A few weeks ago, people power and some smart legal work, stopped a plane that was to take refugees to Rwanda. But the fight is not over.
The Rwanda scheme will see people who came to the UK hoping to find safety, instead forcefully removed to a country they have no connection to, thousands of miles away, with no way back – simply because of how they came to the UK and not their need for protection. It will tear families apart, destroy lives and undermine the Refugee Convention.
It is essential that this government is held to account. Our friends at Care4Calais and Detention Action, along with the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) who represent staff tasked with carrying out the deportations, are challenging this shameful deal in the courts. On 14 June, Asylum Aid also launched a legal challenge against the scheme on procedural fairness and access to justice grounds. Other Together With Refugees members are supporting the legal challenges in various ways, with Freedom from Torture, Jesuit Refugee Service UK and Medical Justice among those contributing supporting witness evidence.
The court hearings have now been adjourned until September, which is good news. It appears also the government is ruling out more flights in the interim, while the Conservative leadership election is underway; though we will need to be vigilant.
Wider campaign pressure is also being mounted by coalition members through various strands of action to beat this horrific plan. Here’s what local groups can do:
- Join a local protest around 16-19 July. Please use the orange hearts to show you are part of a bigger movement. Remember to share on socials and invite your local newspaper. See Care4Calais’ page to find out if there is a demo near you.
- Call on your MP to take a stand. Remember that they work for you. It takes less than two minutes to email your MP using Bail for Immigration Detainees handy tools and templates.
- Tell the airlines: “Don’t remove people to Rwanda”. For this cruel plan to work, they need planes to fly people – and airlines can choose whether to play a part. Follow Freedom from Torture’s simple steps and make your voice heard.
- Share on social media a challenge for individuals to run, walk or cycle in the shape of a heart, and challenge five friends to do the same by 25 July, ahead of the Commonwealth Games. If you are on Twitter you can simply retweet.
We have an important opportunity to force a change of policy under a new Prime Minister – so we need to make a noise about it, now.