Kurdish child asylum seekers win compensation from UK government for detention ordeal

Ay family at the time of detention

Four Kurdish child asylum seekers from Turkey who spent 13 months locked up in a British immigration centre have won six-figure out-of-court compensation from the Home Office.

In 2002 the Ay family were removed from their home and detained in one room. At the time the four Ay children – Dilovan, Newroz, Beriwan and Medya – were aged between seven and thirteen.

The family had come to Britain to escape persecution in Turkey where the children’s mother, Yurdugal Ay, was reportedly raped by Turkish militia.

Dilovan, now 20, Newroz, 21, Beriwan, 23, and Medya, 16

Dilovan, now 20, Newroz, 21, Beriwan, 23, and Medya, 16

Mrs Ay and her children spent more than a year held inside a compound surrounded by razor wire. They were counted by guards every night before they went to sleep. Their education and health suffered.

“The Home Office stole not only part of our childhood but also our future”, Beriwan Ay, now 23, told the Guardian, adding that – although they were pleased about the award, because of the message it sends the Home Office – they would prefer not to have suffered this ordeal.

The Ay’s case caused a storm of protest at the time with several celebrities, including Archbishop Tutu, JK Rowling and Colin Firth, publicly backing the family. Partly as a result of this the British government says it has now ended the policy of detaining children.