‘Refugees are welcome here’: Hundreds protest outside Home Office against deportation flights
The first plane relocating asylum seekers to Rwanda is set to fly today
Yesterday evening, hundreds of people gathered outside the Home Office, protesting against the government’s policy of deporting asylum seekers to Rwanda.
Moments before the protest took place, the Court of Appeal ruled that the first deportation flight would go ahead, despite the best efforts of various campaign groups.
The first plane is set to fly today with 11 asylum seekers on board, down from 130 after a flurry of individual legal battles.
As yesterday’s protest began, police blocked off the street outside the Home Office, which soon became dense with people.
While the government claims the policy of removing migrants who arrive in the UK illegally will deter people from making dangerous channel crossings, campaign groups such as Care4Calais have described it as “cruel and barbaric.”
One of the protest’s organisers, Chioma from Stand up to Racism, gave her thoughts on the Home Office’s deportation policy. “I think it’s not right. It’s really evil to send people who have come here looking for asylum to somewhere where they’re not going to be safe.
“The idea that there’s not enough space here for refugees is an absolute myth. We have the space to accommodate them but it’s more just a choice not to let them in,” Chioma told The Tab.
Activists from various campaign groups gave speeches before protesters chanted: “say it loud, say it clear, refugees are welcome here” and “no borders, no nations, stop deportations.”
Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was among the crowds, saying through a mega phone: “It is an utter disgrace that the British government and a load of European governments are proposing to outsource refugee processing as Australia and one or two other countries have done. We have to say, ‘Absolutely no!'”
Labour MPs Zarah Sultana, Nadia Whittome, Richard Burgon and Fleur Anderson were also in attendance.
In an interview with The Tab, Fleur Anderson said: “Instead of looking for safe and legal routes, instead of funding peace-building, conflict prevention programmes around the world, [the government] are bringing in this policy. They think the British people will want this. I don’t agree.”
Towards the end of the protest there was a brief scuffle with police. This video shows police pushing back protesters as members of the crowd shout, “shame on you!”
Other protests against the Rwanda deportation policy have sprung up across the country from Gatwick Airport to Manchester.
In Peckham, hundreds of peaceful protesters managed to stop a man from being arrested on suspicion of immigration offences. One witness claimed that “young women were pushed to the ground” by police officers at the demo.
A spokesperson for the Met Police said protestors were obstructing immigration officers and they weren’t aware of any injuries having been caused.
Defending her department’s controversial re-location policy, Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “Our world-leading partnership with Rwanda is a key part of our strategy to overhaul the broken asylum system and break the evil people smugglers’ business model.
“While we know attempts will now be made to frustrate the process and delay removals, I will not be deterred and remain fully committed to delivering what the British public expect.”
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