Yarl’s Wood women: “We are not street dogs”

Yarl’s Wood women: “We are not street dogs”

PRESS RELEASE from Corporate Watch

Over 30 women are on hunger strike at the notorious Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre in Bedfordshire, with half of them facing deportation to Pakistan tomorrow on a specially chartered flight. Corporate Watch takes a look at the deals between London and Islamabad on security, trade and aid, arguing that asylum-seekers are being treated as bargaining chips in these negotiations.

British Home Secretary Theresa May met her Pakistani counter-part last Tuesday and praised him for  “adopting a zero tolerance approach to illegal migration”. Photo: BHC Islamabad

British Home Secretary Theresa May met her Pakistani counter-part last Tuesday and praised him for “adopting a zero tolerance approach to illegal migration”. Photo: BHC Islamabad

The women on hunger strike, many of whom are seeking asylum from gender-based persecution, are detained at Yarl’s Wood – itself the scene of an ongoing investigation into sexual abuse by Serco guards. A statement issued by some of the hunger strikers challenges the legality of “mass deportations”, noting that the women “have not had access to legal aid”, and that there is a “huge waiting list” for lawyers, “due to [a] mass round up” of Pakistani asylum-seekers in preparation for a chartered deportation flight to Pakistan tomorrow, 1 October. Corporate Watch has already conducted extensive legal research into ‘charter flights’, which corroborates many of these women’s claims.

The women’s defiant resistance must be particularly sensitive for the Home Office, because the coalition government had so far got away largely unchallenged with their aggressive increase in deportations to Pakistan which began in November 2011 – it is only now that people’s pain is being heard (read Amina’s story, for example). Pakistani asylum-seekers have become the number one target for the UK Border Agency’s (UKBA) secretive charter flights. Since February 2012, the UKBA has hired monthly night-time flights to Pakistan, removing between 50 and 85 people per private plane. It is standard practice for two or three times that number of private security guards to escort the deportees.

This article examines the collusion between the British and Pakistani politicians, who agreed these deportations whilst bargaining over trade, aid and security.

“Unbreakable partnership”

An ominous precursor to this deportation programme can be found in US diplomatic cables, leaked via WikiLeaks. Less than six months before New Labour lost the 2010 general election, the Conservatives’ then Shadow Defence Minister Liam Fox met the US Ambassador to Britain. The pair discussed foreign policy towards the Indian sub-continent: “Turning to India, Fox criticised the Labour government for policies which reinforce the Indian government’s long-held view that HMG’s [Her Majesty’s Government’s] foreign relations on the subcontinent are ‘skewed to Pakistan.’ Fox predicted this would not be a factor under a Conservative government, since the Conservatives are ‘less dependent’ than the Labour Party on votes from the British-Pakistani community.” Clearly then, deporting members of that community would not pose a big problem electorally.

Once in office, Home Secretary Theresa May travelled to Pakistan on 24 October 2010. She met Pakistan’s President Zardari and Prime Minister Gillani to discuss “a wide range of issues of mutual concern”. These diplomatic discussions continued with then immigration minister Damian Green and cabinet minister Baroness Sayeeda Warsi visiting Pakistan between 19 and 23 February 2011. They met with Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik, who “stated his support for the return of illegal migrants by the UK.”[1]

Prime Minister David Cameron made his first official visit to Pakistan, flanked by Joint Intelligence Committee chiefs, on 5 April 2011 to launch an ‘Enhanced Strategic Dialogue’ involving annual meetings between the country’s leaders and bi-annual talks between foreign ministers. Cameron announced £650 million in “education aid” for Pakistan and set “a target of increasing bilateral trade in goods and services to £2.5 billion a year by 2015.”[2]

It was against this shift in diplomatic relations that the UK’s first deportation charter flight to Pakistan took place on 24 November 2011. The flight returned 23 men and two women. Theresa May arrived in Pakistan on the same day and held a press conference with the Pakistani interior minister Rehman Malik, in which she stressed that bilateral ties were “stronger than ever”.

The Tory’s attempt to close the door on migration from Pakistan has coincided with a push for more British investment in Pakistan’s economy, which the Foreign and Commonwealth Office called an “unbreakable partnership”. A press release from February 2012 said that the “UK Trade Minister Lord Green’s recent visit had highlighted the opportunities in retail, energy and mining sectors”.

Only last week, Home Secretary Theresa May visited Pakistan again to “advocate further co-operation between the UK and Pakistan in our efforts to tackle the shared threats posed by terrorism, narcotics trafficking and illegal migration” in her meeting with the new Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar. According to the Dawn newspaper, Theresa May “welcomed the commitment that Interior Minister Nisar and the government of Pakistan have shown to adopting a zero tolerance approach to illegal migration”. It would seem that Pakistan’s access to British aid and investment is partly conditional on accepting deportations from the UK, as well as co-operation on counter-terrorism initiatives.

To follow UK diplomacy in Pakistan, keep an eye on www.flickr.com/photos/ukinpakistan/sets/

References

[1] British High Commission in Islamabad, Press Release, 23 February 2011.

[2] Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Press Release, 05 April 2011.

EDL “Empire: progress, Slavery: price of an education”

EDL “Empire: progress, Slavery: price of an education”

This video was recorded at the sidelines of a recent EDL protest, after the death of Lee Rigby. The woman blames “mass immigration” for an isolated murder, i.e. blaming every immigrant who ever came here for what happened in Woolwich. She then goes on to describe Imperialism as “progress”, and Slavery as the “price of an education”.

People of colour are expected to apologise for any crime committed by someone who looks like them in Britain. Meanwhile, white people celebrate the countless colonial genocides committed around the world by their ancestors as “progress”.

This confused white woman was not alone in her conflation of murder with migration – and the predictable call for people to be ‘stripped’ of their citizenship and deported (in whichever order). The Tory MP for Beckenham (and Northern Ireland veteran) Bob Stewart said, without any apparent sense of irony, that he “would like to see anyone who advocates violence out of our country on the first aeroplane back to wherever they came from” – despite the fact the Woolwich attackers were born in Britain, and despite the fact that his demand would surely include every MP who votes for British wars of aggression?

Almost 1000 people deported on UK charter flight in first 4 months of 2013

Use of charter flights for mass expulsions from UK, December 2012 – April 2013

Charter_Flight_Log_Dec-2012_Apr-2013

(Click on the table to get a better view)

The Home Office used 18 charter flights for deportations* in the 4 months from December 2012 to April 2013, a freedom of information request has revealed.

A total of 972 people were removed from the UK on these flights, including 73 women.

An alarmingly high number of Pakistani Nationals are being issued with Removal Directions (RDs) for charter flights, although over half of these tickets are canceled before departure. For example, 198 RDs were issued for a deportation to Pakistan on 26th March 2013, of which 85 went on the flight. It would be interesting to hear more from lawyers about the pressure that this volume of case-work creates…

Charter flights went to Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria on a monthly basis.

There were less frequent flights to Kosovo, Albania, Ghana and Sri Lanka in this period.

A plane was chartered to remove just one man to Portugal, on 14th December 2012.

The controversial flight to Sri Lanka, on 28th February 2013, went ahead with just 13 people onboard (out of a planned 123).

The Home Office continues to name their mass deportations to Nigeria as “Operation Majestic”.

The UK took part in one mass deportation with Frontex, the joint EU border agency, in this period. (The flight was to Nigeria on 24th January 2013). There was a bilateral flight through Rome to Nigeria on 11th April 2013.

The Home Office allocated “reserve” deportees for a third of charter flights in this period, despite repeated criticism from campaigners, as well as Keith Vaz (Chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee) and the Prison Inspector (who has called this practice “inhumane”).

Notes:

Mass deportation “charter flights” have been used by the Home Office since 2001. These deportations are in addition to the majority of forced removals from the UK which take place on board scheduled commercial flights.

The exact data period covered by this Freedom of Information request was 12th December 2012 to 24th April 2013.

The UK Border Agency is currently being re-branded as two directorates of the Home Office: “Visas and Immigration” and “Immigration Law Enforcement”.

*I use the words ‘deportation’ and ‘removal’ interchangeably (despite their distinct legal definitions), because the Freedom of Information data captures people in both categories.

From Michael Green to Michael Adebolajo: what counts as ‘terrorism’ in London?

From Michael Green to Michael Adebolajo: what counts as ‘terrorism’ in London?

edl_woolwich_leader

The vicious murder of a man in Woolwich. The initial statement by Metropolitan Police detective chief superintendent, Simon Letchford, did not describe this as a terrorism related incident. Letchford referred to it as an “assault” involving weapons and firearms, and urged people to “avoid unnecessary speculation” about the circumstances surrounding this death. However, footage was broadcast showing one of the attackers justifying his crime with reference to religion and British foreign policy. Subsequently, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, announced a new dimension: “We have launched a murder investigation, being led by the Counter Terrorism Command”. The media had already seized upon this aspect of the incident, portraying an isolated attack as part of a “War on the West”. The victim was a serving soldier. Every national newspaper carries on their frontpage this morning the image of a young black man, wielding a bloodied kitchen knife and a meat cleaver. This can only reinforce stereotypes about people from already stigmatised communities. The image of the murderer stands for a whole race, and a whole religion. The Bishop of Woolwich voiced concern that he did not want the murder to “stir up hatred” in a diverse community. And yet the implications of this murder are national, not just local. How many discriminatory laws will follow? The more immediate consequences are already evident.

Within hours of the murder, there were reports of ‘revenge’ attacks on completely unrelated places of worship, which were not even in the same city. A mosque in Kent was vandalised, and a man was arrested in Essex for an attempted arson attack on another mosque. The leader of the English Defence League (EDL), Tommy Robinson, used social media to mobilise his ‘infidels’ in London. By nightfall, a gang of white men, dressed remarkably like loyalists paramilitaries, roamed the streets of Woolwich. Riot police treated the EDL as a public order situation [use of Section 60 powers] rather than counter-terrorism. The BBC and Daily Mail referred to this vigilantism as a “protest”.

Surprisingly, the UKIP leader Nigel Farage has not sensationalised the murder, describing it as an “isolated incident”. Perhaps he wanted to distance his party from the EDL’s predictable response? In contrast, Prime Minister David Cameron seemed eager to fit this into the wider discourse of Islamic Terrorism, claiming Britain will “never give in to terror or terrorism”. The BBC has named one of the suspects as Michael Adebolajo. It has been forgotten that in April last year, an unemployed White Englishman, Michael Green, tried to blow himself up on Tottencourt Road. Green was a former BNP candidate. That incident was specifically not termed “terrorism” by the Police, and was kept out of the media spotlight.

Shocking new photo of torture in Sri Lanka

Photo shows back of a Tamil man, photographed in London soon after he arrived here and just before he claimed asylum this year

Important article by Dr Frank Arnold’s published yesterday on Open Democracy, exposing UKBA’s cynical attitude to Tamil asylum-seekers, read it here.

Frank says UKBA case workers still use the notorious letter from the British High Commission in Colombo dated 11 May 2011.

That letter basically said Tamil refugees scar themselves to fake asylum claims.

If you want to know more about the sources in that letter, see here

NB: This ‘blame the victim’ argument that Sri Lanka uses has precedent with the UK government.

When Ted Heath was interning Irish Republicans in 1971, the Ministry of Defence told journalists that “the IRA was beating up its own volunteers so their injuries could be presented as evidence of army or police brutality”, despite the fact that British security forces were systematically torturing suspects [Ian Cobain, Cruel Britannia, p147].

New research is just uncovering how Ted Heath had a hand in repression in Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) that same year…

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.”

Beyond Qatada: New research debunks mythical ‘crisis’ of foreign prisoners

  Beyond Abu Qatada: New research debunks mythical ‘crisis’ of foreign prisoners

UKBA-NOMS-sign

In the latest hysteria over foreign prisoners in the UK, the Tory-led government was yesterday threatening to ‘temporarily withdraw’ from the European Convention on Human Rights so as to overcome legal barriers to the deportation of radical Islamic preacher Abu Qatada.[1] At the same time, the latest prison statistics by Ministry of Justice, published today, show that the number of foreigners held in British jails has actually been declining.[2]

An investigation by Stop Deportation and Corporate Watch reveals that even these figures are inflated by over 10% because the MoJ statisticians misleadingly include migrants held in prisons solely under immigration powers and on remand as foreign national prisoners. Even more shocking is the inclusion in the FNP count of detainees held in three immigration detention centres run by the Prison Service. The new research, published today, exposes the myth that British prisons are overcrowded with foreign criminals who the government is powerless to deport. The key findings include:

  • In-depth analysis of official data shows that, of the 10,861 so-called foreign national prisoners held in England and Wales on 30th June 2012, 1,140 were in fact immigration detainees held solely under administrative immigration powers and not serving a criminal sentence. These include people held in three immigration detention centres run by the Prison Service (Dover, Haslar, Lindholme), which are counted as prisons. Their inclusion had the effect of inflating the FNP figure by 10.5%.
  • The much-cited rise in the proportion of foreign nationals held in British jails since 2001 was in part due to a sharp increase in the number of migrants detained under Immigration Act 1971 powers.
  • Foreign prisoners are now twice as likely to be held on remand than British prisoners, which further distorts the proportion of foreign nationals in the prisoners count.
  • A detailed examination of the types of offences and sentences shows that foreign prisoners are less likely to be convicted for violence or stealing offences than British inmates, are no more likely to commit sexual offences but are more likely to be convicted for drug offences.
  • The UK Border Agency has often claimed that charter flights are “vital to ensure we remove foreign criminals and individuals who refuse to leave the UK voluntarily.” Yet previously unpublished data reveals that there is almost no correlation between the nationalities of foreign prisoners and the destinations of deportation charter flights. Over 80% of removals by charter flight in 2012 did not involve foreign national offenders. Indeed, the charter flight programme was originally intended to deport rejected asylum seekers and had nothing to do with foreign national prisoners.
  • Despite secretive meetings of a ‘FNP Board’, formed of senior civil servants from the UKBA and the MoJ, which is mandated to review the progress of the charter flight programme, Freedom of Information requests reveal that no formal evaluation documents have ever been produced.

The briefing’s authors, Phil Miller from Stop Deportation and Shiar Youssef from Corporate Watch, said: “The foreign prisoners ‘crisis’ was a myth motivated by a xenophobic agenda. The legal changes that allowed the double punishment of foreign nationals by deporting them after they have served their sentences were largely based on a lie. The British public have for years been deceived by inaccurate statistics that conflate foreign national prisoners with foreign national offenders, and mysteriously count some immigration detainees as prisoners and some immigration detention centres as prisons. Now this unfounded ‘crisis’ is being used as a convenient political tool to justify the controversial mass deportation flights by associating the programme with the ‘urgent need’ to deport ‘large volumes’ of foreign national prisoners. They are an invisible enemy, personified by the hated figure of Abu Qatada.”

References

[1] See, for example, www.guardian.co.uk/law/2013/apr/24/european-rights-convention-abu-qatada, www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/abu-qatada-deportation-uk-has-new-treaty-with-jordan-to-expel-radical-muslim-cleric-says-home-secretary-theresa-may–but-it-could-take-months-8586035.html, and www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/article4901240.ece.

[2] Available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/offender-management-statistics-quarterly–2.

[3] The full briefing is available at www.corporatewatch.org/download.php?id=184

UKBA: Soft on Immigration? 4 deaths in 5 months…oh, and Mi6 killed Patrice Lumumba

UKBA: Soft on Immigration?

4 deaths in 5 months…oh, and Mi6 killed Patrice Lumumba

Verbal diarrhea about Britain’s supposedly lax immigration policy ignores the rising death toll of people killed by the UK Border Agency. Britain’s real role in the world is that of a hitman, not a humanitarian hero.

Last month the public were bombarded by statements from all the Party leaders and the right-wing media about how this country is too soft on immigration. Anybody can come and go as they please, and the welfare system is their oyster. The convenient spectacle of Abu Qatada avoiding deportation yet again was produced on cue to ‘prove’ their point.

Nothing of course, could be further from the truth. Khalid Shahzad, Jackie Nanyonjo, Alois Dvorzac and Prince Kwabena Fosu have all died in the last 5 months as a result of their treatment by the UK Border Agency. This isn’t being soft on immigration – this is the state sponsored murder of immigrants. And yet their deaths are notably absent from the ‘debate’ about Britain’s borders.

Much of this ‘debate’ is completely bogus. Take Theresa May’s latest announcement that the UKBA will be split up … how is that any different from her creation last year of a separate UK Border Force, under the command of a former Admiral? Civil servants have been told they will be doing the same job – this is clearly just a rebranding exercise.

What is significant, however, is the revelation this week by a Labour Peer that Mi6 killed Patrice Lumumba, the first democratically elected President of Congo, in 1961. (The CiA and Belgium were previously associated with his murder). Lord Lea, writing in the London Review of Books, said that a former Mi6 officer and Tory peer Daphne Park made a death bed confession about Lumumba’s death. Park is alleged to have told Lea “We did. I organised it.”

Jawid Laiq, writing in the Hindu, reminds us that “Thirty years later, on October 8, 1991, Omasese Lumumba, nephew of the Congolese leader, was “unlawfully killed” in a British prison. The jury’s verdict at a coroner’s inquest ruled that Omasese died as a result of “excessive force” inflicted on him by the staff of Pentonville Prison, London. Earlier, Omasese, had fled from Congo as he had been ill-treated and imprisoned there for being a relative of Patrice.”

Far from being a ‘soft touch’ on immigration, Britain is a hitman who routinely gets away with the murder of migrants and people of colour. The death of Lumumba made way for Mobutu, a western proxy whose 32-year rein of terror in the Congo caused massive destruction and displacement, creating an untold number of refugees.

Jackie Nanyonjo, Jimmy Mubenga and Joy Gardner: all killed by Britain’s racist deportation regime

Jackie Nanyonjo, Jimmy Mubenga and Joy Gardner: all killed by Britain’s racist deportation regime

Very sad news tonight that a member of Movement for Justice, Jackie Nanyonjo, has died in Uganda last friday due to injuries she sustained during deportation from Yarl’s Wood 2 months ago.

Her supporters have called for a demonstration outside the Home Office this Thursday, more details from MFJ below.

Jackie Nanyojo - Killed by UKBA

UK Border Agency – GUILTY of the Murder of Jackie Nanyonjo
Put the UKBA on Trial…
Jail the UKBA’s killer thugs!
Theresa May Must Go!

DEMONSTRATION & SPEAK OUT
@ THE HOME OFFICE HQ – 12.30pm
Thursday 14th March
Home Office HQ, Marsham st, Westminster SW1P
on corner of Horseferry rd. Westminster or Victoria tube.  Buses: 88, 507, 148 &
walk down Great Smith St to Marsham st
(To meet and walk there together meet at 12noon sharp by Big Ben)

Jackie Nanyonjo died in Uganda last Friday as a result of the injuries inflicted by the Home Office’s licenced thugs who deported her from Britain on 10th January. Jackie was a fighter for herself and for others: a lesbian who escaped from anti-gay persecution and a brutal forced marriage, and a member of the Movement for Justice. In Britain she had been able for the first time to live and love openly as a lesbian; she was much-loved by a wide circle of friends who kept in touch with her after she was deported and who miss her deeply. All of us who knew her, or who didn’t know her personally but are determined to end the regime of racism and anti-immigrant bigotry that is responsible for her death, will fight to win justice for Jackie.

Jackie had been through the mental torture of the immigration and asylum system, with its arbitrary, subjective decisions and impossible demands to ‘prove that you are a lesbian’. UK Border Agency and an Asylum Tribunal had dismissed out-of-hand the ample evidence of friends and her partner that Jackie was a lesbian and rejected her claim for asylum. She was sent to the further mental torture of Yarl’s Wood women’s detention centre in November 2012 – a few weeks after detainees had shaken the power of the UKBA in an uprising of mass protest against brutality and injustice led by the Yarl’s Wood Movement for Justice group and Jackie had been part of a solidarity demonstration at the UKBA headquarters in Croydon. Jackie continued her fight in Yarl’s Wood. When the UKBA tried to deport her in December Jackie resisted bravely despite the brutality she suffered at the hands of the ‘escorts’ provided by the contractor, Reliance. She forced them to abandon the attempt and when she got back to Yarl’s Wood she lodged a complaint to the UKBA – a complaint the UKBA rejected.

With all the limited avenues of Britain’s racist immigration laws closed to her and facing deportation to a country where it is a crime to be gay and where the political and religious leaders have whipped up a murderous anti-gay witch-hunt, Jackie’s only option was physical resistance. On 10th January, on Qatar Airways Flight QR76, Jackie fought bravely for her freedom with all the strength she could gather against four Reliance guards. She continued fighting when the guards drew curtains round their end of the plane to hide their crimes. She struggled for as long as she could until, beaten up, half strangled and bent double, she was overcome by the pain in her chest and neck and was unable to breathe.

When Jackie arrived at Entebbe Airport the ‘escort’ party handed her over to the Ugandan authorities, who held her for many more hours without any medical attention. When family members finally met her, long after the flight had landed, Jackie was in terrible pain and vomiting blood; they rushed her to a clinic, but in a country with widespread poverty and limited medical facilities they were unable to get the medical attention Jackie needed. Since Jackie was in hiding as a known lesbian, protected by relatives, every trip to a doctor or hospital involved a risk to her life and to the safety of her family. They were condemned to watch the agonising decline of Jackie’s health and strength over the next two months.

The Home Office and the UKBA are guilty of Jackie’s murder. They have licenced the brutality that Jackie suffered, even if they pretend ‘to look the other way’; they protect the thugs and the security companies if an asylum seekers’ death or injury becomes public knowledge. Their policies and decisions are responsible for Jackie’s death. The guards who brutalised Jackie should be in jail and Reliance should be condemned as an accessory to murder, along with Qatar Airways and the repressive Qatari Government that is so willing to do Britain’s dirty work – but the real guilt lies with the politicians and bureaucrats who run the Home Office and the UKBA, and ultimately with the Coalition Government. Jackie Nanyonjo was a victim of the immigrant bashing policies of Theresa May, the racist Home Secretary.

The Movement for Justice is putting the UKBA on trial for Jackie’s murder. Jackie is by not the first person to die at the hands or through the actions of the UKBA but we want to make sure that she is the last. Justice for Jackie means above all exposing the UKBA before the Court of Public Opinion, challenging its power so that what happened to Jackie never happens to anyone else, and shutting down Yarl’s Wood detention centre. It means building the movement that Jackie joined, in Yarl’s Wood and other detention centres and outside, in our communities and on our campuses, and end the injustice of detention and deportation. Join us this Thursday at the demonstration and speak-out at the Home Office on Marsham Street, London SW1.

#UKBAonTrial        #UKBAonTrial        #UKBAonTrial