Recapping our response to the Rwanda Act and Treaty

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Placards used at a protest, laid on the ground. The placards are different colours (orange, blue, and white) and feature slogans like 'These Walls Must Fall', 'No to Rwanda!' and 'No One Is Illegal'

The Rwanda Act and Treaty passed on 25 April 2024, and the Home Office began its ‘Operation Vector’ on 29 April 2024. Like many other organisations and groups in the migrant justice sector, we at Right to Remain spent the month of May focussing our efforts upon supporting our community and providing accurate information in response to the horror inflicted upon people in the asylum system, and the fear which spread rapidly through multiple communities.  

After a month punctuated by fear, frenzy, as well as immense displays of solidarity across the country, the Prime Minister announced on 22 May that there will be a General Election on 4 July. Following this announcement, it was revealed that there are no plans for any flights to take off for Rwanda until after the election (that is, if the Conservative party is successful – which seems highly unlikely). 

Even though the Rwanda Act, Treaty, and general plan are effectively defunct (no longer functioning), many of the people who were detained under Rwanda powers remain in detention, despite the fact that their removal is not going to happen. This is illegal, and you can read more about the #FreeTheRwandaDetainees campaign here

Only now are we taking a minute to breathe and recap the initiatives, events, and information we released in response to the Rwanda Act and Treaty. We are grateful to our community members, old and new, for their steadfastness in coming together to stand in solidarity with all those affected. 

Legal update blogs

In response to the constant changes and updates from the government and requests from the ground, we published the following Legal Update blogs: 

Rwanda information webinars

In response to the Home Office’s surprise Operation Vector to round up people for the Rwanda flight that began on 29 April, Right to Remain hosted an information webinar on 1 May, and another on 24 May.  

We were taken aback by the sheer number of people who wanted to join our session. In total, 750 people signed up to the events. We opted for a webinar format in order to welcome as many people as possible. By rule, we always prefer interactive workshops – we value building solidarity through relationships while building knowledge. The webinar format and the size of the audience meant that our ability to interact was limited, but we were pleased that hundreds of people were able to attend our webinars, when the demand for clear and accurate information about the Safety of Rwanda Act and Treaty was so high. 

We were genuinely heartened by the huge number of people in attendance – who are relatively new to the migration justice movement and asylum and immigration law – who felt compelled to stand in solidarity with our communities in response to this latest wave of terror. 

If you’d like to know more about what was covered during the webinars, you can read our blog here.

Rwanda check-in session

This has been a very frightening time for our community, and it has taken its toll in various ways. On 3 May, we held a small ‘Rwanda check in’ session for members of our community who were supporting people on the frontline. It was not an education session, but rather a safe space for collecting and reflecting upon our thoughts, sharing information, and for Right to Remain to understand how groups in our community were navigating the situation. 

After sharing more general information, we split into a number of breakout rooms and considered the following questions: 

  1. What are you seeing on the ground? 
  2. What are our hopes and  and concerns? 
  3. How can we support each other?

In this way, we were able to pause for a moment amidst the chaos, to see that none of us were shouldering this issue alone, and to also recentre ourselves before launching back into the work with a renewed sense of solidarity and also access to further key information.

Solidarity Session – Manchester and Liverpool

These Walls Must Fall, our brilliant lived experience campaign group, hosted marches, protests and actions in response to the Rwanda Act and Treaty. They galvanised communities in Manchester and Liverpool to stand in solidarity with those affected by the Rwanda plan and wider hostile environment. 

In response to these actions, people wanted further information and guidance on next steps, too. 

So, we hosted an online Solidarity Session for those based in Manchester and Liverpool, and 50 people signed up! Participants included campaigners, members of newly formed support / anti raids groups, healthcare practitioners, and more.

We focused on sharing basic information about immigration reporting and detention – including what to expect, and what people’s rights are. 

Members of our These Walls Must Fall community shared their lived experience of reporting and detention. We are so grateful for their openness and courage in doing so. We then broke off into breakout sessions to consider next steps in both Manchester and Liverpool; from the lived experience angle, and the support group angle.

For further information on how to provide support outside reporting centres, click here

To learn more about the work of These Walls Must Fall, click here.

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