LYDIA AND BERNARD MUST STAY
July 2011: Lydia and Bernard's solicitor has submitted some new evidence to the UKBA. If this is not accepted, a judicial review will be the next step. Thanks to the incredible generosity of supporters, the target for fund-raising for the judicial review has already been reached. Thank you to everyone who has signed the petition – if you have not already signed, please sign today!
Lydia Besong, a playwright and Cameroon national, and her husband Bernard Batey have had their appeal against the Home Office's decision to refuse them asylum turned down. Their lawyer sought leave to appeal to the High Court but this was also been refused.
Lydia, an English teacher in Cameroon, and Bernard sought asylum in the UK on 18/12/06. Their asylum claim is based on their activities with the Southern Cameroon National Council, a peaceful political organisation which campaigns for the rights of the English-speaking minority of Southern Cameroon. Before their arrival in the UK, both Lydia and Bernard suffered beatings and imprisonment as a result of their involvement with the SCNC and Lydia was raped by a uniformed guard.
Lydia was detained in Yarl's Wood detention centre just over a year ago and came within 72 hours of deportation. A campaign to gain her release saw an overwhelming response from individuals and communities across Greater Manchester and beyond. Eventually, a High Court judge granted an injunction to prevent the couple's deportation from the UK until new evidence had been considered.
The chairman of the SCNC has since affirmed that Lydia and Bernard were active human rights practitioners in Cameroon and their human rights work in the UK stands as a testimony to that. Bernard and Lydia have worked tirelessly at RAPAR (Refugee and Asylum Seekers Participatory Action Research) and WAST (Women Asylum-Seekers Together) with refugees in similar situations to their own.
Lydia's play How I Became An Asylum Seeker has been performed in Manchester, Salford, Liverpool and London, and is available on DVD. An article about the play has appeared in The Guardian and Lydia's campaign has been supported by the Bishop of Manchester and actor Juliet Stevenson.
Please sign the petition and help Lydia and Bernard remain in the UK.
We, the undersigned, support Lydia and Bernard’s right to stay in the UK, and urge the Home Office to reverse the decision to refuse them asylum.