Skip to content or view screen version

Tinsley House IRC blockaded by protesters 07:00 today

Stop Deportation | 17.03.2009 07:49 | Migration | Social Struggles | Workers' Movements | Birmingham | World

Anti-deportation campaigners are risking arrest to stop the collective expulsion of approximately 50 Iraqi refugees from the UK. Campaigners have locked themselves to the gate of Tinsley House detention centre at Gatwick airport, where some of the deportees are being held, in an attempt to prevent the forcible deportation.

A special deportation charter flight is scheduled to leave Stanstead airport to Iraqi Kurdistan (northern Iraq) later today. If it went ahead, this will be the eighth time in the last eight months that people have been deported to Iraq by charter flight.

Unlike many other European countries, the UK government is refusing to ratify Protocol 4 to the European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibits the collective expulsion of foreigners.

One of the protesters, Brian Arcola, said: "Charter flights like this are the latest step in the government's macabre immigration policy. Aside from the ethical implications of handcuffing and deporting innocent people under the threat of the baton, by not telling them when they're going to be deported they deprive many people from adequate legal representation. If there's to be any truth in the claim that Britain is a tolerant, fair country, this has got to be stopped."

One of the deportees, whose real name cannot be used for his own security if he goes back to Iraq, said earlier on the phone: "I've been in the UK for nine years. I have a partner and an 18-month-old son. If I am deported, all this will be gone. I've made a life for myself here, living as everyone else does in this country, but I'm now being treated like I'm a criminal, imprisoned then deported." He added: "I left Iraq originally because my life was threatened by a radical Islamic group. That same group is now more powerful than they were before. I won't be safe, I won't be safe."

Another Iraqi refugees, who was deported last month and prefers to keep
anonymous, said: "I don't know when I'll see my partner or my daughter again. I speak to them in tears on the phone every night. I am still in shock after being sent back. I have had to change my name so I'm not targeted by the same people who threatened to kill me before. My entire world has caved in."


1. Over 350 people have been deported by charter flights to the Kurdistan region of Iraq in the last six months. The Home Office argues that Kurdistan is 'safe' but recent deportees have committed suicide, been kidnapped and been killed in car bombs. It is particularly dangerous at the moment as political in-fighting intensifies in the run-up to the regional elections.

2. Details of previous charter flights can be found at:

3. The Home Office has been chartering flights from companies including Hamburg International and Czech Airlines to deport people en masse. Deportees are not told the date or time of the flight‚s departure. In previous flights, people have been deported before their solicitors have had a chance to appeal or submit judicial reviews.

4. Each deportee is handcuffed and accompanied by two security guards. The total cost of the flights are unknown, though it is assumed to be significant. The Home Office constantly refuses to release such information as it may apparently be 'commercially sensitive'.

Stop Deportation
- e-mail:


Update and details

17.03.2009 10:12

Since 7:15 this morning 20 activists have been blocking the entrance to Tinsley House Immigration Detention centre. 6 activists are D-locked to eachother and are glued to the gates, which are completely blocked.

Activists have been chanting slogans which have been heard by detainees inside the detention center.

Police are on the scene looking confused.


Update #2

17.03.2009 13:45


There are now fewer people at the blockade.

Three or four protestors, who were in roles supporting those locked on, have been violently arrested under Section 69 of the Criminal Justice Act for failure to leave land after a warning (aggravated trespass).

Police are beginning to remove the six D-locked and superglued protestors.

Airport by-laws have been used to escort another group of protestors away from the area.


from ncadc list

17.03.2009 13:48

Not only trouble on the outside, but apparently everyone inside
Tinsley is on hunger strike, due to changes in the meal system since
Brook House opened.

Basically, all meals are now cooked in the kitchens at Brook, and
then brought down the road to Tinsley.

However, this has meant that breakfast has been reduced to two pieces
of toast and one egg, which detainees are very unhappy with. They
also have to order their evening meal 48 hours in advance, so we've
been told, and the portion sizes are also smaller.

As a result, everyone has apparently got together and decided to
strike, although they did eat a meal last night. This has been going
on since yesterday morning. We've spoken to a few guys inside, and
they say that they're going to continue until things change. They
also know about the protests going on outside, which is adding to the
whole atmosphere, and we've also heard there are not many officers on

no borders

Those arrested have been taken to Crawley Police Station

17.03.2009 15:15

All (we think) those arrested have been taken to Crawley Police Station

support appreciated



Hide the following 5 comments

Well Done

17.03.2009 08:46

Maximum solidarity to you all!

Paddington bear


17.03.2009 10:35


one of no borders

nice one

17.03.2009 11:27

fair play...update us soon. in solidarity.

bristol no borders


17.03.2009 13:03

amazing and inspiring. thank u.


Well done!

17.03.2009 21:27

All power to your collective elbows, protestors!