Government offers Jojo £46 to go home
A GAY Syrian asylum seeker has been offered only £46 in cash by the Government to return to his homeland where homosexuality is illegal and he faces possible death.
Jojo Jako Yakob, 19, fled his homeland two years ago after being arrested, shot and beaten before being tortured in a Syrian jail when he was caught distributing anti-government leaflets.
Once prison guards discovered that Yakob, a Christian member of the repressed Kurdish minority in the Arab state, was homosexual, he suffered horrific beatings and was assaulted so badly that he slipped into a coma. He fled to Scotland but his application seeking asylum was rejected and the Home Office has ordered his return to Syria, where homosexuality has been banned.
Last night, 'Save Jojo' campaigners criticised the UK Border Agency for sending Yakob, who is currently being detained at Polmont Young Offenders Institution in Falkirk, a "weekly" letter, asking his permission to be "repatriated" back to Syria.
A spokesman for the campaign said the agency has offered Jojo 46 "in cash" on leaving the United Kingdom "to assist you in reintegrating into your home country. This could be used for example to set up a business, further your education or assist with housing".
Leading gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell labelled the UK Border Agency as "immoral" in its attempt to get Jojo into accepting deportation.
He said: "This insulting offer shows the scurrilous, immoral nature of the UK Border Agency. The sum of 46 would barely pay one week's rent, never mind help Jojo start a new life.
"The idea that he should risk his life and go back to Syria for 46 is an absolute disgrace. It shows the depth to which the Labour Government is sinking in its desperate bid to pander to racist and xenophobic opinion."
Campaigners have also written to Home Secretary Jacqui Smith pleading for an immediate review of Yakob's case.
The letter to Smith states: "We are pleading with you, Home Secretary, to intervene to save this young man's life. He has been let down by the immigration and asylum services, and slipped through every crack in the system."
The 'Save Jojo' campaign has also vowed to provide safe accommodation for him on his release, and in furthering his education and finding work.
A spokesman said: "We will help him to live his life and make a positive contribution to society."
A cross-party motion in the Scottish Parliament in support of Yakob and calling for an immediate moratorium on the deportation of gay and lesbian refugees has been backed by 23 MSPs.
Protesters have also announced that they will be holding public protests and demonstrations outside the Syrian Embassy in London and Holyrood in support of Yakob on the day of his final deportation hearing on May 7.
A spokeswoman for the UK Border Agency said: "We don't comment on individual cases. However, we would not seek to remove anyone that has an outstanding appeal."
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