Shirin Abdallah 9.5.2021
As part of its anti-refugee policies, the Conservative government of Britain is seeking to pass a new law. In mid-April 2022, an agreement was reached with Rwanda that would give the latter responsibility for assessing asylum applications for those arriving in the UK. According to this agreement: in return to £120 million, Rwanda, more than 6,500 km away from the UK, will be responsible for transferring asylum seekers, deciding on their applications and, ultimately, if their applications were accepted, they will be settled in Rwanda for the long term. The agreement is one of the articles of the Nationality and Borders Bill* under which anyone who arrives in Britain illegally and including those who have entered its territory since 1.1. 2022 can be arrested and prosecuted (on charges of entering the country illegally), but can also be transferred to Rwanda, especially those young men and women who arrive in the country illegally and dangerously, such as small boats.
This anti-refugee and anti-human agreement is against some of the most vulnerable people who are going through the most fragile days of their lives, people forced by wars, instability, violence or natural disasters (which are direct results of the class capitalist system and Britain as one of its global representatives), to leave their countries and communities and live in refugee camps on their journey, facing dozens of risks to their lives, as hundreds and thousands of them die, drown or disappear every year.
This law is another step from this government against the poor and oppressed, in order to, entrench inequalities and the state’s abdication of its responsibility towards the lives and well-being of people. Just as their ongoing attacks on public services and rights such as health, education, unemployment, social housing and transportation… Etc. It wants to tell the poor, not to expect any support or facilitation from the state, that this country is for the capitalists, banks, corporations and giant cartels and it only serves the interests of those. If you have been hit by tragedy, if you are hungry, poor, sick, disabled, displaced, destitute, illiterate, unemployed, homeless or for whatever reason marginalized in society, it is your responsibility. The capitalist system and its neoliberal model exploits every crisis as an opportunity for the state to abandon the provision of welfare and public services to workers, the poor and the oppressed.
This agreement ignores all universal human rights standards and even those treaties dealing with refugees, to which Britain itself remains a signatory***. Brexit has allowed it to abandon these treaties and many other obligations, such as workers’ rights, working hours & conditions & and recommended rest hours, minimum wage, right to demonstrations and organising & protesting. etc. and to allow them, without being bound by any universal standards, the freedom to continue to exploit people and deepen inequality in order to strengthen neoliberal capitalism and further accumulation of capital.
Clearly, Johnson’s right-wing Tory government, represented by Home Secretary Priti Patel, is making the move for the political advances of their Conservative Party and to satisfy the public opinion of British Right-wingers, who believe that refugees are the main source of the country’s economic and social dilemma’s. It’s worth mentioning that Britain and European countries in general have long been actively tightening their borders and blocking all other methods of asylum, so that “legal” asylum is extremely difficult to obtain. We all remember the horrific scenes of the 27 bodies whose plastic boat capsized in the English Channel in November 2021, this was one of the most tragic incidents of this kind & it was a direct result of border tightening. If there were suitable legal ways of entering the country, those young people would not have been forced to put their lives & those of their families at the mercy of the waves.
By sending refugees to Rwanda, their tragedies will multiply, and there is no doubt that this will create several new disasters and hardships for them, especially since a significant proportion of refugees are women and children fleeing violence and injustices. They will be sent to a country with no system that facilitates their integration into society, a country still reeling from the effects of the 1994 genocide (where more than 800,000 people were massacred within 100 days, mostly Tutsis, in the civil war), and even the British government itself last year expressed concerns at the United Nations about cases of murder, prisoner deaths, enforced disappearances, torture… in Rwanda as well as the restrictions on civil and political rights in this country
It is no secret that Iraq and Kurdistan are among the largest sources of refugees in the world. And that, in the shadow of 30 years of neoliberal capitalist economic style and the national and sectarian political system of this country, life has become an unbearable hell, and this is what is pushing hundreds of the youth of this country towards the borders daily, they have no choice but to hand over their fate and their children’s lives into the hands of human trafficking gangs. Sending these young men and women, children and families to Rwanda is nothing but a cruel slap in their face and stifling all hope for them to build a safe and secure life which is one of their basic rights.
The right of people to seek refuge and settle in a safe country in which their safety is protected is one of the important gains of the libertarians in the world, which they achieved through many years of bitter struggle. If this policy succeeds, this is not only a huge step backwards, but it also paves the way for taking back & violating more of our civil and political gains and rights. This bill does nothing more than fan the flames of the political discourse of racism, discrimination, and inequality, and it is our duty, the libertarians, to oppose it firmly ************************************************************
* The Nationality and Borders Bill, which was presented to the British Parliament in July 2021, includes several other articles, including citizenship, asylum, immigration, victims of modern slavery and human trafficking.
** One of the provisions related to refugees requires that: Refugees who enter British territory illegally may be prosecuted under a new charge, which is illegal entry into Britain and may be imprisoned for four years.
*** Britain is still bound by two international agreements; The first is the United Nations Asylum Treaty of 1951, which it signed more than seven decades ago, and which prevents the return of refugees to a country where their lives would be in danger, or their freedoms restricted. The second is the European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibits subjecting any person to torture, inhumane punishment, mis- treatment and humiliation.
According to international laws, any person has the right to seek asylum in the country they first arrive in. The European Union law known as ‘Dublin III Law’ allows for the asylum seeker to be returned to the first member country from which they entered the Union if they can prove that.
But after Brexit, Britain is no longer part of this agreement and has not entered any other agreements to replace it, so the transfer of refugees became a problem for it. On the other hand, since it is not bound by any international commitments, it now can control the fate of the refugees as it pleases.