We call on all trade unions to join our campaign to stop deportations to Iraq! The UK government has arrested more than 30 Kurdish and Iraqi people since 1 April. This is all taking place at a time when Iraq is being plagued by war and violence, which is forcing so many to make the dangerous journey across the sea to Europe. The daily tragedy of the refugees on the borders of Europe is a direct consequence of the policy of closing borders to people whose homes have been turned into a battlefield of civil war, unrest and insecurity. The disaster facing refugees places a tremendous responsibility upon European governments. Whilst the UK and Europe talk about human rights they have provided no realistic solution to prevent the wave of refugees seeking safety in Europe.
The Home Office is using handful of major airlines to take Iraqi deportees as scheduled passengers on: Royal Jordanian, Turkish Airlines, and Qatar Airways. Strong resistance by deportees and supporters may yet win out several flights have been cancelled in the last week. The last large scale deportation to Iraq was booked via a charter flight 21 June 2011. That flight was called off at the last minute as campaigners blockaded the coaches leaving Colnbrook and Harmondsworth and lawyers scrambled behind the scenes to get removal papers quashed. By 2012 Iraqi refugees appeared to be on reprieve, as years of campaigning by IFIR and others had finally pushed the Iraqi national government passing a resolution to refuse deportation flights. Politicians in the Iraqi parliament are moving again on this issue: last month over 100 MPs signed a call for a new parliamentary resolution against deportations. The first of the arrested Iraqis, 36 year-old Aras Ismail from Kirkuk, was put on a scheduled Royal Jordanian flight to Baghdad. Four security guards reportedly locked him in the plane’s toilet for the duration of the flight, gagged and handcuffed with his legs tied together. His home of Kirkuk is currently a war zone under partial control of Daesh (ISIS). Just the day before the flight, there were reports that Daesh had executed 12 people in the town. As reports of Aras Ismail’s ordeal made it into regional press, and campaigning against the deportations grew, the flights seemed to reduce in number. And then a new airline appeared on the scene. Since 2005, Royal Jordanian had been the only commercial airline carrying individual deportations to Iraq. But, whether or not because of the bad publicity and campaign pressure, the next wave of deportations at the start of May instead featured Turkish Airlines’ flights via Istanbul to Bahgdad. Qaranmin Amin, also from Kirkuk, was deported on a Turkish Airlines flight from Heathrow at 6pm on 4 May. Assan Yaba Assan, from Mosul, was due to fly on 6 May, again with Turkish Airlines, but his flight was cancelled on the day. Following an appeal from IFIR and Assan’s partner, Turkish Airlines received phone calls and emails asking them not to collaborate in the deportation, which may have been a factor in its cancellation. Another three deportations scheduled with Turkish Airlines for 9 May were also cancelled at the last minute. One of the refugees successfully resisted, and this may have led the airline or the Home Office to call off all three. However a further 3 people have been given notification that they may be deported within the next 72 hours. Tragically an Kurdish asylum seeker who came to the UK as a child and following 11 years of living in the UK with no hope as he saw it of ever gaining citizenship and committed suicide in Morden at a carwash on 16th of May 2017.