21st June 2011
For immediate release
Anti-deportation campaigners are blockading Colnbrook and Harmondsworth detention centres in a last-minute attempt to stop the forcible deportation of Iraqi refugees to Baghdad on a specially chartered flight scheduled to leave London this evening.
30 angry protesters from No Borders, Stop Deportation and other groups are blocking the joint entrance to the two detention centres near Heathrow airport. Six of them have encased their arms in glass and plastic tubes attached to concrete barrels, while others are holding banners and shouting slogans against the 'brutal deportation machine.'
Three coaches carrying over 30 of the deportees to the airport have not
been able to leave the complex. Another 30 are supposed to be taken at the same time from Brook House detention centre at Gatwick airport and Campsfield House in Oxfordshire. In total, it is expected that the flight, scheduled to leave an undisclosed airport at 11pm today, will carry
between 60 and 70 deportees, accompanied by twice as many private security guards and immigration officers.
Update at 8.30pm
Currently 5 Reliance vans are in the Colnbrook/Harmondsworth complex preparing to transport the detainees out of the rear entrance of the complex. It is unclear where these detainees will be taken.
It is understood that the Immigration Advisory Service has obtained an injunction against the flight but it is unknown whether this applies to some or all of the potential deportees.
The blockade of the front entrance continues. Police are now on the scene.
Final update, 9pm
Great news! It has been confirmed that this evening's charter flight has
The blockade has now finished and none of the blockaders have been arrested.