“Last Sunday I was forced on to a flight to Singapore by four border officers without warning. They gave me just minutes to say goodbye to the family and life I have built over decades.
My husband, John, who I help care for, is a British citizen. I have British children and a grandchild. If I can be taken away from my home in a County Durham village to a detention centre in Scotland overnight, and then spirited out of the country on a Sunday when there was no access to legal advice, what chance does anyone else have?
The authorities have shown their willingness to treat foreign-born people as second-class citizens, no matter how integrated we are – and, worse, treat us like criminals. I was not allowed a camera phone in the detention centre, presumably in case I photographed conditions there.
During my removal from Britain I was treated like a terrorist: I was restrained by the arms, my every word written down, and there were guards on the door when I went to the toilet. This happened in full view of the public in Edinburgh airport,and was deeply humiliating. The border authorities even claimed that I – a woman on my own – posed a risk of violence. And they ticked a form to note the media interest and public sympathy in my case, as if I was to be punished for speaking out.”
A moving testimony about a practice that risks becoming more and more frequent, if the present political mood in Europe is allowed to fester.
To read the full testimony of Irene Clennel, please click here.