Suella Braverman in Rwanda: laughing picture that’s gone viral on Twitter explained

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During a tour of an estate being built for deported asylum seekers in Rwandan capital Kigali, the Home Secretary joked about the interior design of the buildings

Home Secretary Suella Braverman has come under fire after a picture of her laughing atop a building emerged online during her trip to Rwanda. While visiting the houses being built for deported asylum seekers, Braverman joked about the interior design of the buildings.

Whilst on a tour of the estate in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, Braverman joked: “These houses are really beautiful, great quality, really welcoming, and I really like your interior designer. I need some advice for myself.”

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The two day visit to Rwanda has already been mired in controversy after it was reported that  media outlets considered to be right-wing were invited to accompany her on the tax-payer funded trip. GB News, the Daily Mail, the Express, and the Telegraph all received invitations - but The Guardian, Mirror, Independent, and i Newspaper, as well as broadcasters BBC and Sky News, were excluded.

What’s the laughing picture that’s gone viral?

A picture of Braverman standing on top of a building in Kigali which could soon house migrants deported from the UK with her head thrown back whilst she laughs has gone viral online.

Sharing the picture on Twitter, Diane Abbott, Labour MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, wrote: “Suella Braverman in Rwanda having a good laugh about all the asylum seekers that she is going to dump there.”

Radio presenter James O’Brien also tweeted: “Exactly 200 years after William Wilberforce founded the Anti-Slavery Society, here’s Suella Braverman at a facility to which she hopes to deport trafficked victims of modern slavery.”

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“Just the Home Secretary laughing merrily in front of the offshore detention centre she dreams of sending refugees and modern slavery victims to,” journalist Adam Bienkov wrote.

The specific picture that’s gone viral is one that’s been cropped just to show Braverman laughing, however the original picture shows Braverman laughing with a man and two men on top of the building. However, the un-cropped image of Braverman has done little to change public perception of the situation.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman tours a building site on the outskirts of Kigali during her visit to Rwanda (Photo: PA/Stefan Rousseau)Home Secretary Suella Braverman tours a building site on the outskirts of Kigali during her visit to Rwanda (Photo: PA/Stefan Rousseau)
Home Secretary Suella Braverman tours a building site on the outskirts of Kigali during her visit to Rwanda (Photo: PA/Stefan Rousseau) | PA/Stefan Rousseau

One person wrote on Twitter: “The real photos of Suella Braverman laughing in front of her hate camps are bad enough, there’s really no need to create fake offensive ones.”

In a statement regarding the picture, a Home Office spokesperson said: “The image has been cropped and taken clearly out of context. The photo was taken during a visit to see accommodation and opportunities which will be open to asylum seekers relocated to Rwanda through our groundbreaking partnership.

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“The Home Secretary was welcomed by Rwanda’s minister of education and new construction graduates to modern, long-term accommodation which will support those who settle in Rwanda.”

Speaking about the photo, Migrants’ Rights Network said: “Refugees’ lives are on the line because of the Rwanda deal. However, the Home Secretary’s appalling behaviour and gleeful manner in these pictures demonstrates the shocking lack of compassion or humanity.”

Why was Suella Braverman in Rwanda?

Braverman is making plans to deport migrants to Rwanda by the summer, with a Home Office source saying “we are certainly working towards getting the flights off before the summer”. They also added that Braverman acknowledged it was dependent on the pending legal battles.

“We’re working to make this happen as soon as possible, and there is every possibility that we can move quickly if we get a good line of judgement in our favour,” Braverman told reporters.

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No migrants have been relocated to the country so far after the deal was signed last April by Braverman’s predecessor Priti Patel.

It comes as Braverman expanded the agreement with Rwanda to incorporate all those illegally entering the UK as opposed to solely asylum seekers. The addition to the deal is to be put in place to ensure illegal entrants would be detained and swiftly removed under the Illegal Migration Bill (IMB), irrespective of the claim they bring – including asylum, human rights, modern slavery or nothing at all.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman (left) visits a newly built house with Minister for Information, Communication and technology, Claudette Irere (Photo: PA/Stefan Rousseau)Home Secretary Suella Braverman (left) visits a newly built house with Minister for Information, Communication and technology, Claudette Irere (Photo: PA/Stefan Rousseau)
Home Secretary Suella Braverman (left) visits a newly built house with Minister for Information, Communication and technology, Claudette Irere (Photo: PA/Stefan Rousseau) | PA/Stefan Rousseau

Speaking in Rwanda’s capital Kigali on her first official visit as Home Secretary, Braverman also said the IMB as it stands “does not take us out of the ECHR (European Convention of Human Rights)”, but added: “Nothing is off the table, ultimately.”

She said there are “serious issues with the balance that’s currently being struck” with the Strasbourg courts.

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The IMB is due to bring forward the removal of migrants in a period of 28 days – and asked whether this would see those appealing against their relocation fly back to Britain, Braverman said: “The Bill dramatically, dramatically reduces the opportunity for people to make spurious claims.”

“There will be significantly limited opportunities to challenge that,” she added.

On Saturday (18 March), Braverman visited housing which is set to be used for migrants – with properties equipped with gardens, off-street parking and capacity for fibre-optic broadband.

The cheapest houses on the Riverside Estate in Kigali would cost potential buyers £14,000 and are due to be offered to both asylum seekers and Rwandans. Migrants arriving from the UK would be housed in hostels and hotels in the short term, before moving onto long-term housing arrangements.

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“I think that Rwanda is clearly ready. We saw that at the Riverside estate,” Braverman said, “We’re seeing that there’s real progress, which has been made in real tangible terms.”

During her trip, the Home Secretary met with President Paul Kagame to discuss the deal, after meeting her Rwandan counterpart Vincent Biruta on Saturday.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman and Rwandan minister for foreign affairs and international co-operation, Vincent Biruta sign an enhanced partnership deal in Kigali, during her visit to Rwanda (Photo: PA/Stefan Rousseau)Home Secretary Suella Braverman and Rwandan minister for foreign affairs and international co-operation, Vincent Biruta sign an enhanced partnership deal in Kigali, during her visit to Rwanda (Photo: PA/Stefan Rousseau)
Home Secretary Suella Braverman and Rwandan minister for foreign affairs and international co-operation, Vincent Biruta sign an enhanced partnership deal in Kigali, during her visit to Rwanda (Photo: PA/Stefan Rousseau) | PA/Stefan Rousseau

Speaking about flights potentially taking off by the summer, Braverman said: “In terms of flights, we are still in a court timetable. We’re waiting for the Court of Appeal’s substantive hearing later next month. There will then be time for judgement to be handed down by the Court of Appeal. Flights could take off.”

Rwanda government spokeswoman Yolande Makolo told reporters she did not “consider living in Rwanda as punishment”- adding that the African nation signed up to the agreement for “the right reasons”.

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Asked whether she was in discussions with other nations to enter into further partnerships in order to implement the IMB, Braverman said: “As you’ve heard, the capacity for Rwanda is in the region of thousands. We believe that that is sufficient to deal with the challenge that we’re facing in the UK, but we are always in constructive dialogue with many nations around the world.”

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