When I was 11 years old, I was forced to become a refugee in my own country, Rwanda. I could see how innocent children and mothers suffered from a conflict they have never started. People died including my own brother. Innocent children were massacred. From then on, I developed a spirit of giving justice to those who are helpless, giving a voice to the voiceless, giving protection to the most vulnerable.
"We walked for more than 20 hours with no food or water," says Juan, an adolescent girl who arrived at Nawrouz refugee camp in north-east Syria three days ago, along with eight family members. Juan is from the Yazidi minority group, many of whom are fleeing to Syria from the mountains of Sinjar in Iraq.
Imagine a country where, at the stroke of a pen and without any recourse to a judge, a faceless Government official can deprive someone of their liberty and, at the stroke of a pen, consign them indefinitely to what to all intents and purposes is a prison, without them having being charged with or convicted of any crime. That country is Britain. And if you thought that this use of state power was characteristic only of dictatorships or tyrannies, then think again, as it's happening here, on our doorstep, under our noses, without any fuss and certainly without any publicity.
Muslims in the country are 'Britain's top charity givers', giving an average of almost £371 each a year". Prime Minister David Cameron, in his video message to mark the start of Ramadan 2014, said "Here in Britain, Muslims are our biggest donors - they give more to charity than any other faith group."
The news is terrible from Iraq right now, but it was in 2009 that things got very bad for me and my family. First, my dad was kidnapped, then the same thing happened to one of my brothers, who was also tortured. They were released - though my brother was kept in captivity for 53 days. They threw him out into the street and left him like a dog to find his own way home. We were forced to move to a different area of Baghdad.
I've made a film called Leave to Remain - an odd title that displays the absurdly English wordplay that describes the 'permission' that the home office grants asylum seekers to give them 'leave' to 'remain' in this country either definitely or indefinitely. It's a fitting title for the wilfully confusing system that determines worthiness for refugee status.
Refugees consistently face some of the toughest choices imaginable - whether to stay where they are and face rape, torture or death or leave behind their family, everything they have and know to embark on a dangerous - all too often fatal - flight into the unknown. Here's where I'm supposed to say: 'Imagine if it were you, facing such a choice. Imagine if it were your mother or brother". But you don't need to be patronised. We're all more than capable of empathy. Yet we continue to treat refugees with ignorance and even contempt. Why does our collective empathy so often fail to manifest in our treatment of such a vulnerable group?