Friday, October 05, 2007

Stop BA Brutality

Today, activists are picketing the British Airways London Eye in protest at the brutality with which asylum seekers are treated during deportation by the airline. Here's the spiel:

The London Eye website states "At British Airways London Eye, we are committed to corporate social responsibility" - we will be calling British Airways to demonstrate their social responsibility and stop carrying out forced deportation of asylum seekers.

"Immigration escorts" employed by private companies and paid "over-time" for ensuring asylum seekers often bundle deportees into planes in restraints. Deportees are transported in blacked-out vans to the airport from oppressive immigration removal centres such as Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre, within sight of British Airways' headquarters, near Heathrow airport.

99% of cases that are 'fast tracked' at Harmondsworth are refused asylum, including people from places like DR Congo, Iran and Burma. Five detainees at Harmondsworth, from Eritrea, Vietnam, Ukraine, Lithuania, and Zaire chose suicide rather than get on the plane.

Whilst publicly "condemning" the perpetrators of genocide and human rights abuses, our government is quietly deporting the Victims of War right back into the world's worst disaster zones, into the hands of brutal regimes, from Heathrow airport with airlines such as British Airways and Kenya Airways.

Often, airline staff witnessing abuse of deportees does the right thing and intervene to save them. Especially considering that there are hundreds of cases of alleged assaults during deportation, we call on British Airways and other airlines to complete stop carrying out forced deportations of men, women and children, some of whom were born and bred in the UK. Otherwise the perception maybe that airlines are profiteering from misery and abuse.

Airlines may have unwittingly allowed themselves to become involved in unlawful removals; deporting young people who are later proved to be minors and deportations going ahead despite High Court injunctions stopping them. Other issues include instances where, unbeknown to the airline, the deportee is unfit to fly and where Travel Documents are not in order and the deportee is refused entry into the receiving country.

Home Office expenditure on deportation/repatriation from the UK for 2005-6 with British Airways alone was over £4m.

One deportee on a British Airways flight was "David", an activist with the opposition in Uganda where he was detained for many months and tortured. He was taken naked and severely beaten, forced to stretch out into a drum like a barrel with his arms through holes in its side. His arms were grasped and sharp objects shoved into his fingers, causing bleeding and severe pain. His arms were tied and he was immersed in cold water on several occasions and beaten unconscious.

"David" escaped and fled to the UK. He spent 16 months in immigration detention in the UK during which time 4 removal attempts were made, the last of which was the 31st July 2005.

"The handcuffs were too tight, they would not loosen them. After two hours they took me to the British Airways plane. Inside I resisted and screamed. They took off my trousers and tied my legs, and left me in the seat. They pushed me down, and put a pillow over my mouth to stop me from shouting. The flight attendant then advised them to seat me upright. Then she saw my wrists were bleeding from the handcuffs. She talked to the captain, who told them to remove me from the flight"

A medico-legal report stated that his injuries were "consistent" with David's account of the removal attempt. "David" was released from detention on 16th October 2006.

The Immigration Minister boasts that one person is deported from the UK every 8 minutes - if you are not comfortable with that, speak out for the "voiceless". Silence makes us complicit.

Pilots and cabin crew who witness abuse of their passengers should intervene, get the deportee off the plane and complain to employers. Customers should challenge airlines to refuse to forcibly deport asylum seekers, however handsomely they get paid for doing the government's work.

And we should all object to the incredible sums of our money paid to companies who profit from these abuses.

Contact : NCADC on 07703 189665

More links:

Beaten, bleeding - and then returned in a wheelchair

British guards 'assault and racially abuse' deportees

Emma Ginn: 'It is easy to abuse when a victim is out of sight'

Leading Article: Inhumanity, hypocrisy, and a policy that shames Britain

Expenditure to deport/repatriate persons from the UK for the year 2005/2006 with British Airways