No Borders | 25.02.2007 13:38 | Migration
Over 40 DR Congolese nationals, including 19 children, were forcibly 'removed' on Monday, 26 February, 2007. The charter flight, operated by XL Airways, left Stanstead Airport at 9.39pm. The rejected asylum seekers had been snatched and detained by the immigration authorities over the last few days, despite various NGO's, including the UN 'peacekeeping mission', reporting that, once again, the human rights situation in DR Congo is deteriorating.
Protesters tried to stop the 'removals' by locking themselves to the gates of Tinsley House detention centre, Crawley, where the deportees had been incarcerated. Some 60 people also gathered at the Home Office in London, in a protest called by the Congo Support Project and supported by Fight Racism, Fight Imperialism!, LSE FRFI society, NCADC, Unity Centre Glasgow, Glasgow Campaign to Welcome Refugees and London NoBorders.
On Wednesday, 21 February, over a hundred asylum seekers and supporters, mostly of African origin, held a lively protest outside the Home Office Reporting Centre in Glasgow. On Friday, No Borders Brighton protested and did a banner-drop at the main office of XL in Crawley, West Sussex, to highlight their involvement and making profits from deportations. In Leeds, over 70 members of the DR Congolese community, including groups from Huddersfiled and Kirklees, gathered at the Home Office reporting centre on Kirkstall Road to call for a stop to the planned removals. A solidarity march, organised by the African Community Association in the North East (ACANE), took place in Middlesbrough on Sunday, 25th February.
Starting from 15th February, the Home Office 'snatch squads' started to detain individuals and families from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), who have been living in the UK for several years, with the intention of forcibly 'removing' them. 27 adults and 19 children were served with the same 'removal directions': "Directions have now been given for your removal from the United Kingdom by (flight/ship) *OTTHxla4334 to Congo Democratic Republic at 21.00 hrs on Monday 26 February 2007". In the Home Office's view, DRC is now "safe to return".
The country, however, is one of the deadliest places in the world. Since 1998, over 4 million lives have been lost and, although the war is officially over, death continues at a rate of 1,200 a week. Extra-judicial execution of civilians, rape and torture are common. Recruitment of 'child soldiers' continues unabated. The infrastructure of the country's hospitals, roads and power supplies are archaic and in some areas non-existent.
The United Nations peacekeeping mission in DRC recently reported that the human rights situation in the country "continues to deteriorate", as the army and police "perpetrate acts of violence against civilians and the number of reported rapes surges". A monthly assessment of the human rights situation in the DRC released by the UN Mission, known as MONUC, stated that there have been numerous cases in which Congolese soldiers and police have summarily executed and raped civilians, in some cases with apparent impunity.
Ironically, just last month John Reid, the Home Secretary, brought in a number of people from DRC under the Gateway Protection Programme (the official name given to the UK's resettlement programme) and allowed them to settle in various parts of the UK with refugee status.
Flying People to Death
XLA4334 is the code for XL Airways UK Limited, a company that charters planes. XL Airways, who have their headquarters in Crawley, West Sussex, is the new name for Excel Airways following a major re-brand. XL provides short-haul and long-haul services to European and Middle Eastern leisure destinations from its three bases of London Gatwick, Manchester and Glasgow. The airline also operates services from Newcastle, Bristol, Nottingham East Midlands, Birmingham, Cardiff, Humberside, London Stansted and Belfast International. Excel Airways Limited held a United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority Type A Operating Licence, which permits it to carry passengers, cargo and mail on aircraft with 20 or more seats. The parent company of XL Airways is the XL Leisure Group. In November 2006, XLLG launched XL Airways France and XL Airways Germany.
When asked by the National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns (NCADC) who the contractors for flight XLA4334 were, XL Airways said "we cannot give that information; you have to contact the Home Office". NCADC did contact the Home Office and asked them to comment on the proposed 'charter flight', but a spokeswoman said they can "neither confirm or deny if there will be a 'charter flight'".
According to data acquired under the Freedom of Information Act, the total number of 'charter flights' from the UK in the last 12 months was 79. 55 of these were to Eastern Europe, 12 to Afghanistan and 2 to Kurdistan (northern Iraq) [see Dozens of Iraqi Kurds Deported.. Again].
ACTIVISTS LOCKED TO GATES OF TINSLEY HOUSE DETENTION CENTRE, CRAWLEY, TO
TRY AND STOP REMOVAL OF FAILED ASYLUM SEEKERS TO DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF
Currently there is someone locked by their neck to the main gate of the
detention centre, where the families are being held. They are hoping to
prevent the detainees being taken to the airport, and to the charter
flight, DRC this evening. There are around 12 other people present.
Brighton No Borders
According to Stanstead airport the flight to the DRC has left at 9.39pm Friday. The Home Office really are a very sick bunch.
Sorry for confusion!,The above comment obviously meant to say 9.39pm Monday
Earlier in the day, some 60 people also gathered at the Home Office in London in a protest called by the Congo Support Project, Fight Racism, Fight Imperialism! and the LSE FRFI society. This protest was widely publicised and endorsed by NCADC, Unity Centre Glasgow, Glasgow Campaign to Welcome Refugees and London NoBorders, among others.
As the demo was in the SOCPA no-megaphone zone, the protest compensated with lots of drumming and chanting.
(See attached link to More 4 News report http://www.channel4.com/player/v2/player.jsp?showId=5055 )
This deportation followed a week after the use of a similar charter flight to deport asylum seekers en masse to northern Iraq. Both have met with widescale opposition. The Bishops of Winchester, Chichester, Durham and Ripon had spoken out against the mass expulsion to DRC and demonstrations against the deportations took place in Middlesborough, Leeds and Glasgow, and at XL Airways head office. Faxes to the Home Office and XL Airways were sent from towns, cities, and villages all over the country. XL Airways complained they could not cope with the number of faxes and calls they received, but failed to address any of the issues raised, referring everyone who called/faxed/emailed them to contact the Home Office.
Britain is a wealthy country. It is spending £26 million a week on the war in Iraq. British companies dominate and impoverish numerous underdeveloped countries making super profits from plundering African oil, Asian textiles and the brutal exploitation of the masses of workers all over the world.
People have always travelled to escape poverty and flee persecution. At times capitalism welcomes this, because it needs new labourers, often in low-paid, unskilled jobs, like the Caribbean and South Asian immigrants of the 195os and 1960s or the 300,000+ migrants from Eastern Europe who have entered Britain in the recent period. But while welcoming in cheap labour, the British state is simultaneously tightening controls on immigration from other countries and is deporting asylum seekers from countries suffering from imperialist attack like refugees from Iraq and Afghanistan where the British army is at war or DRCongo where British multi-nationals are violently robbing the country of its gold, coltan, oil and other natural resources.
Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!
Really good to see the last ditch attempt by those locking-on....
As per usual many of us wrote to/phoned the company involved, in this case XL airways, and politely urged them not to allow this to go ahead. Personally, I always feel useless trying to be as calm and gentle as possible so as not in anyway to jeopardise anyone's chances (probably unlikely that it could have such an impact but you never know).
This is always good just before deportations.
But this approach lets them get away with it.
I would personally like to get a serious direct action campaign mounting against those firms profiting from asylum misery - XL airways, the GEO Group, Kalyx etc..
We need to isolate them.