UPDATE: MOTHERS’ CAMPAIGN OF THE ALL AFRICAN WOMEN’S GROUP
Signatures have come from community, peace and church groups, unions, artists, professionals such as academics, doctors, journalists, social workers, teachers . . . and mothers who are separated from their children. Prominent individuals include playwright Kay Adshead, Tony Benn, comedian Jeremy Hardy, actor Julie Hesmondhalgh, Lord Hylton, retired immigration judge Anver Jeevanjee, Sarah Ludford MEP and Ian Macdonald QC. We include below a selection of the many moving and heartfelt comments.
But we need your help to gather more signatures. The petition will be handed in at a Mothers’ March on Saturday 13 MARCH 2010 and we are hoping for a couple of thousand signatures by that time. That is only six weeks away so please help by: signing the petition yourself; sending it round to your friends, family and other contacts; featuring it on any blogs/websites/facebook pages, etc. you have.
Please contact us if you would like to volunteer in other ways with calls, street petitioning, etc.
You may be interested to know that a number of women from our campaign spoke recently at a packed event in Parliament (pictures below). People were moved to tears and anxious to support our campaign.
Please go to our webpage to see our leaflet, press articles and radio interviews.
Very best wishes and many thanks,
QUOTES FROM PETITION
“As a mother and grandmother I know that being cared for by their mothers is fundamental to children's health and wellbeing.”
“This is a really worthwhile campaign. I can't think of anything worse than being separated from my children. How can we do this in a civilised society?”
“Please help us to be re-united with our children. When you are claiming asylum it takes many years & the children turn 18. The delay is not our fault. A child is still a child & should be with their mother.”
“I left my son behind when I came here. If I stayed they would kill me so I had to go and it wasn't safe to take him. I am always thinking of him and worrying about him.”
“I had to leave my three children behind when I fled DFC. I fled to protect my children and myself. I feel I am living without the most important part of my life. Every day I think about my children.”
“I lost contact with my two children when I fled from Uganda. My oldest is now 19, my girl is 12. I thought they would be killed if I didn't leave them. I don't know where they are or even if they are alive. It hurts a lot. I question myself all the time, what am I here for when they are not with me.”
“Continued separation of mothers and their children never mind their ages is a systematic form of mental torture and persecution thus violating their human rights. They might have fled from persecution but in their mind it still continues mentally.”
“Legislators - consider how you would react to the damage done to your own children by protracted separation from you!”
“I came to the UK six years ago. I was forced to leave my daughter behind. She would now be nine years old. I think of her every day. I get nightmares of not knowing if she is alive or not. I hope that this campaign will help me and other mothers like me.”
“I hope you will be able to see your children soon.”
“I find it hard to believe that the government can be so cruel.”
“Is there a need to comment? It's blindingly obvious that children should be allowed to be with their mothers.”
“I find it abhorrent that the UK government sees it fit to deny children and mothers the right to be together. I went through this and I can only say it is very painful emotionally and one tends to suffer from anxiety wondering if the children are being looked after well and not being abused. The best person to look after a child is the mother if she can do it.”
“The human suffering involved here can only be imagined by another parent. To be separated from your children like this must be a never ending agony.”
“We fully support this petition for mothers who have won their right to stay in the UK to be reunited with their children whatever their age. This separation is a terrible injustice firstly to the children as well as of course the mothers. This includes lesbian mothers who have sought asylum because they have had to flee from homophobic violence which can very often be life-threatening.”
“It is only fair that if an application was made when the child was below 18 must allowed to join the parents.
I believe that it is a basic human right for mothers and children to be together.”
“We only have to imagine how one would feel oneself if we were in the same situation... there but by the grace of God go I.”
“How can we as a Country say that we are taking account of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the Child when we are NOT giving mothers the right to be with their children? We should hang our heads in shame at what our Government is doing to these families.”
“It’s child abuse separating mothers and their children; the courageous women in this network need our every support.”
“No child should be separated from parents.”
“A very worthy cause. Women with the right to stay in the UK MUST be automatically allowed to have their children with them if we are a humanitarian country with a specific right for families to live together.”
“This has been a tragic situation that these women have had to live with since fleeing their countries.”
“I have worked with refugees and asylum seekers in London. Beyond all they have been through, that forced asylum seekers to flee their countries, this regulation has to be changed.”
“I was brought up without my mother (because she was supposed to be mentally ill and was sectioned and discarded by my father - though his mother, who brought me up, was really the mad one) so I know how important it is for every child to have his or her mother.”
“Why should we vote for any government that prevents children from joining their mothers?”
“I strongly support this petition. Home Office takes too long to decide immigration cases. It is not fair for these children to deny their rights to reunite with their mothers.”
“I am so glad you are doing this: I have met and love women in this position.”
“Good initiative, well done. Some of us are mothers, all of us were children, what sort of people can keep families apart like this?”