Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Roadblocks to Asylum - By Tram Nguyen

The Democratic Republic of Congo in the late 1990s was wracked by an insurrection of armed rebel groups supported by Rwanda and Uganda. During the fighting, which continued even after a ceasefire was signed in 1999, tens of thousands of women were raped and tortured by soldiers.

“I’m telling you in my country, there are no human rights. It’s the women who suffer,” Hortense, a thirty-one-year-old Congolese woman, says.

As a nurse, Hortense was working the night shift in a village hospital when soldiers came by accusing her of treating insurgents and demanding to know where they were, she says. They took her into detention for three days during which she was interrogated, beaten, and denied food. They threatened to cut off her breasts and hands.

She was then transferred to a prison where she stayed for two weeks until a priest talked a sympathetic guard into letting her escape with him.

Dressed as a nun and carrying a fake passport, Hortense crossed the border to Uganda, continued to Kenya, and boarded a plane to Mexico City in the summer of 2003. After three days on a bus, she was within sight of the U.S.-Mexico border.
“You can go to the border officials and tell them that you want asylum. But they will put you into detention while they process your case,” she remembers being told by a nun who had accompanied her. “Or you can cross the border illegally with a smuggler.” more..


Post a Comment

<< Home