 20.00 hours. The girls are distraught, as is Blaise. He writes, "How would you feel when you have children who are brilliant at school and suddenly their future and dreams stopped just like that. This suffering is very hard for me. I think I could not handle it any more!" All three siblings are due to take exams this month. Blaise won 3rd prize in the ESOL Book Review competition at his college. He was so happy, he forgot for a moment he was in detention. They have a very strong faith. Asylum seekers removed to Congo from Tees Valley over the last two years have been imprisoned, tortured and raped. They are living under constant threats from the security forces. Three have fled the country because of the danger they are in. We believe it is wrong to separate this brother and his sisters and we fear for Blaise's safety and the girls welfare. We ask that their HUMAN RIGHT to a family life be respected and that they be restored to their community and college friends in Stockton. If you would like to help in another way to try and stop the deportations the best way would be to write to your MP and ask that they sign up to the Early Day Motion 814. 43 MP's have signed so far and we only need 48 for the matter of deportations to the DRC to be discussed in the House of Commons and stopped! The link to the EDM is below and a link to a website that you just have to enter your postcode into and it will give you the details of your MP, along with their email address so you can write to them direct. http://edmi.parliament.uk/EDMi/EDMDetails.aspxEDMID=37889&SESSION=899 http://www.writetothem.com/ If you want some help composing a letter let me know as I will happily send you one we sent to our MP. Check the list on the EDM site to see if your MP has signed already. Also if you would like to fax / email a letter to Kenyan Airways and the Home Office telling them that you are aware of their intention to co-operate in this injustice and requesting that they reconsider their position then please email Jacqui at jacqui.lovell@developingpartners.org.uk and I will send you the letters, fax numbers and email address for the Home Office and Jacqui Smith. We think that Kenyan Airways (in their own words, "The pride of Africa" might be made to think twice if they realise what they are being party too, assuming that they don't already of course!


developing partners is a Dept of Health Funded social enterprise that is led and run by people with long term mental health needs who work in partnership with any individual / group or community who experience social exclusion. Members of developing partners are currently devising and are going to deliver experiential Human Rights Training in partnership with Playback Theatre in York. The training draws upon our individual and collective lived experience and uses a range of media such as video, drama and case studies to engage the audience in a participatory experience.


To read the Guardian article published on the 28th May 2009 documenting the treatment that people who are returned receive then please click the link below. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/may/27/drc-congo-deport-torture If you want to see what is happening in the Congo then follow this link to the Amnesty International Website http://www.amnesty.org.uk/content.aspCategoryID=10824 If you want to listen to what is happening then click on the link below from Human Rights Watch and click PLAy on the media player and then listen to what is happening! http://www.hrw.org/en/audio/2008/12/10/democratic-republic-congo
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