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Congolese asylum seeker, removed to Kinshasa, imprisoned and beaten

Liz A. | 14.10.2006 16:43 | Migration | Repression | Birmingham | London

On 6 October, 2006, Mulai Mukendi, an asylum seeker from the Democratic Republic of Congo, was removed from the UK and taken to the country's capital Kinshasa, upon which she was subjected to imprisonment and beatings for several days.

Come the 9 October, Mulai, of Tutsi ethnicity, would have been in Yarls Wood IDC for one gruelling year. I got to know her some two months ago. This final effort to remove her was the third since the time I first spoke to her and they were three of many others that had been attempted previously. In spite of getting new legal representation, new evidence and a medical report, there seemed to be nothing that could be done to stop the removal machine from turning.

On the afternoon of 6 October, five escorts came to take Mulai away. They told her that this time they were going to make sure that she left the country.

They hit her to stop her resisting too much when they put her on the plane and then handcuffed her. When they got to Ethiopia they put her in a wheelchair and tied her into it hand and foot.

This is how they handed her over to the immigration authorities in Kinshasa and subsequently left her to her fate.

And what fate. Questioned for several hours, she was then arrested and imprisoned. She was beaten repeatedly, deprived of food and water and left in deplorable conditions until 12 October, when a friend's brother-in-law raised the money to get her released.

She is now in hiding and living in desperate fear.

Mulai managed to call me from Kinshasa. That's how I know what happened.

This woman came to us for protection. We detained her for a year in conditions that were making her ill. Then we removed her to a country where there is not a single functioning government institution, where human rights violations are beyond belief and impunity and corruption are off the charts, where the abuse of women and children defies the
most abject imagination, and where the security situation is dangerously explosive.

Detaining vulnerable asylum seekers is wrong on every level, as is removing them to situations in their own country that our authorities know perfectly well to be unsafe.

Please write to your own MP and to the minister for immigration, Liam Byrne, to protest about what has happened to Mulai and to express your deep concern about the home office policy of detention centres for asylum seekers and forced removals to life-threatening situations.

Liam Byrne
Minister of State for Immigration
The Home Office
2 Marsham Street
London SW1P 4DF

Liz A.