11 anti-deportation activists arrested

Police have arrested 11 anti-deportation activists who blockaded both exits of Harmondsworth and Colnbrook detention centres, near Heathrow airport to stop the forcible deportation of Ghanaian migrants.

A specially chartered flight carrying up to 50 deportees was yesterday scheduled to leave to Ghana from an undisclosed airport shortly after midnight.

The 11 activists from the No Borders network locked their arms together inside heavy-weight concrete blocks, preventing the coaches carrying the deportees from leaving Harmondsworth detention centre.

Another protester suspended herself from a 10ft tripod made of scaffolding poles. The blockaders, joined by at least 20 protesters holding banners and chanting anti-deportation slogans, vowed to remain in place until the flight was cancelled.

One of the blockaders, Dave Leighton, 34, said: “This flight has to be stopped. Everyone, not just a privileged few, should enjoy the freedom to move and stay wherever they want or need, regardless of their nationality or bank balance. Forcible deportations reinforce a screwed-up system whereby the rich and powerful use borders as a convenient tool to divide and distract ordinary people from the real causes of inequality.”

Another protester, Yvonne Mason, 26, added: “My friend will be on that flight. He suffers from chronic injuries following his violent arrest during an immigration raid last year. He has been locked up at Harmondsworth for almost a year without access to proper medical treatment. He should be provided with care and support, not be deported against his will.”

It is still not clear whether the deportation was carried out or not.

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