'It has got to the point where there is no other way out': Kurdish-Iraqi family on hunger strike in Glasgow tell their story

Family have spent the past 24-hours without food or water outside Border and Immigration offices. 

A FAMILY have taken to hunger striking to pressure the Home Office to take a decision on their right to remain in Scotland after 18 years of waiting.

The Kurdish-Iraqi Kamil family set up camp outside of the Border and Immigration Agency on Brand Street in Glasgow yesterday [27 June] afternoon after having their last breakfast together as a family at their home in Riddrie and say they won’t move or eat until a decision has been reached on their citizenship status.

They slept on the street last night and have been on hunger strike for over 24-hours now, not even drinking water. 

“It has go to the point that there is no other way out. There is no justice, so the only way out is to put our lives at risk,” the daughter, Banaz, told CommonSpace.

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The family say the situation has come to a head recently when Banaz (pictured below) had her application for university rejected because she did not have a passport. They say they have done all they could through official channels.

Banaz added: “I have ID from when I first arrived in the country. There is a photo of me on it from when I was five years old but that is all the identification I have. If the police stopped me I can give any name or age because I have no identification. “

Serbaz (pictured below), the oldest brother, has had his own business for three years but says he must travel to China to meet suppliers himself. He cannot do so without his passport and says his business will stagnate until such times as he is allowed to leave the country.

Daban (pictured below) has graduated from Strathclyde University with a degree in engineering. When he made his application the family had just been granted temporary one-year leave to remain passports.

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 He said: “I have just graduated in mechanical engineering at Strathclyde but didn’t attend the graduation ceremony because it means nothing to me because I don’t have the right papers to go and get a job.

“Although, I did get offered a job - got through all the interview stages and then rejected at the end because I did not have a passport. With engineering you travel to work and go to do courses in foreign countries and learn new stuff. They are not going to invest in you, and train you just for you to be stuck here.”

He agrees with his sister that they have no other option now but direct action because, he says, the authorities are refusing to listen to them.

Daban continued: “Since 2013 they have just said your case is outstanding but yesterday they looked at it and said we are not a priority and it hadn’t been reviewed in five years. We have contacted local politicians and MPs and they send letters to the Home Office, but we get nothing back. It is only normal people who seem to want to help us. Scottish people are why we are still here. The normal people in Scotland help anyone.” 

Dastan (pictured below) is the youngest of the brothers and at aged 19 has already forged out a very promising career as a boxer.

Like the rest of the Kamils his career has reached a glass ceiling and he feels like he won’t go much further without his passport.

“I just need the passport to take it that bit further,” he said. “I won the Scottish Championships and was asked to go across to Serbia to compete in a well paid tournament but was unable to go due to not having a passport. I did go to the UK Championships in England and got a silver medal. I have been told by the coaches at the Scottish team that there are opportunities so this is me acting on that by trying to get my passport.” 

CommonSpace contacted the Home Office for comment but they had not responded by time of publication.