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MANC JOURNALIST STAYS IN UK
 

Star date: 27th August 2011

JOURNALIST WHO WENT ON HUNGER STRIKE WINS CASE

James Fallah-Williams, the human rights journalist who went on hunger strike for 19 days after the UK Border Agency tried to chuck him out of the country, has been given leave to stay in the UK for three years.

A huge campaign was launched to help James, who sought asylum in the UK 13 years ago, after his articles infuriated the Sierra Leone Government. Thanking everyone who helped with the campaign, James said "You stood by me because you believe in human rights and justice…"

Full story here…


Sierra Leone isn't big on freedom of expression and James Fallah Williams' articles upset the authorities, leading to death threats as civil war raged in the country 13 years ago. He fled first to Gambia, and then to the UK seeking asylum.  

Since then he's been living, working and studying around the north west, in Leigh and in Manchester, where he became a National Union of Journalists member. In October last year his asylum claim was refused and in March this year his application for Indefinite Leave to Remain was also turned down.

After months of wrangling with the UK Border Agency (UKBA), backed by MP Andy Burnham, James began a hunger strike accusing the UKBA of  "institutional vindictiveness and abuse of power" (see the previous Salford Star story).

He remained on hunger strike for 19 days before the UKBA agreed to look at new evidence and have now given him discretionary leave to remain in the UK.

"I am very pleased that common sense has finally prevailed" says James "I thank all those who have stood by me in the fight for justice."

A spokesperson for RAPAR, the Manchester based human rights organisation where James is a member of the Leadership group, said: "James' many friends at RAPAR are delighted with this news. He has shown great determination and dignity throughout the campaign - and the 19 days of his hunger strike - in his fight for justice and human rights."

Chris Rea, Chair of Manchester NUJ branch, added: "James is a valued and well respected member of our branch, we are extremely pleased with this decision and thank all our members, and other NUJ members throughout the country, who have supported him."

And NUJ General Secretary Michelle Stanistreet welcomed the news and added: "I hope James can now get back to living a full life as a valued member of the community."
 
For more info see RAPAR site click here

And to see a film about James click here

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