Over 350 people, mainly Zimbabweans from across the UK, gathered outside the Home Office on a cold Saturday afternoon last week to protest at the deportation of their countrymen and women to Zimbabwe.
Many of the Zimbabweans outside the Home Office were forced into exile in the UK after being detained in Zimbabwe for speaking out against Robert Mugabe’s regime.
Campaigners have been concerned about the safety of deportees since the resumption of forced removals to Zimbabwe in November 2004. These deportations were resumed by the UK government despite the UNHCR’s comment that the security ‘situation on the ground in Zimbabwe continues to be of serious concern’. The National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns (NCADC), an organisation that supports asylum seekers, says it has ‘been inundated with calls from “snatched” Zimbabweans in detention and the relatives and friends of Zimbabweans, all of whom are deeply distressed at the thought of being returned or someone they know being returned to Zimbabwe’.
The day before the action outside the Home Office, supporters of the asylum seekers were celebrating the fact that the deportations of two Zimbabwean men were stopped after their solicitor obtained an injunction from the High Court. Campaigners have also attempted to raise public awareness of the deportations and exactly what happens during a deportation by holding a demonstration outside a British Airways travel shop in Manchester. BA flights are used in deportations to Zimbabwe and other countries. (See also NCADC News roundup of Zimbabwe demonstrations)