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Demonstration against forcible deportation to Iraq
On Thursday 13th April, the International Federation of Iraqi Refugees (IFIR) held a picket in front of the Home Office in London. The protest was against the arrest and detention of 30 Iraqi and Kurdish asylum seekers. Those arrested have lived in the UK for as long as 17 years, and one of those detained has two young children with his long term partner in the UK. The detainees have been informed they will be removed from the UK in the next 7 to 10 days. IFIR fears this means the UK Government is preparing the first forcible deportation charter flight since 2011.
The picket was attended by approximately 100 people made up of family members and friends of those held, the Iraqi community, PCS activists and human and refugee rights campaigners.
Michael Chessum from Another Europe is Possible introduced speakers. Jean Lambert, Green Party MEP for London, spoke of how deplorable it was that the UK Government would even think of deporting to Iraq at this time, when parts of Iraq were still caught up in the war against ISIS.
Dashty Jamal, secretary of IFIR, thanked those attending, andinformed the protest of a forced deportation that happened on Tuesday, when one of the detainees was was put in hand cuffs and leg irons and locked in the toilet of an aircraft for several hours, and was only released when the plane landed in Baghdad. He reported that IFIR has written to Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, demanding the immedate release of all Iraqi detainees; an end to all deporations to Iraq; refugee status for all Iraqi refugees; and an end to the deportation agreement with the Iraqi government.
Other speakers included PCS representatives Karen Johnson and Charlie Mcdonald; Momentum activist Liam McNulty; Right to Remain activist Marienna Pope-Widemann; Worker Communist Party of Kurdistan activist Noori Basher; and community rights activists Khaled Asinger and Zana Sherwany.
The protest was lively, with Kurdish and English slogans chanted, including: No deportations to Iraq; forcible deportation is a violation of human rights legislation; Iraqi refugees are a victim of war and violence; refugee rights are human rights; release all Kurdish & Iraqi detainees; Iraqi refugees say we are victims of state and non-state terrorism; refugees are welcome here; and no to deportation, no to detention!
At the end of the demonstration, Dashty Jamal thanked the attendees and promised to continue the campaign to stop forcible deportations to Iraq.
A number of Kurdish media stations such as RUDAW, NRT filmed the protest.