All copyright Russell Boyce

 

Kurdish refugees wait in their rooms at Harmondsworth Detention Centre near Heathrow west of London July 28, 1989. They have fled turkey and have asked for political asylum claiming persecution. Boredom is a major problem for the detainees as they wait for the British Home Office to decide if they can stay in the UK or to deport them back to Turkey.

 

 

In 1989, just before Britain changed the visa laws, 3700 Kurds arrived in Britain to try to start a new life.  

 

 

 

Shia minority Kurdish refugees have fled to Britain from Turkey seeking political asylum where they claim to have be persecuted and tortured by the Sunni majority.  Their application to remain in Britain is looked at on a case-by-case process with some being described as “economic migrants” and sent home.

 

A Kurdish girl holds a banner during a march by Kurdish refugees and their supporters in east London June 29, 1989.  The march was organized to draw attention to the Kurds claim that the nearly 3000 refugees have been forced to leave Turkey due to persecution by the Turkish government.  

 

A woman wearing traditional Kurdish dress takes part in a demonstration by Kurdish refugees and their supporters in east London July 29, 1989. Hundreds turned out to show their support for the Kurdish refugees claim for the right to remain in the UK.

 

 

 

Kurdish men on hunger strike take part in a demonstration by Kurdish refugees and their supporters in east London July 29, 1989. Hundreds turned out to show their support for the Kurdish refugees claim for the right to remain in the UK.

 

Kurdish refugees dance to a drum beat during a protest march through east London June 29, 1989. The march was organised to draw attention to the Kurds claim that the nearly 3000 refugees have been forced to leave Turkey due to persecution by the Turkish government.

  

Many of the Kurdish refugees who have been recently released from Harmondsworth detention centre meet in Loyola hall, a temporary community centre in Haringey, East London. Here they can buy cheap meals, exchange stories from their homeland and plan their campaigns to try to remain in Britain. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two Kurdish refugees prepare food for other refugees in Loyola hall in Hackney, east London August 14, 1989. The meals are simple and cheap consisting of meat, vegetables and rice. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A man struggles to sort through English currency coins as he pays for his 'soup kitchen' meal in Loyola hall in Hackney, east London July 23, 1989.

 

 

 

 

 

A Kurdish family wait in Loyola hall in Hackney July 23, 1989. They cannot speak English and have fled from Turkey seeking asylum in Britain. While they wait to hear if their request for asylum is granted they are not allowed to work and are dependant on state handout. If this appeal is rejected they will be forced to return to Turkey.  

 

 

 

 

Mehmet and his wife walk to their room in Islington, north London. Mehmet pays $182 a week for a single bedroom in a house in which he shares the bathroom and kitchen with several others. He shares this room with his wife and their two young children.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mehmet Bilgili sits on his bed to pose for pictures as he shows the scars on his arms and body along with his medical card for the treatment of torture victims September 11, 1989. Mehmet claims he was beaten by Turkish police on his head, arms body and feet, and burned with cigarettes.  

 

Mehmet Bilgili and his family demonstrate how they all have to sleep in the same bed in Islington, north London September 11, 1989.

 

 

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