The Forcible Deportation Of An Afghan Asylum Seeker

The Forcible Deportation Of An Afghan Asylum Seeker

With Trump's constant rhetoric among his supporters of the antagonism and fear of refugees, it's important to remember not to group people with the very groups by which they have been victimized, violated, and threatened.

Samim Bigzad, an Afghan man who fled from Afghanistan to the United Kingdom after being threatened with beheading by the Taliban, was denied his application of asylum in the country and was put on a plane to be sent back to Afghanistan. Activists quietly informed passengers of the flight at the airport that the flight would be forcibly deporting the man to Afghanistan in hopes that someone would prevent it. As three guards attempted to force him onto the plane through his refusals and shouts, including the statement "I’m going to get killed in Afghanistan," he was forced onto the flight.

But right before takeoff, the pilot of the flight, who has not yet been identified, refused to fly him much to Bigzad's shock and happiness. He was then sent back to detention in the UK.

According to an interview for The Independent with Bigzad’s cousin, "Samim said they were in the tunnel by the door when the pilot came out and said: 'You’re not going to take him, I’m not flying. Someone’s life is at risk.'"

Under the regulations of the Europe Aviation Safety Agency, a pilot is responsible for the “safety of the aircraft and of all crew members, passengers, and cargo on board.” This gives the pilot the authority to decide who gets on the plane, who doesn’t, when the plane takes off, or if it does at all.

The interview claims that Kavel Rafferty said she had given up all hope for the asylum seeker, who had been staying with her for four months, when she received a phone call from the Brook House immigration removal center near Gatwick.

“The last message I’d had from him was so sad – it just said ‘they’ve come to take me’ and then the phone was switched off,” she added.

With the pilot’s refusal to fly him, Bigzad and his family filed for asylum once again with new evidence of the threat to his life, but another deportation attempt is very much expected by the government.

The Independent also reports:

"Bigzad was repeatedly threatened by the Taliban because of his work for a construction company that had contracts with the Afghan government and American firms – both regarded as enemies by the Islamist insurgents. After receiving phone calls telling him he would be beheaded by militants who knew where he lived and worked, he risked his life to reach the UK via Turkey, Greece and France, almost suffocating in a lorry from Calais. He arrived in Britain in November 2015, moving to Kent to join relatives and care for his father, a British citizen and former Afghan national who suffers from mental illness after being imprisoned and tortured by the Taliban in the 1990s."

The activist groups are planning on employing the same strategies to prevent his deportation in the future as well as the deportation of other asylum seekers whose lives would be in great danger if they are sent back to the countries from which they fled.

To the people that claim that refugee screening is not strong enough, this is clear evidence to the contrary. Asylum seekers are forced to present evidence that many have no way of obtaining. The Home Office issues impossible requests for original documents from Kabul and other bureaucratic obstacles and set the bar far too high to prove the risk to life beyond a reasonable doubt. Many like Bigzad simply cannot meet the standards and are sent back even though their fears are very real.

With Trump's new travel ban coming into force and the constant rhetoric among his supporters of the antagonism and fear of refugees, it's important to remember not to group people with the very groups by which they have been victimized, violated, and threatened. For this reason, as time passes it is important to remember cases like Bigzad's, who provide a perfect example of this.

Cover Image Credit: Jordan Sanchez / Unsplash

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Will Enough Ever Be Enough?

Yet another school shooting in America, still nothing done. We are dying.

Tuesday, March 20th, 2018: We are all heartbroken to hear about another school shooting.

At Great Mills High School in Maryland, a 17-year-old male is pronounced dead at the scene after shooting two other students and a school resource officer. Just before their first period started, at 7:55 am, Austin Rollins shot one male and one female student with a handgun before being shot by the school's resource officer. While the 16-year-old female is in critical condition, the 14-year-old male is currently stable. This is the 17th school shooting in 2018. That's 17 days out of the past 80 that parents have gone to bed with their children in body bags as a result of gun violence.

I don't care what political party you associate with, gun violence is completely out of control. I am a registered Republican and completely agree with stricter gun laws. Learn the difference between a gun ban and sales control. Concerned citizens are not trying to take away your guns, but are trying to take away the rights from those that are risks.

Could you imagine legally having to send your child to school but never coming back? You've packed their lunch, maybe with a special note, and gave them a kiss before they left for school, not knowing that it was their last. No matter where we go, we are not safe. We can't go to malls, movie theaters, schools, or even churches without having to worry if it will be our last trip. Our homes, our places of worship, and our schools are supposed to be the places where we feel safest and, instead, our children are filled with fear. Instead of focusing on the political views that divide these groups, why don't we focus on what unites us? Why don't we focus on protecting our kin?

Everyone has had an opinion on the walkouts that have been happening around the country. Everyone has had an opinion on the 17 minutes of silence for the 17 children lost in the Florida shooting. I've seen people disgusted that Nickelodeon had 17 minutes of broadcast cut because it "interrupted the only program [I] let [my] children watch".

If your child was shot at school, you wouldn't have to worry about what programs they watch, but rather where to bury them and how to afford their memorial.

I've seen people saying that it's no wonder that Millenials are dumb. They "find any excuse to cut class". Have you thought about the fact that they are genuinely worried about going to school?

Personally, I've experienced both a shooting scare at my high school and a bomb threat at my college. I shouldn't have to worry about my life ending. I'm legally forced to go to high school and get an education or I'm putting myself into a lifetime of debt to get a degree.

We are all too young to stress about gun violence. Our school years are supposed to be the times our of lives, but they're being wasted on worrying about dying every day.

Rest in peace to all of those who have lost their lives in shootings, not only this year, but always. Hopes, thoughts, and prayers go out to their loved ones. One day, we will unite and find a solution.

We need to work together and forget the labels of parties and cliques in school and look out for one another instead. There is no kind but mankind.

Cover Image Credit: Boston Herald

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The Republican Versus Democrat Stigma Needs To Slow Down

We Need To Be Individual Again

We as a society have developed an unnecessary need to place people in a specific party based on what could be a single value out of many. This is a letter for those who do not define themselves as one or the other; for those whose values range between conservative and liberal, for those who feel the unfortunate pressure of society to choose one even though your values do not fit just one.

The political parties at one point generally just meant “these are my basic beliefs, so this is the candidate I will vote for because they most closely represent them.” Party affiliation was harmless. Republicans and Democrats could get along fine, differing opinions not getting in the way of relationships and alignment. More importantly, you did not have to be part of a specific political party to be an active member of society. Your opinions and principles were yours.

Over the years following the last two election races, political parties gained a much more significant and defining meaning in our lives as individuals and as members of society. There is a newly developed stigma behind political opinions. You are almost pressured to feel one way or another about every single topic. If a majority of your values are of the conservative agenda, you must be a heart-and-all Republican. In contrast, if you are more liberal-leaning you are docked as a set Democrat. We as citizens are being labeled according to what may be a few hard-values. And dishearteningly enough, can be ridiculed for what we value. Even if you might not value everything the same as your determined party.

There exists those of us that hold values from both parties. It is possible to value women’s rights and also value a traditional marriage. It is possible to be a gun owner and also active in keeping children safe in school. You do not have to just submit to every belief of one party. You can value aspects of different parties and still be a functioning member of the American society. Do not let the looming obligation to declare yourself as strictly one or the other. You do not have to pretend you agree with everything Democratic or everything Republican; you can have your own values. And you should. Our society is messed up in the way that values are pushed on citizens. We are meant to be free individuals with our private values.

It is not fair to those of us who value different things. Not every American is a to-the-bone Democrat or Republican. It is possible to hold liberal beliefs as a conservative person. And Vice-Versa. We need to stop labeling one another as one or the other, conservative or liberal. We need to stop silencing each other because we have differing views. We need to accept not everyone is perfectly one party, and diversity exists. Open mindedness exists in Americans, despite the seemingly growing generalizations. We need to be able to agree to disagree on certain topics.
Cover Image Credit: LexiHanna

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