“Every single injustice you carry out against me is being reported” Said Kasim Mohamed on hunger strike, Colnbrook

“Every single injustice you carry out against me is being reported”

Said still on hunger strike – releases statement letter condemning UKBA

Said Kasim Mohamed is still on hunger strike in Colnbrook IRC, in protest at his cruel treatment at the hands of the UKBA.

Said has released a statement about his protest. His letter is a powerful indictment of the British asylum system.

Campaign group Hands Off Somalia have posted Said’s statement on their blog (a top resource for understanding British foreign policy towards Somalia and how it influences UK immigration controls).

Some ways to support Said:

  • Call Colnbrook IRC to complain. Tel: 020 8607 5200 PRESS OPTION 1 THEN PRESS 303
  • Ring the Home Office to report his protest and demand his freedom. Telephone:  020 7035 4848 or Fax: 020 7035 4745 or Email: public.enquiries@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk
  • Contact local MP John Mcdonnell to inform him about Said’s hunger strike and ask why someone like Said would have to take to such measures to get justice. Email: mcdonnellj@parliament.uk or Twitter https://twitter.com/johnmcdonnellMP
  • Send us a message on Facebook of any action you want to take

 

Border Agency “disappointed” it cannot deport Tamils for torture today

Border Agency “disappointed” it cannot deport Tamils for torture today

SL banner B

Resistance against Tamil deportations has been gathering momentum

The UK Border Agency’s charter flight to Sri Lanka scheduled for today hangs in the balance this morning after a high court judge ruled that all failed Tamil asylum-seekers cannot be deported before the country guidance case has been concluded.

This ruling has been widely reported in the national news [1|2] , however it is unclear at this stage if everyone will be taken off the flight. Will some people, for example visa overstayers who have not claimed asylum, still be removed on the flight?

It is also unclear whether failed asylum-seekers will be taken off the flight automatically, or if the onus is on them and their lawyers to put in a JR based on these new grounds and also email the court. Detainee support groups are trying to update everyone who was booked on the flight, but this is made difficult because people were put in the isolation wings at Colnbrook and Harmondsworth ahead of the charter flight (as per usual…).

One anti-deportation campaigner expressed his concerns that more urgent casework support is needed:

“I’m just a bit worried about whether all those booked to fly out today will hear about this and be able to get their lawyers to file an injunction by the time of the flight. Unless they have good lawyers that are on the case they may not get injunctions filed for them and therefore will be on the flight regardless.”

“We were overjoyed at the [Channel 4] news. However, we tried to contact people inside but the Tamils we spoke to said when they told others they didn’t believe them and took it as rumours.”

“The problem is, it is a big risk for Tamils to apply for asylum as if it fails and they still get sent back then they will be in trouble with the Sri Lankan Government who see asylum-seekers as traitors.”

“The problem is trying to prove to those inside that even if they only apply for asylum now, it may be enough to get them taken of the flight. Many may still not be willing to risk it. In terms of those who already claimed asylum and had it rejected, I pray that their lawyers apply for an injunction by 4pm so this new ruling will take them off the flight.”

Still, this is a massive breakthrough in terms of stopping deportations to Sri Lanka, particularly on charter flights. The Judge rebuked the Border Agency for scheduling another flight before the country guidance case had finished. According to Channel 4, the Border Agency conceded in a pre-flight letter that several Tamils returned to Sri Lanka had been tortured, but they amounted to “only a fraction” of all deportees. The Border Agency is “disappointed” by the Judge’s decision which prevents them sending failed Tamil asylum-seekers to a situation which, by their own admission, puts them at risk of torture.

The UKBA press team is desperately trying to save face, claiming this ruling does “not represent a blanket ban on returns to Sri Lanka”. So, will they still send a virtually empty flight to Colombo today, just to prove a point? They may also try to postpone it until the media storm has died down. The charter flight should of course be cancelled immediately.

Looking ahead, we need a public inquiry into which civil servants, politicians and businesses have blood on their hands as a result of this 21-month terror campaign against Tamil refugees in the UK.

Torture in Sri Lanka – UKBA ‘not bovered’

Torture in Sri Lanka – Am I bovered?

UK Border Agency made no record of anti-torture inspectors on Sri Lanka charter flight, Freedom of Information request reveals

It’s Sri Lanka charter flight week again. The UK Border Agency (UKBA) press team are coming out with their tried and tested quotes to deflect any criticism of their cynical operation.

Guess what the UKBA said in response to a new report by Human Rights Watch about the extensive sexual violence perpetrated by the Sri Lankan military?

We constantly review the situation in Sri Lanka and the current position, supported by the European Court of Human Rights, is that not every Tamil asylum seeker requires our protection.”

Heard that one before?

Something the UKBA press team aren’t likely to tell us this week is what happened when the Council of Europe’s Anti-torture committee inspected their recent Sri Lanka charter flight in October 2012.

The Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (abbreviated to CPT) issued a press release after that charter flight announcing they had:

Examined for the first time the treatment of foreign nationals during an operation of deportation by air. The monitoring took place in the context of an ad hoc visit to the United Kingdom from 22 to 24 October and involved the presence of the CPT’s delegation on a charter flight between London and Colombo (Sri Lanka).

The delegation also held consultations with Colin PUNTON, Returns Director at the United Kingdom Border Agency (UKBA), as well as with senior representatives of Reliance, the private security company contracted by the UKBA to provide escorts for deportations by air.

The visit was carried out by two members of the CPT, Jean-Pierre RESTELLINI (Swiss), Acting 2nd Vice-President of the CPT, Head of delegation, and Jari PIRJOLA (Finnish), who were supported by Fabrice KELLENS, Deputy Executive Secretary of the Committee.”

I submitted a Freedom of Information request asking for copies of minutes or other notes from meetings between the UK Border Agency and the Council of Europe’s CPT during these dates.

Their response was: “We have carried out a thorough search and we have established that the UK Border Agency does not hold the information which you have requested”.

In other words, no one in the UK Border Agency bothered to record what was said between their Director responsible for a highly controversial charter flight programme and the Council of Europe’s anti-torture inspectors. Was nothing jotted down even by some members of UKBA staff who sat with them on the long-haul flight all the way to Colombo?

This shows the staggering sense of indifference and impunity that senior civil servants at the UKBA hold when it comes to sending people back on mass to a well-documented risk of torture. Any reassurances issued by their press team this week suggesting the UKBA care at all about the situation in Sri Lanka are completely disingenuous.

Urgent Statement: Stop torture flight to Sri Lanka on 28th February 2013!

Urgent Statement

Stop the charter flight to Sri Lanka on 28th February 2013!
Don’t deport Tamils to torture

Since June 2011, the UK Border Agency (UKBA) has hired 8 aircraft to forcibly return planeloads of people to Sri Lanka.

Tamils sent back on these flights have been tortured. This is well documented through medical reports by Freedom from Torture and Human Rights Watch.

The UKBA know it is unsafe to return Tamils to Sri Lanka.

But the Agency is turning a blind eye, at the behest of people higher up in the British State who have blood on their hands.

Every UKBA plane that lands in Colombo is a propaganda victory for the Sri Lankan government, whose leaders face credible accusations of war crimes and ongoing genocide against the Tamils. A conflict the British elite manipulated to satisfy their own geo-strategic and commercial interests. Now, President Mahinda Rajapaksa is consolidating authoritarian rule, attacking the independence of the judiciary and freedom of the press.

Every UKBA plane that lands in Colombo is a green light for British businessmen to ignore humanitarian concerns and profit from the highly lucrative military occupation of Tamil lands and seas. British companies are building hundreds of bridges in the north and east of Sri Lanka to connect new settlements of Sinhalese soldiers and their families. UK-listed corporations are exploring deep-water oil & gas reserves off the west coast of Sri Lanka. Tamil farmers and fishermen are being displaced by the Sri Lankan Army and Navy to facilitate a ‘land grab’ by foreign investors. The Conservative Ministers, MPs and Peers who defend the Sri Lankan Government do so because they are in bed with these companies.

Every UKBA plane that lands in Colombo terrorises Tamil dissidents in the diaspora. UKBA charter flights are a strong-arm tactic designed to intimidate immigrant communities who pose a threat to the power structure. Charter flights restrict migrants’ access to legal help, and involve logistical arrangements described as “inhumane” by a cross-party Parliamentary group. The secretive aircraft and coach companies which profit from transporting immigration detainees to their final destinations are nothing more than torture taxis.

Still, persistent resistance from the grassroots is making the British Establishment think twice about sending Tamils back to their persecutors.

A court case began this month about the UKBA’s country guidance on Sri Lanka. The hearing is adjourned until the end of the month. How can the UKBA proceed with another charter flight before a ruling has been made?

We demand that deportations to Sri Lanka end immediately.

Signatories so far include:

Stop Deportation Network

SOAS Detainee Support Group

Croydon Migrant Solidarity

Campaign Against Criminalising Communities

Hands Off Somalia

We ask concerned groups and individuals to add their names to the list of supporters – email stopdeportation[at]riseup.net

Please send it out to your friends, networks, anyone that might be interested.

You can also write to your local MP and the Home Secretary to protest against the flight.

Rt Hon Theresa May MP
House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
Tel: 020 72195206
Fax: 020 7219 1145
mayt@parliament.uk

UK Border Agency defies MPs over deportation ‘reserves’ – Observer

UK Border Agency defies MPs over deportation ‘reserves’ – Observer

Extra detainees still being held at airports before charter flights, a year after MPs and prison inspector demanded end to practice

To read article in full, click here

The UK Border Agency is under attack for ignoring demands from a cross-party Commons committee and the chief inspector of prisons to stop its “inhumane” treatment of some deportees.

The agency was told last year to stop taking additional detainees to airports, in case other deportees were taken off flights after sudden court orders.

But over half of the 40 deportation flights that have since left the UK involved the use of reserves.

Research group Corporate Watch, which obtained the figures through a freedom of information request, also discovered that UKBA has now institutionalised the practice by issuing detainees with letters telling them they may or may not be deported.

Corporate Watch and Stop Deportation, a UK-based campaign group focusing on charter flight deportations, are currently working on a joint report examining the various legal aspects of charter flight deportations.

***
Thanks to the Observer for publishing this.
Look forward to seeing UKBA’s reply to Keith Vaz.
Wonder if they will justify reserves again on grounds of “cost effectiveness”…

Cost of charter flight deportations increased eight-fold over last decade

Cost of charter flight deportations increased eight-fold over last decade – Corporate Watch

The cost of deporting rejected asylum seekers and other migrants on specially chartered flights has quadrupled over the last decade, while the number of those deported by this means has dropped by almost a half, an investigation by Corporate Watch and Stop Deportation reveals.

To continue reading the article on Corporate Watch’s website, click here

CW_charters-costs_graph

Corporate Watch and Stop Deportation, a UK-based campaign group focusing on charter flight deportations, are currently working on a joint report examining the various legal aspects of charter flight deportations.

Minister denies torture of Tamils deported from Britain – New Internationalist

Minister denies torture of Tamils deported from Britain – New Internationalist

A British Foreign Office Minister has refuted medical evidence obtained by Human Rights Watch that Sri Lanka is torturing Tamils after they are deported from Britain back to the Indian Ocean island. During his most recent ministerial trip to Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo, on 1 February, Alistair Burt MP said ‘the UK has no direct evidence’ of the torture – contrary to the accusations of human rights activists.

To continue reading the article on the New Internationalist Blog, click here

Alistair Burt and High Commissioner John Rankin recorded a video in front of the wrecked MV Farah III, during the Minister's latest trip to Sri Lanka

Alistair Burt and British High Commissioner John Rankin recorded a video in front of the wrecked MV Farah III, during the Minister’s latest trip to Sri Lanka. (Photo: FCO)

Student remembrance triggers Tamil rebirth

Student remembrance triggers Tamil rebirth

Andy Higginbottom and Phil Miller|Open Security|8th January 2012

Strong geostrategic interests in the Indian Ocean may tacitly have condemned the Tamils of Sri Lanka to death on a massive scale in the 2009 aerial bombing of civilans, and ensuing post-war government repression. Recent social movement action in Jaffna shows a groundswell of resistance, but will the world take notice?

On 27 November, students at Jaffna University lit a lamp in the womens’ dormitory. Their simple act of commemoration unwittingly sparked events that have unfolded into the most significant confrontation with the Sri Lankan state since the massacre of Tamils in May 2009.

To continue reading, click here

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * * * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

6th December 2012 – UKBA mass deportation to Sri Lanka

6th December 2012 – UKBA mass deportation to Sri Lanka

On 6th December 2012, the UK Border Agency went ahead with another mass deportation to Sri Lanka. Unconfirmed reports say that 29 people were removed in toal, and that 25 of them were Tamil.

At 0930 on the morning of the flight, campaigners monitored the arrival of 3 coaches to the Colnbrook and Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centres by Heathrow. Two of the coaches were from the notorious deportation profiteer WH Tours and the third coach was unmarked. Reliance vans also escorted the coaches. All these vehicles are believed to be connected with the deportation to Sri Lanka that afternoon.

Media coverage of this deportation was extremely limitted. However, Open Democracy and Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka reposted the news article from this blog. Freedom from Torture published a press release highlighting how the UN Committee Against Torture and two Parliamentary Select Committees have recently criticed the British Government’s deportation program to Sri Lanka.