DEATH IN DETENTION
Just when my opinion of HO and its vile practices could sink no lower, 33 year old Pinakin Patel, who with his wife Bhavisha, had been locked up in Yarl's Wood for over two months, died in detention this week. The young couple from India had hoped to visit family and friends and visit Scotland for a 10-day holiday, but were refused entry and detained.
Their crime? Although they held visitor visas, itinerary and return tickets, Bhavisha carried evidence of her qualifications, making immigration officers suspect the couple was entering UK, with its gold-paved streets, to work.
I believe Bhavisha's claims that she brought the docs with her only because she didn't know what would be needed at the border. It's entirely possible the couple had submitted these in order to obtain the visit visa, so maybe they thought it would be needed at immigration too. (Incidentally, if one really wants to enter the UK to work illegally, surely a mastermind would post the docs from overseas?). IOs either discovered the qualifications or the couple volunteered them - former suggests profiling and targeting (remember Radha Patel?), the latter, obviously innocence.
On the off-chance IOs did catch the couple entering the UK to work unlawfully (although this is infinitely better than when Brits entered India purely to exploit), detaining them for so long rather than putting them on a return flight, is a disproportionate response, exacerbated by the fact that the couple offered to leave one month in at Yarl's Wood. Perhaps the couple sought asylum as a means to at least being allowed in to make their case - tickets and visas don't come cheap - but they did subsequently seem to give up hopes of seeing our sites and offered to leave which whatever their actual motives, HO should have taken up.
However, HO enjoys keeping people in detention indefinitely, whilst subsequently spending millions deporting them in a show of might, even spending our money to persuade judges that foreigners must be removed. So rather than take up the offer of voluntary departure, HO insisted the couple had to stay until their case was processed - I reckon it helps their statistics to show how fantastically powerful they are which probably makes Theresa May purr!
I'm ashamed to be funding this government. I'm upset that an innocent man died. I'm saddened Bhavisha is grieving without support of friends & family in a strange nation which at best treats people wanting to work without the right papers like hard-core criminals, at worst imprisons tourists. And I'm fuming that Bhavisha is still locked up.
While it's humbling to see other detainees rallying in support of Bhavisha's release, I wonder what kind of life she will have when eventually allowed to return to India - haunted by memories of the last few months of her marriage spent in detention, knowing her husband's death in a stressful situation might have been avoided had he not been trapped; regret that if only they had chosen another country to visit and make memories in; maybe even guilt for obtaining qualifications that have proven to be so expensive.
My sympathies to Pinakin's parents mourning their son's loss without his body to pay last respects to. No doubt they won't be allowed here for his funeral.
Read more in this article from the Independent.
Update 24/04/15: We understand Bhavisha has now been released from Yarl's Wood but is still in the UK with family.