Rwanda deportation flights fly in the face of Jewish values
The UK government’s controversial plans to send asylum seekers to Rwanda for processing is inhumane and contrary to Jewish values, according to the Jewish Council for Racial Equality (JCORE), and almost 200 people who signed a petition calling for the deportation flights to stop.
The flights, scheduled to start on 14th June, but currently being challenged in the courts, would see asylum seekers fleeing persecution from around the world being given a 1-way ticket to the African country which itself has a poor human rights record.
“Our community has a long experience of seeking refuge, including in the UK”, says the petition which has been sent to Home Secretary Priti Patel. “We are therefore appalled that your government is shirking its responsibilities to those fleeing conflict and persecution today. The deportation of Jewish refugees to Australia during the Second World War was later admitted by Churchill as a ‘deplorable mistake’. We urge your government to learn from this historic error, and rethink.”
The petition concludes “this appalling policy flies in the face of Jewish values, and cannot be in our community’s name. We therefore strongly urge your government to reconsider, respect its obligations under international law, and protect, not punish, those in need of safety.”
JCORE’s supporters are also being asked to support a national demonstration being planned for this Monday evening outside the Home Office.
The full text of the open letter can be found below:
Dear Home Secretary,
Re: Stop the flight: Don’t deport asylum seekers to Rwanda
As members of the Jewish community, we are writing to urge you to abandon your callous plans to send asylum seekers to Rwanda, and to cancel the deportation flight scheduled for June 14th. Our community has a long experience of seeking refuge, including in the UK. We are therefore appalled that your government is shirking its responsibilities to those fleeing conflict and persecution today. The deportation of Jewish refugees to Australia during the Second World War was later admitted by Churchill as a ‘deplorable mistake’. We urge your government to learn from this historic error, and rethink. Rather than saving lives in the Channel, this policy will result in further misery and suffering. Disturbingly, a number of asylum seekers threatened with deportation to Rwanda have already attempted suicide; Israel’s previous usage of a similar model resulted in refugees dying in the Sahara and Mediterranean Sea. As Jews, we tragically know all too well the results of being denied safe haven and entry. While arguably more could have been done at the time, many within our community have relatives who were saved from the Holocaust after coming to this country on the Kindertransport. It has therefore been particularly alarming to hear that age disputed children are being threatened with deportation to Rwanda. Child refugees today must be offered the same chance to start new lives in the UK. Figures show that the vast majority of those crossing the Channel are recognised as refugees. Shamefully, in contrast to the ‘Warm Welcome’ promised by your government, the biggest group crossing in early 2022 were Afghans. It is disgraceful that the UK is seeking to deport such people, who have often fled war zones, to a country they hold no connection to, and which has a concerning human rights record. As it stands, this appalling policy flies in the face of Jewish values, and cannot be in our community’s name. We therefore strongly urge your government to reconsider, respect its obligations under international law, and protect, not punish, those in need of safety. Yours sincerely,
Dr H M Altorf
Dr Graham Ash
Rabbi Paul Freedman
Henry Grunwald OBE QC
Rabbi Richard Jacobi
Rabbi Gabriel Kanter-Webber
Robert S Kirk
Rabbi Elli Tikvah Sarah
Dr Malcolm Segall
Prof Vic Seidler