The Jamaica50 detainees have won support from eighty-two Black British public figures, who have spoken out against the proposed mass deportation of Black people to Jamaica.
Among the celebs joining the fight are model Naomi Campbell, historian David Olusoga, actors Thandie Newton and Naomie Harris, and writer Bernardine Evaristo (author of Booker Prize-winning novel Girl, Woman, Other).
The group is appealing to the airlines to boycott the flights and believe that the government in all probability will be breaking the law through rushing to deport the detainees.
Many of the Jamaica50 individuals having spent the majority of their adult lives in the UK, and their deportation deprives families of their loved ones, as the government steps up its racist immigration policies.
According to campaign group Movement for Justice, eight of the men slated for deportation have 31 children between them, but the government couldn’t care less.
The last flight to Jamaica took place in February, when 17 men were deported – a reduction fro the original number after intervention by the courts.
Tories are the real criminals
The government justifies its stance by saying those threatened with deportation are “foreign criminals”.
Any ‘foreign national’ who has committed an offence that has led to a custodial sentence of 12 months or longer can be summarily deported.
Rayan Crawford, who had been in the UK since he was 12, was kicked out of the country on the February flight for minor burglary offences. His partner Jana says Ray had a problem with a gambling addiction at the time.
Rayan suffers from a rare bone condition called Blount’s Disease and inflammatory arthritis. He hasn’t been able to get hold of the medication he requires apart fro a month’s supply from a charity. All health care has to be paid for in Jamaica.
Speaking from Jamaica, Ryan reports: “There is no free medication in Jamaica—even if you want to see a doctor, you have to pay for it. There was a charity organisation, but it said it could only give medication to me for the month.”
According to human rights lawyer Jacqueline Mckenzie, the majority of people who have been singled out for deportation have committed drug offences.
A number of Tory ministers (Michael Gove) have admitted to taking drugs, as has the prime minister Boris Johnson, but neither of them face deportation or prison.
McKenzie says that no one who has been in this country since they were children should be facing deportation to a country they know nothing about and have no connections with.
“If you have been in the UK as a child, you shouldn’t be deported irrespective of what your offence is. Whether you’ve got the right documentation or not, you’re culturally British, you’re part of this society. You’ve offended here, you are punished here, and your punishment is going to prison. People should not be punished twice,” says McKenzie.
Jamaica50 – the Windrush Scandal rolls on
Most of the Jamaica50 being held prisoner in the removal centres are the descendants of the Windrush Generation of migrants to the UK, who were invited here by the government after the war to plug the huge labour shortages facing the country at the time.
The fear the deportations are spreading through the African-Caribbean community are immense, as people who don’t have the correct papers now live in fear of possible deportation.
Not surprisingly, the government wants to forget the part played by Britain’s Jamaican colony in making the country what it is today. Without the slave trade and the wealth created in Jamaica, there would probably have been no industrial revolution in the UK.
And of course, during the time when Jamaica was a colony, those who resided there were told they were British.
But even after taking all that into account, we should not let the government divide people into ‘good’ migrants and ‘bad’ migrants, as they try to whip up racial division. to deflect attention from their own failings.
Sadly, the government’s dirty work is being fronted by daughter of immigrants Priti Patel, backed up by the new Equalities minister Kemi Badenoch.
Zita Holbourne from campaign group BARAC UK, speaking this afternoon at a People’s Assembly event, said there is no Covid safety in the detention centres, apart from the taking of temperatures.
“Detainees are mingling and moving around, but families are banned from coming to the detention centre,” Zita explained. “This is unlawful according to the European Court of Human Rights because of the right to family life.”
Zita continued: “Each person is chained to two guards… there will be no social distancing – it will be a full flight. The Jamaican government are also out of order.”
Jamaica, a poor country, is handling the pandemic much better than the UK government, but this flight will help to spread the disease on the Caribbean island.
TUI Airways doing the Home Office deportation charter?
TUI Airways looks like it is the airline that will be carrying out the deportation – their customer service number is 0871 231 4787
BARAC UK have launched a petition to #stoptheplane on change.org – click here.
There’s a Twitter storm taking place this afternoon, using the hashtags:
Zita also mentioned that an immigration reporting centre in Newham in east London, which has a large population that comes from Black, Asian and minority ethnic population – as a way to further intimidate Black and Asian people. Watch this space for more on that to follow.
Thanks to Zita Holbourne for the art featured here