Zimbabweans from across the UK led a huge demonstration in Leeds on Saturday 16 September against the resumption of deportations of refused asylum seekers back to Mugabe's regime in Zimbabwe [see report]. The protest, called by the Zimbabwe Refugee Community Organisation with the backing of the Refugee Council (Yorkshire and Humberside) and campaign group Leeds No Borders, began outside Leeds Central Library at 12pm. It was addressed by, among others Mafungasei Maikokera, one of the famous Yarls Wood hunger strikers who resisted deportation on a plane bound for Harare. Hundreds of people then spontaneously marched into the main shopping precinct to the sound of samba and song.
The demonstration was called in response to a legal ruling in August that 'refused' asylum seekers no longer automatically face persecution if returned to Zimbabwe - despite the UK government's own very public condemnation of human rights abuses by the Mugagbe regime. These Zimbabweans now face the possibility of imminent deportation. Only last Wednesday in Zimbabwe, the country's main trade union leader was arrested by police for attempting to hold a demonstration which the government had earlier banned. Wellington Chibebe was beaten with batons and rifle butts as the police arrested him and 15 others. Zimbabweans are not alone - the Home Office has recently stepped up its efforts to forcibly remove asylum seekers en masse back to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Read: Demo call out | Report of Original Ruling, October 2005 | Recent legal ruling, August 2006, & Report | Refugee Council briefing | Zimbabwe Situation | Amnesty International Country Overview | Satellite images of Mugabe's community destruction scheme
Links: Coalition to Stop Deportations to Iraq | International Federation of Iraqi Refugees | National Coalition of Anti- Deportation Campaigns | Noborders UK communication channels | No Borders | Asylum Policy.info | Barbed Wire Britain | Peter Tatchell