Groups mobilise to halt deportation of Christian asylum seeker


Anselme Noumbiwa

Anselme Noumbiwa

Anselme Noumbiwa could be deported from Britain on Wednesday, but supporters of the asylum seeker from Cameroon are campaigning hard to stop it happening. Many people – including members of church groups - have signed an online petition in support of Anselme, asking the Home Office to stop his removal and he has over 400 supporters on the social networking site Twitter.

He left his native country in 2006 after refusing to become a tribal chief upon the death of his father. Anselme particularly rejected 'marrying' all the former wives of his father, which went along with the role of chief.

A Catholic, he felt such a polygamous practice conflicted with his Christian principles. Fearing that another man could not be chosen as chief until he was dead, he fled to the UK and has been based in the Tees Valley in the North of England for nearly four years. His application for asylum has been refused and the UK's Immigration Services reject his account of his experiences despite compelling evidence in the form of a newspaper account of his ordeal in L'Effort Camerounais, the respected newspaper of the Catholic Bishop's Conference in Cameroon. He has also produced a medico-legal report, commissioned by Justice First, a local asylum support group, documenting his trauma and scars on his body consistent with torture.

Anselme attends the Catholic parish of the Sacred Heart in Middlesbrough, which has a large congregation of refugees and asylum seekers. He lives with the family of a Baptist Minister and is active in the local Stockton-on-Tees community. His many friends and supporters are outraged at the unjust and inhumane manner in which Home Office officials have treated him. The Anglican bishop of Durham, Tom Wright, supports Anselme. As deportation loomed in 2009, the bishop said: "I have followed the case of Anselme Noumbiwa for a long time now and have been appalled at the way it has been handled by the Home Office".

The online petition to stop deportation on 21 April is available at: www.ipetitions.com/petition/anselme/index.html

Letters supporting Anselme can be sent to: Rt Hon Alan Johnson, MP , Secretary of State for the Home Office, The Home Office 2 Marsham St London SW1 4DF. Fax: 020 8760 3132

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