TDoR 2018 / 2018 / August / 04 / Sylva


Age 40

4 Aug 2018
Galway, Connacht (Ireland)
Died in custody

Sylva [photo:]

Sylva was an asylum seeker who had been detained for a year.

She died in custody on 4th August 2018 in the men's wing of a Direct Provision centre in Galway.

Just heard the heartbreaking news about a trans woman found dead in direct provision. We need to end the horrific practice of Direct Provision. Seeking asylum is not a crime so why are we locking up asylum seekers! #EndDirectProvision #DublinTransPride

In early June 2019 the local LGBT+ community discovered that the Irish authorities had buried Silva's body the previous month without notifying them or offering them the chance to hold a memorial service for her.

On the 2nd August 2018 Sylva Tukula died. Sylva was a dear friend of the LGBT+ community in Galway city and, in particular, of AMACH! LGBT+ Galway and our resource centre, Teach Solais. Due to Sylva’s status as an International Protection Applicant in Ireland, the Department of Justice and Equality were obligated to investigate the circumstances of her death, to liaise with friends and fellow residents of the Direct Provision centre where she lived, and to make culturally-appropriate burial arrangements. Close friends and colleagues of Sylva were assured by both national and local State representatives that we would be notified once arrangements were made. Sadly, we were recently informed that our dear friend was buried by the State at the beginning of May. Members of our community and, especially those close to Sylva, were devastated to hear of her burial with no-one close to her present.

We had the understanding that we would be made aware of the funeral arrangements in advance so that our community, Sylva’s Galway family, could be a part of this service, and to ensure that her life was celebrated on the day of her burial. We continually checked with Government representatives for updates, while receiving no new information regarding any arrangements. The fact that Sylva’s burial occurred in the absence of a ceremony, and without attendance, is deeply offensive to everyone close to Sylva, particularly members of the LGBT+ community who lived in the Great Western, who knew her from the Eglinton Direct Provision centres in Galway City and those that met her throughout her life in Galway. This abhorrent news has left many in shock, with those in the direct provision sites feeling that they will be buried alone thousands of miles away from people they grew up with by the Irish State. Anyone who has had a loved one pass away would empathise with how this has affected those that knew her, and how devastating this act would feel.

We are left with more questions than answers as to how this has been allowed to occur. Our dear friend Sylva was failed by the system in which she was entrapped, in many ways; yet at all times she bore these failings with grace, with dignity and with a warm smile. We strongly request this matter be investigated both to the fullest possible extent and in a timely manner, to establish how this system failed our friend Sylva this last, final time. In her honour we must ensure that this tragic outcome does not occur again, to anyone.

AMACH! LGBT+ intend to work with those who knew and loved Sylva to mark her burial and celebrate her life. We would ask that media respect the privacy of all those affected by this news. Anyone who wishes to be a part of this event is encouraged to contact us"

Report added: 1 Sep 2018. Last updated: 16 Jul 2019

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