On 18 March, 2023 tens of thousands of people in London, Glasgow and Cardiff participated in militant rallies to protest against a draconian bill introduced in the British Parliament, which deprives refugees seeking asylum in Britain of all rights. In London, protestors gathered in front of BBC headquarters in Portland Place and marched to Parliament square where a rally was held.
Earlier, on March 7, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak introduced the Illegal Migration Bill in parliament. The bill declares all refugees who cross the English Channel in small boats and dinghies as illegal migrants. The English Channel is a small strip of water that separates mainland Europe from the British Isles.
According to the new bill, refugees trying to enter Britain by crossing the English Channel in small boats and dinghies will not be allowed to claim any rights as refugees. They will be detained in a detention centre for up to 28 days, without the possibility of bail or judicial review. They would then be deported either to the country of their origin, or to Rwanda, a country in Southern Africa. The refugees would have no right to claim asylum in Britain citing danger to their human rights in the country of their origin. It must be noted that the British government has struck a deal with the government of Rwanda by which such refugees would be transported by flight from the detention centres to Rwanda.
It is well known that the wars launched by the US and British imperialists against the peoples of Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia and other countries has destroyed these countries and forced millions of people to become refugees. Most of them are living in squalid conditions in refugee camps in neighbouring countries. Apart from this, millions more from the countries of North Africa, who have been devastated by colonial and imperialist plunder, are seeking an escape from their terrible conditions. Some of these refugees take dangerous routes to escape the life of poverty by going to the European countries, and to the US.
The UN Refugee Agency, European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and many other organisations around the world have criticised the Illegal Migration Bill as a violation of human rights. The British government claims to be the champion of human rights. In fact, Britain state has been responsible for the creation of the maximum number of refugees worldwide. It is showing its true colours by refusing to grant asylum to the helpless people.
Several trade unions and other organisations participated in the demonstration. Participants included anti-war activists, workers from the education sector, civil servants, post office workers and railway workers. Workers from several branches of Indian Workers Association, Great Britain, also took part in the London protest.
The protesting people condemned the Illegal Migration Bill as racist. The people came out to show their anger against the inhuman treatment meted out to the people uprooted by the US and British imperialists. The demonstrators carried banners that read: “No human is illegal”, “Say it loud and clear, refugees are welcome here”, “No to Rwanda deportations, stop the flights”.
The British imperialist bourgeoisie is trying to make out that the economic problems facing the working class and people of Britain is because of refugees seeking asylum. The powerful protests against the Illegal Migration Bill shows that the workers of Britain are determined to foil the plans of the ruling class to smash their unity.