On 20th September at 3.15pm gay radical artist and No Borders South Wales activist BB was deported on a BMI flight to Azerbaijan.
BB sought asylum in the UK in 2006 following years of persecution because of his sexuality. His brothers on finding out that he was gay had threatened to kill him, with one attack from his eldest brother leaving him with only eight teeth.
The radical nature of his art and poetry had also led him to become a target of government repression. A number of his artworks had mocked members of the ruling elite. The most famous of which, and the one that led to a number of threatening visits by the Ministry of National Security (MNS), Azerbaijan’s modern day version of the KGB, was a photographic piece in which he parodied the ubiquitous statues of the Azerbaijani President, who, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, destroyed many of Lenin’s and erected ones of himself instead.
BB was dispersed to Cardiff in December in 2006 and quickly immersed himself in the activist scene there. He regularly helped out at Cardiff’s social centre PAD and despite his precarious immigration status was involved in many campaigns and was a much loved and active member of No Borders South Wales.
BB was snatched on Tuesday when he attended his weekly signing at the UK Border Agency building in Cardiff.
When he was informed that he was going to be detained and deported BB responded by saying:
“I feel sick”
To which the UK Border agent told him:
“well you make us sick, you’re going back where you belong”
Nothing less than we should expect from the kinds of people who do this job. In a recent article in Metro Vicky Lacey, an Arrest Team leader from the UK Border Agency clearly highlights the dehumanisation that must occur in order for the border regime to be implemented, stating:
“If I felt sorry for everyone I wouldn’t get out of bed. I just have to treat them as cases rather than people”
See goes on to say that:
“I’ve been trained to use a baton and handcuffs”
But probably the most disturbing statement in this interview was her description of workplace and dawn raids on families as enjoyable:
“The raids are fun. I’m not tied to my desk and every day is different”
Within an hour of being arrested BB was handcuffed, bundled into the back of a blacked out van and taken to Rumney police station. Here a friend was able to see him and found him a complete wreck.
The day after his incarceration a demo was held outside the UK Border Agency building at 31-33 Newport Rd, Cardiff. Over 50 people gathered outside the building in order to show their solidarity with BB with the front steps of the building being covered with banners. Many then went up to Rumney police station and were able to pass BB a card containing messages of support.
Late Wednesday night he was then transported under the cover of darkness to Campsfield detention prison, Oxford.
When he arrived he sent the following message:
“PlizPLIZpliz i wontWONTwont GO back. i WANT die HERE THAN AZERBAIJAN. HELL O FAKING 21st Century! Can I stay in UK? Can I live 5 year happy here? FAK THE LAW MAKER! humanity”
Whilst in detention BB was given a medical examination. The subsequent report strongly recommended that BB be given a proper psychiatric evaluation. Despite this, the Home Office continued with its plans to deport.
BB was initially due to be deported at 8pm on Saturday the 20th on an Azerbaijan Airlines flight to Baku. However, following a huge amount of harassment from friends, supporters and many other activists from around the country Azerbaijan Airlines bowed to the pressure and refused to carry him. But this did not stop the Home Office rescheduling his deportation to a British Midland Airways (BMI) flight at 3.15pm the same day. This time despite a huge struggle, which continued up until the last minute BB was eventually deported.
Friend and No Borders South Wales activist, Noah Moore said:
“While BB is currently safe, if anything happens to him the state and BMI will have blood on their hands. His deportation has left a huge hole in all his friends lives and demonstrates the brutality of immigration controls. He was ripped away from his new home, friends and people that loved him just so the government can keep its deportation statistics up. We didn’t fight to keep BB here out of compassion or because he had suffered. We don’t care why BB came. We fought for BB because but he is one of us, a fighter for freedom of movement, for equality, and a world without borders”.
Following his deportation BB went into hiding but he was able to send the following email message:
FAKKK YOU MISS JACQUYI LOCKSMITH FROM HELLBAIJAN
FAKK YOU UNITED KING KONG YANKEE GO KHOMEBASHI
WILL NOT DIED N KILL MYSELF
WILL CONITINE EXCEPT YOU GIVING ME ADVENTURE PAIN
I AM LIVE BUT ITS VERY TERRIBLE PLACE TO BE HERE
I AM AFFRAID OF MY FAMILY COME FIND ME HERE
I LAV ALL ALL YOU THERE
YOU ALL SO GOOD AND NICE PLESANT TO ME
While BB’s deportation has left us all saddened and very much in a state of shock it has also served to doubled our resolve to continue to struggle for an end to all migration controls and the criminalisation of people who have done nothing other than cross artificial, yet brutally real borders, in order to build new lives for themselves. We are now more than ever committed to fighting for a world where people are free to move as and when they like. Where people’s relationships can not be torn apart just because someone happens to have been born in one place rather than another.
We are heartened by the solidarity for BB that appeared across the blogsphere, we tried to keep a tally of blog posts as the campaign progressed, here’s a few that have appeared since BB’s deportation; Cosmodaddy, Freedom for Tooting, Gays without Borders, Ravenhurst, LGBT Asylum News, Gay Activist, Leanne Wood, Unzipped, Cardiff Radical Socialist, JFLAG and Queers without Borders – sorry if we have missed anyone.
No Borders. No Nations. Stop Deportations.
For BB xxx