‘Sit down protest’ delayed deportation of Tamil refugees at risk of torture

Sit-in stopped deportation of Tamil refugees at risk of torture

[1st June 2012]

A spontaneous sit-down protest in front of an airport-bound deportation coach may have won enough time for a last-minute High Court ruling, which cancelled the enforced removal of about 40 ‘failed’ Tamil asylum-seekers.

Friends, family and local community activists staged a 30 minute sit-down protest in front of Tamil deportation coach

A defiant protest by supporters of Tamil refugees outside Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre (IRC) yesterday morning delayed the departure of an airport-bound deportation bus, but ended with 4 arrests. Their action provided 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 stayed.

Two large coaches loaded with deportation guards had arrived at Colnbrook IRC at 8.20am. A dozen friends and family members of deportees gathered from 9am for an emotional farewell vigil outside the detention centre. Supporters had reason to believe that some of the people due to be deported would be tortured by the Sri Lankan government on return. Their claim is supported by several new reports – available here:

When the first coach tried to exit Colnbrook at 11 am, supporters spontaneously ran out in front of the coach in protest at the deportation. Several people sat in the road and the coach driver turned off the engine. The second coach was able to exit the detention centre.

Security staff and police were challenged about their awareness of the human rights situation in Sri Lanka – protestors brandished copies of Freedom From Torture’s report into ongoing torture in Sri Lanka and asked them if they had watched Channel 4’s ‘Killing Fields’ documentary, which none of them had. Protestors also reminded the most senior police officer at the scene, Inspector Qasim, of Britain’s obligations under Article 3 of the UN Convention Against Torture (“No State Party shall expel, return (“refouler”) or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture”).

More police were called to the scene, including a dog unit and a firearms officer, in what felt like an attempt to intimidate the small group of a dozen supporters. The police did not facilitate freedom of assembly and expression under Articles 10 and 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights, instead they decided to stop people from protesting at 11.30 am. Police forcibly cleared protestors from the road, without making it clear what section of the Public Order Act they were enforcing. 2 protestors were aggressively handcuffed, and another 2 by-standers were randomly placed under arrest. The coach then left for the airport, and the arrested protestors were taken to West Drayton Police Station.

They were held in custody for almost 12 hours before being released: 2 without charge, 2 on minor charges.

This 30-minute delay may have been crucial for Barristers to win injunctions in the British High Court of Justice which prevent many people from being deported. Mr Justice Eady seemed to vindicate the protestors with his ruling that “the recent Human Rights Watch report, dated 29.05.2012 suggests that there may be new evidence relevant to the risk of ill treatment”. Channel 4 explained that: “The Human Rights Watch report in question called on the government to suspend the planned deportations in light of 13 cases it had documented of failed Tamil asylum seekers being tortured by the security forces on return to Sri Lanka, most recently in February this year”. Yesterday’s flight was the fifth British government charter flight to Sri Lanka since June last year.

Sources at Colombo Airport claim that 36 people were deported (22 Tamils,8 Sinhaleese and 6 Muslims), accompanied by 72 British officials, and interviewed on arrival by the notorious Sri Lankan C.I.D. It is standard practice for the UK Border Agency to employ at least 2 private security guards from the firm ‘Reliance’ for each deportee.

There are more videos of yesterdays protest which will be published at some point.


Congolese community demonstrate in London

Congolese Community Demonstrate in London

Massive police operation in central london (10/12/11) to control a passionate but mainly peaceful protest by up to 1000 congolese people which began in whitehall, spreading to trafalgar square, and with further breakaway groups marching through the west end. mainstream coverage has been minimal.

REPOST. See full article here

Today’s protest follows two others this week, with serious clashes between police and hundreds of protestors outside downing street on tuesday, and on thursday evening oxford circus was closed down for a while, and police arranged for an empty train to ferry protestors to seven sisters station for dispersal in tottenham.

but you’d be hard-pressed to find much about these events on bbc or other mainstream media other than a brief report of 143 arrests this evening, with no explanation of the issues other than it being ‘a demonstration over election results’.

well, according to the very passionate voices on the streets tonight, the issue is years of mass rape, genocide, and repression (with UN estimates of more than 5 million, nearly a tenth of the population, murdered in the past decade) and the western states’ support for an illegitimate leader after rigged elections.

the protestors believe that joseph kabila, who this week was announced as clear leader in the first democratic elections in the country in 40 years, is a corrupt rwandan military man with a deadly army unit of 7000 soldiers who is supported by western interests. they believe that etienne tshisekedi has a much larger popular vote, with estimates of support above 50%.

it is not hard to see why the west would meddle in the affairs of this huge country. it has vast mineral wealth, being the main world source of ‘coltan’ used widely in mobile phones, as well as cobalt, copper, uranium, gold, diamonds, tin, and zinc. as is often the case in africa, despite these huge resources, the standard of living of ordinary people in this rich country has been spiralling downwards for years.

the congolese protestors see cameron, sarkozy, and obama as the three biggest hypocrites, looters, and supporters of the illegitimate regime responsible for the human rights abuses in their country. with the first results of the election coming out, they see western support as a key ingredient in the rigged vote.

on tuesday a few hundred congo supporters blocked whitehall outside downing street, and as police TSG cleared the road, one protestor was violently head-butted and received a broken nose (fortunately caught on video by activists and soon to emerge).

today, up to a thousand protested again in whitehall, and the road was blocked for hours with a huge police containment operation failing to get to grips with the protest, and breakway groups forming further road blocks around trafalgar square and other parts of london.

Article continued at
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Demonstrate at the prison gates!

Demonstrate at the prison gates!

60 angry protesters demanded the closure of Campsfield Immigration prison yesterday, 26/11/2011. Their noisy demonstration marked 18 years of immigration detention at Campsfield House and the imprisonment of over 20,000 people during this period.

Passionate chants of “Freedom Now!” and “Migrants Are Not Criminals!” rang out across the prison fences from supporters, as detainees inside responded by waving hands and red t-shirts out from their cell windows.

Anti-detention campaigners came from all corners of England to support the demonstration near Oxford that was organised by the Campaign to Close Campsfield – a local group active since the centre opened in 1993.

A local samba band ‘Breach of the Peace’ added carnival vibes to the protest, and a dozen activists arrived on bike after a feeder cycle ride from Oxford town-centre.

A man who had once been detained in Campsfield bravely stood outside the prison gates and shared his experiences of detention with the crowd. Afterwards, an anti-war activist highlighted the sordid relationship between British arms manufacturers and British wars with refugees fleeing conflict-zones and Britain deporting these refugees. This year the UK was the second biggest exporter of weaponry and almost a third of refugees worldwide came from Afghanistan and Iraq.

Campfield House Immigration Detention Centre holds up to 216 male detainees. FTSE 250 company ‘Mitie’ won the £27 million 5-year contract to run the prison in the spring. In August a man who was apparently facing imminent deportation was found hanged at Campsfield.

The protesters left before 2pm to allow visitors time to see their friends and families.

The Campaign to Close Campsfield hold regular protests outside the prison on the last Saturday of every month. For more info visit please their website —

Iraqi parliament condemns deportations from the UK and Europe

Repost: Iraqi parliament condemns deportations from the UK and Europe

The President of the Iraqi parliament has backed the campaign to stop forcible deportations of Iraqi refugees from the UK and Europe.

Speaking at a meeting organised by the Iraqi Embassy in London on Friday, 0sama al-Nujaifi questioned how European Governments could send people back to Iraq by force when the country was clearly unsafe, with regular bombs and attacks. The President and the other MPs present agreed to demands raised by the International Federation of Iraqi Refugees to back a motion through parliament not to accept deportees into Baghdad airport.

Another MP, Adil Abdullah, said a delegation from the parliament had told British government representatives they would not accept Iraqi people deported by force in the future.

Earlier last week, on 10th October. the Iraqi Parliament discussed a proposal brought by the International Federation of Iraqi Refugees to stop accepting deportations and an end to the Iraqi Government’s agreement with European Governments to accept forcible deportations.

No objection was raised to the proposal, read by Sardar Abdullah MP, and MPs agreed to set up a committee to take the issue forward.

Forcible deportations from the UK to Baghdad are currently suspended at least until November pending a legal challenge questioning the safety of the region.

Deportations to the northern, Kurdish region of Iraq have been suspended since early last year after the government there refused to accept anymore.