Frea Lockley – The Canary
On 6 February, the Home Office deported around 35 people to Jamaica. This came on the same day that the Stansted 15 were sentenced for their role in trying to prevent this brutal practice that destroys lives and families. No matter what home secretary Sajid Javid may say, the Windrush crisis is far from over. The UK’s ‘hostile environment‘ is getting worse.
In May 2018, Javid admitted that at least 63 “members of the Windrush generation could have been wrongfully removed or deported from the UK since 2002”. So on 5 February 2019, Labour’s David Lammy asked Javid to rule out the possibility of further mistakes for the men due to be deported. He also asked:
Once enslaved, then colonised, and now repatriated… Why is it that in this country, black lives mean less?
Javid defended the deportations claiming all had “been convicted of a serious crime”. He also claimed none were UK citizens or members of the Windrush generation.
This stood in stark contrast to other reports:
Out of 26 Detainees we’ve spoken to not single 1 convicted of murder & only 1 was for rape. Yet @sajidjavid very keen to keep stressing those particular convictions. Most are minor assault convictions or drugs – 1 Rasta man convicted for cannabis (only conviction) #Jamaica50— Movement for Justice (@followMFJ) February 5, 2019
And further details emerged about some of the people removed on buses. 11 people had indefinite leave to remain, many lived in the UK since they were children, and all have families here:
BREAKING: buses left Harmondsworth. Two busses & several vans – have lost contact with most of 26 detainees we’ve been speaking to. couple have managed 2 call using escort phones. reminder of people @sajidjavid deporting 2day #Enddeportations #StopCharterflights #Jamaica50 pic.twitter.com/AlS4HjAGgm— Movement for Justice (@followMFJ) February 6, 2019
My friend is on that plane bound for Jamaica this morning. I’ve just spoken to his wife. His daughter, (16 last week) and son (13 next week) are inconsolable. Dad’s been here for well over 20 years, has nobody in Jamaica. We’ve all been up all night, very sad day for humanity.— Sistah Space (@Sistah_Space) February 6, 2019
This update details how Twane Morgan, a veteran with PTSD and 5 British children, was put on the deportation flight despite an injunction and only taken off at the last moment. Another young man who had earlier tried to kill himself was also removed. https://t.co/T3m53FvAlz— ForcesWatch (@ForcesWatch) February 6, 2019
Solidarity and support
There are growing moves to place pressure on Titan Airways:
Scab @titan_airways (hired to break strikes like the BA ones) are also being chartered by the Home Office to deport people. They’re running the flight to #Jamaica. Tell them what you think of them! Titan you’re complicit in brutal human rights abuses #EndDeportations— Ewa Jasiewicz (@ewa_jay) February 5, 2019
The Titan Airways flight deporting approx 35 people to Jamaica departed Birmingham airport 8.16am today @followMFJ #EndDeportations #Windrush #stopcharterflights #Jamaica50 pic.twitter.com/43lfKxSGys— BARAC (@BARACUK) February 6, 2019
In a savage twist of irony, the deportations took place on the same day of the Stansted 15 sentencing. They answered a “call for help” and stopped another Titan Airways deportation flight.
And yet, as The Canaryreported, they faced terrorism charges. Lammy also made this link clear:
Solidarity with the #Stansted15 who are being sentenced today. You stood up for human rights but are being treated like terrorists. We need to end the Hostile Environment. https://t.co/NK6nSpM0T4— David Lammy (@DavidLammy) February 6, 2019
The UK’s hostile environment wrecks families and destroys lives. We know that the government made mistakes with at least six people on this flight. So how many more innocent people may be on that plane? No matter what defence Javid gives, it’s a sickening reflection of a twisted government.