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Refugees Set Adrift: The First Death on Bibby Stockholm



On December 13, a man died by suicide on board Bibby Stockholm. His name was Leonard Farruku. Farruku was 27 years old and from Albania. He was one of the three hundred men seeking asylum in the United Kingdom detained at the British government's floating asylum detention centre. 


Farruku is the second Albanian man to die by suicide in recent times whilst under the care of the Home Office. 37-year-old Alfred Dosku died similarly on November 17.


Before taking his own life, Farruku had been heard shouting about the terrible conditions on board, repeating the line, "I am not a scapegoat". But, the British government disagreed; Farruku was used as a scapegoat. 


The government has long incriminated refugees and people seeking asylum for apparently being responsible for the degraded social and economic condition the UK is in. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has aggressively pursued his "Stop the Boats" campaign as the Conservative Party desperately clings to power. The government has rapidly passed new reforms and bills to attack refugee rights and subvert international law, causing the deaths of innocent people seeking temporary safety and support in the UK. 


Since July 20, it has been UK law that any refugee who arrives in the UK via "irregular" means will have their asylum claims declared "inadmissible", meaning they will be deported. This has been passed with the knowledge that all routes into the UK for refugees are clandestine. 


In addition, the government is now pushing hard for the Rwanda Migrant Deportation Bill to be passed. This will make former Home Secretary Suella Braverman's dreams come true by sending refugees who have reached the UK to be involuntarily transported to detention camps in Rwanda for their asylum claims to be reviewed. In June 2022, the first scheduled flights to Rwanda in June were cancelled following an appeal made by the European Court of Human Rights. As the UK Supreme 


Court ruled in October, this callous Act poses a real risk of refoulement and breaches the UK's responsibility to protect refugees. International human rights organisations have deplored the UK government to consider the human rights abuses rife in Rwanda, a country run by a brutal dictator. Now, no airline is reportedly willing to participate for the shame and bad publicity it would bring. 


In response to the Supreme Court's ruling on sending refugees from the UK to Rwanda, Sunak has agreed on a new treaty with Rwanda and pushed emergency legislation designed to override any national or international laws obstructing the scheme. 


What is most disturbing is that despite the claims Sunak's government frequently makes, their toxic rhetoric on migration does not reflect the views of the UK population. According to a recent global poll, the British population has some of the most positive attitudes towards refugees in the world. (Although I don't think this statistic should be over-emphasised given the far-right politics penetrating political leadership worldwide today). Moreover, despite what the government and Brexiteers would have you believe, the UK receives almost half the number of asylum applications per 10,000 people compared to people in the EU.


To the public, the "Stop the Boats" campaign has been framed as a way of reducing government spending on refugees. However, estimates suggest that around £9 billion will be spent over the next three years detaining and deporting refugees. What these asylum reforms will do is generate vast amounts of wealth for the owners of asylum detention facilities at the expense of the lives of people like Farruku and Dosku, who needed temporary safety and protection.  


Image: The Telegraph


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