By Naila Ahmed, CAGE’s Casework Manager
As I reflect on the last year, the hardships and uncertainty faced by so many, from setbacks in our health to losses in our community, I’m reminded of the incredible acts of courage that we saw from around the world. Closer to home, we were privileged to bear witness to countless acts of courage from our own clients that we supported.
We assumed the lockdown may cause a decline in the cases we usually handle. It was true for the first few weeks as people readjusted to the new reality. However, after a short while, cases began to steadily increase again. From cases of torture in the Middle East to police doorstepping people here in the UK and everything in between. Amidst these hardships also came a number of great wins for our clients.
Below are a list of 9 acts of courage from our clients in 2021:
- After 15 months of fighting his prolonged and unnecessary detention, including going on a hunger strike, Palestinian activist Dr Issam Bassalat was released on bail and united with his children.
- ’N3′ returned to the UK this year following an arduous legal battle against the Home Office which was found to have unlawfully deprived him of his British nationality. He was left in limbo outside the UK for nearly 4 years, separated from his family during that whole period. Due to his persistence he was able to reunite with his family in time for Eid.
- We supported over 50 students across the UK who faced a backlash after standing up for Palestine at their schools. By challenging their schools’ anti free speech policies, they managed to secure apologies and a commitment to do better.
- A man successfully pushed back against police harassment by reading up on his rights from CAGE. He confidently turned them away after they showed up at his home and tried to enter unnecessarily – during a national lockdown and on his first day of work, working from home.
- After being stopped under Schedule 7 powers every time he travelled, a man decided to resist the harassment by refusing to engage anymore. He told the officers to arrest him if they had any reason to. They had none and seeing his resistance the officers decided to let him go home.
- A sister was stopped under Schedule 7 and was pressured to remove her hijab by officers. She courageously refused despite the intimidation and officers had to concede. She made the police aware of a legal challenge CAGE supported, where the police admitted it was unlawful for them to force Muslim women to remove their hijab.
- A Sri Lankan brother who was unlawfully detained and tortured in Qatar was released to his wife and newborn child after a year of abuse. His wife fought for his release, while caring for their child, demonstrating the values of bravery and loyalty.
- A successful young student empowered his parents and turned away a PREVENT Officer who was pressuring him and his family to attend unnecessary ‘meetings’. Despite the stress and strain, he engaged with CAGE to learn about his rights and pushed back against PREVENT.
- Hundreds of Muslim families were violently raided in Austria. The community raised their voices, told their stories and challenged the government. Due to the families’ commitment to justice, the case unravelled. The courts have declared the raids and the actions of the government unlawful and unconstitutional, and have acquitted a growing list of impacted families.
There is much to reflect on from the challenges our community face. There is also a lot we can learn from ordinary people that have endured and overcome tests we may feel are unimaginable.
We may not be tested in the same way, but the resilience of these brave individuals is a source of insight and inspiration for us.
We also have a duty to them, to celebrate their wins and stand in solidarity with them in their moments of difficulty.
If you have been affected by the ‘War on Terror’ or would like to seek advice regarding your rights please contact us. Call our helpline: 0300 030 2243
(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)