It is common knowledge that the US and the UK have a close bilateral rapport that is referred to as the “special relationship” and reflects the historical and cultural ties binding the 2 countries together, as well as the fact that Britain generally remains in lock step with everything the US does on the international scene.
It is also common knowledge that after Brexit in the UK in June 2016 and Donald Trump’s November 2016 victory in the US, people in both countries having been basking in a new found freedom to express all their previously bottled up hatred towards the other in society. There has been no shortage of disturbing stories coming out of both countries of people being physically attacked, as a string of recent attacks against Indians in the US, and Polish people in the UK clearly show.
What may not be common knowledge is that is this commonality of crudeness didn’t just begin in 20016/17. This post gives some examples stretching back a few years of the eerily similar government-backed institutional ignominy in the UK and the US.
2017 US: SALVADORAN CANCER PATIENT REMOVED FROM HOSPITAL FOR DEPORTATION
Near the end of February in Texas, a Salvadoran woman by the name of Sara Beltrán Hernández (pictured above) who was undergoing treatment for a brain tumour was ordered removed from the country despite the gravity of her ever-worsening condition because her asylum application had been rejected. On court order, she was removed from hospital and transferred to a detention centre where she would await deportation.
Yes, a swarm of federal agents actually swooped in on a terminally ill woman to usher her out of the country.
“Where could the US have learned such barbary?”, one might ask with indignation. Well, the answer to that question lies just below so keep scrolling.
2008 UK: TERMINALLY ILL GHANAIAN CANCER PATIENT DEPORTED ON HER HOSPITAL BED
In 2008, the UK put on a dress rehearsal for the current US immigration practice of hunting down hapless sick people to kick them out of the country.
Ghanaian national cancer sufferer Ama Sumani (seen above) and was removed from the UK and sent back to Ghana literally on her sick bed after her visa expired, where she subsequently died. All pleas from medical staff treating her in Wales, friends and supporters fell on deaf ears at the UK Home Office – interestingly then run by the supposedly foreigner-friendly Labour Party. Even when an anonymous donor forked over the cash to foot the medical bill meaning there’d be no cost to the British taxpayer, Her Majesty’s Government just could not allow a sick foreigner to breathe British air, breath being just about the only thing Ama Sumani would have drawn so to speak from Britain.
The British authorities at the time said that “deporting those undergoing medical treatment did not amount to inhumane treatment, even if the person involved later had a relapse or died”.
Well I guess you just can’t beat that reasoning, now can you?
2014 US: POLICE CHOKE BLACK MAN TO DEATH AND GET AWAY WITH IT (OF COURSE)
So much has been written and said about this that I will just give an encapsulated version of the issue: in short “white police officer choked unarmed black man and killed him and got away with it”, the end.
Eric Garner was caught committing the cardinal sin of selling cigarettes on the pavement in New York in 2014 and paid with his life when police officers in New York – the “the-same-ones-who-murdered-Amadou-Diallo-and-Sean-Bell-and-the-list-goes-on-and-almost-killed-Abner-Louima-but-still-really-have-no-problem-with-excessive-force-against-black-people-who-just-need-to-stop-playing-the-victim-all-the-time-and-accept-the-fact-that-they-magically-deserve-die-for-living-and-breathing-just-like-in-them-good-old-Jim-Crow-days” department – put him in an illegal choke hold and ignored his screams that he could not breathe. The case against the officers involved was thrown out.
The words “I Can’t Breathe” uttered by Garner as his life was snuffed out came to sum up a social movement, appearing on placards and with many celebrities displaying the words as a political statement, as part and parcel of the much maligned “Black Lives Matter” movement.
Again, the example below is so disgusting similar that one would wonder if the US is somehow trying to one-up its trans-Atlantic mother country in a race to the bottom.
2010 UK: ANGOLAN MIGRANT SUFFOCATED BY SECURITY AGENTS WHO ARE THEN ACQUITTED
Angolan father of five Jimmy Mubenga was being removed from the UK in 2010. On the plane that was to take him to Angola he was restrained by government-contracted security officers so forcefully that he suffocated and died of cardiac arrest in his seat. A less than thorough investigation followed, and 18 months later it was ruled that no charges could be pursued because there was not enough evidence to do so. Then in 2014 a case was finally able to be mounted, only to be met with a not guilty verdict.
As if the similarity to the US version isn’t clear enough, Mr Mubenga is reported to have screamed “you’re killing me” while the guards were in fact doing just that.
Only time will tell what the Anglo-American dynamic duo of discrimination have in store for its marginalised populations next.