FCUKBA news round-up - June 2012
Charter flight updates; Sri Lanka mass deportation blockaded; Darfuri hunger strike; Launch of new AntiRaids campaign against UKBA street raids; Stop Deportations to Afghanistan public meeting
A month in immigration & control & resistance in the UK, 22nd May - 22nd June
The next charter flight will be a mass deportation to Afghanistan at midnight on 26th June.
The following is a typical example of one of the young men being forcibly returned to the country: http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2012/06/496886.html. The transcript was taken while he was in detention two weeks ago; he is now in Afghanistan, scared, furious, and without a family or home to go to. 80% of people in Kabul live in squalid squatter camps, with the situation for internally displaced people particularly dire.
The following charter flights were known to have taken place over the past month, deporting around 60 people at a time:
11th June at 00.00 hrs
29th May at 00.00 hrs
31st May 15.30hrs: 40 people taken off following blockade and injunction (see below).
19th June: 70 people deported
*Deportees resist: Despite the heavy security involved in each deportation, there have been several reported cases of people successfully stopping their deportations on commercial flights over the past month, with some now out in the community again. All paid a heavy price for their resistance, acquiring injuries as a result.
*Sri Lanka flight blockade: On May 31st, family members, friends and other supporters spontaneously sat in front of one of the WH Tours coaches poised to transport Sri Lankan detainees to the airport for a charter flight to Colombo. This action gained the deportees an extra half hour, following which, 40 Tamils were taken off the flight when a last-minute injunction was obtained. The court acknowledged new evidence gathered by Human Rights Watch that asylum seekers were being tortured and raped after being deported back to Sri Lanka. The 36 others were reportedly sent back as scheduled.
More details here:
*Darfuri hunger strike: 13 detainees from Darfur, Sudan, embarked on a hunger strike on the 24th May against their indefinite detention in Campsfield. In an attempt to break the strike, they were denied visits from supporters and dispersed to other detention centres, but received practical support from campaigners on the outside. The visits were denied by staff at Campsfield (Mitie) on the basis of "concerns regarding detainee welfare and the maintenance of safety and good order in the centre". Gradually, some of them were released and there are now four individuals who remain on hunger strike in London detention centres.
*Anti-raids campaign: the anti-raids campaign, a new network against street-based immigration checks and raids, launched its bustcards for migrants in a public event on 2nd June. These resources, as well as a guide for supporters can be found here:
The UKBA has also recently changed its guidance on immigration checks for the better:
SUMMARY: What everyone should know:
1) Immigration checks cannot be speculative: immigration officers and police must have reason to believe a person may be an immigration offender before stopping and questioning them
2) They cannot stop and question a person on the basis of race, in accordance with the Equality Act 2010
3) If you have been stopped you do *not* have to answer any questions or show ID
4) You can walk away
5) Immigration Officers must now follow a procedure before questioning:
- They must identify themselves & show a warrant card;
- They must explain the reason for the questioning
- They must advise the person that they are not obliged to answer any questions;
- They must advise person that they are not under arrest and are free to leave at any time (para 31.19.5 Chapter 31)
*If YOU are stopped*
You do not have to answer officers' questions and it is not in your interests to do so; answering questions about your identity and
immigration status allows them to gather evidence where they have none.
-It is recommended that you do not answer their questions
-You do not have to show ID
-If you feel confident with English, you can say: "I don't have to answer your questions".
-If you think that they stopped you just because of your race, you can
- "This is racist", or
- "This is not legal"
- Try to remain polite but confident
- It is recommended that you then leave if possible
This is *not* a guarantee that they will not arrest you or abuse their powers, but if they see that you know the law they may be more likely to abide by it.
*If YOU SEE SOMEONE being stopped*
If you see someone being stopped, and your immigration status does not put you at risk yourself, it is recommended that you:
- Immediately make the person aware that they do not have to answer questions & that they can leave
- Remind the officers of the law (above)
- Film the incident, where possible asking the person stopped if that's ok, or just filming the officers involved. This may be useful in making a claim in the event of an unlawful stop or arrest.
- Record the lapel numbers of the officers involved
- Make other members of the public aware of what's happening
- Get witnesses' contact details if the stop leads to an arrest or the person wants to pursue it afterwards
- Attempt to pass on a phone number to the individual if you think the stop will lead to arrest
- Try not to get aggressive or physically obstruct officers if you want to avoid being arrested for obstruction
If you want to be more prepared in advance for such a scenario, have a camera ready in your bag and your number already written on a card.
If you want to refer to their guidance when speaking to Immigration Officers, everything can be found in Chapter 31 UKBA Operational Enforcement Manual: http://tinyurl.com/7b7s9yn
*Stop Deportations to Afghanistan: public meeting. From 7.00-8.30pm on Monday 25th June, NCADC will be hosting the first meeting of its kind to strategise on campaigning against the mass deportations to Afghanistan. Come along to NCADC at Praxis Community Projects, Pott Street, Bethnal Green, London, E2 0EF & please try to confirm your attendance by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.