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Update 22/08/13 (see right hand column) - Houcine has ended his hunger strike following a humanitarian visit from Cllr Afzal Khan in his capacity as the Executive Lead on Children and Families for Manchester City Council, along with two Moss Side Councillors, Alistair Cox and Roy Walters.
The following press release gives key details of Houcine and his wife Alma's fight for justice:
The Manchester-based Human Rights organisation working with displaced people
>>> PRESS RELEASE for immediate release
>>> July 26th 2013
Manchester father of three vows he will stay on hunger strike until there is justice or death
Home Office accept that return to Algeria could lead to his imprisonment and torture…and want the family to go to Bosnia instead
“Eat, sleep, drink is nothing without my dignity, to be able to protect my family…”
After a 13 year struggle to achieve safety, a Manchester family are living on tenterhooks each day in their Moss Side home after the Home Office refused their asylum and human rights claim on July 12th.
Three days later, on July 15th, the father, Houcine, who is originally from Algeria, began a hunger strike. Drinking only water, he is at home with his Bosnian wife, Alma, and their three children, all of who were born in the UK. The eldest child is 11 and is now entitled to register as a British citizen.
The Home Office say that Houcine cannot stay here because of a conviction handed down by an Italian court, which was undefended and for which Houcine has since been pardoned.
Houcine believes the hunger strike is the only option he has left to fight the Home Office’s continued refusal of his asylum claim, and says he is being forced to take this drastic action to publicise the injustice he has encountered. He explains: “Why have I gone on hunger strike? Is there any other way, is there any other door to open to stop this injustice? I gave them proof after proof but they closed their eyes and ears, not wanting to see or hear the truth. Do they know the truth about us better than we do?”
He goes on: “They act against me without proof. I feel that they dealt with me in an inhuman way. Eat, sleep, drink is nothing without my dignity and the ability to protect my family. That’s why I'm not going to stop my hunger strike until I get my rights and my dignity as a human being.”
Alma, the mother of the family, is from Bosnia, where the couple first met. While they were there, an attempt on their lives by the Algerian security forces resulted in serious injury to both of them, a miscarriage for Alma, and two years in a wheelchair while she recovered. Alma explains: “We have been in this country for 13 years. When we arrived in 2000, my husband applied for asylum because of threats he received in Algeria. When we lived together in Bosnia, these threats continued. The Home Office accept that, were they to return Houcine to Algeria, he would be subject to imprisonment and torture. They say though, that as I am a Bosnian national, he would be safe in Bosnia, and they expect all of us to return there. It is not safe for us to return to Bosnia.”
The Bosnian state authorities operate a policy of returning those originally from Arabic countries to their countries of origin, without regard to their family, children or any ties to Bosnia. There are already many examples of this policy, increasing the likelihood that Houcine would be sent directly to Algeria immediately upon arrival in Bosnia.
After 13 years in the UK, the family have longstanding friends who are very upset about what is happening. Amra Yasharavich says: “Being close family friends, I can honestly say that I am shocked that this has happened to a normal family who have ambitions like any other family; to educate their children; and to fulfil their dreams to the fullest. This is breaking the family apart, and thus ruining their dreams which they have the right to pursue. We hope peace and justice will be brought to this family.”
Debi, the mother of one of the children’s school friends, says: “I am supporting the Senoussaoui family as I have known them for two years, initially through my work as a teaching assistant and more recently as my son and their son are in the same class at school and have become best friends. I am deeply concerned about the devastating effect it will have on the whole family if they are deported to Bosnia and moreover the effect it will have on the children if they are uprooted from their home, school and friends.”
The three children of the Senoussaoui family were all born in the UK. The eldest son, being 11 years old, is entitled to register as a British citizen in his own right. One of his two sisters is almost 10, the other is four. They are all settled here, having never known life anywhere else.
Alma, who is caring for Houcine and the children at home, describes a close and loving family: “Relaxing at the house, reading quietly, taking in the sweet smell that comes from the pots, sitting around a table with the family and going out with my husband and children. When you can no longer enjoy these simple pleasures the most valuable thing is taken away from you… We cannot be made to leave the life we know and be taken to a country where my children will likely never see their father again.”
As of 27/07/13 Houcine’s hunger strike is on Day 12.
For more information contact: Dr Rhetta Moran 07776264646 | Kath Grant 07758386208
See www.rapar.org.uk/justice-for-houcine.html for news updates
22/08/13 - Houcine ends hunger strike (press release)
The Manchester-based Human Rights organisation working with displaced people
PRESS RELEASE - for immediate release
August 22nd 2013
Manchester father of three ends hunger strike following humanitarian visit from City Council’s Executive Lead for Children and Families
“Every bite I took, I felt guilty eating it knowing my husband was starving himself to death just to gain back his dignity” - Alma Senoussaoui
“On a humanitarian level, my colleagues and I wanted to visit Houcine and his family to ensure their welfare during what has been a difficult and traumatic time” - Cllr Afzal Khan
After 29 days on hunger strike Houcine Senoussaoui, who alongside his wife Alma has been fighting for 13 years to achieve safety for their three children and themselves, agreed to resume eating. This followed an approach by RAPAR to Cllr Afzal Khan in his capacity as the Executive Lead on Children and Families for Manchester City Council.
Cllr Khan visited Houcine, Alma and their children at their home along with two Moss Side Councillors, Alistair Cox and Roy Walters.
Cllr Khan explained: “As councillors, we have no jurisdiction over asylum claims but, on a humanitarian level, my colleagues and I wanted to visit Houcine and his family to ensure their welfare during what has been a difficult and traumatic time.
“I am glad Houcine has chosen to end his hunger strike and will continue to follow his case with interest.”
Houcine started his hunger strike on 15th July, three days after the Home Office refused the family’s asylum and human rights claim. All their children were born here and their eldest, being 11, has his own British passport. But the Home Office said that Houcine could not stay in the UK because of a conviction handed down by an Italian court – even though the charge was undefended and Houcine has since been pardoned by the court in Milan. Houcine believed a hunger strike was the only option he had left to fight the Home Office’s continued refusal of his asylum claim and to publicise the injustice he had encountered.
After the councillors' visit, Houcine explained:“I am very grateful to the councillors that they have come to see us and shown their concerns and support towards me and my family. The 29 days without food was not easy but, compared to 13 years of home office torture, it was very easy. I have only 2 options: win my case or die here.”
The councillors reassured Houcine that they are aware of the case and want to do everything possible to support the family and the children until a resolution can be found.
Houcine's solicitor has submitted an appeal against the Home Office decision to reject the asylum claim. But currently, following drastic cuts in public spending on legal services, there is a delay of up to 16 weeks before appeals in immigration cases can be heard.
Alma, the mother of the family, is from Bosnia, where the couple first met. While they were there, an attempt on their lives by the Algerian security forces resulted in serious injury to both of them, a miscarriage for Alma, and two years in a wheelchair while she recovered.
Now, Alma says: “The past month was the hardest month in my life. Every bite I took I felt guilty eating it knowing that my husband was starving himself to death just to gain back his dignity. I'm happy that he's going to be able to have dinner with us but at the same time I understand that there is a long way to go and the fight for justice has just begun. I would like to thank the councillors for visiting our house and offering their help and support. I'm very grateful to them.”
When they arrived in the UK in 2000, Houcine applied for asylum because of threats he received in Algeria and which continued when he and Alma lived together in Bosnia. The Home Office accept that, if Houcine is returned to Algeria, he would be subject to imprisonment and torture. But they say that, as Alma is a Bosnian national, he would be safe in Bosnia, and they expect all the family to return there.
However, the Bosnian state authorities operate a policy of returning those originally from Arabic countries to their countries of origin, without regard to their family, children or any ties to Bosnia. There are already many examples of this policy, increasing the likelihood that Houcine would be sent directly to Algeria immediately upon arrival in Bosnia.
- ENDS -
For further information contact:
Kath Grant -
07758386208 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr Rhetta Moran -
07776264646 | email@example.com
12/08/13 - URGENT: Call for emails
As of today Houcine has been on hunger strike for 28 days (four weeks). Please spare a few minutes to email the Home Secretary and the Minister for Immigration, and your local MP. (Although MPs will not act directly on behalf of someone who is not their constituent, they have in the past been willing to lend their name in support of the relevant MP, in this case Lucy Powell for Manchester Central.) Model letters are available below if required - adapt as you see fit and paste into the body of the email (rather than attaching as a Word doc), but be sure to include Houcine's Home Office reference number S1081428 and the main points of the case.
Click here for a model letter to email to the Home Secretary and to the Minister for Immigration.
Click here for a model letter to email to your MP asking her/him to support Lucy Powell regarding Houcine's campaign. MPs' email addresses can be found by searching here (enter your postcode, click 'Find MP', and then click on the MP's name when it comes up).
Houcine began his hunger strike on 15/07/13. This page has been set up to provide information and up-to-date bulletins on the family's campaign. News and updates will appear here.