ABOUT 400 Zimbabweans living in Britain gathered outside the home office in London last Saturday to protest against forced deportation back to president Mugabe’s vicious regime. New Labour’s policy of restarting deportations means political activists are sent back to the jails and torturer chambers of the Zimbabwean state.
The protest, organised by the Zimbabwe Community Campaign to Defend Asylum Seekers (ZCCDAS), was a hugely impressive response to the attacks on asylum rights. There was deep anger against Tony Blair, Michael Howard and the rest of the political establishment who raised such a hue and cry about the treatment of white farmers in Zimbabwe but spurn black people who have a real case for refuge.
That anger is deepened by the raw memories of how Britain first colonised the country, and then allowed a racist white minority regime to continue ruling.
Arthur Molife, chairperson of the campaign, said, “We suffered under colonialism and we have the right to be here. We are not going back until we do so voluntarily.
“We are not dogs, we are not criminals. We want to go back to a free Zimbabwe.”
Some of the warmest applause came for Lindsey German from Respect. She was cheered when she said, “People like you are welcomed to come here when you are wanted as cheap labour — to look after the sick and old, to clean the offices, to drive the buses.
“But you are not treated as human beings with rights when it comes to deportations. US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice said recently that Zimbabwe was an ‘outpost of tyranny’. Bush and Blair say they are bringing freedom across the world. But there is no welcome in the US and Britain for Zimbabweans fleeing tyranny. You have a right to be here and we will be with your fight all the way.”
Other speakers included Tony Benn, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Jon Rogers, Hugh Mason from the AUT lecturers’ union, Green MEP Jean Lambert, Dave Renton from the Natfhe union and Tim Lezard, deputy president of the NUJ journalists’ union.
Tim Lezard spoke of the successful campaign to halt the deportation of Zimbabwean journalist Adolf Mukandi — at least for the time being. Disgracefully not a single major daily newspaper reported the protest. Socialist Worker’s support and coverage was much appreciated — one reason why over 150 papers were sold.
ZCCDAS is organising further protests and can provide speakers for union branches and other campaigns. Contact Stoptheremovals_Zimbabwe@yahoo.co.uk or phone 07960 126 028.
Don’t let them deport Leonard R — see The cruel reality of anti-refugee policy