Security fears stopped deportations to Afghanistan in March 2012
The mass deportation from UK to Afghanistan scheduled for 12th March was CANCELLED because the deportation escorts said it wasn’t safe to go! It was rescheduled for 26th March, postponed to 28th March, and postponed again to 4th April. Normally, there is a deportation charter flight to Afghanistan about every two weeks (charters to Afghanistan are the most regular of the mass deportation flights from the UK). But events in Afghanistan seem to have frightened the private security company who provide the deportation escorts…so there was a halt to the Afghan charter flights this month.
Many people know that the UK has embarked in a disastrous war in Afghanistan, alongside the US and NATO.
What most people do not know, or are not aware of, is that the people who arrive in UK fleeing the war in Afghanistan are routinely detained, denied protection and sent back to Afghanistan, on regular charter flights from London to Kabul. Usually young Afghan boys are left to stay in UK until they turn 18, then they are told they have to go back; if they don’t go they are arrested and put forcibly on a plane.
Aziz Hussini, aged just 18, is in detention, due to be forcibly removed from the UK to Afghanistan on this charter flight. Agents of the UK Border Agency arrested Aziz on his wedding day in Glasgow, snatching him at the Registry Office. His fiancée Gemma is a British citizen. Aziz arrived in the UK in 2009 as an unaccompanied minor. Perhaps the UK government thinks that no one in this country cares what happens to refugee children when they reach 18, that we are all happy to see them kicked out of care and into the refugee camps of Afghanistan. His friends and devastated fiancée have set up a campaign to stop him being deported and to have him released.
Aziz was first booked on a charter flight due to depart the UK on the 12th of March. The flight was cancelled at the last moment because Reliance had concerns about the safety of its employees, due to worsening security situation in the aftermath of the massacre of 17 innocent Afghan civilians by a US soldier. Reliance is the private security firm who took on the dirty work to carry out deportation, after G4S private security killed Jimmy Mubenga during a deportation attempt. If it is dangerous for private security guards to fly to Afghanistan, how can it be safe for Afghan refugees? How can it be safe for a 18 years old who has lost all contact with his family and has no support there? Next they booked Aziz on a charter flight the 26th of March, that has now been postponed to the 28th of March and then 4th April, for unknown reasons.
Many times the Afghans struggle before they are deported, they don’t want to be sent back, they go on hunger strike, but there is very little publicity around the issue. Many Afghans are detained and put on the ‘fast track’, which further curtails their right to obtain proper legal representation. The ‘fast track’ procedure for asylum cases was introduced supposedly to deal with claims that are straightforward or clearly unfunded: so how can people from a country at war be put on the fast track? How can exiles be deported to a country at war anyway? In fact, most European countries do NOT usually deport people to countries at war: it’s only the UK, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands who do. Note that until quite recently people fleeing war were normally left to stay in the UK on humanitarian grounds, if they weren’t granted asylum: it is only from the eighties and Thatcher era that the UK government began to tighten the screw, build prisons for immigrants and deport people to war zones. The subsequent Labour and Tory governments have continued to curtail the rights of migrants and refugees. To obtain refugee status in the UK became increasingly difficult and nearly nobody is given humanitarian protection nowadays. Then again, the UK in the past deported Jews to Nazi Germany.
Despite, or perhaps because of their military involvement in Afghanistan, the UK authorities are very reluctant to give protection to the Afghans who arrive in the UK, and for Afghans to be recognized as refugees by the UK is extremely difficult. According to the Home Office, if somebody is not safe, say, in Helmand, he can safely relocate in Kabul, which is total bullshit: there is no part of Afghanistan that is safe, the country is destroyed by a war of 30 years and life expectancy is of 45 years only, the lowest in the world. Afghani casualty figures are higher than at any time since the invasion, and up 8% on last year. The Taliban explode car bombs and send suicide bombers everywhere, they have carried out major attacks in Kabul and other parts of the country under control of the US and Afghan army. The Taliban are held responsible by NATO for the majority of civilian casualties. However, the casualties numbers provided are angrily disputed by Afghan sources, including political figures and human rights agencies, who are accusing the UNAMA February report of grossly underestimating the civilian casualties by the US and their allies. Civilian casualties are however on the rise and amount to over 3000 in 2011. The recent massacre of 17 innocent civilians including 9 children – allegedly by one US soldier who was allegedly drunk or had gone crazy – and is now being tried in the US and ‘does not remember anything, the bodies were burned’ – may not be the work of one man only… Sgt Robert Bales killings seem to fit in a pattern of raids on civilians’ homes, random shootings and arbitrary killings that have exacerbated the Afghans. In recent months several US and coalition soldiers have been killed, not by insurgents but by Afghan soldiers. The burning of a pile of Qur’ans and other Islamic books by some US troops provoked a wave of protests and riots all over the country that left 24 Afghans and 6 American soldiers dead. Despite the planned deployment of US and coalition forces by 2014, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan John Allen said he believes American troop withdrawals should stop in 2013, keeping at least 68,000 by 2014, in contradiction of Obama administration plans to have combat troops out by that year.
After the invasion of the Russian Army in 1979, there were 7 million Afghan refugees around the world, most in Pakistan and Iran. After the ousting of the Taliban in 2001, almost 5 million people went back to Afghanistan. In the following years, another wave of refugees left Afghanistan due to the ongoing hostilities. Nearly one in three of the world refugees come from Afghanistan. The UNCHR and other refugee agencies have admitted failure in providing for the refugees who have returned, who mostly fail to reintegrate and live in abject poverty in slums and camps. Several, including many children, have died of cold and deprivation during the Winter months. Most Afghans refugees live in poverty in neighbouring countries but Pakistan now want to deport the Afghans in irregular position back en masse by 2013. Only a minority of Afghan refugees make it to Europe, and a small minority make it to the UK. Almost all are young men and underage boys, very few families arrive here, women and girls often do not make it this far due to the harshness and brutality of European border controls, but there are many Afghan women stuck in Athens for instance.
The Bush administration decided to invade Afghanistan in pursuit of Osama Bin Laden. First they demanded the Taliban to hand Bin Laden over, in the wake of the 9/11 massacres of 2993 people. The Taliban asked for evidence of Bin Laden involvement; the US refused to give any. They invaded the country and ousted the Taliban, replacing it with the corrupt puppet government of Hamid Karzai. Originally the US secret services helped set up Al Qaida, for the purpose of fighting the Russians, but there are ongoing relations between CIA and Al Qaida to this day.
With the end of the Cold War a very essential element in rallying popular support for war went missing: the enemy. It was therefore imperative for the US military-industrial complex to find another powerful enemy and provide the justification for their wars under the banner of the War on Terror. What the Bush administration did in Iraq: they went for Saddam, destroyed the country for some weapons of mass destructions that did not even exist, and made over 2.000.000 refugees. The real reason for that war was that they wanted the Iraqi oil. In Afghanistan they want to build some gas pipelines to get the gas of the region.
Refugees are hostages in the endless imperialistic war for exploitation of resources. Unwanted by the same Western governments who caused the war in the first place, they are liable to be detained in special prisons for immigrants and often are sent back to the dangers they tried to escape; asylum procedures have become more and more of a complicated farce and a façade. As the government sets targets of people to be deported, many asylum seekers are refused for the mere purpose of meeting those targets. For Afghans as I said it is very difficult to get asylum. Many Afghan refugees know that, and do not even bother to apply for asylum. some cannot apply because they have fingerprints in other countries. They live ‘illegally’ in the UK, open to exploitation and always afraid to be caught in Gestapo-style raids by UKBA officers and police on workplaces, underground stations and people’s homes.
Mass deportations from the UK to Iraq have stopped also thanks to a sustained political campaign both in UK and Iraq. Sadly mass deportations to Afghanistan continue. We need to raise the issue, build resistance and step up the fight.
No Borders! Stop Deportations!
Known as Operation Ravel, the charter flights to Afghanistan are the most regular of the mass deportations from the UK, taking place roughly once a fortnight and usually involving two coaches of deportees. Detainees are given Removal Directions (RDs) with a standard flight number ‘PVT008′. Companies known to have participated in these flights over the years include Hamburg International Airlines and more recently, Lufthansa-owned BMI. Notorious coach company, WH Tours, based in Crawley, provide transport to the airport.
The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan is predicting the United States needs to prepare for heavy fighting during the upcoming year. General John Allen made the comment under questioning from Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona.
UNHCR says it has realized in recent months that for the past decade, it has followed a misguided strategy in dealing with the nearly five million refugees – almost a quarter of the population – it has helped return to Afghanistan since 2002.
The ‘reasons’ for the war in Afghanistan –by Noam Chomsky