Harmondsworth blockaders held by police for second night

Eleven No Borders activists arrested on Tuesday during a detention centre blockade are being held by police for a second night. They are due to appear at Uxbridge magistrates court at 10am this morning, charged with causing 'serious disruption to the life of the community' under Section 14 of the Public Order Act.

* Supporters have called for a solidarity demonstration at the court.

The action saw over 40 protesters blocking both exits of Harmondsworth and Colnbrook detention centres, near Heathrow airport, in a bid to stop the forcible deportation of dozens of Ghanaian migrants held at Harmondsworth. Eleven of them had locked their arms together inside heavy-weight concrete blocks, while another suspended herself from a 10ft tripod made of scaffolding poles.

The specially chartered flight carrying the deportees was scheduled to leave Stansted airport at ten minutes past midnight, but was delayed for several hours by the blockade, which prevented the WH Tours coach transporting them to the airport from leaving the detention centre.

A number of those who were due to be deported had their deportation orders cancelled following last-minute court injunctions. However, they were reportedly replaced by other Ghanaian detainees who had not been issued with removal directions or travel documents. The Home Office has declined to comment.

Supporters have called for a solidarity demonstration this morning at Uxbridge magistrates, where scores of No Borders activists are expected to gather to protest against what they described as police brutality and mistreatment.

One of the protesters, who also took part in the blockade, said: “We were standing there surrounded by cops as news that a number of the deportees were being taken off the flight was arriving. This was a result of last-minute legal representations which the blockade made possible. If we hadn't been there, these people would have probably been deported too, in a complete disregard of their legal rights. The heavy-handed policing was only there to facilitate this cynical operation.”

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For further questions, please contact:
Email: noborderslondon[at]riseup.net
Tel: 07438 185537

Notes for editors:

[1] The blockade's press release and updates can be found at: http://indymedia.org.uk/en/2012/02/492350.html

[2] Section 14 of the POA gives police the power to impose conditions on assemblies to “prevent serious public disorder, serious criminal damage or serious disruption to the life of the community”. For further details, see http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1986/64/section/14.

[3] The Home Office is known to have been using 'waiting' or 'reserve lists' for charter flight deportations, whereby those whose removal is cancelled due to last-minute judicial review applications or court injunctions are replaced by others who have not been issued with appropriate removal directions or travel documents. This is in stark breach of migrants' legal rights and the UKBA's own policies on issuing removal directions (http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/documents/policyandlaw/det...).