Refugees whose boats landed on British territory are exposing the British government’s vicious hypocrisy.
Some 115 Syrian and Palestinian refugees are being held at RAF base Dhekelia in Cyprus, after landing at RAF Akrotiri last month.
Base authorities are determined to avoid letting them claim asylum in Britain.
They won’t let the refugees out unless they agree to be deported or apply for asylum in Cyprus instead.
The refugees have held protests inside the camp, including setting tents on fire and shouting, “We are people, not animals.”
Their spokesperson, Palestinian Ibrahim Marouf, said in a video, “The gate of the camp is always closed, there are fences all around the camp, it makes us people in jail.”
Police armed with tasers were sent in to repress them.
The European Union (EU) Dublin rules insist refugees must claim asylum in the first EU country they reach. It means they face deportation from any other EU countries.
Governments such as Britain consistently use this to push refugees back to EU border countries.
But they refuse to apply that standard in Britain’s overseas bases—despite a 2003 agreement with Cyprus saying migrants who reach the bases are Britain’s responsibility.
Dhekelia is already home to 75 refugees after a boat landed there by chance in 1998. They include 21 of the boat’s original 71 passengers, and their children born since.
They are housed in buildings with asbestos that were due to be demolished 25 years ago.
They say base authorities have tried to pressure them to leave by removing vital services.
Sudanese refugee Tag Bashir said “my life has been wasted” on the base. He wants to go to Britain and work.
“We didn’t want to come here—we were going to Greece,” said Ibrahim. “Now we’re in a British prison.”
David Cameron has been slammed for taking in only a tiny number of refugees during a world historic crisis.
Now he faces warnings that refugees will freeze to death if they are locked outside during the winter.
His response, like that of many other European leaders, is state repression.
But protesters are fighting back.
When Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras visited new EU “hot spot” centres in Athens and Lesvos last week, anti-racists protested against the wall on Greece’s land border.
Hundreds marched in solidarity with the Calais migrants in the nearby city of Lille last Saturday.
Stand Up to Racism was set to take the anger to Downing Street on Thursday of this week with a solidarity protest demanding, “Don’t let them freeze”.