Great news! Tanjir Sugar who I blogged about two weeks ago is out of detention for now. I received the below email from him yesterday. We still have a lot of work ahead of us to ensure that he – and other apostates – are granted protection…
Thank you very much for your kind support to me.
After 23 days of traumatic detention I was released on temporary admission on 26th March evening. My case is further scheduled to be heard in mid April 2012. I will keep fighting to establish rights for apostates and blasphemers. We, as ex-muslims must not live in fear of persecution.
I cant wait to meet you and discuss next course of action.
Thank you very much.
Here’s the initial post:
14 March was an important day to remember blasphemers and apostates languising under Sharia law.
However, we would do well to remember all those apostates in detention here the UK and the west who have applied for asylum but instead been been dehumanised and criminalised by the British and other governments.
To mark the end of the day of action, I’d like to bring attention to one such case – a member of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain – Tanjir Sugar. We helped him find a lawyer and gave him a letter of support. He was detained when he went to apply for asylum.
Clearly Tanjir’s life and freedom are at risk for renouncing Islam. He must be immediately released and granted asylum. Full stop.
Read his statement below:
Is it my fault to be born in Bangladesh and become an apostate and ask asylum in the UK to save my life??
I have applied for asylum in the UK at Lunar House, Croydon on the 3rd March 2012 along with my wife. I had pre booked appointment to come for screening on that day. I have reasons to believe that the immigration officer who was in charge conducting the screening interview was personally biased as she had in her own right detained me unlawfully. I do believe that UKBA and English Legal System are absolutely fair and just and I am looking for fair trial and justice. In this regard I am making this pledge and hoping justice will be done.
I reported to the Asylum Screening Centre and was searched thoroughly. My wife and I thought that the screening would take maximum 4 hours and would be given a further date for actual interview. After taking the token we began the long wait. I was very much stressed, and I could not have breakfast. Being a diabetic patient it was important for me to have proper meals and my medication at proper intervals. I thought I would find some eatery or canteen somewhere in the compound.
When my number was called, I found out that the immigration officer dealing my case was a woman in a Hijab. In the name of equal opportunity, I was optimistic and thought that sitting in the UKBA she would definitely act professionally without being prejudiced and I will not be a victim of discrimination on grounds of religion. I was sooo wrong.
While screening, she asked me what was the reason for claiming asylum. I plainly stated ‘religious persecution if I go back to Bangladesh’. She raised her eyebrow and asked, “Can you elaborate?” I explained to her the reasons, stating that death sentence is the penalty for apostates and freethinkers. She commented, “This is not entirely true as I am Muslim and I know it does not happen.” Before I offered a detailed explanation she stopped me and said, “Ok. I am not going to listen to your full story as I am not going to be your case owner. I will just take initial information.”
Then when entering my name, I handed over to her an original of deed poll through which I have changed my surname from “SHAGAR” to “SUGAR”. After looking at it she told me, “I cannot accept it.” I was surprised and asked why not? She replied, “This is not a legal instrument and it cannot be accepted.” I said to her, “But ma’m everybody else recognized this instrument as a legal tool to change my name. And accordingly my bank, legal authorities, DVLA and even Security Industry Authority (SIA) – who are a part of home office has changed my surname.” She adamantly replied, “This is not anyone, it is the UKBA. And this is not acceptable here.” I was literally speechless. She then went on saying, “I can not accept this, but I will put this name as an alias and keep the paper in the file.” Saying that, she kept the original of the deed poll. I objected saying, “This is my name now and not an alias. And I would prefer to be called by my new surname as it is now my name.” She plainly replied, “Sorry. I can not do that. I will still call you by your previous name and the previous name will be kept on file as I do not recognize your new name.” I was out of words as I did not know how else to respond her.
Then she started asking about my visa details as to when I had applied for an extension. She questioned me, “When did you convert and what did you convert to?” I tried explaining to her that I went through a period of transformation and a fixed time cannot be ascertained saying exactly when I have converted. And to be more specific there is no conversion as I lost my faith, but as usual Muslims will never listen. She was adamant to establish that I have converted and kept asking me what I had converted to. The more I tried explaining that I had not converted to anything, the more she pressed. Then I explained, “Well, you may call us Humanist.” Then she asked me again when I turned into a humanist. I answered that the process began sometime in mid 2010. Later I found out that in her notes she mentioned that I had become an active humanist from July 2010 which is not correct. I challenged before signing and she said ‘it’s just an initial statement and the case owner will hear the facts straight from you.’ So to get the process moving she asked me to sign it. In reality I became an active member of British Humanist Association in early 2012 and was involved with Council of Ex-Muslims, UK from mid 2011. It did not look like she ever cared.
Later she told me that if I was going through the transformation from July 2010 and applied for a visa extension in Oct/ Nov 2010, why did I not mention this in the visa form. Realistically, threats to my life did not start appearing before Feb/March 2011 when I decided to publicly renounce Islam. But she just would not hear of it. Her mindset was to frame me in any way possible. She was busy to establish that, if I perceived that there would be trouble and I might need to claim asylum, why had I not mentioned it before my extension. I just could not get it through to her that the hazard to my life and my family was not foreseen before Jan/ Feb 2011 during when I publicly renounced Islam.
Then I slowly it dawned on me that I am definitely going to be framed. She, being a devout muslim would not be professional to an infidel who is a big threat to the political ideology named Islam. During our conversation when I mentioned that Islam is a political ideology and a threat to humanity, she was clearly agitated. I saw the sparks in her eyes. I must mention here that to a proper muslim, slaying of an infidel or an apostate is a direct ticket to heaven. When I was muslim I felt the same way too. As a muslim you are taught that this life is short life considering the afterlife. His life is only like 2 minutes long in comparison to the eternal afterlife. So you must be a good muslim on this earth to be rewarded with 72 virgins and wealth in your afterlife. And to be a good muslim, you must destroy anything which is anti-Islam. On top of the target list is Infidels (Unbelievers) and the west. And amongst the unbelievers, the sect that tops it are people who were once believers – the apostates – murtaad, munafiq – people like me. If you are not able to slay them, make their life as much hell as possible – as you will be rewarded for this is your afterlife.
Then she tells me, “Since you have used deception in obtaining the visa extension, we are going to do a further interview and a taped interview.” She also added that it is just a procedural thing and will not affect my claim for asylum. At that point I was quite shattered as I had not eaten all day, I was going hypoglycemic and needed some rest. Before beginning of the interview I did mention to her that I am going hypoglycemic and would need some food or coffee with sugar. She told me there is no food and reluctantly got someone to get me a cup of coffee.
Towards the evening we began our taped interview. After the regular name checks, etc, she told me directly that I have committed a crime of deception. I have instantly objected to her comment and said, “Excuse me, but I completely disagree and why are you judging me like that for?” She instantly became cautious and said she did not judge, me she was just verifying the facts. I did tell her, “You do know there is a real threat to my life if I am back in Bangladesh and it is imminent. I am alive in the UK as I am protected by secular legal system here which prohibits sha’ria law. And you do understand being a muslim yourself that what treatment I might get as an apostate.” If anyone calls on that tape and listens to our conversation, he/she will be clear that she did not have a professional approach as she did make comments in favor of Islam. I was not in the state of doing the tape interview as by that time my physical condition was worsening as I was just living on chocolate bars from the vending machine. However, after the taped interview she said, “It will not be long now and you will be able to leave just as we make your cards.” I queried where our next interview would be. Here she deceived me and answered, “Your actual interview will be held at the communications house at Old Street.”
To my utter misery at around 1800 (can’t remember the exact time), one man and a female escorted us downstairs and got us seated in a secluded room, slapped the papers on the table and said, “You are detained.”
I was shocked out of my wits. My physical condition was really terrible by then and I could not resist. I was so shocked that I was out of words. I just said, “I am a human you know, and I have rights, how can you take my liberty away like that?”
The man said, and to quote verbatim, “You sir, applied for an asylum and we can very well take your liberty away and you have no human rights.”
Looking at his furious eyes I knew if I protested he would just hit me in the face. I presumed this man must be another muslim. I was extremely scared of my life as I was brought down to underground level and if I said anything, he would probably hurt me and my wife and say he had to do it in self defense and applied reasonable force. I mentioned to him that my car is parked outside and is on a pay parking at a shopping mall and I have a lovely kitten at home, if I don’t go back she might die and my room is not safely locked. Also mentioned that I am diabetic with severe hypertension and on medication. I am also highly myopic and I was on daily contact lenses so someone must go and get me my glasses. The lady rudely said there is nothing they can do and we have to live with it.
My wife asked the man why are we being detained? He replied that, “You had the trouble in Bangladesh in 2007 and obtained student visa with false intention.” My wife replied, “But that is not true, as our problem and life threatening circumstances started in 2011 and not in 2007.” He replied, “Whatever it is, you are now detained. Your application will be fast tracked and you will be sent out of the UK.”
With his and her enormous power our rights as human beings were taken away. They left us with 2 officers from Reliance, man named Michael and a woman (forgot her name). At that point all I could say is, “Please get me some food, I think I am dying.” My wife was absolutely shocked but she handled it well and stopped me from having a breakdown.
I collapsed in a chair and called my colleague and my friend Arun (He is such a close friend that I take him as my family and my guardian). He was utterly surprised. I requested him to come there immediately to meet me. I was not permitted to meet my friend but was allowed to pass on the car keys and my house key. I could not believe how easily they made us cattle. Am I to believe that Human Rights Act is a farce, or does it apply only to Europeans? What is my fault to be punished like this?? Is it the fact that I was unlucky enough to be born in a country like Bangladesh and to leave Islam? Do I not have a free will?
Against all my will and beyond my consent my wife and I were moved to Yarl’s Wood IRC that very night in one garment. By the time I reached at Yarl’s Wood I was shattered. My further report does explain conducts at Yarl’s Wood.
On 5th March 2012 in morning I was met by Heather, who was home office representative. She had not sufficient information about my wife. She also explained that our case was to be determined through fast track process. She seemed to be a helpful and reasonable person. When I requested her to explain why was I accused to have conducted deception, she explained that she would not go through the details but she would get an advisor (who is also acts as one of the case owners) to satisfy my query. In 10 minutes time I met Brian (Sorry, did not get the last name). After he went through the documents that I was served and listening to my explanations I saw him browsing through his immigration law manual. Then he explained, “With the information I have in front of me and from what you have told me, I find no reason for your detention. You have clearly publicly become an apostate in 2011 and after your last extension you have not gone outside the UK. So I do not see how it constitutes to be verbal deception.” He also pointed out that I may have valid ground to lodge a complaint to UKBA explaining that the way my case was handled was not right.
I have also mentioned to Brian about my name change issue and how the lady Immigration Officer Ms. Ahmed Silla did not recognize that deed poll as an official instrument of name change. Brian was surprised and did note that my surname should be changed as per the deed poll. I appreciated the way Brian recognized the facts and gave us good advice.
At this juncture of my life, I cannot understand why the immigration officer lady was so vindictive towards me that she made me suffer like this? How typical of a muslim that no matter what circumstances are, a devout muslim will destroy anything that can challenge the fake political ideology of Islam. I did not get fair treatment. I cannot bear to think that, if such discriminative conduct can take place in a secular state as the UK where we are protected by our secular democratic laws, what may happen in places like Bangladesh, where the total population regulates their lives around extreme Islamic values…
As I am sitting in the IT department at Yarl’s Wood, I am not sure if this life is really worth living anymore. I have been detained illegally, and this mental torture that I am going through is foreseeable to keep a permanent scar in my mental state. The last three days of my life will probably haunt me forever if I am alive. My wife is continuously crying and been depressed. She has nightmares every night. I don’t know what grievous sins I had committed to deserve this? Was my fault to leave a religion which professes destruction and violence and which is not true at all and in addition to be born in a country like Bangladesh?
I am still hopeful that justice will be served.
Yarl’s Wood IRC, Bedford