A deportation blockade staged by activists at London’s Stansted airport was successful in preventing a mass deportation of asylum seekers to Nigeria and Ghana. The 17 activists that had chained themselves to the plane, however, were arrested Wednesday.
Protesters from the groups End Deportations, Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants and Plane Stupid had surrounded a charter flight filled with the refugees, while the Facebook page called "Stop Charter Flights – End Deportations" broadcasted live from the protest.
Their efforts did not go uncounted — the flight was stopped. But the activists were arrested on suspicion of aggravated trespassing and are now in police custody.
Susan James, from Plane Stupid, told The Independent, “Mass deportations like the one we stopped tonight are immoral, unfair and illegal. I don’t want to stay silent in the face of mass deportations that are deliberately rushed and secretive.”
“In the wake of the Brexit vote, this government is more keen than ever to be seen to be 'tough' on immigration,” she added. "But its mass deportations have devastating human consequences. Everything about these deportations points to the fact that they are inhuman, and must be stopped."
One woman, who activists said was seated on the flight, was quoted as saying: “My ex-husband said he knows I am being deported. He is waiting for me. He is planning to kill me. If he kills me — who will I look after my children?”
Another male deportee was quoted as saying: “I have been in this country for almost 18 years. My family and my life is here in the U.K. If they take me back to Ghana I will kill myself.”
While the Home Office refused to comment on the canceled flight, they did add that deportations were an “essential element" of an "effective immigration system."
Other activists are calling for support for the 17 who were involved in the protest.