Kamil family granted leave to remain following hunger strike

Ben Wray

Kamil family’s MP Paul Sweeney says the case is revealing of “systemic failure in the immigration system”

THE Kamil family has been granted indefinite leave to remain after a hunger strike outside immigration offices in Glasgow last week, ending their 18 year ordeal trying to get citizenship in the UK.

The hunger strike started last Wednesday (27 June) evening and lasted over 24 hours, before immigration officers offered the family a meeting with their lawyer today [5 July], set to take place at 11am.

However, before the meeting the family received notice that they were being granted leave to remain, meaning they can stay in the UK without any time limit on their stay and are free to take up employment or study, without restriction.

The Kurdish-Iraqi family had been waiting for 18 years for a decision, and prior to the hunger strike had not heard anything from the home office for five years.

When the hunger strike begun they were told by an immigration officer that their case was not a priority, but after pressure from MSPs, MPs, trade unionists and other supporters of the hunger strike, the Home Office U-turned.

For the three brothers and sister, the leave to remain means they can each pursue their careers and university degrees respectively, which had all been put in jeopardy due to the lack of a decision on their citizenship.

Dastan Kamil, an up and coming boxer who has had his career derailed by the lack of resolution to his citizenship issue, said: “We are absolutely over the moon and this decision gives us all an opportunity to move forward and be a bigger part of Scotland and the UK.

“My brother can focus on his career; my sister, on her studies and I can finally look forward to boxing professionally.

“My family wish to thank everyone who sent us messages of support; our lawyer; our MP, Paul Sweeney, and all those people who came to stand with us.”

Daban Kamil, who has a degree in engineering but has been unable to work in his profession due to the citizenship problem, stated: “I hope to use this experience to help other families still waiting for a result on their case. We felt trapped for nearly two decades and, at times, our situation felt hopeless with no prospect of being resolved. That’s a scary place to be.

“Now we will focus on rebuilding our lives and doing all those things we couldn’t do before.”

READ MORE: ‘It has got to the point where there is no other way out’: Kurdish-Iraqi family on hunger strike in Glasgow tell their story

Scottish Labour MP for Glasgow North East, Paul Sweeney, said the case of the family showed there was “systemic failure in the immigration system” and called for an end to the hostile environment policy.

He said: “It’s incredible that after 18 years of confusion and delay, less than a month after I wrote to the Home Office to highlight the Kamil family’s case, we finally have a breakthrough.

“My intervention should not have been necessary and it points to a systemic failure in the immigration system.

“I have been impressed with the passion of the Kamil family and their supporters in righting this wrong. But there is a great irony that people with so much to offer this country have been treated so shabbily by its institutions.

“It is too much of a coincidence that my staff have been dealing with so many cases like this one recently and it points to the human cost of Theresa May’s hostile environment policy.

“I will continue to fight for an immigration policy which reflects our city’s values, not one which panders to the right-wing of the Tory party.”

Dave Moxham, Deputy General Secretary of the STUC, which has offered practical support to the family, said: “Job cuts and mounting workloads coupled with hostile government policies on immigration mean families resort to hunger strike to get the attention they deserve.

“We were happy to support the Kamil family in their struggle to be heard. The trade union movement has always worked with other campaigns to welcome refugees and migrants and we are proud to continue that tradition with practical solidarity.”

READ MORE: Family ends citizenship hunger strike in Glasgow after Home Office U-turn

The family told CommonSpace last week while on hunger strike that the situation reached a tipping point when Banaz had her university application rejected because she did not have a passport, saying they had exhausted all official channels.

In 2012 the family were granted a one year temporary leave to remain, allowing Daban to attend university. In 2013 they applied to have this extended but were told a decision was “pending”, and heard nothing further until last week.

Pictures: CommonSpace