DR Congo

New briefing on mass deportation charter flights available online

New briefing on mass deportation charter flights available online

Corporate Watch and Stop Deportation have released a new briefing on deportations, focusing on the Home Office’s use of charter flights. The 48-page briefing, entitled Collective Expulsion: The Case Aginst Britain’s Mass Deportation Charter Flights can be downloaded here, or you can buy a hard copy from the Corporate Watch online shop.

You can read a review of our report on the Pluto Press blog here, as well as a photo-essay of a recent mass deportation charter flight for more information on the topic.

Preface

This report examines the British state’s most secretive and draconian immigration controls: mass deportation charter flights. The policy has existed in the shadows for over a decade, evading popular criticism and any meaningful review. Away from the public gaze, using specially chartered aircraft, the immigration authorities try to get rid of as many unwanted migrants as possible.

Indeed, these mass deportation charter flights are becoming the standard method of conducting enforced deportations to a growing list of destination countries. There is now at least one flight a week to ‘popular destinations’, such as Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria, which are often closely linked to the UK’s most controversial foreign policy adventures. Yet, the programme was, and is still being, sold to the public on the basis of unfounded myths and outright lies, which have gone unchallenged for far too long.

The UK Home Office has used specially chartered flights to deport rejected refugees and migrants en masse for 12 years now. The policy was introduced in 2001 ostensibly to save ‘taxpayers money’ and effect high ‘volume removals’ of people who refuse to ‘cooperate’ with the immigration authorities. Officials have also claimed the programme was designed to send a clear message, both to the British public and to migrant communities, that the UK is serious about enforcing its ‘tough’ immigration policy.

This report examines in detail each of these and other deceptions underpinning the programme and debunks them using previously unpublished data covering the first 10 years of the programme. The sources used range from Freedom of Information requests, statistical analysis of official figures, court cases, government reports and media articles, in addition to case studies based on testimonies from migrants deported on these flights or organisations that worked with them.

Having debunked the myths, the authors then attempt to unravel the ‘ulterior motives’ behind the UK’s deportation charter flights, bringing to light little-known statements by government officials, secretive meetings and dodgy political deals. The motives examined range from a targets culture introduced by Labour and maintained by the current, Conservative-led coalition government, to the political agendas revolving around the UK’s foreign policy and its disciplining of migrant diaspora communities.

The next section explores a number of important legal questions concerning mass deportation flights, delving into the murky depths of European and UK case law, international treaties and other legal instruments. Among other things, the authors argue that deportation charter flights constitute a de facto policy of ‘collective expulsion’ and must, therefore, be prohibited. Even without this argument, a number of procedural issues that can be used to challenge the legality of these flights are also explored in detail. This is followed by two short sections on specific issues with significant legal implications: overbooking and the use of ‘reserves’, and the more recent use of monitors and doctors on mass deportation flights.

It is important to remember that, unlike deportations on scheduled flights, there are often no commercial and procedural barriers to the exceptional, brutal policies and practices surrounding mass deportation charter flights. There are also no other passengers to witness what happens on these flights, as some passengers did in the famous case of Jimmy Mubenga, leading to shocking revelations about the use of fatal restraint techniques and racist language. On charter flights, immigration officers and private security guards can get away with virtually anything, as they often do, in order to enforce the government’s ‘tough’ immigration policy. Hence, this report not only calls for the immediate halt of the deportation charters programme on the basis of detailed factual findings and legal arguments, but also challenges different practices and procedures that have been institutionalised or taken for granted during the 12 years of this little-known-about programme.

A note on the language: throughout the report, the authors use the words ‘removal’ and ‘deportation’ interchangeably, even though the two terms have different meanings in law and official jargon. ‘Administrative removal’ is a power enjoyed by normal Home Office immigration case workers who can decide, as they often do, to remove someone from the country after their immigration or asylum claim has been refused. Deportation, on the other hand, is used for foreign national offenders who have been sentenced to a criminal sentence of 12 months or more and are then deported – whether with or without a court order – as a second punishment because they are ‘not conducive to the public good’.

The interchangeable use of the two terms, or using ‘deportation’ for both, is a conscious choice: the authors of the report believe deportation should not be an administrative power or an additional punishment (the latter issue is explored in depth in the section on foreign national prisoners). The same goes for the interchangeable use of immigration prisons, (administrative) detention centres and immigration removal centres (IRCs), as they are officially called now.

In a similar vein, the terms ‘migrants’ or ‘migrants and refugees’ are often used by the authors for all types of migrants, unless a legal distinction is necessitated by a specific context. Derogatory, stigmatising and often inaccurate terms, such as ‘failed asylum seekers’, ‘illegal immigrants’ and so on, are used by politicians and the media to divide migrants into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ ones, legitimate and illegitimate, then demonise and illegalise those who do not not fit one of these artificially constructed, politically motivated categories. The authors believe that people choose or are forced to migrate for a wide variety of reasons and should be able to travel and live wherever they want or need to.

Whilst writing this report, the UK Border Agency (UKBA) was split into two separate operational units: Visas & Immigration and Immigration Enforcement. It is the latter that is responsible for most of the policies and practices covered in this report (detention, deportation, etc.). The head of the unit is David Wood, who also features in the report as the previous head of Criminality and Detention within the UKBA.

Thanks are due to Frances Webber, Juliane Heider, Bethan Bowett-Jones, Amanda Sebestyen, Sita Balani and everyone else who helped us with this report, whether by providing information or financial support, reading or commenting. Thanks are also due to the detainees and deportees who shared their tragic experiences with us. It is to them, and all the other migrants and refugees who have faced and will face similar fates, that we dedicate this report.

Deportation Doctors: Armatus providing medics for mass deportation flights

Deportation Doctors: Armatus providing medics for mass deportation flights

The UK Border Agency has contracted a controversial security company to provide emergency medical staff on mass deportation flights, Phil Miller reveals in an exclusive investigation published by Corporate Watch today.

Armatus Medical Services, part of Armatus Risks Ltd, won the three to five-year contract in May 2011. Armatus Risks’ directors include an ex-bodyguard to notorious US General Patreaus, and four of the five directors listed on the company’s website boast experience as private military contractors.

Armatus staff in training. Source: Armatus Facebook page

Armatus staff in training. Source: Armatus Facebook page

‘Difficult to understand’

Armatus said its contract with the UKBA would see the company “develop into one of the UK’s largest providers of medical support staff to UK government operations.”

However, a recent report by HM Inspector of Prisons on controversial charter flights to Sri Lanka highlighted how Armatus medical staff signed off on a rough-and-ready practice in which private security guards handcuffed deportees to “prevent self-harm.”

According to media reports, eleventh-hour suicide attempts by refused Tamil asylum seekers were commonplace. The HMIP report cites one case where a detainee “had previously self-harmed, apparently to stop his removal, and had handcuffs on for 5.5 hours from Brook House [detention centre] to the Airport [Stansted].” “It was difficult to understand why the detainee needed to be restrained for so long given that he was under constant staff supervision,” it added.

The man was “examined by medics after the handcuffs had been removed, and the paperwork was completed appropriately.” The report confirms that healthcare staff on the flight were employed by Armatus. “They accompanied each coach and three were on the flight itself – one paramedic and two ambulance technicians.” According to Armatus, all its medics are recruited from the UK ambulance services and from personnel who have completed a training course known as ‘Armatus Risks community responder medical (FPOS-I)’.

The same inspection report criticised the private security guards for having “no accredited training on use of force in the confined space of an aircraft.” It has been two years since HMIP first noted that no such training existed.

The guards are currently supplied by security company Tascor (formerly Reliance), which took over the role of providing deportation escorts from G4S in May 2011, following the death of Jimmy Mubenga on board a BA flight during his forcible deportation to Angola in October 2010. Reliance was bought up by Capita in August 2012 and renamed Tascor.

Conflict of interest?

In July 2011, the UKBA announced that a company called Taylormade Secure Solutions was now the approved supplier of paramedics for escorted deportation operations. Taylormade was at the time a subsidiary of Armatus Risks Ltd, which was formerly known as Longmoor Risks Ltd. The latter took its name from a Royal Military Police base at Longmoor in Hampshire, where most of the company’s directors had taught before selling their military expertise to the highest bidder (see here and here, for example).

At the time, ex-Tory Northern Ireland Security Minister Sir John Wheeler was the non-executive chaiman of Longmoor, which had been bought by Westminster Group Plc. In its 2009 annual report, the group praised Wheeler for his “significant experience and extensive contacts within the security field, which have already been most valuable to us.”

Moreover, Wheeler was a director of Reliance between 1997 and 2000. Wheeler’s ‘extensive contacts within the security field’ may not have only contributed to Armatus getting this contract, they also mean medical care to already vulnerable people is now provided by security companies, where a different set of values and institutional culture dominate.

The managing director of Armatus Medical Services, Charlie Taylor, served in the British Army’s drone regiment and was “deployed to Iraq in early 2003 in an intelligence-gathering role,” according to his profile on the company’s website.

Another division of Armatus provides staff for anti-piracy operations and was promoting its work at a security industry summit in Sri Lanka last year. Sri Lanka is fast becoming a hub for private maritime security companies in the Indian Ocean. Most of Britain’s recent arms exports to the island have gone to anti-piracy outfits.

armatus-risks-logoMigrant rights groups have raised serious concerns about Armatus’ little-known contract with the UKBA. A spokesperson from Stop Deportation said: “Placing the healthcare of people being forcibly deported in the hands of mercenary companies like Armatus is not exactly the best way to respond to criticisms of the conduct of private security escorts. But perhaps that’s exactly what the UKBA intended from awarding this contract to this company.”

It is worth mentioning that Armatus is based in London (303 Princess House, 50 Eastcastle Street, W1W 8EA) and has recently opened a new regional office near Heathrow airport in order to “support UKBA operations.”

FCUKBA: a month of immigration repression and resistance

FCUKBA: a month of immigration repression and resistance

A random UKBA raid on a workplace

Feb 25th-March 24th 2012: A months’ work for those lovely people of the UK Border Agency, safeguarding our nation from the invading hordes of furriners

February 25th: Massive raid on Reggaeton gig in Elephant & Castle; up to 90 arrests.
Police & UKBA turned up at a gig in the Coronet which was due to be attended by Don Omar (Puerto Rican reggaeton star with a large Latin@ following). They started harassing the queue of predominantly Latin American people outside the gig. It is reported that once people showed their tickets to security at the door, they were in turn passed to UKBA. Witnesses say up to 90 people were arrested through these immigration checks. Some people were deported within days of the raid.
Just like that; one minute you’re enjoying a Saturday night out with friends, the next you find yourself being forcibly removed on a flight to Bolivia.
There is talk of other raids having taken place that day but we have no concrete information as yet. None of this was reported in the mainstream press, although just one site ran the story of the gig:  http://www.theprisma.co.uk/2012/03/12/immigration-raid-a-concert-with-a-very-bad-taste/

February 28th: Charter to Sri Lanka
UK deported up to 100 refugees to Sri Lanka, despite evidence of ongoing torture.

8th March: Charter to Nigeria, 120 people deported.
A number of detainees did, however, get their flight cancelled, and sent this message to supporters; “To all who Emailed/faxed/rang, your efforts are never in Vain, knowing there are people outside fighting for us inside is solidarity that keeps us strong and willing to fight on until UKBA stop serving Removal Directions and give us leave to remain. Keep up the good work”

12th March: Charter to Afghanistan – cancelled due to ‘security reasons’ – likely due to the effects of the Koran burnings, subsequent killing of dozens of protestors, and the massacre in Kandahar. Apparently its safe enough to deport Afghan teenagers but not to touch down in Kabul if you are a British citizen working as a hired thug “escort” for Reliance

One of the many due to go on that flight was Aziz Hussini, who was detained after the UKBA raided registry office on the day of his wedding, and dragged him away from his British partner, alleging it was a sham marriage. Obviously it’s inconceivable that migrants and British nationals could have a genuinely loving relationship.
Aziz and dozens of others are still in detention, awaiting deportation. More info on Aziz’s case here:  http://unitycentreglasgow.org/?page_id=470 and here  http://ncadc.cmph.org/o/IsXN-QeWXqFnP4bxUg7jBg

19th March: Charter flight to Pakistan. It looks like the government is intending to make Pakistan another regular destination for mass deportations, to add to the list (Afghanistan, Nigeria, Jamaica – and in the past year Sri Lanka and Ghana).

28th March: Planned charter to Afghanistan.
This is the flight that had originally been scheduled for 12th, was then rescheduled for 26th, and the latest news is it has been put off again to wednesday 28th.

Our info comes from contact with members of particular communities and from detainees, so it is possible that there are other charters which go under the radar. Charters to Afghanistan are currently the most frequent, taking place at a rate of one every two weeks.

But where there is power, there is resistance.

Daniel Ngonga Nsevel, a Congolese detainee has recently embarked on a hunger strike in Colnbrook immigration prison after guards beat him up during a deportation attempt last month:  https://stopdeportations.wordpress.com/2012/03/21/detainee-starts-hunger-strike-after-deportation-lynching/

Over the past month or so some activists from No Borders and the Stop Deportation network have been busy in the Peckham area, where many migrants from countries currently targeted for deportation flights live and work. We have held a public meeting on resisting deportation; distributed hundreds of leaflets in the streets and to people shopping and working in the grocers, barbers, butchers and mobile phone shops; and today, ran a skillshare on how to challenge immigration checks. Among the the things we learnt during the workshop was the fact that immigration checks take place regularly on buses and at bus stops in the very early hours of the morning, as UKBA know that many migrants have low-paid jobs as cleaners or work night shifts; and that in dawn raids on those housed in NASS accommodation (government housing for eligible asylum seekers), NASS now give UKBA keys to the premises to allow immigration officers to reach them before they have a chance to resist. This means that refused asylum seekers wake up to find immigration officers standing by their beds ready to drag them off to detention centres.

These outreach events have led to members of different groups and communities meeting and starting to build a more concerted grassroots resistance to the UK’s oppressive immigration policies.

Detainee starts hunger strike after deportation lynching

Detainee starts hunger strike after deportation lynching

[ Press Release 21/03/2012 ]

Injury inflicted in second assault in 2008

A Congolese man has gone on hunger strike to demand his release from an Immigration Removal Centre near Heathrow Airport.

Daniel Ngonga Nsevelo, 29, claims he was savagely beaten by private guards aboard a Kenya Airways flight during an abortive attempt to deport him last month (24/02/2012).

“Because he refused to go on the flight they badly beat him, stamping on his whole body and on his head,” said Mr Nsevelo’s sister Isabelle, adding: “His neck’s swollen because they also strangled him. This isn’t the first time.”

Daniel was born in the Congo but fled with his parents to Angola to escape the murderous civil war aged just 3 years old. The family later sought safety from war-torn Angola, fleeing to the UK when Daniel was 8.

He is currently being held in indefinite detention at the Colnbrook Immigration Removal Center, a high security detention site nicknamed ‘The Cooler’ by some Border Agency officials [1].

Activists from the ‘Stop Deportation Network’ have pledged to support Daniel’s action. “We are inspired by Daniel’s courage to go on hunger strike. Though his protest puts him at risk of further victimization and isolation by the immigration authorities. We demand Daniel’s immediate release and the end to violent deportation,” said Alex Thomlinson, a spokesperson for the group.

The tragic death of fellow asylum seeker, Jimmy Mubenga, at the hands of private guards in October 2010, quickly brought the business of deportation into the public eye [2]. Jimmy and Daniel were in detention together in 2008 and became close friends.

Daniel now fears a similar fate to Mubenga claiming he has been violently assaulted three times during nine separate deportation attempts. On one occasion he says he was even bitten by the escort.

[Ends]

Contact: Stop Deportation Network

Please send messages of support for Daniel to stopdeportation@riseup.net

“Daniel keep it up we are with you in the struggle”

“You are in our prayers”

http://www.stopdeportations.wordpress.com

Notes:

1. Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre was referred to as ‘The Cooler’ in this article: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2046938/Secret-diary-Labour-Immigration-Minister-rails-Human-Rights-Act.html

2. Jimmy Mubenga death: prosecutor weighs up whether to charge G4S security guards http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/mar/16/jimmy-mubenga-decision-due

DR Congo police crush opposition ceremony

DR Congo police crush opposition ceremony – [Al Jazeera English]

“Tear gas used on supporters of Etienne Tshisekedi, who planned to declare himself president despite losing election.”

“Security forces in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have squashed an attempt by top opposition figure Etienne Tshisekedi to swear himself in as president despite officially losing recent a contested recent election.”

“Tshisekedi disputes the re-election of President Joseph Kabila in a November 28 vote that the opposition rejected as fraudulent and international observers criticised for procedural chaos and irregularities.”

“Riot trucks loaded with police carrying tear-gas grenade launchers and rifles zoomed through the streets of Kinshasa, the capital, on Friday while tanks and heavily armed republican guards were deployed inside the stadium grounds where Tshisekedi had planned his rival swearing-in ceremony.”

Continue reading here

Blockade fails to stop mass deportation of Tamil refugees

Blockade fails to stop mass deportation of Tamil refugees

Anger as mass deportation of up to 75 Tamil refugees from UK to Sri Lanka went ahead yesterday (15/12/2011). The community and supporters lost two-week long battle to block the flight, despite resisting on all fronts: in the courts, in the streets and finally outside the detention centres.

Campaigners were tipped off about this mass deportation charter flight two weeks in advance, when Tamils in detention centres were given ‘removal directions’ set for December 15th from an unknown airport. Several of these Tamil refugees had already been tortured once by the Sri Lankan government and feared it would happen to them again if deported.

The UK Border Agency’s plan was immediately condemned by human rights groups: Freedom From Torture hosted a panel discussion and published a new report with evidence of ongoing torture in Sri Lanka that documented cases where Tamils had been deported from the UK and then tortured on arrival by Sri Lankan authorities. Campaigners from Act Now went to the Home Secretary’s constituency to hand out information in the street about the dangers faced by Tamils in Sri Lanka. Legal challenges went on in the courts, saving some Tamils from the flight even on the final day. However, the flight is believed to have taken off with the majority of people onboard.

A last ditch attempt by activists to block the deportation coaches from getting to the airport was forcibly cleared by police and 5 protesters were arrested for obstructing the highway. Activists from Stop Deportation Network and No Borders had blocked off the exit to Europe’s largest migrant prison in dramatic style – just as the first coach was trying to drive out. Their simultaneous shut down of two ‘immigration removal centres’ lasted for several hours, before para-military police units were mobilised to escort coaches out through a disused road. In desperation one activist reportedly scrambled under the vehicle in a failed attempt to stop the last coach. Several of the remaining protesters looked visibly distressed once it became apparent police had out manoeuvred them. One of the coaches hired by the Home Office to deport this group of Tamil refugees was from a travel company named ‘Just Go’.

This display of State power was sadly reminiscent of how the Roma were collectively expelled from France last summer, when long convoys of coaches were tailed to the airport by even longer convoys of riot police. Mass deportations take place across Europe, and represent a resurgence of fascism as a strategy of the ruling class to whip up nationalist tensions and dissolve working-class solidarity during economic collapse. Blame the foreigner, fear the immigrant, forget capitalism is crisis. Europe’s been there before, and needs to make its mind up about where its going to go in the years to come as this recession really bites.

Mass deportations are a brutal reminder of how the British Government pays lip-service to human rights but systematically abuses refugees. Entire aircraft are chartered to deport people to some of the most dangerous or impoverished parts of the world, places were commercial aircraft rarely venture. Iraqi refugees have been deported on military planes from RAF Brize Norton. Mass deportations to Afghanistan from the UK continue to go twice a month. Where does this leave the humanitarian discourse that Britain uses to justify its wars – didn’t the British State just go to war in Libya to protect civilians?

The British State is attacking many different immigrant communities through the same intimidation tactic of mass deportations. It is a way to divide and rule migrant communities, to make them live in fear and prevent them from exposing how the British Government is complicit in the chaos that caused them to flee their homes. Look at the total policing of the Congolese community in London when they demonstrate against Britain’s involvement in the pillaging of their country. (see the DRC section of this website for more background on Western involvement in DR Congo)

This is a community who have faced mass deportations in the past and no doubt will again in the future. Practical solidarity like legal observers and info on stop and search rights can help defend communities against the State, because getting arrested at a protest or searched in the street can lead to a deportation. Somehow Britain is getting the Nigerian Government to agree to a prisoner transfer deal, meaning Nigerian’s picked up on the street in places like Peckham will do their time in a Nigerian jail. At the same time, the UK Border Agency has signaled it will stop using commercial aircraft to deport Nigerians – instead there will be a charter flight every 42 days (an escalation from one every 2 months). It doesn’t seem outlandish to suggest these two developments are linked.

Mass deportations start when the State kidnaps members of a migrant community and imprisons them in ‘immigration removal centres’ on the suspicion that they have no legal right to remain in the UK. Once people are detained, it’s easier to portray them as the bad eggs, the criminal elements who cause problems for the rest of their community. The message sent out to the community is simple: ‘this is what will happen to the rest of you if you don’t shut up’. This tactic fits in with the already close collusion between corrupt British officials and the receiving governments. These countries are not irrelevant to Britain, many of them are former colonies or have suffered from severe British interference. The power dynamic established in imperial times continues today – the former colonial master makes shadowy deals to get refugees deported, while friends-in-high-places cash in on the deal, and crucially dissidents of both governments are silenced.

From a personal point of view, its hard not to see our action yesterday as a failure because we didn’t stop the deportation and 5 people got nicked. But if this campaign is about building resistance toward the border regime, then yesterday’s action was a step forward. When we make a stand and bring new people to these protests, we grow awareness of the situation. We have started to build better links with Tamil community groups, anti-deportation campaigners and lawyers. Creating spaces (be they protests, benefit gigs, info-nights, blogs, community media, mailing lists etc) to share information about charter flights and all the different ways people have resisted them will help weave together a powerful network of the different migrant communities affected by mass deportations. The Tamil community is being assaulted in a new way by the British State – this was the third charter flight from UK to Sri Lanka since June this year. Our action was a show of solidarity and a demonstration that more powerful and direct resistance could be successful in the future…I fear it might be called on again in less than 3 months time.

Of course I don’t think we will stop the deportation machine through a successful blockade of one charter flight. ‘No borders’ is an idea that people have the right to move freely across the earth and not be trapped behind borders. The power of this idea depends on a realisation that borders are repressive and not protective. This realisation occurs when we force the State to burst out from behind its fluffy liberal clothes to reveal the authoritarian core that lies at the heart of any State apparatus. When citizens stop automatically consenting to the authority of the State, it inevitably responds with coercion to maintain ‘public order’. When citizens disobey the law in solidarity with the ‘sans-papier’, we show it isn’t normal or socially acceptable to deport people: it’s abnormal and abhorrent. Borders aren’t protective: torture survivors get sent back to the governments that tortured them. Borders are repressive: mass deportations are military-style operations that need a parallel, purpose-built prison network of 11 Immigration Removal Centres in the UK.

When we protest outside migrant prisons and try to block a charter flight, we make this realisation more visible. Because this time we didn’t let the coach leave quietly. It was escorted out by riot vans, flanked by coppers and shadowed by a police helicopter. The everyday invisible resistance of migrants behind the bars of detention centres or in the belly of a deportation charter flight was repeated and made more visible by acts of solidarity outside. Twice the refugees in the coaches saw people trying to block the deportation, and saw they hadn’t been forgotten about.

Solidarity with the deported and with the arrested.

congo protests

Congolese community demonstrate in London

Congolese Community Demonstrate in London

Massive police operation in central london (10/12/11) to control a passionate but mainly peaceful protest by up to 1000 congolese people which began in whitehall, spreading to trafalgar square, and with further breakaway groups marching through the west end. mainstream coverage has been minimal.

REPOST. See full article here http://london.indymedia.org/articles/11271

Today’s protest follows two others this week, with serious clashes between police and hundreds of protestors outside downing street on tuesday, and on thursday evening oxford circus was closed down for a while, and police arranged for an empty train to ferry protestors to seven sisters station for dispersal in tottenham.

but you’d be hard-pressed to find much about these events on bbc or other mainstream media other than a brief report of 143 arrests this evening, with no explanation of the issues other than it being ‘a demonstration over election results’.

well, according to the very passionate voices on the streets tonight, the issue is years of mass rape, genocide, and repression (with UN estimates of more than 5 million, nearly a tenth of the population, murdered in the past decade) and the western states’ support for an illegitimate leader after rigged elections.

the protestors believe that joseph kabila, who this week was announced as clear leader in the first democratic elections in the country in 40 years, is a corrupt rwandan military man with a deadly army unit of 7000 soldiers who is supported by western interests. they believe that etienne tshisekedi has a much larger popular vote, with estimates of support above 50%.

it is not hard to see why the west would meddle in the affairs of this huge country. it has vast mineral wealth, being the main world source of ‘coltan’ used widely in mobile phones, as well as cobalt, copper, uranium, gold, diamonds, tin, and zinc. as is often the case in africa, despite these huge resources, the standard of living of ordinary people in this rich country has been spiralling downwards for years.

the congolese protestors see cameron, sarkozy, and obama as the three biggest hypocrites, looters, and supporters of the illegitimate regime responsible for the human rights abuses in their country. with the first results of the election coming out, they see western support as a key ingredient in the rigged vote.

on tuesday a few hundred congo supporters blocked whitehall outside downing street, and as police TSG cleared the road, one protestor was violently head-butted and received a broken nose (fortunately caught on video by activists and soon to emerge).

today, up to a thousand protested again in whitehall, and the road was blocked for hours with a huge police containment operation failing to get to grips with the protest, and breakway groups forming further road blocks around trafalgar square and other parts of london.

Article continued at http://london.indymedia.org/articles/11271
Contact email: rikkiindymedia(At)gmail[dot]com