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Asylum solidarity - Justice for Janahan
"You can't come in because you've had a protest," said the head security guard at Vulcan House, the Home Office building in Sheffield. Yes, Tamil Solidarity supporters in Sheffield organised a solidarity protest with Janahan, a Tamil asylum seeker, because when he signed in two weeks earlier, he was detained in Morton Hall detention centre in Lincolnshire for five days!
Myself and Steve Williams, a community psychiatric nurse, had accompanied Janahan that time, but felt useless as he was taken away in front of our eyes. We weren't going to let that happen again.
So, 20 Socialist Party members and asylum rights activists staged a noisy demo demanding "Janahan must stay", gaining lots of local media coverage.
We were delighted when Janahan re-emerged from the building, free for another week until he has to report again. His fresh asylum claim is being heard in court on 15 July.
Janahan was only 17 when he fled Jaffna in 2009, after the Sri Lankan government-backed military genocide in which 100,000 Tamils were killed or went missing.
Janathan was rounded up, imprisoned and tortured for ten days in a secret detention centre. His sister has been 'missing' since 2008 and his father was detained as well.
Fearing him being killed, Janahan's parents paid people traffickers to get him out. In Britain, he moved from London to Stainforth in Doncaster with a Tamil friend from Sri Lanka who had also been tortured.
Janahan has been seeking asylum for five years. This has been refused but his case has never been to court. He is not allowed to study, he's not allowed to work and he gets no money. Even to get the train to Sheffield to report in every week, he is dependent on his friend paying the £6.40 return fare. Otherwise, he never leaves the house.
In isolation, he internalises the physical and mental torture he's been through. He self-harms to relieve the pain, and sometimes thinks that it would have been better to die if that would expose to the world the atrocities that are still going on in Sri Lanka. But his death would be another 'accident' that would be covered up.
However, Janathan is a fighter. Meeting other Tamils at a protest in London, he joined Tamil Solidarity and decided that his story had to be told.
Last week, he went straight from detention in Morton Hall to speak at the Bakers' union conference in Southport. Solidarity will get "Justice for Janahan".
In The Socialist 17 June 2015:
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