Stars of stage and screen join Comma Press’s refugee campaign

Stars of stage and screen join Comma Press’s refugee campaign

Actors Jeremy Irons, Maxine Peake, Zoë Wanamaker and Christopher Eccleston have joined a campaign, organised by Comma Press, calling for the end to the British policy of immigration detention.

Comma Press, which publishes the Refugee Tales series, will broadcast the actors reading 28 stories by authors and refugees who have experienced indefinite detention firsthand. The campaign, which is called #28for28, calls on the government to limit the amount of time a refugee spends in detention to 28 days.

One tale will be released every day from today (11th September) for 28 days, leading up to the opening of parliament. The first actor to be broadcast is Jeremy Irons, who is reading prologue to Refugee Tales, Volume 1, written by the poet David Herd. 

Other actors who have agreed to take part include Nasser Memarzia and Sheila Hancock, with more to be announced in due course.

Comma Press has published two titles in the Refugee Tales series, volume I and II, with a third planned for next year, and has taken the project to literatures festivals over the past 18 months, running events with authors such as Ali Smith, Jackie Kay and Patrick Gale.

“By publishing the Refugee Tales anthologies, we hope we have highlighted the experiences of refugees, detainees, asylum seekers and those who work with them, and have looked to start conversations with parliamentarians about the need for legal protection for refugees,” said the Manchester-based publisher. “Britain is the only country in Europe that doesn't provide a time limit. If you are a British or EU citizen you cannot be detained for more than 14 days without being charged with a crime. If you cannot immediate prove your citizenship however, you can be detained indefinitely. There are hundreds of cases of people being detained for years; one case for up to nine years; when no crime had been committed. Many detainees are also children.”

“The aim of the videos is not only to raise awareness, generally, but to put pressure on parliament, specifically, to change the law. The 28th tale will be read in Westminster itself at the opening of parliament next month.”

The videos are available via YouTube or the campaign website.