" I am a journalist - I thought it was important to let people know the truth. I didn't want to sit back and watch government corruption going on around me. But reporting it endangered my life and my family's "
Investigative journalist Mansoor Hassan (40), his wife Aqila (38) who is a Teacher, and their three daughters ; Mashal (4), Masooma (8), and Amrat (10), and their son Taimoor (11).
Mansoor Hassan worked as an investigative journalist, exposing senior officials' criminal activities in Pakistan where, according to Human Rights Watch, the government "systematically violates the fundamental rights" of journalists "through threats, harassment, and arbitrary arrests". Mansoor's asylum claim has been rejected - he and his family face removal.
He wrote an article exposing the Honour Killing of a young woman by her own father, a member of the provincial assembly - Mansoor was attacked by the father's family and says they burned his house down. The asylum appeal adjudicator accepted that Mansoor wrote the article and was subsequently attacked.
Mansoor wrote about a company owned by the Minister of Agriculture that sold toxic substances to farmers - the Minister's henchmen beat Mansoor up, and his family was threatened by the secret services and the police. The adjudicator accepted that Mansoor wrote that article and was threatened as a consequence.
A known criminal and murderer shot at Mansoor after he wrote an article about him, which the adjudicator also accepted.
Mansoor's family were poisoned in a restaurant - the adjudicator said that "I accept that the Appellant and his family were the subject of severe barbiturate poisoning but I do not accept that this was deliberate".
During all these assaults and attacks in Pakistan, Mansoor and his family were forced to move from one city to another, but the people he had exposed were continually persecuting them. Referred to in the Home Office's own 2004 Country Report on Pakistan "journalists across the country complained of increased harassment and intimidation, often by personnel of intelligence agencies". Mansoor said they could not rely on any protection by the Pakistan police. Ultimately, he fled Pakistan in 2002 for the safety of his young children and claimed asylum in the UK.
In their "Threats to Journalists Escalate" 03/12/03 report, Human Rights Watch says that the Pakistan government "has systematically violated the fundamental rights of members of the press corps through threats, harassment, and arbitrary arrests". The US State Department's "Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - 2003" released in February 2004 says that "Provincial and local governments occasionally arrested journalists and closed newspapers that were critical of the Government or printed allegedly offensive material" and that "Journalists were targets of harassment and violence by individuals and groups".
Having accepted that as a consequence of his investigative journalism, Mansoor had been subjected to a series of threats, attacked, and shot at, the adjudicator described these experiences merely as "anxiety", that Mansoor would be "perfectly safe somewhere else in Pakistan" and that he was "not at any on-going risk".
Since Mansoor left Pakistan, the Minister of Agriculture has become a Federal Minister - even more powerful and even more of a threat to Mansoor and his family. Human Rights Watch say that that the "military government is becoming increasingly intolerant of press freedoms in Pakistan" and that "the arrest of editors and reporters from local and regional newspapers on charges of sedition is becoming increasingly commonplace".
Despite their skills, Mansoor and Aqila have been denied the right to work, pay tax and support their own family. In the two years they have been here, Mansoor has worked as a volunteer with the British Red Cross and a refugee orientation programme. He is a parent governor at his childrens' school. Aqila is a teacher and holds an MSc in Economics. She has worked on a voluntary basis at the children's school and with a Manchester project for children of refugees and asylum seekers. She has successfully undertaken training as a classroom assistant, community interpreting, ESOL, and Clait. The UK is desperately short of teachers - Agila is a teacher and wants nothing more than to work as one.
All Mansoor and Agila's children are achieving at school ; their Head Teacher said "they have settled very well in school, collectively make the most of their learning opportunities, have made friends with other children and their behaviour is always excellent. The children are skilled communicators both verbally and in the written form… and have made positive contributions to the life of Varna Street School"
The National Union of Journalists and the NEM Advertiser have launched a campaign for the Hassan Family. The NEM has subsequently received death threats and the Hassan Family has been forced to move house. For more information about the Hassan Family's asylum claim, please read their leaflet (link below).
2) Fax/write to Des Browne, Minister for Immigration, requesting that the Hassan Family be allowed to stay using the model letter 'Attached', which you can copy/amend/write your own - if you use your own text, please includes the Hassan's HO ref. H1093727
Fax no : 020 7273 2043, or from outside the UK : + 44 20 7273 2043
Or write to:
Minister for Immigration
50 Queen Anne's Gate
London SW1H 9AT
Please send a copy of anything sent to the campaign:
3 ) Invite Mansoor Hassan to invite at a public event
contact : firstname.lastname@example.org
4) Download the Help the Hassan Family Stay leaflet and distribute
The 'Attached' leaflet contains more information about the Hassan Family's asylum claim. For volume printing, please print the two A4's and photocopy double-sided to make one single A4. This is a large file 1.4mega bytes MansrHassanFamilyLeaflet.pdf
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