Stansted 15 solidarity actions, December 18th and February 4th

Two calls for solidarity with the Stansted 15:

For International Migrants Day on Tuesday 18 December, activists from all over the UK will stand in solidarity with the Stansted 15, a group of people who stopped a secret charter flight from deporting precarious migrants to destitution, persecution, and death. On Monday 10 December, the Stansted 15 were found guilty of terror-related charges. Amnesty International called the verdict a crushing blow for human rights. We are using this day to raise awareness of the plight of the Stansted 15 in addition to local migrant-rights issues in every city participating in this national day of action.

We believe that this draconian ruling was designed to thwart direct action against the UK government’s brutal and violent treatment of migrants. This country’s racist and xenophobic immigration policy is rooted in its colonial history. This history continues with the mistreatment and exploitation of migrants in detention, a regime of sexual and physical violence that has resulted in over 43 migrant deaths inside ten immigration removal centres since 2000. Even when not detained, borders cross the everyday lives of all migrants, especially asylum seekers who live in enforced poverty, forbidden to work and housed in appalling privately-run accommodation. State hostility is further embedded in schools, universities, the NHS, charities and housing authorities, with employees conscripted to become border guards, making precarious the lives of so many non-EU and EU migrants and those who were born in the UK but were unable to regularise their status because of opaque immigration rules and high visa fees. The violent coloniality of the hostile environment was exposed this year by the horrible treatment of the Windrush generation, many of whom were brought to the UK to help rebuild the national economy after World War II, raising children that were born in the UK. After living in the UK for their entire lifetimes, members of these communities have found themselves cruelly detained and deported, without the ability to contest their cases.

On Tuesday 18 December, we will use our collective voices to stand in solidarity with the Stansted 15 and with all migrants, such as the women detainees in Yarl’s Wood who continue to #HungerForFreedom.

Helping migrants and stopping detention and deportations from happening in our communities is not a crime! We demand an end to the the hostile environment policy, an end to immigration detention centres and an end to deportations!

To support the Stansted 15 and End Deportations we urge people to wear and/or make signs in pink in solidarity. The following cities have local actions planned. Please click on the link of your city to find out how you can get involved:













Not on the list, but want to plan an action in your city? Contact Unis Resist Border Controls and get involved!

On February 4th, they’ll face sentencing, and there’s a call for people to gather at Chelmsford Crown court in solidarity.

Posted in Repression | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Don’t wake me, I plan on sleeping in: some comments on the “woke anarchists” and related matters

The recent Manchester & Salford Anarchist Bookfair saw some slight disruption when some people who hadn’t been able to book space turned up, gave some literature out, and then got chucked out. That minor kerfuffle thankfully doesn’t seem to have generated as much drama as the one in London last year, but I thought it might still be worth making a few comments on one of the texts they were apparently giving out – and in particular the contrast between the stated politics of the text, the strategy of getting oneself thrown out of bookfairs, and the allies cheering on the people giving it out. A lot of what follows will probably be retreads of things that have been discussed before, because the whole debate’s fairly stale at this point and there’s not much new to respond to.

The bulk of the “woke anarchists” text, “Against Anarcho-Liberalism and the curse of identity politics” is essentially the same as the last critique of “identity politics” you’ve seen, and the one before that: some points which are fair, if banal, and some weird claims that left me scratching my head to work out who they were meant to be on about, as in the classic tradition of critiques of identity politics, they mostly refuse to say who they’re actually talking about or what specific things the people they’re talking about are meant to have actually done. There’s also a lot of stuff about the need to be outward-looking and focused on the class struggle rather than petty movement drama, which is an admirable goal, although I can’t work out how turning up at bookfairs, telling everyone that they’re doing it wrong, and then getting slung out is meant to achieve it.

Although it’s not immediately obvious from the online text, the pdf version, which I’d guess would be what was actually handed out, starts off with “Cops on Pride is collaboration. Female soldiers are still imperialist tools. Black screws & Asian landlords are just as much the enemy.”

And there, to a certain extent, you have the problem with the whole thing in miniature: not that these points are wrong as such, but that, unless I’ve really missed something major, starting off what’s meant to be a critique of the anarchist scene by pointing out that cops and screws are bad is a bit like making the stunningly provocative argument that the moon is not actually made of green cheese. It’s a statement of the bleedin’ obvious, presented as if it’s some important point that the rest of us are too dim to grasp.

But let’s dig down into this, and get deeper into the question of cops at pride, who opposes them and who doesn’t. As I’ve pointed out before, the most notable recent attempt to contest the presence of cops at pride was made by the Anticapitalist Queers in Glasgow, but – and this is pure guesswork, since the “woke anarchists” are so tightlipped about who they’re actually aiming their critiques at – I’d guess that the ACQ might be the kind of people the “woke anarchists” would slate for doing identity politics? Similarly, the only time I’ve seen the ACQ get stick from people who think that cops being at pride is a positive thing, it was from a particularly nasty “gender critical” blog,* so it would make sense if the point of this stuff about how cops at pride are bad was meant to remind everyone of the importance of keeping trans-exclusionary feminists away from anarchist spaces… but I don’t think that’s what the leafleters had in mind.

A very similar point applies to the bit about how screws are bad – I don’t know who the imagined audience of black screw-loving anarcho-liberals are meant to be, but the last time I saw someone try to claim screws as an oppressed group, it was, once again, “gender-critical feminists” pushing the line that screws are being oppressed if they have to lock up and search trans prisoners.

And, to bring things full circle, in the aftermath of the Manchester bookfair incident, it didn’t take long for the people professing their outrage at the “woke anarchists” getting chucked out to start coming out with the same pro-cop lines:

It’s completely beyond me how anyone can support Helen Steel and the cops at the same time, but that’s not my problem to solve. The point here is that, if you start out by trying to explain to the (presumably) confused identitarian anarcho-liberal hordes that cops and screws are the enemy, and then find yourself being applauded by people who think that cops and screws are great, here to protect us, and being oppressed by the trans people they strip-search, then something has gone seriously wrong somewhere.

Anyway, onto the text itself: at one point, it asserts that identity politics operates by “dividing the world into two broad groupings: the Unquestionably Oppressed and the Innately Privileged. There are few grey areas allowed in practice and conflict is continually stoked between these two groups.”

This is a weird assertion, and one that sounds more like a caricature of old-school class reductionism than of intersectionality, which, if anything, you’d think would be criticised for making things too messy and making it harder to draw neat lines (are white women Unquestionably Oppressed or Innately Privileged today?) Compare, for instance, the famous IWW preamble:

“The working class and the employing class have nothing in common. There can be no peace so long as hunger and want are found among millions of the working people and the few, who make up the employing class, have all the good things of life.

Between these two classes a struggle must go on until the workers of the world organize as a class, take possession of the means of production, abolish the wage system, and live in harmony with the Earth.”

Or this from the Platform:

“There is no one single humanity
There is a humanity of classes
Slaves and Masters

Like all those which have preceded it, the bourgeois capitalist society of our times is not ‘one humanity’. It is divided into two very distinct camps, differentiated socially by their situations and their functions, the proletariat (in the wider sense of the word), and the bourgeoisie.”

Or indeed Marx and Engels‘:

“Society as a whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes directly facing each other — Bourgeoisie and Proletariat.”

Another weird claim is that “Things that muddy the simple binary of oppressed vs. privileged, such as personal life experiences or traumas (which cannot be neatly summed up by one’s identity as a member of an oppressed group), or things that people may not feel comfortable talking about, such as mental health or class, are often wilfully ignored by identity politicians.”

As ever, I find it hard to tell who this is actually meant to be aimed at, but the claim that the idpol enemy ignore things like traumas and mental health issues feels like a strange fit with the standard critique of safe-space-loving snowflakes, a script which the “woke anarchists” text mostly reproduces faithfully.

Indeed, a few paragraphs later, “a certain fragility” is listed as part of the evidence that the nameless identity politicians are lacking proper working class credentials, which again makes it feel like the “woke anarchists” are meant to be having a go at their opponents for talking about trauma and mental health too much, not for ignoring them.

Another bizarre moment comes when the reader is reminded that being “unquestionably oppressed” is not the same thing as being working class, (fair enough in itself) because “many in the Unquestionably Oppressed espouse liberal values rooted in capitalist ideology rather than being truly liberatory”. Which seems to give the impression that the author believes all working-class people are 100% sorted anarchist communists and no working-class people ever come out with anything rooted in capitalist ideology.

Shortly afterwards, we get to a complaint about “the creation and use of loaded terms intended to provoke an emotional response (‘triggering’, ‘feeling unsafe’, ‘Terf’, ‘fascist’)”. Again, the complaint about people talking about “triggering” makes the earlier complaint that they don’t talk about trauma or mental health a bit nonsensical; but I think the real point at issue here is the inclusion of “terf” in the list of Bad Words. It seems an odd thing to include in a piece that’s claiming to be a defence of class politics against the identity menace, since “terf” is a word that is not primarily used to diss people for having class politics, but mainly to criticise followers of a specific, particularly reactionary strain of identity politics. Unless, of course, the point of all this is actually a defence of that kind of feminism which is primarily concerned with policing who gets to identify as what, but packaged as though it were an attack on identity.

They then bemoan how anarchism has been infected by identity politics, asserting that “Self-appointed leaders who do not agree with our politics should not be given a platform by us”. A point I’m very happy to agree with, but you can hardly argue that people running anarchist spaces need to be pickier about who they give platforms to, and then get all outraged when it turns out that actually people running anarchist spaces would prefer not to give you a platform.

They complain that “we have allowed groups with little or no radical politics to enter our spaces and shut down debate”, which again feels kind of contradictory, since one person’s “keeping groups with little or no radical politics out of our spaces” is another’s “shutting down debate”.

Then there’s a one-sided condemnation of the inflammatory language used “against radical feminists by trans rights activists” – the choice of language here is telling, since as far as I can tell the term “trans rights activists” is mostly used as a sly dig by trans-exclusionary feminists trying to associate trans people with the widely reviled world of “men’s rights activism”.

There is certainly a discussion to be had about whether the general verbal extremism often practiced by anarchists and other radicals is of any use at all, or whether it’s usually a self-defeating form of compensation for real-life powerlessness, but that would be a much more broad-ranging critique, taking in everything from “we have found new homes for the rich” and guillotine jokes onwards. Alternatively, if you don’t have a problem with verbal extremism and violent language in general, and are generally OK with anarchists using heated rhetoric about people they don’t like, but think they should choose their words more carefully when the people they don’t like are women – well, that’s a case that you can make, certainly, and it’s one I have some sympathy for, but it’s a form of politics based on a claim about identity, and the idea that women are, in the mocking terminology of the “woke anarchists”, “Unquestionably Oppressed”. If anything deserves to be described as “identity politics”, characterised by “a preoccupation with safety and language”, then this demand that anarchists criticising people who they think have reactionary politics need to be careful about choosing their language in order to avoid making those people feel unsafe, on the basis of their identity, certainly fits the bill.

More generally, if the point of all this is to argue that anarchists should be nicer and less hostile to trans-exclusionary feminists, then I’m confused about why they went to all the trouble of setting out a lengthy critique of identity politics, only to turn around and defend a group of people whose politics are based precisely on an obsessive focus on identity, and insisting that trans women are Innately Privileged, and so cannot share experiences with Unquestionably Oppressed cis women.

Similarly, they insist that “We still reject politicians of all stripes, whether Tories, Labour or those who see themselves as leaders of movements based around identity.” Which sounds grand, but I hope that rejection includes the likes of the Green party candidate for Hersham, or indeed Linda Bellos or Venice Allen.

Then there’s a bit about how anarchists should reject religion, which I can’t really understand what it’s on about, unless it’s intended as a veiled reference to the daft argument about that Active Distribution banner. But it could equally well be a dig at the Catholic Worker lot, or at the increased visibility of Jewish radicalism, I can’t really tell.

Next, they complain that “The destruction of anarchist projects is carried out and celebrated in the name of identity politics, simply to appease those who have no interest in anarchism itself”. Again, who’s celebrating the destruction of anarchist projects? Let’s take a look. Here’s Jen Isaacson:

At the risk of repeating myself, if you set out trying to defend anarchist projects against those who would celebrate their destruction, and then you find this kind of smug snidey prick cheering you on, it seems to be a sign that something’s got seriously mixed up somewhere.

At this point, they finally come out and name one of the targets of their critique, saying they want to “start by calling out Freedom News for starters, whose uncritical support of groups with little in common with anarchism is shameful”. The choice of words is unintentionally hilarious here, as usually no rant about safe spaces, language policing, fragility, identity politics, and so on is complete without the obligatory denunciation of call-out culture. But more to the point, while they’ve got half-way to making an actual, verifiable, fact-checkable criticism, they never quite make it there, since the problem is just left as Freedom’s support of unnamed “groups” – are they mad about Freedom fundraising for Palang Hitam Anarchist Black Cross? Publicising the situation faced by Russian anarchists? Writing about SolFed fighting landlords and letting agents? Who can say?

After this, we get “Anarchism is not just another identity as some like to claim”, which is just baffling – who even says that?

They tell us that “Identity politics at times mirrors the chauvinism of nationalism, with different groups seeking to carve out their own domains of power according to categories derived from the capitalist order”, apparently without noticing that this precisely describes the position of those “radical feminists” who they think are being so unfairly maligned, the people who seek to play the role of border guards in this kind of identity nationalism.

The piece ends with a rousing call to turn away from inward-facing scene strife and out towards the class struggle, which sounds great for the most part, and all I can say is “well, get on with it then”. I can’t believe I have to explain the connection between means and ends to anarchists, but just as you can’t fight alienation with alienated means, you can’t fight divisiveness and disruption with divisive, disruptive means either.

The bit that gets to me is that, a full year since last year’s bookfair drama, these people have had plenty of time to leave the “anarcho-liberals” behind them and get on with demonstrating the superiority of their approach in practice, but instead they seem stuck on staging a repetition of the same old events and arguments.

In true anarchist fashion, I have no mandate to speak for anyone but myself here, but as someone who fully agrees thatanarchism is cooperation, mutual aid, solidarity and fighting the real centres of power”, if you want to encourage anarchists to engage more with the RMT “keep the guard on the train” dispute (day 40 of the Northern Rail strike is this Saturday!), and you start up a train guards’ support group, I’d think that was great. If you want to encourage anarchists to engage more with the fight against Universal Credit and welfare reform, and you put your energy into starting a claimants’ group, I’d think that was great, and similarly for housing issues and starting a local tenants’ action group. But if you think the best way to make anarchism a relevant, outward-looking movement is to rock up at events you’ve not been able to book space at, give out texts denouncing everyone else for being wrong, and then sit back and wait for people to get outraged on the internet when things inevitably kick off – well, I’ll think you sound like a nuisance, but at least you know people who love cops and hate anarchists will carry on applauding you.

Here’s hoping that next year brings us all better, fresher, more interesting conflicts and problems.


*the blog itself has now been deleted by wordpress, the post in question has been archived but I still won’t link directly to the archive because I think the contents cross the line into targeting specific individuals in a way I don’t want to encourage. You can dig it up if you’re curious, though.

Posted in Anarchists, Bit more thinky, Debate, Gender, Stuff that I don't think is very useful | Tagged | 1 Comment

This is a bad time of year to plug fundraisers, but anyway…

I appreciate that not many people have much cash spare at this time of the year, but in case anyone does, here’s a listing of a few worthy causes that’ve been asking for donations recently:

A fundraiser’s been started for the Russian antifascists and anarchists caught up in the “rupression/network” case. Freedom Press are still selling fundraising t-shirts for the Indonesian anarchists who’ve been facing increased state harassment since May Day. Partisan in Manchester are asking for donations to cover the cost of a free dinner event for asylum seekers and refugees on Saturday 23rd. The Stansted 15 are still asking for help with the legal costs of their appeal. Books Beyond Bars are asking for donations to help with their work sending reading material to queer prisoners. They’ll also be hosting a fundraising filmshowing in Salford on Sunday 16th December. The IWW Couriers Network are trying to raise money to cover the legal costs of a member who was injured in an accident at work, and subsequently sued by another driver. The Anarchist Communist Group are asking for donations to help fund their newsletter, Jackdaw, which one of the only printed anarchist freesheets still going in the UK at the moment, so worth kicking in a few quid if you want to make anarchist ideas accessible outside the world of algorithms and social media echo chambers. Similarly, over in the US, revolutionary printing project True Leap Press is currently running a fundraiser, and South Chicago Anarchist Black Cross, who’ve been printing and sending radical material to prisoners for 20 years now, could use a little help staying on the road for the next few decades.

A few other miscellanous notes: in a testament to what real staying power and commitment looks like, the (surviving members of) the Shrewsbury 24, jailed for picketing in 1972, have been given permission for a hearing on their appeal, which is an important step forward in their long, long quest to overturn their convictions. The Anti-Fascist Network have a full write-up of this weekend’s goings-on in London. And it turns out that there are actually two xmas dos organised by grassroots/base-type unions in London this Saturday, so you can take your pick between partying with the Cleaners and Allied Independent Workers Union at the May Day Rooms in Fleet Street or the United Voices of the World in Kentish Town.

Posted in Anarchists | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Early December round-up of a few workplace struggles and other stories

In workplace news, Shelter staff have just called off strike action that was set to start tomorrow, after winning a pay increase. RMT strikes against driver-only operation are continuing on Northern Rail, and further action on South-Western is scheduled for Saturday 22nd. Cleaners organising through the UVW union have won the London Living Wage at Optivo, with Ministry of Justice security guards, cleaners and receptionists set to strike soon over pay, sick pay and holidays. The Cammell Laird shipyard strike in Birkenhead is up in the air with strike actions and the redundancies that provoked them both suspended for now.

Couriers organising through the IWW managed to beat an attempt at wage theft by MPH England, and the couriers’ network is also currently fundraising for Lucy, an UberEats courier and migrant worker being unfairly saddled with legal fees after an accident. Meanwhile, the IWGB is launching a major boycott campaign at the University of London’s Senate House as part of its ongoing fight to win equal terms and conditions for members of staff who are currently outsourced. Brighton Solidarity Federation are currently going through a lengthy dispute with Fox & Sons, a scumbag letting agency who withdrew a new tenancy days after the tenants were due to move in. CAIWU have taken on a new campaign for decent treatment of the staff at the Brushfields Street branch of Patisserie Valerie, and they’ll also be holding their own xmas do at Mayday Rooms on Saturday 15th December.

Finally, it sounds like the weekend’s big demos in Central London saw the far-right comfortably outnumbered, although scousers achieved an even better result, with their local fash just not bothering to turn up at all. If you fancy reading more working-class news from West London, the Angry Workers of the World have a new issue of their paper out now.

Posted in Strikes, Unions, Work | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

‘Out of control’ Home Office should have been in the dock, not us: Stansted 15 respond to guilty verdict

An emergency protest has been called for Tuesday afternoon outside the Home Office in solidarity with the defendants.

The Stansted 15 will be appealing this decision, you can donate to their legal costs here.

Via Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants:

The Stansted 15 protesters, who stopped a government deportation flight from taking off in March last year, have today been found guilty of breaching terror laws [1]. After 9 weeks the jury found all fifteen defendants guilty of intentional disruption of services and endangerment at an aerodrome under the 1990 Aviation and Maritime Security Act – a controversial use of terror-related law.

The Stansted 15 were accused by the government of putting the safety of the airport and passengers at risk, a charge rejected by all 15 defendants. The trial followed a peaceful action which stopped a chartered deportation flight from taking off in March 2017. The defendants could now face up to life in prison. Sentencing will take place soon.

Responding to the verdict in a statement the Stansted 15 said:

“We are guilty of nothing more than intervening to prevent harm. The real crime is the government’s cowardly, inhumane and barely legal deportation flights and the unprecedented use of terror law to crack down on peaceful protest. We must challenge this shocking use of draconian legislation, and continue to demand an immediate end to these secretive deportation charter flights and a full independent public inquiry into the government’s ‘hostile environment’.”

“Justice will not be done until we are exonerated and the Home Office is held to account for the danger it puts people in every single day. It endangers people in dawn raids on their homes, at detention centres and on these brutal flights. The system is out of control. It is unfair, unjust and unlawful and it must be stopped.”

Melanie Strickland, one of the defendants, said:

“To be found guilty of a terror-related charge for a peaceful protest is devastating for us, and profoundly disturbing for democracy in this country.  It’s the Home Office’s brutal, secretive and barely legal practice of mass deportation flights that is putting people in danger, and their ‘hostile environment’ policy that is hurting vulnerable people from our communities. It’s the Home Office that should have been in the dock, not us.”

A man who was set to be deported on the flight but has since been granted a right to remain in the UK said:

“The Stansted 15 have been found guilty of breaching a barely used terror law. Though the jury were convinced that their actions breached this legislation, there’s no doubt in my mind that these 15 brave people are heroes, not criminals. For me a crime is doing something that is evil, shameful or just wrong – and it’s clear that it is the actions of the Home Office tick all of these boxes – and the Stansted 15 were trying to stop the real crime being committed.

‘As the Stansted 15 face their own purgatory – awaiting sentences in the following weeks – I will be praying that they are shown leniency. Without their actions I would have missed my daughter’s birth, and faced the utter injustice of being deported from this country without having my now successful appeal heard. My message to them today is to fight on. Their cause is just, and history will absolve you of the guilt that the system has marked you with.’

Raj Chada, Partner from Hodge Jones & Allen, who represented all 15 of the defendants said:

“We are deeply disappointed by today’s verdicts. In our view it is inconceivable that our clients were charged under counter terrorism legislation for what was a just protest against deporting asylum seekers. Hodge Jones & Allen previously represented 13 defendants who protested at Heathrow in similar circumstances to the 15 at Stansted, yet they were not charged with this draconian legislation. We believe this was an abuse of power by the Attorney General and the CPS as they should never have been charged with these offences. The fact is that the actions of these protestors resulted in two people who were about to be wrongfully deported remaining in the UK.”


For media enquiries please contact Kevin Smith on 07926 222 879 or Matthew Butcher on 07745706480

Or email us on

Spokespeople are available for broadcast interview.

Photos of the Stansted 15 can be found here on Getty Images, or via photographer Kristian Buus.

Notes to editors:

[1] Helen Brewer, Lyndsay Burtonshaw, Nathan Clack, Laura Clayson, Mel Evans, Joseph McGahan, Benjamin Smoke, Jyotsna Ram, Nicholas Sigsworth, Alistair Tamlit, Edward Thacker, Emma Hughes, May McKeith, Ruth Potts and Melanie Stickland were charged with intentional disruption of services at an aerodrome under the 1990 Aviation and Maritime Security Act, a law passed in response to the 1988 Lockerbie bombing that has only been used once before in 28 years. The defendants, aged 27 to 44, all pleaded not guilty to the charge.

[2] Impact of the action:

When the defendants stopped the plane, they knew that:

One woman’s former husband had threatened to kill her on arrival in Nigeria, because of her sexuality.

One man had threatened to commit suicide because he had no friends or family in Nigeria.

At least two people who were supposed to be on the plane have since been identified as trafficking victims.

These are just the stories the defendants knew about. There are countless examples of people being sent to countries where they are at risk of serious harm, even death.

The defendants also knew that:

The people on the plane risked verbal and physical abuse from the security guards accompanying them. Independent observers have witnessed racist and misogynist abuse, and excessive use of force by guards, and that was when there were observers on the plane. This kind of abuse appears to be the rule, rather than the exception.

There is ongoing concern about the use of restraint. Waist restraints that are only supposed to be used in exceptional circumstances appear to be the norm. In 2017, HM Chief Inspectors found that 74 staff used restraints on 22 out of 23 people on a flight to France and Bulgaria, and all 60 people were restrained on a flight to Germany.

What happened as a result of the action?

One man, who was due to be on the flight was able to return to his partner, who was already in labour, for the birth of their child. He has now been granted leave to remain so can stay with his family.

Eleven people are still in the country and continuing their appeals because the flight was stopped, at least two are victims of trafficking.

Questionable legality:

When the defendants stopped the plane, the Home Office were deporting people who were victims of trafficking, when the courts had told them not to.

When the defendants stopped the plane, the Home Office were denying people their right to appeal through a policy of ‘Deport first, appeal later’ which the Supreme Court ruled was illegal shortly after the flight the defendants stopped.

[3] About charter flight deportations:

1. Charter flights refer to the government practice of paying for entire flights to send large numbers of people to specific countries. The flights contain only the people being sent away from the UK and private security guards. They take off late at night from undisclosed locations, hiding them from public view.

2. Investigations by Corporate Watch have revealed that the government uses racial profiling to select people for deportation so that it can fill planes, including people with active legal claims.

3. “Reserve” deportees are taken to the airport to fill up the places of individuals whose lawyers are successful in making last-minute challenges. The people who are “reserve”’ are not told whether they will be deported on the flight right up until they are either put on the plane, or the plane departs. If they are not deported they may be sent to a different detention centre from the one they left. The Chief Inspector of Prisons and the Home Affairs Committee have recommended the use of reserves on deportation charter flights cease. The practice continues.

4. There is substantial evidence that people being deported experience violence and abuse on these covert flights. People going on the flights are handcuffed, waist restraint belts an independent panel advised should only be used in exceptional circumstances are regularly used, and some are strapped to their seats. Private security guards still use the same restraint techniques that led to the death of Jimmy Mubenga. 60-70 people will be deported on one flight and accompanied by about twice as many guards as people being deported.

5. The flights are operated by a number of private aviation companies and security companies, including Tascor, a subsidiary of Capita, and previously G4S. In May 2018, Mitie, a Bristol-based outsourcing firm took over the contract from Tascor.

6. Thousands of people are deported from the UK in this way each year.

7. Deporting people in this way costs millions. The contract for the security escorts alone is worth £52 million a year, according to Mitie, who over the contract in May 2018.

8. The UK began using charter deportations in 2001. The flights were introduced by new labour specifically to deport people who had sought asylum in the UK.

9. Then Home Secretary, Jack Straw, agreed an arbitrary target of 30,000 deportations a year based on the assumption that almost half of all asylum applications would be rejected. This arbitrary target was called unworkable and unrealistic by the Home Affairs Select Committee in 2005, but target culture has continued to drive the way people seeking asylum are treated in the UK.

10. Former Home Secretary Amber Rudd was forced to resign when it emerged, during the Windrush scandal, that she had lied to parliament about the existence of targets for immigration removals. Before she resigned she claimed that the targets had been scrapped, but it’s hard to see how such an entrenched approach would change easily.

11. In 2014, the Guardian revealed that Home Office officials were rewarded for hitting targets of rejecting asylum claims in tribunals with shopping vouchers, extra pay and extra holiday. More recently it was alleged that officials received bonuses of thousands of pounds for meeting or exceeding removal targets.

12. The countries people are sent to are often countries Britain has intervened in militarily, or where there is political instability. The first flights were to Kosovo and Albania, then Romania and the Czech Republic with Roma people the main targets. In 2003 charters began to Afghanistan, newly declared “safe”. More recently, Pakistan has taken over as the UK government’s main charter deportation “partner”, after a deal was struck with the Pakistani government in 2011, as part of a larger trade and aid negotiation. African countries are also now regular destinations, notably Nigeria, Ghana and (until recently) the Democratic Republic of Congo. September 2016 also saw a charter flight to Jamaica, the first since 2014. Flights to Iraq and Sri Lanka have stopped for now, after successful political and legal campaigns involving refugee movements from these countries. Flights to Afghanistan have also stopped, but they continue from other European countries, and many fear they will also soon resume from the UK

[4] About End Deportations:

End Deportations is a campaign to stop the brutal, secretive and barely legal practice of deporting large groups of people using charter flights. We need to ask serious questions about the brutal and inhumane detention system.

Posted in Repression | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Saturday 8th December: Hanworth MacDonald’s Picket – Support sacked UberEats drivers!

A last-minute call-out for this weekend, from London IWW:


IWW Picket to protest the termination of 5 UberEats drivers.

What: Picket to support five sacked UberEats drivers

When: 6pm until 9pm Saturday the 8th of December

Where: Hanworth McDonald’s, Twickenham Rd, TW13 6HB

No union busting, no poverty pay! Protest the termination of 5 UberEats drivers.

Please come and join the IWW union in supporting five UberEats drivers who were this week terminated for protesting poverty pay, or in some cases simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

On Monday night, five UberEats drivers at the Hanworth MacDonald’s received calls from UberEats telling them their agreements had been terminated.

The reason for this appears to be an incident the previous week when drivers in the area refused to work in response to the pay boost being dropped from 1.6x to 1.1x. This amounts to a reduction of about 60%.

This makes a mockery of UberEats’ claims that drivers are independent contractors free to choose their working time. When the drivers come together to take stand against poverty pay, Uber treats them the same way that greedy bosses have always treated their workers – by attacking their organising efforts and firing them.

The IWW stands in solidarity with delivery drivers, wherever they take action to defend their livelihoods.

Our Demands:

We call on UberEats to immediately reinstate the terminated drivers and to return the boosts in Hanworth to 1.6x, (around £5/drop). Furthermore we want to publicly name and shame the Hanworth MacDonald’s, which is a head office branch.We demand that the management of this branch stop harassing delivery drivers, especially if they expect them to deliver their food.

What you can do:

If you are a driver: Please do not deliver from the Hanworth MacDonald’s or to the area covered by it. Show your support for the fired drivers. Next time it could be you.

If you are a customer: Please do not buy from MacDonald’s while this picket is on. Please also complain to them and UberEats, either through their websites or social media. Tell them what you think of union busting and poverty wages.

Solidarity with the UberEats 5- an injury to one is an injury to all.

Other things happening this weekend include the “red christmas” Women’s Strike Xmas Party raising funds for the UVW union on Friday night, ongoing RMT strikes in defence of guards on Northern Rail (but not South-Western, as far as I can tell) on Saturday, a discussion on “Working Class Anarchist Responses to Brexit and Tommy Robinson” in central London on Saturday night, and antifascist mobilisations against the far-right in London and Liverpool on Sunday 9th. More stuff coming soon, but that’s all for now.

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Jeremy Hammond and Jason Walker targeted by guards, Cedar sentenced in Canada: repression update

A quick update on a few recent repression-related stories:

Prison rebel Jason Walker has been attacked by staff at the Ellis Unit in Texas, and is now facing trumped-up charges in a further attempt to silence his voice. You can send him some words of support at Jason Renard Walker, 1532092, Ellis Unit, 1697 FM 980, Huntsville TX 77340.

The Final Straw radio show also suggest:

“Direct attention to authorities at Ellis Unit:
Ellis Unit warden Kelly Strong:
936-295-5756 (**010) or
Regional Director Wayne Brewer: or 936-437-1770
Ombudsman: and 936-437-4927

A suggested script is posted in our notes:

I am contacting you as I have seen reports that inmate Jason Renard Walker, #1532092, has been attacked by staff at the Ellis Unit, and that he is now being threatened with a false disciplinary charge to try and distort the facts of the issue. I demand that there is a full independent review of all relevant surveillance footage, including any CCTV recordings from the cafeteria on the morning of November 23rd 2018 and the portable camera that was used to record Mr. Walker being escorted to his cell following the incident. Mr. Walker and all the members of staff involved, especially officers Pollock and Williford, should be given polygraph tests to determine whose version of events is more truthful, and all relevant witnesses should be interviewed. Mr. Walker reports that an inmate known as Fishtrap, along with another inmate who lives in B4, witnessed the entire scene.
Please be aware that the Texas Department of Criminal Justice may be held legally responsible for any harm that comes to Mr. Walker while he is in TDCJ’s custody.


Anarchist hacker Jeremy Hammond has similarly been charged with attacking a guard after apparently opening a door (that didn’t have a window) and bumping a member of staff who was stood on the other side, and is now facing the threat of a transfer to a worse facility. His support team aren’t currently asking for pressure on the authorities, but say

“For now, the best way to continue to support Jeremy is to write. (Letters and cards only at this time, please – no books or magazines.)

Jeremy Hammond, #18729-424
FCI Milan
P.O. Box 1000
Milan, MI 48160

The legal case against people accused of involvement in an anti-gentrification riot in Hamilton, Ontario, seems to have come to an end, with defendants accepting a plea deal, meaning that “one person was sentenced to a year in prison, of which they expect to serve 5-6 months, and is now in jail; another will be sentenced to a shorter jail term in the new year; and one person received a 9 month conditional sentence entailing house arrest and a curfew. On the ever so slight brighter side of the plea deal, two people were sentenced to a conditional discharge and 3 others had their charges withdrawn in exchange for signing a peace bond. This means 5 out of the 8 us will come out of this without a permanent criminal record. Everyone’s sentence also include a period of probation and some amount of community service.”

At the moment, you can reach Cedar, the person serving the longest term, by writing to Peter Hopperton, 165 Barton St. E, Hamilton, ON, L8L 2W6, but it seems likely that they will be moved soon, so check Hamilton Anarchist Support for updates.

Closer to home, the lengthy trial of the Stansted 15 is almost over, with a verdict expected as soon as Wednesday 5th or Thursday 6th December. And comrades in London are organising a solidarity demo for the Russian antifascists and anarchists under attack from the state, with a call for people to meet at the Cable Street Mural on Saturday 19th January.

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