This morning I checked my emails as usual – clicked on Zatoun’s newsletter and expected to hear about all their “meet the producer” activities during Fairtrade Fortnight this year. [Zatoun work with different Palestinian producers to export their goods to the UK and create demand for their artisianal goods.]
Sadly all their well laid plans are out the window as the visas for Fairtrade producer Bassema Barahmeh and Canaan Fair Trade marketing assistant Lamis Zamzam were denied on the grounds of their insufficient personal income and the lack of family dependents that could prove sufficient “ties to their home country”. This would have been Bassema and Lamis’s first visit to the UK and they were attending events under a SUSY-funded project highlighting the social and solidarity economy, in partnership with Think Global, Waterford One World Centre and the Cooperative College.
Despite having launched their application process before Christmas, and the decision having been made on 18th January, Bassema and Lamis were told they could not be informed of the final decision until 22 February, just two days before they were due to leave on their journey. This left them with no time to submit additional paperwork in support of their claim, and means they are unable to get to talks, presentations and interviews around the UK and Ireland.
It’s still surprising to me that this kind of things keeps happening; it feels like each year some producers have problems with their visas when coming to support our annual Fairtrade Fortnight campaign.
So what we can we do ?
- Zatoun have drafted the letter below which you can download via the link – the letter is a draft that your MP can send on. Please do fill it in & send it on to your MP and please do spread the word & get your friends & fairtrade supporters on to the case.
- Home_Office_sample_letter_FINAL (1)
- Zatoun are asking customers and supporters to reach out and send messages of support to Lamis and Bassema on Twitter and Facebook, tagging your messages #WhyNoVisa and #VisasforFarmers and mentioning @Zaytoun_CIC so we can collate the messages.
- Join Zatoun on Twitter & check out their Facebook events page to keep up to date on the news.
All the planned events are still going ahead and the Zatoun team are covering the events.
We wish Bassema and Lamis all the best in getting their visas if its possible within the timeframes 🙂