Last year, 15 people grounded a deportation charter flight for ten hours to prevent it taking off. They were due to stand trial in March this year but after a series of agonising delays the trial was adjourned. On Monday October 1st the trial re-starts, and they need our solidarity again.
The individuals responsible for this non-violent direct action have been charged with terrorism-related offences that could result in life imprisonment.
Why did the activists take this action?
Charter flight removals/deportations are one of the shadiest aspects of the UK’s asylum and immigration process. Shielded from public oversight, information protected from freedom of information requests, every month these ‘ghost flights’ forcibly remove people en masse from the UK.
Charter flight removals/deportations can take place to Pakistan, Kosovo/Albania, Afghanistan, and Nigeria/Ghana. Some of these take place monthly (at one point, charter flight removals/deportations were leaving for Afghanistan fortnightly). See more here in our summary of Corporate Watch’s factsheet. Charter flight routes are agreed between the UK and other states at the highest political and diplomatic levels.
The Detained Voices blog captured some of the statements from people on that flight:
“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 I look after my children?”
“Both of my parents are in the UK, they are British. But they [the Home Office] want to deport me back to place where I don’t have anybody. Nobody hear our cry. We are crying. Please we need to be rescued. Please can anybody helps us?”
“My doctor confirmed that I didn’t [wasn’t] fit to fly and I did [was] not fit to be detained here and the Home Office wouldn’t do anything about it. They didn’t reply, and they still want to force me to back home.”
The Green Party has called on the Crown Prosecution Service to drop the charges against protesters, with co-leader Jonathan Bartley stating the charges are ‘trumped up’ and a ‘disgrace’. Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott called for the end of charter flights in her speech on Labour values & immigration policy. An end to charter flights was one of the demands from the 120 people on hunger strike at Yarl’s Wood immigration detention centre.
As a result of the group’s action last year, 34 of the 57 people onboard the charter flight were given a chance to continue their asylum claims. Moreover, as with the hunger strikers in Yarl’s Wood, they are putting themselves on the line to challenge one of the worst practices of our immigration system.
Campaigners are calling for people to come and support the defendants and speak out against deportation charter flights on Monday 1 October.
JOIN US outside Chelmsford Crown Court to support the defendants, to demand the charges are dropped, and to demand an end to deportation charter flights.
There will be a line-up of speakers from 9am before the defendants head in to court at 9.15.
>>> Please wear a visible pink item of clothing at the rally to show your support <<<
There will be limited food and refreshments available on the day, courtesy of Food Not Bombs.
8:30, MONDAY 1ST OCTOBER. Please arrive promptly.
Chelmsford Crown Court,
New Street, Chelmsford, Essex, CM1 1EL
Chelmsford train station is a short walk from the crown court. If you’re travelling from or via London there are direct trains from Liverpool Street.
A coach will leave from Liverpool Street Station at 7am and will leave at 2pm, after the demo. BOOK YOUR COACH SEAT NOW: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/coach-to-chelmsford-crown-court-1st-oct-2018-solidarity-with-stansted-defendants-tickets-50531507098
Tickets are available on a sliding scale:
~~~ £16 return (waged)
~~~ £10 return (unwaged)
~~~ Free for those with experience of the immigration / asylum process
*If you’re unable to pay, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will help. No one will be turned away for lack of funds.
**Please let us know ASAP if you need wheelchair access, so we can tell the coach company in advance to remove seats**
COME READY TO EXPRESS YOUR SOLIDARITY, ENERGY, LOVE AND RAGE, BE IT IN SONG, MUSIC, SPOKEN WORD, BANNERS OR CHANTING, AS WE RALLY IN SUPPORT OF THE STANSTED DEFENDANTS, AND AGAINST DEPORTATION CHARTER FLIGHTS.
Your solidarity is also welcome all day on Twitter @EDeportations and on FB.
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