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Women of Iran Not Safe

Everyday stories of their struggle for equality. P 29

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Crime writer Danuta Reah talks about her recent novella.

June 2012

East Midlands Refugee Week Publication


Full Refugee Week Programme

16th 24th June

Cameroon Curry in a Cone
An interview with entrepreneur and community activist, Alain Job P5

P 16-17

Some truths about lying

Isnt it time for an honest discussion about immigration? P 23

Beyond Borders | June 2012


My great hope for the

East Midlands Refugee Week Publication

EDITORIAL TEAM Jay Nurse Hannah Stirland Beverley Sterling Dave Hewitt Kathryn Markham Anna Wels Stuart Brown DESIGN Aria Ahmed FRONT COVER The Globe Beverley Sterling DISTRIBUTION Azad Mohammed Dara Ivekich

CONTRIBUTORS Luqman Onikosi Isabel Infantes Allan Njanji Brian Davey James Walker Kevin DeSilva Sarah Dunbar Andrew Lake Alessandra Wayman Neda Panahi Jagdish Patel Pamela Inder Liz Burrell Mussie Kidane Ioana Bagdasar Juliet Line Sharon Walia Eshrat Katiraie Mina Fatemi Joao Afonso Abdul Wahab al-Bayati Brick Mirela Bistran Karina Martin Nottingham City of Sanctuary Hannah Stretton Jim McVeigh Jason McCormack

world is that one day all humans will live in peace and harmony P5

Beyond Borders is an annual publication that aims to promote cultural diversity and celebrate the launch of Refugee Week. Its the third year that this newspaper has been produced and weve chosen to extend our distribution across three counties Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Leicestershire. We hope to reach more people with our message, putting a spotlight on the struggles and triumphs of refugees living within our region. In this issue we showcase artists, writers, musicians and entrepreneurs - a wealth of talent and initiative that stems from those seeking sanctuary in the UK. Escaping the traumas of their past, asylum-seekers rely on strong, happy and resilient communities to welcome them as they adjust to new schools, homes, language and customs. By sharing skills and celebrating our differences, we can learn a lot from each other. We would like to thank all the people who have shared their stories, and hope that you, the readers, find them as moving and as inspiring as we have. If youd like to get in touch to offer your views, or maybe get involved with next years publication then please do contact us. Fresh ideas and new faces are always welcome. Beyond Borders is produced by a small but friendly team of dedicated volunteers and is funded by the generosity of our advertisers and donors special thanks for their kindness and support. Sincere good wishes to all our readers.


I have realised we

have very little chance of becoming part of the mainstream art world

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Celebrating values of independence through artistic innovation


ion of A celebrat ce and den indepeninnovation artistic ion of A celebrat ce and den indepeninnovation artistic ion of A celebrat ce and den indepeninnovation artistic


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Logo by S Mark Gubb

Nottingham Contemporary
All year round we have a range of international exhibitions, talks and films to spark your imagination! Drop in and see us at Nottingham Contemporary Weekday Cross Nottingham NG1 2GB Opening times Tue - Fri 10am - 7pm Sat 10am - 6pm Sun 11am - 5pm Bank Holidays 10am - 6pm Visit our exhibitions - they change every few months. Join our free, fun activities for all the family - every weekend and during school holidays. Look out for our friendly zebra! Free To find out more call us on 0115 948 9750 or visit our website

Recent years have seen massive funding cuts across the voluntary sector with some of the hardest hit organisations being those that provide support services for refugees and asylum seekers. Many of the organisations profiled in this issue have always relied on, and valued, volunteers. However, with the future looking bleaker by the year, volunteers are now needed more than ever. If you would like to volunteer for any of the organisations featured, and there are no contact details provided, then please email Beyond Borders and we will forward on your request to: ................... We would also like to give a special thanks to Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Refugee Forum, Nottingham City UNISON, and a number of Nottingham City Councilors for their financial support and encouragement.

Kurdish Sorani

basic e ducational guidance in Nottinghamshire

Contact us for free advice & to register your interest

Do you want to improve your English?

International art. For everyone. For free.

Voulez-vous amliorer votre Anglais ? Contactez-nous pour le conseil libre et pour enregistrer votre intrt.





Voc quer desenvolver o seu Ingles? Contacte-nos para aconselhamento gratuito & para registar o seu interesse.

telephone: 0115 978 0942 email: web:

Beyond Borders | June 2012


Beyond Borders | June 2012


Andrew Lake

From Small Beginnings

We are all Dreamers. When we travelled and when things got tough it was our dreams that kept us going
t was another of those dreary, damp winter mornings in 2002. The television was on in the background as I made myself breakfast. On the news was yet again another story about the tidal wave of asylum seekers that were flooding Britain, pushing our public services, schools, housing and just about everything else to near breaking point. The headlines in the newspapers carried similar stories. I felt uneasy about how these people were been portrayed. I rarely saw asylum seekers getting a voice or being spoken about with respect. I reflected that in fact I knew very few refugees myself. I made the decision that I should find out more. I had to speak to some asylum seekers. As a Youth Worker I sometimes visit schools and colleges to talk with young people and their teachers. I was rushing to a meeting in Loughborough College when I collided with a young man on the staircase. As is usual in such situations, we both apologised to each other and went our separate ways. But, detecting an accent in his voice, I called the young man back and asked him where he was from. He told me his name was Selim and proudly stated that he was Kosovan. Over a cup of coffee Selim told me that he was a refugee awaiting asylum status. He told me about the struggle and isolation that refugees face unaccompanied and without family - and how they felt to be on the outside of the wider community, often feeling unwanted and unvalued. He felt the situation of refugees in the UK was misrepresented by some newspapers and television programmes, and that this fuelled hatred and prejudice towards refugees and asylum seekers. I asked Selim to meet me again and bring other young asylum seekers to meet me. The next day he turned up with Fil, another young Kosovan. A couple of weeks later there were six of them. I suggested to them that they should become an organised group whose purpose it would be to try and improve their situation. I also suggested that this group ought to have a name which people would remember. The young people decided to call the group Dreamers. They told me that they had all got together to discuss what the group should be called and had chosen the name collectively. Their reasoning gave insight into their developing self-understanding. We are all Dreamers. When we travelled and when things got tough it was our dreams that kept us going. We dreamed of freedom and safety. Dreamers it will be. Dreamers also adopted a sleeping figure logo. This was selected as it felt it symbolised the safety and security of having somewhere safe to sleep. Around that time, I had found out it was to be International Refugee Week in June and I wondered if the Dreamers should go to speak to MPs in London about their difficulties. They laughed at me for the suggestion: Why would anyone listen to us - let alone a Member of Parliament? they asked. A few weeks later I was sitting with eight young asylum seekers in the Houses of Parliament and speaking with their local MP at length about the asylum issue and their own difficulties. Upon leaving the House I asked them how the experience had felt. One told me, I never ever thought I would ever be able to speak to an MP this is freedom and it feels great.


Stuart Brown

An interview with entrepreneur and community activist, Alain Job

Id known Alain for many years, but Id never visited his new business enterprise in the Victoria Centre Fish Market. It was a Saturday morning and the place was bustling with shoppers. Towards the back, I spotted the unmistakeable, larger than life figure of Alain, laughing and joking with customers, cajoling them into buying his curry in a banana leaf cone and other mouth-watering African dishes. Alain was in his element and it looked as though his new business Nkono Cameroon Curry in a Cone! was doing really well.

and two daughters landed in France. It took a while before they were reunited, only for his wife to pass away a few years later. I asked Alain what he thinks of Nottingham. Nottingham has adopted me, and most of the time when people ask me where I am from I usually say Sneinton, and people start to laugh. Yeah, Nottingham has given me a place - I dont know if I could call it a home - but I am really happy now. As he explains, however, Nottingham hasnt always been so welcoming. When they first arrived in 2001, he and his family were forced to leave after receiving a barrage of hate mail. I have two daughters and they were going to local schools. Whenever I wasnt around it was always very difficult. Receiving text messages you know, intimidating, bullying, harassing. Saying they are going to do this, do that and so on. So they moved us to Reading. When I came back to Nottingham after I lost my wife, it was a changed environment totally. I think so much had gone on with the work of refugee organisations to raise awareness. So what of the future? Basically, I want to contribute more to my community. I am very much looking into improving my skills in community organising, because I am indebted to the community that welcomed me, as well as the new communities, particularly refugee communities. My hope is that through my related skills and experience I can help these communities partake much more, and help design a future that we believe in and that everybody will have a stake in. He laughs and his integrity shines through. Alain Job is a big man with a big heart. And his curries taste pretty good too.

The whole concept of banana leaves comes from Africa, and particularly the Cameroon.

Later, over a cup of tea, he explained how hed come up with the idea: Id been catering for community barbecues and trying to promote African food when I attended a workshop on retailing and the idea took off from there. The whole concept of banana leaves comes from Africa, and particularly the Cameroon. When I was growing up, we used banana leaves to eat our food off because we didnt have any plates. For many people it was a shameful way of eating, but when we were developing the business idea we felt that using banana leaves was more sustainable than using plastic. After 18 months in development and with the support of the Future Factory, a project at Nottingham Trent University, which helps small businesses with sustainable design, Nkono was officially launched in March. The name Nkono comes from the Bassa language, one of 230 languages spoken in Cameroon, which translates into meals in a leaf. meetings and events actively building community understanding and cohesion and they have visited Parliament six times to meet and talk with MPs about immigration and asylum issues. They have won a BT Seen and Heard Award, a Philip Lawrence Award and a Young Community Champions Award. Dreamers is a Loughborough-based support group for young asylum seekers and refugees run by Leicestershire County Council Youth Service. You can find out more about Dreamers and download its publications and educational resources from Andrew Lake is a Youth Worker for Leicestershire County Council. Despite the lack of working capital - he has been refused various enterprise and bank loans Alain has big plans for the future involving not just the stall but also providing his unique African catering for both community and public events. Last year we trialled Nkono at the Goose Fair and sold 300 plates of food. So we will definitely be there again this year. supporting him for the past 3 years, Abdi applied to be one of the torchbearers for the Nottingham leg and feels very proud to have been selected. As Maxine Davis, HGYC Manager, says: Hes very focussed on his running, and is very self-motivated. Were all very proud of him. Abdi is only 20 years old and has many years of running ahead of him. If he continues to train hard then he could soon be running in the footsteps of the famous Mo Farah, another Somalian born athlete representing Great Britain, and who is also the current gold medallist for both the World and European 5,000 metres. Abdi may not be competing in this years games, but look out for him in 4 years time. And if you cant wait that long to see him run, look out for him on Thursday 28th July when the Olympic Torch Relay comes to town.

Of course, this is not the only activity Alain is involved in. Last year he took over the running of the Community Caf at the Sycamore Centre and renamed it The Melting Pot. Operating as a social enterprise, he took it on with the aim of training young refugees and migrants to develop skills in the catering sector, with any profits going back into the community. Alain is passionate about a lot of things and encouraging integration and community activism is one of them. I am struck by the fact that various communities choose to live in isolation, by themselves. And its just common sense really, if you really want to be part of a community not just being in the community, but part of that community you need to get actively involved within that community. To illustrate his commitment, I can remember back in 2009, when Alain was living in Sneinton, he organised a street party and encouraged all of his neighbours to participate in an August Bank Holiday celebration. A few months later he also helped organise a Christmas party attended by over 200 people of different faiths, cultures and nationalities, Both were a huge success. In the past, he has also been involved in running refugee awareness presentations in schools, community consultation exercises, as well as storytelling performances across the region. It was amazing. To my shock, the room was full of people waiting to hear my storytelling, my tales from Africa and so on.

His enthusiasm and energy is infectious and you would be forgiven for thinking that this man has had an easy life - far from it. Although reluctant to go into too much detail because of the painful memories it stirs up, Alain explained why he and his family were forced to flee Cameroon almost 11 years ago. I was working for the intelligence services, and I was supposed to report on the opposition groups, but because I was tipping them off I got locked up and was beaten like a mad man. It was just savage. He points to the scars still on his body. But I was lucky enough to have a friend who was working where I was locked up who helped facilitate my escape.

Dreamers had begun

From this small beginning, Dreamers have gone onto actively support over 120 young asylum seekers from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Eritrea, Somalia, Afghanistan, Albania, Kosovo, Palestine and Libya. Their weekly meetings helped these young people to learn about life in the UK, and encouraged them to grow confident and believe in themselves, and to be aware of their own value and abilities. The Dreamers has achieved many incredible things. They have educated over hundreds school children in workshops about asylum issues; they have produced an interactive educational DVD resource that teachers can use to educate their students; the group has spoken about asylum issues to 100s of people at conferences, community

I never ever thought I would ever be able to speak to an MP this is freedom and it feels great
When Abdullahi, or Abdi as he is known to his friends, was fleeing Somalia with his family 8 years ago, he couldnt have dreamt that one day he would be running in Nottingham with the Olympic torch in his hand. He was only 12 at the time and the last thing on his mind was athletics. On arriving in the UK, the family spent three years in Sheffield where Abdi, despite being

Selected Menu Special Oxtail Stew Salsa Chick Peas Alains Sweet Dumplings (Puf Puf) Royal Chicken Yassa

I got locked up and was beaten like a mad man. It was just savage

With the authorities alerted, he and his family had just 24 hours to get out of the country. In the chaos they ended up on different flights with none of them knowing where they were going. While he landed in the UK, his wife
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Chosen To Carry The Olympic Torch
Stuart Brown

bullied at school, showed an aptitude for running. When I was training some guy from Nairobi asked me if I was athletic. He said I was good and I have to go to a club. He paid for everything for me, my clothes, my shoes. And I was happy. In 2007 the family moved to Nottingham,

and in 2008 he ran the Robin Hood marathon for the first time and came third. Since then he has become a rising star of Notts Athletic Club where he runs the 3,000 and 5,000 metres. Up at 6am every morning, he runs at least 10 miles every day and loves it, especially the group training sessions. With encouragement from Hyson Green Youth Club (HGYC), who have been

Beyond Borders | June 2012

Beyond Borders | June 2012


Although lack of gender equality is an important and urgent issue the world over, in Iran women face some of the most severe inequality, repression, persecution and violent abuse that exists anywhere.
Neda Panahi
In Iran women may be subject to domestic violence, marital rape, honour killings and sexual harassment all without recourse to protection by law. In fact, in many cases it is the law itself which persecutes them most severely. Women are imprisoned, stoned to death and whipped, sometimes even for the most minor and insignificant acts. This is a collection of stories and experiences from women that have sought to escape persecution by the state. Behnaz is one out of many women who have claimed asylum because she was afraid of being stoned to death for committing Zena, a crime under Iranian law which it describes as unlawful sex before or after marriage. She had been in a relationship with her Bahai boyfriend, Maziar, for more than 7 years. She was in love with him but there was no chance of marriage as those who follow the Bahai faith have no rights in Iran. Her family arranged a marriage with another man. It would have been so convenient to forget about the love of her life but it proved impossible. She told me: My marriage made my life even worse. I couldnt stop thinking of my true love. On top of that I had to deal with a religious and rough man who beat me several times a month. Even though she risked death, Behnaz began a secret relationship with Maziar. She was arrested but luckily she escaped. For a while she lived in hiding, suffering endless fear and anxiety. After several months of this she was eventually able to leave Iran with help from a friend and her mother. Because of her experience she is now suffering from trauma for which she is receiving medical treatment. Anita is another refugee who left Iran and arrived in the UK because she feared being executed. She was born into a Muslim family but when she was gaining her bachelor degree at Isfahan University she became connected with a Christian group. She changed her religion from Islam to Christianity and became what is known as an apostate of Islam. According to the interpretation of Islamic law by Irans religious leaders, whoever converts from Islam to Christianity can be sentenced to death. imprisoned simply for not covering your hair completely, listening to your favourite music or holding your boyfriends hand. But tragically, these are counted as crimes in Iran. Iranian women face these troubles every day. Shiva is a young girl who was jailed for five days just because she was found drunk at her friends birthday party. She and her friends had also been accused of having sex with governmental officials in order to avoid being sent to court. On her first night in custody, Shiva was almost raped by one of the warders. After five days her father managed to find a connection through whom he paid a bribe and freed her. Maryam is an incredibly intelligent woman. She was a PhD student at the University of Sharif. She strongly believes that the spreading of knowledge plays an important role in the overthrowing of unpopular and brutal dictatorships: People are not clear about the facts of the regime. The Islamic government prefers to keep their people ignorant. They actually bring them up with superstition because they know it is impossible to control awakened people. She never wanted to live in another country. In fact, she had been offered a bursary to study at UCLA University in the USA but Maryam believed that educated people should stay in Iran and help to change the country from within.


Is Justice Being Served?

With no time limit on detention, detainees can wait years for a decision. Granting bail would be a cheaper and far more humane option
Sarah Dunbar
Immigration detention is the practice of holding asylum seekers and other migrants in specially built centres where their freedom of movement is severely limited. Security levels are similar to those in prisons. During 2011, 27,072 people entered immigration detention According to Home Office figures, of those people being kept in Immigration Removal Centres on 31 December 2011, 98 people had been there for between one and two years and 44 had been held for two years or longer. It is important to remember that these people are not being punished for having committed a crime. Furthermore, they do not have the comfort of knowing when they will be released. Knowing no-one in the UK, many experience extreme isolation, and have, at best, a very limited understanding of their legal rights. The sense of powerlessness that many people experience while they are detained takes an inevitable toll on their mental and physical health. In many cases, the experience of being detained itself precipitates poor mental health. Ahmad Javani, an Iranian national detained for over thirteen months commented: If any single normal person came to this place youd go mad. I was a normal person before coming to this place, and now, Im forgetting things always. According to the rules regarding detention, victims of torture and people with psychiatric conditions should not be detained. However, these regulations are often overlooked. It is not uncommon that people are detained who are already traumatised by experiences in their home country. Between 1 April 2009 and 26 October 2011, 67 women were held in immigration detention who were later identified as victims of trafficking. Levels of self-harm and suicide attempts in Immigration Removal Centres are high. Even after release the trauma of detention often stays with people.

An interview with Ruhul Anam, a detainee at Morton Hall Immigration Removal Centre
What is life in detention like? Ive lived in the UK from the age of 13 and never knew that detention centres existed until I was trapped in it. Ive been detained for almost 4 years now. I have had so many health problems. They locked me up when I was young and strong and now Im going grey. I have had so many health problems. There are times when I miss my family. I dont get to see my kids. Its like a tunnel, the whole thing is like tunnel vision. We see the same thing every day. Detention is like elastic, it has to break at some point. There is a time when everybody knows they will be out of prison or anywhere in custody, but for detainees there is no time limit. Whats it like being at Morton Hall? There are ups and downs. The upside is that I get to breathe clean air outside and its got a decent education department and decent gym. The downside is its far away from my legal team and from my family. I have to make myself useful - go to the gym, the internet, stay in touch with friends and family, go to college. And there is a multi-faith room where I can pray. They could make living standards much better. They didnt include a mosque in the refurbishment of Morton Hall even though 50% of the detainees are Muslim. Morton Hall was given 5.75m to spend on refurbishment but still a mosque was not built. Where was that money spent?

Assist service is a GP surgery that specialises in healthcare provision for asylum seekers from all over the world. We take pride in providing a friendly, welcoming and seamless service, which is based on our patients needs. Our patients have various backgrounds, medical conditions and real life experiences including imprisonment, incarceration, torture, and various other forms of ordeals. We therefore see patients presenting with symptoms of low mood, lack of sleep, anxiety, poor appetite, lack of energy, nightmares and other symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. In line with this, we provide healthcare screening programs, immunisations, psychological therapies, child health programs, maternity services, chronic disease management, sexual health and travel vaccinations. We also work alongside other organisations such as the British Red Cross, Refugee Action, Faith Groups, Charities and others, who help us in supporting our patients in dealing with the difficulties of securing a safe future. Our medical team comprises of a General Practitioner, Advanced Nurse Practitioner, Specialist Nurse Practitioner, Healthcare Assistant, Psychotherapists, Health Visitor, Midwife and the Administration team. We are open Monday to Friday between 08:30am to 5pm and we are open to new registrations. John Fernando, Practice Manager Advanced Nurse Practitioner - Clinical Lead Mr Gurcharan Singh The Assist Service, 1A Clyde Street, Leicester, LE1 2BG

Maryam joined a secret political group in the lead up to the 2009 presidential elections. The group grew to around 50 members and Maryam was given the responsibility of spreading free DVDs, prohibited books and information about the history of Islam in Iran, secularism and Human Rights. They were active until 15 friends were arrested. Fortunately, she managed to get to Turkey and claim asylum at the US Embassy. I asked her how she described her life as a refugee. She said I feel like a child whose mother left her in the street but was found by a kind lady who brought her up. I will always miss my mum although I know she cruelly abandoned me. But my godmother is taking

care of me, and thats the reason why I am still alive. So I love my country but I love freedom more. As many of these stories suggest there is widespread criticism of these conditions within Iran itself, just as there is from within the Islamic community worldwide. Power relations in Iran and the complementary relationship between religion and the state are complex, just as they are in many Western countries. But while the function of womens persecution may be similar, the brutality of the form it takes in Iran urges us, as compassionate human beings, to sit up and take notice.


Tel: 0116 2952400 / Fax: 0116 2952412

similar scheme called Bikes4All provides reconditioned bicycles to the needy including asylum seekers. Weve set up a small and embryonic hosting scheme with eleven hosts so far who will offer a room to a needy asylum seeker for a limited period of time. Our most recent project is called NEST (New Evidence Search Team) which helps asylum seekers gather new evidence to support their appeals or new applications. We have around twenty caseworkers, many of them final year or post-graduate students, and since we started in October we have had 28 referrals, mostly from the Red Cross, which supports the scheme. Like most other Cities of Sanctuary, the Leicester branch offers talks to schools and community groups. With five speakers at the moment, the aim is to do a minimum of thirty talks a year. The local press and radio are supportive and City of Sanctuary produces an e-newsletter to generate further publicity. Our fund-raising events also showcase our projects and initiatives. Last years Summer Fair raised 1,100. Theres still a lot to do but we feel that we have made a reasonable start! Pamela M. Inder Leicester City of Sanctuary was established in 2007. It now has over 600 supporters, 75+ supporting organisations and, most importantly of all, over 90 volunteers. It is a registered charity and is governed by a board of trustees, supported by a steering group. We would like to thank St Martins House (Diocese of Leicester) and Refugee Action who allow us the use of premises and services free of charge. Contact us; c/o Refugee Action, 7, Millstone Lane, Leicester LE1 5JN or on 0116 2519068 or at

How is your own case going? At the beginning of my detention I just put a case in and 6 months later it was refused. I put in an appeal and it was refused again. Then I started another case to revoke the deportation order which took 6 months, that was refused. Then 6 months later it was granted and my case went to an Upper Tribunal hearing. In 2011 two Upper Tribunal hearings sat but I was not taken to the hearings so proceedings had to be adjourned. Then finally, in 2012, it came to court but the hearing was adjourned again as UKBAs evidence was not provided, for which the court made a sincere apology after I complained. What would you say to the public about detention? All Cities of Sanctuary are different, and in the last couple of years we in Leicester have chosen to take an unusually handson approach with the asylum seekers and refugees in our community. Running a weekly drop-in centre which opened in May, we now have between fifteen and thirty clients each week. Lunch is provided and we pay clients bus fares too. Since opening weve seen over 200 individuals. Internet access is available, along with training in the use of computers. For those with an interest in creative arts, sewing machines are on hand, together with a supply of fabric and wool. Volunteers help clients to make garments and knit. Current projects are a patchwork quilt and a banner commissioned by the Red Cross. Staff from Lush, the cosmetics firm, organise regular pampering sessions for our ladies. We also run English classes. Plans for our programme for 2012 include craft workshops, informal concerts, art classes, quizzes and bingo sessions. Each year we organise three or four outings a year for families - excursions to the seaside, theme parks and other activities. In addition, the centre provides a forum for other organisations to come and see what we do, meet asylum seekers and offer help. This enables us to run a scheme called Appealing4 which gathers information from our asylum seekers about items they need or want. This can be anything from a bath towel to a sofa. Then a message is circulated around our supporters to see if anyone has such an item going begging. We are usually successful. Our participation in a

To some people it sounds unbelievable that you could be sentenced to 35-80 lashes of the whip just for drinking alcohol

Morton Hall Detainee Visitors Group (MHDVG) Morton Hall Immigration Removal Centre in Lincolnshire is the latest addition to UKBAs detention estate. It has spaces for 392 detainees and is less than 30 miles away from Nottingham. A visitors group has been started and they are keen for people to volunteer. The purpose of the group is to support the people detained there and provide a link to the outside world. Visits from people who care, people that arent part of the system that keeps them locked up, are invaluable for detainees emotional well-being. If you are interested in getting involved, please email mhvg_ volunteer(at)riseup(dot)net

Anita began to introduce Christianity to others. These kinds of activities need to be underground and our group managed this carefully she said. However, despite precautions, a priest and some other friends were arrested by intelligence agents. Logically if Anita wanted to survive she would have to leave Iran. To some people it sounds unbelievable that you could be sentenced to 35-80 lashes of the whip just for drinking alcohol, or being

Without being sentenced by any court, taking the liberty of a human for an indefinite period is simply inhumane. It is not a pleasant place and without committing a crime its not right to do that to people. EU countries have a limit of 30 days detention before bail. This is more cost effective. Its not right. How can they lecture China and Libya about human rights? Its not just a breach of my rights, its a breach of my kids rights, not having a dad. Detention is a government game to spend tax payers money only to feed the corrupt system and make a lot of profit for private companies. John Reid, the Home Secretary at the time when I was detained, now has a job as Group Consultant for G4S. Morton Hall is run by the prison service and they have a mentality of provoking detainees. Like I explain, at every court proceeding, the whole process is full of bureaucracy and corruption. My final message is - support limits to detention.

Beyond Borders | June 2012

Beyond Borders | June 2012

Kevin DeSilva
It is often said that the UK has a long tradition of granting refuge to those fearing persecution in their home countries. This is undoubtedly true and something to be proud of. Yet, this proud tradition can sometimes be a mirage. For the asylum seeker, new to the country and weary from travel, the UK can appear an unwelcoming and confusing place. Having reached the UK, the difficulties of fleeing persecution are soon replaced by the difficulty of not knowing what to do next. Upon claiming asylum, the difficulties continue. The burden of proof rests with an asylum seeker to prove that they have a well founded fear of persecution or serious harm. This can be a tough requirement for someone new to a foreign country and unfamiliar with UK asylum law and procedure. Ideally, those claiming asylum would be able to present a case themselves in a simple process and have their case considered fairly. Unfortunately, however, asylum law is an increasingly complex and ever changing area of law. Asylum lawyers find themselves occupying the space between those claiming asylum law and the UK government. They advise and inform their clients, advocating on their behalf to the Home Office. The job of the asylum lawyer is ultimately to give voice to the terrible tragedies that have befallen some of the most vulnerable people in the world. The necessity of legal representation is clear: the regrettable truth

Changes to Legal Aid Undermining UK Justice System?

is that those without representation are more likely to lose their case than a person with representation. Most asylum seekers are not able to pay privately for legal representation. Legal Aid therefore provides a key role in allowing those claiming asylum to access legal representation which in turn gives them the best opportunity of putting forward their case. Under the guise of austerity measures, the coalition government now aims to slash the Legal Aid bill. The good news for asylum seekers is that for now at least, Legal Aid is to remain for this area of law. However, Legal Aid in asylum cases has not been immune from cuts in the recent past. Since 31 October 2011, those providing asylum advice have faced 10% cuts in the amount of Legal Aid received for new cases. These cuts are grave given that Legal Aid in this area has already been squeezed over recent years. Before October 2007, all asylum Legal Aid work was billed at hourly rates meaning that work would be paid for as it was required. But then the Labour government introduced fixed fees. This meant that no matter how much work was done, the same fixed fee would be paid. Given that, in most cases, more work would be done than would be covered by the fixed fee, this change has meant that margins are tighter and in a number of cases legal work is undertaken at a loss. Those fixed fees have remained static and so they are increasingly out of kilter with rising costs. This was the case even before the most recent cuts were imposed. In the last two years, two of the biggest organisations, Refugee Migrant Justice and Immigration Advisory Services, have gone into administration. As in any profession, there are bad lawyers, but most lawyers in this area of law strive for excellence and quality of representation. They will not let Legal Aid cuts get in the way of ensuring that those claiming asylum are able to present their cases as fully as possible. However, this is not a sustainable or fair model of Legal Aid provision. It represents essentially a derogation of the UK governments obligations. Legal Aid bashing is a popular pastime for a government looking to cut costs. However, Asylum and Human Rights involve the most serious of issues. The questions that arise in these types of cases are questions that go to the heart of what type of society we are. Most importantly, those claiming asylum are often the most vulnerable and the most in need of legal assistance.
Kevin DeSilva is a solicitor with Paragon Law

First Impressions
When I first arrived it was totally different from what I had expected. I underwent a culture shock and realised some gestures meant something different from that of my country. For example, if you talked to someone without looking at them straight in the eyes, then it meant that you were not telling the truth. I got accustomed to peoples behaviour because Im openminded and although some were ignorant, most of them were very helpful and friendly.
Lucy - Kenya


Its often said by our politicians that immigration is a difficult and controversial topic. Nevertheless, they do seem to enjoy talking about it at the first opportunity. Perhaps what should be argued is that the controversy is not so much to do with immigration itself (in all its many forms), but the way that it is so consistently misrepresented by many of our politicians, as well as by much of the popular press.
Jay Nurse
A recent study by the Migration Observatory* has shed some light on the publics perception of immigration, revealing insights that had previously remained unreported and unexamined. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the study indicates that public attitudes and perceptions regarding immigration are significantly at odds with actual UK immigration figures. For example the study, which is based on face to face interviews with 1002 people living in Britain, found that although the majority (69%) would like to see a reduction in immigration, the type of person that most commonly comes to mind when they think of immigrants are asylum seekers, illegal immigrants and permanent or long-term stayers, as opposed to short-term settlers like students. Of those asked, 62% thought that asylum was the most common reason for migration to Britain, 52% thought it was work, 34% chose family/marital reunion and only 29% chose study (each person was allowed to choose more than one category). In actual fact, Office of National Statistics (ONS) data shows that 37% of immigrants are students (i.e, short-term stayers), 34% come for work, 13% come to join family members and only 4% to claim asylum (many immigrants recorded in statistics are also Britons returning after time spent abroad). No doubt there will be those that question the accuracy of the studys findings but the discrepancies are vast. The study also found that 71% of those interviewed were worried about illegal immigration, as opposed to just 35% who felt the same way about legal immigration. Of this 71%, the majority expressed a strong desire to see illegal immigration reduced. According to figures from 2007, there are 10 legal immigrants for every 1 illegal immigrant. Despite this, the majority view is that most immigration is illegal.

The mixture of cultures in Nottingham surprised me. Rowen - Kurdistan/Iraq

37% of immigrants are students 34% come for work, 13% come to join family members 4% to claim asylum
Source: Office of National Statistics (ONS)

Solidarity and greetings from Nottinghamshire UNISON

One of the effects of stirring up resentment of immigrants is an increase in racist and intolerant views among the public

So how can public perceptions and attitudes be so far off the mark and what might be the consequences for us as a society? Well first of all it should perhaps come as no surprise that politicians manipulate and misuse information in order to gain public support and to shower scorn over their political rivals. A revealing insight into this came from the Conservative MP, Andrew Lansley. In 1995, Mr Lansley was the head of the Conservative Partys Research Department and at that time he described immigration to his party as an issue we raised successfully in 1992, and again in the 1994 European election campaign, (which) played particularly well in the tabloids and has more potential to hurt. To discover where things went wrong, a little bit of history sometimes helps. Going back to 1961, Rab Butler, the then Home Secretary was recorded as saying the

following in relation to an act intended to deny entry to the UK for Commonwealth citizens: The great merit of this scheme is that it can be presented as making no distinction on grounds of race or colour... (however) the aim is primarily social and its restrictive effect is intended to, and would in fact, operate on coloured people almost exclusively. Now it is easy to say that that was a different age in British politics and society, less multi-culturally minded perhaps. Sadly, however, one of the effects of stirring up resentment of immigrants is an increase in racist and intolerant views among the public, which the press and our politicians often respond to sympathetically. In the current day, we have witnessed the emergence of racist, far-right organisations like the British National Party and the English Defence League, for whom support has been increasing. Although, in many ways these groups remain, and perhaps will always be, insignificant, the simple fact of their existence is a threat to a society that seeks to be socially progressive. In response to emergent racism, the major political parties approach has been to attempt to stop people of different racial or ethnic origins from arriving in the UK in the first place, rather than trying to directly address the roots of racism in our society. Severe visa restrictions on countries where wars and conflict are prevalent is a method that is commonly used. While there may be some that agree with this approach, it doesnt make it easy for our politicians or us, the general public, to engage with a fair and rational discussion on immigration, much less to challenge racism. It also serves to deny fair treatment of those who do arrive in Britain from other countries

whether that be to study, to work or to claim their right to protection from persecution in their own country. In the 1930s, the British government and public were quite resistant to the idea of accepting Jewish refugees from mainland Europe and in 1938 severely restrictive visa requirements were introduced to prevent many of them from entering the UK. Although this action was later repealed, many would-be refugees probably ended up in the ghettos, concentration camps and gas chambers of the Nazi regime whereas they would probably have survived unharmed if granted entry to Britain. Can we honestly look back on this part of our history and say that this was the right thing to do?

Now again, we cannot reassure ourselves that such things could never happen in our time. Such practices went against what was morally and ethically acceptable to the general public at the time this was occurring, as is evidenced by the desperate initial attempts at a cover up, and the speed with which the practice was brought to an end. The point is that when we allow ourselves to be convinced that, for one reason or another. a particular group of people do not deserve our compassion, or that they are somehow of less value, then we pave the way for their mistreatment and abuse at the hands of others who can claim to be acting in our interests. What becomes of a society that allows this to happen and what are the consequences of allowing our interests to be so narrowly defined as to exclude mutual understanding, compassion and respect towards others? The proportionally insignificant number of people who arrive in the UK to claim their right to protection from persecution in their own countries are often subjected to degrading treatment and forced into a cycle of poverty and destitution. They may be imprisoned indefinitely without having been convicted of any crime, and as of this year they will have G4S as their landlord. G4S is a private security firm that manage several of the UKs prisons and immigration removal centres and they have been on the receiving end of numerous allegations of racial abuse towards asylum seekers and the over-use of violent restraint. One such case resulted in the death of Jimmy Mubenga, for which three G4S staff may yet be charged with manslaughter. These types of occurrences go to the heart of the inequity of attempting to distinguish between desirable and non-desirable immigration, and the ridiculous claim that bogus immigration is rampant. As long as it continues to be so grossly misrepresented by many of our politicians and much of the press, we will remain largely ignorant about the true nature of immigration, and as a consequence injustice and intolerant views will prevail. Any government or free press that deliberately denies its public access to the truth is not worthy of the position of responsibility they hold. *The Migration Observatory is an independent body made up of various authoritative experts from the field of economics, politics and migration.

The point is that when we allow ourselves to be convinced that, for one reason or another, a particular group of people do not deserve our compassion, or that they are somehow of less value, then we pave the way for their mistreatment and abuse at the hands of others who can claim to be acting in our interests.

During the 1970s, women from the Indian sub-continent were forced to submit to virginity tests before being allowed entry to the UK. These women were coming to the UK to marry their fiances, who were officially settled residents. Their entry to the UK was conditional and limited to 3 months. Apart from the naivety and ignorance that the assumption of pre-marital virginity implies, this cannot be understood as anything but a gross act of violation on the part of the UK immigration service. On at least one occasion the vaginal examination was conducted by a male doctor as a female doctor was not available. After initial attempts by the Home Office to defend virginity testing and to obscure the truth about its extent, the practice was quickly condemned and brought to an end.

First Impressions
I am an international student from Iraq. First time that I arrived in the UK I felt very happy because there are many beautiful things such as the environment, and a democratic political system that I hadnt seen before. The most amazing thing is that people always stand in a queue to get stuff!
Muhammad - Iraq

Beyond Borders | June 2012

Beyond Borders | June 2012


Liz Burrell

by Brian Davey

Its dawn. Noises disturb the sleeping family. There is a banging at the door and people in uniform force their way into the house. The parents are kept in one room while the intruders go to fetch the young child who is hiding in fear under the covers of her bed.
You would be forgiven for thinking that this happened in an area of conflict, yet this experience is one that many children in the UK have been exposed to and are still suffering the consequences of. For refugee and asylum seeking children and families, life in the UK is not the end to their experience of trauma or difficulties. These children, whether newly arrived or born in this country, form one of the most marginalised and deprived groups within our society. The Child Poverty Act of 2010 may have raised the profile of hardship amongst children in Britain, but the experiences of refugee and asylum seeking children are conspicuously absent from debates on child poverty. A recent report produced by The Childrens Society, I dont feel human, draws attention to the experiences of young refugees and migrants and the destitution that many families and lone children face. It identifies an alarming rise in destitution and paints a graphic image of the devastating impact of living in such extreme poverty on the welfare and development of children. The report goes as far as suggesting that forced destitution has been a deliberate policy aimed at deterring asylum seekers from entering the UK. Having ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Children, the UK government has an obligation to ensure that the rights of all children living within the UK are safeguarded. These rights include the right to be protected from all forms of violence, injury, abuse, neglect or exploitation, including economic exploitation, the right to family unity and the limiting of detention, which is only to be used as a last resort. In practice, however, the picture is very different and young people are exposed to massive risks to their safety and wellbeing.

children in the UK are still being detained and are suffering the consequences

In May 2010, the Coalition Government made a pledge to end child detention, acknowledging the severe psychological damage and physical danger that this exposes children to. Although they are no longer held in centres like the notorious Yarls Wood, children in the UK are still being detained and are suffering the consequences. A pre-departure centre for families was opened at Crawley in September, 2011. The contract for running the centre was awarded to the private security company G4S, an organisation with a history of complaints against it which include allegations of

assault and racism. Campaigners argue that the centre at Crawley is repeatedly breaching conditions and detaining children for over 72 hours and in one instance, over one week. In the news this February, it was revealed that 40 children received compensation for being held in adult detention centres as a result of age disputes. That is, the Home Office refused to believe that they were under 18. While this was in 2009 and 2010, doubts continue over the reliability and accuracy of age assessments carried out by poorly trained immigration staff, which could mean that children are unlawfully detained. The experience of being a child within the asylum process has far reaching consequences. On a day-to-day level, their lives are characterised by uncertainty and anxiety about their future. Of course, there are many ways that being a refugee in the UK impacts on family life and the welfare of children. Among the most visually apparent are poverty, poor quality housing and social isolation. There is no doubt that all of these are extremely damaging to the welfare and development of refugee children. In fact they may be doubly affected due to a worsening of their parents mental health, and the breakdown of wider family relationships. In terms of schooling, children face multiple barriers such as long disrupted provision due to frequent relocation and subsequent waiting while places are found with new schools. At Nottingham & Nottinghamshire Refugee Forums Children and Families project, we frequently observe family difficulties such as those described, and have supported many children to manage difficult experiences such as them having to interpret for their parents at doctors appointments, dealing with post-traumatic stress and living in destitution. The needs of these children are, as we have seen, complex and multiple, and statutory or universal services are not always equipped to fully address these needs. With cuts across the board, services are under greater pressure. Sadly, in Nottingham, as elsewhere, we are witnessing severe cuts to many of the specialised services that

With cuts across the board, services are under greater pressure.

are currently working alongside statutory agencies, increasing the uncertainty and danger that these already vulnerable children are exposed to. Although these concerns remain, Nottingham city has developed a strong multi-agency approach and is currently working with hard-working and committed individuals and teams from local charities like the Refugee Forum, as well as from across other local services such as schools, Connexions, libraries, mental health and childrens centres. By working together, these services are able to implement holistic support plans for children and their families. Providing social and out-of-school activities such as play sessions in local parks, visits to the cinema, bowling outings, trips to other cities and family fun days goes a long way to reducing social isolation and widening childrens horizons. The ever popular End of Year party held at the Refugee Forum sees over 80 children come together to play, celebrate and have fun. Peer interaction and engaging in activities are vital elements in ensuring that children feel settled and secure. Such sessions contribute to childrens wellbeing by bringing families together, promoting a sense of belonging, giving a break from outside stresses and simply allowing children to be children. Working with children in these situations can be harrowing at times, but what shines out is the amazing resilience and adaptability that children show and their capacity to flourish in the face of adversity. There are many positive factors, not least the strength of parents and the strong values that are promoted within families. Many individual communities have set up sessions to support, educate and promote cultural awareness to their children. Nottingham has a strong, vibrant and diverse refugee community which contributes significantly to creating a supportive and encouraging environment and I feel honoured to be able to be involved in it. Liz Burrell is the Children and Families Worker at Nottingham and Notts. Refugee Forum.

According to some estimates, 26 million people have already been displaced as a direct result of climate change. By 2050, this number could grow to 200 million. Extreme weather events are becoming more common - like the heat wave that recently destroyed Russian grain harvests and hurricane Katrina that smashed into New Orleans in 2005. In Pakistan, a fifth of the country was left underwater by floods in 2010, with further flooding the following year. In 2011, a third of Thailand was overwhelmed by rain. These types of events are set to become much worse. Levels of CO2 in the Earths atmosphere are already well above the point at which the polar ice caps and Greenland start to melt away. This is likely to raise sea levels by many metres. Scientists now fear a runaway process, a tipping point for the worlds climate system. It would work like this, melting ice reveals darker oceans or soil which absorb more of the suns energies. These areas would then release methane hitherto frozen beneath the sea and in peat bogs. Like CO2, methane is a major greenhouse gas. As the earth gets warmer, rainforests burn, releasing their carbon into the atmosphere. The results would be catastrophic. Millions would be displaced. Small island states would disappear (the threat of this is already imminent in the Asia-Pacific region). 200 million people living on coastal floodplains, and 22 major cities are at risk of flooding from coastal surges. These include Tokyo, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Mumbai, Calcutta, Karachi, Buenos Aires, St Petersburg, New York, Miami and London. Refugees from political conflicts are protected (in theory at least) if they flee in fear of persecution. However, people displaced by climate change do not have any equivalent rights. If climate change leads to drought or flooding so that agriculture or herding becomes non-viable, then people moving are economic migrants. How would they prove that their desperate situation is the result of climate change? In a world in which justice prevails, the governments of countries that caused this crisis would take responsibility and encourage change in the way that corporations and societies operate. But nothing like this is happening at the rate and magnitude required. What we can do though is to seek ways to challenge corporations and governments as best we can. At least in this way we can show support for climate refugees, and maybe reduce the risk of even worse environmental disasters in the future.

Beyond Borders | June 2012


The Voices of Young Refugees Conference in Strasbourg

SHARON WALIA attends an inspiring Conference in Strasbourg entitled The Role of the Media and Refugees
I was fortunate enough to attend the Voices of Young Refugees in Europe (VYRE) event, held at the European Youth Council in Strasbourg last March. VYRE is a network founded in 2008 which aims to promote issues concerning young refugees today. There were 40 participants and 6 event staff made up of refugees, internally displaced people (IDP) and professionals. The refugees who attended came from troubled countries all over the world Gaza, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe and Somalia to name a few. Everyone was nervous on the first day however we started off with group building activities and everyone soon grew very close. We kicked off with the group discussing the representation of refugees in newspapers and television around the world. We soon realised that there were a lot of similarities in the way refugees are represented in our various countries, and many of these stories focused on myths. The organisers had laid on some quirky but informative surprises for us. One morning we went down for breakfast and were handed passports by the event staff who said we could not be given breakfast until our passports were stamped. We were then sent from office to office while the event staff played the roles of immigration officers. Even though we realised it was only a simulation, some of the participants found it very frustrating. We were eventually allowed to have breakfast and reflected on the activity. Personally, I felt it was a great way of demonstrating the annoyance and confusion felt by people looking for shelter and refuge in foreign countries - and yet our frustration was just not being allowed to get our breakfast.

A personal highlight was the Skype interview with musician, Emmanuel Jal, a refugee from Sudan now based in the UK. Jal was the subject of the award-winning documentary War Child which shows how he was rescued by Emma McCune, a British aid worker. Emmanuel went on to set up an organisation in her name. He discussed his music career and taught us a lot about his two organisations, Emma Academy Project and GUA Africa, which help to rebuild schools in Sudan. These organisations are also seeking volunteers and ambassadors to take part in various projects. A main talking point during the study session was how social media (Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, etc) are actually giving voiceless people a platform. A journalist, Hana Al-Khamri, from Yemen, now based in Sweden, illustrated this point by giving us a talk on the Arab Spring. She told us that many traditional media reporters are now focusing on Twitter and Facebook to find

out what is happening in the Arab regions. A number of refugees and asylum seekers explained that they felt that social media could be effective in highlighting atrocities in their home countries. Another very useful talk was the presentation by the European Youth Foundation who fund local and regional organisations for particular events and projects. They provide funding of up to 7,600 and there is no deadline for applications which means that you can apply at anytime. A priority group for 2012 is refugees, so they are urging people with refugee focused projects to apply. We had one free afternoon where we had the chance to see the beautiful city of Strasbourg. There was a tour of the European Council and we also saw the Parliament buildings and the Court of Human Rights. Overall it was an inspiring week and I made some great friends. It was also the first time I have met a large number of refugees, asylum

seekers and professionals in one conference. At next years event, the focus will be on Refugees and the Arts. If you are interested in taking part you should check out VYREs website later in the year to apply. Accommodation, travel expenses and food are covered by the European Youth Council so it is a really great opportunity for refugees to attend the session and make some great friends. - VYREs website - European Youth Foundation - Emmanuel Jals organisation Sharon Walia works for Refugee Futures in Nottingham

SINGING CLUB: Already a Legend!

to everyone, and what we do there is very much about togetherness, connectedness and well-being. Its quite remarkable and inspiring to follow our development. Weve learned beautiful songs in English, Kurdish, Farsi, French, Spanish, Brazilian, Polish, Romany (Gypsy), Ukrainian and Georgian (Choral play on 3 voices). Its like all these people were waiting for this chance to show off their talents. We are like a small (not that small actually) band. Guitars, saz, pandeiro, daf and harmonica join our efforts in order to realise something nice. And theres something special going on here for sure. For the Light Night this year, we even had our first public performance. The butterflies in our stomachs were trying to distract us, but we managed to pull together and the show was a success as people started dancing and we got a lot of applause. Of course that lifted up our hearts and now were planning to show off in public more often. You dont have to be the best singer in the world as long as you are enthusiastic and have a smile on your face. So, come visit us every Thursday from 6-7pm at the Square Centre on Alfred Street North, NG3 1AA.

At a Language Caf event organised last September by Culturebox, we invited participants to teach a song with a small group of people and to share the results later on. The success of the singing experiment led us to decide that our next endeavour would be an international singing club. And so we did! Last September my words describing Cultureboxs Singing Club would have been: an international group of people gathering together to teach, learn and sing songs from all over the world. But now I would describe it as a group of friends gathering together to enjoy themselves and have fun singing songs from all around the world. Singing belongs

Culturebox is an intercultural learning organisation and permanent celebration of Nottinghams cultural diversity. We create environments for learning and interaction between people who may not otherwise meet. Together with Nottingham Libraries we run the Language Cafe which meets every Saturday at the Central Library. We also organise workshops in schools, and run a Capoeira Group and the Singing Club. We will be launching a Dance Exchange project soon. If you would like to get involved contact Juliet on 07903114248 or email

Beyond Borders | June 2012


PROVE IT!Sexual Identity and the UK Asylum Process

A personal account of the difficulties faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender asylum seekers.
The author of this article wishes to remain anonymous
Up until 2 years ago, almost all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT+)* asylum seekers were fast tracked through the system and in most cases deported back to the repressive governments which continue to persecute them so severely. Decisions were being made by UK Border Agency caseworkers who lack any LGBT+ training on how to deal with such claims. Asylum seekers were invariably advised to be discreet and deny their sexual identity for the rest of their lives. Following the famous HJ & HT case in July 2010, a Supreme Court ruling put an end to that discretion policy. I started to imagine that I could see a glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel, a new beginning for myself and others like me. But what a lie it was. Today, many LGBT+ asylum seekers are still returned to countries that maintain cruelly repressive homophobic attitudes, both in government and society and that pass laws which criminalise, punish and even kill people just for being gay. And yet, to make things even worse, having arrived in the UK they have to go through an asylum process that is often inconsiderate, sometimes even manipulative of them and their individual and varied identities. When an asylum claimant is seeking asylum based on their sexuality, they have to first prove their sexuality. It is impossible for anyone to integrate well into an LGBT+ community in a country they have never been to before, let alone within just a few forced marriages, FGM, and even honour killings. What a joke! During the asylum process claimants are subject to a number of inappropriate comments. In my case, one of many of the judges outrageous comments was it might aid the claimant (myself) to dress in a more appropriate manner that is tolerated by Muslim countries. Er, thanks for the fashion advice, but no thanks. However, there are far worse, inappropriate and irrelevant even homophobic - comments that Ive heard of. Even questions like Are you top or bottom? Added to that, even though the discretion policy was ruled unlawful, the Home Office continues to argue that claimants are already being discreet. Thus, upon returning to their country of origin they will remain voluntarily discreet and, therefore, will not be persecuted. My own experience of this has been terrible. My friends sent dozens of letters to the Home Office regarding my sexuality and I had about 10 supporting me in court. But what I said was manipulated to say that, even in this country, I am not open about my sexuality. This system takes up years of our lives full of fear and stress. We come here seeking sanctuary and protection; instead we face discrimination, homophobia and are accused of being liars we are guilty until proven innocent.


Nottingham, Leicester and Derby are home to a vibrant and diverse population that includes many refugee communities that have fled repressive regimes. Each individual and group offers a wealth of talent, skills and fresh ideas that contribute significantly to the economic and cultural life of the region. Contrary to popular belief, no one wants to be a refugee in a strange land, but sometimes people have to run from their homes because they are facing torture, imprisonment or even death. People who have no choice but to flee their countries, and only a tiny proportion of these people come to the UK. Refugee Week is a UK wide festival that aims to counter the persistently hostile media coverage, defend the importance of sanctuary and promote understanding between refugee and host communities. We hope you will join with us in celebrating and enjoying the many arts, cultural and educational events that are taking place in all three cities this year. MONDAY 18TH JUNE NETWORKING AND TRAINING EVENT WORKING WITH NEW COMMUNITY LEADERS AND ORGANISATIONS, FREE An opportunity for people working or wanting to work with refugees and other new community groups, to learn more and network. Lunch provided. Booking essential.

It might aid the claimant (myself) to dress in a more appropriate manner that is tolerated by Muslim countries
days or weeks of arriving. Its even more of a problem if there is a language barrier that must be first negotiated. The proposed answer for most asylum seekers is gay clubs. But when you are living on 35 a week, clubbing for asylum seekers is a choice between decent food and living necessities and proving your sexuality. Most find themselves pushed into having sex before theyre ready, all for this so called proof. It doesnt end there, in order to pass the test you have to fit into a certain box; i.e., their idea of what an LGBT+ person should be. Asylum law is not set up to deal with the realities and fluidity of sexual identities properly. If youre different like me and therefore not straight, you must be lesbian, gay or bisexual. To be honest I dont know many people that fit into a sexual label so strictly. I dont want to be told which box

I should fit into but this is what the asylum process is designed to do. If it was up to me I wouldnt label myself at all, but for now, out of the three, Im more comfortable with gay. Those who label themselves as bisexual and who are, or have been, in relationships that may outwardly appear heterosexual have more difficulty proving their persecution in their countries of origin. They have to prove how they would be perceived as homosexual and thus persecuted, which to me is basically denying their bisexual identity. I find that queer women are the ones facing the most difficulties proving their asylum claims. These women come from different cultures, many of which force marriages and children on them. This gives them an even harder time when trying to be believed by the Home Office. Many also come from countries where lesbian networks are invisible and even the existence of lesbians is denied. I guess to most people, the invisibility of lesbianism in certain countries suggests how dangerous it is to be out but oh no, not for the Home Office. Even if there is a ton of evidence that if any woman in that country, be her straight or a lesbian, shows non-conformity she faces persecution such as enforced virginity tests, sexual assaults and rape, serious physical abuse,

Contact: Shirley Houston: TUESDAY 19TH JUNE OUR FOOD SHARED FOOD BOOK LAUNCH AND OUR STORIES PRESENTATION, FREE Come and celebrate these exciting community projects and meet the people involved. Followed by the Refugee Week film Hotel Rwanda.

* Footnote: The + in LGBT+ represents the many people who resist or resent the idea of having something as personal as their sexuality classified in narrowly prescribed terms that, for either cultural or personal reasons, have no significance to their own sense of personal identity.

Tickets for film from Quad Box Office. Tel: 01332 290606 WEDNESDAY 20TH JUNE. CITIZENSHIP EVENT, FREE Find out more about citizenship through the use of our library services.

SATURDAY 16TH JUNE BEYOND BORDERS FESTIVAL - SHOWCASING DERBYS NEW COMMUNITIES, FREE Different communities will be showcasing their cultures with live music, dance, youth and childrens activities, cultural exhibitions and stalls. Come and make a new friend at the language caf and discover the world on your doorstep! There will be information stalls and activities from partners involved in Refugee Week.

Contact: Margaret Jay - SUNDAY 24TH JUNE. FAMILY SPORTS DAY, FREE. Come and join our local Olympics and compete in a wide range of sports for all the family.

Contact: Nji Walters - All these events have been organised and are supported by the British Red Cross, NHS Derby City, The Quad, Upbeat Communities and Pear Tree Library.

Contact: Jakub Achenbach:

upbeat communities
cohesion capacity



Refugee Futures are proud to support Refugee Week


Why should they learn English if they can get council documents translated into their own languages and interpreters everywhere from the NHS to the courts?
This is one of many comments that you may have heard about English learners. MPs refer to unemployable, sub classes of people who dont understand English and give unclear directives that they should be able to speak like a native. The myth develops that they are not trying hard enough, not interested in British culture and unwilling to mix. Such misinformation creates an atmosphere of hostility, anxiety and pressure for English learners so that even when they have the equivalent of a GCSE in English, they can still feel that their English is not good enough and lack confidence in their abilities. So how much language do we need to have in common in order to communicate meaningfully with each other? Nows your chance to find out! NCBI Nottinghams Words Apart sessions are continually trying to push the boundaries in this area. Come and join us for Refugee Week! We can assure you that it will be fun, inspiring and unforgettable! Booking essential.
TIME: 5.30 - 8.30PM

SATURDAY 16TH JUNE FOOTBALL TOURNAMENT Come along and watch the 24 teams and their efforts to win a trophy!

1ST 30TH JUNE. EXHIBITION: IMAGINING A BETTER WORLD, FREE This exhibition is the culmination of an eight-week project that took place at Nottingham Contemporary earlier on in the year led by local artist, Jo Dacombe. The participants comprised a diverse group of people from around the world who have created a range of inspirational artworks from models of buildings that embodied an ideal space, abstract photographs of the models and a film documenting the whole process.

Organised by Refugee Action, Leicester City Council Sport Regeneration and the Zimbabwean Community. WILDLIFE CRAFTS WORKSHOP, FREE Come and make lanterns and picture frames to take away - all from natural materials like willow and twigs. Suitable for all the family!

Contact: 07914305497 / 0115 958282, /

Organised by Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust. SUNDAY 24TH JUNE WALK TO THE ARBORETUM, FREE 11am. Meet at The Square Centre, Alfred Street North, NG3 1AA. Suitable for all ages. Children must be accompanied by an adult. The walk will last roughly 1.5 - 2 hours. Please wear comfortable footwear. Organised by Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust. THURSDAY 28TH JUNE. ASYLUM MONOLOGUES BY ICE & FIRE WEDNESDAY 20TH JUNE RefuTea Please join us for a cup of tea and a selection of cakes from around the world to help raise funds for refugees in the UK. All proceeds to be split between the Refugee Council and Nottingham and Notts. Refugee Forums Anti-Destitution Fund.
Photo: 2010 Tournament

Organised by Nottingham City Libraries and Nottingham Contemporary. SATURDAY 16TH JUNE CELEBRATING REFUGEE WEEK, FREE Come to the launch of Refugee Week 2012 for music, performances and workshops from cultures around the world. Well be celebrating contributions made by refugees and asylum seekers and showcasing art works created by community groups inspired by the exhibitions at Nottingham Contemporary.
Celebrating values of independence through artistic innovation


This one-day conference includes workshops and will explore how hope and resilience can be fostered in the current climate through an emphasis on human rights, approaches to justice in psychological therapy and through building solidarity in the voluntary and statutory sector. Speakers include: Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty; Taiwo Afuape, Principal Clinical Psychologist and Systemic Psychotherapist at South Camden Community Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, and author of a new book entitled: Power, Resistance and Liberation in Therapy with Survivors of Trauma; Matt Carr, writer and journalist, and author of Fortress Europe: Dispatches from a Gated Continent; Nazek Ramadan, Director of Migrant Voice and founder of the refugee newspaper, New Londoners; Liz Page, UK Director of the South Eastern territory of the British Red Cross.

Helping us to mark the launch, Haitian carnival musicians Rara Lakay will also be performing. Rara is a traditional music of street procession rooted in Haitis African ancestry and folklore, bringing people together on the street to share tribal rhythms and stories.

You know, before the war in my country, I was not even thinking about coming here. I was happy. I was with my family, everything was OK. Why should I want to go? But things happen.
Based on personal testimonies of asylum seekers in the UK this version of Asylum Monologues will use the testimony of three people who have experienced the asylum process in the UK. One has been trafficked, one is age disputed and the third claimed asylum for political reasons. Their experiences and stories are typical of asylum seekers and refugees supported by Nottingham Arimathea Trust and Nottingham and Notts Refugee Forum. After the performance there will be an opportunity to ask questions about what you have heard.

Contact: Saima Kaur on 0115 948 9783 / Jason McCormack on 0115 915 1180 Organised by Nottingham Contemporary, Nottingham Beyond Borders, Nottingham and Notts Refugee Forum, British Red Cross, Refugee Futures, Culturebox, City Arts, Rainbow Project and Nottingham City Libraries. Rara Lakay will be visiting the UK for two weeks as part of its Nottingham event Night of Festivals 2012 to perform and create lively opportunities for cultural exchange around the city. The visit culminates in a spectacular carnival celebration starting from Old Market Square on 22nd June at 8.30pm where Rara Lakay will join other world-class artists and musicians to bring a taste of both Rio and wider Latin American carnival to the streets of Nottingham.
ation of A celebr ence and independ novation tistic in ar

ation of A celebr ence and independ novation tistic in ar

Tickets: Free for unwaged/refugees/asylum seekers; 10 for students; 20 waged. This booking fee includes a contribution to the asylum seeker destitution fund. For booking forms contact: Carl Gudgeon 0116 2231639 or Funded by the East Midlands Strategic Health Authority and organised by the clinical psychology department at the University of Leicester in conjunction with a range of refugee and voluntary sector organisations across the East Midlands THURSDAY JUNE 21ST Open Day at Leicester City of Sanctuary Drop-in Centre. Leicester City of Sanctuary runs a drop-in centre for refugees and asylum seekers every Thursday afternoon. We teach people to use computers, run sewing classes, a knitting circle and other craft activities. We have games for adults and childrens toys. Come and meet us and see what we do - and learn why we need to do it.

Organised by Refugee Futures and Nottingham and Notts. Refugee Forum. CRIME WRITING WITH A CONSCIENCE, FREE Acclaimed crime writer Danuta Reah will be joining us at Nottingham Central Library to talk about her most recent novel Not Safe. The book follows the story of DC Tina Barraclough as she investigates the death of an 18 year old asylum seeker. Danuta will talking about her writing and the way in which this novel was inspired by her work with ASSIST, a Sheffield based charity which supports destitute asylum seekers. (See page ??? for an interview with Danuta). HOST Nottingham, a similar organisation to ASSIST, will also be present to give an insight into how they help destitute asylum seekers in our own city. (See page ???)

Contact: Jane - 07940 548832 / Caron - 07735 004218 / Theresa at NNRF 853 2382 / or on the door. All proceeds to Nottingham Arimathea Trust and the Nottingham and Notts. Refugee Forum Anti-Destitution Fund. Organised by Nottingham Arimathea Trust.

Rara Lakays residency has been arranged by ArtReach and hosted by City Arts. This project is supported by the Joyce Carr Doughty Trust.

ation of A celebr ence and independ novation in artistic

Contact: For a free ticket for this event, please contact Nottingham Central Library on 0115 915 2825 or for more information - Jane Brierley on 0115 9151171 or email: Organised by Nottingham City Libraries and HOST Nottingham. FRIDAY 22ND JUNE PLATFORMA LIVE: NIGHT OF THE FESTIVALS, FREE Musicians and poets from around the world who are now living in the UK. Line-up to be confirmed.

Organised by ArtReach, East Midlands hub for the Platforma Arts + Refugees Network. Supported by Long Journey Home.

Beyond Borders | June 2012


Beyond Borders | June 2012



ArtReach invites all ages to its unique, free access Night of Festivals 2012 from 21-23 June in the special surroundings of Nottinghams Old Market Square. Artists appearing include international film maker, Michael Nyman, DJ Gilles Peterson, six world music bands, spectacular carnival and Rio samba artists, and Haitian sculptors, Atis Rezistans. The festival also presents artists from six continents in the worlds smallest moving image gallery the ArtReach Nanoplex. The intention is to entertain, thrill, delight, stimulate and surprise. This is a festival of diversity bringing together international musicians, singers, film artists, carnival and street performers, visual artists and local people. The festival will celebrate the values of freedom and independence through artistic innovation. The opening day on Thursday, 21 June will feature the world premiere big screen presentation of a new short film and score, Witnesses, from international composer, Michael Nyman (scheduled at 9.30pm). There will be live stage performances from Zoe Keating and Red Clay Halo, whose singer songwriter, Emily Barker, won a Royal Television Society award for her TV theme tune for Wallander. Emily also wrote the title song for The Shadow Line. There is also a chance to experience the quirky Folk-in-a-Box, Haitian sculpture and Nanoplex installations. On Friday 22 June, the focus is on carnival, with vibrant, colourful and extravagant costumes and performances from Mandinga Arts and Paraiso Samba. The companies are joined by local costumed performers and by the first ever visit from a Haitian Rara band. The carnival procession commences at 8.30pm from Old Market Square. The final day, Saturday 23 June features street theatre and carnival character interventions throughout the day and a special final music stage programme. The wonderful environment of the Square will be embellished with extraordinary installations. Audiences can enjoy live music from United Vibrations and Soothsayers and a special DJ set from international star, Gilles Peterson. Night of Festivals 2012 is funded by Arts Council England, Nottingham City Council, the Legacy Trust UK, the European Union through the European Regional Development Fund and the Joyce Carr Doughty Trust. Key partners are City Arts, Nottingham Contemporary, the New Art Exchange and Stage Right Productions. The project is devised, produced and delivered by ArtReach.


1. What percentage of the worlds asylum seekers and refugees flee to the UK? A. 2 B. 10 C. 50 D. 80 2. What percentage of the worlds asylum seekers and refugees flee to developing countries? A. 10 B. 20 C. 60 D. 80 3. Which of the following statements is true? Asylum seekers in the UK A. live here illegally B. are not allowed to work C. get full income support 4. Where are the refugees in this passage from?
Many refugees are arriving in this country, and in the majority of cases are being turned back...once it was known that Britain offered sanctuary to all who cared to come, the floodgates would be opened and we should be inundated by thousands seeking a home...our own professions are already overcrowded and have been further strained by arrivals in the last few years from Central Europe.

6. Which country are these people from? Have you ever got near them? They must really stink! According to the statistics, they only take a bath once a fortnight. They cant make money, they have no jobs at home, so they come over here to mess up our economy and take our jobs. And why is there so much unemployment in their own country? Because theyre a lazy lot who dont want to work. Well let them be warned, they wont be allowed to live on social security here. A. Britain B. Poland C. Nigeria D. Brazil

Home is a breath caught in my throat Home is fear-struck silence Home is born in captivity With the painful feeling of bitter exile Home is running in endless pain Home is the silence of this cold night Home is a vague hope that never comes true Home is an unequal fight Between a hundred men and one lone woman Home is a place full of sorrow Where the sky rains poison Home is an unhealed wound A heart torn apart by longing Home is a sigh of regret To return as a pilgrim Home is the sound of my mothers lullaby Among the sounds of people crying Calling me home.
By Mina Fatemi

Ruled over by one of the most ruthless and repressive dictators in the world, the Eritrean government has imprisoned its people and shut off all links with the outside world. According to Human Rights Watch, arbitrary arrests, torture, and forced labour are rampant and thousands are incarcerated without being charged or tried in a court of law. Many detainees simply disappear. Compulsory and indefinite military service is routinely used as a means of obtaining free labour. While imprisoned, detainees are subjected to torture and other forms of inhuman and degrading treatment. These routine practices include beatings, mock drowning, being suspended by the arms from trees, and being tied up in the sun in contorted positions for hours or even days. There is no free press or information media only those owned by the state are permitted. The only political party allowed is the ruling Peoples Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ). Public gatherings are prohibited, and simply asking a question that is deemed critical of the government constitutes grounds for arrest. Many young men and women spend their entire lives being slaves to a regime that has no humanity within it. They work in silence hoping that they get a glimpse of a chance of escaping to freedom. When that chance arrives they take the risk of losing everything they have - including those who are dearest to them. Asmelash is one of the many Eritreans who fled the nation seeking safety and protection. The first part of his half-year long journey - getting to the Sudanese border - was the most risky. It took five days and nights of avoiding being caught by the Eritrean army. Deserting the army can land you in prison for treason, but being a deserter caught whilst trying to cross the border is the worst. They can shoot you for this, he says. Once in Sudan, Asmelash spent two months in a refugee camp where again the situation was precarious and uncertain. Intermittently, the Sudanese government sends hundreds back across the border in efforts to improve its diplomatic relations with Eritrea. On October 17th, 2011, Sudan

Stripped of their basic human rights, Eritreans can only dream of intellectual, economic, political and religious freedoms in their own country.

Mussie Kidane

stations. Life in Milan was very tough and did not feel safe at all. After working in Milan for 6 months he paid traffickers a further 2000 to get him across to Calais in France. The camps in Calais are very bad. People are just left there to rot. There was a woman there who was expecting a baby within days and no one seemed to do anything about it. From Calais, Asmelash paid a further 2500 to get to England. My life now has changed. I have been able to study at college and get my Higher diploma certificate in Business Management. Almost 90% of Eritreans in the city of Nottingham come by similarly perilous journeys, but there are thousands stranded half way across the desert or lost at sea, their whereabouts unknown. Young women who attempt the journey are often raped or forced into prostitution and slavery throughout the Middle East and Africa; no one seems to ask for them. For the most part, it seems that they have been forgotten.

First Impressions
For me, I saw England like a paradise - a human right and free country. But when I spent 9 years here, the reality was a bad experience. Our country doesnt want us and England doesnt want us either its a nightmare for me, my husband, my daughters. Samia - Algeria

handed over 300 Eritreans to the Eritrean military without even screening them for refugee status. After receiving more money from his friends back home, Asmelash was ready to cross the desert into Libya - another risky trip in an overcrowded car. The people who take you across the desert know you are desperate and that you would do anything to get out of there. They often stop and ask for more money. They dont save room for extra water or food because that doesnt bring them money - people do. After a week he reached Ajdabiya, the first town in Libya after the desert. There, the traffickers asked for more money to be transferred to them from Khartoum.

Asmelash spent another three months in Libya waiting for the summer when he crossed the Mediterranean to Malta in a boat filled with 25 people. I was lucky. I made the journey in one go without being sent back at any point along the way, he says, admitting that the 1800 he paid was peanuts compared to the sums now demanded for the trip. Once in Malta, he spent a year in an overcrowded detention centre with 80 people housed in just two rooms. Eventually he managed to get away and moved to Milan in order to work, support his family back home and repay some of the debts his family had acquired helping him escape. Most days I was sleeping rough at subways and train

HOST Nottingham:
Over the last 18 months, Nottingham has seen a big increase in the numbers of destitute asylum seekers. These are asylum seekers who have had their claims refused. They are not entitled to work or receive any public funds or benefits of any kind, and find themselves sleeping rough on the streets. HOST Nottingham is one of a very small number of organisations trying to support these very vulnerable people. Set up a year ago the aim of the organisation is to recruit and support volunteer hosts who have a spare room where destitute asylum seekers, can stay for a period of time while they submit a fresh asylum claim. The organisation also tries to ensure they have access to health care and solicitors, and that they have got meaningful activities to stop their days becoming empty and endless. All those who have passed through the project to date have significantly benefited physically and mentally from simply having a roof over their heads.

Living here I have experienced many things from severe weather to a good thing - a sunny day! People look happy on that day. Rahman - Indonesia

A Lifeline for Destitute Asylum Seekers

We spoke to one of the hosts about their experience of volunteering with the project.

How long have you been hosting?

How have you found the experience?

6. A. Extract taken from an article in the Sydney Star in 1981 about British people arriving in Australia 5. D. Describing the Highland Clearances in the 18th and 19th Centuries 4. B. Extract from a Daily Mail article written in 1938 about German Jews escaping from the Nazis in World War II.
A. The term illegal asylum seeker has been banned by the The Press Complaints Commission. Everyone, including British citizens, has the legal right to seek asylum. The expression illegal asylum seeker is contradictory, just as it would be to say married bachelor. C. Asylum seekers are only entitled to 70% of the amount provided to those on income support, which is below the official poverty line.

Since November 2011, and I have just started hosting my third guest.

Why did you decide to let someone into your home?

I have been involved in social work in the city for eight to nine years, and it is through work I started meeting a lot of asylum seeker and refugee families. Talking to them about their experiences of the countries they came from helped me understand the trauma they had been through, and a lot of them had experienced poor treatment when they arrived. As I had a spare room to offer I decided to get involved.

Very worthwhile. Hosting is very much on your own terms so fits around your life and what you can offer. You dont even have to offer the use of your kitchen if you dont wish to, but that is something I chose to do. All the things like the length of time are agreed upon by you and Host Nottingham so you dont feel like you are committing to something you feel uncomfortable with.

Would you encourage other people to get involved in Host Nottingham?

Yes, most definitely, 100%. Just give it a go. Even if you just do this one amazing thing in life, you will never forget it. Its a really positive experience.

Did you have any doubts?

A. China B. Germany C. Sierra Leone D. Saudi Arabia 5. In which country did the following take place?
I was about ten years of age when the place I lived in was depopulated, our habitations burnt to the ground. I saw four townships all in flames on the same day, the crackling noise as well as the fire and smoke were awful. It was heartrending to hear the cries of the women and children when leaving their happy homes.

Of course. Everyone has his or her own reservations but there have never been any issues for me. Guests from the Host programme are so desperate, so grateful for having a room they would not jeopardise that. Another good thing is that you can speak to people who have already hosted to find out more before you become a host yourself.

1. A.

A. Sudan B. Zimbabwe C. Sri Lanka D. Scotland

3. B. 2. D. Most refugees flee to the safest neighbouring country

HOST Nottingham are extremely thankful for the generosity of their current hosts who have been able to host a small number of guests. However, this is still the tip of the iceberg. There are far more asylum seekers who are street homeless than the organisation can cater for. We are urging anyone with a spare room to come forward and help out. For further information please contact

By Alessandra Wayman

Beyond Borders | June 2012


From Saigon to Suburbia

An inspiring tale of survival, struggle and success in an unforgiving and uncompromising world.
An interview with Viet-Hai Phung by Kathryn Markham
In the late 1970s, Viet-hai came to Britain when he was just 4 years old. One of his earliest memories is from just after the plane had landed and his older brother gave him a piggy-back across the tarmac and into the airport building. Viet-Hais family had fled South Vietnam and arrived in Britain as refugees. We were seen by the communist regime as subversives because my dad was a writer and my mother ran a small business. So we had to leave. Without experiencing it first-hand it is impossible to imagine the anguish and sadness that a family must go through when they are forced to leave behind the comfort of friends and relations and everything that is familiar to them. But at the tender age of 4 years old the young Viet-Hai had more innocent distractions on his mind: I remember the journey. I wanted a coke, but my family hardly spoke any English. As the oldest, my sisters learned some English at school, but only my brother had the confidence to ask the stewardess in broken English. The newly arrived family waited at the baggage carousel for their luggage, which contained all they had left in the world. My mother had had to sign a disclaimer that the (Vietnamese) government could take our house along with the rest of our belongings. As is the case today, many people in Britain believed that families such as Viet-Hais had arrived seeking economic opportunity and wealth. Viet-Hai describes his families experience quite differently: We were well-to-do and middle class in Vietnamese society, living a comfortable lifestyle in Saigon, in South Vietnam. To go from having quite a lot to next to nothing is a huge adjustment. Viet-Hai described the

situation they faced as a tortuous struggle to be accepted and to rebuild their lives, We were starting completely from scratch. But for Viet-Hai and his family, starting from scratch meant more than simply having a place to live and the means to support themselves: We stuck out like sore thumbs. The perception of being different was very apparent. Viet-Hai and his family had arrived in Britain in December 1979, seven months after the Conservative government came to power, and as he explains: A new discourse had started in Britain, which isnt dissimilar to today - this awful suggestion that Britain is being swamped by immigrants. Like all families arriving from Vietnam at that time, Viet-Hais family were accommodated in refugee camps: It was a complete culture shock arriving in an English refugee camp. We were moved

after three months to another camp in a disused hospital. Most of the Vietnamese refugees were from the North which, in the cramped conditions, created tension with Chinese refugees, (North Vietnam was in conflict with China at that time). Things got better for us after we were moved to a council estate in Huntingdon. We met a couple of other Vietnamese families and I made friends with about half a dozen lads on the estate - Vietnamese and British. We did normal things kids do, playing football and stuff. My brother and sisters made teenage friends and we all started to settle in. So, gradually at least some degree of normality was established, but inevitably it wasnt easy and from time to time new and unexpected challenges would arise: I went to school and my siblings got into Uni, but my parents still had a hankering for their

old life; the old values, the old lifestyle. I had some difficult dilemmas to resolve in the life I led outside compared to at home because the boundaries are different. In order to be accepted I lived like my English peers. Sometimes it didnt go down too well at home. As is often the case with migrant and refugee families, Viet-Hais parents encouraged their children to develop a strong work ethic. He still remembers his mothers advice: You have to do the jobs they dont want to do. You have to strive harder just to achieve the same. It is obvious from their situation today that Viet-Hai and his siblings took this advice to heart. I now work in research at Lincoln University, on a project to develop meaningful indicators for the ambulance service. With few prospects of decent jobs growing up on a council estate in the 1980s, Viet-Hai, his brother and his sisters all worked doubly hard. My brother and sisters went to university only a few years after arriving with very little English, so I took it on myself to follow that path. Modestly he adds, It was easier for me as the youngest. They were already grown up when they had to adjust, which is harder. The respect and admiration that VietHai has for his family and how they have succeeded against the odds is evident, as you can tell when he reflects on his brothers achievement. Hes a successful medical statistician, which isnt bad when I remember that first journey, struggling to order me a drink on the plane. So has the family ever returned to Vietnam since their departure all those years ago? Only my mother. Shes been back three times. She has relatives over there and connections. Im not sure the rest of us will go back. Theres nothing there to go back to. I would feel like a tourist. Ive had to put up with the tension between the old life and the new life a long time, so I know its quite a different world. Ive been caught between two stools really, but Ive worked hard to make my life here.

2397 - TP644 - Notts Refugee Week Ad 2012:Layout 1



Page 1

City of Sanctuary is a national movement which aims to develop a culture of hospitality towards people seeking sanctuary in towns and cities across the UK. Nottingham City of Sanctuary began in 2007. We are working towards our goal of achieving City of Sanctuary status for Nottingham later this year. We continue to increase the number of pledges of support from various organisations, businesses and community groups. So far weve collected 64 resolutions of support. Pledges of support can be simple things, such as displaying the City of Sanctuary welcome sign, encouraging asylum seekers to take up volunteering opportunities and training staff on Refugee and Asylum Seeker Issues. For more details on what organisations can do please visit the link to our national website: Were also working to try and develop links with non-Christian faith groups. Additionally we are seeking funding for infrastructure costs, including work with volunteers.

The Fugitive
I dreamt I was a fugitive Hiding in a forest. The wolves in a distant country Hounded me through black deserts and over rough hills. My dear, our separation was torture. I dreamt I was without a home, Dying in an unknown city, Dying alone, my love, without a home.
Abdul Wahab al-Bayati
Volunteer with us. Come along to a meeting and find out more. Get involved in raising awareness in your community, organisation, work place, faith group, local pub. Contact us for more information coordinator@ Finally we would like to take the opportunity to thank Claudette Dyce for all her time, effort, energy and support over the past four years. Her contribution has been invaluable.
Thompsons Solicitors is a trading name of Thompsons Solicitors LLP and is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

Rod Leon

Thompsons Solicitors are proud to support Nottinghams Refugee Week Festival.

Thompsons are the most experienced personal injury firm in the UK and we have been fighting for workers rights and promoting social justice since 1921. For more information visit or call 0808 100 8050


Make a pledge of support.

Beyond Borders | June 2012


The Legend of the Horse Head Fiddle (Morin Khuur)

Many hundreds of years ago there lived a young Mongolian shepherd boy called Suho. One day, while tending his flock, he found an abandoned newborn foal and took him home where he nurtured him until he was a fully-grown beautiful white horse. From the very first moment of meeting, Suho and his horse were inseparable. One spring, news spread that the local lord was holding a big race in the city, promising the winner his daughters hand in marriage. Knowing how fast the white horse could run, Suhos friends urged him to enter the race. Suho and his horse flew around the course and won easily. However the lord was not happy and refused to allow the poor shepherd to marry his daughter. Instead, he offered him three pieces of silver to buy the horse. Suho refused and was beaten half to death, and his beautiful horse was taken away from him. While Suho was nursed back to life by his grandmother, the lord, proud to show off his new possession, attempted to ride the white horse in front of his noblemen. The horse bucked and kicked and refused to be ridden, sending the lord crashing to the ground. As the horse galloped off, the angry lord ordered his archers to kill the animal. Yet the horse did not stop, even though the arrows struck its flanks and bristled from its back. Eventually, the horse made its way back to Suhos home but despite Suho tenderly caring for the ailing animal, the horse grew weaker and soon died. Suho spent many sleepless nights consumed with grief, until one evening his beautiful white horse appeared to him in a dream. It told him that if he would take its bones, hide and sinews and use them to make an instrument to play on then he would be able to stay by Suhos side forever, and would always bring him peace and delight. When Suho awoke the following morning he did exactly as the horse had asked in his dream. When he finished his work, he ornamented his creation with a carving of a horses head. And whenever he played the instrument from that time on he could sense the white horse beside him, listening.

Keeping the Spirit Alive

Kathryn Markham
In Nottingham, the beautiful musical tradition of the horse head fiddle and its legend are being kept alive by Nyam, a refugee from Mongolia who has been living here for eleven years. A versatile and inventive musician, Nyam is typical of his generation. He learnt to play the horse head fiddle as a way of keeping his native traditions alive and bringing them to a new audience. Its a tradition he will one day pass on to his own children. Nyam describes the horse head fiddle as the must-play instrument for Mongolians, and he explains how it plays a central role at special occasions: If they have a new home they always bring a horse head fiddle to play; like they say - blowing the cold out of the house. The shape and structure of a ger, the traditional Mongolian dwelling, has a natural acoustic, which enhances the sound of the instrument. Nyams music is a discovery for Western audiences. It can have the energy and verve of the galloping horse, a pounding of musical hooves, which has a similar beat to dance music. Its got quite a rich sound. Especially in the west of Mongolia theyve got good dance traditions. There is also a gentler, slow style which brings to life the Mongolian landscape. Its soft refrain evokes the nomadic lifestyle, sitting on horseback and gazing across

the expanse of the Mongolian plain. The whinnying of the horse can be picked out of the complex harmonies produced by only two strings, each made up of a hundred or so separate hairs or filaments. Nyam is currently taking this varied and vibrant sound to the studio, where he is mixing the traditional sounds with modern digital music. He calls it, Modernising, but keeping the style. This year he plans to go to college to study music technology. Nyam also plays the Mongolian flute, which, he considers to be his main instrument.

Professionally Im a flautist. I was playing when I was eight. The horse head fiddle is just a late thing not from my childhood. Asians play the flute as well, normally made from bamboo. The Mongolian flute is made of wood. Nyams flute is carved with script which says, Let music sound lovely and clear, and the heart be kind and pure. Despite its symbolic significance for Mongolians, the horse head fiddle, like many traditions around the world, is at risk of becoming extinct. Although keenly progressive in his outlook, this threat is something that concerns Nyam: Everyone

talks about globalisation, but its not good. Technically its alright for IT but the traditional shouldnt be globalised. Otherwise we will be the same. Thats why I make sure I keep everything going the traditional way, rather than just leave traditional things off when we get the new things. Also, it is representing your identity towards any other nations. I think its on the UNESCO world heritage. This is why it is so important to Nyam to save the traditions of craftsmanship and music for future generations, both for the horse head fiddle and the Mongolian flute.

Illustrations by Mirela Bistran

Beyond Borders | June 2012


Beyond Borders | June 2012



Jagdish Patel The creative industries now employ around two million people and even more if you consider the creative roles in other sectors. Employment in the sector has grown at double the rate of the economy as a whole. However, the creative sectors role in building social cohesion - bringing communities and people together through shared experiences - is often seen as a marginal issue, a role for the subsided arts sector.
Creativity is not elitist or exclusionary. Creativity should be the great leveller - even more so nowadays, as creative businesses do not necessarily need access to large sums of capital to develop. This is precisely what makes the present one of the most exciting times in photographys history. Almost everyone now has access to a camera whether it be a mobile phone, compact or SLR. This means almost anyone can take a photograph, and furthermore they can distribute that photograph worldwide. The DIY spirit of punk is now available to photographers. Anyone can go to any of the hundreds of forums and hear older professional photographers recalling the good old days. Nowadays a quality image stands out and there are many examples of amateur photographers given contracts by large companies simply from the quality of their Flickr images. The Nottingham Photographers Hub was established to bring together local people who love photography. People have a limitless potential for creativity, and learning technical skills in art and photography can help to build self-confidence, self-awareness and motivation. The Hub aims to bring the idea of creativity and photography to vulnerable marginalized communities who sometimes feel excluded from the arts, and to provide access to studio and gallery space. One of our projects has been a 10-week project with young unaccompanied refugees and asylum seekers. Unaccompanied minors are often coping with a range of issues. Among these, uncertainty, dislocation and the absence of family. There is also the prospect of being returned to their country of origin and the subsequent threat of persecution, torture, and perhaps death. The result is a complex of anxieties that add up to far more than simple suffering. Photography is a good medium for reflecting on the past, but also for the enjoyment of the immediate - the moment when the shutter button is pressed. Most of these young people are already in the education system but none had really looked upon the arts as a potential place to enjoy or seek a career. Once we explain how the photography business works this perception changes. The participants learn technical camera skills and how to make creative photographs. We take them to galleries in Nottingham and London, and they mount and frame their own images for an exhibition. The trip to London included a ride on the London Eye as well as a tour of The Tate and the South Bank Gallery. During the 10 weeks they saw images of a secular Afghanistan in the 1950s, women enjoying rock and roll, modern day documentary photography, landscapes, still life and many more. Eventually they began to understand how a photograph can capture something more than a fleeting moment. The final exhibition was put together by the students themselves and was hosted with the help of Horizon Housing. At the end of the course they all received a certificate handed to them by Nottinghamshire Social Services and they get to keep the cameras they used (Courtesy of Awards for All). All participants get free membership with the Hub for one year, enabling them to use our facilities and potentially put on their own exhibitions. The Hub will be running more courses during 2012. If you know any young people who may be interested please contact us. Jagdish Patel is a commercial photographer based in Nottingham. He is also a director at the Nottingham Photographers Hub. (

SEW 2 Work is an exciting project which works with women from many different cultural backgrounds. It is run by Upbeat Communities, an organisation which has worked with Long Journey Home and Refugee Week Derby over a number of years. Over the past 18 months we have seen over 40 women learning creative skills and exploring ways they develop their own businesses by working from home. The group is lots of fun and a real cultural mix. As well as developing their creative abilities, the women have been trained in developing their own enterprises. Theyve learnt about design, marketing, finances and sales. Together weve packaged the goods attractively and had great fun selling them at events and craft fairs. Contributing to the projects success has been a large group of volunteer mentors. These women from all over the city have passed on their skills and helped the women on the course to grow in confidence and start to realise some of their ideas. One lady on the course, Maryam, has developed a sewing course which she is now running for young women from her community. With her learning mentor shes designed the publicity and planned what the girls are going to learn. We are really grateful for the funding given to Upbeat Communities by the Church Urban Fund and The European Social Fund, which has enabled us to run the course. Over the summer we plan to run a variety of activities for the women before we start the course again in September. Karina Martin

Platforma Arts and Refugee Network:

Upcoming opportunities for refugee and migrant artists in the East Midlands
The festival was accompanied by a monthlong multidisciplinary art exhibition of work by and about refugees. Over 30 visual artists and performers from the Platforma Network took part, commenting on the themes of exile, migration and displacement through painting, sculpture, photography, performance and film. The Counterpoint exhibition has since been selected as one of Spoonfeds highlights of the year:

Arts + Refugees Network

Platforma is a national network of artists and organisations whose work touches on the varied experiences of refugees both before and after they arrived in the UK. Developed in partnership with Refugee Week UK and the Oval House Theatre (with input from ArtReach) and supported by The Baring Foundation and Arts Council England, the network seeks to support and mainstream refugee and migrant related arts, bringing together a vibrant mix of diverse artists that have settled in the UK from across the world. Since May 2011, hundreds of artists and organisations from across the UK have joined a growing online network (www.platforma. designed to provide opportunities for members to share and promote their work, to access support and resources and to encourage artistic collaboration. In addition to the national online network, Platforma is supported by Regional Hub Coordinators who run networking meetings for refugee and migrant artists and highlight opportunities and events in their local area. In December 2011, three hundred people from across these regional networks took part in the first Platforma Festival, which saw academics, artists, performers and organisations come together for an inspiring two days of lively discussions, workshops and dynamic music and spoken word performances.

Counterpoint looked at art by and about refugees to shed new light on ideas of identity as a political status
Tom Jeffreys, Spoonfed.

OPPORTUNITIES FOR ARTISTS 2012 looks set to be an exciting year for the Platforma Network with even more opportunities open for artists and organisations. Here in the East Midlands, the Platforma Regional Hub, led by Leicester based organisation ArtReach (www.artreach. biz) has been awarded a significant Arts Council grant to run a programme of events and networking meetings which will seek to bring the work of refugee and migrant artists into mainstream arts venues across the region. Over the coming year, ArtReach will work closely with a group of organisations and partners to facilitate a programme of exciting live music and spoken word events, visual arts exhibitions and moving image screenings.

In Limbo by Behjat Omer Abdulla at the Counterpoint Exhibition - Photograph by Eli Sadiqi

The first live music event will take place during Night of Festivals 2012, a multidisciplinary arts event which celebrates the values of freedom and independence through artistic innovation. Night of Festivals 2012 takes place during Refugee Week in Nottinghams Old Market Square between 21st and 23rd June and is part of the prestigious London 2012 Festival. In partnership with Long Journey Home, ArtReach will also be running regular networking meetings throughout the year. These will focus on providing training

opportunities and fundraising, marketing and promotional support for artists. For more information about how you can get involved with the East Midlands Platforma Network, and to join our mailing list, please email Hannah Stretton on:
Website: Twitter: @PlatformaArts

Nottinghamshire National Union of Teachers

is proud to support Nottinghams Refugee Week Festival

Fighting for the rights of teachers, parents and children Fighting against discrimination, racism and sexism Fighting for the rights of refugees Fighting for justice in a better world

Stone Sculptor from Zimbabwe exhibiting work at the Crocus Gallery.

Bana Congo A mix of UK and African

musicians playing a blend of traditional and modern African music. Contact: Zigy 07940 642939 or

Emmanuel Changunda Shona

Ngomo - Zimbabwean band playing a mix of Afro-ethnic rhythms with Western styles. Contact: Goodwin 077891 08808 or

Members of Nottingham Afghan Youth Group with their finished banner. Workshop facilitator: Anna Wels

Photo: Anna Wels of Rhumba, Folk, Jazz, Blues, Zouk, Salsa. Contact: Coco 07944 857574 or

Photo: Jim McVeigh

Les Elus - Congolese band playing a mix

exhibiting some of her work at the Platforma Festival in London December 2011.

Mina Rahimi Visual artist from Iran


Beyond Borders | June 2012


Beyond Borders | June 2012


Video Stills taken from Jasim Ghafur, Memories in Exile, 2011


Jasim Ghafur (Visual Artist) talks to Beverley Sterling

Portrait of an Artist
Hannah Stirland
Nottingham-based artist, Jeffer M-Garib, was born in Kirkuk, Kurdistan. As a schoolboy, Jeffer showed an aptitude for art but was quite shy about unveiling his talents. Now a British citizen and self-taught artist, he uses his paintings to protest against oppression and cruelty, with an imagination and artistic freedoms which cannot be harnessed. To-date, hes had exhibitions at Surface Gallery, New Art Exchange and both Nottingham Universities, establishing his credentials as an important interpreter of the human consequences of war. Jeffer points to the first of a series of three miniatures. The painting shows a woman carrying her baby across a mountain. The infant is the most valuable, precious thing in her world, but it is also the only thing that she can carry with her on her desperate and dangerous journey. Jeffer explains the paintings personal significance: This was inspired by the 1991 uprising when Kurds escaped to Iran and Turkey. Around two million Kurdish people fled at the time. In the chaos that ensued Jeffer and his family became separated. I spent one month and twenty days searching the border between Iran and Iraq, searching every camp. Every city had two or three camps where people were living in tents - maybe 10,000 to 15,000 people. It was distressing. The family were finally reunited in Iran. Beside this picture is another one, entitled About Love. It depicts his girlfriend from that time, whom he hasnt seen since the uprising. The miniature isnt a portrait, but a representation of their last kiss. The third in the sequence is entitled Halabja after the city that was attacked with poison gas by Saddam Husseins regime in 1988. Jeffer completed the trilogy of paintings in the early 1990s in Kurdistan. They have survived with him because, being miniatures, they were easier for him to carry during his own journey. The Kurdish people in Iraq were

An interview with Nottingham-based artist Jeffer M-Garib from Kurdistan

My art can be shared by many people, not just by refugees

Expressing ideas and searching for new ways of engaging society is among every artists mission. Jasim Ghafurs experiences are no different. He currently blends a range of photographs of himself, uses video techniques and archival material to present and revisit specific historical events. He reconnects these reminiscences by simulating the moment and reinventing his memories and those of other people. Some of these images are emotively disturbing but are a true reflection of events and compelling to look at. To be recognised as an artist, in his own right, has been problematic because of the type of work that he produces and the problems of labelling. And as he shares his concerns and his positive outlook for the future, I realise how important it is for artists to have the opportunity to define themselves and voice their opinions. Jasim Ghafur comments on his experience: I would describe myself as a Political Artist in a way, as I have always been part of political events, a political struggle that people are continually organising against oppressive practices. I am trying to use my art to say something and to be part of something that is happening. I think Art is very powerful, effective way to present ideas, to criticise the oppressive regimes and to be part of history and the political movement

Ghafur describes the act of making videos as more physical and more real compared to his past work when he used paintings, drawings and other traditional mediums, which gives a different perspective. He also includes in these videos elements of performance to create historical visual work. Ghafur has been able to extend his artwork with video and is very conscious about the advances of technology and how it can create a new language. The way Ghafur presents his video work contains personal significance; they help to communicate to the viewer the different sides of his narratives, so that they are seen visually and intellectually. I am very conscious of what is going on in the world: discrimination, oppression, war, killing and blood. This has affected me in many ways. Since I was 7 years old, the breakout of the Iraq and Iran war has affected my life. I had to leave the village with my family and we went to different places in Kurdistan. This has impacted on my way of thinking and how I perceive the events, regimes and politics. In Kurdistan there was a big powerful resistance art movement, so I grew up in an art atmosphere, which was very influenced by politics. Through this work you can encourage questions and allow people to question oppression, discrimination and all the elements of injustices that exist in our lives. In his recent video installation, Memories in Time, Ghafur has used a photograph of himself carrying a rucksack and wearing a gasmask. The rucksack gives the idea that he is constantly moving or taking a journey on the outside world or within himself trying to find a way to make sense of his life. The gasmask represents the devastating affects of the chemical gas in the city of Halabja, Kurdistan, used during the regime that is imprinted on his memory. There is also the symbol of the upside down clock-tower indicating Britain and time, and the paper plane, which gives a multiple representation of childhood and the chemical attack. He is holding a book entitled, Dont Leave Me On My Own, written by a Kurdish poet, Rafik Sabir, who writes about the event in Halabja, feelings of being in exile and not having a sense of belonging.

This exploration and use of symbols tells people a story of myself and who I am. I exist as an artist because I want to exist bringing historical images back to life and to be part of them After successfully completing his MA and establishing himself for 11 years as a professional artist there are still concerns that affect his artwork. I have realised we have had very little chance of becoming part of the mainstream art world. Although we have set up refugee art groups, we have never managed to get out of that to become part of the mainstream artists and art world. Ive had exhibitions in Kurdistan as a professional artist, so when you come here, you want to be recognised as an artist, so at first you are selected as a refugee artist and show our work in refugee exhibitions and events. This has now become devaluing to our art and we no longer want to accept this type of labelling and limit our opportunities. My art can be shared by many people, not just by refugees. The impact of labelling, Ghafur explains, has always been problematic when you are going through a process of being a refugee and the system has already labelled you as an asylum seeker, refugee and other things. Many artists feel they have now been boxed into refugee work, refugee art, or refugee activities, which he thinks is very unfair. There are limited opportunities and yet there are lots of stories that have not been shared with Western societies that need to be heard, so being able to tell those stories has been useful to him. His video work is opening more doors to present his viewpoint in a contemporary visual language. He sees it as being part of a valued global art experience, which he wishes to share. Living in Nottingham and studying has given him the opportunity to know other artists, to hear other stories, and define his way of thinking.

Every city had two or three camps where people were living in tents - maybe 10,000 to 15,000 people. It was distressing

Memories of the past are portable, whether they are painful or joyful, we all carry them with us. Jeffer holds on to his with a passion, chronicling facets of human cruelty whilst channeling all our hopes to carve out a new future for himself. My great hope for the world is that one day all humans will live in peace and harmony with love and no more war anywhere on our beautiful planet, no more

race, gender or colour discriminations. These are sentiments which most of us would share. Jeffer is available to run arts workshops in both schools and the community. E: M: 0754 0741 088

Beverley Sterling is a ceramicist/ arts adviser based in Nottingham www.bevsterlingceramics. 10 min video interview with Jasim Ghafur can be seen on: watch?v=u5T7WJug4VY More videos and artwork can be seen on Jasim Ghafur: video-work_27.html

Jasim Ghafur, extract from Video Installation, Memories in Time, 2011

My vision is that art should not only be used as a language to communicate and express our sorrows and pains. We must be able to express more of a bright future and imagine a world where everybody is equal and living together in peace. As an artist I wish to exhibit in different places, anywhere in the world where I can communicate my art with a wider audience.

threatened by the authorities in order to force them into voting for Saddam. Public rituals of violence would be used to create fear and obedience. Jeffer describes one occasion in 1985 when he and others were made to watch the execution of a 13 year old boy. It was claimed that the boy had tried to throw a grenade into the Baath party offices in the city of Kirkuk. No one was injured and the grenade didnt explode. There was no trial. However, the authorities shot the child to discourage others from engaging in political dissent. The authorities brought a camera and filmed the execution. He shakes his head in horror at the recollection, This was really horrible. I tried to cry but couldnt, it was inside me. These images recur in my mind. I get a lot of flashbacks from that.

For Jeffer, creating his art is therapeutic. He feels more relaxed when he channels his emotions through art, but his art is also a response to these experiences and a way of communicating them to others. I aim to give people a message about Saddam Husseins regime, what it was. Other paintings on the walls show shot doves, barbed wire and weapons. The thought that each brushstroke bleeds across the skin of the canvas is unsettling, exactly because you know that the artist intentionally lets these images loose to endanger us and infiltrate our nightmares. He refuses to curtail or dilute his message to make it more palatable. Jeffers art is a record of the manipulation and ruthlessness he has witnessed. There are other regimes such as Iran, Saudi Arabia and Syria where there are serious question marks on human rights. Saddam Husseins regime imprisoned girls and women and tortured them to get information about their brothers, to find out if they were involved in political work or involved with guerillas. His themes concentrate on war and its effects, oppressive political regimes, bad governments and exploitation. However, alongside these are pictures of vivacity and grace, with almost feminine attributes vibrant flashes of colour that are impulsive and effervescent, branches of trees straining skywards with fervent buds, blooms and fronds of light. This exemplifies the contrast between the moods of his work. The haunting, brooding shades of injustice sit alongside the daring animation and dynamic joy of what it is to survive. Jeffer has divined his own artistic direction. He delves into his emotions and experiments with different techniques. He feels that you need some sort of academic grounding but its best not to lose your own initiative and exploratory spirit. I go on canvas and I layer and change. I love texture. Im inspired by this beautiful city, the seasons, the rain, the traffic, the trees. England is very green.

This summer, bring your kids to a world of amazing Theatre and Dance made for them at Lakesides Childrens Festival:
Architects of Airs world premiere of Exxopolis, their 20th anniversary Luminarium Aracaladanzas stunning dance theatre show for children, Nubes (Clouds) Interactive childrens theatre Planet of the Beetlebuns Fantastical characters in Swamp Juice The five minute wonder story of The Incredible Book of Eating Boy And the FREE family activities weekend with much, much more!
For more information, go to or call our Box Office on 0115 846 7777

2-10 June 2012

Beyond Borders | June 2012


Beyond Borders | June 2012


In Not Safe, a novella for the Crime Express series, Danuta Reah draws on her experience of working with refugees to highlight the plight of these often maligned people.
Interview by James Walker
What makes good psychological suspense? It has to be real, it has to convince, you have to think people do these kinds of things, people behave like this. Im never convinced by books that have characters who are wholly evil (or wholly righteous, for that matter). People are more interesting than that, and they have reasons sometimes very warped reasons for what they do.


our news media newspapers in particular are badly at fault here. Also our politicians. When people find themselves without work, or short of money, its easier to give them a scapegoat to hate rather than help them to understand how the system is letting them down. Asylum seekers dont get money and housing ahead of local people while their claims are being assessed, they get the barest minimum in accommodation, and yet people are persuaded to believe refugees are privileged over local people. I can remember once trying to get emergency accommodation for a woman with a baby. Because she refused to say who had been giving her accommodation for the past few months, the local council couldnt, or wouldnt help her. All they could offer was to take the baby who was still breast-feeding into care and leave the mother on the streets. In these situations, you end up with people sleeping on your floor and in your spare bed if youve got one but sometimes you cant even do that. Although the novella centres around the death of an asylum seeker its also the story of DC Tina Barraclough. Tina became a central character in my second book, Silent Playgrounds. Here, shes a talented, up and coming young detective with a good career in front of her, but at the end of the book, she is a close witness to the death of one of the characters who falls from a tower block and lands almost at her feet. I kept wondering what that experience might have done to her, so when I wrote Bleak Water I thought I would revisit her. From her perspective, the book ended on an ambiguous note. Not Safe is the next stage in her career. She has been moved from the elite serious crimes squad to a backwater of community policing where she is working with groups who support destitute asylum seekers. She is trying to clean up her act and her vulnerability is that she empathises too much.


by Ishmael Beah

by David Belbin
Review by Hannah Stirland
Its always good to get the chance to champion a local author. David Belbins moving tale of two youngsters seeking sanctuary in the East Midlands truly captures the sense of alienation and fear felt by the asylum process. Seen through the eyes of children, there is a heightened poignancy. Deprived of innocence and stability, the pair become criminalized, outsiders in a foreign land. To survive they have to harvest their courage and wiles. Aazims family has been placed in Nottingham awaiting a decision on their asylum application. When a refusal comes through, 15-years old Aazim escapes to the Hungerhill allotments, dreading the detention and then deportation back to an unsafe homeland. Whilst dodging the authorities he encounters Nadimah, a 12 year old girl working as a slave to an affluent African family. Together they hide out in a bothy, subsisting on crops grown on the tiny patch of land. We see how those caught up in the asylum system must adapt and be resourceful, never truly resting. The transience of hope and safety are concurrent themes. They run from their past, yet have a terror of their future.

As a novel, its easy to read and Belbin gets into the mind and strategy of kids on the run. The simplicity of the writing and the heart of their predicament should win over plenty of readers. Full of compassion, its both educational and absorbing. The gentle portrayal of the issues makes this a suitable read for teenagers but its a profound reminder to all ages that destitution, racism and social exclusion should tap at the moral conscience of everyone.

Tears of Sorrow
At quiet nights in exile A secret is hidden A mystery that always, anytime, Calls me to be silent My homesick heart Remembering home Looks to the sea And each time The waves burst Tears of sorrow From my eyes Flow like rain Running down my face
By Eshrat Katiraie

Most people are capable of terrible acts, given the wrong set of circumstances

Review by Hannah Stirland

Former boy soldier, Ishmael Beah, chronicles the Civil War in Sierra Leone during the 1990s. A 12 year old boy and his playmates run from attacks by rebels on their village, with slaughter all around them. Youngsters dodge machetes and bullets, escape starvation and bear witness to excruciating violence. They are recruited into the army, fed drugs, trained with AK-47s and brainwashed to the dictates of their leader. In order to survive they find brutality within themselves, becoming savage assassins who exist to kill. The graphic accounts of bloodshed are hard to stomach and painful to read. There were many times when I put this book down and couldnt face returning to those pages which spoke of terrible suffering. Nevertheless, it demands to be read and no matter how unsettling and harrowing the scenes, it provocatively coaxes you forward. Ishmael Beah is at heart a storyteller. He has a tender voice and there is poetry in his writing. He shows both the beauty and the ugliness of living, the shame and the torment of warfare. With his eye for detail and sharp memory he is also a candid archivist for some of the most heinous crimes ever committed. Most shocking of all he was one of the perpetrators. Plucked from further harm and rehabilitated, he chose to speak out against the manipulation and coercion of young people who are drafted into combat. As a memoir of childhood, it contrasts so starkly with Western mores that it awakens concerns about global affairs and how we respond to them. It may even prompt us to re-evaluate child detention in the UK when we hear of ordeals endured by minors in foreign hostilities. Certainly, this book is a triumph. Its an evocative portrait of an African nation in warfare. It urges us all to examine our scruples in turning a blind eye to the suffering of others - however distant the land, however different the culture. Beyond all that though, its a subtly philosophical account of how innocence can blend into cruelty, and then transcend to redemption and goodness. Seeking sanctuary in welcoming nations and new communities, damaged souls can recover and grow strong, teaching us all how to care more, love more and extend ourselves to nobler acts of kindness and forgiveness. When Beah is finally rescued and escapes from brutality, he gives something new back to humanity.

Crime isnt committed purely by monsters... Most people are capable of terrible acts, given the wrong set of circumstances (or of great heroism). The psychologist Philip Zimbardo talks about this. In reference to the Abu Ghraib atrocities, he rejected the idea of a few bad apples and said that what society had created was a bad barrel an opportunity for evil. This doesnt exonerate people for the things they do people remain responsible for their own moral decisions, but its very easy to be drawn in, step by step. Theres often a planned psychology behind this. For example, in executions in the US, each guard has a specific job which is part of the process but not the whole process, so no-one feels that they, personally, killed the person. Its all done at one degree of distance which suggests at some level, we expect people to feel shame and guilt about what they are doing. We all have our inner concentration camp guard, and need to be aware of this and stand guard against our own worst instincts. It frightens and depresses me when I hear people say that, for example, torture is OK under extreme circumstances. If you want to keep your soul intact (and I say this in a non-religious way) you have to be absolute about this. Standing up for your rights is a family trait My father was declared an enemy of the state by Stalin, because he, like so many Poles, fought against the Red Army. He wasnt able to go back to Poland for decades after the war, because he would have been arrested even though, at the time, he was fighting for his country against an invading army. What happened to Poland after the war was a great betrayal that the country has still not recovered from. Is the character Farah Jafari based on asylum seekers youve met through your work at ASSIST? Farah is a woman who has drawn the real short straw in life. I have met a lot of young women in the course of my work with ASSIST in Sheffield who are incredibly vulnerable. If they are over 18, and if they

have no dependents, then once their first claim for asylum is turned down, they are on their own: no money, no right to work, no home. ASSIST came into being when some people in Sheffield realised that changes in government rules about asylum seekers meant there would be hundreds of people destitute on the streets. ASSIST gives support to the most needy cases people with no friends and family, with health problems, young and vulnerable people, but there are always more than the charity can support. They dont get much: 10 or 15 a week, and in a few cases, accommodation in the form of a room in someones house. Without charities like ASSIST and there are support charities in most big cities we would have people dying on our streets. What do you hope to achieve by writing about asylum seekers? So many people have the wrong idea about asylum seekers. They think they have access to money and to legal support. They dont. They get a small amount while their claim is being assessed after that nothing. The people who come here to exploit the system (and yes, there are some) are well able to look after themselves. The ones who end up on the street, like in my novella, are the vulnerable ones, young, old, without friends or family. They may not have a claim that fits the legal definition of refugee in every case, but that doesnt mean they are not fleeing oppression, or that it is safe for them to go back. When you see the conditions they are prepared to endure rather than return voluntarily, then you understand they really have no choice, or no acceptable choice. Poverty inevitably leads to desperate measures... I met a young woman like Farah, who was exchanging sex for a roof over her head for the night. I have met other people who are in similarly desperate circumstances resourceful, talented people in many cases who could be a real asset to this country if we would let them work and pay taxes. What is encouraging is the degree to which these people who have nothing will help each other the friendship between Amir and Andre in the novella is not an unusual one. Who do you think is to blame for the generally negative view of refugees? People are quick to take on negative opinions about certain groups. Im afraid

Secret Gardens is published by East Midlands-based Five Leaves Publications. All titles are available from local bookshops or - post free - from


By Mina Fatemi

First Impressions
I came here as a teenager, had no experience and it was difficult to communicate with people and live in a different country. Sady - Kurdistan/Iraq

Captain Abu Raed

Review by Kathryn Markham

Director: Amin Matalga (2007)

Dirty Pretty Things

Review by Nadia Alexandrou

Director: Stephen Frear (2002)

In 2006, Jordanian director Amin Matalga auditioned a group of street kids from the poor districts of Amman, the capital of Jordan, looking to cast roles in his first ever feature film, Captain Abu Raed. He asked each youngster what they wanted to be when they grew up. All of them said a doctor or teacher except for one boy, Hussein Al-Sous. Hussein wanted to be a pilot. Instead, Hussein promptly became an actor when Amin cast him as Murad a young streetwise kid from the poorest part of Amman. Captain Abu Raed is a heart-warming tale of imagination and aspiration, set in the complex world of middle eastern politics and culture. The title character is played by Nadim Sawalha, the father of British actresses Julia and Nadia Sawalha. He is a lowly airport cleaner who finds a discarded pilots cap during his rubbish collection. Wearing the cap as he heads back home, he attracts the attention of the local children who believe Abu Raed really is an airline pilot. Charmed by their imagination, Abu Raed tells them stories of the distant lands he has never seen, the science of flight, and the history of the world. Through his deceit, Abu Raed is giving the children two things their background is struggling to deliver an education and hope. Murad is the one cynical kid in the group. He carries the world on his shoulders as he tries to protect his little brother, support his loving

Dirty Pretty Things is a stirring thriller that reveals the muted struggles of immigrants living on the shadier side of British society. Chiwetal Ejiofor, a British born actor of Nigerian parentage, makes his big-screen debut playing Okwe, a Nigerian doctor and illegal immigrant. Okwe finds himself in the multi-cultural hub of London, joining the thousands of other immigrants and refugees from around the world. Taxi driver by day and hotel concierge by night, Okwe is one of many illegals who work tirelessly around the clock, quietly determined to enter the alluring safety of the British society - even if it is through the backdoor. The film shows the hunted and humiliating lives immigrants must lead, constantly exploited by those who operate in the knowledge that their actions will not be reported to the authorities. Despite Okwes efforts he barely has enough money to get by and ends up sleeping on the couch of a curiously timid yet feisty young Turkish immigrant, Senay, played by Amelies Audrey Tautou. What starts off as an initial sibling-like quirky affection develops into something more complicated as both of them are forced to compromise themselves in the hands of their respective unscrupulous employers. Upon finding a human heart stuffed unceremoniously down one of the hotel rooms toilets, Okwe finds himself caught in the middle of a black economy where

Not Safe is a short novel set within the refugee community in Sheffield. Farah Jafari needs sanctuary, but now she is dead. A man is in custody and soon the case will be closed. DC Tina Barraclough works with refugees like Farah and the man under arrest and she knows there is something wrong with the official version. She is off the case, but needs to find out what really happened. What price is she prepared to pay? Not Safe is published by East Midlands-based Five Leaves Publications.

immigrants sell more than their services to secure their citizenship. Immersed in his own problems, Okwe fails to recognise Senays vulnerable position at work, where she is at the mercy of her bosss cruel desires. It is eventually her rebellious actions that end up sucking both of them into a dangerous game that could cost them their lives. The plot succeeds in engaging the viewer throughout with a consistently high-tempo and eclectic mixture of intriguing characters that include a ruthlessly sinister hotel manager, a sarcastic prostitute and a comical Russian doorman. Frears social critique of societys expendables is delivered with a sharp and witty narrative, and I found this darkly humorous thriller both thought provoking and simply straight up entertaining.

mother and dodge the domestic violence doled out by his struggling father. People like us dont become pilots, the not so innocent Murad tells the other kids as he uses his intelligence and trickery to discredit Abu Raed. Recognising that wisdom beyond his years masks Murads tragic life, Abu Raed sets out to prove that Murad can become a pilot, at great personal cost. Hussein Al-Sous delivers a thoughtful and accomplished performance as the troubled Murad, in this sensitive and very human story about the pain and drama of escaping to a better life. Maybe Hussein has, after all, abandoned his desire to be a pilot and followed a new dream, to be an actor.

All titles are available from local bookshops or - post free - from

Beyond Borders | June 2012




Half Moon

A short story by Allan Njanji

Review by Jay Nurse

I am not afraid of death, because when I am here he is not. And when he is here I am not. So declares the Master of Ceremonies at a cock-fight in the opening scene of Bahman Ghobadis Half Moon. He mistakenly attributes the quote to Soren Kierkagaard; in fact it was the Ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus who said these words some 2000 years before Kierkegaard arrived on the scene. The mistake appears to be a curious one. Kierkegaard was critical of the Epicurean view that death and existence are separated by time, and that death is therefore inconsequential to the living. Instead, he regarded death as an ever-present possibility that coexists with life. It seems that a dialogue is being set up between these two understandings of death and mortality. In so doing, some of the films themes - transcendence, redemption and boundaries - are established. The nature of boundaries - arbitrary, occasionally ridiculous but nevertheless devastating - is of particular significance to the Kurdish people featured in Half Moon. Kurdish territories are divided between Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran. Kierkegaard described Eipcurus statement as a jest. It is interesting that the Master of Ceremonies, his name is Kako, plays the role of the jester - the fool whose inverted view of the world periodically reveals poetic truths about the human condition. In a later scene, we see him bound to a tree by his feet, arms outstretched and pleading for forgiveness. As the camera reveals Kakos upside-down view of the scene before him it becomes evident that in contradiction to his earlier announcement he is actually, perhaps inevitably, afraid of death. up of ten of his sons. The travellers encounter many obstacles along the way which they must overcome to reach their goal. Perhaps most significant among these challenges is the ban under Iranian law which prohibits women from performing in public, and from travelling with men to whom they are not related. Mamo is insistent that the band must include the celestial voice of a female singer, or else it will be incomplete and their goal unachievable. Ghobadi uses his film to highlight the inequity of these laws which exclude women from Iranian society and ostensibly deny their status among the living. He depicts the two main female characters as celestial angels that may at times be either entombed or else seem to fall from the sky. They are central to the films narrative as it is by their appearance and disappearance that Mamo eventually finds his redemption and release. If you like fast action and explosions then Half Moon may not be for you, but it is a wonderful film. It is beautifully filmed with plenty of humour as well as some deeply moving scenes. The quality of the acting is exceptional, including that of Ismail Ghaffari, a musician with no previous experience of acting who plays the lead character, Mamo. Ellen doesnt need to set her alarm-clock any more. She hardly sleeps anyway. Lying there staring at the cracks in the ceiling, she tries to remember the last time that she had had a good nights rest. It surely must have been years back. Slowly she turns her head to gaze through the window; the dark menacing clouds ominously pre-empt the ordeal that awaits her. Today is her reporting day. She will have to take the long and lonely journey to the Reporting Centre at Loughborough. In her four years as an asylum seeker, she cannot remember even one instance when reporting had been a pleasant experience. Every week she signs her name and they check her fingerprints. Today is to be the two hundredth time since she made her claim for asylum in 2008. In the afternoon, as she gets off the bus, she finds herself in the middle of a large crowd. Nobody seems at all moved by the sight of her frail figure shaking like a reed amongst the multitude who seem blinkered by their endeavours. Its bitterly cold, freezing to the bone. She has on just the barest of apparel to cover the brown bony structure that carries her being. Her hair is getting wet, and her feet are barely covered by her torn trainers. Several bold blisters cover her tiny legs. She looks to be in pain with every step she takes, but no one seems to notice. How could they? After all, they have their own lives to worry about dont they? Then the drizzle turns to rain. Those icy droplets fixedly aim for her tender skin. All of a sudden she seems to break out of her shell. Her brown eyes gaze into the dark sky for what feel to her like an eternity. But this does nothing to slow the rain which is now turning heavy. Whilst everyone jostles to find cover, clammering for any sort of vantage point so as not to get wet, she stands there with that fixed gaze and outstretched arms. Caught in that moment, a strange sort of beauty and glow is revealed on her face. The frailness seems to dissipate, flowing away with each droplet of water. Slowly she begins to move and starts to pace towards the Reporting Centre, cognisant of the fact that if she is late, the detention centre will be her next home. She clings to the hope that one day, yes one day, she will be granted refugee status and can start living a normal life like any other citizen in this beautiful country. That, and only that, remains her dream.

I wonder which of todays refugees, struggling to make a new life in Britain, will go on to start successful businesses and create jobs in Britain and abroad

The British Red Cross refugee services: Opening doors to a brighter future
The British Red Cross refugee services team supports asylum-seekers and refugees, helping them settle into new communities, build skills and transfer their talents to new roles. Whilst coming to terms with the hardships of their past, theyre also adapting to life in a new city and a new country. It can be a lonely and confusing time. We can help. > Trained staff and volunteers handle each case with sensitivity. We can signpost to expert advice on law, healthcare, education and housing. We also offer a range of supervised leisure activities including pool, bowling, football, swimming and gymnasium sports. A social-educational trip for mums and children, headed to Birminghams Sea Life Centre whilst a Hiking and History day in Derbyshires Peak District improved fitness and local knowledge. Womens and mens groups are popular, with work on allotments and at Stonebridge City Farm in Nottingham. Teams of people tend to the land and care for animals in community projects. Over the last year, we have helped more than 320 people in Nottingham, and more than 315 in Derby. Having fled human rights abuses and conflict situations, many service-users fear being dispatched back to their country of origin where they may face persecution and exploitation. We strive to fortify vulnerable groups. We celebrate cultural diversity and aim to stimulate the talent and potential of each individual. Lottery funding has given us the opportunity to reach out to more people, restoring their confidence. The talent and enterprise of our service-users opens doors for all of us, giving us a brighter, safer future. To find out more about our refugee services, visit The British Red Cross Society, incorporated by Royal Charter 1908, is a charity registered in England and Wales (220949) and Scotland (SC037738).

Kathryn Markham
You may be surprised to learn how many famous and successful people in Britain are refugees or the children of refugees. Did you know that Michael Marks, one half of that most British of institutions, Marks and Spencer, was a refugee from Russia. As well as generating many jobs and revenue returns in Britain, he exported his business out into the wider world too, enhancing our international reputation. In the same vein, Sir Montague Burton, the founder of Burtons clothing company, was a refugee from Lithuania. Baron Lew Grade, the great television mogul, was a Russian refugee and publisher. Lord Paul Hamlyn, CBE, who founded the Octopus Publishing Group, was a Jewish refugee from Germany. I wonder which of todays refugees, struggling to make a new life in Britain, will go on to start successful businesses and create jobs in Britain and abroad. In the world of arts, fashion and entertainment refugees have also made a name for themselves. Hip hop fans may know that the band Fugees is short for Refugees. It is a slang term for Haitian refugees in America, including one of the bands most famous members, Wyclef Jean. Here in Britain, Freddie Mercury fled the massacre of Indians in his native Zanzibar before launching his superstar career. Singersongwriter Mika also came here as a refugee from the Lebanon. Closer to home, Nottingham Castle recently hosted an exhibition by the artist, Anish Kapoor, who originally fled Iraq with his parents. Supermodel Alek Wek also fled to Britain with her family, this time from Sudan. Many refugees started families after arriving in Britain and those British born children have made a big contribution to British society. Famous examples include: comedian Omid Djalilli, whose parents are refugees from Iran; actress Rachel Weisz, the daughter of Jewish refugees; and Saatchi and Saatchi, whose father was a Jewish refugee from Iraq. Its great to see how many inspirational people in the public eye have turned their lives around after arriving in Britain as refugees.

> A destitution package is available, containing basic clothing and toiletries. We ensure that beneficiaries can tackle the threat of poverty with dignity and courage. > Food supplies at the Refugee Forum are replenished daily, thanks to our links with wholesale food giant Costco. > Language classes and Citizenship Test classes allow groups of learners to become fluent in English. Introduced to new friends from across the globe, they widen their social support network. > Liaising with Normantons JET, we direct refugees for guidance on CV building, interview techniques and training courses which turn job aspirations into career reality. > Beneficiaries are welcomed as volunteers to the charity. We can equip them to practice first aid, therapeutic care, food hygiene and a range of administrative and research tasks.

The film is set in Iranian-Kurdistan and it tells the story of an old musician, Mamo, and his long-held wish to make a pilgrimage to his homeland in Iraqi-Kurdistan, from which he has been living in exile for some 37 years. He is apparently nearing the end of his life and he is increasingly consumed by dreamlike visions of his own death. The use of magical realism in Half Moon, beautifully blurs boundaries between reality and fantasy, known and unknown and, ultimately, life and death. The culmination of Mamos journey will be a concert of Kurdish music that he has been composing and rehearsing over the previous 7 months especially for the occasion. Along the way he picks up his band which is made

Music appears only fleetingly, but perhaps this alludes to the repression of artistic expression. It is also partly due to Ghobadis wish that the film be publicly shown in Iran; a wish that was sadly unrealised. Nevertheless, the scenes where music does appear are beautiful; especially the one where Mamo goes to pick up the singer, Hesho. The films title Half Moon (Niwemang), is suggestive of transience, transition and hope, and as the film comes to its conclusion we are faced with making our own choice between hope and despair. Fortunately, this is preceded by sufficient moments of beauty, humour and compassion to make hope an easy choice.

Photo: George Archer / BRC

Director: Bahman Ghobadi (2006)