Long-time supporter of Refugee Tales and GDWG, Kamila Shamsie, has written an important piece in The Guardian Review calling for the UK to return to a place of welcome ‘The UK once welcomed refugees. Now we are the only country in Europe to detain them indefinitely. It’s time to end this costly, cruel and unjust system.’
Kamila writes, ‘The real problem wasn’t the “indefinite”; it was the “detention” itself. Indefinite leave to remain’ really should be the only use of ‘indefinite’ in our immigration system.’
This year Refugee Tales called for a future without immigration detention and we believe life after Covid-19 must be that future. The Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated more than ever that detention is unnecessary, with large numbers of people released over the course of the pandemic. We must not return to the old normal, we must create a new normal.
In her piece Kamila describes how detention is systemic racism and ties in with the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement. She talks powerfully about how the hostile environment is designed to make people feel unwanted. ‘That humiliation and grinding down is the primary purpose of a system of detention that is costly, inefficient and unjust…it exists to send a message: if you’re seeking to escape an unbearable life, don’t come here; we’ll treat you terribly. If you are already here, leave.’
This is an important piece, urging us to wake up ‘and in our wakened state dream an even bolder dream than the one of welcome centres in the far-from-unproblematic 1970s. It is time to dream of justice and humanity.’