Rochdale playwright detained for deportation

DETAINED: Lydia Besong is due to be deported on Monday 21 December 2009

SUPPORTERS of Rochdale playwright Lydia Besong are demanding her release after she was detained for deportation on Thursday 10 December 2009.

Ms Besong, who fled Cameroon in 2006 after being subjected to discrimination, persecution, torture and rape, was detained  at the Home Office Reporting Centre at Dallas Court in South Langworthy Road in Salford Quays.

She was detained when she went to sign in at the centre  and the Home Office now plan to deport her on Monday 21 December 2009.

Ms Besong, whose play
‘How I Became an Asylum Seeker’ was staged at the Zion Theatre in Hulme, Manchester, last week, has now been moved to the Yarl’s Wood Detention Centre in Bedfordshire to await deportation.

Manchester human rights charity RAPAR is hosting a vigil on the steps of the Friends’ Meeting House in Mount Street, Manchester, on Saturday 12 December 2009 at 3pm so people can show their support for Ms Besong.

Robert Sharp, of English PEN, the charity which campaigns for writers and playwrights internationally, has called for Ms Besong’s immediate release saying: “This is a blow for freedom of speech. With this detention, Lydia’s fledgling literary career will be cut short. It is astonishing that the UK plans to deport someone who has been seeking refuge from a government that attacked her just for exercising her right to freedom of expression.”

MP Paul Rowen, who in an earlier article told Manchester Mouth that he believed Ms Besong and her husband Bernard Batey had “a genuine case for political asylum”, is now working with lawyers to secure her release.

Both Ms Besong and her husband Bernard Batey were tortured in Cameroon, a country known for consistently contravening its national and international human rights obligations.

As well as being tortured in jail, Ms Besong was raped by one of the guards. This happened because the couple were members of the SCNC [Southern Cameroon National Council], an organisation which is fighting for the freedom and liberation of southern Cameroon [English Speaking Cameroon].

Campaigners are also asking people to contact the Home Office urging for Ms Besong’s immediate release and Quoting HO Ref: B1236372. You should fax the Home Office on 0208-760-3132 or email,, and cc

If you would like to read more about Ms Besong’s story see Manchester Mouth’s previous article about her by clicking here.


One Response

  1. Supporters are now being urged to write to Home Secretary Alan Johnson, Immigration Minister Phil Woolas and Kenya Airways on Ms Besong’s behalf.

    After being detained in Manchester she was moved to and is currently being held at Yarl’s Wood Detention Centre and is due to be forcibly removed from the UK on a Kenya Airways flight from Heathrow on Monday 21 December 2009 at 7pm.

    This week her lawyer submitted extensive new evidence to the Home Office showing that both Ms Besong and her husband were active human rights practioners in Cameroon and that they have continued their human rights work in the UK.

    They have both worked tirelessly at RAPAR (Refugee and Asylum Seekers Participatory Action Research) and WAST (Women Asylum-Seekers Together) with people in similar situations to their own.

    For more information contact RAPAR on 07812 471047 or 0161 225 2260.

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