Apology call over Chinese seamen World War Two deportations

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image captionJudy Kinnin's father Chang Au Chiang disappeared in 1946

The forcible repatriation of 2,000 Chinese merchant seamen after World War Two was "one of the most nakedly racist incidents ever taken by the British government", an MP has said.

The sailors crewed British ships bringing arms and food from America but were deported from Liverpool in 1946.

Labour MP Kim Johnson has called on the government to apologise to the families.

The Home Office said it recognised the stress the policy had caused.

A BBC Radio 4 programme in 2005 detailed how deportation orders were served by the Home Office on the Chinese seamen during a series of police swoops on the Liverpool dock area.

Within 48 hours the sailors, many of whom had married English women, were on their way back to China.

Judy Kinnin said her mother had no idea where her father Chang Au Chiang had gone when he disappeared in 1946.

"My mum was at home and a friend came to say to her that her husband hadn't come home from work and no-one could find him," she said.

"She ran upstairs and saw my dad's clothes were all still there and she said he was just out playing Mahjong.

"But he never ever came home the next day at all. That's when she realised something was wrong. But by then they'd all disappeared."

Ms Kinnin said her mother "suffered stress and anxiety for the rest of her life".

image captionLabour MP Kim Johnson has called on the government to apologise

Ms Johnson wrote a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel in March describing the scheme as "a shameful stain of our history, yet barely remembered".

Speaking at the Liverpool Pagoda Chinese Community Centre, the MP for Liverpool Riverside said the families felt "let down".

"The merchant seamen kept this country supplied with food and fuel, they put their lives on the line and this is how they were repaid," she said.

"The children of those seamen are in their 70s and a lot have already died. I would like during my time as the MP for Liverpool Riverside to be able to support them in getting that acknowledgement and getting an apology."

A Home Office spokeswoman said a programme of repatriations took place between 1946 and 1947 "among a number of nationalities, including Chinese nationals, as part of the considerable work of demobilising and dealing with displaced people at the end of the war".

"We have no information to suggest that the men were not treated in accordance with the laws and regulations at that time," she said.

"However, we recognise the stress and anxiety it caused to families that were impacted."

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