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    Possible immigration campaign tactic


    by Sunny on 11th October, 2007 at 4:42 pm    

    It occured to me, while reading yesterday that an airline refused to help with forcible removal of immigrants, that this is a brilliant campaign tactic.

    XL Airways, which has a fleet of 24 aircraft, said it was opposed to the policy because it had “sympathy for all dispossessed people in the world”. Last week, The Independent revealed that hundreds of failed asylum-seekers have claimed they have suffered physical and racial abuse during the removal process at the hands of private security guards.

    The Government relies on airlines using chartered and scheduled aircraft to deport asylum-seekers who have failed to win a right to remain in the UK.

    My god, a corporation actually taking an ethical stance; we don’t see that often. Good on them. Might that be a useful campaign tactic for those who oppose asylum seekers or immigrants being forcibly deported to oppressive countries? Of course, the government should not legally be deporting people to places where they’ll face torture or even death but that’s never stopped them in the past. Remember the decision to deport Pegah Emambakhsh? Hell, it’s still trying to deport people to Iraq!

    Faxing and harassing airlines has worked in the past, as Linda Grant showed recently to her immense credit. Both British Airways and Virgin claim they’re obliged to put these people on planes but that’s not true as the government itself admits. They just want to pass the buck on.

    Surely then, future campaigns should focus on highlighting their complicity in deporting people to their possible death? If the government is not willing to re-think its policies despite lawyers claiming what they are doing is illegal, then maybe forcing airlines to stop taking part in this inhumane act is the way forward?



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    11 Comments below   |   Add your own

    1. Rumbold — on 11th October, 2007 at 8:56 pm  

      I would certainly support an airline that refused to fly failed aslyum seekers to certain countries. Some do deserve to be sent back, but most probably do not, as they have done little wrong and would be persecuted. I would rather keep a few nasty layabouts if it meant protecting those people who actually needed our help.

    2. Mark — on 11th October, 2007 at 10:03 pm  

      Excel Airways (XL) are certainly to be congratulated on their stance. It is a small-ish mainly charter airline that flies to holiday destinations, but also sells “flight only” tickets directly to the public (main destination outside Europe is Egypt).

      Speaking of Pegah Emambakhsh … and Iran, deportations to Tehran are done on flights with a British Airways flight number, but the service is franchised to British Mediteranian (BMED). Anytime now, BMED are taking over the Heathrow-Tehran route in its own right, having given “slots” at Heathrow to British Airways in a complex deal.

      Now, BMED was acquired by British Midland Airways (parent company of bmi and bmibaby) at the beginning of this year.

      The interesting point about British Midland/BMED etc is that the chairman of the board is Sir Michael Bishop, one of the UK’s top “out gay” businessmen who features in the annual list published by the Independent of the country’s top gay “movers and shakers”.

      In view of the often highly publicised deportations of gay men and women - who have fled their country to seek sanctuary in UK, back to Iran where they face imprisonment, hundreds of lashings or even execution - it will be most interesting to see if British Midland Airways joins Exel.

      Note to all airlines: I “vote with my feet”. If Excel fly to where I want to go, they will have my money. Until British Midland Airways decide to join Excel in refusing deportees to Tehran, then I won’t fly bmi or bmibaby.

      I agree with Rumbold. There are some asylum seekers who should not be granted asylum. But the sad fact is that our tabloids have made “asylum seeker” into a derogatory person. And not wishing to upset the likes of the Dail Mail and other papers, the Government, through the Home Office’s Border and Immigration Agency, has gone “deportation mad” as they tick their boxes in Whitehall to hit “targets” set to soften the rants of the tabloid editors.

    3. Jagdeep — on 11th October, 2007 at 10:36 pm  

      And not wishing to upset the likes of the Dail Mail and other papers

      Why don’t you want to upset them? Their currency is demonisation and witch hunting of the minorities and the misunderstood, the creation of siege mentalities, the pandering to prejudice and bigotry. Let’s upset them.

    4. Nyrone — on 11th October, 2007 at 10:44 pm  

      This is a bold and brave move by XL Airways, and all I can say is respect to them for taking a stance on an issue as decisive as this.
      Isn’t it odd, that we find ourselves surprised by corporate entities taking ethical stances in public? It’s got to a point that we are so disillusioned and cynical about their intentions that it comes as quite a shock to see the rare one acting like a person and having a humaistic attitude that is responsible and not profit-driven.

      As for forced removals, did anyone catch Gordon Brown at PMQ’s with his pathetic response to being asked why he was still sending people back to Burma? He got up and said some crap like “I deplore that regime, rah, rah, rah” and sat back down without addressing the point.
      This goverment has no problems in kicking people into their graves if it gets the numbers down for national audiences, their attitude really is spineless and hypocritical in every respect.

      Totally agree Sunny, I hope this tactic is extended far and wide in varying circumstances to target the ’shrugs shoulders’ companies that are complicit and feel like they can get away with it.

    5. Jagdeep — on 11th October, 2007 at 10:48 pm  

      Nyrone, I watched PMQ’s in my lunch break with my headphones on the BBC News website, and Brown actually said to the MP that he should provide him with the details of the individual cases and he would do something about them. He didn’t just brush it off.

    6. Nyrone — on 11th October, 2007 at 11:15 pm  

      I never said he brushed him off, I said that he didn’t address the point of the question. There is always a formal way to end another MP’s line of questioning at PMQ’s, and in this instance it was “there is a procedure for this” He never said that he would do something to help either, this private “get in touch about the individual cases” tosh is usually just code for ‘I’ll send you the email about our official appeals system’

      Brown didn’t address why his goverment was still sending dissidents back to Burma, and instead he evaded the question and replied with a pre-thought gung-ho statement about what an awful regime it was over there, as if in politician auto-pilot.
      That, to me, was not answering the question, it was opportunism.

    7. Jagdeep — on 11th October, 2007 at 11:28 pm  

      Brown said he would look into the cases of Burmese refugees being deported back to Burma. I don’t think that’s a pathetic response to the question he was asked. I think it’s quite good if it means the cases are looked into and reviewed.

    8. ally — on 12th October, 2007 at 12:59 am  

      This is a brilliant story.

      I would happily buy a flight with XL. If only they weren’t part of an industry that is leading the charge to environmental apocalypse.

      Hey ho.

    9. Galloise Blonde — on 12th October, 2007 at 8:23 am  

      NCADC *always* give you two faxes, one for the Home Office and one for the airline, so this isn’t really a new strategy. But I do advise everyone to get on the NCADC mailing list. http://www.ncadc.org.uk/

    10. Rumbold — on 12th October, 2007 at 9:47 am  

      Jagdeep:

      “Brown said he would look into the cases of Burmese refugees being deported back to Burma. I don’t think that’s a pathetic response to the question he was asked. I think it’s quite good if it means the cases are looked into and reviewed.”

      I thought that it was pretty pathetic. Why was Brown deporting people to Burma in the first place? Why was there not an immediate freeze on deportations when the trouble started? Why did Brown wait until asked a question at PMQs before promising that someone would look into these deportations?

    11. SEAN MORRIS — on 12th October, 2007 at 11:35 am  

      Do what the Germans do then, charter you own fleet of planes. I believe they fly 2-3 planes a day, it will be a vote winner i can tell you that much. No wonder the left hates democracy so much.



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