Friday, June 17, 2022

Rwanda - The Real Truth

The handful of asylum seekers dragged onto the plane that eventually failed to fly to Rwanda this week included a former Iranian policeman who was sentenced to jail in Iran for refusing to use firearms at peaceful protestors in 2019, and a 54-year-old Iraqi who has previously been tortured.

Right wing media outlets would have you believe that those crossing the channel in flimsy inflatable boats are mostly economic migrants and not true refugees - backed up by Home Secretary Priti Patel having claimed that as many as 70% of channel crossings are economic migrants - yet data released by her own department, the Home Office, exposes this claim as a lie.

Overall last year 75% of all asylum seekers were given asylum, the highest since 1990.

The biggest group of people crossing the Channel in the early part of 2022 were Afghans, representing one in four of all crossings.

Over 90% of Afghans last year were given asylum, together with 98% of Syrians, 97% of Eritreans, 95% of Sudanese and 88% of Iranians.  76% of claims from young men aged 18-29 were granted.

So why send asylum seekers to Rwanda?

Pro-Government media including the BBC will report they are being sent to Rwanda for “processing” - as if we are simply delegating the administration of asylum seekers to another state, leaving many to draw the inference that successful applicants will be allowed to settle in the UK. 

Except the successful applicants WON’T be allowed to settle here - they are being sent to Rwanda to apply for asylum IN RWANDA.

The UK Government says the Rwanda scheme will act as a deterrent to those crossing the channel, and thus disrupt the business model of the people traffickers they are paying to help them do so - yet at the same time the Government is claiming that Rwanda is a sanctuary and the refugees will thrive.

So is it a deterrent, or is it a sanctuary? It can’t be both!

There is no evidence to support the deterrent argument - experts suggest that, instead of deterring people, it will simply mean these desperate individuals will attempt to make the long journey back from Rwanda to the UK. They have done a similar journey once – the prospect of living in a different continent, with no communal or cultural links, which far from being a sanctuary has deeply concerning human rights records and a lack of infrastructure, is unlikely to deter them now. 

When Israel entered into a similar agreement with Rwanda in 2014 and 2017 almost all of the 4,000 detainees sent there left for Europe again, opening up a huge market for people traffickers in Libya.

So, the Rwanda policy is a deterrent that won’t deter; shipping asylum seekers to a sanctuary that isn’t a sanctuary; and supposedly penalising people traffickers in one continent by rewarding people traffickers in another.

And let’s not forget that it’s massively expensive, costing hundreds of millions; this week’s cancelled flight alone cost £500,000.

So - why IS the UK Government pushing ahead with its ridiculous Rwanda policy?

It’s not to penalise people traffickers - why would they? they don’t penalise tax dodging billionaire corporations and fraudsters.

It’s not to save peoples lives, either - the average right wing voter banging on about boats in the channel is more bothered about the number of people who successfully make it to our beaches, than those who perish on the way.

So the Government is basically deporting people, most of whom would successfully be awarded asylum if they were allowed to apply for it here.

They’re not deporting all of them - they don’t need to - just a token number to fill the headlines and throw red meat to their baying mob.

Their measure of the success or failure of this policy is not the number of people deported by it, or the number of boats crossing the channel - but the number of voters taken in by it.

The reality is that the UK Government is using people who are mostly innocent victims of war, torture and the acts of hostile states, as commodities in its cynical attempts to divide the British public by demonising refugees and immigrants. 

It is the ugliest of political moves, designed to stir up a culture war that splits the population by emotional response and personality type as much as it does by political conviction.

It’s no surprise to them that there have been legal challenges, or that the legal challenges have been successful - it helps their populist narrative of lefty lawyers and judges as enemies of the state.

A few archbishops and church leaders speak out against it - lovely, even more controversy, even more enemies of the people.

The key to effective propaganda is in using messaging that appeals to the emotional state of the target audience. 

Reflecting an emotion currently felt by the target audience, has a higher likelihood of succeeding in persuading them.

They know there is no legitimate justification for their policy - when challenged and their feeble arguments crumble, they always come down to their bottom line “ok, so what would Labour do?” - I’ve answered that question here.

It’s not the first time they’ve done this, and it won’t be the last - think weights and measures.

They’re already starting to stoke up the trans debate in time for the next election, too. 

Populist governments thrive by sowing division.

Mark my words, before the election they’ll be slipping out “feeler” articles in the right wing press asking why we should be spending good money protecting future generations from the effects of man made climate change when there’s a cost of living crisis.

Then it’ll be “hey - look over there - another dinghy full of foreign scroungers crossing the channel, coming over here to steal our benefits / jobs / whatever! Rwan-da! Rwan-da! RWAN-DA!!!”… “Sieg- Heil! Sieg-Heil!  SIEG-HEIL!!!”