On Thursday evening anti-deportation campaigners rallied in Peckham to condemn the mass deportation of Nigerians scheduled later that night (26 January 2012). The demonstration was a small tribute to a man on an 8-day hunger strike in protest against his deportation.
Protesters from the "No Borders" network brandished a banner demanding “Stop Deportations To Nigeria” and played music as they marched from Peckham Rye Station to the Library. The protest was well received by the largest British Nigerian community signalling a positive start to an outreach campaign aiming to raise awareness and forge links with local people. Passers-by shared stories of their personal struggles against the inequalities of the border system. One man explained that the UK Border Agency detained him for a year and deported his brother despite both living in Britain *since childhood*.
Just hours before the deportation an inquiry by MPs was published that warned potentially lethal force and racist language is used by security guards during the removal process . And on arrival in Nigeria, these men and women face a deteriorating security situation spreading from the north as Boko Haram increase in strength. Human Rights Watch claim that the militant Islamist group killed 235 people in the first 3 weeks of 2012.
Mass deportation has become regular policy in the governments efforts to "crackdown on immigration". Deportations to Nigeria happen every 6 weeks with 75 people forcibly deported by 150 private security guards on a plane specially hired by the UK Border Agency (UKBA). Each flight on average costs £150,000 of public money. UKBA uses mocking and sinister code-names for these deportations such as ‘Operation Majestic’ , whilst using coaches branded ‘Just Go’ to drive deportees to the airport. Since 1991 six Nigerians have died during deportations from Europe – the highest number of fatalities from any one nationality- demonstrating the deadly nature of these operations. Most recently, Nigerian man Joseph Ndukadu Chiakwa died on a deportation flight from Switzerland.
During previous deportations angry scenes have erupted outside the
Nigerian High Commission in London. In December 2011, the High Commissioner was ambushed by No Borders activists who called on him to stop collaborating with UKBA. Nigerian Immigration staff have been issuing emergency travel documents that the UKBA need to remove people. The fee charged for this service is unknown.
A No Borders activist invited people to take part in the No Borders Convergence: a week-long gathering in London between 13 - 18 February 2012. He said: "From Monday to Wednesday at Goldsmiths College in New Cross, south east London, there will be workshops about stopping deportations, resistance in detention, migrant workers struggles, reports from the borders (Calais, Greece, Palestine...) plus films and food! Then from Thursday there will be 3 days of demonstrations, finishing with a “No Borders Carnival” from St Paul’s at midday on the Saturday".
More information on mass deportations here.