Jesurgislac’s Journal

August 20, 2008

What had this woman done?

No, I’m never going to the United States again:

There was one British tourist in the group. Paul (also not his real name) was traveling with three friends who had passed through customs soon after their plane landed and were waiting for him on the other side of the metal barrier; he suspected he had been detained because of his dark skin. When he asked if he could go to the bathroom, one of the guards said, “I wouldn’t.” “What if someone has to?” I asked. “They will just have to hold it,” the guard responded with a smile. Paul began to cry. I watched as he, over the course of four hours, went from feeling exuberant about his trip to New York to despising the entire country. “I speak the Queen’s English,” he said to me. “I’m third-generation British. I came to America because I’ve always wanted to come here, and now they’ve got me so scared that all I want to do is go home. We’re paying for your stupid war anyway.”

PS: The answer is – she was a US citizen who had visited Syria. In the United States today, a trip to Syria warrants hours of being harassed and crapped on at your arrival.

At JFK Airport, Denying Basic Rights Is Just Another Day at the Office, by Emily Feder, 18th August 2008.

July 8, 2008

Being persecuted: seeking asylum: filling a quota

I’ve been meaning to write about this for some time, but the truth is I don’t know where to start. With Jacqui Smith, Home Secretary, who said about a week ago: “In the 21st century no one in Britain should ever feel under threat of verbal or physical violence just because of their sexual orientation.” No. Move back four years or so.

In 2004, the Syrian government arrested a young man, Jojo Jako Yacob, whose father was involved with the Yakiti Party – pro-Kurdish, anti-government.

“At one point I was put up against a wall and a handgun pointed at me. I was told that if I did not tell the authorities what they wanted to know they would shoot me dead. I did not tell them anything, I did not think they would shoot me.”

“The police officer then shot me in my upper left arm. At that point, I told them what they wanted to know as I believed that they would shoot me dead.” (Death sentence: gay Syrian teenager facing deportation)

In Ahdas Prison, by the Turkish border, this young man formed a relationship with another prisoner – but the guards found out and the prisoners were systematically beaten, for days or weeks – Jojo no longer remembers.

“This was all because I was gay. No questions were asked of me about my father’s political party or any other political activity. All the questions related to me being gay.

“I was also subjected to cold-water torture, where I was put in a room and buckets of cold water were constantly thrown over me. I could not remember what day it was or how long I had been in prison. (Death sentence: gay Syrian teenager facing deportation)

He woke in hospital: the doctor who was treating him told him that he had been in a coma for 20 days. He escaped from Syria, intending to get to the UK, which he had heard was a democracy and treated people with justice and fairness. In early 2005, huddled in the back of a freezer lorry, suffering from post-traumatic shock, he arrived in the UK.

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