Game of Thrones star speaks out against ‘horrendous’ treatment of refugees

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Lena Headey was talking about new cinema The Flood, which focuses on refugees coming to the UK

Game of Thrones performer Lena Headey, who is starring in one of the first British cinemas to grapple with the refugee crisis, has spoken out against the horrendous and dehumanising style that people seeking safety in the UK are treated.

The Flood assures Headey play British immigration policeman Wendy, who is presiding over the fate of Eritrean refugee Haile, whose journey escaping from the war-torn African country to the Calais camp and eventually to England is traced in the film.

Headey, best known as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones, said having been put in the shoes of an immigration officer and exposed to a script based on real-life accounts from people working for the Home Office had affirmed her belief that a shift in position was needed.

I understand there are safety issues, and screenings for security, but it could be so much more human and compassionate, said Heady. Its horrendous that after the journeys that these refugees go through, they are then treated immediately with suspicion and fear.

Headey plays Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones. Photo: AP

I get it, this is a crisis with so many levels, but we have also lost sight of the fact its not a problem, its people, its other human being. And were dehumanising them.

While there have been several critically acclaimed documentaries that have followed the plights of the hundreds of thousands fleeing the Middle East and Africa, barely any feature films on the issue have made it into production.

Headey said she noted how in the wake of events such as Brexit, conversations about the refugee crisis beginning to dwindle, and said that had been a motivating taken into account in her getting involved in the film. Written by Helen Kingston, the film was initially inspired by an incident in which 35 immigrants from Afghanistan were discovered in a shipping container at Tilbury Docks in Essex in 2014, with some dying during the ordeal.

The power of film to change people minds is a real thing, she said. I, Daniel Blake was a really good example of this, it woke people up it woke me up to the injustice of something that is happening now, right under our noses. This film is about the horrors of what is happening every day to the refugees coming to Europe, and how appalling and frightening it is to sit by while it goes on.

She added: I hope it will provoke similar various kinds of conversations. Its amazing how quickly it seems to have died down even though its as a bad as it ever was.

Headey said she fully understood peoples fatigue having been bombarded with images of violence and human suffering every day, but said she believed the most important chore was to construct people less fearful of the refugees and their motives for coming to the UK. Having visited Greece last year to fulfilled some of those who had stimulated the perilous journey across the Mediterranean, Headey said she had been struck by how the main message the women wanted to convey was that we are not terrorists.

Yet she also noted what she described as a massive discontentment among the men living in the makeshift camp on the island of Lesbos.

If we dont have a shifting where we recognise these people for who they were before the latter are forced to leave their countries people who are educated with household values, who had careers and homes then we are going to be in difficulty, we are actually. We are going to grow an absolute frenzy, you could feel it.

With the next season of Game of Thrones premiering in July maintaining Headey firmly in the limelight, she said she had come to accept that publicly speaking out about the refugee crisis would prompt a backlash.

People look at actors who speak out and say oh well, its so easy for them, she said. There are a lot of people who are saying its all right for you, you champagne socialist but thats fucking bollocks, Im simply a human being with a conscience.

My kids need to know that I dedicated a shit thats what drives me most, Headey added. Im a jobbing performer, this is what I do to induce cash, but sometimes I do projects where I induce no cash because its about attaining something that will hopefully get people talking.

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