Tinsley House blockade against Iraq removal via charter flight, and hunger strike on inside

Early in the morning of March 17th, anti-deportation activists bravely put up a blockade of Tinsley House, an immigration detention near Gatwick airport, in order to try and prevent removal of Iraqi asylum seekers collected from here and also at detention centres at Dover and Campsfield (Cambs). Find full reports and pictures on Indymedia.
And not only action on the outside, since at the same time everyone inside Tinsley was on hunger strike, due to changes in the meal system since Brook House opened (breakfasts and evening meals are shipped from the new centre, portion sizes are smaller & evening meals have to be ordered 48hrs in advance).
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52 Iraqi Kurdish asylum seekers removed 17/18th September following brave airline revolt of the 15th.

We are angry to convey the news that after the brave stopping of a charter plane before it was able to leave on 15th September, 52 Iraqi Kurdish asylum seekers (including those assaulted and injured in the earlier revolt) were forcibly removed from British immigration detention centres to Erbil International Airport, Northern Iraq, on 17/18th September. They were met by two hundred Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) troops. From a report to the International Federation of Iraqi Refugees-IFIR & Coalition to Stop Deportation to Iraq-CSDIRAQ by one of those removed, at least one was separated off from the other asylum seekers and escorted away by the troops. Iraq is safe, our warmongering politicians lie, yet again. We lost this one, but resistance has worked before, and will no doubt continue.
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Asylum seekers and fellow passengers resist airline deportations. Resistance is not futile!

How can 60 men vanish? Yesterday morning at Tinsley House immigration removal centre (IRC) near Gatwick airport, 15-20 men (Kurdish Iraqis) were being hurried to get ready to board a coach. Several were still waiting for responses from their solicitors, but their phones were quickly removed. At Colnbrook, another IRC at Heathrow airport, detainees had just received the news to get ready, and half an hour later all their phones were off too. Meanwhile at Dover there were about 20-30 men being hurried to board the coaches at about 11.30am, again phones off. When they asked where they were going to be taken so that they could let their families know, they were told, “Thats a Home Office Secret”. No departure time, flight number, airline, destination. So that’s around 60 Kurdish Iraqis being rounded up to be whisked away by the British state with maximum efficiency, minimum information, maximum fear. But this Iraqi Charter Flight never left the UK. Early reports suggest that detainees were forcibly put on to a Hamburg International plane. The plane sat on runway for four/five hours (probably because Erbil was unapproachable due to poor visibility caused by a sand storm). Then a ‘disturbance’ broke out, one detainee sustaining injuries, and a plane window was broken. The pilot said the plane was not air worthy and all detainees were removed from plane. All detainees are now back in removal centres. Dozens of Iraqi Kurds have been forcibly removed into an extremely dangerous and very often deadly environment – is it any surprise that they are resisting? These removals must end now.

Important update by International Federation of Iraqi Refugees-IFIR : Forcible Deportation of Iraqi asylum seekers ended in violence

Earlier this year, in a press release by the Respect Nigerians Coalition, it was explained how a man Ayodeji Omotade had been charged with threatening/abusive/insulting/disorderly behaviour towards British Airways (BA) crew, as a result of intervening in a violent deportation flight to Lagos on March 27, 2008, from Heathrow, London. Despite widespread public protest, including internationally, the case against Mr Omotade is going ahead, although his trial (due to take place Tomorrow Thursday 18th September at Uxbridge Magistrates Court) has been adjourned ? no new date yet. He sends his heartfelt thanks everyone who wrote messages of support.

Join a peaceful protest the day before at 12 noon, WEDNESDAY 17 SEPTEMBER, 2008, at British Airways PLC, Waterside (HAA3), Harmondworth, UB7 0GB.

Mr Omotade asks: “What would you do if someone on your flight was
distressed and crying out for help? Would you stay silent or would you
speak? I spoke and B A didn’t like it. This type of corporate tyranny
must be challenged and stopped.”

More details: Respect Nigerians Coalition: http://www.respectnigerians.com/BoycottBA.pdf

Note: the recently failed charter airline & tour operator XL Airways was previously forced by activist pressure to pull out from deportation flights. More pressure can and must be put on airlines not to participate in forced removals and deportations.
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Appeal for burial funds after death of refused Iraqi Kurd from Doncaster

Mohammad Hussain dies of cancer following 8 years struggling to gain refugee status
by INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF IRAQ REFUGEES-IFIR
Appeal for funds to send Mohammad Hussain?s body home to be buried

The International Federation of Iraqi Refugees (IFIR) is sorry to inform you that one of our comrades Mohammad Hussain died of cancer on Sunday 3rd August. Many of you will know Mohammad Hussain from Doncaster. He was a big man with a big heart. Mohammad was originally from Erbil in Northern Iraq. Mohammad has been a political campaigner all of his life. He was forced to leave Erbil and seek refuge in the UK March 2000, following threats from the Kurdish Democratic Party because of his political campaigning.

Unfortunately Mohammed became one of the many Iraqi Kurds caught up in the UK Home Office asylum system. But until the very end of his life, Mohammed never gave up on the fight to gain refugee status. He was arrested and he was moved from Lindholme detention centre to Campsfield detention centre in Oxfordshire, to Tinsley House and then to Haslar. The Home Office tried to deport him on 14th June 2008 to Iraq via Royal Jordanian Airlines but 44 minutes before he was due to be deported his solicitor and the campaign to defend him sucessfully stopped his deportation. While he was in the detention centre at Lindholme he was very stressed and suffered much pain. When he explained that he had a lump in his stomach which was getting bigger and harder he was given a mild painkiller, then sold a headache tablet by the detention centre ?doctor?. Mohammad died but did not get refugee status.”

For the eight years Mohammad was in the UK he was a constant and fierce defender of refugee and human rights. Mohammad worked with many refugee charities and organisations.

Download IFIR full leaflet including appeal: [attachment=15]

See also, Stop Deportations to Iraq news blog: http://www.csdiraq.com/

Mohammad Hussain Mohammad 11th March 1962 ? 3rd August 2008
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UK government deports 60 Iraqi Kurds; no one notices

Article about a deportation flight that took place last Thursday:
http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/?p=251
Extract: […] Britain?s press completely ignored the forcible deportation, on Thursday, of 60 Iraqi Kurds, who were transported back to a decidedly uncertain future on a German plane from a UK airport. Each of the 60 ?failed asylum seekers,? as they are officially known, was escorted by an armed Home Office guard funded by the UK taxpayer. The guards had previously seized the men from the detention centers at Campsfield and Colnbrook in what looked uncomfortably like a ?dawn raid.? […]. For further information on the deportation, email Dashty Jamal, International Federation of Iraq Refugees (IFIR) Secretary on: d.jamal@ntlworld.com

See also: http://sankofafoundation.blogspot.com/2008…ns-to-iraq.html
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Home office threatens Iraqi asylum seekers – return or face destitution

Many (but certainly not all) Iraqi asylum seekers were receiving some support while our warmongering state continues to try and disentangle itself from the hellhole it has created in Iraq. While the killing still continues, the Home Office thinks now is good time to pull support and force hundreds of people to make a life or death decision – go back or starve. We can’t let this happen.

From Guardian newspaper March 13th 2008: More than 1,400 rejected Iraqi asylum seekers are to be told they must go home or face destitution in Britain as the government considers Iraq safe enough to return them, according to leaked Home Office correspondence seen by the Guardian [newspaper]. The Iraqis involved are to be told that unless they sign up for a voluntary return programme to Iraq within three weeks, they face being made homeless and losing state support. They will also be asked to sign a waiver agreeing the government will take no responsibility for what happens to them or their families once they return to Iraqi territory. […] The decision by the home secretary, Jacqui Smith, to declare that it is safe to send asylum seekers back to Iraq comes after more than 78 people have been killed in incidents across Iraq since last Sunday. Donna Covey, chief executive of the Refugee Council, said: “It is a nasty policy, and a failed one, that doesn’t achieve its stated aim of encouraging return. Iraq is still patently unsafe and people from there are terrified of going back. Removing support in such cases only results in one thing: more hungry and homeless people living in constant fear.” She added that most Iraqis wanted to go home when it was safe but until then the government should be offering them the chance to live decently in the UK (extracts from Guardian story).
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