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British Airways profit from deporting refugees facing torture & death

No Borders, No Nations, No Deportations! | 22.07.2005 14:26 | Migration | Birmingham

Posted from Zimbabwe Watch

BA ferries failed asylum seekers

LONDON - British Airways is one of last airlines still prepared to fly home failed Zimbabwe asylum seekers from the UK. Speaking at a joint news conference with several members of both houses of parliament across the benches, Labour MP Kate Hoey last week urged members of the public to write to British Airways protesting the airline’s continued willingness to carry failed asylum seekers to Zimbabwe where they face possible arrest and torture.

Deportation Class
Deportation Class

Hoey, who visited Zimbabwe recently, said fear permeated everywhere she went. “It is nonsense for the British government to expect Zimbabwean asylum seekers to prove that they will not be arrested or tortured if they are sent home,” she said. “This is a silly statement by the Home Secretary.”

Conservative MP Allan Burt told the news conference that the statement was a ‘cop out’. “We should stop the deportations now,” he declared. “The treatment meted out to Zimbabwean asylum seekers in the UK needs to be investigated. There have been a number of incidents of abuse by escourts.”

Baroness Park drew a parallel between Mugabe’s Zimbabwe and communist USSR. “In he days when people escaped from Russia would we have sent them back?” she asked. “What is happening to Zimbabwean asylum seekers is grossly unfair.” She said she found it disturbing that European governments were coming together to arrange air charters that would fly from one country to another picking up failed asylum seekers for deportation to their home countries.

She was supported by Baroness d’Souza who said the British government was infringing its own laws as well as international conventions on human rights. “You don’t have to have evidence of individual torture. All you need is to know that torture is an everyday occurrence in the country,” she said. The attitude of the government was ‘irrational’ and threatened to ‘blot our record’.

“Torture is prevalent in Zimbabwe and the judges have given the politicians the chance to think again. I hope we won’t have to rely on judges to protect the asylum seekers,” she added.

Several asylum seekers answered questions from behind a screen to protect their identities. Crispen Kulinji, whose deportation was averted at the last moment by the parliamentary group, gave a moving testimony in which he said sending him back to Zimbabwe would be tantamount to signing his death certificate.

Dr Frank Arnold from the Medical Foundation said torture was a normal practice in Zimbabwe today. He said the Zimbabwean asylum seekers he had examined displayed a variety of physical evidence to substantiate this statement, including cigarette burn and whip scars, damaged foot soles, signs of post-traumatic stress disorder and evidence of beatings.

“In every case the verbal witness of the patients has been borne out by physical evidence in their bodies,” he said.

Baroness Williams, who chaired the meeting, said she was worried that when the final judgment as to whether deportations to Zimbabwe should be stopped was handed down on August 4, parliament would be in recess and the Home Office might commence deportations, currently on hold until the judgment. “It frightens me to think that parliamentarians might not have the opportunity to discuss the matter, or to intervene on behalf of the victims, because of the recess,” she said, adding that the number of Zimbabwean asylum seekers had dropped significantly in the last 12 months.

No Borders, No Nations, No Deportations!


Display the following 3 comments

  1. Who to contact? — WillD
  2. fax details — we can stop the asylum profiteers
  3. E-mail address for British Airways Chief Executive — -