Deportation tale told on stage

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Bury Times

Deportation tale told on stage (From Bury Times)

A BURY couple are continuing their fight to stay in the UK — as a play inspired by their plight is performed in London.

Lydia Besong and Bernard Batey fled Cameroon in 2006 and settled in Rochdale, before moving to Kestrel Drive, Bury, in February this year.

They allege they were persecuted for their involvement with political pressure group Southern Cameroon National Council (SCNC), which campaigns for the rights of the country’s English-speaking minority.

It is claimed they were beaten, tortured and imprisoned, and Mrs Besong was raped by a uniformed prison guard.

The couple’s original claim for asylum was turned down by the UK Border Agency last year and a fresh claim was submitted in December, 2009, while Mrs Besong was in detention.

But their new claim was rejected last month and the couple now await their appeal to be heard in Manchester on December 8, following a preliminary hearing yesterday.

Mrs Besong, who taught English and English literature in Cameroon, said: “I will keep fighting. I am very worried about going back to Cameroon. The same Government is in power and they are still persecuting members of the SCNC.”

Mrs Besong, aged 39, became involved with the Manchester-based WAST (Women Asylum Seekers Together) after settling in the UK.

It inspired her to write a play based on her experiences, including the time she spent at Yarlswood Detention Centre last Christmas.

The play, named How I Became An Asylum Seeker, will be performed at Riverside Studios in Hammersmith, London, on Sunday, with Mrs Besong among the cast of actors. It will be followed by a panel discussion chaired by actor Juliet Stevenson.

The couple are being supported by Manchester-based human rights organisation RAPAR (Refugees’ and Asylum Seekers’ Participatory Action Research).

A RAPAR spokesman said: “It is ironic that the UK Border Agency has refused the couple’s asylum claim when Lydia’s play is helping to raise widespread awareness about asylum issues.”

A Border Agency spokesman said: “We cannot comment on this ongoing court case.”

Burry News on Deportation of SCNC activist


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