Thursday, 31 January 2008

Armenian teenager seeking asylum in the UK?

I am very confused about this story which I saw few minutes ago on British TV (BBC News 24). How and exactly why this 16 yrs old Armenian teenager came to the UK and is seeking asylum (and according to new government regulations may well face deportation). No proper info or reason is provided in this article from BBC website either. Something does not seem quite right to me, something very important is missing in this teenager’s story. I wonder if anyone from Armenia or British Armenian community would be able to clarify the situation and perhaps provide some kind of support to this guy? I wonder what exactly happened to this guy in Armenia and the UK? Here is the ‘story’, very weird... The way this teenager tells his story reminiscent of human trafficking related stories, but can’t speculate further because have no any basis for that, just a thought.

*source of this story and photos: BBC

'I'm happy in this country'

As the government announces that unaccompanied youngsters - denied the right to stay in this country - will now be deported, Aram, who came to Britain from Armenia, tells in his own words the story of his journey to the UK.

"My name is Aram. I am 16 years old. I came in this country 10 months ago.

When I came in this country, someone take me to social services - some adviser from Refugee Council. When they take me to Refugee Council, I met one man who take me to hotel.

In the hotel, I stay nearly two weeks. And in that two weeks, I was getting everything I need in social care. After two to three weeks, a lady called me. A Russian lady was interpreting.

They talked to me and they were very rude to me. I asked for water because I felt bad when I was talking about my life.

They said they had no water. It was very hard for me. After two hours, I was feeling very bad, they go out - after 15 minutes they said 'we think you're 18 years old'.

And they take me to [word unintelligible] and I was crying so much, I didn't know where to go or what to do.

After that a man took me to a hotel and it was very hard for me because I don't know how to cook, I don't know how to look after myself and I was very bad. I was crying too much and I tried to do bad things to me, I was scared too much.

So after that I made Refugee Council - I was coming here all the time, I live here because they never leave me. And I am very happy for them, because this is my family - a very big family.

I like people, I love people - I'm very happy in this country, because this country is peace - no-one attacks no-one, everybody lives, no-one can take your life for nothing.

And I'm very happy for these people, because these people they help me so much.

I'm very young and I want to be useful. I don't want to be very bad people, I want to help people because I can. I don't want to waste time sitting at home. I decided to come and help them, so I want to be very useful.

I don't like war, I don't like when people die. I like this country too much, because in this country people don't die. In this country I learnt to play football -I went to Refugee Council team in Kennington Park [south London]. Every Friday we're playing football and I'm very happy for this.

I love books, I have two library cards. I'm learning English and I'm learning books."


Onnik Krikorian said...

Center for Armenian Information & Advice:

BTW: Yes, very strange story when I can't quite understand what a 16 year old is doing in the U.K. and also, why exactly he's claiming asylum (I mean the official reason -- we all know there are plenty who want to get the hell out for economic reasons).

Anonymous said...

has he definitely come from Armenia and not from an Armenian community in Iraq or something? just wondering...can't see otherwise why he could have claimed asylum here.

artmika said...

Well, that's another possibility... But it was "Armenia" they mentioned within both TV and website reports. When yesterday they said he is from Armenia on BBC New 24 TV channel, I thought I misheard it, and decided to check their website. But no, it's "from Armenia" there too. Very confusing and unclear story, to say the least. As I mentioned already, it seems to me, an important piece of information is missing from these reports.

If I hear or find out anything new, will post it here. Please, do so too. But taking into account very bad flow of information within and between Armenian organisations in Britain, I doubt that they will know more. Let's see.

At some point I wanted to write to BBC, but then changed my mind since I do not think BBC will answer to personal queries on this occasion, and probably rightly so due to sensitive and ethical matters. But at least they should have provided formal reasons of asylum and coming to Britain for this 16 yrs old teenager without leaving readers and viewers in confusion.

ben said...

and how did the 16 years old get out of armenia and how did he enter? the news published in bbc isnt like bbc standards, its just a one-side story and as u say quiet confusing.

Anonymous said...

You know, i had a look at it again. I don't think the kid IS an asylum seeker. I think he just came here and he's trying to make it sound worse there than it is, knowing that most people don't know a thing about Armenia. maybe i'm being cynical, but that's how i see it, actually.
Unless there IS some underlying thing like he was trafficked here, but you would think the BBC would mention that. hmmm...


artmika said...

Very probably, Rhiannon. I thought about it too as one of the possibilities.

Another possibility - very cynical thought from my side now - is that BBC merely used this 16 yrs old Arman’s story as a ‘picture’, background to contrast it with new tougher rules being introduced by government in relation to children related asylum issues. If this is the case, they used this story to show how children ‘escape dangerous life’ and found ‘peaceful refuge’ in the UK (“because in this country people don't die”), and now government may send them back without thinking of their safety etc. If this cynical scenario is the case, it may explain why they did not care providing proper balanced background of the story, as they do in most cases. They just needed someone, and that someone happened to be from Armenia, and as you said, most people in the UK do not know a thing about Armenia, so the picture of 'escaping war, attacks, killings' (?!), as that teenager described his life at home, would be ‘sufficient’ for ordinary viewers and for political purposes.

In any case, as comment by Ben (above) implied too, this is disappointing piece of journalism from the BBC.

Anonymous said...

The fact tat BBC says he is from Armenia does not neccessarily mean so, and the fact he says he is Armenian,does not neccessarily mean so either.The fact that he asked for an Russian interpreter is suspicious as there is quite a few Armenian interpreters out there working for the Home Office. This can anyone from anywhere and as Artmika has mentioned the BBC is just using the guy as a 'young,innocent'refugee from 'Unsteadyland' who may face deportation because of UK government's new policies on immigration. I'll readily help the guy myself if he's genuinely Armenian.