A hundred strong group of women asylum seekers from every continent, many of whom have fled horrendous violence and persecution, are going to parliament tomorrow, Tuesday 26 April, to urge the House of Lords to stand firm in their opposition to the Nationality and Borders Bill.

The All African Women’s Group (AAWG), together with Women Against Rape and others in Global Women Against Deportations – a coalition based at the Crossroads Women’s Centre in London – is organising a protest outside the House of Lords to urge peers to stand firm and amend/scrap the Nationality and Borders Bill. The hated Police, Crime Sentencing and Courts Bill also goes to the Lords on Tuesday and will be a focus of the protest.

Celine Gana, a mother and rape survivor from Uganda, comments.

“This borders bill will block our chances of ever winning safety and protection in the UK and prevent those who come behind us from seeking asylum. Women and children will be hardest hitEven if we manage to overcome all the obstacles that are put in our way and get the right to stay, we will only be given temporary status with no right to family reunion or benefits. Most women asylum seekers are already destitute and this Bill will make that worse. Without the right to family reunion, mums and children will suffer the unbearable pain of indefinite separation.

“The government lies when it says that immigrant people are scroungers and a drain on the UKWe’ve escaped for our lives from war, starvation and environmental collapse. We have a right to be here. Our work has created the UK’s wealth through centuries of slavery and colonialism.”

The Lords’ amendments to the Nationality and Borders Bill would:

►Get rid of the “differential” treatment of asylum seekers which denies people the right to claim asylum, win refugee status, have recourse to public funds and the right to family reunion ►Force the government to give notice if they want to remove people’s citizenship ►Stop the criminalisation of “illegal entry” when practically every legal route has been removed) ►Stop the criminalisation of those who help people who arrive by sea ►Allow unaccompanied child refugees to join their family ►Give more protection to victims of trafficking.

The government announcement to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda without their claim ever being considered, has attracted particular fury.

Ms Gana said:

“It takes brutes like Boris Johnson and Priti Patel to propose sending asylum seekers to Rwanda to suffer and die away from any public scrutiny. As African women, we know that the genocide in Rwanda has left an indelible mark which people are still trying to deal with. The current president is responsible for disappearances and murder of his opponents. We won’t be safe if we are sent there and the UK government knows that.

“The public In Britain has welcomed Ukrainian refugees more than the government. We see a massive and growing movement on beaches, in churches, schools, villages, towns and cities, determined to defend the rights of all those seeking refuge. We are protesting tomorrow and ask that people join us because all of are threatened by this bill.”

A UN investigation of Australia’s detention of asylum seekers on Manus Island, found systematic violation of the international Convention Against Torture and widespread rape and other violence against detainees.[i] Israel was forced to back down from a scheme to pay Rwanda to take deported asylum seekers after people held mock slave auctions in protest.[ii]

Two-thirds of the public oppose the Nationality and Borders Bill. The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York oppose the Bill, Scotland and Wales have rejected it. Ireland is launching an amnesty policy giving thousands the security of status. All asylum seekers’ lives matter.

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By GWAD

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