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At around 6pm on Dec 15th, a group of no borders activists paid Cardiff’s Winter Wonderland a visit. As the event is sponsored by Bmi baby, a subsidiary of BMI Airlines, we thought that it would be an ideal opportunity to let the people of Cardiff know about BMI’s less palatable activities and of our growing campaign against them.
By sponsoring an event like Winter Wonderland, BMI attempt to portray themselves as a caring, family-friendly company. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Not wishing to be complete kill-joys, we made the effort and dressed up for the occasion. Sporting sad baby faces, we handed out over 100 leaflets informing people of BMI’s role of carrying migrants against their will and the huge profits they make from the human misery this causes.
We were aware that we were leafleting at a family-orientated event and we were not aiming to disrupt or block anyone’s enjoyment of Winter Wonderland. However, despite no negative comments or objections raised by members of the public, we were asked to leave by someone in charge. Leaflets were then given out at the entrances outside of Winter Wonderland to passers by, but even this activity was disrupted by a security officer who told us that we had to leave the area, as the land (including the roads and pavements) in front of the City Hall was all private property! He then snatched leaflets from the hands of two activists. However, we continued giving leaflets to people and left of our own accord after about an hour of leafleting.
This coming Saturday 20 December will be the third day of action against BMI Airlines. We once again call on all those who oppose the deportation industry, and the inhumane treatment of migrants who are subjected to the wider regime of control that it forms an integral part of, to contact BMI and let them know what you think of their profiteering from this cruel practice. A full list of contact details can be found on this leaflet. Being a Saturday, we suggest that callers focus on phoning the Reservations & General Enquiries numbers :01332 854854 & 01332 648181 and the Bmi baby Reservations, 01332 648181.
The shut-down BMI campaign day coincides with a day of action that has been called in solidarity with the recent uprising in Greece, which erupted following the murder of a teenager Alexandros Grigoropoulos by a police officer in Athens on 6 December. As a migrant solidarity organisation we stand with all those struggling against state repression and for freedom and equality for all!
The call out states:
Friday 12/12, the assembly of the occupied Athens Polytechnic decided to make a callout for European and global-wide actions of resistance in the memory of all assassinated youth, migrants and all those who were struggling against the lackeys of the state, Carlo Juliani; the French suburb youths; Alexandros Grigoropoulos and the countless others, all around the world, a day of international action against state murders, Saturday 20.12.2008. Our lives do not belong to the states and their assassins! The memory of the assassinated brothers and sisters, friends and comrades stays alive through our struggles! We do not forget our brothers and sisters, we do not forgive their murderers. Please translate and spread around this message for a common day of coordinated actions of resistance in as many places around the world as possible.
We are planning to again distribute leaflets about BMI’s role in deportations at Winter Wonderland on Thursday 18 December. Meet 5.30pm on the National Museum steps.
The 20th November was the second day of action against BMI, for their part in the deportation of BB and their continued willingness to carry out removal flights for the UK Border Agency. Media coverage of the day of action was limited to NewsWales, Pink News, Indymedia and High on Rebellion.
Many people were contacting BMI because they were due to deport Jila Kalkhoran and her sons, Emad and Aref Pirouzeh on Friday, though thankfully a judical review has intervened.
Though there were some concerns over BMI’s response to phone calls, we are confident that this campaign is building momentum, we encourage everyone to organise against BMI on the 20th of each month- let them know that their involvement in deportation is not acceptable!
Before BB was deported by BMI on 20th September his friends and supporters organised an evening to raise awareness about his campaign. Here’s some videos from that night that have recently appeared online:
Patrick Jones reading his poem, ‘DYSUNITEDNATION (for BB)’
‘everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution’ article 14 of the universal declaration of human rights
in great great britain
land of hope and glory
land of the royal fairy tale story
patrol your borders obey their orders
but we spent 53 million on the dome
but close our hospitals and moan
at asylum seekers taking our money
our homes our jobs our liberty
lets lock em up before they destroy our economy
we’re valleee people we aint no racists
but if they cum yer you’ll get ower fists”
in great great britain
this dysunited nation of red. white. and. blue.
of white male bigotry and children learning through
sun headlines and telegraphed lies
cameron proclaims brown denies
as refugees die in front of our eyes
as girls are stoned for falling in love
and men castrated for the forbidden touch
patrol your borders obey their orders
but we welcome hitachi aiwa toshiba and lg
we worship ronaldo nani and theire henri
yet we spit at frightened refugees
i propose that next time a politician or anybody mentions
the words detention and refugee
i will ask them to look in my bible-
where they will see that refuge is the word before refugee
and detente comes before detention
ignore their orders destroy all borders;
ignore their orders destroy all borders;
Lethargy performing “No Excuses” originally by Alice In Chains.
While the image of Britain as a tolerant country that welcomed migrants is a debatable one, if you read the right-wing press you might be forgiven for thinking that any welcome that did exist had disappeared altogether, and in terms of its migration regime it most definitely has. Despite increasingly draconian laws however, there are still many people who believe that somehow the UK Border regime is too tolerant and needs to ‘toughen up’. Take Paul Goddard over on The Lone Voice blog, who recently commented on Babi Badalov‘s deportation:
“it is rather satisfying to see that the Immigration Agency actually do throw people out when they find their cases wanting.”
We are sad to say that the UK Border Agency (do try to keep up Paul!) carry out around 180 deportations every day – that’s a person every 8 minutes – with these often being to countries which the government knows are unsafe. Some contributors to “a lone voice” seem fully aware of the dangers people are deported into, commenting:
“Lets hope he gets killed asap back in his homeland.”
and from another
“If Babi faces execution … will the video be available on You Tube?”
It’s quite common for advocates of “stronger borders” to be revealed as nothing more than racial supremacists. MigrationWatch, for example, possibly the foremost anti-immigration organisation in the UK was founded and is still partly run by Professor David Coleman, a long-term member and sometime office-holder of the Eugenics Society and its successor the Galton Institute (sneaky name change due to the highly discredited theory being widely recognised for the racist nonsense that it is!). Amongst other things he thinks Ethiopians should have fewer babies, and Europeans more. In a similar way MigrationWatch chairman, Sir Andrew Green, has publicly stated that
“We have no problem with immigration from Poland, which is valuable to all sides.”
but has great concerns about people from
“the distant cultures of Asia and Africa”
To these “balanced migration” advocates, Europeans = good, Asians and Africans = bad. Whitey is welcome, darkie has got to keep out. These outspoken voices often bemoan being labelled as racist for their views, claiming to represent mainstream opinion, or the ‘silent majority’.
Our experiences as No Borders activists paints a very different picture. Even though we hold what those in government, sundry influential right-wing nuts, and their apologists in the tabloid press might consider an ‘extreme position’ on borders and migration, we have found our views usually go down pretty well with the people we meet.
We do a lot of campaigning ‘on the street’, putting our message out there and making the case for the abolition of borders and in favour of individual migrants’ campaigns to stay. And far from continually meeting with abuse from knuckle-dragging racists we’ve found that once we make our case, and explain the human stories which lie behind the faceless (and dubious) statistics trotted out by the likes of Migrationwatch, people are usually quite quick to express support for what we do.
For too long now we have allowed popular discussion of migration issues to be dominated by the unthinking right and their allies on both sides of the mainstream political spectrum: a big part of our job now has to be to get out there and put our ideas in the public domain. We have to speak to our friends, our neighbours, and those in our communities; we need to produce our own media and sometimes engage with the corporate press. If our experiences since setting up this No Borders group are anything to go by, we’ll find more support amongst the general public than the shrill and callous ranting of a lone voice might suggest.
Following the successful day of action against BMI last month, we’re calling on people to do the same again and shut down BMI on Thursday 20th November.
A CALL TO ACTION
Everyday, an average of 180 migrants are deported from the UK. That’s one person every eight minutes.
These people haven’t done anything wrong.
They are criminalised for doing what humans have done for thousands of years: moving in search of a better life. Moving to escape war, persecution, torture, physical abuse, poverty…
Governments across the world do not want us to see those being deported as people. They want to shroud them under statistics and treat them as pieces of meat.
Airline companies are a key link in the deportation industry. Without them it would be impossible for the state to implement this aspect of the migration regime and there can be no migration controls without deportations.
People being deported are often handcuffed on the flight and there have been numerous reports of physical assaults on people being deported by the security personnel who escort them.
“I do not have the time or resources to investigate each case myself nor do BMI”
But BMI were given plenty of information and time to ‘investigate’. Despite hundreds of telephone calls, emails and faxes to BMI raising objections and concerns, they chose to ignore this and ensured that the deportation took place.
BMI employees told those ringing on the day that they could not refuse to carry people being removed and it was out of their control. However, other airlines have refused to carry out deportations in the past. XL Airways announced in 2007 that they would no longer carry refused asylum-seekers who were being forcibly removed from the UK.
BMI is the UK’s second largest full service airline. By taking part in deportations they do the governments dirty work for them and in the process make money from human misery. In 2007 BMI reported profits of £15.5 million. How much of this was soaked in the blood of migrants who they deported against their will?
Following the successful day of action against BMI on October the 20th, No Borders South Wales are calling for another day of action to shut down BMI on the 20th of November.
We call on BMI to no longer take part in the forced deportation of migrants.
We are focusing this campaign around the 20th day of each month, after the date that BMI took Babi away from those who loved him and those he loved.
Please contact BMI and register your disapproval at their role in deporting people to places they do not wish to go back to, for whatever the reason this may be. Urge BMI to follow the other airlines who have taken an ethical stance and who refuse to carry out any more deportations.
On 20th November let’s once again hit BMI with everything we’ve got! Ring, fax and e-mail the company as much as possible on this day and every month thereafter until BMI no longer take part in this cruel practice.
BMI flights operate from the following UK Airports:
Aberdeen, Belfast (City), Birmingham, Bristol, Durham Tees Valley, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Jersey, Leeds Bradford, London City, London Gatwick, London Heathrow, Manchester, Newcastle International, Norwich.
BMI Contact Details
Donington Hall, Castle Donington, Derby. DE74 2SB
E-mail Nigel Turner, BMI Chief Executive Officer at:
Telephone: 01332 854 000
Open Mon-Fri 8am-6pm
Telephone: 01332 854 321
Fax: 01332 854 875
Open: Mon-Fri 9:30am-4:30pm
Reservations and general enquiries
Telephone: 01332 854854 & 01332 648181
Fax: 01709 314993
Opening hours: 7am-9pm
Bmi baby reservations
Telephone 01332 648181
Opening hours: 8am-8pm
For further contact details you can download the leaflet we put together for the October 20 day of action.
The last picket of the UK Border Agency offices in Cardiff was attended by around 50 people, including Leanne Wood AM and the deputy leader of Cardiff Council Neil McEvoy, all supporting BB‘s anti-deportation campaign.
Let’s all meet again on Thursday November 6th from 12noon for about an hour or so, at General Buildings, 31-33 Newport Road, Cardiff (map) to protest against the Home Office’s racist immigration policies, to demonstrate our solidarity with all migrants, no matter where they are from or why they are here. We will be hanging banners, holding placards and distributing leaflets to draw attention to the sickening activities of the Border Agency. Take your lunch break from work, study or whatever else with us to show you won’t tolerate the brutal practises that take place inside the building. See you there!
There will be one of our regular meetings this Thursday, and every Thursday at 7pm at the South Riverside Community Development Centre, Brunel Street, Cardiff CF11 6ES. (map). Meetings are open for all to attend, but discrimination is not welcome, and diversity is respected. They usually take no more than 1 hour and are usually followed by a sociable pint in a nearby pub!
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
After the success of the Poetry and Music evening for BB last week there will be another exciting event about local asylum seekers at the Butetown History and Arts centre next thursday. Please come along:
Public meeting – All Welcome
In response to poverty, persecution , war and climate change, people are on the move all around the world. In the UK the right of asylum is under constant attack, with regular dawn raids, overcrowded detention centres and increasing numbers of deportations to places the government knows are unsafe.
Come and hear first hand accounts of contending with British border controls from local asylum seekers BB and Constance Nzeneu. Others with a story to tell about their own experiences very welcome to contribute. Followed by a discussion and practical advice on resistance to the UK Border regime.
Thursday 3rd July, 7.30pm
On Monday 19th May a group of friends of BB organised stalls to get support and petitions signed as part of the Keep BB Safe in Cardiff campaign to be held over four separate days, at the four UWIC campuses in the city.
We went to Howard Gardens on 20th May, the campus for art students, and received large amounts of encouragement from students and staff; over 250 signatures of support in less than four hours. We wore BB’s amazing hats and displayed some of his dolls and other art works he has produced.
The stall was arranged initially through a UWIC student, and we spoke to the UWIC chaplain Rev Paul Fitzpatrick before we started doing anything about how we should conduct ourselves during the day. He expressed interest in BB’s case and agreed that we should not have border controls in the UK. We treated everyone with respect and understood that it was a busy time for them in the exam period.
Before the four hours were up, a phone call was received and the next three days of petition signing were cancelled. The stall apparently received a few complaints, however when pressed did not even know what they entailed. The UWIC controllers were all too eager to cancel on us apparently because we were not part of UWIC and wanting to protect their students. There is nothing offensive about BB’s case – it does not try to push any religious or political beliefs. It is about is having compassion for another individual and understanding how the UK’s unfair ‘justice’ system works; many people asked why BB might be deported, presuming he had done something wrong!
University in the UK has long been considered as a place to broadening your knowledge and get interested in different issues. Given the fact that all the students are adults why do they need to be protecting from a petition stall? If we had been renting a stall from UWIC and selling things to the students, no doubt there would have been no problems at all; very telling of where the University’s priorities lie.