Socialist Worker

Refugee who resisted forced deportation: 'We are people too'

by Ken Olende
Issue No. 2307

Men, women and children are being forcibly deported by the Tories. This is the reality of the government’s propaganda about immigrants and family life

A refugee, Jemima, who successfully resisted being dragged onto a deportation flight with her children told Socialist Worker her story.

The UK Border Agency (UKBA) raided Jemima’s home in Glasgow at 7am on 15 May. Government officers detained her and her four young children, and drove them to a removal centre near Heathrow airport.

Jemima told Socialist Worker, “As we were taken onto the tarmac I said if I go back to Nigeria they will kill me, so I am not getting on that plane.

“But they wouldn’t listen. I was handcuffed. I started screaming and they tied my legs together. In the struggle they pulled off my skirt, so they carried me across the tarmac in my knickers.

“This was in front of my crying children. Fifteen people dragged us to the plane. One of them was just filming me half naked.

“They dropped me on my head. The one holding my right arm kept twisting the handcuff until it bit into my wrist. It became really swollen.”

The UKBA staff were trying to get her and her family aboard a commercial passenger flight.

They wanted them to be quiet before other passengers boarded. When they failed, she was taken off the flight.

The border agency is having increasing difficulties with their policy of deportations on commercial flights. Passengers are often shocked by the treatment meted out to deportees and staff on several airlines have refused to take off when deportees are in obvious distress.

Jemima has good reason to fear returning to Nigeria. She said, “My husband was a political activist. I wasn’t involved, but when his opponents came they couldn’t find him so I was on the receiving end of the attack.

“I fled to Britain in August 2002. This is the only country my children know.”

Margaret Woods from the Glasgow Campaign to Welcome Refugees, said “Until recently it was normal that if a family had been here for seven years it was accepted that they could stay. But now that has changed.”

Nigeria

Jemima’s husband joined her in Britain. But he returned to Nigeria about seven years ago.

Jemima said, “I haven’t heard a word from him since he landed.

“I’ve no idea what happened. This made me more scared to go back, but the home office says he probably just abandoned us.”

She has been given confidence to keep fighting by the campaign to support refugees.

There will be a solidarity protest on Saturday in Glasgow. She said, “The protest on Saturday is really important. I want people to know that asylum seekers are human beings.

“We are no different. We want the country to prosper. We are not thieves. We want to contribute. They should allow us to work.”


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