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NUJ JOURNALIST ON HUNGER STRIKE
 

Star date: 7th August 2011

MANC JOURNO ON HUNGER STRIKE

Manchester NUJ branch journalist, James Fallah-Williams, has now been on hunger strike for one week, protesting against the UK Border Agency's handling of his asylum case.

James, who has been living, working and studying in Leigh, and now Manchester, for 13 years has had death threats after his articles appeared in papers in Sierra Leone. He accuses the Border Agency of "institutional vindictiveness and abuse of power"

Read his full statement here…


Journalist James Fallah-Williams' case against the UK Border Agency (UKBA) has the full backing of the Manchester branch of the National Union of Journalists, whose spokesperson says "James is an active member of our Branch and respected by all his colleagues. He is a rational, intelligent and principled person who has become so frustrated with the UKBA's handling of his case that he has decided a hunger strike is his only option.

"We want the UKBA to abide by its responsibility to consider the case properly and to treat James – and all other people seeking asylum – in a fair, just and humane way."

Read James' full statement as to why he's on hunger strike and then campaigners are asking people to send a letter of support and protest to immigration minister Damian Green, quoting James' HO reference number F1100038, at: ministerforimmigration@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk.

There's also an ipetition – click here

"I am writing to inform you that I am now on hunger strike since the 1st of August 2011, as a result of the way the UKBA have handled my immigration case.   

I am taking this action in order to expose the institutional vindictiveness and abuse of power, and the utterly pernicious and pervasive form of bureaucratic lie and deceit designed to deliberately and collectively criminalise and denigrate minorities.  If this were not the case, then the UKBA is suffering from a very fistulous decay that is characterised by grotesque incompetency and inefficiency.

I left Sierra Leone through the help of British missionaries in 1995 at the height of the civil war, living in the Gambia before arriving in the UK in 1997/98. Due to the UKBA's mishandling of my immigration case, I have been trapped in a limbo for the last four years. In 2008, I applied for asylum as a result of my journalistic and human rights work.
 
In April 2010 I began working for Manchester Refugee Support Network (MRSN). However, in October 2010, my permission to work was revoked by the UKBA—8 days after one of my clients at MRSN won a significant test case against the UKBA through the Asylum Support Tribunal Court in London. Nineteen days after my permission to work was revoked the UKBA served me with a decision on my asylum case, and then gave me 28 days to leave the country, claiming that  the application was unfounded and that I have  lived here unlawfully for 12 days—after 12 years' legal residency.

In order to justify their action, the UKBA lied to a serving MP, Andy Burnham, on several occasions - one of which was about my immigration history - claiming that I was not in the country between 1998 and 2001, and that I was granted an entry clearance in 2001 to come to the UK. The agency was proved wrong when they were confronted with a degree transcript from a British university. The UKBA also failed to show in which country the entry clearance was granted. They apologised to my MP for making a misleading statement about my case.

I put forward some questions to the UKBA through my MP in relation to this matter. However, they never responded to the questions. They further suggested to my MP that I should apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain. This application was logged in March 2011, but was subsequently refused in April 2011 without consideration to my right to private life or right to appeal. I also have a nine year record of tax and national insurance contribution, and another three years of voluntary work.

The UKBA is now failing to participate in a legitimate legal process by ignoring correspondence from my legal representatives. A request was also made for the UKBA to make available all documents, whether electronic or hard copy, relating to my case. This too has been overlooked.

Having again revisited my case, I strongly believe that I am being persecuted by the UKBA for helping a destitute family to secure food support through the court. I now acknowledge that I will only be prolonging my own debasement and persecution if I let the UKBA further abuse my freedom, legal rights and liberty in this most fraudulent and cowardly manner. I therefore have no other choice but to take this action.

This action is taken independently without legal or organisational influence."

For further details on the campign or to get involved e-mail jamesfallahwilliamsmuststay@gmail.com


 

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