Colchester, United Kingdom

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Artist's Description

This is another image in my series on the funeral of a Kurdish asylum seeker in London. This one is of a group of mourners who accompanied the coffin on the funeral march.

This is one of a series of images I took on the funeral march of Siho Iyiguven, a Kurdish man seeking asylum in the UK in 1989. At the time there was an influx of Kurdish people fleeing persecution by the Turkish authorities. Siho was unfortunate to be imprisoned without trial or even being placed on remand… simply because the there were no places available in the detention centres and as a result of the policies of the Conservative government. He had done nothing wrong, except seek asylum in the UK and an escape form the Turkish death squads that we killing Kurds at the time. He died 5th Oct 1989.

So, in desperation, he and another Kurdish man set fire to their cell. He and his cellmate went on hungerstrike, barricaded themselves in and set bedding alight as a protest. Smoke detectors were not working, few fire extinguishers worked and there were no sprinklers. An inquest recorded a misadventure verdict. 2,000 people followed Iyiguven’s funeral procession last Saturday; the mourners intended to present a black wreath to the Prime Minister’s residence but were prevented from doing so by the police.

Ten days after Siho’s death, Halil Guzel was deported back to Turkey. He spent the night before his deportation in handcuffs attached to his belt; on his arrival at Istanbul airport he was immediately arrested. Another refugee attempted suicide by slashing his wrists and neck.

Just recently, his son (who was a child at the time) has got in touch after seeing one of my photos on the web. His mother has died and he is only now finding the truth out abut what happened. Ironically, as a result of the publicity, his mother and he were allowed to stay in the UK, even though his father died fighting for that right.

Artwork Comments

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