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Playwright’s deportation prevented

FEAR: Ms Besong is terrified about what will happen if she returns to Cameroon

AN INJUNCTION  has been granted to prevent the deportation of Rochdale-based playwright and human rights activist Lydia Besong.

Ms Besong is currently detained in Yarl’s Wood, Bedfordshire, and was due to be deported to Cameroon on Monday 21 December 2009. Her husband Bernard Batey is not in detention but the UK Border Agency wanted to deport him at the same time.

The injunction prevents the removal of Lydia and Bernard until fresh evidence in their case has been considered.

Ms Besong and Mr Batey are backed by their MP Paul Rowen who wrote to Borders and Immigration Minister Phil Woolas, asking for the removal instructions to be cancelled while the fresh representations are considered.

Supporters have launched an urgent appeal to fund a judicial review of the case and the response so far has been extremely good.

Ms Besong, 38, taught English and English Literature in Cameroon but she and her husband, also 38, left three years ago to seek an asylum in the UK.

On 3 December 2009, Lydia’s play ‘How I Became An Asylum Seeker’ was performed in front of a packed house at the Zion Theatre in Hulme, Manchester.

The couple’s asylum claim is based on their activities with the Southern Cameroon National Council (SCNC), a peaceful political organisation which campaigns for the rights of the English-speaking minority of Cameroon.

In Cameroon, the couple suffered beatings, torture and imprisonment as a result of their involvement with the SCNC and Ms Besong was raped by a uniformed prison guard.

The couple have lived in Rochdale for the past three years and fear that if they return to Cameroon they will be killed.

To find out more about Ms Besong and Mr Batey’s story click here.

If you would like to help fund the judicial review contact Kath Grant at RAPAR on 07812 471047, 0161 225 2260, 0161 834 8221 or via email on kath.northernstories@googlemail.com.

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