'Hasan', who revealed in a press conference yesterday, the 29th of November, that his real name is Shay Babagar, joined a zoom with journalists to tell them first-hand about his family's experiences at a Serco-run contingency hotel in Stockport, Greater Manchester. Mr Babagar is seeking political asylum in the UK after fleeing Pakistan where he was involved in political activity.
During the hour-long conversation, held in the RAPAR offices as Mr Babagar and his wife and 'sofa-surfing' with friends of RAPAR, and with the help of an interpreter, Shay described the residents' treatment and conditions at the hotel and explained why he took the drastic action of going on hunger strike.
Following the press conference, Mr Babagar's story has featured on the front page of the Morning Star (30th Nov. edition) and on the BBC's North West evening news (29th Nov.).
The piece on the Morning Star - Refugee on 28th day of hunger strike accuses Serco of 'inhuman and degrading treatment' of asylum-seekers - begins:
A refugee on the 28th day of a hunger strike has demanded an end to the “inhuman and degrading treatment” of asylum-seekers in hotels run by disgraced security firm Serco. Backed by a campaigning refugee support group in Manchester, Shay Babagar told an online media conference today that residents suffered poor hygiene, infections, lack of basic toiletries, inadequate food and abuse by staff.
He said he went on hunger strike in desperation on November 2 after complaints were ignored — and will end it only if his demands for change are met. He said: “I am seeking to end, or at least reduce, the harm caused to my family by the inhuman and degrading treatment to which we and others have been subjected by Serco.”
He also said that after he was hospitalised due to the effects of the hunger strike both he and his wife, who suffers Type 1 diabetes, were arrested in their hospital beds by Greater Manchester Police.
He is currently “sofa surfing” in Manchester at the homes of volunteers from the group backing his demands for action, Rapar (Refugee and Asylum-Seeker Participatory Action Research). Mr Babagar is seeking political asylum after fleeing Pakistan where he was involved in political activity. Read the full piece on the Morning Star.
Mr Babagar's story also feature on BBC Northwest's evening news, and you can view the segment here. (We will add a link to the full piece on the BBC website when we have it.)
ITV has reported that in the ongoing and egregious dereliction of duties by the bosses of several state-funded bodies, the person seeking asylum who is on the 21st day of his hunger strike to protest against the 'inhumane' conditions in a Serco-run asylum hotel in Stockport, and his wife who suffers from ill-health, were forced to sleep outside another Serco-run hotel last night after being 'forcibly removed from hospital'.
An asylum seeker on his 21st day of a hunger strike was forced to spend the night outside a hotel in near-freezing temperatures until emergency services were called, it has been claimed.
"Hasan", not his real name, is on hunger strike in protest against what he calls "inhumane" and "degrading" conditions and mistreatment by staff at a Serco-run hotel in Stockport.
He was taken to hospital at the beginning of November as his health deteriorated during his hunger strike.
After two weeks he claims he was then forcibly discharged and taken by police to another Serco-run hotel in Warrington.
Speaking exclusively to ITV News, Hasan said he and his wife, who has diabetes, "spent hours" at a Greater Manchester Police station before they were taken to another Serco-run hotel in Warrington.
Hasan said his pre-existing serious concerns with Serco accommodation in Stockport meant he was dismayed at being taken to a Warrington hotel run by the company.
In a message sent to ITV News from outside the hotel on Tuesday, 22 November, night he said: "Me and my wife are sitting outside in the open sky in this cold weather.
"We are sitting outside because so many times Serco staff have abused us. We are trying to get justice but we have not got justice. "We refuse to stay in any Serco contingency hotel."
Read the full report here.
RAPAR has been working with 'Hasan' and his wife to secure their rights - find out more here.
On ITV: Person seeking asylum on hunger strike against 'inhumane' hotel treatment speaks publicly for first time
On the 17th of November, ITV published an interview with the person who is on hunger strike to protest against the 'inhumane' treatment at Serco-run hotel in Stockport.
Link to ITV page.
The piece begins:
An asylum seeker has now gone fifteen days without food as part of a hunger strike against what he calls "inhumane and degrading" treatment by Home Office-contracted staff at a Stockport hotel.
Hasan, whose name we have changed, was housed in the hotel - which is run by contractor Serco - by the Home Office. He is one of over 100 asylum seekers at the hotel who are waiting for their asylum claims to be processed.
Hasan's condition deteriorated following his hunger strike, and he was taken to hospital. Speaking for the first time, he sent ITV News a video from his hospital bed - via the Manchester charity RAPAR - where he said he felt forced to take action. "I am seeking to end, or at least reduce, the harm caused to my family by the inhumane and degrading treatment to which we and others have been subjected by Serco", he said.
"In pursuit of those reasonable aims, I am on hunger strike, accepting only fluids, electrolytes and vitamins, as recommended by my doctors", he added.
Hasan wants his family are rehoused in "reasonable conditions" and has also called for hotel residents' complaints to be resolved.
"We residents must not be subjected to any form of retribution if we raise complaints", he added.
Serco strongly rejects the allegations.
On the same piece, ITV published an interview with a teenager seeking asylum, also housed at the Stockport hotel, who said that living there feels like an 'open prison', and an interview with RAPAR's Dr Rhetta Moran who criticised the "hostile environment" for refugees and asylum seekers in the UK. Dr Moran urged people and government not to make refugees scapegoats, and said: "These are people who have been through some of the most awful conditions. We must not be drawn into the latest attempts to divide and rule."
Full piece here.
On the BBC: Stockport Council and RAPAR speak out about scabies outbreak, rubbish in corridors and "inhumane treatment" in Serco-run asylum hotel
The BBC have featured RAPAR's exposé about the degrading and inhuman conditions in a Serco-run asylum hotel in Greater Manchester.
Serco have denied all the allegations. However, in a press release that RAPAR issued this week, we reported that Stockport Council shared RAPAR's grave concerns about the conditions in the hotel:
A spokesperson for the Stockport council leader said they share RAPAR’s concerns about conditions in the hotel “where the inadequate management arrangements and resettlement planning continue to cause extremely negative consequences.”
Cllr Hunter’s office agrees that appropriate preventative arrangements are not in place at the hotel and that the model, which is designed for a high turnover, is not working.
“The asylum seekers and Stockport residents are suffering. Asylum seekers have been cooped up in a hotel for months and this inhumane treatment acts as a Petri dish for mental health issues in a cohort that are already vulnerable,” says the council leader’s statement.
See the full press release here.
On Friday the 11th of November, the BBC included a segment on its evening news about asylum hotels. We asked the BBC to send us the clip to share - it is available to view on this link.
The BBC said on its news page:
Residents at a hotel accommodating asylum seekers faced a scabies outbreak and "inhumane treatment", a council and a charity have claimed.
Stockport Council said people were "cooped up" at an unnamed hotel in the town for a number of months, with some residents being treated for scabies.
Human rights charity Rapar said piles of rubbish were left in corridors and insects were found in food.
Serco, which runs the hotel, said there were "currently no cases of scabies".
The firm told BBC North West Tonight that waste was removed daily, a balanced and nutritious menu was served and staff treated residents with respect.
Council leader Mark Hunter said the town had "provided warm support to asylum seekers, Afghan evacuees and Ukrainians over the past year or so", but both hotel residents and locals were "suffering" due to conditions at the site.
"Asylum seekers have been cooped up… for months and this inhumane treatment acts as a Petri dish for mental health issues in a cohort that are already vulnerable," he said.
"We are aware that there is an outbreak of scabies and it is because of the arrangements we have put in place that individuals are receiving treatment."
Follow this link to the BBC page.