The cases of 34 asylum seekers, in detention (immigration removal centres and prisons) and living in the community, that have taken their lives in the last five years (until September 2005).
On 04 October 2005, the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) published a roll call of death of the 180 asylum seekers and undocumented migrants who have died either in the UK or attempting to reach the UK in the past fifteen years.
34 of them died at their own hand, preferring this to being returned to the country they fled, when asylum claims are turned down. And compounding the process is the fact that some of those in detention and known to be traumatised and particularly vulnerable appear not to have been provided with the medical (especially psychological) support they needed.
Manuel Bravo, (35), 15/9/05, from Angola, who lived in Leeds, was 'snatched' by immigration officials, along with his son, on the morning of September 14. In the early hours of September 15, Manuel was found hanging in a stairwell at Yarl's Wood Removal Centre. He was due to be deported the next day. (IRR News Story: :: Vigil for Manuel Bravo at Yarl's Wood, UK Indymedia story: :: Yarlswood: Another Death in Detention)
Edmore Ngwenya, (26), 14/9/05, Zimbabwean asylum seeker, jumped into a canal in Manchester.
Babak Ahadi, (33), 6/7/05, Iranian asylum seeker who set himself alight at his NASS accommodation in Bristol. He died the following day in Frenchay hospital.
Ramazan Kumluca, (19), 27/6/05, a Kurdish asylum seeker from Turkey who was found hanged in Campsfield House removal centre in Oxford. He had been detained for five months and was said to be depressed after a bail application was rejected for the third time.
Kenny Peter, 7/11/04, a Nigerian asylum seeker who died in Charing Cross hospital, nearly three weeks after sustaining injuries during an apparent self-harm attempt at Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre. It is believed that on 19 October, Kenny jumped from a landing and sustained serious injuries, from which he later died.
John Kanau Manana, (24), 15/10/04, a Kenyan who was found hanged from a ligature in his cell at Leicester prison on 15 October at 3.55. Paramedics were called and attempted resuscitation and he was taken to hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 4.50.
Majid Rafieei, 14/10/04, a destitute Iraqi asylum seeker who was found hanged in Langley Park, Sheffield after his asylum claim was refused.
Ceife Yimene, (24), 26/9/04, an Ethiopian asylum seeker who left a hospital where he had been seeking help and hanged himself. Ceife was living in emergency accommodation in Newcastle while his asylum claim was being processed. He became very depressed in the weeks leading up to his death. On the day of his death his friends were so concerned about his health that they took him to the Accident and Emergency department of Newcastle General Infirmary. After seven hours he was reportedly in a 'catatonic' state and when he was eventually seen by a Doctor he was told, 'If you won't speak then we can't help'. Ceife left the hospital and hanged himself from a tree. (IRR News story: :: Did undue pressure on an asylum seeker lead to his suicide?)
Ako Mahmood Ahmed, (25), 8/04, a Kurdish asylum seeker who died after jumping from a bridge at a Coventry shopping centre. He arrived in the UK in May 2004 and was 'dispersed' to Coventry in June. His asylum claim was rejected and he lodged an appeal. However, because of new legal aid limits, Ako was unable to find a solicitor to act for him despite help from Coventry Refugee Centre. As a result, he was faced with destitution on the streets of Britain and the prospect of deportation to Iraq. (IRR News story: :: Desperate asylum seeker takes own life)
Tran Quang Tung, (23), 23/7/04, a Vietnamese man who was found hanged in Dungavel removal centre in Scotland just days after being transferred from Harmondsworth removal centre after the disturbance.
Sergey Barnuyck, (31), 19/7/04, a Ukrainian who was found hanged in Harmondsworth detention centre. His death sparked a night of disturbances at the centre and led to all of the detainees being transferred to prisons and other detention centres.
Hussein Nasseri, (26), 25/6/04, an Iranian asylum seeker who was found with a gunshot wound two weeks after his asylum claim was refused. Hussein, who was homosexual, fled Iran in March 2000 after being imprisoned for three months for his sexuality. He feared being executed if he was returned to Iran - where homosexuality is a 'crime' punishable by death. In June 2004, he received a letter telling him that his asylum claim had been refused. The inquest recorded a verdict of suicide. (IRR News story: :: Inquest finds asylum refusal was motive for gay Iranian's suicide)
Zekria Ghulam Mohammed, (27), 18/05/04, an Afghan asylum seeker who was found hanged at his flat in the Dennistoun area of Glasgow. Zekria had been living in Scotland for four years and prior to his death his asylum claim had been refused and benefits stopped. He was also facing eviction from accommodation provided by NASS. Zekria, who trained as a dentist in Afghanistan, 'was ashamed and broken. He felt there was no hope left', according to his friends.
Unnamed man, 2004, an Iraqi asylum seeker who set himself alight in London. He had a history of mental health problems and was scared he would be returned to Iraq.
Liang He, (23), 10/11/03, who was found hanged at Bedford prison.
Mohammed bin Duhri, (20), 20/10/03, a Palestinian asylum seeker who was found hanged at Belmarsh maximum-security prison. He had been held at Dover Immigration Removal Centre but, after he allegedly assaulted a guard, he was moved to Belmarsh. Three prison officers were suspended for filing reports saying, after the death, that he was still alive.
Tema Kombe, (32), 4/9/03, a Ugandan asylum seeker who was found hanged in a toilet in the psychiatric ward at Heatherwood hospital, Ascot, after being detained under the Mental Health Act. The inquest returned a verdict of misadventure after hearing that he had made three previous attempts on his life.
Israfil Shiri, (30), 3/9/03, a destitute Iranian asylum seeker who died six days after pouring petrol over his body and setting himself alight in the offices of Refugee Action in Manchester. His asylum application had been rejected and he was homeless and penniless. Israfil, who was gay, feared being executed in Iran if he was deported. He also suffered from a painful bowel complaint but, after his asylum claim was refused, he was unable to get medical treatment and was in constant pain. An open verdict was recorded by the inquest. (IRR News story: :: Open verdict on death of asylum seeker who slept in a wheelie bin)
Vasiliy Todchuk, (24), 9/03, a Russian national who had deserted from the Russian army in Chechnya, was found hanged on a building site in Govan, Glasgow. He had been detained in Polmont YOI on criminal charges in early 2003 and attempted suicide on the day before his release. Several weeks before his death he had been advised that he would be deported.
Liu Jin Wu, (35), 5/5/03, a Chinese asylum seeker who took his own life while on remand at HMP Barlinnie in Scotland. It emerged during a fatal accident inquiry (FAI) that he was a Mandarin speaker who only had access to an interpreter three times during his ten weeks in the prison. He was on remand for two counts of attempted murder and during police interviews had told them that he was hearing voices; a provisional diagnosis of paranoid psychosis was made. He had been told he faced deportation regardless of what happened during the criminal proceedings as his asylum claim had been refused. The Inquiry was also told staff failed to check on him hourly as was required when he was found to be suicidal. But the FAI concluded that his suicide was due to mental health problems rather than any failure by the prison authorities.
Mikhail Bognarchuk, (42), 31/1/03, a Ukrainian asylum seeker who was found hanged at Haslar removal centre.
Sirous Khajeh, (29), 24/12/02, an Iranian asylum seeker who was found hanged at his home in Huddersfield. He was a torture victim who had been told that his asylum claim had been rejected and he faced eviction from his home and deportation. However, this information was incorrect and Sirous had in fact been granted asylum. A Yorkshire coroner recorded a verdict of suicide and was critical of the Home Office's handling of his application.
Beverley Fowler, (32), 2/10/02, a Jamaican woman who was found hanged two days before the end of her sentence in Durham prison. She was a mother of three who was due to be deported back to Jamaica after serving a sentence for drug smuggling. In September 2003, an inquest recorded an open verdict. The inquest was told she feared for her safety in Kingston because the man who forced her into drug smuggling had murdered her partner.
Forsina Makoni, (79), 11/5/02, an elderly Zimbabwean woman who died after setting herself alight in Gillingham after her claim for political asylum was refused. She had been a vocal opponent of Robert Mugabe's regime and became depressed in the weeks before her death after her claim was refused.
Shiraz Pir, (25), 7/5/02, a Pakistani asylum seeker who died five days after being found hanging in his Bristol home after his asylum claim was rejected. Facing deportation, he could not understand why friends had been given refugee status and he had been denied. He left a note asking that his body be returned to his parents. An inquest recorded a verdict of suicide whilst the balance of his mind was temporarily disturbed. The coroner criticized the Home Office for the delay with his asylum application.
Mohsen Amri, (27), 12/3/02, an Iranian asylum seeker who committed suicide at his home in Handsworth, Birmingham, after having a work permit refused and asylum application rejected. He had been in the UK for two years and made repeated requests for work permits (he did not want to work illegally). His asylum application had been refused on a technicality.
Nariman Tahamasbi, (27), 25/2/02, an Iranian asylum seeker who was found hanged in Lewes prison. He had been refused asylum in the UK and fearful of being deported back to Iran, he attempted to flee to Canada using the same forged travel documents that had brought him to the UK. He was arrested at Gatwick airport, charged over false documents and sentenced to six months imprisonment. Less than a week after arriving in the prison he hanged himself from the bars of his cell with a bedsheet and died in hospital five days later without regaining consciousness. A jury returned a verdict of death by misadventure following a three-day inquest into the death in may 2005. (IRR News story: :: Asylum death deemed misadventure)
Souleyman Diallo, (28), 1/1/02, a Guinean asylum seeker who committed suicide by jumping 100 feet off Redheugh Bridge, Tyneside, a few weeks after being told he was to be deported to Guinea. Souleyman, who spoke little English, was dispersed to Gateshead soon after he arrived in July 2000 and was not provided with any translation services. He felt that the interpreter at his appeal hearing had misinterpreted him. His solicitor commented that his 'inability to access competent legal advice, difficulties in communicating his case and tight deadlines for submission statements have contributed to his case being properly heard'. She made a complaint to the Immigration Commissioners about his death. The coroner recorded an open verdict.
Nasser Ahmed, (35), 21/8/01, an Eritrean asylum seeker who was found hanged at his flat in Nelson, Lancashire shortly after his asylum claim was rejected.
Shokrolah 'Ramin' Khaleghi, (27), 18/1/01, an Iranian asylum seeker, dispersed to Leicester, who was found dead in the International Hotel, a hostel for asylum seekers, after his asylum claim was rejected. He had been a political prisoner in Iran, jailed for six years and tortured for refusing to serve in the Iranian army and affronting fundamentalist beliefs by shaving his facial hair. He took an overdose one week after learning that his asylum claim had been rejected.
Saeed Alaei, (26), 21/12/00, an Iranian asylum seeker, dispersed to Nelson, Lancashire, who was found hanged after his asylum claim was rejected.
Glynnis Cowley, (40), 4/00, a South African mother of three who committed suicide in Liverpool after her asylum claim was refused. She had been arrested Heathrow in June 1999 after being found in possession of cannabis and sentenced eight months. She alleged that she had been kidnapped and forced to act as drugs courier. While in Holloway prison her asylum claim was refused and after her release she launched an appeal but took her life before it was heard.
Robertas Grabys, 24/01/00, a Lithuanian asylum seeker who was found hanged in Harmondsworth detention centre on the day he was due to be deported. A report into his death criticised the private company that was in charge of Harmondsworth at the time.
This article is a based on the :: IRR News story: :: Two asylum seekers took their own lives within 24 hours, published on 21 September 2005.