GUEST POST BY FERESHTEH MOZZAFARI - 27.2.2016
Do you remember Alyan Kurdi? The 3 years old Syrian boy whose body washed up on a beach near Bodrum and made global headlines? I think most of the people in the world have heard about him.
Now Missy Higgins, Australian singer-songwriter and musician, sings a song a for him to tell his tragic story. She shared the song on her Facebook and said;
Like most people, the photo of little Alan Kurdi being carried out of the water shook me to my core. We often read about the tragic plight of refugees but I think that picture exposed us to the reality in such a raw way that the truth became inescapable.
‘Oh Canada’ simply aims to tell a story. It’s not preaching anything in particular, it’s simply my attempt to make sense out of senselessness. If it also reminds people of what happened to Alan and his family then I think that would be good – after what they went through they don’t deserve to be forgotten. If the song reminds people how the picture of that lifeless little boy made them feel then that would be even better because that proves we’re all very similar people who just happen to live under different circumstances. If the song inspires anyone to do something on behalf of refugees – to speak up for their rights and to push back against those who seek to inflame our fears and prejudices – then I think that would be best of all. ”
‘Oh Canada’ is out now, with 100% of net proceeds from sales going to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC).
The song is accompanied by a powerful animated video created by award winning director Natasha Pincus and animation director Nicholas Kallincos.
Caritas and World Vision Australia support programs in Syria and neighbouring countries that create spaces where children can express their feelings of the past and hopes for the future. The drawings in the ‘Oh Canada’ video are by children in Caritas programs in Damascus, Syria and in World Vision programs in Beirut, Lebanon. Both the global Caritas network and World Vision have helped millions of people affected by the crisis in the Middle East.
Watch the video here:
In this week's podcast, Sophie Gardiner talks to Farhad Vahidi about his experiences as a young asylum seeker in the UK, including his time in detention in Yarl's Wood.
Farhad came to UK with his mother and father when was thirteen when his father faced persecution by Iranian authorities. His elder brother followed shortly afterwards, and was processed separately from the rest of the family.
Farhad described in detail his detention experience, including the initial arrest.
"It is like a full on drugs raid."
Farhad explains how he and his mother and father were detained together in Yarl's Wood's family wing for two months; "it's got just over eighteen children, because at the time the law was that you can no longer detain under eighteens. And that was the reason the Home Office had to wait for six months, that was the reason they had to wait for me to be eighteen then they can raid the house and arrest us."
"Arriving in Yarl's Wood, it's just like going to prison, you've got to process in it, they take away all your belongings, they take away your phone, they search you up and down, you get checked by the doctor, make sure you've got no problems. You say anything like if you're feeling suicidal then that will be the end of it 'cos they're gonna have officers sitting outside your room all night making sure you don't do anything stupid."
"From the outside it does look like a prison, but from the outside it just looks like a two star hotel" he explained, describing the general facilities that were provided in Yarl's Wood. "It feels more like a hostel, except you're not allowed to leave, that's the difference."
He also mentioned how prior to his detention in Yarl's Wood, he was held in Harmondsworth "which is a completely different story! This is a proper jail, the door is locked, windows all sealed, there is barbed wire everywhere, they put a drop ne between the floors- it's completely different fro Yarl's Wood, which is more family friendly. That's what it was meant to be, when we had the law that kids could be detained, that's what it was meant for. So kids could be here, but not feel like they were actually in prison."
Farhad explained daily life during his imprisonment in Yarl's Wood, the facilities and his relationship with the staff there. "I understand that they understand that people who are bored are more likely to be aggressive because they've got nothing to do."
"It was basically like a playground, but you just didn't have the right to leave."
Farhad describes how the detention centre were very strict about everyone attending meal times; "You couldn't take food to your room, you HAD to go upstairs to their dining room, you need to be accounted for, any attempt of hunger strike, they would not tolerate it."
"One person tried it, and they were NOT very nice to that person."
He would stay up past curfew to talk with guards and had a friendly relationship with many of the staff, "because they was bored, and I was bored."
Farhad explains that after he left detention he suffered PTSD which disrupted his higher education. While Farhad and his parents were safe, his elder brother would have to wait a while before he was also finally granted asylum. "We didn't go on holiday until after he got his leave to remain."
He advised anyone who is experiencing detention or who is still in the asylum system to stay strong, "stand up for yourself, but don't cause trouble. If you ever end up in a detention centre, do what you've got to do, make friends with all the staff, don't cause trouble that you don't have to cause. If you're in a detention centre, try and do something, because one, it will get the time to pass faster and two, it will not allow you the time to overthink things."
You can hear the full story on Soundcloud.
Theresa May is looking to enforced further restrictions on migrant workers in the UK. From April 2016 non-EU migrants are required to be earning £35,000 to be able to remain in the UK regardless of the time they have spent here.
Holly Harwood has set up a 38 Degrees petition directed to Theresa May to overturn these destructive restrictions on migrant workers.
On the petition she states:
"This devastating new immigration rule must be stopped, as immigrants who have lived and worked in the UK for longer than 5 years should have the right to stay regardless of their income. We cannot allow this policy to happen, as it will split up families, jeopardise the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people and severely damage the economy. The Royal college of Nursing recently announced that this policy will cost the NHS MILLIONS because so many of it's nurses are non-EU migrants who earn under £35,000 and who will be deported under this policy. Recruiting new nurses will be time consuming and expensive, and will drain more of the money needed to save the NHS. Also, the average income for a UK born citizen is £26,600, so it is entirely unfair to deport immigrants who may earn more than the average UK born citizen, but less than £35,000. Please sign the petition to hopefully prevent this devastating policy from becoming reality"
Please sign the petition here.
Wednesday 20th January 2016
14.00 - 16.00
Central Methodist Hall
Migrant Echoes are hosting another induction for all prospective volunteers! If you're interested in volunteering with us and gaining valuable experience with our media project, feel free to join us!
We will be looking at interview techniques, audio recording, film, editing and more!
For further information just contact sophie(at)migrantsupport.org.uk