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November 28, 2003

Court lobbied on asylum case

From: BBC News, UK - Nov 28, 2003

Campaigners were lobbying a court in Manchester on Friday to urge it to allow two deaf asylum seekers to remain in the UK.

The immigration court was due to give its final ruling in the case of the two girls, who are sisters and come from Pakistan.

Sameeha and Shahinda Akhtar fled with their families, from what they claim was persecution in their native country.

The family claim the girls were held hostage by a gunman outside a school for the deaf in Karachi.

Home Secretary David Blunkett and Manchester Blackley MP Graham Stringer have both been handed petitions as part of the campaign to help them stay in the UK.

Akhtar Hussain, the girls' father, said: "We came to the UK in 1999 to claim asylum.

Tunnel vision

"Recently the Home Office announced that 15,000 families can stay. We believe that we are eligible, so the Home office should let us stay."

Sameeha, 19, and Shahinda, aged 14, both have Usher Syndrome, which means that they are profoundly deaf and deteriorating sight has left them with tunnel vision.

In October campaigners handed a 1000-name petition supporting the sisters' case to Mr Blunkett. Another one with nearly 3,000 names was given to Mr Stringer.

Both girls are studients at City College, Manchester, and their case has been supported by the National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns (NCADC).

The NCADC was also lobbying on behalf of a deaf student from Latvia, Kristine Mitrovska, who was expecting ruling on her asylum application.