Reply to the Sunday Herald Editorial

Angust 13.8.05


You say in your editorial (Sunday Herald, August 13) that little is known about the foreign nationals detained in dawn raids on Thursday pending deportation. Five of these Muslim men and their families are my friends. I have supported them through the long years of their detention without charge or trial in HMP Belmarsh and visited two of them, who are single men and have no family in this country, when they were moved to Broadmoor Hospital suffering for depression and post traumatic stress disorder. When they were released under control orders I continued to keep in touch with them and their families while they struggled to survive living half lives under these restrictions. They have been the most monitored people in the country for the past four years and if they had been suspected of doing anything, least of all breaching their control orders, they would have been arrested and charged. Something that never happened and they have never been charged with any terrorist offences.
These are vulnerable people, asylum seekers and refugees with wives and children who were born in this country. They are being sacrificed to show us how “tough” the government is being. This action is being taken against the weakest and most damaged people. One man suffers polio and walked into Belmarsh but left in a wheelchair due to his immobility while detained. Another has no arms. Most have been victims of torture and their fathers before them in Algerian desert prison camps. They have never been alleged to have any connection to any acts of ‘terrorism’ against Britain let alone the London bombings last month in which all the suspects appear to be British. They are political prisoners.
One friend I call McGregor, due to his admiration for Rob Roy, has spent the last 5 months since his release in a psychiatric ward being treated for depression, anxiety and ptsd. I have called him most evenings to keep him company for a while. For the last month he has been consumed with thoughts of being tortured, like his father was, in a filthy Algerian prison. When they took him from his hospital bed on Thursday I made a great effort to trace him and eventually managed to talk to a very well spoken man in the Immigration Department (?). He informed me that he could not tell me where my friend was and that orders for his detention “were taken at the very highest level”. He assured me though that he would be well cared for. “This is Britain” he said. I have now discovered McGregor is on suicide watch in a prison far away from London and his doctors and solicitors.
These unjust cruelties are being carried out in our name. Will we now sit back and watch when they are eventually deported, forced on to a plane and handed over to the Algerian authorities as “suspected terrorists » with the assurance that they will not be harmed? Personally, in this political climate, I fear for us all. First they came for the Muslims and I did not speak out for I was not a Muslim………………then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.

Ann Alexander, Scotland