Civilian Action Stops Mass Deportation Charter Flight for First Time in UK History

deportees lie on an airstrip as workers in yellow jackets work in the background
April 16, 2017
Alexandra Wagner
Article reposted from Migrants' Rights Network
Activists blockaded the non-commercial runway at Stansted Airport to stop a mass deportation 'charter flight’ to Nigeria and Ghana. The blockade was live-streamed on Stop Charter Flights’ Facebook Page. News reports say that 17 people were arrested for ‘aggravated trespass’.
The campaigners from End Deportations, Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants (LGSMigrants) and Plane Stupid say this is the first time this kind of direct action has stopped a mass deportation charter flight.

Some of the people on the flight have been living in the UK for decades with established livelihoods, spouses and children, many of whom have not been able to afford the extortionate legal fees required to regularise their status in the UK.

Campaigners say that the flight will put peoples’ lives at risk and will tear peoples’ families apart. Deportees on the flight include people who fear for their lives and have claimed asylum.

‘Who will look after my children?’

One woman on the flight said: “My ex-husband said he knows I am being deported. He is waiting for me. He is planning to kill me. If he kills me- who will look after my children?”

Another male deportee said: “I have been in this country for almost 18 years. My family and my life is here in the UK. If they take me back to Ghana I will kill myself.”

Little notice

People are given little notice of their removal- often meaning they have just a few days to fight for their right to stay in the UK. Cuts to legal aid means that those with children or partners in the UK who have valid human rights-based claims to stay can’t access legal help without paying extortionate fees.

And grave administrative errors have led to people with valid asylum claims being wrongly put on mass deportation planes. Many of the people on the flight have expressed fears that they will be killed on return.

Susan James from Plane Stupid said: “Mass deportations like the one we stopped tonight are immoral, unfair and illegal. I don’t want to stay silent in the face of mass deportations that are deliberately rushed and secretive."

For live updates: Check and follow @edeportations #StopCharterFlights on Twitter and on Facebook.