FWD action aler: Disabled activist under threat of deportation -- support Peter
- Mr Peter Gitau Gichura, a father, a wheelchair user and activist for
disability rights from Kenya, is under threat of being deported on
Thursday 23 February, even though he has submitted a fresh claim for
He is currently detained at Harmondsworth Detention Centre. We are
extremely concerned as he is very ill and as a wheelchair user has
been placed in an inaccessible environment. He is currently fighting
to have access to healthcare, the physical care he needs and his
medication which he has not received since 11.30am. on 20 February.
Please send urgent letters of support calling for Mr Gichura to be
released from detention and allowed to remain in the UK -- see details
Mr Gichura became disabled in 1990 due to a fall from a tree while
trying to escape from the police. His spine was severely injured and
he broke both hands, and because he did not receive adequate medical
attention he later lost the use of his legs.
He started to support himself as a street-hawker (street seller) in
Nairobi. With other disabled people, he formed the Mwanzo Disabled
Development Society (MDDS) in 2000, of which he was the chairman,
giving advice and support to other disabled people.
Nairobi Council issued licences to hawk, but would revoke them without
justification. for political gain and vast corruption. Street hawkers
with all types of disability were victims of assault by the police.
The MDDS's campaigns against this violence and discrimination led to
Mr Gichura's life being in danger. On several occasions he was
arrested, detained and beaten.
The MDDS tried to set up projects for people with disabilities on
community land previously allocated to disabled people, but the local
authorities refused to allocate it. As the MDDS became more critical
of them, Mr Gichura became the target of death threats from a senior
government official and immediately after this was detained for a week
by the police. He was released with a warning to stop all campaigns.
Threats and arrests continued from then on, and the persecution
Mr Gichura and all the leading members of the MDDS had to urgently
leave Kenya. On arrival in London, in June 2001, he was sent from one
office to another to which he had to travel on foot, using crutches.
At the time he was interviewed by immigration officials, he was in
pain, exhausted and traumatised and without proper legal
representation -- which explains the minor discrepancies that the Home
Office relied on to dismiss his claim and appeals.
Mr Gichura was refused National Asylum Support Service (NASS) housing
and cash on the basis that they had no accessible accommodation, so
ever since he has had to live without cash - first in a nursing home
and then in inaccessible accommodation subsisting on £28 Tesco
vouchers a week (abolished for people getting NASS support).
Mr Gichura's health has worsened greatly since he arrived in the UK.
He is now unable to use crutches at all. He developed bladder
problems, which have worsened despite taking antibiotics since 2001.
He has unbearable pain and burning sensations. He suffers from stomach
ulcers. He has been unable to contact his wife and son who are in
hiding against persecution.
Despite all the difficulties, Mr Gichura has made a home in London,
and contributes to the community helping others, he is a valued member
of our group Payday men's network based at the Crossroads Women's
Centre, as well as regularly volunteering with Leonard Cheshire, and
an active member of the Church group, Back to God Ministries.
Mr Gichura has now presented a new application for asylum based on the
lack of access to the healthcare he needs to survive, and the fact
that he would be discriminated against in Kenya, where many people
believe disability to be a curse which can result in discrimination in
access to healthcare and other services and sometimes violent attacks
from prejudiced people.
A report by Disability Awareness in Action, a worldwide charity
previously commissioned by UNESCO to study obstacles to integration
faced by disabled people, concludes:
'In developing countries ... people with spinal injuries died within
two years of their injuries, not from lack of treatment, but because
of their living conditions. To survive the effects of bowel and
bladder dysfunction (inevitable results of spinal injury), a person
with spinal injuries requires a fully accessible and aseptic home with
modern hygienic toileting and bathing facilities. Without these
available on a daily basis the disabled person is likely to contract
uncontrollable infection of the kidneys, leading to death. . It is my
honest and considered opinion that the return of Peter Gichura to
Kenya will result in his death within a short space of time."
Rachel Hurst, Director.
What you can do
· Press the Home Office to cancel the deportation & detention
of Mr Gichura (HO Ref: G1053958):
Minister of State, Home Office, Tony McNulty,
mcnultyt@... fax: 020 7219 2417
cc: Malcolm Wicks MP: wicksm@...; fax: 020 8683 0179
Annette Elder (solicitor): annette.elder@...
fax: 020 7377 6600