By the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants
Over 80 public figures have written to the airlines suspected to be carrying refugees to Rwanda next week, urging them not to fly the 100+ people whom the Home Office has targeted for removal.
Signatories include football pundit Gary Lineker OBE, the musician and author Akala, artist Tracey Emin, as well as a number of prominent musicians, activists, writers, journalists and lawyers. The letter has been sent to three airlines known to have previously worked with the Home Office on deportation flights – Titan Airways, Privilege Style and Iberojet. Air Tanker, who have previously carried out Home Office removal flights, have now ruled themselves out of participating in next week’s flights, following a public campaign by the charity Freedom from Torture.
The campaign saw members of the public send over 15,000 letters of protest to airlines suspected of involvement in the Rwanda scheme. A social media backlash saw several of the airlines delete posts from Instagram and LinkedIn due to negative comments, while Privilege Style blocked users from commenting on their Instagram posts.
The letter follows news that over one hundred people who have sought asylum in the UK, including people who have fled Syria, Sudan, Eritrea, Iran and Iraq, have been issued with removal notices for Rwanda, with some detainees scheduled to be removed on Tuesday 14th June.
The letter urges airline chiefs to refuse to operate any flights on 14th June, the first Rwanda removal flight this year, and to withhold from carrying out any future removals to the East African nation.
Zoe Gardner, policy and advocacy manager for the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants said:
“Most of us want to see people fleeing danger treated with care and compassion, regardless of what they look like or where they were born. Yet Priti Patel seems determined to treat certain refugees sadistically, brandishing her cruelty towards them as a way of scoring headlines and diverting attention away from her crumbling party.
“No airline should be offering to aid and abet these racist and senseless plans, which we know will tear siblings apart, and put lives in danger. That’s why so many of us are coming together, and calling on airlines to refuse complicity in this government’s gross assault on human rights. We believe that people who’ve sought safety here should have their voices heard, their rights respected, and the chance to rebuild their lives alongside their families and communities here.”
Kolbassia Haoussou MBE, Director of Survivor Empowerment at Freedom from Torture, said:
“When I fled torture and persecution in central Africa, Britain gave me a chance to heal and rebuild my life, so it breaks my heart that this government is now trying to send survivors like me to a country known to practise torture.
“Make no mistake, any airline that collaborates with removing refugees to Rwanda will be forever tarred by their association with this cruel and dangerous policy – and likely in violation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. We urge these airlines to stand on the right side of history and rule themselves out of removal flights.”
The signatories are also calling on the UK government to withdraw from the agreement with Rwanda and cancel the flights planned for Tuesday 14th June. Instead, the letter’s signatories say the government should ‘ensure people who need sanctuary can safely rebuild their lives as part of our communities, regardless of their mode of arrival.
In the letter, the signatories declare that “we believe that everyone has the right to live a safe and dignified life… no matter what we look like, where we come from, or which borders we cross.” They express concern that people are being denied the chance to reunite with family members here and are being flown thousands of miles away from their support networks against their will.
Signatories also express alarm over the possibility that torture survivors and children may be removed to Rwanda on the flights.
News of the UK-Rwanda agreement, and upcoming removal flights emerged after Priti Patel’s Nationality and Borders Act passed earlier this year. The Act makes it easier for the government to detain, criminalise and remove people who have sought safety in the UK.
The text of the letter and list of signatories are below:
We, the undersigned, write to express our solidarity with refugees currently facing deportation from the UK to Rwanda, some of whom are currently on hunger strike in Brook House Immigration Removal Centre.
At least one hundred people who have travelled to the UK to seek safety are facing imminent deportation to Rwanda by the UK Government, with some flights leaving as soon as 14th June. The majority of refugees targeted are black and brown men from the global South. Many of them have survived torture and other gross human rights violations. Some of them may be children. Titan Airways, Privilege Style and Iberojet must distance themselves from these cruel plans to fly people against their will thousands of miles from their support networks, denying them the possibility of reuniting with their families or rebuilding flourishing lives in the UK.
The UK-Rwanda deportation deal is re-traumatising, racist, and must be cancelled immediately.
We call on airlines Titan Airways, Privilege Style and Iberojet to refuse complicity with gross human rights violations, and withdraw from any involvement in deportations from the UK to Rwanda.
And we call on the UK government to:
1. Withdraw from the deportation agreement with Rwanda and cancel the flights planned for 14th June
2. Ensure that people who need sanctuary can safely rebuild their lives as part of our communities, however they arrive here.
We believe that everyone has the right to live a safe and dignified life. We reiterate our commitment to working towards a world where that is a reality for all of us, no matter what we look like, where we come from, or which borders we cross.
|Jolyon Maugham||QC and campaigner|
|Robert Smith||The Cure|
|Jas Nijjar||Works on the politics and history of race and racism|
|Aviah Sarah Day||Organiser, writer and lecturer|
|Shanice McBean||Activist in Sisters Uncut. Author of Abolition Revolution|
|Yara Rodrigues Fowler||Writer|
|Akala||Musician and author of Natives|
|Adam Elliott-Cooper||Academic and author of Black Resistance to British Policing|
|Molly Smith||Co-author of Revolting Prostitutes|
|Refik, Hodzic||Journalist, justice activist and transitional justice expert|
|Juno Mac||Co author of Revolting Prostitutes: The Fight For Sex Workers Rights|
|Robert Macfarlane||Writer, campaigner|
|Darian Leader||Psychoanalyst, writer|
|Jackie Morris||Writer, illustrator, campaigner with a passion for justice|
|Pat Barker||Author of The Silence of the Girls|
|Gracie Mae Bradley||Writer and co-author of Against Borders|
|Farhana Yamin||Climate Lawyer & Activist,|
|Sophie Marple||Founding trustee, philanthropist, investor, campaigner|
|Bella Freud||Fashion designer|
|Gillian Burke||Biologist and wildlife presenter|
|Cindy Forde||Author of â€˜Bright New Worldâ€™, Founder Planetari|
|Judy Ling Wong||Honorary President Black Envirnment Network|
|Christo Hird||Documentary Producer|
|Dr Gail Bradbrook||Co-Founder of Extinction Rebellion|
|Alison Owen||Film and Tv producer|
|April De Angelis||Playwright|
|Akram Khan||Choreographer and Dancer|
|Anthony Bury||Serial Entrepreneur and Philanthropist|
|Carol Potter||Ex CEO & now Board Director|
|Luke Aikman||Entrepreneur, multiple exits (last one Nudge Digital >$10m). Current founder of Safe Workplace, valuation c $25m after 1 year of trading.|
|Jules Peck||Founder Avon Mutual Bank|
|Felicity Silverthorne||Arctic Angels Coordinator and Social Media Manager|
|Akshata Mehta||Research Analyst, Global Choices|
|Jane Hamlyn||Director of Frith Street Gallery|
|Kathryn Elizabeth Graham||Campaigner|
|Frances Coppola||Monetary economist and author|
|Quincy Whitaker||Barrister, Doughty Street Chambers|
|Waad al-Kateab||Waad al-Kateab is a Syrian activist, the award-winning filmmaker of For Sama and Co-Founder of the Action For Sama campaign|
|Hamza al-Kateab||Hamza al-Kateab is a Syrian doctor, activist and the Co-Founder of the Action For Sama campaign|
|Jonathon Porritt||Environmentalist, Author, Campaigner|
|John Barker||Director, Cambridge Governance Labs|
|Kaethe Cherney||Author of Happy as Larry: A New York Story of Cults, Crushes and Quaaludes|
|Josie Naughton||Founder of Choose Love|
|Sonya Sceats||Director of Freedom From Torture|
|Ilyas Nagdee||Co-author of Race to the Bottom|
|Luke de Noronha||Writer and academic at Sarah Parker Remond Centre, UCL|
|Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan||Poet, activist and author of Tangled in Terror: Uprooting Islamophobia|
|Daniel Trilling||Journalist and author|
|Maya Goodfellow||Author of Hostile Environment: How Immigrants Became Scapegoats|
|Kojo Koram||author of Uncommon Wealth and co-author of Empire’s Endgame|
|Sivamohan Valluvan||Author of Clamour of Nationalism|
|Fahad Ansari||Director, Riverway Law|
|Leah Cowan||Writer of Border Nation: A Story of Migration|
|Dalia Gebrial||Writer and academic|
|Micha Frazer-Carroll||Writer and journalist|
|Rizwaan Sabir||Lecturer in Criminology, Liverpool John Moores University|
|Preti Taneja||Writer, Professor of World Literature and Creative Writing, Newcastle University|
A decade of resistance – Join JCWI to mark 10 years of the Hostile Environment
This year marks 10 years since politicians announced plans to create a Hostile Environment against migrants and refugees – rules and policies that criminalise, marginalise and deny justice and dignity to migrant and racialised communities in Britain.
Join JCWI on Sunday 19th June to commemorate a decade of struggle and community resilience, and to connect and learn key skills for the struggle going forward. There will be interactive workshops, arts and crafts stations, activities for kids and families, music, dancing, and space to reflect and plan for how we continue to organise together in our communities, to build the movement for migrant justice, and to win!
– Anti-Raids, Housing and Know Your Rights Workshops
– Food generously provided by Refugee Community Kitchen and Cooperation Town
– Music, dancing and more
– Kids’ and crafts tents
The event is completely free to attend. You don’t have to sign up to be able to come – it just helps to know how many people to expect!
Image: c/o Mike Phipps
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