Scottish campaign aims to stop deportation of gay teenager

A campaign has been launched to save a teenager from Syria being deported to his homeland.

Jojo Jako Yakob, 19, claims he will be executed if he is returned.

He has been held at Polmont Young Offenders in Falkirk, Scotland for the last 12 months after being arrested for possessing a fake Belgian passport.

His lawyers say an asylum application for his stay in the UK was mistakenly withdrawn and, as a result, he has been served with a deportation order, pending a final hearing on 7th May.

A group of gay activists and human rights advocates from across Scotland have now created the Save Jojo Campaign with the aim of allowing him to remain in Scotland.

They want him to be granted the full protection under the UK’s duty of care to those facing danger if returned to their home country.

Rob McDowall of Equal Rights Now said:

“Our immigration system is failing to help the people in the most need and doing a merry dance around the needs of people at real risk.

“We have a duty of care to those who choose to come to the UK, we have a duty to assess their need, treat them with respect and dignity and ultimately, ensure we do not remove them to a country where they will be tortured, humiliated or killed.”

Yakob escaped Syria two years ago after suffering severe abuse at the hands of the Syrian police and prison guards, when he was arrested for distributing anti-government leaflets.

After discovering he was homosexual, prison guards beat him so severely that he fell into a coma, although a spokesman for the Syrian Embassy in London denied that torture of gay people took place.

“Homosexuality is illegal in Syria, but there are no special units to deal with this problem,” he told Scotland on Sunday earlier this month.

“People are not prosecuted – society looks at this as a disease for which they can be treated – it is a similar position to that taken by the Vatican.”

Campaigners are encouraging supporters to write to their local MP or to write directly to Home Secretary Jacqui Smith asking for a review of Yakob’s case.

The campaign will also be taking to the streets outside the Scottish Parliament, the Syrian Embassy in London and the court where Yakob’s case will be heard.

His story echoes that of Iranian teenager Mehdi Kazemi, who is having his case for deportation reviewed following the intervention of more than 60 members of the House of Lords asking for the Home Office to “show compassion”.

Mr Kazemi, 19, was studying in the UK and applied for asylum after his boyfriend was arrested and reportedly executed in Tehran.

The boyfriend named Mehdi as a homosexual, and police turned up at his father’s house with a warrant to arrest him.

His asylum application was unsuccessful in the UK, so Mehdi fled to Holland, although he was eventually returned to the UK.

Supporters of the Jojo Yakob campaign are asked to visit the Save Jojo website for more information.