The Change We’re Making

Image from our lobbying and democracy training in Parliament in London, 2017
We spent the final few months of 2021 making a few needed changes to our website, the most important of which was highlighting the important voices of those we have worked with, and whom we have supported, in the past, on a page we have called ‘The Change We’re Making’.

Below (and here) are the words of Mohammed (name changed) who reflects on how we helped him move from being trapped in an immigration detention centre to standing alongside us and other democracy training participants in Parliament, the very seat of UK democracy. 

I’m one of those people who has suffered a lot and been detained for a variety of periods in different detention centres, two times in Morton Hall, two times in Brook House, once in Oxford, from 2014 to 2017. I’ve never ever forgotten those places. It seems as if I’d committed a crime, but I had not. They think I am guilty just being an asylum seeker. Do you think I deserve punishment for that?

Can you imagine what a tough life I had? I bet you can’t.

There were a few people from different organisations I knew, such as Karag charity in Coventry led by lovely ladies Beth and Joan. I also remember two kind ladies Theresa and Helen who fought just to visit me, from Coventry Women’s Community. They did the best to do so. I don’t know how to thank them. Also Waging Peace did a lot of efforts to help me with all the procedures.

In this space I would like to share my experience with the readers, then I will leave you to make your judgment.

There was a gloomy atmosphere in the hell (detention). Sad faces everywhere, hopeless people, every day. The agony starts at night, no good sleep at all. Why? Because the guards come many times during the night, making fear in the atmosphere. You can hear loud key sounds. That means they want to take some detainee to deport them or perform a routine check. We called that moment execution. It felt like you would be beheaded.

It’s really tough to be behind steel doors. I’m doing the best to eliminate these kinds of memories. I despised my life, but this feeling has faded.

A few weeks after my last period of detention, I was invited to attend a course in Parliament organised by Waging Peace. It’s a completely contradictory feeling. It was an unforgettable day. I met some MPs, and such a lovely Lord, the Earl of Sandwich, with great hospitality. They were very generous people. We discussed a variety of issues relevant to Sudan. We focused particularly on human rights, discrimination, and inequalities against the Darfuri people. We were grateful to every single person we met there.

It’s a big difference to stand in front of huge beautiful doors in Parliament, rather than lay down behind awful steel doors in detention, isn’t it?

There was one feeling I had, among the group I was with. There is a place in Parliament where Nelson Mandela stood. When I put my feet where the great man Nelson Mandela had stood, and when I read the words written telling me that this is where he put his feet – at that moment tears came down. I compared myself with him. Both us of were looking for freedom. Everybody has his own battle. He has to fight until he gets victory.

When I was in detention I consoled myself by listening to some songs to give me hope, like ‘Another Day in Paradise’ by Phil Collins, and ‘Tears in Heaven’ by Eric Clapton. These songs are like a gift from me to everybody still suffering in detention.

I hope to change these systems to stop the detention of asylum seekers. They deserve good treatment and to save their dignity.

Thank you for reading my story.

We’re excited that later this month the rest of Britain will have the chance to hear the testimony of survivors of Sudan’s conflicts, as well as other genocides, at the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust ceremony on 27 January 2022 from 7-8pm.

Once again, we are proud to have worked with them on their resources relating to Darfur. The online ceremony is open to all, just register here

You can also attend smaller events at which our friends will be sharing their stories. On 28 January 2022 from 7-8.30pm hear from Alsadik, whose inspirational story today sees him developing a digital keyboard to ensure his Zaghawa language is not erased, and his people’s culture not lost. Email to register for the online event.
If you would like to support our work campaigning for the continued protection of civilians in Darfur and other regions of Sudan, please donate.
Copyright © 2022 Waging Peace, All rights reserved.

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