A judge has ruled that Manjeet, who is Chair of RAPAR, can stay in her home in Whalley Range until her asylum case has finally been completed. The judge made his decision based on the paperwork in her case. Manjeet, who uses a wheelchair, was due to travel to the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal in Manchester today for the hearing about her housing support.
But, ironically, the Home Office transport sent to Manjeet’s home to take her to the tribunal was not wheelchair accessible and it took another two hours for the Home Office to send a suitable replacement from Liverpool. She was on her way to the tribunal when her solicitor phoned to say that, after reviewing the paperwork, the judge had ruled in her favour against the Home Office.
Fifty supporters from disability, trade union and community networks joined a lobby outside the tribunal hearing this morning.
In a message to the lobby, Kate Green, MP for Trafford, said: “I have been in touch with Manjeet for some time now. The Home Office’s previous failures on her case have been quite unacceptable. It is now wholly inappropriate for the Home Office to withdraw her support when she has outstanding representations to the Court of Appeal and I have contacted the Home Office to ask why this has happened.”
Manjeet said: “I am very pleased we won the case but it is not my victory alone. I want to thank everyone who came along to support me and show that we will not let vulnerable people be evicted from their homes.”
Dr Rhetta Moran, of RAPAR, said: “It is barbaric what Manjeet Kaur - with this very grossly underfunded Human Rights Charity RAPAR and the support that we have called upon - has had to go through in the lead up to today. We have had to stop the Home Office, in the name of the Government, from evicting a wheelchair bound woman onto Manchester's streets.
“No victory, including this one, is inevitable. Manjeet's safe future will be secured when her human rights are being respected as rights - not favours. Her campaign will continue until that future arrives.”
Sharon Hooley, of DAN (Disabled People’s Direct Action Network) said: “I’m absolutely delighted that Manjeet Kaur has won her case against the attempt to evict her. I’m also proud to have been one of so many different communities and groups who came together to support a wonderful woman who dedicates her time to helping others in their fight for their human rights.”
Manjeet had been told by Serco, which manages asylum housing in the North West on behalf of the Home Office, that she would have to leave her accommodation because her asylum claim had been rejected. But, in fact, there is still an outstanding appeal relating to her case.
Manjeet appeared on national television news last year to counter anti migrant policies announced by Home Secretary Theresa May at the 2013 Conservative Party Conference.
Since she sought asylum in the UK more than three years ago, Manjeet has been a tireless campaigner for human rights and worked with the UK Disabled People's Council to highlight injustices faced by disabled people seeking asylum.
She was told she must leave the accommodation,where she has lived since 2011, by October 9th. The unsigned letter from SERCO, which runs asylum housing in the North West on behalf of the Home Office, said:“Should you refuse to leave the property on this date, we will have no choice but to take legal action to evict you.”
Manjeet, who is from Afghanistan and has used a wheelchair since she was eight years old, recently lodged a claim with the Court of Appeal on the grounds that the High Court has failed to engage with the facts of her asylum case.
Currently, the Home Office is examining her latest appeal. Manjeet's solicitor Gary McIndoe, of Latitude Law, explains: “In our view, successive judges have failed to address the core issues of the case - Manjeet's nationality, the harm she suffered in the past and the practicality of removing her to India.”
Manjeet Kaur, who lives in Whalley Range, came to the UK in March 2011, a month after the disappearance of her husband Amitt Bhatt - a journalist and Kashmir human rights activist who was threatened and attacked because of his anti government articles and books. In the past, Amitt has spoken on the same human rights platform as Jemima Khan.
Manjeet fled to the UK because she was beaten twice and threatened with rape and murder by people who were looking for her husband. She uses a wheelchair due to paralysis caused by polio and the injuries she sustained during the beatings have worsened her condition.
Manjeet was born and lived in Afghanistan until the death of her father, a doctor in Kabul. Since her husband disappeared, Manjeet has no-one to care for her in India but she has relatives in England who can support her. Earlier this year, Manjeet’s husband finally escaped to the UK and immediately claimed asylum.
Details of Manjeet's case can also be found on the RAPAR website http://www.rapar.org.uk/manjeet-must-stay-in-the-uk.html