In recent weeks the UK Borders Agency have been carrying out a series of arrests of Iraqi Kurds. All have been put in detention centres and notified by the Home Office that they could be removed within the next 72 days, but no earlier than 15 days. It is believed that the Home Office in fact plan another mass deportation this week. [see 17 March post]
In Brook House IRC, for example, Mohammed and Serkar Khadir Rao are currently on hunger strike in protest against their deportation and those of another sixty people back to Iraqi Kurdistan. Najih Ahmed Mohammed also has not eaten food since being detained. A resident of Plymouth, he says: "I have a three year old daughter and a partner here in the UK. I came because my life was threatened by an Al Qaeda-linked group. I’ve been on hunger strike for 11 days – it’s the only thing I can do as I can’t face leaving. I’m doing this for my life and my children’s life."
Maher Salah Mohammed, who has lived in Birmingham for nearly a decade and has a wife and three year old son says: "I’ve been living here for nine years. Two weeks ago immigration officials arrested me roughly in front of my wife and son. We were all so upset. Without them I am broken. My son is asking me every day why I am not at home with him. If they deport me tomorrow I never will be again."
If, as seems likely, these detainees are deported they will be handcuffed between 2 UKBA officers or 2 hired lackeys from one of the private companies like GSL that profit from the refugees' misery and forcibly removed to their deportation flight. They have not and will not be told the date of the flight until the last minute. They will be taken with little or no warning and they will have no chance to say a final farewell to their friends and loved ones.
All have heard of the fate of previous detainees who have been returned to Iraq and wait in fear of their fate. Many of those that have not been 'disappeared' or have not been openly killed by the various armed political factions upon return, live in destitution and in constant fear of their lives. Many of them return to find that their families have fled the area and cannot be found. Others return but deliberately do not contact their families as they do not want to place them in further danger. Some of the returnees who have survived have now joined together, under the banner of the International Federation of Iraqi Refugees, to campaign against further forced mass deportations to Iraq and call on the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government to renege on it's agreement with the UK Government to accept deportation flights.
But it is not just the deportees that are calling for an end to these flights. In April 2009 Amnesty International released a report highlighting the corruption and dangerous, unpredictable situation in Kurdistan and states “that no one should be forcibly deported to this region”. Yet the UK government continues to ignore this, EU human rights legislation that prohibits mass deportations and all the UN recommendations against forced returns to the region.
An Amnesty International report released in April 2009 has highlighted the corruption and dangerous, unpredictable situation in Kurdistan and states “that no one should be forcibly deported to this region”. Yet the UK government continues to ignore this, EU human rights legislation that prohibits mass deportations and all the UN recommendations against forced returns to the region.
Interestingly, this new deportation flight also comes against the renewed efforts by the UK government to persuade the French to operate joint flights to Iraq, to spread the costs and the opprobrium that such flights generate.
This morning anti-deportation activists blockaded Colnbrook IRC near Heathrow, where 40-45 of the Iraqi Kurds are being held, when it was learnt that the deportation flight was due to take place today. At 10am there were 15 people blockading the road outside the detention centre.
Indymedia reports: 1, 2