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FWD action aler: Disabled activist under threat of deportation -- support Peter

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  • Keith Armstrong
    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,
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 23, 2006
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      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
      asylum.

      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
      below.
      Background

      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
      became unbearable.

      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
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