DAY 205: Normal for Norfolk

February 18th, 2017 § 0 comments

I return regretfully to the theme of my mother Dorothy, which I thought I’d covered pretty completely in post 39 (‘I’m not a witch at all, I’m Dorothy’); the reflections being prompted by a proposal of which I’ve heard for a statue of her to be erected in the Market Square of Beccles, the modest Suffolk town in whose neighbourhood she lived as a teenager and where she went to school.

(To be factual, and in this post-factual era, I do my best, Dorothy was born in Cairo; but spent most of her childhood in Norfolk in a small village called Geldeston, where musician Brian Eno (‘Trump is a complete disaster’) currently hangs out; and where I was born, more years ago than it’s comfortable to think about. I was born in Geldeston, on the banks of the Waveney, as Onegin if you recall was born on the banks of the the colder and more spectacular Neva; but I only stayed a couple of months, returning occasionally during my childhood. A pity, because a quick search reminds me that Norfolk was home to Nelson (more of the statue theme), Einstein – at one point in his peripatetic life – and of course the early feminist mystic julian-3Julian ‘All manner of thing shall be well’ of Norwich. Oh gosh, I still have a parenthesis open, I’d better close it.)

Anyway, any of my readers who are familiar with my preoccupations will have guessed that the suggestion that the city fathers and mothers of Beccles were planning to raise a statue to Dorothy at a time when refugees were freezing in Calais and Lesvos, and schools and hospitals were having their budgets cut all over Norfolk and elsewhere had me incandescent; and before doing any research (a common failing of mine) I dashed off an angry tweet and, that being well too short, an angrier Facebook post accusing the aforesaid dignitaries of neglecting their duty to the poor, the sick and the needy in favour of showy expenditure on their town’s famous children. Luckily, I don’t think that my posts make it to those parts of East Anglia, so I haven’t been pulled up for rudeness, or corrected. And indeed, Beccles is indeed involved in organising collections of goods for refugees Screen Shot 2017-02-18 at 11.40.00– the usual kind, even if I haven’t seen any news of Afghan families being accommodated in the area. Of course, voluntary – the cash-strapped councils can raise the money for statues, but can’t find a few pennies for the needs of refugees, or indeed hospitals.

My sister who has gifts of diplomacy which I lack, having spent years trying to get the likes of Peres, Rabin, Sharon and Netanyahu to stop shooting and torturing Palestinians without abandoning Amnesty’s strict objectivity and neutrality, got me to moderate my approach. So I a) thanked Beccles for their generous thought and b) pointed out that c) Dorothy didn’t much like any of the existing statues of her, being more into works favouring peace and suchlike so that d) a more fitting memorial would be a fund (named after Dorothy) which made it possible to bring over – to Beccles and district – a number of refugee children every year. (I say children because everyone does – I don’t give a toss about whether they’re children and Freud, Einstein and Hannah Arendt were by no means children at the time they were given refugee status.) I await their response. My fallback position, if you have to have a memorial, would be a model of the penicillin molecule which when you walked past it on a windy day played some characteristic piece of African music (‘Water no get enemy’ by Fela Kuti comes to mind). My skills with WordPress aren’t up to producing this effect for you, but I’m sure Mr. Eno could do it in his coffee break. I look forward to hearing from the Beccles folk.

Rape victims

And while I’m on about the subject of refugees or immigration – it is, I hope, not yet too late to save Ugandan Erioth   Mwesigwa. To quote the statement of Women Against Rape: ‘Last Friday she stopped her removal by refusing to go with the Yarl’s Wood guards when they came to take her to the airport. But the guards warned her that “next time” she would be physically forced onto the plane back to Uganda.

Ms Mwesigwa has been told that if she wants to appeal she has to do it from Uganda. This is both cruel and absurd. She won’t even have anywhere to live or means to feed herself, let alone access to lawyers and other support to pursue a legal case.

Ms Mwesigwa is still in great danger and needs your help to demand the Home Secretary allows her the right to an appeal in the UK. Ms Mwesigwa is a dedicated member of the All African Women’s Group which has organized a protest this Monday outside the Home Office. Ms Mwesigwa called to say:

“I do not understand why the Home Office gave refugee status to my ex-husband, who thankfully was able to escape with our children before anything terrible happened, yet refuses it to me when I was the one unable to get out in time and so suffered the terrible consequences. It took many years for me to escape from Uganda after the imprisonment and rapes. I lived those years in constant fear; hiding from place to place, rarely leaving the house and only in darkness. I had lost all hope, self-confidence, and nearly my mind. Finally I was found and ordered to make my husband come back to Uganda. My friends told me that I would be killed and organized my escape to the UK. It is here that I have found people who love and care for me. The men who abused me in Uganda are still in positions of authority. I can never go back and be safe.”

On Friday a High Court judge refused to grant an injunction stopping any further attempts to send Ms Mwesigwa back to Uganda.

WAR is writing in support of Ms Mwesigwa application for the High Court to get an oral hearing to investigate her case. We say her case has been dealt with unjustly:
• Ms Mwesigwa was imprisoned and raped because the President suspected her husband of being his political opponent. Ms Mwesigwa was told by the Home Office that she could go back to Uganda while her husband was given refugee status in the UK.

• The Home Office said Ms Mwesigwa has not shown “lack of state protection in Uganda”, that is she should have reported to the police that she was raped by soldiers. The UK Home Office is willfully ignoring the masses of evidence that show that rape survivors generally in Uganda can’t get protection from the police, let alone if your attackers are soldiers.
• Evidence of the ongoing and devastating impact of rape on Ms Mwesigwa has been ignored because she has not been able to get the resources and help needed to recover.
• No account has been taken of the terrible situation she would face if returned to Uganda.
• Her “enforceable right” as a victim of torture (accepted by the Home Office) under the UN Convention Against Torture to the “means for as full rehabilitation as possible” has been completely ignored. Instead she faces being sent back to Uganda where she has no-one to turn to for help, where she would be destitute and fears further rape and other violence.
• Ms Mwesigwa was accused by the judge of deliberately delaying her legal action to the last minute. But the delay was entirely the fault of Ms Mwesigwa’s previous lawyer at ROCK Solicitors. Despite taking £300 off her to pursue a Judicial Review, he failed to even return her calls for two months let alone do anything on her legal case.

Please write to Amber Rudd MP, the Home Secretary, to demand:
• That Ms Mwesigwa is given the right to an appeal in the UK.
• That government guidelines preventing the detention of vulnerable women are implemented and that Ms Mwesigwa, as a rape survivor, is released.

If you have written to the Home Secretary and not received a reply write again and protest to your own MP asking her/him to contact the Home Secretary on your behalf. Both the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister are women. What is the point of having women in high places if they pursue the same callous, sexist, racist policies as their male counterpart?

Please send your letter to:
Rt. Honourable Amber Rudd
Home Secretary
Home Office
2 Marsham Street, London, SW1P 4DF
Tel: 020 7035 4848

I know that every day people are being refused asylum or unjustly deported, and this is just one. But please help with this.


Can I really not have posted any songs in Tigrinya? Here is ‘Megesha’ by Faytinga from Eritrea; it’s described as a love song, but I can’t find out anything else about it. Enjoy!


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