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Protesters lie in road to stop Rwanda deportation flight

Protesters are making a last-ditch effort to halt the first deportation flight to Rwanda

Anita Mureithi
14 June 2022, 8.03pm

"Keep resisting, however you can" say activists


Stop Deportations

Activists have blocked a road near a Heathrow detention centre in an effort to stop vehicles carrying the first group of people being deported to Rwanda. 

Despite numerous attempts to challenge the legality of the “racist, inhumane and barbaric” plan, the government is set to deport its first group of asylum seekers tonight.

The flight is believed to be flying from Boscombe Down in Amesbury to Kigali, Rwanda this evening after 10.30pm BST.

Speaking to openDemocracy from outside Colnbrook IRC, a Heathrow detention centre where the Rwanda flight passengers are said to be held, a supporter of Stop Deportations said a line of people have laid across the road in pairs with their arms in metal lock-on tubes. 

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This is the type of collective action that will be stifled by the incoming powers in the government’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.

Reportedly, multiple arrests have been made so far, including at least three young women who were seen to be handcuffed and taken away in vans. “There’s a heavy police presence,” the supporter told openDemocracy.  

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It now proposes new crimes that could criminalise almost any protester and give police alarmingly wide powers of stop and search

“I’ve seen six people being arrested and handcuffed. And they’re still making arrests right now. There are ten or eleven police vans.”

In an official statement, the Met said that two people have been arrested. 

Several successful injunctions have been made on behalf of individuals set to be deported. 

As more protesters arrive at the scene, Stop Deportations has confirmed that at least two people, including an Iraqi-Kurd, who only got a lawyer yesterday, have been granted an injunction at the eleventh hour against their removal from the flight.  

Reuters has confirmed that the second passenger’s injunction was successfully put to the European court of human rights, who has said that they should not be deported on tonight’s flight. The Guardian has reported that the court’s terms apply to all asylum seekers facing deportation, meaning that the remaining few on this flight could rely on the same ruling. 

“We will not rest until every single person is taken off the plane and until we end deportations to Rwanda or anywhere else!” said Stop Deportations. 

At the time of writing, there are three blockades with a total of 14 people locked on. One at the front with eight people, one at the back with four people, and another at the back gate with two people.

A government spokesperson said that Rwanda is a safe country, and that current immigration plans will “ultimately save lives”

“We welcome the court’s decision in our favour, and we will now continue to deliver on progressing our world-leading Migration Partnership which will help prevent loss of life and break the business model of vile people smugglers. 

“While we can still expect further legal challenges and last-minute claims, we have always maintained that everything we are doing is compliant with our national and international obligations.”

As chanting grew stronger, a protester speaking to openDemocracy said, “The atmosphere is powerful. People are angry… I’m angry. No one wants to be here, but we have to be here because we live in cruel times… The courts have failed us, so ordinary people are out here doing this.

“This is so sad… It’s criminal what we’ve allowed to happen in our own country. These people are human beings.”

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