Nigeria

Stop Deportation Network Events in Peckham this March against charter flights

Stop Deportation Network Events in South London – March 2012 with Portuguese translation

Mass Deportations to Nigeria and Cameroon from UK on 8th March!
Deportações em massa to Nigéria e os Camarões do UK 8 de Março!

  UK Border Agency call this: “Operation Majestic”!
Agência de fronteiras do Reino Unido chamam isto de: “Operação Majestic”!

 

We say: “Deportations Kill! Deportation is always Violent!”
Nós dizemos: “Deportações matam. Deportação é sempre violenta!”

In October 2010 Angolan asylum-seeker Jimmy Mubenga was killed by deportation escorts on a commercial flight. Deportation is a fundamentally violent process, especially on mass deportations because there are no independent witnesses and the UK Border Agency hire 2 private security guards for each person being deported. So it’s no surprise that the violence continues even after Jimmy’s death…

Em outubro de 2010 Angolano, requerente  asilo, Jimmy Mubenga foi morto por escoltas de deportação em um vôo da British Airways. Deportação é um processo fundamentalmente violento, especialmente deportações em massa porque não há testemunhas independentes e a Agência de fronteiras do Reino Unido contratam 140 agentes de segurança privada para  deportação de 70 pessoas. Por isso é nenhuma surpresa que a violência continua mesmo depois death… de Jimmy

“My brother today refused to go on a flight to Angola because he doesn’t know that country. He came here when he was 8yrs old. He’s now 29. We’ve been here over 20 years. Because he refused to go on the flight they badly beat him, stamping on his whole body, on his head. He’s now bleeding from his hands and can’t swallow. His neck’s swollen because they also strangled him. He’s badly bruised all over his body. He can barely speak now because of what they’ve done to him and this isn’t the 1st time – its happened at least 3 times before.” Friday 24th February 2012

“Meu irmão hoje recusou ir no voo para Angola porque ele não conhecia esse país. Ele veio aqui quando tinha 8 anos de idade. Ele agora é 29. Nós moramos  aqui mais de 20 anos. Porque ele se recusou a ir no aviao, eles fortemente,  bateram nele,  estamparam  em todo o seu corpo e tambem na cabeça. Ele agora está sangrando nas  mãos e não podendo engolir. Tem o pescoço  inchado porque eles também estrangularam ele. Ele esta gravemente ferido  com manchas  em  todo  corpo. Ele  nao pode falar  por causa do que eles fizeram a ele e  não é a 1 ª vez – já aconteceu pelo menos 3 vezes antes” Sexta-feira, 24 de fevereiro de 2012

***

On Wednesday 7th March at 2pm, let’s all call the Nigerian High Commission in London! 

Phone Blockade – Jam their Phone Lines! 
Call 020 7839 1244

Why? They collaborate with the UK Border Agency to make travel documents so people get deported. They even issue travel documents for non-Nigerians! The only African country to do this… And mass deportations to Nigeria are happening every 6 weeks.

Quarta-feira 7 de março às 2 pm

Vamos todos chamar  de Nigerian Alto Comissariado em Londres!

Telefone bloqueio – diske 020 7839 1244

Bloqueio  suas linhas de telefone!

Por quê?  Nigerian Alto Comissariado em Londres  em colaboracao com a Agência de fronteiras do Reino Unido que produzem documentacao de viajem  para deportacao  das pessoas. Eles,  tambem, emitem  documentos de viagem para  não Nigerianos! Eles são o único país Africano a fazerem isso… e deportações em massa para a Nigéria estão acontecendo a cada 6 semanas.

***

Next Meeting: Saturday 24th March 2012,

2-5pm Bussey Building (in the theatre)
133 Rye Lane, Peckham SE15 4ST
Peckham Rye Train Station/Buses 12, 37, 63, 78, 343, 197

Topic: How to protect ourselves from immigration checks in the street, at work and on demonstrations.

Creche and food available

***

Many people in Peckham live in fear of deportation. Members of the Stop Deportation Network who live locally want to help organise events where people can feel safe and confident to challenge deportation in whatever way they decide.

Tell your friends and family, any groups you belong to, and if you’re already involved in anti-deportation campaigns then let’s work together!

Próxima reunião

 Sábado a tarde, 24 de Março de 2012

2-5 pm Bussey edifício (dentro do teatro)

133 Rye Lane, Peckham SE15 4ST

Peckham Rye Train Station/ônibus 12, 37, 63, 78, 343, 197

Creche and food available.

Tópico: Como proteger-nos da imigração: verificacao na rua, no trabalho e em manifestações.

Muitas pessoas em Peckham vivem com medo de deportação. Membros da Stop Deportation Network (Rede de Deportação) vivendo  localmente querem ajudar a organizar eventos onde as pessoas possam se sentirem seguro e confiante para desafiar a deportação de qualquer forma que eles decidem.

Mencione  aos seus amigos e familiares, todos os grupos que  você pertence e se você ja estiver  envolvidos em campanhas de anti-deportation, vamos trabalha juntos!

Nossa rede inclui pessoas com uma vasta gama de experiências: ex-detidos e requerentes de asilo, os visitantes aos centros de detenção de imigração, ativistas sem fronteiras, imigrantes, fiança fianças, médicos independentes, contatos legais, grupos de advocacia, grupos religiosos, grupos comunitários.

***

stopdeportation[AT]riseup.net  (replace the [AT] with @ )

www.stopdeportations.wordpress.com

Tel: 07511399591

Twitter: @BorderlessLDN

Protest in Peckham against Mass Deportation to Nigeria

[PRESS RELEASE 31/01/2012]

Protest in Peckham against Mass Deportation to Nigeria

 

On Thursday evening Anti-deportation campaigners rallied in Peckham to condemn the mass deportation of Nigerians scheduled later that night (26 January 2012). The demonstration was a small tribute to a man on an 8-day hunger strike in protest against his deportation.


Protesters from the “No Borders” network brandished a banner demanding “Stop Deportations To Nigeria” and played music as they marched from Peckham Rye Station to the Library. The protest was well received by the largest British Nigerian community signalling a positive start to an outreach campaign aiming to raise awareness and forge links with local people. Passers-by shared stories of their personal struggles against the inequalities of the border system. One man explained that the UK Border Agency detained him for a year and deported his brother despite both living in Britain since childhood.

Just hours before the deportation an inquiry by MPs was published that warned potentially lethal force and racist language is used by security guards during the removal process [1]. And on arrival in Nigeria, these men and women face a deteriorating security situation spreading from the north as Boko Haram increase in strength. Human Rights Watch claim that the militant Islamist group killed 235 people in the first 3 weeks of 2012 [2].

 

Mass deportation has become regular policy in the governments efforts to “crackdown on immigration”. Deportations to Nigeria happen every 6 weeks with 75 people forcibly deported by 150 private security guards on a plane specially hired by the UK Border Agency (UKBA). Each flight on average costs £150,000 of public money. UKBA uses mocking and sinister code-names for these deportations such as ‘Operation Majestic’ , whilst using coaches branded ‘Just Go’ to drive deportees to the airport. Since 1991 six Nigerians have died during deportations from Europe – the highest number of fatalities from any one nationality- demonstrating the deadly nature of these operations. Most recently, Nigerian man Joseph Ndukadu Chiakwa died on a deportation flight from Switzerland [3].

 

During previous deportations angry scenes have erupted outside the Nigerian High Commission in London. In December 2011, the High Commissioner was ambushed by No Borders activists who called on him to stop collaborating with UKBA. Nigerian Immigration staff have been issuing emergency travel documents that the UKBA need to remove people [4]. The fee charged for this service is unknown.

A No Borders activist invited people to take part in the No Borders Convergence: a week-long gathering in London between 13 – 18 February 2012. He said: “From Monday to Wednesday at Goldsmiths College in New Cross, south east London, there will be workshops about stopping deportations, resistance in detention, migrant workers struggles, reports from the borders (Calais, Greece, Palestine…) plus films and food! Then from Thursday there will be 3 days of demonstrations, finishing with a “No Borders Carnival” from St Paul’s at midday on the Saturday” [5].

[Ends]

 

Contact: respect.nigerians@gmail.com

Twitter: fcukba

No Borders London http://london.noborders.org.uk/

More information on mass deportations www.stopdeportations.wordpress.com

 

“The Nigerian community makes up the oldest Black community in the United Kingdom. Over 200 years ago some of the earliest Nigerian arrivals found themselves in London as a direct result of the transatlantic slave trade.”

BBC [6]

———————

Sources:

1 Parliament http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/home-affairs-committee/news/120126/

2 Human Rights Watch http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/01/23/nigeria-boko-haram-widens-terror-campaign

3 Institute of Race Relations http://www.irr.org.uk/2010/october/ha000028.html

4 You Tube “Nigerian High Commissioner in London turns his back on deportees”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H32i3WUIneE&feature=player_detailpage

5 No Borders Convergence http://london.noborders.org.uk/convergence2012

6 BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/london/content/articles/2005/05/26/nigerian_london_feature.shtml

Violent protests, oil spills and bombings grip Nigeria

New Year of Chaos and Resistance Across Nigeria

  • Mass protests erupt as oil subsidy removed
  • Worst oil spill in a decade in Niger Delta
  • State of emergency declared over Boko Haram terror attacks

Hundreds of protestors have taken to the streets and burnt tires in cities across Nigeria in a bid to shut down roads and blockade petrol stations. These angry demonstrations come as the price of fuel more than doubled overnight, from 65 Nira to 141 Nira. President Goodluck Jonathan’s suddenly removed the $8 billion oil subsidy for petrol on  New Year’s Day. Several protestors are believed to have been killed in clashes with police, who used tear gas and other weapons against the crowds.

Nigeria is oil rich but most of its citizen remain extremely poor. Nigeria exports so much of its oil without refining enough for domestic use, that it has to import fuel for its citizens to use. The oil subsidy was essential to keep fuel affordable for ordinary Nigerians, and widely regarded as their only benefit from the oil beneath their feet.

Finance minister and ex-World Bank managing director Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, is alleged to have pushed hard for the subsidy removal. Citizens aren’t inclined to trust government officials who claim the money saved from the oil subsidy will be well spent. Years of deeply rooted corruption and mismanagement have resulted in profound distrust of government officials in Nigeria, which is consistently ranked as one of the world’s most corrupt nations. [Source: Al Jazeera]

Nigerian human rights activist, Femi Falana, was seen at the front of protest marches as major city highways were closed. Falana recently condemned the Nigerian government’s collaboration with Britain over a ‘prisoner transfer scheme’, which will mean Nigerians serving sentences in British Jail will be deported on mass to do their time in Nigeria.

To add insult to injury, only last week saw the largest spill of Nigerian oil in a decade, by the multi-national Shell. Bonga oil field, an offshore site operated by Shell, leaked an estimated 1.68 million gallons through a damaged transfer hose to a tanker. [Source: Sunday Vangaurd]

The President had also declared a state of emergency in 15 local government areas covering Borno, Yobe, Plateau and Niger State. This was in response to the wave of bombings by Islamist group Boko Haram. An explosion on Christmas day killed an estimated 47 worshippers at a Catholic Church and no less than 52 people were shot on New Year’s Eve outside a Police station.

Meanwhile, I anticipate the British Government will continue its regime of mass deportations to Nigeria every 42 days without batting an eyelid.

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.

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

Border Agency works for a white Christmas

2 mass deportations in next 2 weeks as UK Border Agency Works for a white Christmas

The UK Border Agency (UKBA) plans a wave of mass deportations in a bid to purge Britain of unwanted migrants in time for Christmas. Aircraft have been chartered for collective expulsions to Nigeria on 8th December and Sri Lanka on 15th December. Up to 140 asylum-seekers face the risk of arbitrary detention, torture, sexual abuse or homelessness upon return.

The civil war in Sri Lanka ended in 2009 with President Mahinda Rajapaksa facing allegations of war crimes against Tamils. A recent report, featured on Channel 4 News and the Guardian, by the organisation, Freedom from Torture (see the PDF at http://www.freedomfromtorture.org/srilanka-report) confirms that Tamil refugees deported to Sri Lanka face detention, surveillance and torture. A similar deportation of up to 50 Tamil refugees was carried out by the UKBA with the co-operation of the Sri Lankan government on 28th September 2011.

Anti-deportation campaigners have also condemned the mass deportation of detained asylum-seekers to Nigeria next Thursday. Many detainees fear degrading treatment on return. Detainee support groups claim that women dumped at Lagos Airport by the UKBA often have to resort to sex work to get by. At least 6 similar collective expulsions have already occurred in 2011. 55 Nigerians, including up to 20 women, were forcibly removed from the UK on 26th October. Many of them had lived in the UK for years and faced destitution on return. The UKBA has used the code-name “Operation Majestic” for deportation charter flights to Nigeria and hired coaches branded “Just Go!” to escort detainees from the detention centre to the airport.
Last December, Britain co-operated with several EU States in a bungled mass deportation attempt of almost 100 Nigerian migrants (including 2 children dressed only in pyjamas) that cost €372,000. The plane stopped-over to collect Nigerians in multiple EU countries but the deportation was abandoned when the aircraft broke down in Greece.

Mass deportations to Nigeria from UK in 2011

7th February: 85 deported (56 men, 19 women, 10 children). Aircraft supplied by Thomas Cook (TCX542/5). Cost €500,000. Organised by Joint EU Border Agency FRONTEX with Ireland, France, Germany, Greece, Malta, Norway, Sweden and UK.

4th March: 92 deported

20th April: 52 deported

May: Plane from UK broke down in Greece after passing through Ireland. A new plane in Greece returned all migrants to the detention centres.

21st July: 61 deported (47 men, 11 women, 3 children)

26th October: 55 deported. Aircraft supplied by Ryan International Airlines.

8th December: Flight number PVT 090.

“Just Go!” A Final Slap for the Unwanted: Britain’s Immigration Shame

“Just Go!” A Final Slap for the Unwanted: Britain’s Immigration Shame

By Deportation Watch

Anti-deportation campaigners watched in despair last Wednesday night as almost 20 women were forcibly taken to the airport to be removed from the UK aboard a bus branded ‘Just Go!’.

They were driven from Yarl’s Wood immigration prison to join a mass deportation of over 50 Nigerians. Some still had outstanding appeals against deportation.

“It’s sinister for the Border Agency to use a coach plastered in ‘Just go!’ stickers when deporting people,” said a campaigner, adding: “Surely a bureaucrat somewhere realised that was woefully insensitive.”

Some of the women on the flight had lived in the UK for over 20 years and were respected pillars of their community. Now they will be on the street in Lagos likely with nowhere to go, few belongings and ‘their lives in tatters’, according to supporters. “This is a disgusting and racist way to treat humans,” said the activist.

The bus company ‘JustGo’ claims to offer ‘interesting and rewarding excursions’ to a range of locations in the UK and Europe. One-way travel to Nigeria is not advertised. Just Go chief executive Luis Arteaga could not be reached for comment.

Mass deportations to Nigeria occur bi-monthly.  The UK’s Border Agency refers to these collective expulsions as ‘Operation Majestic’. Planes typically leave London late at night with two private guards flanking each detainee.

While removal decisions are made by the Government and courts, the logistics of forcibly deporting people are handled by an army of private companies. Campaigners recorded the involvement of at least seven other private contractors during the deportations.

The coach from Yarl’s Wood was tailed by three ‘Reliance’ prison vans. On arrival at Stansted, the deportation convoy entered the ‘Inflite Jet Centre’, an exclusive terminal for private aircraft. The women were kept waiting on the coach for several hours inside a fenced compound while corporate executives arrived in luxury limousines and sped through a nearby entrance to board VIP flights. Four more coaches were seen inside the compound, two from ‘WH Tours’, one from ‘Woodcock Coaches’ and the one from ‘Just Go!’

Detention centres are also run by private contractors, such as Serco, G4S and GEO. The only evidence of state involvement in the expulsion was a single Ford Focus with a small ‘UKBA’ sticker on the door.

“The State’s monopoly on violence has been farmed out to gangs of eager mercenaries. Watching the reality of a mass deportation makes the right-wing claim that ‘migrants take our jobs’ even harder to swallow. What we saw was hundreds of burly white men being employed to kick out half as many black people,” said an eyewitness, adding: “They expelled them from a country of relative economic prosperity to one riddled with severe poverty. Several large companies oversaw the process. Many of them are headquartered in the UK. We saw the deportation industry at work – it’s a major, profitable business venture”.

Earlier that day, angry protests had erupted outside the Nigerian high commission as activists denounced Nigerian government complicity in forced removals of immigration prisoners.

The demonstration had been called for by some of the women detained at Yarl’s Wood. They had hoped that an eleventh hour protest would “shame diplomatic staff into withdrawing their consent for the deportation”.

A spokesperson for the protesters said: “The women are put on the planes only due to the generous collaboration of the Nigerian authorities, which reportedly sends an official from the mission to issue detainees with emergency travel documents”.

Staff at the high commission promised that a representative of the Nigerian immigration service would address the crowd – they never appeared.

One Nigerian bystander at the commission protest had first-hand experience of a similar mass deportation from Ireland to Nigeria. She described the Nigerian government as “useless,” adding that they: “Allow it [deportations] to happen.” Nigerian officials are understood to assist British authorities with mass deportations by issuing travel documents in return for cash payments and other sweeteners.

Though no resistance was reported inside Yarl’s Wood on this occasion, one of the detainees facing deportation said, “Everyone is scared…it’s just too much.” Yarl’s Wood managers allegedly warned every detainee set to be removed that resistance would be “dealt with harshly”.

“Deportees are dehumanised throughout. They’re robbed of their personalities as soon as they encounter the authorities. They’re immediately reduced to ‘illegal immigrants’. This makes it OK for them to be detained in immigration prisons for years,” said another eyewitness, adding: “They have become mere files. Sat in boxes. Trapped in a warehouse, while a paperwork battle rages to decide their future. Finally a decision is made, and the boxes are shipped to the airport, flown far away and literally dumped in a foreign cargo terminal. It’s staggering how clinical the whole process was – humanity was nowhere to be seen”.

Mass deportation flights have become a preferred way of removing migrants to poorer and more dangerous areas en masse.  They are intended to save money though also keep deportations outside the public gaze.

“While every removal flight violates individuals’ rights to freedom of movement, charter flights are widely seen as a particularly sordid method,” said a journalist acquainted with one of the women on the flight, adding: “On top of the trauma and hardship caused by deportation, the flights further rob asylum seekers of their rights, taking away one last avenue of appeal – the flying public.”

“The emphasis of mass deportations is on filling the flight and ‘getting rid of as many, as soon as possible,” said one member of Soas’ detainee support group.

Five women were given last-minute reprieves when they were removed from the airport bound coaches at Yarl’s Wood, according to DeportationWatch.

The removal and protest come on the back of the anniversary of the death of Jimmy Mubenga who died while he was being restrained by guards on a removal flight last year.   A report issued last month after prison inspectors accompanied two flights showed that dangerous behaviour among guards has not stopped.

“Inspectors were very concerned at the highly offensive and sometimes racist language they heard staff use between themselves,” said chief inspector of prisons Nick Hardwick.

The report sharply criticised the use of handcuffs on detainees “who appeared upset, or who were moving too slowly, despite there being no signs of any violent behaviour which might have justified the use of such restraints”.

Inspectors blamed a lack of training for the violations. Lawyers have long argued the use of excessive force by private contractors to restrain detainees could be a violation of basic human rights.

One immigration detainee described how her friend was “beaten and handcuffed” before being bundled into a prison van “like a terrorist”.

She also recounted the story of a woman who was allegedly pushed up against a wall and thrown to the floor by a Serco employee for asking to have her bottle of water filled. “There is a culture of fear and intimidation,” she said, adding: “Everyone is shying away from talking.”

Human Rights Watch said in 2009 that Nigerian security forces: “Continued to commit extrajudicial killings, torture, and extortion. Intercommunal and political violence, often fomented by powerful politicians, claimed hundreds of lives.” Despite this, British authorities routinely dismiss humanitarian and political asylum cases from Nigeria as ‘unfounded’.

Evidence of torture has previously been ignored as in one case where a decision on asylum was reached before a medical assessment which proved that the detainee had been brutally tortured in Nigeria.

One detainee says she believes the treatment of illegal immigrants like her has deteriorated since David Cameron’s call at the Conservative party conference for members of the public to denounce those suspected of being in the UK illegally to the authorities. “They don’t want us here – they are being racist,” she said.

The Home Office could not be reached for comment.

The deportation referred to in this article took place on 26 October 2011 from London, UK to Lagos, Nigeria
Additional reporting by Soas Detainee Support: soas_detainee_support[AT]riseup.net

Vigil held for Jimmy Mubenga one year after his death

A well-attended vigil was held at midday to commemorate the death of Jimmy Mubenga one year ago. He was an Angolan asylum-seeker who died from asphyxiation at the hands of deportation escorts on British Airways flight 77, 12th October 2010.

Family and anti-deportation campaigners gathered outside the Crown Prosecution Service in London to demand Justice for Jimmy. The deportation escorts at the time of Jimmy’s death were working for the private security contractor G4S.

This article on the Nigerian Village Square blog discusses the tragedy in a wider context of Western Imperial involvement in Africa: “on that same flight, there were British, American and Canadian engineers going to make money for themselves and families from Angola’s lucrative oil fields, diamonds, gold and copper mines. Jimmy Mubenga is the only citizen going back to his own country in chains, seated by the back toilets”.

Read full article here: http://www.nigeriavillagesquare.com/articles/damola-awoyokun/the-angolan-death-on-ba77-at-heathrow.html