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Exiled Zimbabweans demand Brown acts
OVER 400 Zimbabweans in the UK demonstrated outside Downing Street, London, on 13 January. The singing and dancing protesters waved placards saying: "Mr Brown: Allow Zimbabweans to work and pay taxes" and "Zimbabwean: deskilled, destitute". A delegation handed in a letter reminding Gordon Brown that it is now six months since he promised to address the plight of Zimbabweans in the UK.
The demonstration organised by Citizens for Sanctuary and various Zimbabwean groups including the MDC, Zimbabwe Association, Zimbabwe Vigil Coalition, Zimbabwe Catholic Church and Zimbabwean groups affiliated to the London charity Telco; submitted over 400 CVs to compare their skills with the jobs available in Britain.
The Home Office refuses to allow thousands of Zimbabwean to work while they wait for their asylum cases to be heard, most of which will not be processed until 2011 - a situation causing up to 11,500 asylum seekers to become destitute. This policy has been declared illegal by the High Court under human rights legislation.
After the demo most of the protesters marched to the Home Office to demand the release of Luka Phiri, one of the organisers of the demo, who is being deported on 15 January for escaping to the UK on a Malawian passport. The Home Office is denying he is Zimbabwean and intends to deport him to Malawi. The PCS civil service union is supporting Luka's right to asylum in the UK.
The Home Office has a policy of not returning asylum seekers directly to Zimbabwe, but some of those refused a safe haven in the UK end up there after initially being sent to Malawi.
The Home Office has not proved that Malawi (which has just named a highway after Zimbabwe's dictator, Robert Mugabe!) will not extradite Luka to Zimbabwe for his activism.
The BBC, who interviewed Luka in December 2008 under the guise of highlighting the plight of Zimbabweans in limbo, has flatly refused to highlight Luka's case. They were only interested in proving the home secretary Jacqui Smith's point that Zimbabweans could bring cholera to the UK using South African passports. This is clear evidence that British authorities will use the Zimbabwean crisis for their own purposes without caring about Zimbabwean asylum seekers in the UK.
Article by Sam from Zimbabwe, additional material by Dave Carr
In The Socialist 21 January 2009:
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