URGENT ACTION: Help to free detained journalist

People in the UK are being urged to protest to Members of Parliament about the detention of an asylum-seeking Iraqi journalist who faces persecution, and even death, if he is deported.

Sarwar Gareb, aged 35, from Leicester, is a member of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ). He used to live in Kurdistan and wrote for Bo Peshawa, the newspaper of the Worker Communist Party of Iraq.

Sarwar has previously been arrested, held and tortured by the Kurdish authorities. On Friday he was taken to the Campsfield House immigration detention centre at Kidlington, near Oxford. He could be deported within 72 hours.

NUJ Northern Organiser Chris Morley has written to Home Secretary Jacqui Smith asking for Sarwar to be released and for his case to be reviewed.

The letter said:  "Mr Gareb was a member of the Worker Communist Party of Iraq and prominent journalist, campaigning both professionally and politically for women's, children's and workers' rights. As such, this made him deeply unpopular with the two main political parties, the PUK and KDP  — both of which imprisoned and tortured him.

 "As a result he was forced to flee for his life to seek asylum in the UK on July 16, 2000, where he has since enjoyed freedom from persecution. In this time, Gareb has been an active member of the community, including becoming chair of the Relive magazine in Leicester that provides assistance to Kurdish people in the city."

Sarwar's MP, Sir Peter Soulsby, has also written to the home office to raise the case.

Chris Morley added: "Sarwar is an NUJ member whose life, I am sure, is very much at risk if the Home Office carry out the threat to remove him from the UK to Iraq.

 "He was forced to flee from the country nine years ago after suffering persecution and has since led a productive and positive life while in the UK.

 "We are calling on the Home Secretary Jacqui Smith and Immigration Minister Liam Byrne to immediately carry out a thorough review of Sarwar's case so that he is rgiven leave to remain in the UK   -safe from the huge risks he would face on return to his homeland."

Sarwar is a chemistry   graduate and has extensive skills as a graphic designer. He has had three exhibitions of his graphics work shown in Leicester, Nottingham and Milton Keynes.

If you live in the UK please take urgent action. Find your MP and write to them. Tell them you are a constituent who is concerned about Sarwar's safety if he is returned to Iraq. Ask them to raise the case with the home office on your behalf.
* For more information contact: NUJ, 308-312 Gray's Inn Rd, London WC1X 8DP. Tel: 0207 278 7916. Fax: 0207 837 8143. Email:info@nuj.org.uk