The story continues to unfold in the south of England…
17 February 2009
THE city’s Kurdish community is on the brink of going into hiding after a fourth man was seized and another put on a flight to northern Iraq by British immigration officials.
The 2,000-strong Kurdish community was stunned when Jizar Ahmad was arrested yesterday morning as he attended Charles Cross police station to ‘sign on’.
Shoker Abobeker, of Plymouth’s Kurdish Community Association, said asylum-seekers were required to ‘sign on’ at a police station, but warned that many might now stop doing so after what had happened to Mr Ahmad.
He had already revealed that some Kurds were sleeping in cars because they were afraid to go to their homes in case they were raided by immigration officers.
“Lots of people are not going to sign now,” Mr Abobeker warned. “Everyone is scared.
“We are losing our friends.”
Mr Ahmad, aged 31, from the city centre, has lived in Plymouth for nine years, and has worked in a factory and the catering industry because he has a work permit.
Mr Abobeker said removing him from the country was “not fair and against human rights”.
“Jizar is a taxpayer,” he said.
Mr Ahmad is the fourth Kurd detained in Plymouth since February 6.
The Herald has been told that one of the others, 32-year-old Majid Ibrahim Amin, was put on a flight from Stansted to the city of Erbil, capital of the Kurdistan Autonomous Region, on Monday.
Meanwhile, 31-year-old Karwan Mahmood, detained on February 12, has been moved to Tinsley House Immigration Removal Centre near Gatwick Airport.
Khasrow Mustafa, a leading member of Plymouth’s Kurdish community, said: “Where Karwan has been taken is a bad place.
“That’s where they send people for imminent removal.”
Mr Mahmood’s girlfriend Katie Kellow, aged 25, of Southway, is expected to visit him today, along with others from Plymouth.
Another city delegation is expected to go to the Campsfield House immigration removal centre, in Kidlington near Oxford, to visit 33-year-old Himen Abas, from Keyham, detained on February 6.
Mr Mustafa, a close friend of Mr Abas, said supporters had found lawyers to work on behalf of him and Mr Mahmood.
Names are also being collected on a petition.
“We are doing out best and will see what’s going to happen,” Mr Mustafa said. “It’s not easy, but hopefully we will get them out of detention.”
He said Mr Amin had been “put on a plane with about 50 people”, only about a week after being detained in Plymouth.
“When he was in Campsfield House I got him a solicitor,” Mr Mustafa said. “Unfortunately they didn’t give him a chance; they took him immediately.”
Mr Abobeker said it was not safe to send asylum-seekers to Iraq despite claims that the country had been stabilised.
He said it was still split by political and tribal allegiances and that people who fled during the rule of Saddam Hussein found the same enemies in place today, adding that people “who have been here for nine or 10 years are now integrated here”.
“Iraq is not safe,” he continued, “it doesn’t matter that the Iraqi Government is dealing with the (UK) Government.”
A Home Office spokeswoman said: “Anyone with no right to be here will be removed.
“If the appeal process is exhausted you will be removed from the country. That’s the way the immigration system works.”
The Home Office would not confirm or deny the names or status of any of the detained Kurds nor discuss flights from the country.