Zimbabweans protesting at the British government’s decision to deport refugees have called a major protest for Thursday 4 August.
This is the day when a judge will decide whether or not it is legal for the government to continue its policy of returning Zimbabwean asylum seekers to Robert Mugabe’s regime.
Noble Sibanda is coordinator for the United Network of Detained Zimbabweans in the UK (UNDZ). He told Socialist Worker, “We urge everyone who supports this cause, and the cause of all those who are unjustly denied asylum, to join us on this day.
“Our hunger strikes were suspended this week because detainees felt they had made their point and we should now throw the focus on to the 4 August decision. There were 60 people on hunger strike at the start of this week, including one person who had taken no food for 38 days.
“Their action showed how desperate the situation has become. People are being returned to terrible danger, even though the government admits that the Mugabe regime is carrying out atrocities.
“The home office has treated Zimbabwean asylum seekers in a very poor manner. In around 50 cases we have been told that key evidence has been ‘lost’ from the files.
“We believe that the majority of British people want deportations to Zimbabwe halted. Now that feeling has to be turned into pressure on the government.”
Edward Kambarami, who fled Zimbabwe after being persecuted as a supporter of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, said, “I was held for three weeks in Harmondsworth detention centre and was shocked at the number of people from Africa and Jamaica held there.
“There was one Zimbabwean who had been held there for eight months and still had no legal representation.”
The British government says it has no evidence of ill treatment of refugees deported to Zimbabwe. But Edward had his own account of a 30 year old man who was sent back to the country earlier this year. “He was arrested at the airport, beaten, and then taken to hospital — but is not receiving any treatment,” he says. “This could be fatal.”
UNDZ is calling on trade unions, community groups and individuals to back their campaign. Among the ideas for campaigning are intensifying pressure on MPs and “twinning” detainees with groups who will keep in contact with them and support their campaign.
Demonstrate Thursday 4 August, 10am, Royal Courts of Justice, The Strand, London WC2