Supporters of a Nepali Baptist couple seeking asylum in Great Britain claim they were verbally abused and the husband physically assaulted by U.K. Border Agency (UKBA) guards.
The entrance to the Yarl's Wood Immigration and Detention Centre in Great Britain, where a Nepali Baptist couple have been detained. (Photo: Oliver White)
Govinda Pokharel and Jamuna Rijal were in the process of being deported recently. However, they refused to get on the plane. Pokharel said he suffered a number of injuries as guards tried to force the couple on.
Eventually, the pilot refused to fly unless the couple were taken off the plane.
On the bus back to the detention center, they were subjected to verbal abuse from the guards, including religious persecution and insults, according to the couple's supporters.
Pokharel and Rijal attended Coverdale Baptist Church in Ardwick, Manchester, before being taken to Yarl's Wood immigration removal center.
The church's minister, Rev. Harry Pritchard, visited them in Yarl's Wood the day after the incident. He said Pokharel's right arm was in a sling, his wrists had graze marks "all the way round" and that he was covered in scratches and pinch marks.
Pritchard, who has appealed personally to the UKBA to allow the couple temporary leave on compassionate grounds, said they were "shaken and subdued" following the ordeal.
The couple's asylum application has failed. They fear for their lives should they be made to return to Nepal and believe the UKBA has not given sufficient weight to new evidence.
They originally left Nepal after receiving threats from the Madheshi Virus Killer Party (MVKP) after one of its members was killed in a police raid when Pokharel, who was politically active, had reported the MVKP's attempts to blackmail him.
His asylum claim was rejected on the grounds that the MVKP does not operate in Kathmandu, but his brother, Prabin Pokharel, was tracked there and left for dead.
The Nepali police have confirmed the attack was carried out by the MVKP.
Since then Prabin Pokharel has been kidnapped – and has not been seen since.
In response to the allegations, a UKBA spokesperson said, "The U.K. Border Agency would prefer that those with no legal basis to remain in the U.K. leave voluntarily.
"Where they do not, we will seek to enforce their removal.
"We expect the highest standards of integrity and behavior from our staff and contractors.
"We take all allegations of mistreatment seriously and report such allegations to the appropriate authorities, including the police for alleged assaults, as a matter of routine."
This article appeared originally in The Baptist Times of Great Britain.