The English pride themselves of being a just and fair-playing people – gatekeepers of truth, democratic ideals, and sticking to the rules, especially in the sports they have left behind in former colonies! The recent case of the student Yashika Bageerathi who, with only two months remaining to complete her “A” Level exams, found herself being hauled away, locked up, separated from her mother and siblings (because she is now 19 years old – an adult) and sent back to Mauritius because her case failed the asylum test tell a different story about this “fair-playing” nation. It reveals another side of the so-called English obsession with “sticking to the law” and observing it to extreme details; of how easy a people who are known for their love of justice and the “underdog” can lose their heart and soul, quickly turning into “pencil-pushing” bureaucrats, lost behind the politics of immigration numbers. One is tempted to compare such schizophrenic behaviour to that of the kind of people who, under the guise of being diligent and law-abiding citizens, support and even deliver the dirty work of dictators – hiding behind laws and systems!
Whatever the rights and wrongs of the case, the criteria for being classed a Refugee, and the legal interpretations of the law, the issue for me is the heartless way the teenager has been deported without any consideration, in spite of the thousands of pleas from students, teachers, and members of the public. The notion that politicians ever listen to the people is “bullshit”, even since TB took the UK to war to remove SH! Surely, Yashika could have been allowed that critical two months stay just to complete her “A” level examinations? This was the plea of her school, head teacher and mother (who also faces deportation). Instead no discretion was shown. There was no mercy at the gate of a rich and “free nation” that hides behind laws and rulings. Ministers of the government could have used and argued for discretion to intervene and stop this removal, but they did not and so they cannot wash their hands. They decided to play politics! Politics, numbers of migrants, and staying in power had eaten away at their hearts!
Owen Jones writing in the Guardian rightly observes the perverse reporting on refugees and migrant with “the media relishes finding extreme, unsympathetic examples of immigrants guaranteed to make readers’ blood boil: foreigners with multiple kids being housed in palaces made out of plasma television sets, that sort of thing.” And almost all of the Political Parties find the immigrant/immigration their ideal scapegoat for the ineptitude around continuing recession, unemployment, our economic woes and overspending. Who cares about facts and statistics: when we have the juicy and inflammable rhetoric that continue to demonise and erase vulnerable humans out of existence?
It is mind-boggling to read the Home Office reasoning for not even a discretionary consideration: she is an adult; the law is the law (Jesus heard such a lot!!) and besides the Home Office had received assurances the student would be able to complete her tuition in Mauritius. Which child or young person, displaced in such a humiliating manner, would be able to manage or cope with the trauma of being removed from family, peers and the safety of familiar surroundings (and held in detention before being deported) to perform well in their exams? No wonder the headmistress of the school and many others felt ‘ashamed’ of their British identity. The head teacher went on to say: “Why can’t there just be some compassion and humanity to allow her to stay and do those A-Levels?” This is the ultimate matter: whatever has happened to compassion and humanity?
Can it be that the virtues associated with compassion got damaged by the ‘flood’, frozen-out by the cold and is being negated by the Little Britain characterisation of “Computer says no”? Thank God that there are still people with hearts and moral consciences around. We all need to join force to put heart, conscience and wisdom back in our immigration policies. I am of the view that UKBA needs to be held to very stringent scrutiny. Otherwise governments and politicians will continue to hide behind such bodies and rules, distancing themselves from any responsibility! There is much work to be done and I am relieved to know that my faith tradition has released me from any obligation to observe laws of the land that deny people their humanity!
jagessar© april 2014