Fresh fears for Buddhist monk under threat of deportation from the UK
by Marishka van Steenbergen, Open Democracy, 31 August 2014
London, UK -- Friends and supporters share anxiety over the safety of Buddhist monk who made South Yorkshire his home after seeking refuge from persecution in his native Bangladesh.
<< Sushil Sraman helping raise awareness of asylum seekers, Sharrow Festival 2013
Since my optimistic post on Sushil was published this morning, fresh and worse news has emerged.
I first wrote about Sushilananda Sraman here on OurKingdom last Wednesday (27 August), hours ahead of his planned forcible removal to Bangladesh. I explained that Sushil, aged 46, had arrived in the UK in 2005 and has been living in Gleadless Valley, Sheffield, since 2011.
As a Buddhist monk in Chittagong Bangladesh, Sushil had been targeted by local fundamentalist muslims, who forbade him to campaign for girls education and began persecuting him.
This morning OurKingdom published my piece reporting that Sushil’s deportation had been delayed.
Meanwhile, worrying events were underway.
Campaigner Katelyn McKeown takes up the story:
I am Sushil's volunteer supervisor at City of Sanctuary Sheffield and close personal friend. I have been organising his campaign and petition since he was detained. Sushil was due to be deported on Thursday 28th August but he was not - we have had no information about why he was not deported and this is causing him a great deal of stress as he does not know how to proceed.
On Wednesday 27th August we submitted our petition with over 800 signatories to the Home Office by hand and by email, but we have had no confirmation of receipt from them.
A fresh claim for asylum was made on 27th August but again there has been no confirmation that it has been received.
Legal experts tell me that “no news is good news” and the lack of response should give us cause for cautious hopefulness as it appears not to have been immediately rejected. Sushil, however, is extremely upset that he has not had any information regarding his case.
I had been due to visit Sushil at Morton Hall Immigration Removal Centre near Lincoln today (Sunday 31 August). That hasn’t happened. Instead I have elicited the following information from Sushil by phone.
Sushil had applied to Morton Hall for some fresh clothes. On Saturday (30 August) he was waiting to find out when he could collect them. A woman came to his room at 7.30 pm and told him to go to the reception. From there he was taken through several locked doors to an entrance where he believed he would be handed fresh clothes.
Instead, guards took Sushil’s phone and locked him in a room. They then brought all his belongings from his cell and told him he was being taken to Brook House an Immigration Removal Centre near Gatwick airport.
Sushil asked to make a phone call but was refused permission. At 10 pm they took him on the journey to Brook House, which is run by the security company G4S. Sushil arrived at 1.30 am. Guards returned his phone to him at around 3 am which is when he was able to contact us.
The lack of information about the proceedings is causing Sushil a great deal of stress and upset and he has no idea if he will have the opportunity to make fresh legal representations to the Home Office.
In the face of the wall of silence all we can do is wait and hope that when news comes, it will be good news. If the news is not good, we hope there will still be time for us to take further action to help Sushil. Meanwhile we urge people to sign our petition.
Marishka Van Steenbergen is a multimedia web and video journalist, she runs multimedia production company Humbledinger and the Sheffield Unchained website. Marishka aims to give a voice to those who do not have one or who are largely ignored. Her dream is to one day be able to spend all her time working to expose injustice through her films and journalism.