Monday, 12 November 2007

Support Constance Nzenu's Anti-Deportation Campaign

The rich are allowed to move to which ever country will give them the biggest tax break but poor and working class people face demonisation and harrassment. Cardiff RESPECT says: No deportations!

Constance arrived in the UK in April 2005. Her asylum claim has been rejected and she is now facing imminent removal to Cameroon, the country from which she fled.

Constance left Cameroon because she was being forced into an arranged marriage that she did not want to engage in. Constance was living a happy life in Cameroon; she had completed her second degree in Law and was about to enroll for her PhD until the direction of her life was taken out of her hands.

Her father had made an arrangement with his friend for Constance to marry him in exchange for a large amount of money. Constance was not consulted in this matter. The man she was being forced to marry was from a different tribe. He is a Muslim. Constance is a Christian. She would be his third wife.

The condition on which Constance was to enter into this marriage was that she would undergo Female Genital Mutilation, which is widespread among Muslim communities in Cameroon.

Nationally, the United Nations estimates that about 20 percent of women in Cameroon are victims of circumcision, which can be carried out at any stage: at birth, during early childhood, in the course of adolescence, just before marriage or after the birth of the first child.

USA Report on Human Rights Practices:

Cameroon 2006

“Cameroon law does not prohibit female genital mutilation (FGM), Internal migration contributed to the spread of FGM to different parts of the country. The majority of FGM procedures were clitorectomies. The severest form of FGM, infibulation, was performed in the Kajifu region of the Southwest Province. FGM usually was practiced on infants and preadolescent girls. Public health centers in areas where FGM is frequently practiced counseled women about the harmful consequences of FGM; however, the government did not prosecute any persons charged with performing FGM. The Association of Women Against Violence continued to conduct a program in Maroua to assist victims of FGM and their families and to educate local populations. During the year breast ironing emerged as another form of violence against women, practiced in an effort to protect prematurely well-developed young girls from predatory older men. NGOs were leading public awareness campaigns to combat this practice.”

Constance refused to enter into this marriage and the matter was taken to court by the ‘fiancé.’ Constance similarly refused to go to the court hearing because she knew, from her education in Law in Cameroon, that the outcome of the case would be in the man’s favour.

Constance then left her family where she had been living, a search warrant was issued and the police became involved. Her Father also put an announcement out in a national newspaper offering a reward for anyone who returned her to the family because if the marriage didn’t go ahead they would owe the ‘fiancé’ the dowry money and be shamed within the community.

If Constance is forced to return to Cameroon she faces an uncertain and unhappy future: there will be recriminations from the police, the court, the ‘fiancé’ and her family, all because she refused to engage in the arranged marriage and the consequences of this marriage.

Constance would like to be free of persecution in Wales where she now lives; allowed to remain in Britain and become a European citizen in order to be able to work her way up in life and bring up her British born child in a Human Rights friendly environment.

‘Friends of Constance and Andrea’ are now campaigning to keep them in Cardiff.

Constance Nzeneu is an asset to the Cardiff community where she has lived for 2 years and three months. Her son Andreas was born here. Andreas’s father is German. He works in between Germany and the UK, and they have an ongoing relationship.

In the years she has lived in Cardiff, Constance has actively participated in the community and has made many friends here. She is an active member of the Heath Evangelical Church and Refugee Voice Wales and she has volunteered for Displaced People In Action and Black African Women Stepping Out. All these organisations have valued her contribution highly.

For more information about how you can help Constance, see here


Greg Lewis said...

Excellent post.

Here's another case worthy of support. This is from my column in the current Big Issue Cymru:

If the authorities had had their way, young mum Veneera Aliyeva would have been on a flight back to Baku on November 1.
She wasn't, but the Government is still desperate to deport her and her children.
The reason she’s still in the UK, albeit in the uncomfortable surroundings of Yarl's Wood removal centre, is down to a campaign in Swansea, where she’s lived for the last 17 months.
According to Asylum Justice, 40-year-old Veneera (sometimes Venera) has been persecuted on two counts in Azerbaijan: because she is a Baptist and an Armenian.
Married to an Azeri, she was always careful to keep her own ethnicity secret.
Then, in 1997 she was spotted visiting her mother's grave in an Armenian graveyard in Baku. She’d given herself away and the harassment began.
The congregation of the church at which she’d been secretly baptised was interviewed by police.
According to Asylum Justice: “Veneera was accused of abusing Islam, hit and then raped twice. She hid all this from her husband. The church was closed.”
On December 31, 2002, she persuaded her husband to flee the country. They claimed asylum in the UK but were sent back to Azerbaijan.
On their return her husband was taken away and she was beaten and accused of being a terrorist.
She fled again, this time leaving her husband behind, reaching the UK to settle in Swansea.
Her children, Murat and Anna, aged 13 and 11, attended a local school.
However, she was refused refugee status and in September, as she waited her appeal, immigration officers arrived at dawn to take her away.
Of course, if you or I wanted to move abroad we would expect the Crown on our British passport to be the key to virtually any country in the world. I mean, why not, we’re British!
And if Veneera was one of Baku’s oil millionaires she’d be welcomed, her wealth would be protected by many of Gordon Brown’s tax policies and she would probably get to buy a football club.
Unfortunately for Veneera she is a victim, not really what our country needs, and we want rid of her as swiftly as possible.
As I write she’s in a lot of pain – having panic attacks and being unable to sleep without medication. By the time you read this the authorities may well have got the final permission to send her back to Azerbaijan.
In the meantime lots of letters with Swansea postmarks have been winging their way to Home Secretary Jacqui Smith as neighbours, fellow worshippers and young friends of Murat and Anna try to get the family returned to Wales.


Respectable Citizen said...

Thanks Greg - the post wasn't written by us! But we support all anti-deportation campaigns 110%! The info is from the Campaign for Constance and was forwarded to us by No Borders Wales.

I will forward the information about Veneera to our comrades in Swansea RESPECT.

best wishes,

Adam Johannes