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.


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examines in detail each of these and other deceptions underpinning the programme and debunks them using previously unpublished data covering the first 10 years of the programme.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.”

What happened after Rashid’s deportation to Afghanistan?

What happened after Rashid’s deportation to Afghanistan?

[Assumpcio Oyonate Cladellas, Stop Deportations blog, 9th September 2012]

This post is written by a detention centre visitor. It voices their concern for people who are sent back to Afghanistan by the UK Border Agency.

In February 2010, I visited someone called Rashid at Tinsley House Immigration Removal Centre, beside Gatwick Airport. Rashid was an asylum-seeker from Kabul, Afghanistan. He had now reached the end of his legal case and was going to be sent back the following week.

Rashid told me how he had reached the UK and then gone to Denmark. Once in Denmark he was put in a detention centre and sent back to the UK. However the UK would not give him legal status to stay here.

Rashid was extremely scared of being sent back to Afghanistan because his family there was dead. Two of them had been blown up. He did not know what kind of life he could have back in Kabul, or if he had any future there at all. But Rashid was still sent back.

We spoke to each other every fortnight by phone for a while. He told me openly about bombings in Kabul and how people were being killed. He was scared of losing his own life. He had no money to eat. He could not get a job. He could not even get a girlfriend because no family would accept him without money.

For someone living in the West, it was strange to be in touch with someone who was just on the other end of the phone, but spoke from a country where there was a war. Rashid kept asking me if there was another country in Europe where he could apply for asylum. In Kabul, he was terrified by the risk of starvation, being killed by the Taliban or the Western armed forces.

A friend of mine, a psychotherapist, who had been to Iraq had described how many refugees sent back to Iraq were killing themselves. Then Rashid told me he was thinking of committing suicide in Afghanistan.

Rashid, as a Muslim, knew the religious taboos around suicide. But it was clear he was reaching the end of his struggle. He stopped answering his phone three or four months after he was sent back to Afghanistan. Up until now, I am still wondering what happened to this friend of mine. Was he killed in Afghanistan? Did he kill himself? Did he manage to come back to Europe?

The fact he has not called me for more than two and a half years makes me think that Rashid is dead. But I will probably never be able to know for certain.

The UK government will also never know, because they do not monitor what happens to the people they deport to so called ‘safe’ countries. NGO’s and charities also do very little research into this issue. So how British politicians claim it is safe to send people back to Afghanistan? It was not safe for this man Rashid. Left alone to face the consequences, perhaps he took his own life.

Detention of Afghans who cannot be deported is unlawful

Detention of Afghans who cannot be deported is unlawful, say anti-deportation campaigners

[Press Release 1/05/2012]

  • Mass deportations to Afghanistan repeatedly cancelled amid worsening security in the country
  • Detainees still being given tickets despite lack of prospect to remove them
  • Campaigners say the prolonged detention of Afghan refugees is unlawful

A car bomb exploded in Kabul on Wednesday morning (2/05/12), killing 6 people, just hours after US President Obama had visited the capital [Reuters]

Deportation charter flights to Afghanistan have been repeatedly cancelled as a result of the spiralling security situation in the country. In the latest incident, a flight due to depart on 6th May has been called off, making it the fourth failed attempt in the past two months.

Under a programme known as Operation Dickens, approximately 60 refused asylum seekers from Afghanistan were being forcibly removed on specially chartered flights approximately every two weeks. [1]

Over the last two months however, the flights have been repeatedly cancelled amid worsening security conditions in the country. [2] The previous flight, on 17th April, was called off at the last minute after Kabul saw the most violent attacks in more than a decade. [3]

Central to this controversy is the refusal by Reliance detainee escorts to fly to Kabul. Earlier this month media reports revealed that 11 Reliance employees had been suspended after refusing to go to Afghanistan saying they were concerned for their safety. [4]

Yet the Home Office claims it is ‘safe’ to return refused asylum seekers to Afghanistan and many are still being held in detention having been told they will be removed from the UK ‘soon’. According to campaigners, some detainees have been issued with tickets on seven consecutive occasions, only to have their flight cancelled at the last minute.

According to the law, immigration detainees facing removal may only be kept in detention so long as their removal is imminent. If it appears that removal cannot be effected within a reasonable time period, detention becomes unlawful and the detainees should be released. [5]

A spokesperson from campaign group Stop Deportation said: “Not only do we consider this practice unlawful, it is also a clear example of how ridiculous the deportation system is. Countries torn apart by western military adventures are declared ‘safe’ and people are forcibly deported back to the same circumstance they had fled in the first place.”

Campaigners claim that amongst those routinely deported to Afghanistan are 16 and 17-year-olds whose age is disputed by the Home Office, and refused asylum seekers who have been living in the UK for more than a decade. One of the detainees awaiting removal has reportedly attempted to commit suicide in detention twice whilst awaiting removal. [6]

Campaigners have demanded that all deportations to Afghanistan are stopped immediately and Afghan detainees released without delay. Sabrina Gosling from Stop Deportation said: “Against a backdrop of deteriorating security in the country, the government needs to reconsider its policy of deporting people to Afghanistan as a matter of urgency. We are demanding an immediate suspension of all returns to that country.”


For further information and questions, please contact


[1] Freedom of Information request

[2] Flights due to depart on 12th March, 28th March, 17th April, and 6th May were all cancelled, with only one in that period (4th April) able to go ahead.



[5] R (on the application of Hardial Singh) v Governor of Durham Prison [1983] EWHC 1 (QBD)

[6] This trauma is exacerbated by the current use of controversial ‘reserve’ lists. Reserves are detainees who are given tickets in the event that others have their removal cancelled through last-minute legal challenges. Reserves are not told if they are on the list, and they may only realise once they are taken to the airport and told there is no space for them on the plane. The practice was much criticised earlier this year by the Home Affairs Select Committee in its report on Rules Governing Enforced Removals from the UK, and the HM Chief Inpector of Prisons in his 2011 inspection of Tinsley House, where he described the practice as “objectionable and distressing”, and “inhumane.

[7] Charter flights are a large-scale operations, involving two escorts per deportee and contracts with both airlines and coach companies, at a cost up to £150,000 [7].

Security fears stopped deportations to Afghanistan in March 2012

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

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:

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: and here

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:

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.

Wedding Ruined by Border Agency Thugs for Afghan Deportation


Charter flight to Afghanistan on Monday 12th March at 23.10hrs.


Here is the story and call for action regarding one man due to be on the flight.

Another low from the UK Border Agency who dragged him out of the registry office on his wedding day…


URGENT: Please help Aziz and Gemma!

Aziz Hussini (Home Office Ref: H1206065) is currently in detention and is due to be forcibly removed from the UK to Afghanistan on Monday 12rd March, on charter flight PVT081 to Kabul at 23:10.

The UK Borders Agency arrested 18 year old Aziz on his wedding day, bursting into the Registry Office and dragging him away. Waiting to walk down the aisle, Gemma, his distraught fiancé, who is a British citizen, did not know what was happening until 2 UKBA officials in their stab proof vests came out to tell her that her wedding could not happen because they had detained her fiancé.

Aziz and Gemma have been together for over a year, and were planning a life together before they were torn apart by Border Agency officials. Gemma is beside herself with worry, and hasn’t eaten or slept properly since Monday, when she was supposed to get married. Gemma first met Aziz in February last year, and says that “When I first saw him, the connection was there straight away, we’ve been together ever since”. This is not a ‘sham marriage’, Gemma has had an ‘A’ tattood behind her ear at Christmas as a symbol of her commitment to Aziz, and is learning Dari, Aziz’s native language. She says she will fly to Afghanistan to live with Aziz if necessary.

Their relationship has never been properly considered by the UKBA even though they clearly knew he was due to get married on the day that he was detained at the Registry Office. Aziz arrived in the UK 2009 as an unaccompanied minor. Despite a difficult start, Aziz is flourishing in Glasgow. When he first arrived in the UK, he couldn’t speak a word of English, but is now hoping to study at University and has many close friends who he has met through collage. After first studying English, Aziz is now working for an HNC in Computing, where Gemma says he worked twice as hard as everyone else. In Glasgow, he was completed a voluntary work placement as textiles artist with Little Persia,a Persian rug shop in Glasgow. He has also received awards from the John Muir Environmental Award, and an accreditation from the ASDAN charitable foundation, illustrating his commitment to his local community.

Forcibly removing Aziz to Afghanistan would be a devastating violation of his Right to a Family and Private Life (Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights,1998 Human Rights Act). The UKBA didn’t even bother to consider Gemma when they refused to allow Aziz to continue with his life in the UK, claiming that “There is no evidence that the appellant has any close family in the UK”. Now that they’ve ruined Gemma and Aziz’s wedding, they must know that this isn’t the case. However, Aziz is also terrified that if he is returned, he will never be reunited with Gemma. His life is in danger in Afghanistan, which he fled after being commissioned to make satirical depictions of a fundamentalist party leader on a carpet. Aziz has lost contact with his family, so will have no-one to support or protect him, and would be left alone and afraid in an impoverished and dangerous country he has had no contact with for the three years he has been in the UK.

Aziz is due to be forcibly removed on one of the infamous charter flights used by the UKBA for mass deportations of people to the same country. Flight number PVT 081 is scheduled to depart at 23.10 to Kabul on Monday evening. These charter flights have been regularly criticised. In particular, guards accompanying the detainees have been criticised for using excessive force as there are not any other passengers to act as witnesses. Similarly concern has been expressed about the UKBA’s practise of substituting people at the last minute without warning to fill spaces on the flight left by people whose lawyers managed to successfully get them off the flight.

Please urgently contact the Home Secretary, Theresa May, your MP, and Aziz’s MP, Ann McKechin, to ask them to halt the forced removal of Aziz, and allow him to stay in Glasgow, with Gemma, where he belongs.

Contact the Home Secretary: Theresa May, MP Secretary of State for the Home Office 2 Marsham Street London SW1 4DF

Contact Aziz’s MP too Ann McKechin MP, 154-156 Raeberry Street Glasgow G20 6EA
tel: 0141 946 1300 or 020 7219 8239
fax: 0141 946 1412 or 020 7219 1770
email: /


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 ]

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.
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…