UK: Church claims blind bisexual asylum seeker was beaten and assaulted by deportation staff

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A bisexual blind asylum seeker from Cameroon was beaten by immigration staff in an attempt to deport him last weekend, campaigners have alleged.

Manchester’s Gay Church, the Metropolitan Church, is supporting Alain Tchatchue, a vulnerable blind asylum seeker from Cameroon who is seeking protection in the UK due to his bisexuality.

Despite having a legal claim currently being processed by the Home Office, immigration staff took him to Heathrow in the early hours of Saturday 5 April in an attempt to deport him

The Church claims Mr Tchatchue was “given a beating” during the process. It said Mr Tchatchue protested that he had a legal right to remain in the UK. It’s alleged staff “botched” an attempt to handcuff Mr Tchatchue, causing an injury to his arm.

The Church stated: “The staff then became frustrated and started to punch Alain’s wrists and, then, his upper torso in an effort to make him submit. This blind man was then put to the floor, tied with robe like an animal and had pressure applied to his neck. He was bundled into a van and taken to the plane and the assault continued in the van. Eventually the staff realised Alain was too ill to travel and he was returned to Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre.”

Mr Tchatchue has now reported the alleged assault to the police who are investigating.

His pastor, the Rev Andy Braunston, said: “Alain is a blind man who uses a white stick to get around and who has fled here because of fear of the violence of the state in Cameroon; it is shameful that agents of our government have beaten this vulnerable man in an attempt to send him back to persecution.  We should be ashamed.”

Rev Braunston has written to the Director of Public Prosecutions, Alison Saunders, to ask that the immigration staff are prosecuted and has raised the issue with John Vine, the Independent Inspector of Immigration.

In response, a Home Office spokesperson told “The UK has a proud history of granting asylum to those who need it.

“However, we believe that those who fail to establish a genuine fear of persecution should return home. If they do not do so voluntarily, we will enforce their removal.

“Detainees’ welfare is extremely important and we are committed to treating all those in our care with dignity and respect. Where individuals seek to disrupt their removal, restraint may be used to ensure the safety of other passengers, detainees and staff.”

Home Secretary Theresa May last month announced a review into the handling of LGBT asylum cases.

A protest against the deportation of a lesbian asylum seeker to Nigeria will take place on Friday outside the Home Office in central London.