A gay asylum seeker from Iran faces a second deportation from the UK, after abuse in his home country and on the streets of Germany in 2016.
The Home Office can return asylum seekers to the first European country they encounter as part of the legislation in the EU’s Dublin agreement.
Mahdi, 38, is currently waiting at Colnbrook removal centre, located near Heathrow Airport. When a flight becomes available, he will be deported to Germany where he arrived in 2016 due to facing religious and homophobic persecution in his native country, Iran. Mahdi’s partner, Mr. Kane, spoke out about his harrowing experiences sleeping rough in Germany where he experienced food poverty and abuse.
Kane said a chaotic deportation attempt in June was aborted due to the deportation causing Mahdi deep distress, resulting in severe self-harm. According to Mahdi’s partner, Germany refused to accept him due to the severity of the injuries, which were intended as suicide, and the obvious trauma that Mahdi was experiencing due to the removal.
Kane said: “He [Mahdi] was put on a plane in just his underpants covered in blood with no medical attention whatsoever. Within three hours they [Germany] put him on a plane and sent him back to England. The trauma of that and what happened in Iran and Germany has just broken him.”
Germany refused to accept him due to the severity of the injuries, which were intended as suicide, and the obvious trauma that Mahdi was experiencing due to the removal.
Kane detailed how Mahdi accessed psychiatric care after the failed removal due to nightmares and a desire to self-harm, and he currently takes medication to assist with his mental health challenges.
Both men attended a church in North London in which they are part of a close-knit community. The Winchmore Hill United Reformed Church has an ongoing campaign to raise awareness of Mahdi and his partner’s plight, keen to assist their fellow churchgoers. One member of the congregation, Ms. Khan, said losing Mahdi would be a “massive loss” for the entire community.
Church members have been to visit Mahdi in the removal centre and expressed concern about his fragile state.
Is this the face of British immigration control?
Ms. Khan added: “He is so loved here. His partner Ian is so supportive and loving. From our country’s point of view, I just don’t understand how any good can come from removing him to Germany.”
A Change.org petition set up by the church has already amassed over 25,000 signatures in hopes public awareness and activism will assist Mahdi’s case. The petition details Mahdi’s vulnerability as a gay Christian Iranian man with PTSD and issues with self-harm.
Mahdi is due to be deported on January 28 2020 and joins a long list of LGBT individuals the Home Office disbelieves and has deported to countries all over the world where they are sure to be persecuted.
Is this the face of British immigration control? While differing politics and opinions are always a part of a healthy democracy, surely unless you deem certain lives as worth less based on particular characteristics – in this case ethnicity and sexuality – you cannot tolerate this decision by the Home Office.
A man, struggling with mental health conditions, is looking for safety and he has found it in a loving community and partner. Now, it is being ripped away from him. And why? It can only be so that Home Secretary Patel’s numbers look impressive if you see dwindling numbers of immigration, regardless of the human beings at the centre of the immigration push-and-pull, as impressive.