“It’s crazy, it’s wrong, and it’s racist.”

In a video posted to Twitter, Riz Ahmed has become the latest person to condemn the UK government’s Nationality and Borders Bill — forebodingly known as the “Anti-Refugee Bill”. 

As part of the Bill’s bid to curb migrant crossings of the English Channel, the UK government is proposing to send those who are deemed to have entered the country “illegally” to be processed in Rwanda. 

Those sent to the East African country will be detained in centres while their asylum claims are being considered. If they are granted refugee status, they will be allowed to live in Rwanda but regardless of the outcome of their application, they will not be flown back to the UK.

Another part of the Bill that Ahmed touches on is its proposal to allow the Home Secretary to more easily strip people of their British citizenship if the government believes they are eligible for citizenship elsewhere. Almost 6 million people would be eligible to have their British citizenship taken away without notification by the government under such plans, which would predominantly affect ethnic minorities.

Ahmed denounced the bill, saying: “I just found out the UK government are trying to pass a law right now… that means they can take away my passport whenever they feel like it. Not just me, but anyone who can claim heritage in another country. So if your parents immigrated here, your grandparents immigrated here, they can take away your British citizenship without even notifying you.”

The 5-year Rwanda asylum trial is thought to cost an initial £120 million and would be aimed at young single asylum seekers who arrive through "illegal, dangerous, or unnecessary methods," such as on small boats or lorries.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed that this pseudo-deportation would even apply to those who have arrived since the start of this year, with no limit on numbers. The first flights are expected to take place in the next few months. Experts believe that many of the people seeking refuge in the UK who have arrived since Jan. 1 will go into hiding to avoid being sent to a country they don’t believe is a safe place for them.

Ahmed added: “It’s really expensive, impractical, unworkable, it’s immoral. We are one of the richest democracies in the world. And on some weird colonial tip, we’re going to try and pay countries that have less resources and more refugees to do our duty for us instead of doing our part.”

The actor is not the only one criticising the bill; it has faced severe backlash. Charities have called the scheme "cruel", and the head of the Church of England has even said it is "the opposite of the nature of God." Even people working for the Home Office (the department responsible for immigration, security, and law and order) have threatened to strike after the plans left them feeling “nothing but the deepest shame.”

One anonymous civil servant even drew a comparison to the Third Reich. In a reference to the Nuremberg Nazi trials, they wrote: “The words ‘I was only obeying orders’ are echoing down through history to me and making me queasy.”

Ahmed called for people to take a stand against the bill: “We need to make some noise and let them know that this is not OK.” 

You can lend your voice to the noise-making by writing to your MP asking them to do everything in their power to prevent the proposed Rwanda plans as well as signing the petition calling on the UK for a fair, efficient asylum process, rooted in protection and dignity, which enables people to reach safety and rebuild their lives as part of our communities.


Demand Equity

Riz Ahmed Urges Action to Stop UK Plans to Send Asylum Seekers to Rwanda

By Tess Lowery