Disrupting the Deportation of Samim Bigzad
WHAT FOLLOWS IS THE story of how the Kent Anti-Racism Network successfully intervened to prevent a deportation. However, at the time of writing - 15th September - the Home Office has forcibly returned Samim to Kabul and defied three court orders to immediately return him to the UK. The fight continues and readers are referred to the advice in the last paragraph. To be kept up to date with his situation please search for Save Samim on Facebook or follow the hashtag #savesamim on Twitter.
When KARN found out that Samim Bigzad was facing forced deportation we knew we had to act. Samim was until recently living in Margate, Kent, where he was the carer for his father, a UK citizen who suffers with PTSD. He is a 22 year old who has been threatened with beheading by the Taliban because of the work his family’s construction company has done for the Afghan government.
Samim was booked onto a Turkish Airlines flight on 26th August, and we decided we had to try to prevent the deportation. We targeted the airline with social media messages asking them to refuse to take him. On the day itself we arrived at Heathrow Airport where we spoke to passengers who were boarding the flight. We spoke to them to make them aware that Samim would be on the flight and that it was a forced deportation. We asked them to do whatever they felt comfortable with to raise his plight with airline staff. The response we received was generally sympathetic with many people expressing shock at the situation.
Once the flight had boarded we waited with baited breath. Tracking it on the Turkish Airlines website we noticed it was delayed by 46 minutes and we hoped. Then the flight took off and we were assured that it had gone with all passengers on board. There were tears and a general feeling of hopelessness. We had failed. We left the airport and made our way back to our various homes. The atmosphere was desolate.
Around 10.30pm I was in bed pondering what more we could have done when my phone buzzed. It was a message from Samim’s flatmate: “He’s still here. The pilot refused to take him.”
We still don’t know exactly what happened but the main thing was that Samim was still here. He was in detention and held in Brook House Immigration Removal Centre (recently the subject of a damning Panorama programme which revealed the shocking level of humiliation and abuse of detainees by G4S staff at the privatised facility).
We will continue to raise his plight and do all we can to obtain his freedom. His lawyers are gathering evidence for a fresh asylum claim.
If you want to show your support for Samim and other young Afghan nationals you can use write to them.com to send your MP an email asking them to ensure that Afghan nationals are no longer returned to a country that is clearly unsafe. Please specifically mention Samim and ask for him to be given time to make a fresh asylum claim.
» You can find the Kent Anti-Racism Network on Facebook and on Twitter @ kentantiracism