Comment | This humiliation must end: stop deporting people like me to our deaths

Currently threatened with deportation to Nigeria, campaigner Luqman Onikosi is chronically ill and needs to remain in the UK to receive life-saving treatment. That migrants like him are forced to prove their right to life, he writes, is humiliating and inhumane.

New in Ceasefire, Politics - Posted on Saturday, December 22, 2012 18:37 - 17 Comments

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When an unforeseen circumstance occurs in a migrant’s life, we have to justify ourselves in order to be given the chance to stay alive. How do we do this? In a system that decides who lives and dies on the basis of economics and race, our chances of proving ourselves worthy are slim.

Despite suffering from a chronic liver condition brought on by Hepatitis B, I am currently facing the prospect of deportation from the UK. My battle to stay in the UK on medical grounds, in other words, is a fight to stay alive. In October last year, and then March this year, my brothers in Nigeria, Kolade Onikosi and Hanuna Onikosi, died of complications brought on by the same illness. I believe it is barbaric to send a third member of my family – me – to my death.

As migrants, we have to justify why we deserve the right to life, why we should stay alive, by illustrating the value we add to the economy. Of course having to prove our economic value is inevitable in a capitalist, racist system, where one life is worth saving and the other is worthless. As a former international student in the UK, like other international students, we are wrongly accused of ‘milking the system’. The truth is very different: we are treated as ‘cash cows’ by most education institutions. We continue to add ‘value’ to the UK economy through its international education system, worth up to £40 billion.

I am frustrated by the institutional commodification of international students, desperately competed for by universities and colleges. In lieu of being viewed as equal humans, seeking knowledge for the common good of humanity, we are often perceived as less than human, and treated as mere sources of income.

The UK government, irrespective of what party is in power, encourages a covert parasitic attitude towards international students. This goes some way to explaining my and other people’s experience of being used and then discarded after completing our studies.

I have followed the recent debates around euthanasia and I can see an analogy between the right to life and the right to be legally and medically permitted to die. Many resident British citizens have faced the painful process of fighting for the right to die and yet are denied this on the basis of moral arguments regarding the worth of life as such.

Yet there are women such as Ama Sumani, a Ghanaian widow living in the UK, who judicially battled for the right to life, to stay alive for her children, but her case was dismissed by the Home Office simply because she had not updated her contact information after moving.

Ama was deported whilst undergoing treatment for terminal cancer at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff, and died just three months later in Ghana. The medical journal the Lancet described her removal from hospital by immigration officials as “atrocious barbarism”.

There are too many other cases similar to mine, such as Roseline Akhalu, a kidney transplant patient, whose battle to remain in the UK is subject to an on-going judicial review. Together our struggles illustrate how ‘racially’ driven most of the statutory policies are, and how racist the operations of the UK Border Agency are in practice, even as the agency attempts to mask this by using the language of ‘nation’, quotas and ‘genuine’ refugees.

I find it very dehumanising and humiliating that I have to justify and defend my existence as an equal human being. I have to fight for my right to life, by discussing the death of my two brothers from the same chronic liver condition, just to highlight how serious the situation is.

There are many people out there with chronic health conditions who are in similar legal situations, but they are not as brave as Roseline Akhalu, because they are intimidated by the notion that coming out will make their case worse.

The UK Border Agency must review its rules for FLR (O) applications made on medical grounds, which set an abstract, high threshold, particularly for vulnerable migrants who have a medical condition. Migration has not just greatly contributed economically to the UK – migrants themselves have also socially contributed to the system and our respective communities. We must stop this pattern of humiliation. Please stop deporting people like me to our deaths.

Act now- support Luqman to stay – don’t let this injustice happen!

1. Sign the petition. Forward it to two of your contacts:

http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/grant-luqman-onikosi-leave-to-remain-in-the-uk.html

2. Write a letter or an email of protest to the Home Secretary, Theresa May.

• We have a great template for you in the ‘Files’ section of the FB group, if you’re struggling to write the letter in your own words.

• Please quote Luqman’s home office reference number: O1103504

Theresa May, MP
Secretary of State for the Home Office
2 Marsham Street
London
SW1 4DF

mayt@parliament.uk
pscorrespondence@cabinet-office.gsi.gov.uk
Privateoffice.external@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk
CITTO@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

Fax
020 7035 4745 (00 44 20 7035 4745 if you are faxing from outside UK)

EMAIL: Please cc us in at campaignforluqman@gmail.com and forward to us any response you receive.

LETTER OR FAX: Remember to print, sign and date.

3. Write to your local MP

• Request that your local MP show their support for Luqman’s case. Write your own or use the great template provided (‘Files’ section on menu bar in Facebook Group or email us)

• To find out the name and contact details of your local MP, click here – http://findyourmp.parliament.uk/

• Please send the letter to the MP for the area in which you live. An MP will only take up an issue which effects or is a concern of the people living in their constituency.

LETTER OR FAX: Remember to print, sign and date

Please let us know when you send the letter, and if you receive any response from the Home Office, by emailing us at campaignforluqman@gmail.com.

EMAIL: Please cc us in at campaignforluqman@gmail.com and forward to us any response you receive.

Luqman Onikosi

Luqman Onikosi grew up in Nigeria before moving to the UK in 2007 to study at the University of Sussex where he completed an BA in International Relations and Economics. At Sussex, Luqman set up ‘Hear Afrika Society’, which led numerous high profile campaigns about the reality of racism, the environmental crisis, the economic rights of international students and islamophobia. It was also at Sussex university that Luqman was diagnosed with hepatitis B. However Luqman continued a dedicated commitment to Sussex campus as well as to the wider community in Brighton & Hove and has played important roles in anti-racist work.

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17 Comments

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TC
Dec 22, 2012 22:27

I read this article and I am appalled by the actions of this government and the UKBA.

Sadly it only serves to highlight the sinister strategies that the agency employs, couching it in neutral sounding terms.

I will sign the petition and encourage others to do the same. However, I wish there was more we could do than this.

Raz
Dec 24, 2012 2:30

Then what would stop the UK becoming the first port of call for those that are sick and staying in the country without being citizens? If you’re not a citizen in most countries, you’re made to leave.

THINK
Dec 24, 2012 21:28

@ RAZ: Why the UK is become the first port of call for immigrants? Well..isn’t obvious? If the UK (along with the other anglo-supremacists- NATO) stopped meddling, invading, occupying and bombing other nations may be there wouldn’t be so much immigration.

Besides, the UK loves cheap labor and having immigrants (especially non-white ones) coming here means, they can be expoited and used as escape goats for everything that’s wrong with this f***ing country.

Raz
Dec 25, 2012 6:03

You’re quick to say what is wrong with this country, yet you’ve quite clearly stated your life depends on being able to stay here. Obviously it’s not as bad as it sounds, huh. Even though as a non-citizen, this country owes nothing to you and has no responsibility for you?

You came here as a student – one of those you moan about being exploited yet you bought into the system. You are no longer a student.

jaz
Dec 26, 2012 14:13

You came to study an received the benefit of what u paid for. Its a two way process. The uk owes u nothing further. The country struggles to meet the health of its own Citizens, how can we provide healthcare to others worldwide. We cant in short. The country is not a bottomless pit of resources.

Sam
Dec 26, 2012 18:55

@ Raz: @ Jaz: An international student paying for UK education isn’t like paying for a product or item. The UK is allowing someone to integrate into a new culture and place – to meet new people and to have an effect on others. It’s about sharing experiences and knowledge while moving towards an integrated society with others.

What kind of message do we send to other countries if we send people to their death? We are just showing that we just care about taking their money and cannot expect anything good in return.

The UK accepts a responsibility for international students coming to the country and should look after them as things can unfortunately change during their course of study. This is peoples lives, and not similar to returning a product when it is defected. Look after people and they will look after you.

Sam,
UK

Raz
Dec 27, 2012 9:05

“The UK is allowing someone to integrate into a new culture and place”

Yes, but not forever. Every international person knows this when applying for a TEMPORARY visa in another country. I’m not dismayed that I can no longer work in countries such as Australia or the States without getting married and hold of a green card. I was told to return home. I’m not beyond the law, I have to go back, because as a non-citizen of those countries, they owe nothing to me. They are not responsible for my circumstances.

“What kind of message do we send to other countries if we send people to their death? We are just showing that we just care about taking their money and cannot expect anything good in return.”

Erm, no. Being a bit (typically) dramatic on the whole “omg sending ppl 2 der death!11″ front there. And again, overly dramatic on the whole point about the UK showing they care only about taking money from foreigners. Didn’t you yourself just say that the UK gives and ALLOWS more than that? In your own words, they give international folk the chance to “integrate into a new culture and place – to meet new people and to have an effect on others. It’s about sharing experiences and knowledge while moving towards an integrated society with others.” That comes with a price, because the country can’t just run off good will. It’s expensive, yeah but if you don’t like it you don’t need to buy into it. Vote with your money, perhaps instead of taking and paying for the chance and then crying about it later?

I don’t care that I had to spend a few months doing manual labour to extend my visa in Australia. I had to pull my weight for the country that had taken me in as its guest… and I accepted that as a guest and foreigner, it had the right to ask me to leave when it wanted.

“The UK accepts a responsibility for international students coming to the country and should look after them as things can unfortunately change during their course of study.”

Except this dude has finished his studies, has he not?
Incredibly tragic circumstances, yes, and I can see how some might take it the way you have in that it looks like HEY FINISH YOUR STUDIES AND THEN GET OUT, OKAY? WE JUST WANT YOUR MONEY. Well, duh. What else did your visa say on it? That you would be granted a red passport afterwards? University is a business these days, simple. You’re paying for your time to study there, your visa covers that.

The UK does not have a responsibility for all the sick people all over the world who can’t get aid in their own countries. It’s unfortunate that people are in that situation, but the UK ultimately has a responsibility for its OWN citizens. Borders are there for a reason, and it’s not just the UK who has them. The floodgates are not open for taking in every sick person.

Sam
Dec 27, 2012 15:42

I believe you might have simplified a few of the points.
Firstly I agree with you that it is a temporary position. However there must be possibilities for extensions of agreed times due to extreme situations. This is one of them, where the medical condition occurred during study and that the medical treatment is not available in their country of origin.
Further examples of this would be if genocide is occurring within a migrants country of origin – surely you’d agree that the UK could not possibly send someone back during such a crisis?

I find it amusing that you consider myself being dramatic considering your tone of discussion, and the facts unfortunately is considered to be being sent to death. Hep B is a very serious disease and his doctor has sent a letter detailing that there is ‘no definite treatment available for the level of his condition’.

More information can be found http://www.facebook.com/groups/452820554754025/

Again I think you might have confused the situation, it’s not a case of taking in sick people – that i agree is not possible at the moment unfortunately – but providing the support if things change during the agreed time of someones stay in Britain. When someone comes to study in Britain we are showing the world what is on offer here, our education, our culture, the way we see the world. It is not a shallow business deal. It needs to be flexible for if things change. That is what has happened and we should provide support for our neighbours.

jaz
Dec 27, 2012 20:56

To Lukman. I am sorry about ur situation but every day in Britian people die because of economics, disability, age, cronic illness, not just because of race but poverty. Old people die of cold in their homes an of deheidration in hospital. Homeless people die of cold in parks an cronically ill people die of neglect an lack of access to drugs. I work in mental health an see benefit cuts devastate lives. And these r uk citizens. I myself am facing reduncancy at 57 an losing my home. This isnt just about race its about inequality and poverty. In april next year uk citizens will loose legal aid for welfare, debt, most housing and employment issues amongst others, or in plain language, loose access to justice. U clearly feel an injustice is been done to u but nowhere in ur article do u link the personal injustice an wider injustice of ur situation to the inequality in britian of the poor and marginalised.

jaz
Dec 31, 2012 23:28

I have read more information an feel misinformed.I have written to Theresa May reg Mr
Onikosi and continue to encourage everyone to do the same. We cannot support everyone with a medical condition. He complains about Britian and yet wants our help. What other country would even consider it and provide legal aid to cover his legal costs. Mr Onikosi didn’t even manage go pay his univ fees, uk students raised much if iit to help after his sponser pulled out. He didnt mention this before. We owe him nothing and his rants about britian won’t help.

Sorina
Jan 9, 2013 15:27

I dread to think what would have happened the first time a Jewish person in the 1940s (before we even had a universal healthcare system quite so expansive as the one today) asked to stay in the UK if we had all said “we owe you nothing, we can’t afford your care, you knew this when you came.”

Asylum, care, healthcare and migration are part of British history we can be proud of.

What system would you prefer? What do you suggest? The point is that he has the right to at least ASK to stay given his contribution to the UK, his changing circumstances and at the minimum that the UK has a tradition of asylum based on health and medical grounds. He has the RIGHT to criticise and question. It was a UK university that probably encouraged critical thinking – that’s what UK degrees are reknowned for. How he paid for his education is up to him surely; there are many UK students who take money from all kinds of sources just to make it into uni, it’s not an offense.
If you had a friend or faily member who faced deportation with similar circumstances, would you really argue the same?

SB
Jan 11, 2013 19:01

Some good points raised by all of those who have commented so far. It is sad that he is being deported and his life depends on whether or not he stays in Britain. However, I don’t think it’s a simple case of “Britain owes you nothing” etc. Personally, I feel that Luqman and others in his position are forced to leave because of British citizens. If the government were to allow his stay then they face criticism for being weak and paying for non-nationals healthcare with citizens’ taxes which is a very touchy topic at the minute as British welfare is supposed to be for British citizens. Whereas, if they deport him they will face much less scrutiny and if he died hardly anyone would know about it. I doubt mainstream journalists will prioritize his story( as this is the first I’ve heard of it) or his death if it were to happen – this is a tactical decision unfortunately.

shabina
Feb 21, 2013 21:33

I have written to Teresa May to ask her to return this man to his country. He will likely be allowed to stay because he keeps his profile raised but we are a small land with limited resorces. We can barely afford to look after our own citizens. We are not a bottomless pit that can care for the whole world and this isn’t about one person, its about millions who see uk as the way forward. We have to be realistic

jaz
Feb 21, 2013 22:58

Mr Onikosie describes the British state as a ‘capitalist, racist system’ and yet sees this as the only way to live and survive in. Cant be that bad, can it? There seems to be a contridiction here. You describe britian, and implicity british people, as racist and then expect support an finance to see you through your health issues. Could only happen in britian, which is likely why so many seek refuge here.

anti-immigration racists make me sick
Mar 30, 2013 3:41

The racist comments here make me sick. This case is about the government killing someone because of their nationality. Pure and simple. Surely everyone has a human right to healthcare? Whining about who pays for it is a Scrooge mentality, like someone else’s life is worth less than your money.

Nigeria doesn’t have a good healthcare system because it was colonised and ruined by the UK, and is now sucked dry by international debt – which is being sucked up by the British elite.

Meanwhile, the NHS is quite happy to brain-drain countries like Nigeria, hiring their doctors to work in the UK, and further preventing them from catching up.

Then a sick person needs healthcare and the racist morons say “eff off and die”. The same racist morons who want money wasted on police and prisons. The same racist morons who will scream for the end to civil liberties because one or two people get killed by terrorists. Who say that billions on repression is worth it if “even one life is saved”. People for whom human life goes from absolute value to zero value, based on arbitrary variables of skin colour and where someone is born.

History will judge you people as harshly as it has judged the Nazis.

Sick of New Labour fanatics
May 14, 2013 20:33

I am concerned that one of the commenters thinks that everyone who disagrees with him is a racist. People who unreflectively advocate open borders are the racists, with their shallow ‘multiculturalism’ which objectifies people of other cultures; difference for the sake of difference, ideals over reality. Dear ‘anti-immigration racists make me sick commenter, ‘ please promise the people of Britain you will never vote in any election, or take up a career as a writer; you might pass as a comedian.

Anon
Jun 25, 2013 2:21

advocating humane immigration / national interests are not the same as “open borders”…

OK so britain may owe its citizens more, but in the 21st century if we have to deport people that will die when they are, then we are either economically or morally bankrupt.

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