Campaigners in Sheffield continue to fight against ‘inhumane’ deportation of Zimbabweans

Campaigners in Sheffield have protested against an ‘inhumane’ plan for 150 Zimbabweans to be deported from the UK on a charter flight tomorrow.

By Lisa Wong
Tuesday, 20th July 2021, 9:40 am
Updated Tuesday, 20th July 2021, 11:23 am

Campaigners joined forces at a protest outside Sheffield’s Home Office, at Vulcan House, on July 16, to show solidarity with the Zimbabwean community.

It is not the first time the city has come together for such a cause, as in 2019, Zimbabweans in Sheffield, who had lived here for many years, were facing deportation.

A campaigner who wished to remain anonymous, said: “In 2019, we managed to get people released from detention. We’re hoping the same can happen again.

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A protest outside Vulcan House on February 19, 2019, organised by ASSIST Sheffield and SYMAAG (South Yorkshire Migration and Asylum Action Group) Picture: Chris Etchells

“This plan is, in words, sending 150 Zimbabweans to their deaths. Some have been in this country for years and have British children, and this inhumane treatment by the UK Government is an example of the racism it says it doesn’t exhibit.”

Murder, abductions, torture, rape, and general persecution of those perceived to be enemies of the state are regular occurrences in Zimbabwe.

It is considered unsafe for asylum seekers to return, particularly if they have spoken out against the military dictatorship.

A deal had supposedly been secretly agreed between UK and Zimbabwe diplomats last month, which would see up to 150 Zimbabweans deported from the UK on a private jet from Heathrow on July 21.

Over 10,000 people have now signed a petition against the plan, and Sheffield's MPs have signed a letter urging the Home Secretary to stop the flight and personally review each case.

A spokesperson for South Yorkshire Migration and Asylum Action Group said: “Zimbabweans are being snatched and detained NOW.

“Reports are coming in suggesting Zimbabweans have been snatched when they have turned up to report at centres, and taken from their homes – in Manchester, London, Southampton, and Wakefield – 28 people so far.

“Many are being held in Colnbrook Detention Centre near Heathrow.”

It has been reported that those being deported are all convicted criminals, however, many believe this is ‘a lie fed to the media’.

A Home Office spokesperson told The Independent: “Foreign criminals who abuse our hospitality should be in no doubt of our determination to deport them.”

It said each individual assessment was made using the latest available information and any relevant case law.