On 28 April, 14 people blocked the runway at Stansted airport and stopped a mass deportation charter flight to Nigeria and Ghana. Activists from End Deportations, Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants and Plane Stupid ran onto the tarmac and locked themselves to each other using arm tubes and tripods.
This is the first time this kind of direct action has successfully stopped a charter flight. This flight would have put people’s lives at risk and would have torn families apart.
After the action, many people got in touch to ask how they can get involved with the fight to end deportations and stop charter flights. Here’s how to get started.
1. Join us in calling on Theresa May to #StopCharterFlights.
To continue the success of this action, we need to build strong network of active people. Start by joining those who were arrested this week and call on May to #StopCharterFlights now by adding your name to our petition.
2. Join the Shut Down Yarl’s Wood action on 13 May.
Movement for Justice By Any Means Necessary have held ten demonstrations at the notorious Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre. With every demonstration there is more vibrancy, more anger and more determination – with ex-detainees, asylum seekers, feminist and anti-racist activists from around the country protesting right at the fences that surround Yarl’s Wood.
The Surround Yarl’s Wood demonstrations are palpable, direct and visibly impactful acts of solidarity. The next demonstration at Yarl’s Wood is on 13 May. Effective change will not happen by simply signing a petition. Get involved, find out more and organise transport to the protest from your town and city by joining the Facebook page.
3. Link up with groups already resisting charter flights and deportations.
In addition to Movement for Justice, there are a growing number of groups that are resisting charter flights and deportations, including (but not limited to) the following:
• SOAS Detainee Support visits and supports people in detention.
• The Unity Centre in Glasgow gives practical support to migrants and asylum seekers in Scotland.
• Detention Action campaigns to end detention in the UK, which is the only country in Europe which has no upper time limit on how long someone can be detained.
• The Anti Raids Network is a loose network working to resist immigration raids in our communities by organising and providing information. They have a handy get involved page with ideas for action and information about events taking place across London.
• Medical Justice provide medical care to people in detention.
4. Resist deportations as they happen.
There are a range of ways to intervene and resist mass deportations, from taking direct action to pressuring the different actors involved.
Embassies play a key role in deportations. For example, the Nigerian High Commission gets £70 for the travel documents they issue for each deportee. If embassies refuse to issue travel documents, this means that no one can be deported. Zimbabwe, for instance, recently refused to issue travel documents to people held in UK detention centres, and consequently many Zimbabwean nationals were released from detention as they were unable to be deported from the UK.
Airlines can also be pressured into ending their complicity in deportations. Public scrutiny matters to these firms, so organising a phone blockade calling on the airlines not to carry a specific individual has been effective in the past. Check out this great guide by Right to Remain explaining how to organise phone blockades and other useful tools for helping to stop deportations.
5. Target the companies that profit from deportations.
Many companies profit from deportations and charter flights, and it is important to let them know we’re watching. We must embarrass and campaign against companies that collude in and profit from deportations.
The five main security companies that profit from running detention centres are Serco, G4S, Mitie, Capita and GEO. However, these companies do a lot more than just facilitate detention; they provide services in all kinds of public institutions – from universities to hospitals. File a Freedom of Information request to find out if your university has contracts with any of these five companies and run a campaign to break them. This is a tactic that has worked historically – the most famous example being in the South African anti-apartheid movement – and is a great way to raise consciousness around the border industry as a whole.