Page last updated at 14:02 GMT, Saturday, 19 April 2008 15:02 UK

Demo tribute to removed Ghanaian

Ama Sumani supporters
Demonstrators sing in memory of Ama Sumani in Queen Street, Cardiff

Supporters of a terminally ill woman who died after being sent back to her native Ghana by the Home Office have staged a tribute demonstration.

Ama Sumani, 39, had been receiving cancer treatment at a Cardiff hospital when she was removed from the UK in January after her visa expired.

The lunchtime protest in Queen Street, Cardiff, marked a month since the death of the widowed mother-of-two.

Organisers say they want to show such a situation must not be repeated.

Local government worker and trade union representative Karen Tyre, who had been involved in Ms Sumani's campaign, said: "Ama's deportation shows just how cruel politicians can be when dealing with human life.

"To them, Ama was a statistic, a number, but for millions of people who learned of her plight she was a real person who was ignored by those who had the power to help her.

Janet Symmons
We want to send a message to the authorities that this was something that shouldn't have happened
Janet Symmons

Ms Sumani had been suffering from malignant myeloma and was being treated at the University Hospital of Wales when she was sent back to her homeland by immigration officials on 9 January.

The decision to remove her from the UK was condemned by the medical journal The Lancet and Archbishop of Wales Barry Morgan.

Ms Sumani, whose daughter and son are aged 16 and seven, was unable to afford proper treatment for her cancer, which would have prolonged her life for a time, and died on 19 March in the Ghanaian capital Accra.

Friend Janet Symmons, who visited Ms Sumani in her final weeks in Ghana, said: "The demonstration is not just about Ama.

"We want to send a message to the authorities that this was something that shouldn't have happened.

"We are all human and we all make mistakes. We all have decisions to make and now and again we do get those decisions wrong and this was one of those cases. The authorities got it wrong.

Foreign nationals

Ama Sumani poster
Supporters say they hope Ama Sumani's plight will never be repeated

"We want people who are in a similar situation to Ama to know that there are people out there for them and that they should take hope from that and use it to carry on their fight."

Mrs Symmons said she had found out about a lot of other foreign nationals in similar situations in the UK.

"Ama's tragedy touched a lot of people, but it is important to understand that there are hundreds of people in similar situations right now," she explained.

"I never thought something like this could happen in this country but we have received such a lot of support from everybody that it has restored my confidence in the British system.

"It gives us hope that this will not happen again and that the British people care even, if the people in authority can't get these decisions right every time."

Ms Sumani moved to the UK as a visitor in 2003 but ran into visa problems after attempting to find work.

This contravened her student visa and after travelling to Ghana in 2005 to attend a memorial service for her late husband her visa was revoked on her return to the UK.

She was first taken ill in January 2006 and until her removal was receiving dialysis treatment which was helping to prolong her life.

Lin Homer, head of the Border and Immigration Agency, Lin Homer, has told MPs that Ms Sumani did not stand out from other difficult case.

Alun Michael, the Labour MP for Cardiff South and Penarth, who was Ms Sumani's MP when she lived in Wales, has said her case was thoroughly examined.

He has said the debate was really about "the quality of treatment and medical services available" in Ghana, and asked "whether it's right for somebody who has no right to be in this country to be given medical treatment which would not be available to them had they not become an illegal resident."


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