Asylum family locked up in British detention centre are given leave to stay in Germany

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The Independent Online

A family of asylum-seekers whose case became a cause célèbre over the Government's policy of locking up children, are being allowed to stay in their new home in Germany.

A family of asylum-seekers whose case became a cause célèbre over the Government's policy of locking up children, are being allowed to stay in their new home in Germany.

The Ay family were granted asylum as a result of the trauma suffered because of their treatment in the notorious Dungavel detention centre in south Lanarkshire. They have been granted indefinite leave to remain in Germany on humanitarian grounds.

Yurdugal Ay and her four children, Beriwan (15), Dilowan (12), Newroz (13) and Medya (nine), spent more than a year at the immigration detention centre in Scotland while applying for asylum in the UK before being deported to Germany in August 2003. It was feared that the family would eventually be sent back to Turkey from where their mother fled 15 years ago claiming persecution, although none of the children had set foot in the country.

Their father, who was deported by British authorities the previous year and sent back to Turkey, has not been heard of since and is feared either imprisoned or dead. According to both British and German medical experts, two of the children had been especially traumatised by their stay in Dungavel and deportation to Turkey would harm them further.

After hearing the reports, the court decided that the children needed psychological treatment and peace and quiet, which it decided they would not get in Turkey. However after appealing against an initial decision by the German government to deport them the family this week won the right to stay indefinitely.

The decision was made in their favour as a result of psychological damage caused to the children by their incarceration in Britain. Psychiatric reports claimed that two of the children, Medya and Newroz had been traumatised by their treatment at Dungavel where the family were forced to share a single room, deprived of a proper education and the opportunity to lead a normal life.

Since being deported to Germany last year they have all settled well.Once the asylum decision is made legally binding within the next two weeks, they cannot be deported from Germany and can eventually apply to be German citizens.

"They're obviously happy and relieved, but we are all very wary about talking or celebrating too soon," said Karl Kobb of Pro-Asyl, a German human rights lobby group.

"We'll be even happier once the decision is made legally binding on 16 November, then the Ay family will be able to finally unpack their suitcases."

The Ays' plight in Dungavel sparked a major political row in Scotland over the incarceration of children and the inability of the Scottish Executive to intervene in asylum policy, which is a Westminster matter.

"If the psychological reports into the children's health, as a result of being at Dungavel, led to the decision to let them stay in Germany then it is tantamount to child abuse by the UK Government," said Rosie Kane, the Scottish Socialist Party MSP, who fought for the family to remain in Britain.

The family's solicitor in Scotland, Aamer Anwar, said the family still miss their father, who was deported while the children were in the UK.

"The fact he has not been in touch leads me to think that at best he is in prison or at worse he has been executed," Mr Anwar said. "He is not the kind of man who would not try to contact his children.

"Hopefully the family will either be able to apply for German citizenship or Turkey will become a member of the EU which means they will be free to come here anyway.

"I have started to look into making an application to get them back to the UK as the children have said they would like to return. They have a lot of friends, family and goodwill here and I can see no reason for why they should not be allowed to come back unless Mr Blunkett chooses to block it."

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