I want to make my dad proud and not feel like he gave his life away for no reason
August 27, 2011 2:06 PM Subscribe
posted by guster4lovers (32 comments total)
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In 2005, Manuel Bravo, 35, walked to a stairwell of the Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal Center carrying a bedsheet. He hung himself. The note he left indicated that he had done it so that his son, Antonio Bravo, 13, could remain in the United Kingdom to be educated.
The pair were to be deported back to war-torn Angola the next day, where they alleged that they had been victims of abuse by the ruling party. Now, Antonio is 19, training to be an electrician, speaking in Yorkshire dialect, no longer speaks his native Porteguese, and will be deported back to Angola if his humanitarian visa is not extended. "My family, they're English," he said, referring to the Beaumonts (his adoptive family). "Britain, that's my culture."
Antonio's mother died in childbirth, and his stepmother has since remarried. His only sibling, a younger brother, is living with relatives in the UK (on a Portuguese passport under EU privileges). Antonio's humanitarian visa expires on September 18th.
An investigation into the events leading to Manuel Bravo's suicide has concluded (in the NYT article):
Contractors now run 7 of Britain's 11 immigration detention centers, where capacity has grown 75 percent since 2001. Mr. Bravo's one day in custody is documented in rare detail in inquest records. What still haunts Antonio is the moment when G4S transport guards discovered a brand-new clothesline in his father's bag. They took the rope from Mr. Bravo, who was under treatment for depression, but never alerted Yarl's Wood. G4S declined to comment for this article on its operations, either in general or with regard to the Bravo case.
A nurse at Yarl's Wood, employed by another subcontractor, confiscated Mr. Bravo's antidepressants and did not ask if he was suicidal - for fear, she testified, of putting the idea in his head. Official inquiries concluded that these lapses made no difference.
Father and son were escorted through eight locked doors to their room, where Antonio waited while Mr. Bravo made last-ditch phone calls.
One was to the vicar, who had been unable to reach government officials. "He was really struggling," Mr. Kaye said. "He was terrified of going back."
When Mr. Bravo returned to their room, Antonio said, he brought bad news: their deportation was set for 10:30 a.m. "He said, 'Whatever happens, be brave and strong and I'm proud of you.' "