Irish State buries Sylva Tukula without informing her friends and local community

AMACH! LGBT+ said that having learned that Sylva Tukula, a trans woman who died while living in Direct Provision in Galway, was buried without anyone present or being informed has devastated the community.

Sylva at LGBT+ Pride Festival
Image: @niallotuathail

On August 2, 2018, Sylva Tukula was found dead in the early hours of the morning in the Great Western direct provision centre in Galway. The trans woman had been placed in a men-only hostel and her passing devastated the local LGBT+ community.

Today AMACH! LGBT+, members of the direct provision centre in Galway city and close friends of Slyva Tukula released a statement having found out last week that she was buried without anyone being informed.

They have asked that the Department of Justice and Equality investigate this matter urgently, and ascertain why “we were not informed and put measures in place to ensure that this does not happen to anyone else.”

“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.

“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.

“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 at [email protected] or 0862386183/0857364536″

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