– Appeal to save the innocent lives of asylum seekers and stop the UK treating them as commodities –

The United Kingdom has introduced a new evil scheme to send the “unwanted asylum-seekers” to Rwanda; a scheme Britain’s home secretary has proudly described as a world-first plan which will make the immigration system fairer. Under this new Asylum scheme, people who came to the UK after the 1st of January 2022 will be sent to Rwanda on a one-way ticket and their asylum claim will be processed in Rwanda.  If they are recognised as refugees, then they will be granted 5 years of refugee status in Rwanda.  After that, they need to find a home somewhere else in the world. The Prime Minister of the UK, Boris Johnson called it an innovative approach driven by shared humanitarian impulse. However, this plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda has been slammed as an ‘egregious breach of international law’ and ‘really unacceptable’ by the United Nations Refugee Agency.

The UK has every right to deport illegal immigrants but sending asylum seekers to one of the world’s poorest countries with one of the worst records on human rights violations is simply cruel. Rwanda has a known track record of extrajudicial killings, suspicious deaths in custody, unlawful or arbitrary detention, torture, and abusive prosecutions, particularly targeting critics and dissidents. In fact, the UK directly raised its concerns about respect for human rights with Rwanda, and grants asylum to Rwandans who have fled the country, including four just last year.  The UK has condemned Rwanda on numerous occasions. January 2021, the UK’s director-general for Europe told the UNHRC that his country remains concerned about Rwanda’s continued restrictions on civil and political rights. Then in July 2021, UK’s international ambassador for human rights appeared before the same body and expressed regret that Rwanda was not conducting a transparent and credible probe into allegations of human rights violations. The same UK now expects Rwanda to rehabilitate refugees. There could not be a better example of British hypocrisy.

Britain’s opposition party, the human rights groups, including the United Nations have strongly condemned the scheme and called it an inhumane, disgraceful, cruel, and repellent act of the British Government. “People fleeing war, conflict and persecution deserve compassion and empathy. They should not be traded like commodities and transferred abroad for processing,” Gillian Triggs, the UNHCR assistant high commissioner for protection, said in a statement.

Geeth Kulasegaram, a senior legal advisor representing vulnerable asylum seekers, in his interview told the Sky News “Most asylum seekers are victims of torture and/or sexual abuse. For example, Tamils from Sri Lanka continue to suffer torture, sexual abuse and Genocide to date. They are forced to flee their country using illegal channels and come to the UK to save their lives. They suffer significant mental health issues including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It is very unlikely that they would receive adequate psychiatric treatments in Rwanda. The fear of being removed to Rwanda has already triggered their suicidal ideation and many Tamils have started to contemplate suicide as they feel they have no strength to suffer and face another ordeal which is very concerning. This plan is also very likely to force many asylum seekers to drop their cases and go underground to remain illegal rather than making attempts to regulate their stay in the UK, due to fear”. 

Despite all the criticism, Boris Johnson`s government remains uncompromising and has already paid the Rwandan government 158 million dollars upfront. What is this money meant for? Is it going to be used to pay for said housing and integration of the migrants? How is the British government going to ensure the migrants will be treated fairly?

At a time when the people of the UK have opened their hearts and homes to Ukrainians, the government is choosing to act with cruelty and rip up their obligations to others fleeing war and persecution. This should be stopped immediately before costing the innocent lives of poor asylum seekers in various parts of the world.

With a determination to prevent the UK from implementing this cruel scheme, an international non-governmental organisation, International Centre for Prevention and Prosecution of Genocide (ICPPG) has initiated an online signature campaign seeking for the public support.

Ambihai K Selvakumar, Executive Director of the ICPPG said “Rwanda has decades of ethnic and political tensions that culminated in the 1994 Genocide in which more than 800,000 ethnic Tutsi, Hutus and Twa were killed. Arbitrary detention, ill-treatment, and torture in official and unofficial detention facilities are commonplace, and fair trial standards are flouted in many cases. Many asylum seekers were forced to flee from such situations in their own countries. They should not be forced to go to a country where the same violations exist. For example, the Tamils from Sri Lanka are forced to flee as they suffer ongoing Genocide, torture, and sexual abuse. They can’t even imagine being sent back to another country where they could face the same horror again”. 

Subatharsha Varatharaja, Team Leader of the ICPPG’s Youth Team has called upon all those who care for human rights to spare at least two minutes of their time to sign this online petition to show their opposition to this inhuman scheme and extend their support to prevent the UK from implementing the same before it costs innocent lives of the poor asylum seekers.

To sign the petition please click the link below;

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