2012: A Year (or more!) of Resistance Against Deportations to Sri Lanka

2012: A Year (or more!) of Resistance Against Deportations to Sri Lanka

 June 2011: The UK Border Agency (UKBA) start deporting groups of people back to Sri Lanka on specially chartered flights, something they have not done since April 2009. Channel 4 broadcast their ‘Killing Fields’ documentary exposing new war crimes and MP Siobhain McDonagh accuses the Government of “painting targets on the backs” of Tamils being deported from the UK. It emerges the UKBA have even shared files on Tamil deportees with the Sri Lankan government. 25 men and 1 woman are deported[1] on this first in a series of ‘charter flights’.

The 2nd charter flight from London to Colombo went on 28th September 2011 – 42 men and 8 women deported.

November 2011: Medical charity Freedom From Torture publish ‘Out of the Silence‘ – a report into the ongoing torture of Tamils in Sri Lanka.

15th December 2011: Dozens of protesters block the exit roads to Colnbrook & Harmondsworth Detention Centres, disrupting the transfer of detainees to the third specially chartered deportation flight. Riot vans and a police helicopter are mobilised to clear the protesters and escort the deportation coach to the airport. 48 men and 7 women are deported to Sri Lanka, 5 protesters arrested…

* * * * *

January 2012: The Crown Prosecution Service drop all charges against the 2 men and 3 women who were arrested last month for blocking the deportation bus!

The 4th charter flight from Britain to Sri Lanka went on 28th February 2012, deporting 44 men and 8 women. Human Rights Watch produce evidence that 8 Tamil deportees have already been tortured on return and call on UK to suspend deportations.

March 2012:  Channel 4 broadcast ‘Killing Fields: War Crimes Unpunished’ follow up documentary

31st May 2012: Friends and family of a Tamil deportee sit in front of a deportation bus outside Colnbrook Detention Centre to delay the 5th charter flight to Sri Lanka. Police dogs and a firearms unit try to intimidate the 12 protesters but they refuse to move! After half an hour 2 men and 2 women are arrested for blocking the road. Their delay secured extra time for Barristers to win injunctions from the High Court, which cancelled the deportation of about 40 people. One gentleman was already seated aboard the aircraft with the engine running when news came through that his removal was stopped! But 35 men and 1 woman were still deported on that flight.

June 2012: Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa visits London, but massive protests by Tamil community cause him to cancel important business meetings.

July 2012: Tamil youth activist Gobi Sivanthan starts a hunger strike during the Olympics. His 5 demands include an end to the deportations of Tamils from Britain to Sri Lanka. Stop Deportations blog publishes its’ investigation into Britain’s ex-Defence Minster Liam Fox and his secret role in starting this wave of deportations to Sri Lanka,  highlighting his business links with the Rajapaksa regime. The Australian government follows Britain’s example and carries out their first forced deportation of a Tamil (Dayan Anthony) for several years.

August 2012: Crown Prosecution Service drop all charges against the protesters who blocked the bus back in May!

19th September 2012: Activists from No Borders ambush a deportation coach outside Colnbrook Detention Centre. One man dives under the bus and chains his neck to the axle. The coach is delayed for several hours before police cut away the man underneath. The extra time helps lawyers to win injunctions from the High Court, which cancelled the deportation of dozens of people booked on the 6th chartered plane to Sri Lanka. Still, the BBC report that 25 people are deported on the flight.

23rd October 2012: Campaigners call for a public protest outside Colnbrook and Harmondsworth Detention Centres on the day of the Government’s 7th mass deportation flight to Sri Lanka. Thousands of leaflets are distributed and activists speak on TV to raise awareness. The Border Agency panic and rush people secretly to the airport the night before. Dozens still manage to get their tickets cancelled, although the Sri Lankan Ministry of Defence boast that 28 asylum-seekers were deported back to Colombo.

November 2012: A group of Tamils deported from Australia are arrested on arrival in Colombo.

Crown Prosecution Service drop all charges against the man arrested for blocking the bus back in September!

6th December 2012: The 8th deportation charter flight takes off from Britain for Sri Lanka – unconfirmed reports say  25 Tamils are deported. Tamil youth organisations across the diaspora rally against the detention of university students and academics in Jaffna by the Sri Lankan Army.

The struggle continues…we look forward to campaigning with you again in the New Year!

[1]             Deportation statistics from June 2011-2012 are from Freedom of Information requests

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