Theresa May’s latest attempt to look tough on immigration has failed—for now, writes Ken Olende
Home secretary Theresa May’s barbaric attempt to deport desperately ill hunger striker Isa Muazu to Nigeria has temporarily failed.
Isa has refused food for more than three months. He says the Islamist group Boko Haram will kill him if he is returned to Nigeria as they have killed other members of his family.
Phil Jones from the Unity Centre in Glasgow has been working with Isa in his campaign.
He told Socialist Worker, “Isa is in good spirits now, back in the medical centre at Harmondsworth.
“He was in a bad way before the flight. He couldn’t speak properly, his eyesight was affected and he couldn’t walk.”
Rather than release him, the government prepared an “end of life plan”.
May is trying to prove how hardline she is on immigrants. Decisions on deporting hunger strikers are now always referred to the home secretary.
Last week the government hired a private jet which flew Isa to Nigeria, along with a Nigerian High Commission representative, five security guards and two paramedics—but no doctor.
However the Nigerian government refused it permission to land and it was forced to return to Britain.
Phil said, “We’re told the plane cost £108,000. Given that cost you’d think they might have checked if they had permission to land before they left. Isa shouldn’t be in detention. If he dies Theresa May will have blood on her hands.”
The government hopes Isa will become well enough to travel while his legal team is rushing to submit a fresh application for him to remain in Britain, based on new evidence.
Phil explained, “Almost all Nigerian men are now put on the fast track system, as Isa was.
"Cuts in legal aid make it very difficult to halt. The Home Office says Isa’s hunger strike was just an attempt to manipulate the deportation rules.
“It wouldn’t take into account the fact that he was very depressed and his state of mental health was deteriorating.”
Isa started his hunger strike in August. Phil said, “We want to support his campaign, but we’re not into people killing themselves. It’s a constant dilemma.
“For a long time we didn’t make his hunger strike public as that could be seen as being manipulative.”
When warning about travel to Nigeria the Foreign Office website sees Boko Haram as a major issue, commenting “further attacks could occur anywhere” in Nigeria.
But this is not the position it takes when trying to deport people.
Phil said, “This case is just the tip of the iceberg. We know of another three on hunger strike. And there could be many others in other detention centres.”
Phil explained, “Isa is 45. He has had various health problems, including stomach ulcers that mean he needs a special diet. He could hardly eat any of the food he was given and had to live on cornflakes.”
To help the campaign contact [email protected] or write to Isa Muazu c/o Harmondsworth IRC, Colnbrook By Pass, Harmondsworth, West Drayton, Middlesex UB7 0HB