On Monday June 19th Samuel Mnyama, who fled persecution in Zimbabwe and won a Year of the Volunteer award for his work at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, will join Leeds MP Fabian Hamilton in a refugee carnival procession through Leeds.
Samuel Mnyama, 37, had spent 15 years working his way up a commercial bank in Zimbabwe and becoming a manager, when his voluntary work with the opposition MDC party in Zimbabwe led to him being arrested, abused and stalked by Mugabe’s intelligence services. Samuel would like nothing better than to be able to return to his old job , but says that cannot happen until there is the freedom of political activity that people enjoy in the UK.
The procession, which will be backed by a samba band, starts at Leeds Central Library at 12pm and travels through the city centre via Millenium Square, ending back at the library at 1.15pm where Fabian Hamilton MP, Claris Spence, Chair of Leeds Refugee Forum and Charlotte Cooke, Refugee Council Yorkshire and Humberside Manager will speak.The event marks the beginning of Refugee Week 2006 (June 18-24th) which this year has the backing of all three major party leaders.
Charlotte Cooke said:
“Albert Einstein, Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud all came to the UK as refugees. Fish and chips and the Mini were both brought to Britain by refugees. They were grateful for the sanctuary given to them and went on to put Britain on the map as a place of free thinking and endeavour. We see enormous talent and potential among the people who we help at the Refugee Council in Yorkshire and Humberside. Who knows what skills, insight and talents there are among the refugees who have found welcome here? People all over Yorkshire have been very generous in welcoming refugees and today is an opportunity to remember that and to celebrate our future together.”
For further information and interviews contact Richard Byrne on 0113 386 2235/ 07776203404
Notes to editors:
1. Samuel won a Year of the Volunteer award for his work at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, where he helps with childrens visits, educational work and exhibitions. He is available for interviews.
2. Other events in Refugee Week in Leeds include the ‘Refugee World Cup’ football tournament (Sunday June 18th), a fashion show, an arts showcase, film screenings and photo exhibitions.
3. In a unique collaboration, Tony Blair MP, David Cameron MP and Menzies Campbell MP have set aside their differences to give their joint support to Refugee Week 2006, saying how much they value the contributions given by refugees to this country, and to restate their commitment to providing sanctuary to people fleeing persecution. See Refugee Council press release: ‘Different pasts, shared future’ – unique collaboration as party leaders praise the contribution of refugees