|Mass deportation flight to Jamaica on the 30th anniversary of the release from prison of Nelson Mandela
Written by: Zita Holbourne and Lee Jasper.
Boris Johnson's government has organised another charter flight mass deportation to
Jamaica, one year after the last one. Like a dog returning to the scene of its own vomit, the Tories appear habitually addicted to racist immigration policy. This is the second such charter flight since the Windrush scandal was widely exposed, as targeting Caribbean descent communities. This new mass deportation is expected to take place on 11th February, which coincidentally, is the 30th anniversary of the release of Nelson Mandela from Victor Vester prison.
We have received confirmation from several people now that they have been issued with a definite removal notice. Up to 50 people could be deported on this flight, people who will be torn apart from families including their young children, who have lived most of their lives in the UK and those still going through a deportation appeals process.
Over the past week, there has been an escalation in people being detained whilst attending their regular signing in sessions at Reporting Centres around the country with Immigration Officers then transferring detainees to removal centres.
These are all people who are fearfully complying with Home Office requirements, and are now subjected to forcible detention. The government's cynical rounding up of vulnerable people, seen as nothing more than disposable garbage to be taken out, is shameful and unacceptable.
The British High Commissioner to Jamaica has alleged, that all those booked on the flight have criminal records and are not related to Windrush. But we know that it includes people who are appealing against Home Office decisions. Last year, people who were originally booked on a flight to Jamaica, successfully legally challenged their deportation leading to them being removed from the flight.
A whole year has passed only for them to be targeted again. All of the cases we have been made aware of involve individuals who have families here in the UK including children and, in some cases, even grandchildren. Most are people who
have spent the majority of their lives in the UK and who are to be deported to what will be a strange country as far as their lived experience is concerned.
Some will have been criminalised by virtue of their immigration status and deportation
creates a double, or rather triple punishment when you account for the periods they were detained.A British born person would not be sentenced for a crime, serve their time, be rehabilitated only to be denied access to essential services such as health care, detained in inhumane
facilities, to find their life even worse than when serving time in prison, only then be
deported to a strange country, separated from loved ones, left destitute and alone.
We believe that as there is clearly no guarantee of fairness and justice there should be no deportations and that the government must stop racially targeting Caribbean communities and their families.
Given the ongoing Windrush Scandal and the government's failure to adequately
compensate victims (with the vast majority receiving no compensation to date) we can have no faith that these detainees have been treated fairly and within the law.
Our communities have suffered enough over recent years because of the scandal, which is on top of racism and injustice amplified by austerity. It is not acceptable for the government to return to the discredited policy of creating a racially hostile environment for black people.
The British High Commissioner to Jamaica may claim that those targeted on this charter flight have no link to the Windrush generation but the reality is that if it were not for the legacy of colonialism, their families would not have come to the UK in order to work hard and help the post-war recovery in the 1950s and 60s and they in turn would not have come to the UK to join their close family members.
Some of those targeted for these deportations included people who have served in the British armed forces, British when it suited the government but now deemed both undesirable and illegal. Having valiantly served Queen and country in active service, they are now cast aside with some suffering injuries and post-traumatic stress.
We have called an emergency protest to oppose the flight and wider injustice of the
government's hostile environment including the failure to make compensation accessible to all the families impacted by the brutality of the Windrush scandal.
The protest will commence at 6 pm on Thursday 6th February opposite Downing Street. It is called by BARAC UK and BAME Lawyers for Justice which is an umbrella body for a group of Black and Asian race equality activists, lawyers and Windrush justice groups, all are welcome to join us. The action is also supported by the Society of Black Lawyers, Blaksox and Momentum Black Caucus.
Whilst the British government have a lot to answer for, we cannot forget or let off the hook those complicit with the process of deporting people on charter flights, the airlines, security companies, pilots, etc. but also governments of countries such as Jamaica, who allow these flights to land and who are paid to accept the wholesale illegal deportation of people without consideration of their circumstances and the inhumanity of their treatment.
That's why we are supporting and encourage people to join the emergency demo called by Movement for Justice at 12 noon on Monday 3rd February outside the Jamaican High Commission calling on the Jamaican Government to follow the lead of the Nigerian government and refuse to allow the plane to land.
We are also supporting Windrush activist, Patrick Vernon's petition; The Windrush
Compensation Scheme, demanding the application of the principles of restorative justice and fairness to the victims of the Windrush scandal, repairing the harm done by this government's hostile environment policy and its impacts on African and Caribbean communities and others from the Commonwealth. The petition demands the Home Secretary adopt a 10-point plan to write the wrongs of the Windrush Scandal. MPs have the opportunity to make amendments to the Windrush Compensation Bill at the Second
Reading of the bill in February.
We can have no confidence in this government's commitment to treat people fairly and call upon all good people to support our struggle for justice and oppose state racism.
We would also ask that you sign, share and promote the following petitions;
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