Home Office to investigate deportation of Chinese sailors after WW2

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

The Home Office is to investigate why 2,000 Chinese merchant sailors were forcibly repatriated after World War Two, it has been confirmed.

The sailors crewed British ships bringing supplies from America but were deported from Liverpool in 1946.

Future Borders and Immigration Minister Kevin Foster has asked the Home Office to look into the decision at the time.

Labour's Liverpool Riverside MP Kim Johnson said the investigation was a "step in the right direction".

Deportation orders were served by the Home Office on the Chinese seamen during a series of police raids on the Liverpool dock area after the war ended.

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

Judy Kinnin has said her mother "suffered stress and anxiety for the rest of her life" after her father was deported without warning.

"[She told a friend] he was just out playing Mahjong... but he never ever came home the next day at all," she said.

"That's when she realised something was wrong. But by then, they'd all disappeared."

'Acknowledgement and apology'

Ms Johnson, who became aware of the deportations after listening to a BBC Radio 4 programme in 2005, said she was "totally amazed that a British government could be responsible for such an heinous act of abject racism".

Leading an adjournment debate on the matter in the House of Commons on 21 July, she said it was a "shameful stain on our history".

Replying on behalf of the government, Mr Foster expressed "deep regret that some of those who faced the most extreme dangers of war to keep our country supplied in its darkest hour were treated in this way". 

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

Speaking to the BBC, Ms Johnson said a commitment to further research into the deportations was a "step in the right direction".

She added that "an acknowledgement and an apology would... bring closure to lots of those family members".

The Home Office said the deportations took place as "part of the considerable work of demobilising and dealing with displaced people at the end of the war".

"In Parliament last week, the Future Borders and Immigration Minister Kevin Foster expressed his regret at the way these seamen were treated and has asked the department to undertake further research into the decision that was taken at the time."

Mr Foster has asked the Home Office to report back with their findings after the summer recess.

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