We are very shocked and saddened to hear of the death of our courageous “sister”, Manjeet Kaur, former chair of the organisation RAPAR (Refugee and Asylum Participatory Action Research), who was born on International Women’s Day 1979. She passed away on 25 April.
We first heard about Manjeet in 2014 when the Home Office dismissed her asylum claim as unsuccessful. So Serco was threatening to make her homeless and evict her, a wheelchair user, from the accommodation they ran in Whalley Range, Manchester. But Manjeet, RAPAR and friends campaigned and fought her case. A tribunal judge ruled that she was still entitled to housing support as her asylum claim had not been properly considered and she was pursuing it, it was not closed.
Manjeet had left Afghanistan for India to escape the Taliban. But once in India, her husband Amitt Bhatt, a journalist critical of the Indian government’s brutality in Kashmir, went into hiding. Already a wheelchair user after having polio, Manjeet was terrorised by men who twice came to her home and beat her, to try and get her to tell them where her husband was, and they subsequently threatened her with rape and death. The Home Office wanted to return her there.
In Manchester she was involved in RAPAR and the UK-wide asylum rights movement. She also came to London to meet with the All African Women’s Group and colleagues at the Crossroads Women’s Centre (now in a coalition called Global Women Against Deportations). They remember her as warm-hearted, a bold speaker, and a precious part of the movement for immigration, asylum, disability and women’s rights.
She came through so many ordeals. After she arrived in the UK, we hold the Home Office responsible for extending what she suffered. In 2019, Manjeet’s lively public campaign succeeding in her finally winning refugee status. But she had lived through many years of incredibly stressful insecurity, on top of the health complications of polio and of the injuries inflicted in India by agents of the government.
She is survived by her daughter Naysa born in 2015.
More about Manjeet here: