Statement to Clear Up Misinformation about Aderonke’s Campaign
We at Migrant Solidarity have been overjoyed by the success of Aderonke’s campaign, which has gone viral around the world with petitions gathering hundreds of thousands of signatures and several demonstrations of solidarity and support held around the UK. We have been humbled by the energy and heart so many individuals and groups have shown in making this a reality. It is inspiring and emboldening to see such a response to injustice and a desire to support Aderonke in her dire situation.
We cannot neglect the role technology has played in making this global and collective action by you all possible. But with its benefits technology can also bring its pitfalls. The ease with which we can share information and raise awareness, so essential for this campaign, becomes a problem when this information is inaccurate. This is especially important when Aderonke’s future depends upon the UK Home Office accepting her version of events as true. Given their track record of arbitrary rejection of asylum claims for the flimsiest of reasons, and their systematic refusal to acknowledge the sexuality of many LGBTIQ* claimants, it is vital that the information being shared around the world corresponds to Aderonke’s own account. We therefore would like to present here the version of events Aderonke herself attests to:
Aderonke was arrested, tortured and extorted by the Nigerian Police due to her sexuality; her girlfriend of over 20 years was later brutally murdered by vigilantes. She also had problems emanating from her religion which led to her being physically attacked, the death of her family members and a death sentence by stoning was passed on her by the Sharia court. Following these persecutions, Aderonke fled to the UK in 2004 and claimed asylum. However, the reality is that on top of the death sentence Aderonke faces on return for her religion she would also face persecution and imprisonment by a state that has criminalised homosexuality. Aderonke is seeking asylum in the UK because in Nigeria she would be unable to express her identity either as an out Christian lesbian or as a lesbian without risking persecution, violence or even death. For all these reasons it is absolutely deplorable that the UK Home Office continues to try to remove her. It is therefore essential that she be granted asylum immediately.
We don’t think for a minute that misinformation has arisen out of malice or intentional deception. Rather the requirements of short, snappy, easily digestible media have resulted in a sort of “Chinese Whispers” effect where a complex case has been too quickly summarised and repeated. But the nuances of Aderonke’s case are what will make the difference between a decision to grant status or refusal in the UK courts.
We are so grateful for all the work that has been done and we will continue to struggle alongside you all to achieve justice for Aderonke and many others. We mean this statement as a clarification which will hopefully strengthen all that we have achieved so far for the future ahead.
With much love and solidarity,