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Father Shay Cullen is an Irish Columban missionary who has worked in the Philippines since 1969. In 1974, he founded the Preda Foundation, a charitable organization dedicated to protecting the rights of women and children and campaigning for freedom from sex slavery and human trafficking.

The colonial racism we must all protest

Migrants on a UK Border Force dinghy after they were picked up at sea while attempting to cross the English Channel from France on June 16. Under the UK's agreement with Rwanda, all migrants arriving illegally in Britain are liable to be sent to the East African nation thousands of miles away for processing and settlement

Migrants on a UK Border Force dinghy after they were picked up at sea while attempting to cross the English Channel from France on June 16. Under the UK's agreement with Rwanda, all migrants arriving illegally in Britain are liable to be sent to the East African nation thousands of miles away for processing and settlement. (Photo: AFP)

Published: June 19, 2022 05:03 AM GMT
While white Ukrainians are welcome in Britain, dark-skinned asylum seekers are being deported to Rwanda

Colonial crimes and atrocities are always with us. On April 1, Pope Francis expressed “sorrow and shame” for the colonial abuse against the indigenous people of Canada by the Catholic Church. Colonial rulers have stamped their cruel laws and vices on occupied and exploited nations. The victims have suffered loss of identity, cultural and moral values and have been corrupted by the vices of the former colonial rulers and occupiers.

“It is chilling to think of determined efforts to instill a sense of inferiority, to rob people of their cultural identity, to sever their roots, and to consider all the personal and social effects that this continues to entail: unresolved traumas that have become intergenerational traumas,” the pope said, referring to the abuse in residential schools run by Catholic clergy. He could have been talking about similar boarding schools in Australia that robbed the aboriginal people of their culture and their lands. 

In the Philippines, colonial policy allowed a massive sex industry to grow around US military bases with the cooperation of corrupt Filipino collaborators that exploited their own people. Catholic authorities remained silent about the evil exploitation throughout the era of military bases.

Francis had words that would apply to Filipinos when he told the indigenous people of Canada last week “it is not right to accept evil and, even worse, to grow accustomed to evil, as if it were an inevitable part of the historical process.”

King Philippe of Belgium, a Catholic, on a recent tour of atonement to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, expressed regret for the brutal colonial history where millions of Congolese died in slavery in their own land. Continual violence and exploitation of the people by armed groups fighting over mineral wealth is the colonial legacy there.

Over a million people have fled violence and war and live as refugees in camps in Turkey and Jordan. They fled Syria with their wives and children to escape the indiscriminate bombing and chemical attacks by the tyrant Assad backed by Russia. Others flee assassins, execution squads, extortionists and criminal gangs.

The white Ukrainian refugees are the right ones, the dark-skinned Muslims are wrong for secular Britain and other countries that discriminate on race

Western nations have to take responsibility for their involvement in causing or aiding some of these conflicts, such as by arming Saudi Arabia and others to attack Yemen and invade Iraq.

Britain is the destination of many refugees fleeing the war and escaping threats of death from tyrants that Britain supported. The government of Boris Johnson wants to stop them and more coming, as do Belgium, France, Italy and the Netherlands. 

Britain, having stupidly left the European Union to get rid of European citizens, is floundering in economic meltdown. PM Johnson is trying to unilaterally change the Brexit agreement over Northern Ireland which will violate international law and surely lead to the cancellation of the vital trade agreement with the EU.

If possible, Johnson would rid Britain of Filipino health workers, but he dare not. It has too few of its own. However, Johnson and other politicians are determined to get rid of certain kinds of asylum seekers and refugees. In a few years, some of them could be from Scotland if it succeeds in winning its independence from Britain, ending 1,000 years of colonial rule and joining the EU, as eventually will Northern Ireland.

However, Britain has opened its welcoming arms to more than 60,000 Ukrainian refugees in a few months. They are fleeing the Russian bombing and have been given immediate privileged refugee status and welcomed into British family homes. They are white, Christian and Western-educated — “just like us,” say the welcoming British politicians and officials.

However, to the eternal shame and disgrace of Britain, those dark-skinned, Muslim asylum seekers and refugees fleeing similar Russian and Assad bombings in Syria and other wars are being held in immigration prisons and arrested on the beach as they land. The white Ukrainian refugees are the right ones, the dark-skinned Muslims are wrong for secular Britain and other countries that discriminate on race. If returned to their countries of origin, they are likely to be jailed, tortured or killed.

A new draconian policy by the British government declares them illegal or criminal and aims to deport them without any evidence of wrongdoing on British soil and without a hearing of their rightful asylum claims as provided by international law.

No Ukrainians will be deported, not unless they are dark-skinned. This deportation policy is sinful racism, bringing shame and disgrace on the British government

This is a violation of international and humanitarian law regarding the rights of asylum seekers. These poor people have suffered so much already. It is a hard-hearted, cruel, harsh punishment devoid of justice and compassion. It is approved by heartless British judges whose colonial forebears deported 160,000 Irish men and women to Australia for life for petty crimes.

No Ukrainians will be deported, not unless they are dark-skinned. This deportation policy is sinful racism, bringing shame and disgrace on the British government.

The Church of England and Wales and most UK charities and non-government organizations stand against it. Legal action by the European Court of Human Rights stopped the first deportation flight but more will come. Britain has a signed deal with Rwanda and has paid about US$150,000 to Rwanda to accept them. Thrown out like unwanted garbage.

This inhuman racist policy to convict and deport people for petty infringements or “wrongdoings” is not new. It was common practice for the British in occupied Catholic Ireland. When Ireland was suffering famine and starvation, they would convict anyone of a petty offense like taking a loaf of bread for a starving family and use it to impose the draconian punishment of lifelong deportation or “transport” to Australia, never to return.

From 1791 to 1867, a period of 76 years, the British convicted and transported a staggering 160,000 Catholic Irish men and women as slave labor to populate Australia. While colonial Britain convicted the oppressed Irish for stealing a loaf of bread, it stole a whole continent from the aboriginal people. That was no small crime.

It appears racism continues today in Australia as in Britain. Aborigines make up 28 percent of the adult prisoners in Australian jails but they are only 3 percent of the entire population. Up to 68 percent of juveniles in detention are aboriginal.

The new British destination today for unwanted, dark-skinned asylum seekers of a different religion is Rwanda, a land from which no asylum seeker, like the Irish sent to Australia, can ever return.

*The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official editorial position of UCA News.

UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia