The United Kingdom government has plans to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the arrival of the Empire Windrush ship from the Caribbean, but the celebrations are being overshadowed by outrage over the government's mistreatment of the Windrush Generation as illegal immigrants.
Downing Street is organizing a reception on June 22, hosted by Prime Minister Theresa May, to commemorate the arrival of the ship from the Carribean carrying immigrants who worked rebuilding post-war Britain.
But a scandal has rocked the government, after it became apparent that thousands of Windrush arrivals and their descendants had been incorrectly classified as illegal immigrants and arrival cards had been destroyed, subjecting many to deportation and being barred from public services such as healthcare.
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn also slammed May and the Conservative Party's treatment of the Windrush Generation in their efforts to take a 'zero tolerance' stance on immigration.
"Ahead of tomorrow's anniversary of the arrival of the Empire Windrush, the Conservatives must stop covering up the extent of the Windrush crisis and the human cost of their 'hostile environment,'” Corbyn wrote on Facebook. "We still do not know how many people have been deported, detained and denied their rights. The Windrush Generation needs answers and justice."
Noted activist, professor and writer Gus John turned down an invitation from May to attend the event, responding with a scathing open letter. John said he was "surprised and amused" by the invitation.
"It would be a shameful betrayal to them all (the Windrush Generation) to accept your invitation," John wrote to May.
"It may well be, Prime Minister, that you would have the good grace to take the opportunity to tell your invited guests how sorry you are for your part in all of that brutal, inhumane and racist treatment of former colonized Africans who have and had no interest other than to serve this nation and do their best by their communities and families.
"But one of the uglier manifestations of whiteness in this society is an unassailable sense of in-your-face entitlement."
Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbot called on the government to reveal the full extent of the crisis, including the total number of Windrush people deported, forced into 'voluntary' deportation, or refused re-entry after returning from trips out of the country.
"Warm words about commemorating the Windrush generation are not enough," Abbot wrote. "Whilst the government celebrates the contribution of the Windrush generation and their decendants, we still do not know how many of our fellow citizens have been hounded out of their country, detained in immigration detention centres and left jobless and destitute."