Moroccan Jew found dead at UK detention centre was ‘kindest and gentlest soul’
search

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Moroccan Jew found dead at UK detention centre was ‘kindest and gentlest soul’

Amir Siman-Tov
Amir Siman-Tov

The UK Government has refused to give any details about the death of a Moroccan Jewish man who died in detention near Heathrow last week, despite being on 24-hour suicide watch.

Amir Siman-Tov, whose wife is pregnant, was this week described by those who knew him as “the kindest and gentlest soul,” after he died in mysterious circumstances at Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre,

Thought to be in his 30s, Siman-Tov is yet to be named by the UK Government, despite his next-of-kin being informed. No details were given on his death, and crucially, further information was deemed “unlikely”.

Following repeated enquiries by Jewish News, a Home Office spokeswoman said of the 17 February death: “We don’t routinely comment on individual cases… I think a subsequent update is unlikely.”

However questions are being asked after a fellow detainee said Siman-Tov had been “denied everything, all night” by medical and supervisory staff at Colnbrook.

Adel Kader, 50, from Lebanon, met Siman-Tov at the centre and said: “He was put into healthcare as soon as he arrived… He had a nurse with him all the time. He was on suicide watch.” Kader said the Jewish migrant was “a quiet and intelligent person” and “a very gentle man”, adding: “When he came in last month he was fit.”

Siman-Tov was one of 400 detainees at Colnbrook, an outsourced high-security centre similar to a modern prison, and the inmates can be held without limit – a policy heavily criticised by Jewish human rights groups.

“This tragic incident once again highlights the lethal policy of indefinite detention,” said Mia Hasenson-Gross, director of the London-based René Cassin organisation.

“This is now 25 deaths in UK immigration detention centres. The evidence that it is harmful is indisputable. The fact that this man is Jewish connects to our community, but this policy affects over 30,000 migrants every year.”

Michael Goldin, a specialist in immigration law based in north London, helped Siman-Tov last year, and has been shocked by his unexplained death.

“I knew Amir,” he said. “Last September he contacted me looking for advice. He had a complex immigration history, having been granted status at one point, then having it rescinded. I tried to help him navigate the system and did my best to help support him with his mental health issues.”

Goldin added: “We became quite close and would often speak about Judaism, and his plans for the future. It was a huge shock to hear the awful news. He was genuinely one of the kindest and gentlest souls I knew.”

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...

Engaging

Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.

Celebrating

There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.

Pioneering

In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.

Campaigning

Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish News also produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more:
comments