Theatre stars unite for reform of 'brutal' UK asylum system

Young Vic to stage play about life in notorious detention centre to show plight of women and child migrants

Stars of British theatre, film and television will tonight turn the spotlight on what they describe as the brutal treatment of women and children seeking asylum in the UK.

The award-winning actress Juliet Stevenson will lead the protest against conditions at the controversial Yarl's Wood immigration detention centre in Bedfordshire and the UK's treatment of Meltem Avcil, a 14-year-old Turkish asylum seeker.

Ms Stevenson, the star of the film Truly Madly Deeply, met Meltem and her mother Cennet in Yarl's Wood earlier this year and was so moved by the encounter that she decided to bring their stories, together with those of other asylum seekers, to life in a special Mother's Day performance at the Young Vic in London.

Ms Stevenson and her 13-year-old daughter Rosalind will perform in Motherland, a dramatisation of life in a British immigration detention centre. They will play the parts of Meltem Avcil and her mother, who were released from Yarl's Wood after a high-profile campaign.

"The brutality of the asylum process here is far more shocking than I realised," said Ms Stevenson. "I hope people will be moved. I think that if they really heard the forms of injustice and cruelty this system is inflicting on people perhaps they might be moved to take action. We can't bring everyone to Yarl's Wood but we can bring Yarl's Wood to more people," she added.

A celebrity line-up is expected to support the event, including the actresses Thandie Newton and Harriet Walter, the novelist Susie Boyt and the restaurateur Ruth Rogers. Alan Rickman, Stevenson's co-star in Truly Madly Deeply, Baroness (Helena) Kennedy QC and the former England cricket captain Mike Brearley are also lending support to the campaign for an improved, more humane detention system.

The event is being organised by Women for Refugee Women, which will urge supporters to sign a Mother's Day petition to be sent to ministers. The petition calls on the Government to "ensure that the persecution women face, including rape, honour crimes and female genital mutilation, is taken seriously in asylum claims; we call on the Government not to make destitute, detain or deport women who are at risk of gender-related persecution."

It demands that Harriet Harman, the minister for women and equality, "push for justice for women in the asylum process, including full implementation of the gender guidelines introduced in 2004; access to quality legal representation for every woman asylum seeker; and an end to the detention of families and survivors of torture".

Although Meltem and her mother are now free, their future is far from certain as the Government is understood to still be pressing for their deportation.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

£27500 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Telemarketers / Sales - Home Based - OTE £23,500

£19500 - £23500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced B2B Telemarketer wa...

Recruitment Genius: Showroom Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This global company are looking for two Showro...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This publishing company based i...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor