Thank you... and how you can help our prisoners abroad
Aug 7, 2019 —
Dear (Concerned) Supporters,
I am Gurpreet Singh Johal, co-founder of the British Rights Abroad Group alongside Daniela Tejada, Richard Ratcliffe, Yemisrach Hailemariam and Yvonne Irving. I am the brother of Jagtar Singh Johal, who has been detained in India since 2017 when he traveled there to get married.
I would like to start by thanking you for joining our fight and for raising much needed awareness for our British Rights Abroad Campaign. Our petition which was only launched last Monday very quickly became viral due to your actions and sharing amongst others around the world. We must not forget that there are many Brits Abroad, whether on holiday, retirement or for work therefore the lack of protection affects each one of us and our loved ones. A petition which was started by a handful of families has rapidly confirmed the need to ensure that protections are provided by the UK Government.
The founders of the British Rights Abroad Group have experienced the lack of protections to Brits abroad and of the Foreign Office’s (FCO) failures. Over time, we will tell of our individual stories and why this campaign is important for all. You will hear from some families who have had their loved ones return and others like Naznain and Jagtar who are still detained abroad.
My brother, a British National by birth, travelled to India to get married in October 2017, within two weeks of his marriage, whilst on route to go shopping with his newly wedded wife and cousin, he was hooded and forced into a car, leaving his newly wedded wife and cousin helpless in the middle Punjab, India.
I was called in the UK, and immediately called the FCO in London and sought their assistance and I was shocked to hear that they couldn’t do anything. Furthermore I was shocked to hear that we had to wait to hear from the Indian authorities. It transpired that the Indian Authorities had abducted (detained) Jagtar, and although they are required to inform the British Authorities about detaining a British national within 24 hours, they failed to do so.
Jagtar has confirmed in a written note that he was subjected to horrific torture and mistreatment for the first four days of his detention. Furthermore Jagtar was subjected to a “trial by media” when Jagtar was pronounced guilty by High Political figures and the High Ranked Officers in India in a live press conference. To date, an independent medical examination has not been carried out. The FCO are fully apprised of the position but failed to protect its citizen from being tortured and subjected to a trial by media.
The FCO, visited Jagtar on one occasion at a police station and found him chained by the hands in the cell.
The #FreeJaggiNow campaign continues to fight for Jagtar’s release and to be returned to the UK, where he belongs. The FCO continue to fail Jagtar’s fundamental Human Rights, of a right not be tortured, a right to a fair trial and independent medical examination. I never imagined that, as a British national our rights were not protected. I would not wish for anyone to face these difficulties that each of the founders have experienced, and accordingly call for the British Government to protect their citizens abroad.
At present, the British Government has no legislation to protect its citizens abroad. The policy applied by the FCO is on a discretionary basis and often at the discretion of the case workers. I have had over 9 caseworkers for Jagtar’s case who have all used a different approach which contradicts the previous caseworker.
I am solicitor by profession in the UK and I have advocated for many human rights abuses of non-British nationals however I never thought, along with the Founders of this campaign, we would need to advocate for the rights of Brits abroad. This campaign has been called to protect OUR rights as British nationals abroad and to protect YOUR freedom and Human Rights. Today, it is us, tomorrow it could be YOU or a loved one.
How you can help:
1. Call for Boris Johnson to ensure our rights are protected: by sharing the public letter we wrote in the Telegraph demanding change
2. Follow us on twitter and share the regular updates.
3. Contact us in confidence, if you have faced similar experiences on firstname.lastname@example.org
We will continue to raise the matter and we thank you for your continued support.
Keep fighting for people power!
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