WEEKS OF ACTION against charter flights have been planned for January 2017, during which charter flights are expected to leave for Nigeria and Ghana, and Pakistan. International actions have been called for by the Nigerian Deportation Group and people deported to Jamaica on the charter flight of September 7th 2016, supported by groups in the UK such as Movement for Justice and The Unity Centre who are organising their own actions.
We are calling on all anti racist and migrant rights organisations and individuals to join us during these weeks in January. Demonstrations will be held in local communities and at embassies in the UK, Jamaica and Nigeria, and information sharing and resistance workshops will be held in London and Glasgow. We also call on autonomous groups and individuals to facilitate discussions about and target Titan Airways and Tascor, and welcome any other ideas. To get in touch, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Lawyers and those acting within the legal realm of immigration can play an important role in resisting and challenging mass deportation charter flights. Increasing cuts to legal aid and the persecution of political lawyers both make it more difficult for lawyers to actively challenge the Home Office’s unjust policies, and create substantive social change. We call on lawyers to use your skills and knowledge as part of the ongoing campaign against charter flights!
For a calendar of what is taking place so far see here.
Statement from Nigeria Deportation Group, Movement for Justice & deportees in Jamaica
Actions will be taken to protest the British government’s unjust policy of mass deportation charter flights, currently operating to Nigeria, Ghana, Jamaica, Pakistan, Albania, and soon Afghanistan.
Charter flights target long-established African, Asian and Caribbean communities in Britain – dividing families and deporting people who have built lives in the UK, who have parents, partners and children here, people who have lived most of their lives in Britain, students who have not finished their courses, those who have sought asylum and protection, people with serious health problems and others who are long-term carers to elderly and disabled relatives. Targeting so many people who are integrated members of their communities and wider society is a divisive act of racist discrimination.
We demand that the governments of Nigeria and Jamaica stop collaborating with the British government in regularly and violently deporting people en masse against their will. The Nigerian High Commission profit from these charter flights: up to 100 people are forcibly removed via charter flight to Nigeria and Ghana every other month from the UK, whilst they are paid £70 for every travel document they issue for individuals on the flight. With these flights, the UK government is able to continue their attacks on Nigerians and Ghanians, as they collectively expel people on charter flights in which passengers are defined by their perceived nationality. And they are not stopping anytime soon without resistance: The UK just recently build a special “Returns Reception Centre” to “welcome” back those deported to Nigeria.
The Nigerian High Commission states that “before any Nigerian is deported, the High Commission always insists that: their citizenship has been proved beyond reasonable doubt; they are medically fit; they are allowed to exhaust all their legal remedies; for those who have stayed in the UK for more than 15 years, proof of existence of friends and relations as well as capacity to reintegrate.” This statement can be understood to be completely false, as the Nigerian government is paid £70 per person by the Home Office to interview people in detention and issue them with emergency travel documents – even when these conditions have not been met – as reported by The Unity Centre.
There has been active resistance to charter flights from inside detention centres, with women detained in Yarl’s Wood previously collectively refusing to be taken from detention to coaches destined for the airport. Since then, it has become practice for detention centre staff to put women in isolation one-by-one several days before a charter flight – “so we can’t be in solidarity and stop the flight together” as one woman detained said.
People inside detention, issued tickets for charter flights ask for demonstrations of solidarity and resistance from people with the privilege to do so. In West Africa, the Caribbean and the diaspora the reminder of the horrors of the slave trade and the comparison with the fate of refugees and immigrants in the Mediterranean are too powerful to ignore. In the words of one woman detained in Yarl’s Wood, “It really reminds us of the history you read about slaves. When they used to take people and put them in the ships, to take them and go and sell them. Now, they are doing this here. Yarl’s Wood is a slave ship. They take you from here and put you on a charter flight…. We are treated as animals.” In the words of another detainee, “The people in the Mediterranean, we are like this. This is our ship, we are drowning.”
These are the words of one of those deported on the charter flight to Jamaica in September…
In September a charter flight left the UK for the first time in 2 years to Jamaica. I was one of the 42 people deported, taken from my partner and kids to a country where I have nothing and know no one. I lived in the UK for 17 years, since I was 14.
The lawyers in the UK took all my money, and now I have so little I can’t even afford a bed to sleep on. I can’t find a job and I have no family here. My kids in the UK need clothes and food that my wife can’t afford with the small support given to her. I don’t care about myself I just want to help my kids. Why hurt my kids too?
Nobody will help me here, the organisations they just say that there is nothing they can do – even the National Organisation of Deported Migrants who are paid by the British High Commission to help deportees and legitimise our deportation to Jamaica. We are just kicked out to the streets. The British government forgot what they did to my grandfather but we forgave them for it.
In the UK is my mother, brothers, sister, nieces, nephews – my whole family – but because Jamaicans are no good in the eyes of the British government they treat us with no respect. They strap me up on the plane like a dog in chains. Who is going to help us?
On the 7th of September 2016 I was hurt in many ways. I feel like I’ve been kidnapped. I have to hide in Jamaica now because of the violence in Spanish Town. I still want to have a life but I feel like I can’t breathe. The stress and pressure of every day alone with no one to talk to is going to kill me. Please help us. Give us strength to keep fighting and stop this inhumane suffering.
For more information, contact Roots to Return at: email@example.com
Article submitted by Unity Human Rights Centre Glasgow