Author: soasdetaineesupport

Tamil Deportees detained by genocidal Sri Lankan government

Sri Lankan Intelligence Officials detained and interrogated the 55 Sri Lankans deported from Britain on Friday.

(Original post: http://www.nation.lk/2011/12/18/news26.htm)

“There were 48 men and seven women among them. Of them 39 were Tamils, 9 Muslims and 7 Sinhalese and hailed from various parts of the country, Airport sources said.

After questioning them for five hours, many were released while the rest were further detained to ascertain whether they were wanted in the country for illegal activities before their departure.”

Solidarity with the deportees still detained by the Sri Lankan government.

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Protestors confront Border Agency staff over mass deportation to Afghanistan, as resistance spreads across the UK!

Protestors confront Border Agency staff over mass deportation to Afghanistan, as resistance spreads across the UK!

On Monday 19 December, the UK Border Agency carried out a mass deportation of Afghan asylum seekers to Kabul.

No Borders North East organized a demonstration on the 19th of December 2011 at the UK Border Agency (UKBA) Northumbria Building, in North Shields, Tyne & Wear, UK.

They raised awareness towards a Charter flight, which was later due to depart that day. After demonstrating outside, activists then attempted to directly contact UKBA staff that had the authorization to determine the flights departure.

This follows a wave of autonomous action in the UK against charter flights. On Thursday 15th December, activists in West London had organised a protest against a UK charter flight to Sri Lanka and struck at the heart of the Government’s “unjust deportation machine”, when they blocked the road outside Colnbrook and Harmondsworth immigration prisons with ‘lock-on’ devices and a tripod. On Thursday 8th December, protestors ambushed the Nigerian High Commissioner in Central London over his support for a mass deportation to Nigeria scheduled for later that evening.

Charter flights are a numbers driven exercise to remove as many people as possible. They are conducted under a veil of secrecy which denies deportees access to justice. With the secrecy surrounding charter flights it is impossible to know how many other deportees on this, and other flights have been similarly denied access to justice and equality.

The  UK asylum determination system is structured towards denying as many applications as possible. Because of this, people who are in need of sanctuary are refused status, made destitute and subjected to violent enforcement procedures. Charter flights such as this one and forced removals in general must be stopped.

Afghanistan is not safe

With regard to Afghanistan, just 2 weeks ago, Human Rights Watch reported:

Conflict-related violence remains a daily reality in many parts of the country.’

[Human Rights Watch – Afghanistan: A decade of Missed Opportunities 4 Dec 2011 http://www.hrw.org/news/2011/12/03/afghanistan-decade-missed-opportunities ]

The United Nations also has also raised concerns about conditions for people returned to Afghanistan:

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that a significant number of all returnees (potentially 40 per cent) are still in need of reintegration support and that many (potentially 28 per cent) are in dire need of humanitarian assistance.’ 

UN, The situation in Afghanistan and its implications for international peace and security, 09/03/2011. http://www.ecoi.net/file_upload/1226_1300285687_n1125034.pdf
Yet the UK Border Agency ignore these reports in favour of out of date country evidence which supports their claim that Afghanistan is a safe place.

Stop Deportations

Forced removals such as this are an illustration of the violence and indifference that are essential components of the UK’s dehumanising migration regime. The vast majority of deportations have been to countries devastated by wars and armed conflicts such as Afghanistan, Iraq, DR Congo, Nigeria, Jamaica, Sri Lanka. After being forcibly deported, many have been kidnapped, imprisoned, tortured and killed. Others have had to change their identities or move again to avoid persecution. Forcible deportations tear apart people’s lives as they are split from their families and communities and their right to freedom of movement is denied.

Stop Deportations! Freedom of Movement for all!

More on Afghanistan:

UK Government, on the Foreign and Commonwealth office’s website, states that Kabul is not a safe place:

‘No part of Afghanistan should be considered immune from violence and the potential exists throughout the country for hostile acts.’

‘The kidnap threat throughout the country remains high, particularly against local nationals.’

‘We advise against all but essential travel to Kabul. There are regular, indiscriminate rocket and bomb attacks in the city.’[1]

UKBA’s own Country of Origin Information Report on Afghanistan in 2008 stated ‘It is not difficult to track people down in Afghanistan…

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.

TAG files legal challenge to UK deportation policy

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 14 December 2011, 03:27 GMT]

Tamils Against Genocide (TAG-UK), an activist group that assists in obtaining legal redress to war-affected Tamil civilians, filed a legal action in the British High Court Tuesday claiming that UK government’s policy to proceed with the deportation of failed asylum seekers to Sri Lanka was a breach of legitimate expectation of policy review following serious concerns of returnee safety revealed in the UN Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) report and the submissions by independent NGOs including Freedom From Torture (FfT) and Amnesty International to UNCAT, legal sources in London said. The British Government has reportedly organized a chartered flight to return nearly fifty failed asylum seekers to Sri Lanka on 15th December.

Repost. Read full article here – http://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=13&artid=34700

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

Embassy Boss Ambushed Over Mass Deportation Of Nigerians

Embassy Boss Ambushed Over Mass Deportation Of Nigerians

Nigerian High Commissioner in London turned his back on deportees today (8/12/2011).

High Commissioner Dr Tafida ignored calls from protesters to stop a mass deportation of up to 70 Nigerians from London to Lagos, scheduled for the evening.

Angry demonstrators ambushed Dr Tafida when he walked outside to bid farewell to guests. They demanded he stop tonight’s flight as aides rushed him back inside.

Britain needs Nigeria’s consent to deport its citizens. Eight members of the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) work at the luxurious High Commission building in Central London. NIS staff confirm the nationality of detainees who the UK Border Agency (UKBA) want to deport to Nigeria by conducting interviews inside immigration prisons where they assess their accent and facial features.

Nigerians who work without permission can be arrested. The UKBA raids work places and (unlawfully) spot-checks people in the street who it suspects as ‘illegal immigrants‘. A six-month prison sentence is standard, followed by an indefinite period of detention in an ‘Immigration Removal Centre’ while the UKBA organises their deportation.

A Zimbabwean woman was detained for almost 2 years and regularly interviewed by NIS staff. Eventually, they accepted she was not Nigerian and the UKBA released her.

The High Commission claims “to protect the national interests of Nigeria within the United Kingdom”. However, migrant groups say their dignity is disrespected by the Embassy because it collaborates in their deportation. Some have built up considerable lives in the UK and are forced to leave it all behind.

Mass deportation ‘charter flights’ are particularly controversial. In August 2010 the UK expelled 124 Nigerians, including 10 children, on a single flight.

Six Nigerians have died during deportations from Europe – the highest number of fatalities from any one nationality. Last year Nigerian man Joseph Ndukadu Chiakwa died on a mass deportation from Switzerland. The UK Border Agency (UKBA) has code-named its charter flights ‘Operation Majestic’ and used coaches branded ‘Just Go’ to drive deportees to the airport. On average each flight costs £150,000 of public money.

Campaigners say the UKBA has stopped using commercial flights to deport Nigerians. Instead private aircraft are chartered every 42 days for a collective expulsion. This comes after Immigration Authorities were embarrassed by the death of an Angolan deportee at the back of a British Airways flight in full sight of other passengers, some of whom spoke out to the media.

Protesters have started to target the Nigerian High Commission because they see it as a weak link in the deportation regime: “British politicians brag to the tabloid press about how many people they deport. But Embassy staff here are embarrassed to help these deportations and want to keep their involvement quiet. Nigerian consent is crucial for deportations to happen. The Iraqi Parliament ended deportations from Europe overnight in October when it refused to accept any more deportees”.

A refugee rights group in Germany claim Nigerian Embassy Staff there take a €500 bribe for every Nigerian they help deport. The ‘Voice Baden Württemberg’ said: “For each candidate interviewed the Nigerian embassy gets €250 and another €250 for issued travelling certificate”.

The UKBA is planning a mass deportation to Sri Lanka on Thursday 15th December. ‘Freedom From Torture’ has published new evidence of ongoing torture of Tamils by the Sri Lankan government.

Stop Deportations to Nigeria! Demo outside Nigerian Embassy in London on Thursday 8th December

*Demo this Thursday 8th December outside Nigerian Embassy 12 noon*

Mass deportation charter flight scheduled for later this day

Up to 70 Nigerian migrants booked on this flight – many fear destitution or worse on return.

Nigerian Immigration Service co-operated with UK Border Agency to organise the flight – we demand the Nigerian High Commissioner ends their collaboration!

Meet at midday outside Nigerian High Commission, 9 NORTHUMBERLAND AVENUE,LONDON WC2N 5BX or at 11.30 on the SOAS steps. Bring banners and drums!

If you can’t be there please call the Head of Immigration at the Embassy Tel: 0207 353 3776 Ext: 208 Email: isa@nigeriahc.org.uk

Media enquiries to soas_detainee_support[AT]riseup.net or (+44)07438 185 537