'Guards confiscated my boys' crisps and then took their fingerprints'

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The Independent Online

Bushra Sharif and her three sons spent nearly a month at Dungavel after 15 immigration service officials and police officers came to their home announcing they were to be deported.

"My children were always asking, 'Mummy, what have we done? Why are we in jail?' I didn't know what to say," said Mrs Sharif.

Last Thursday Bushra and her children - Abdullah, seven, Palal, six, and Bassan, one - were released on bail from Dungavel and are now staying in Glasgow with supporters who campaigned for their release.

The Pakistani national came to Britain more than a year ago from her home in Kuwait to escape her husband who, she claims, had been physically abusing her. The mother-of-three settled in Bradford, West Yorkshire, but on 15 August this year the family was taken to Tinsley House removal centre near Gatwick, then to Dungavel.

"They took us in a van from 10 o'clock in the morning to 11.30 at night," said Mrs Sharif, 34.

"All the time the children were vomiting. I asked for painkillers but they said we can't until we get to the centre."

When they arrived at Dungavel, they say the guards confiscated the crisps and chocolate that Bushra had bought for the children. Bushra and her two eldest sons were fingerprinted on arrival.

The children were rarely let outside to play, and Abdullah and Palal were taught alongside children as old as 14.

"They gave them only storybooks," said Mrs Sharif. "All the children at Dungavel were in the same class with one teacher."

The Home Office still wants to deport Mrs Sharif and her sons, and they are nervous about their fate.

"I want to stay in the UK because I want to make a future for my children," she said. "I came to survive in the UK - not for the money. I'm from a rich country.

"We are happy, but we will be more happy when all the families are out. I don't know why the Government is doing this because we're already suffering. I don't think this is a good idea."

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