Bristol protest due to support threatened Zimbabwe refugee
Protesters are due to gather this afternoon in Bristol to support a Zimbabwean refugee due to be deported next week.
Khetiwe Mashavave joined councillors and MPs earlier this year to celebrate Bristol receiving its official City of Sanctuary status for refugees.
The 50-year-old, who has lived in the UK for ten years, spoke at the launch event in June – but on Wednesday she was arrested as she went to sign on as part of her asylum requirements at Trinity Road police station.
A demonstration outside the station was due to take place yesterday, but it is believed she has now been moved out of Bristol to Yarl’s Wood Dentention Centre in Bedfordshire.
Campaigners say she has not received proper legal representation and she faces “extreme danger” if she is forced to return.
A statement on the campaign website said: “Khethiwe is an active volunteer and campaigner and an important part of the community here in Bristol. The current regime in Zimbabwe means it is not safe for her to be returned.
“The Home Office has recently restarted deporting people to Zimbabwe and we are unsure what has happened to those who have been returned. We were all very clear that Khethiwe will be in extreme danger if she is returned to Zimbabwe and that this must not happen.
“Bristol, where she contributes so much and where she has been welcomed, is where she belongs.”
Bristol East MP Kerry McCarthy has come out in support of Ms Mashavave, saying: “Many people in Bristol are shocked and disappointed that steps are now being taken to send Ms Mashavave back to Zimbabwe, where she fears she will be at risk of persecution.
“I will continue to do all that I can to assist Ms Mashavave’s campaign to remain in the UK, and I have made representations to the Home Office to request that any attempt to deport Ms Mashavave is suspended, in order to allow Ms Mashavave and her team to submit an appeal on human rights grounds.”
Sophy Gairdner, a friend of Ms Mashavave and a member of Bristol Defend the Asylum Seekers, told the Evening Post: “She was harassed and intimidated and threatened by the police and the Green Bombers, a group of government thugs in Zimbabwe who intimidate people who they feel are not supporting their party. She has been here for a long time and was given a home in Whitchurch by friends she met and is a member of a church in Brislington.”
The demonstration takes place at 12.30pm today at College Green.
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