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Au Revoir Marie-Noelle

Tue, 20/09/2011 - 10:53

Dale Farm Evictions 'Infringe Rights'

Wed, 14/09/2011 - 13:10
Listen to the BBC Today programme interview with Professor Yves Cabannes, chair of the UN Advisory Group on Forced Evictions, where he outlines his concerns about the Dale Farm evictions and the double standards in its treatment of travellers in the UK.

Basildon Council Sunk Secret Group Appointed To Solve Dale Farm Crisis

Wed, 14/09/2011 - 13:05
The Homes and Communities Agency offer of land and funding for alternative sites had been rejected by Basildon. 

In letters from the Homes and Communities Agency, made public today, it is revealed that Basildon District Council withdrew from the official group tasked to find a housing solution for the Dale Farm community. This left no plan for the Travellers’ welfare following any eviction.

 The ‘Alternative Sites Working Group’ met from November 2009 to August 2010 and included Basildon District Council, Essex County Council, the Government Office for the East of England, plus the former leader of Reigate and Banstead Council and chairman of the Local Government Association Task Force on Gypsies and Travellers (As confirmed in a letter from Homes and Communities Agency to local MEP Richard Howitt, 31 August 2011). They met in secret at the request of Basildon Council. Basildon District Council withdrew in October 2010 and refused to deal with group, over “an alleged breach of confidentiality on details of sites being discussed by the Working Group” (As stated in an email from Homes and Communities Agency to Dale Farm Support Group, 12 Sept 2011).  This stopped its work in finding alternative Traveller sites.

 Dale Farm resident Kathleen McCarthy said, “This is shocking, Basildon Council have put their prejudice above finding a solution to the needs of the Dale Farm community.”

 The Homes and Communities Agency, noted that, “[w]e are willing to place any of our land in Basildon at the Council’s designation as a Gypsy and Traveller site(s). We are willing to identify and invest capital to establish the pitches on such land.”

 However, one planning application on HCA land near the current Dale Farm site has already been rejected by Basildon Council on the stated grounds of road safety.

 Dale Farm resident Kathleen McCarthy continued, “The behaviour of Tony Ball, leader of the Council, makes life for us impossible. He pulled out of the official process to find a new fully legal site, and when we try ourselves, he blocks our proposals for new sites, even when we have full HCA backing. Next weeks’ eviction is about prejudice, pure and simple.”

 The revelations coincide with open letter to the government and Basildon Council that the Council must suspend the eviction and find an alternative culturally acceptable solution to making Dale Farm residents homeless. It was signed by  the Chief Executive of the Children’s Society, Director of Liberty, and MPs Andy Slaughter and Andrew George plus 59 others. (Guardian, 13 September 2011, P33)

Questions have been raised about the motivations for pushing for the eviction as plans are revealed for 900 homes on greenbelt land in the neighbouring district to Basildon. Plans for homes on Jotmans Lane Benfleet have the support of Tory councillors, and face a final vote on the 27th September, after a report by a government inspector highlighted the need for more homes.(Basildon Echo, 13 September 2011, P7)


The Whole World Is Watching

Mon, 12/09/2011 - 12:30
International support for Dale Farm residents as hundreds march in protest at their threatened eviction, planned to begin from the 19th September

Hundreds, including a Member of the European Parliament, political and human rights groups and supporters from the local area, all over the UK and beyond marched from Wickford Station to Dale Farm on Saturday in solidarity with the beleaguered residents of the former scrapyard, how home to 100 families under threat of eviction by Basildon Council.

The campaign to save Dale Farm, initially supported by local church groups and friends of the community and long given the vocal backing of figures such as Lord Avebury and Vanessa Redgrave, has been receiving messages of solidarity from Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, and Australia, with supporters travelling from mainland Europe to stay at Camp Constant, a resistance and solidarity camp on the site. Residents were visited last week by Bishop Thomas McMahon of Brentwood and Bishop Stephen Cottrell of the Diocese of Chelmsford, and residents have outspoken support from the Jewish community. Protests are planned at British Embassies in Berlin and Dublin to show support to the families facing eviction.

Kathleen McCarthy, a resident of Dale Farm, said, 'there are people here from all over the world, I just met a girl from America who supports us. It's great to know people are listening, and people are hearing our voices, even if our own Government isn't.'

Richard Howitt, Labour MEP for the East of England, joined the march and spoke afterwards as supporters enjoyed lunch and a cup of tea with residents:

'Their rights are not just for Traveller families to have a home, and for their children to have an education. But for their culture to be respected. To be able to live according to the Traveller lifestyle.... As a Member of the European Parliament I am deeply ashamed that action here in this community is bringing international opprobrium against our country. That Britain's international reputation for tolerance, fairness and justice is being damaged at what may happen next. And that the time to listen to the criticism is now not later.'

Kartik Raj, speaking on behalf of Amnesty International, which recently sent out an Urgent Action to its members on behalf of Dale Farm, said, 'hundreds of people are writing to Basildon Council from all over the world to express their horror at the evictions.'

The South East Region Trades Union Congress (SERTUC), No Borders, No One Is Illegal, No Sweat,  and Unite Against Fascism also sent representatives who spoke out against the eviction.

International pressure on the British Government is growing, with concern expressed by two different UN Special Rapporteurs, the UN Committee for the Elimination of Racism and Discrimination and the Council of Europe, and news of the planned UN visit later in September. Mr Howitt has repeatedly called for the British Government to release the Council of Europe report, to no avail. Next week the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights in Vienna will debate the evictions.

The UN has spoken out strongly against the evictions, with the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination writing several times to the UK government expressing concern and calling for protection of the human rights of the families. A statement of the 2nd September called  on the UK Government to suspend the planned eviction, which would disproportionately affect the lives of the Gypsy and Traveller families, particularly women, children and older people.
Dale Farm is home to the largest Traveller community in the UK, a former scrapyard which was purchased by the community thirty years ago. The residents of Dale Farm have pledged to leave if alternate sites can be found, and two planning applications have been lodged which are due to be heard in October. 90% of Gypsy and Traveller planning applications are turned down, compared with 20% overall. Government inspectors have noted that Basildon has a “dire shortage” of Gypsy and Traveller sites, and have placed pressure on the Council to provide 62 pitches. Because no alternative sites have been approved, families will be forced to stay at Dale Farm or become homeless.

-Press pack available at
-Interview, comment and photos available from, 07583 761462
-For directions to get to Dale Farm, see:
- The £18 million cost of the eviction includes £10 million for policing- £6 million of which was granted by the Home Office

At the request of residents, members of the press are asked to restrict their visits to the hours of 11am-12pm and 3pm-4pm, unless by prior appointment. To make an appointment, call 07583 761462.

Hypocrisy In Basildon Council’s Approach To Planning Regulation

Sun, 11/09/2011 - 15:13

In a move described as ‘totally undemocratic’ by local Councillor Geoff Williams, Basildon Council suddenly cancelled last night’s general council meeting, avoiding discussion of contentious plans for a major housing development – 500 houses – on environmentally sensitive green space, at Gloucester Park.

Citing inexplicable ‘public safety reasons’ and ‘exceptional circumstances…at Dale Farm’ for the last minute cancellation, it appears Basildon Council fears exposure of blatantly hypocritical planning decisions.

The council meeting was intended to focus on the controversial development of green space at Gloucester Park, a designated nature reserve, which was donated to the council on the condition that it would not be developed. A meeting planned to discuss selling off this green space for housing threatened to expose the inconsistent and discretionary nature of the Council’s planning decisions. The Council is attempting to justify making 90 families homeless to save a former scrap yard classed as ‘green belt’, while selling off valued green spaces for a major housing development project.

Councillor Williams said that as a result of the cancellation of this meeting “local people have been denied the right to protest, challenge, and scrutinise”. The Councillor added that this cancellation is on top of the complete closure of council offices from next week, with further meeting cancellations announced on 20th Sept, expressing concern that ‘so much will have to be caught up with…[and] some issues have time constraints’. However, the cancellation of the Gloucester Park meeting is being viewed particularly cynically.

Dale Farm resident and mother Mary said: "The council are prepared to agree to build on Gloucester Park, yet insists on evicting us from an old scrap yard. The council are prejudiced against us. It's one rule for settled people and another for travellers."

A supporter from Dale Farm, Jane Trevellion, added “the prejudicial nature of the council’s planning decisions are really obvious if you look at the history of the council’s planning decisions. There is no consistency: at Vange school, greenbelt was sold off under the direction of the government Planning Inspector, without much fuss from the council…before that there was a huge Homebase Development on the greenbelt. There are other developments proposed on highly valued green spaces at Kent View and Northlands. In the case of Dale Farm the ‘greenbelt’ was concreted and used for 30 years as a scrap yard and the council didn’t make any fuss. It is only since the Travellers arrived that the council has suddenly become protective of the greenbelt land at Dale Farm. The council’s claims of fairness under the law are entirely false. This is clearly about prejudice against the Traveller population and this kind of racial intolerance is totally wrong. The law is not applied equally and there is no fairness in that.”

According to the Commission for Racial Equality, more than 90% of Traveller planning applications are initially rejected. This compares to less than 20% of rejected applications for everybody else¹. Gypsies and Travellers in the UK are trapped in a web of overlapping, systemic failures to respect their customs and preferences.

Councillor Linda Williams for the Nethermayne ward added that the “Greenbelt is not sacrosanct, it was designated by people and people have the right to reconsider its boundaries.” Councillor Geoff Williams has also released a statement contesting the forced evictions at Dale Farm and saying that the green spaces and green belt of Basildon are far more threatened by the local authority and the planning inspectorate than by any incursions by Travellers. He described the use of public funds to forcibly evict families at Dale Farm as ‘mind-boggling’. He stated that “The council’s unremitting desire to protect the dubious qualities of the greenbelt at Dale Farm stands in stark contrast to its reluctance to pursue the designation of recognised wildlife sites as green belt, or to defend other existing pristine designations”

The Council is pursuing hugely costly forced evictions when suitable alternative plots have been identified by the Travellers at Church Road, Laindon which is owned by the Homes and Communities Agency and at Gardiners Lane South. A public enquiry is due on 22nd November to consider the Church Road site.

“In pursuing these forced evictions at this time Basildon council is taking unnecessarily brutal and overly hasty action, when a possible solution is just around the corner. Crucial meetings are due to take place which have a strong chance of finding alternative appropriate sites for the Travellers to move on to safely and without the associated costs of forced eviction” said Ann, a local resident and supporter of the Dale Farm community.

Helen, another supporter at Camp Constant added “this just shows the council doesn’t want a peaceful solution, they just want to hound the Travellers out of Basildon.”

The Equality and Human Rights Commission reported² recently on these issues, saying that ‘Few local authorities have a policy for identifying, and dealing with, objections to planning applications that are or may be racist. This means racist representations are reaching planning committees, in breach of guidance from the Royal Town Planning Institute.’

The Localism Bill puts more power in the hand of deeply flawed local planning processes, further threatening both valued green spaces and reducing the chances that adequate suitable land will be found for Gypsies and Travellers.

On Saturday, 10th September at 1pm supporters of the Dale Farm community are gathering at Wickford train station and marching to Dale Farm. MEP of the East of England Richard Howitt will attend the rally, as will members of the Public and Commercial Services Union. Notifications on the Dale Farm Solidarity website are asking supporters coming to the demo on 10th Sept to “bring a sleeping bag and a toothbrush and stay for as long as you can.” Adding: “Our ability to stop this ethnic cleansing is now almost entirely down to numbers- so come on down!”




United Nations Anti-Racism Committee Calls On UK To Suspend Dale Farm Evictions

Sat, 03/09/2011 - 15:15
The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on Friday expressed deep regret at the insistence of authorities in the United Kingdom to proceed with the eviction of Gypsy and Traveller families at the Dale Farm in Essex before providing culturally appropriate alternative accommodation to them.

“We call on the Government to suspend the planned eviction, which would disproportionately affect the lives of the Gypsy and Traveller families, particularly women, children and older people,” the Committee members said.

“We urge the authorities to find a peaceful and appropriate solution, including identifying culturally appropriate accommodation, with full respect for the rights of the families involved,” the Committee added.

The Committee reviewed the combined 18th, 19th and 20th reports of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland at its current session in Geneva. The Dale Farm issue was extensively discussed with the United Kingdom’s delegation.

In March 2010, the Committee sent a letter to the United Kingdom under its Early Warning and Urgent Action Procedure on the matter, expressing its concern, seeking clarification and calling for protection of the human rights of the families.

The evictions may breach articles 2 and 5 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and are inconsistent with the Committee’s General Recommendation No. 27 (2000) on Discrimination against Roma.

“Travellers and Gypsies already face considerable discrimination and hostility in wider society and the Committee is deeply concerned that this could be worsened by actions taken by authorities in the current situation and by some media reporting of the issues,” the Committee noted.

The Committee will today issue its concluding observations on the United Kingdom as well as Albania, the Czech Republic, Georgia, Kenya, Maldives, Malta, Paraguay and Ukraine. The documents will be accessible on the Committee’s website on

To read the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, please visit:

To access the Committee’s Early-Warning Measures and Urgent Procedures, visit:

To see General Comments issued by the Committee, visit:


Dale Farm Under Seige...

Thu, 25/08/2011 - 10:16
As the launch of Camp Constant [] on August 27th approaches, the authorities appear poised to blockade Dale Farm.


Notices have gone up along Oak Road, adjacent to Dale Farm, saying that the road will be closed to all but residents from Friday, Sept. 2nd. [See for details]. Both ends of Oak Road will be blocked (blocking access via both Hardings Elm Road and Gardiners Lane North). Additionally, the lay by on the southern end of Oak Lane (leading on to the A127; by the white ‘Basildon onion’ water tower) will be blocked. There will be a no stop zone on the footpaths on the A127 between A176 at Billericay and A132 at Wickford. Residents are feeling under siege, with children asking how many more nights they are going to be able to sleep in their beds. Dale Farm is a big site, so it should be possible to find routes in, but be advised that after Sept. 1, it will be harder to get in, and likely impossible to get vehicles in.


The Council have released information that they intend to cut water and electricity supplies from Dale Farm after the eviction notice period expires on midnight 31st August. This will leave sick, elderly, young, and pregnant residents without access to water or electricity. Amnesty International [] have condemned the removal of vital water and electricity in these circumstances, and asked their supporters to put pressure on the council to cease this action which represents a serious violation of human rights. An injunction has been sought in consideration of two residents who are dependent upon a constant electricity supply for nebulisers, without access to which their lives are placed in serious jeopardy. See Amnesty’s Kartick Raj speaking to BBC Essex this week [].


On Saturday, 27th August, we will launch CAMP CONSTANT [] a solidarity and resistance camp for supporters of the Dale Farm community. JOIN US. See for more information, the long weekends schedule of workshops and a welcome pack.


Any independent media people planning to come on to the site (with video, cameras, etc) please read this [] first and make contact…


*Richard Sheridan as president of the Gypsy Council has been involved in eleventh-hour negotiations with the UN Commission on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in Geneva; the Special Raporteur has already entreated the UK Government to cease the evictions and to ensure the families at Dale Farm are offered viable culturally appropriate alternative sites. Lord Avebury will accompany Dale Farm residents to 10 Downing Street [] Thursday, 25th August to present a petition to the PM calling for the eviction to be called off.


use this paypal link to donate some money to the camp.


Workshop, Sunday Sept. 4th, 2pm, Camp Constant, Dale Farm. Freedom of Movement and the Right to Stay!* This is the rallying cry for Roma, Gypsies and Travellers and of migrants throughout the world. A common thread of persecution, of forbidden lands, eviction and deportation connect the struggles for migrant rights and the rights of Gypsies and Travellers. These realities have met dramatically in the crack-down and deportations of Roma people from France and Italy. Come to the Workshop organised by No One Is Illegal and London No Borders including speaker who is an activist in Amnesty International's campaign against the persecution of Roma in Europe.


Sat, 10th Sept, 1pm, see here [] for more information and email: to add your group’s support to the list…


We cannot stand by and do nothing while the UKs largest Travellers site, home to hundreds of families, including many children, elderly and sick residents, is brutally evicted. Travellers should not have to live in constant fear of eviction with their lives and communities under constant threat. They should not have to be forced out of their homes and off their land by bulldozers and police. This constant hounding, marginalisation, and lack of provision is how rural England does ethnic cleansing. It is time for a resurgence of support for Gypsy and Traveller communities. Time to stand against the extreme racial discrimination faced by Gypsies and Travellers. Time to defend the right of Gypsies and Travellers to land, life, respect, and dignity.


'Barnardo’s! Please quit the child detention business'

Tue, 09/08/2011 - 12:46
Back in March, almost a year after the government had promised to end what Nick Clegg called the “shameful practice” of locking up asylum seeking families in conditions known to harm their mental health, Barnardo’s stunned children’s advocates by revealing that it had agreed to work with the UK Border Agency and security giant G4S at the new immigration detention centre for families with children at Pease Pottage near Gatwick that’s opening later this Summer.

Frances Webber, vice chair of the Institute of Race Relations, accused Barnardo’s — Britain’s biggest children’s charity — of providing “a cloak of legitimacy to the continued detention of children”. Former children’s commissioner for England and internationally renowned paediatrican Sir Al Aynsley-Green wrote in OurKingdom that this “worrying development” sparked the question: “are the big children’s organisations effective advocates for children, or are they friends of government?

Stung by such criticism Barnardo’s chief executive Anne Marie Carrie last month made comments widely reported as a tough-talking “ultimatum” to UKBA, saying the charity would pull out of the working partnership if children and families were not treated properly. But can we trust Barnardo’s to stand up to the government?

We, being students and members of SOAS Detainee Support who visit immigration detainees and offer them support, have campaigned hard against child detention. In May last year we picketed G4S’s annual meeting, argued with the company’s chief executive Nick Buckles (who, by the way, is paid almost £5000 every day), and landed a picture in the Daily Telegraph’s city pages. In June last year, we ran the Release Carnival, bringing together campaigners and child refugees to march on Downing Street.

When this past March Barnardo’s threw in its lot with Nick Buckles and the UK Border Agency we felt utterly dismayed, let down, betrayed. When we visited Barnardo’s HQ at Barkingside in Essex to express our disappointment. We were sent away and told to study Barnardo’s website so we’d understand what they were doing. We read. It still looked wrong. We made a second visit, intending to distribute a leaflet outlining our objections to staff as they left work. Barnardo’s diverted workers to a rear exit.

Lately we’ve scrutinised Barnardo’s “ultimatum”. Here’s what we make of it.

Barnardo's says:
Barnardo’s seeks to support the most vulnerable children. The families and children held in this accommodation are at their most vulnerable and desperately need our support.  Barnardo’s will always help the most vulnerable children in the UK and will work to ensure that asylum seekers are treated humanely throughout their time in the UK.
We say:
In May 2010 the coalition government pledged to end the detention of children for immigration purposes – finally recognising the lasting psychological harm it caused. Former Barnardo’s chief exec, Martin Narey, slammed the imprisonment of asylum-seeking families as “unnecessary” and “shameful”.  But another ConDem u-turn has meant child detention continues, simply rebranded as “family-friendly pre-departure accommodation”.
As many as 4,445 children could be jailed each year at de facto prisons run by G4S (who may face corporate manslaughter charges over the death of Jimmy Mubenga on a deportation flight). Barnardo’s involvement has already given this sham a fig leaf of legitimacy with councillors who granted planning permission at Pease Pottage reassured by Barnardo’s involvement.  Rather than offering a new face to the same agenda of abuse and degradation in immigration detention Barnardo’s should urge the government to keep its pledge and end child detention.
Barnardo's says:
Under new immigration processes families will be given every opportunity and help to leave voluntarily. If they choose not to then an independent return panel, which includes child psychologists and medical experts, will oversee the most appropriate method of return and any specific safeguards which need to be in place.We say:
The ‘independent’ return panel is to provide advice or offer amendments to UKBA on the method of removing the family from the UK. They do not decide the method of removal.  UKBA does not have to accept the Panel’s advised amendments. Disagreements will be referred to the immigration minister who will decide how to proceed.  Information given to the Panel is kept secret from the family who are unable to contest it even if the information given to the panel is wrong, out of date or fresh evidence has become available. The advice the Panel gives the UKBA is kept secret.  There is no built-in external scrutiny and the panel cannot be considered independent due to many members being UKBA and governmental staff.Barnardo's says (about the Government’s new immigration processes and UKBA’s pre-departure accommodation):
All this adds up to a system which has ambitions to be fundamentally different — which seeks to safeguard children and treat families and children with compassion.
That is why one of my first decisions as chief executive was to agree that Barnardo’s provides the welfare and social work services within the accommodation. We say:

But how can Barnardo’s talk of ‘a system which has ambitions to be fundamentally different — which seeks to safeguard children and treat families and children with compassion’ when the UK has lately lost its two largest providers of legal aid representation to migrants and asylum seekers and more reputable voices tell us tens of thousands of the most vulnerable in our society are at the mercy of the UK Border Agency's arbitrary and often unlawful actions?Barnardo's says:
As a last resort, a short stay should include expert family support to ensure humane treatment.  Barnardo’s accepts that, as a last resort and after consideration by an independent panel, children and families may need to be kept in secure pre-departure accommodation for a very short period of time.  Barnardo’s wants to ensure that these families are treated humanely with respect and dignity, and are given the correct support through access to welfare and social work services ahead of their departure.  It is critical that families and children have someone to turn to during this extremely stressful and difficult time.                      We say:

It is critical that, after an analysis of all the medical evidence, families and children are not detained at all. Barnardo’s saying they are making the situation better by being there is like someone agreeing to be a hangman because they can make the death less painful than another. The families detained will be those who — except in ‘exceptional circumstances’ — have not complied with any of the other attempts at removal. This might very well be because they are terrified to go back, and being locked up will be extremely frightening and traumatic. The presence of Barnardo’s will not ease this fear as long as they are still locked up and facing deportation.Barnardo's says:
We see an important part of our role as shedding light on the whole immigration process to ensure it supports those children within it. We are absolutely clear that if policy and practice fall short of safeguarding the welfare, dignity and respect of families, then Barnardo's will raise concerns, will speak out and ultimately, if we have to, we will withdraw our services.We say:

The “red-lines” set down by Barnardo's are no use at all. The research (and common-sense!) shows that even one week in detention is long enough for a child to be severely affected.  As a children's charity Barnardo's should not help the UKBA detain and deport people, it should speak out against child detention FULL STOP.We’re visiting Barnardo’s again today to ask them to stop spinning and start listening to and defending vulnerable children such as this child detainee quoted in the Medical Justice report State Sponsored Cruelty: “I am so scared of the Home Office. It is hard times for me and my mum. She would rather kill herself than go back."


Dale Farm Solidarity Demonstration: Sat, 10th Sept

Thu, 28/07/2011 - 09:51
Irish Travellers at Dale Farm are about to be brutally evicted from the land they own by bulldozers and bailiffs. The Travellers of Dale Farm, many of whom have lived on the Dale Farm estate for over two decades, are being pushed out of the area, with no offer of alternative community sites in Basildon or anywhere else in England. These Travellers will be made homeless and left at the side of the road, where it will be illegal for them to stop.

This is the enforcement of arbitrary borders within borders. Like all other oppressive borders this enforcement is causing devastation to vulnerable, oppressed, poorly protected people. Thinly disguised racism and deep-seated prejudices are strengthened rather than challenged. Division, protectionism, and hostility reigns while these evictions continue. 

Dale Farm Solidarity has formed to stand in solidarity with the Dale Farm community, and is working to resist the Dale Farm evictions through mass protest and civil disobedience.

On 10th Sept, Dale Farm Solidarity is calling a demo. Here's the call out - please send this out widely and join us at Dale Farm as soon as you can:


Demonstrate on Saturday Sept 10 against the £18 million eviction of 90 Traveller families from their homes and Eric Pickles's Localism bill.  The eviction is likely to happen early in September and if it happens before September 10th, we will march to Dale Farm immediately

The Dale Farm estate is a former scrapyard bought by Traveller families and has existed since the 1970s.  Basildon Council has targeting half the community for destruction, and has failed to provide alternative sites for families to move to. Families have been given until midnight on August 31st to abandon their homes or have them bulldozed. Basildon have voted to spend a third of its budget -- £8 million demolishing the estate and turning people out onto the road. The policing of what could be a three-week operation has an additional price tag of £10 million, of which £6 million is being provided by the Home Office.

What's more, Eric Pickles's Localism bill will further destroy the Travelling community, removing the requirement of local council's to provide alternative sites.

Dale Farm Solidarity has called a demonstration starting at 1pm on Saturday Sept 10th.  Join us at Wickford Train Station, a mere 30 minutes by train from London Liverpool Street Station. The march will then proceed to Dale Farm and Camp Constant, a base for human rights monitors and those who will engage in civil disobedience to stop the bulldozing.

If the eviction starts before the schedule demonstration, we will march immediately to Dale Farm.  To sign up to a txt alert in case of eviction, or to spend a night at Dale Farm so that we have a constant presence there, visit

Buses will also be available. Contact to find or confirm transport leaving from near you.

Saturday 30 July Haywards Heath

Mon, 25/07/2011 - 10:24

Resist Ethnic Cleansing At Dale Farm

Fri, 22/07/2011 - 17:11
Resist ethnic cleansing in the UK, fight the eviction of Dale Farm!

First they came for...

From the clearances of Roma camps in Italy and France, to the neo-fascist murders of Roma in Hungary, Romania and the Czech republic, recent events in Europe are becoming increasingly disturbing. Now the UK Government is engaged in the ethnic cleansing of Dale Farm, the largest Traveller community in the country.

On 4th July the residents were told that have until Midnight on August 31st to abandon their homes or face having their community bulldozed. This despite the fact that the families own the land on which they are living and have been offered no viable alternative housing. In the event of an eviction some 90 families will be made homeless, including many elderly, sick, and very young residents.

An astonishing £18M has been allocated for the eviction, being led by Constant and Co, a company notorious for their involvement in brutal evictions of Traveller sites. This eviction is racially motivated. It amounts to ethnic cleansing. It must be resisted.

Camp Constant, a mass gathering of national and international supporters of the Dale Farm community will begin Saturday, August 27th. We want to send the invitation far and wide for people to come and help the community resist the eviction, many of whom are determined to fight to the end. Different people will take different types of action, but we will take the lead from the community in what forms of resistance we use. Remembering the centuries of persecution Travellers and Roma have faced from the settled community since the 1500s, it's crucial we all act with real sensitivity.

After the August 31st, an eviction could happen at any time, and we might not know when. We'll need people to be on standby to come up to Dale Farm in the event of an eviction. See: for details. We also need people to spend the night at Dale Farm to provide around the clock support. We are looking for groups and individuals to pledge to stay overnight at:

Dale Farm is within easy reach from London Liverpool St. Station. See for directions and contact details.

Please spread this message to your contacts and networks. Resist ethnic cleansing, fight the racist eviction of Dale Farm!

Demo Against New Family Detention Centre In Sussex, 30/07/11

Fri, 22/07/2011 - 11:21
Croydon NoBorders is calling for a demo in Haywards Heath from 1pm on Saturday 30th July to protest against a new detention centre for children and families which is due to open in late summer at nearby Pease Pottage.

Haywards Heath is the home of Mid Sussex Council which granted planning permission for the former Crawley Forest School to be converted into a migrant prison.

The migrant prison, known euphemistically as a "pre-departure accommodation centre", will be run by the infamous security firm G4S, who are facing charges for corporate manslaughter following the death of deportee Jimmy Mubenga on a BA flight in November. The prison will "normally" hold families for up to 72 hours but they could be held for up to a week in "exceptional circumstances".

"Play facilities" at the prison will be run by children's charity Barnado's. Campaigners have started a campaign against Barnado's for their involvement, disrupting a fundraising event and picketing Barnado's shops and head office.

In May 2010, the coalition government agreed to completely end the detention of children for immigration control purposes. However, now they want to open a new detention centre exactly for this purpose. Barnardo's support will not make a bad situation better for the detainees - it has helped create this bad situation in the first place, because Barnardo's cuddly image was used as propaganda by the Border Agency to get planning permission to build the jail. Whatever excuses Barnardo's give, they know they are making a mistake. As the recession causes financial difficulties for Charities, some abandon their principles and turn to the State for any contracts they can get their hands on.

At a time of savage public spending cuts, it is disgusting how the State finds no shortage of money to expand the military-prison-border complex. It starts a new imperial war "to protect civilians in Libya" - but without shame builds borders to prevent terrified civilians from fleeing war-zones and seeking sanctuary inside Fortress Europe. How soon before the State enforces mass deportations to Libya, in the same way it deports Iraqi and Afghan refugees?

The survival of the State is dependent on how long it can fool its citizens into blaming immigrants for unemployment, hunger and homelessness. This distracts us from recognising that Capitalism is a bankrupt economic system which can only create jobs for bomb makers, prison guards and deportation escorts. The assault against migrants is the sharp end of the knife that is being used to cut back support for vulnerable and poor people, young and old alike.

Another world is possible if people with and without papers struggle together to resist their mutual exploitation by the State and Capitalism.
Croydon NoBorders is part of a transnational network of groups and individuals campaigning for an end to immigration controls and for a world without borders, states and capitalism.

Please join us on Saturday 30th July with banners, placards and instrument to call for an end to detention and deportation. Gather at Muster Green park in Haywards Heath at 1pm.

Barnardo’s: We Believe In (Locking Up) Children

Sat, 16/07/2011 - 11:35
Britain's largest children charity has become the latest target for anti-detention and anti-deportation campaigners, who argue that Barnardo's involvement in a new 'pre-departure accommodation' facility is legitimising what is, in effect, the government's continued use of detention for children. Following a number of protests, another demonstration has been called by No Borders in Haywards Heath in West Sussex on 30th July (see below for details).

In May 2010, the new coalition government 'committed' to ending child detention for immigration purposes as part of a "new, compassionate approach to family removals." However, while families with children under threat of deportation will no longer be held in normal immigration detention centres, they will instead be placed in new secure facilities, euphemistically named 'open accommodation' or 'pre-departure accommodation'.

One of these new 'family detention centres', as campaigners prefer to call them, will be opened in late summer in Pease Pottage, near Crawley in West Sussex. The converted school, with a 2.5m perimeter fence, will be run on behalf of the UK Border Agency (UKBA) by the notorious security giant G4S, while welfare and social care services will be provided by the children's charity Barnardo’s. (For more on this and other planned family detention centres, see this Corporate Watch article.)

Helping make detention 'acceptable'

In a statement announcing its decision to provide welfare services at the new centre in March, Barnardo's said it “accepts that, as a last resort and after consideration by an independent panel, children and families may need to be kept in secure pre-departure accommodation for a very short period of time,” justifying its involvement with the skewed logic that families and children held at the centre will be “at their most vulnerable and [will] desperately need our support.”

The charity's newly appointed chief executive Anne Marie Carrie added that, “All this adds up to a system which has ambitions to be fundamentally different - which seeks to safeguard children and treat families and children with compassion.” This presumably explains why agreeing to Barnardo's involvement in the project was apparently one of Ms Carrie's first decisions as chief executive. It is also a similar line to that used by the government to justify its new detention plans (see here, for example). Ms Carrie's previous working experience has been in local and national government posts (see here). Speaking at an event in London earlier this month she said, “Barnardo’s decision to provide welfare and social care services to asylum seeking families at the new pre-departure accommodation goes back to our core purpose: supporting the most vulnerable children in the UK.” Setting out the charity’s “principles guiding its provision” at the centre, she added that she was “absolutely clear that if policy and practice fall short of safeguarding the welfare, dignity and respect of families, then Barnardo’s will raise concerns, will speak out and ultimately, if we have to, we will withdraw our services.”

She then went on to outline the charity's “red lines” for involvement in the centre, in what appears to be an attempt to reassure an increasing number of critics. These include withdrawing services if, after a year, more than 10 percent of the families deported are returned through the pre-departure accommodation; if any family has stayed at the centre more than once or for longer than the one week maximum; if Tinsley House detention centre is used as an overflow for families when the Pease Pottage centre is full; or if the level of force used with a family on route to or from the centre is disproportionate to the family's circumstances and if any concerns Barnardo's may have about this, or about the centre's staff's behaviour towards families and children, go unaddressed.

But campaigners say these 'red lines' are not satisfactory. They point out that the government isn't planning to deport more than 10 percent of families through this new centre in any case, so they feel that is simply pulling the wool over their eyes. And if Tinsley House isn't used as an overflow centre they ask, does this mean it is okay to use police stations or short-terms holding facilities, or would Barnardo's prefer their colleagues in the UKBA to simply deport people straight away after snatching them from their homes? Further doubts are raised about what exactly 'proportionate' force is? Was the force used by G4S against Jimmy Mubenga whilst forcibly deporting him, which led to his death proportionate? In the words of one campaigner, all Barnado's is doing is “making this horrible place slightly more acceptable."

Yet, Barnado's is already increasing its capacity so it is ready for its new responsibilities. According to job adverts seen by Corporate Watch, the charity has recruited two project workers and two social workers to work at the centre, on salaries ranging from £22,000 to £29,000 per annum, plus a project administrator on a salary ranging from £17,000 to £19,000. Their roles will include counselling, organising one-to-one and group sessions, providing practical assistance, such as contacting distressed relatives. To show just how compassionate the new approach is, they will also organise play activities for the children.

Protests continue

In response, the campaign against Barnardo's is growing. Over the last three months, campaigners have leafleted staff at Barnardo's headquarters in Barkingside, Essex, and customers at Barnardo's shops, informing them about the organisation's involvement with the detention and deportation machine and urging the customers to boycott the shops until the charity withdraws from the project. Barnardo's also has shops in Chingford, South Woodford, Wanstead, Golders Green, North Finchley, Whetstone, Chiswick, East Sheen, Brixton and Eltham (see here).

On 6th April, activists from groups including No Borders London, All African Women's Group and SOAS Detainee Support walked into the Museum of Childhood in east London during a Barnardo's fundraiser to ask the charity and its guests “how charitable is it to collude with the UKBA in locking up children?” (You can find a video of the protest here).

As a next step, the newly formed No Borders Croydon has called for a demonstration in Haywards Heath on 30th July to protest against the new family detention centre in nearby Pease Pottage. Haywards Heath is the home of Mid Sussex Council, which granted planning permission for the former Crawley Forest School to be converted into a 'secure pre-departure accommodation'


R.I.P. I.A.S.

Tue, 12/07/2011 - 13:37
The Immigration Advisory Service, the UK’s largest charity providing representation and advice in immigration and asylum law, has gone into administration leaving hundreds of people without access to the legal representation that they are entitled to. Yet another victim it would seem of the pathological desire of the British political class in general, and the Tories in particular, to make it both almost impossible to apply for asylum in the UK, never mind actually gain protection under the various binding international treaties that this country supposedly abides by, and to reign back immigration to a mere trickle. Whilst UK corporations continue to plunder the Third World with impunity (pursuing the Imperial project under another guise whilst at the same time creating a glut of economic refugees) and the west tires to bomb much of the rest of the globe back to the Stone Age (whilst also engineering other refugee crises to complement their economic relatives), the developed world only wishes to admit to its hallowed halls those that will economically benefit it further - the super-rich who can transfer even greater capital from the underdeveloped (sic) world into the developed world's coffers and the skills-rich who can act as the new brain-drained and chattelled wage-slave army, temple slaves in the IMF's House of Mammon. The Big Society? Capitalism with a human face? Just exactly who is it that they think they are trying to kid?

A Flotilla To Stop Deaths In The Mediterranean

Fri, 08/07/2011 - 15:50
Hundreds of Thousands of people fled Libya since the crisis began in February 2011. As of June 14, according To the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), one million refugees have left the country; more than 500.000 heading off to Tunisia, Egypt More than 300.000 to 70.000 and to Niger.

Every day, refugees arrived in Tunisia to stay in overpopulated camps [ 1 ]. Already the majority are nationals from Sub-Saharan African countries themselves in conflict like Somalia, Sudan, Eritrea or Ivory Coast, it is possible to repatriate them Therefore, as time goes by, their living conditions are becoming more and more difficulty, while the risk that country hosting the may end up being them destabilised as well.

These refugees are caught in a vice-like grip: Gaddafi's regime is using the migration issue as a tool by forcing thousands of people to embark on makeshift vessels, at the same time, many Africans are accused of being mercenaries in the pay of Tripoli and fall prey of the NTC (National Transitional Council) [ 2 ]. Meanwhile, the countries of the coalition forces hand do not seem to establish a single link between their military intervention and people in exile. The European Union still did not take any initiative to host people thesis [ 3 ]. or to save those lost at sea. On the contrary, it is reinforcing border surveillance through the deployment of the Frontex agency in the Mediterranean while the coalition forces do not vessels provide assistance to the boat people. The UNHCR estimates that more than 2.000 people have been reported missing sincere February.

Numerous organisations are now pressuring the European authorities so refugees that can enter the European Union, for support to be provided to the countries where refugees are compelled to stay, and so that measures taken are to stop death in the Mediterranean. To no avail.

The lack of hospitality within the policy of European states has reached such appalling level that year it is our duty to act and to show the possibility of a Euro-Mediterranean area based on solidarity and respect for Human Rights.

Their followings meeting in Cecina (Italy), the Euro-Mediterranean organisations in favour of migrants' rights decided to charter a flotilla which will proceed to maritime surveillance so that assistance is provided to people finally in danger. The participatory organisations would also like to call on the Governments and European bodies on both sides of the Mediterranean for establishing relationships within this common area on the basis of exchange and reciprocity.

This flotilla will embark political figures, journalists, artists, and some representatives of the organisations Involved in the project.

Such an operation, major, would interest only if it engages widely.

Organisations, unions, policy makers, seamen, journalists, artists and anyone interested in this initiative are invited to join the list of information "call intervention Mediterranean" [ 4 ].

Notes [ 1 ] ...
[ 2 ] See the FIDH report "Double tragedy for Sub-Saharan Africans"
[ 3 ] The situation in the refugee camp Located in the South of Tunisia May Strongly destabilises the country, see the attached report of the GADEM and the Cimade - in French - (2011) "Challenges to the borders of Tunisia," p. 50 and Human Rights Watch's releases ( )
[ 4 ] To subscribe to the mailing list, please send an email to


“Without The Necessary Authority”:

Thu, 07/07/2011 - 10:46
The UK Government’s new compassionate approach to child detention

“You’re a big boy now so I have to search you,” said the immigration officer to the five-year-old, donning latex gloves and patting him down at a Heathrow Airport detention facility run by outsourcing giant G4S.

The child had been booked into Terminal 4’s “short term holding facility” as a “visitor” which meant that his detention would have gone unrecorded but for a surprise visit by two of Her Majesty’s Inspectors of Prisons on 3rd March this year.

The boy, an EU national, had been returning home to Britain with his father, a non-EU national, after a family visit to the father’s country of origin. The Inspectors noted that the child was detained “without the necessary authority”.

Their “Report on an unannounced inspection of the short-term holding facility at Heathrow Airport Terminal 4”, published today, found that in three months to February 2011 the lock-up had held 78 children, including eight unaccompanied minors. Their average stay was 9.9 hours, twelve children were held for more than 18 hours — the longest detention being 23.9 hours. Not all staff were CRB checked.
This, more than a year after the Coalition Government pledged to end the detention of children for immigration purposes, and six months after deputy prime minister Nick Clegg claimed it had been accomplished.

The five-year-old subjected to the latex “rub-down search” then witnessed his father’s humiliation. The father’s phone was confiscated, but, say the Inspectors, he was not offered the free telephone call to which he was entitled.

Instead of being taken to the family room, which had children’s toys, books and posters (but no natural light nor access to fresh air), the father and child were held in the adult room.

“The father had not been formally interviewed by an immigration officer and was very distressed at the prospect of being refused entry and separated from his son,” said the Inspectors. “When we spoke with him he did not understand what was going to happen to him next. He broke down in tears in front of his child and the other detainees, which was humiliating for him and distressing for the child. After we advised the detainee that he was entitled to make a telephone call, he spoke to G4S who granted his request. The detainee’s distress could have been alleviated had he been able to make the telephone call earlier.”

That these things happened directly under the gaze of HM Prison Inspectors suggests this might be UKBA and G4S on their very best behaviour.

Staff admitted to the Inspectors, “that they had not received refresher training in suicide and self-harm prevention” and “did not carry anti-ligature knives but a knife was attached to the first aid box in their office.” The Inspectors noted: “This could cause unnecessary delay in an emergency.”

The Inspectorate also reported today on Heathrow Terminal 3’s lockup where, over three months to February 2011, 98 children had been held including eight unaccompanied minors. A child’s average stay was 8.3 hours, with twelve children held for more than 18 hours – and one held for 30 hours.

Despite the long periods of incarceration, neither facility had beds. Adults or children could lie across chairs if they wanted to. “And even this did not give room for all to sleep,” said the Inspectors.

Although one third of the detainees at Terminal 3 and a quarter at Terminal 4 were women, there was not always a woman on the staff. “Rub-down searches” took place in an open office, “which was especially inappropriate in the case of female detainees”.

When detainees requested to shower, and if staffing levels permitted, they were put in an escort van and driven to another facility.

One member of staff at Terminal 3 told the Inspectors “of an incident many months previously when a detainee had been banging his head on the table and said: ‘Luckily we were able to put him on the floor and stop him doing it.’”

The Inspectors noted: “The use of three staff to pin the detainee to the floor to prevent possible self-harm seemed an over-reaction.”

Despite the large numbers of children being held, the Inspectors noted that staff had “inadequate knowledge” of the referral system “for identifying victims of human trafficking”.

Although there were some valid legal advice telephone numbers in the holding rooms, the Inspectors found “access to legal advice for non-English speakers was poor. Immigration officers did not always use professional interpreters when necessary, and did not always complete legally required documents correctly. Detainees could not fax a legal adviser freely.” Nor were they routinely offered the free phone call to which they were entitled.

So much for the “big culture shift within our immigration system” and the “new compassionate approach to family returns” prematurely celebrated in December by Nick Clegg.

Today’s reports provoke discomfiting questions, such as:
How many trafficked children miss their one chance of rescue because staff lack proper training?

How many children are detained “without the necessary authority”, misleadingly listed as “visitors”, patted down and patronised by people who may or may not be CRB-checked?

And, if this is how immigration detention works when HM Inspectorate of Prisons is in the house, how do things go when nobody important is watching.


Dale Farm Eviction Notice Served

Thu, 07/07/2011 - 10:41
Camp Constant to be set up from Saturday August 27th

Activity Days at Dale Farm, starting on Saturday July 9th, at 1 pm

Today, some 90 families at Dale Farm, the UK's largest Traveller community, were hand-delivered a final notice of eviction giving families until midnight on August 31 to abandon their homes, or face their entire community being bulldozed. The central government and Basildon Council have set aside over £18m for the eviction battle that could last three weeks. It will be the biggest clearance of its kind involving the ploughing up of 54 separate plots created on a former scrap-yard purchased by the Travellers ten years ago.

Dale Farm is only a 30 minute train ride from London, and hundreds of people have pledged to join residents in nonviolent resistance to the destruction of Dale Farm. The residents of Dale Farm have encouraged  their supporters to establish a base at Dale Farm, Camp Constant, to resist this eviction and house human rights monitors.

Join us on Saturday August 27th and beyond, starting with a weekend of Traveller history & celebration together with practical eviction resistance training. There will also be training for legal observers and human rights monitors, and a bit of a party on Saturday night. Sleeping space is available in caravans or you can bring a tent. The eviction could go ahead right after midnight on August 31st, so we will be staying at Dale Farm before then in preparation. Please check for further updates.

Dale Farm is within easy reach from London Liverpool St. Station. See: for directions.

You can sign up to our email bulletins here:

*Stay overnight at Dale Farm and Alerts - Urgent call for Support*

After the August 31st, an eviction could happen at any time, and we might not know when. We'll need people to be on standby to come up to Dale Farm in the event of an eviction. See: for details. We also need people to spend the night at Dale Farm to provide around the clock support to the community and resistance to the eviction. We are looking for groups and individuals to pledge to stay overnight.

If you can be on eviction alert, or spend a night at Dale Farm, please sign up here:

Also, please ask your friends to ask their friends to pledge to stay a night:

*Weekend Activity Days*

On July 9th and beyond, we will be building defences to resist the eviction, as well as supporting the community and setting up Camp Constant. We will also hold a meeting there, every Saturday at 1 pm.  For more information, and to check the dates of activity days see:

Travellers Given Notice: Dale Farm Eviction Soon

Tue, 05/07/2011 - 12:28
This morning [4 July] some 90 families at Dale Farm, the UK's largest Traveller community, were hand-delivered a final notice of eviction, giving families until midnight on August 31 to abandon their homes, or face their entire community being bulldozed.

Basildon Borough Council has contracted Gypsy removal specialists Constant & Co to carry out a direct action operation, using heavy machinery and accompanied by riot police.  It will be the biggest clearance of its kind involving the ploughing up of 54 separate plots created out of a former scrap-yard purchased by the Travellers ten years ago.

The central government and Basildon Council have set aside more than £18m to meet the costs of an eviction battle that could last three weeks.

"Dale Farm residents are willing to move, at no cost to Basildon, but need the council to identify suitable land," said Richard Sheridan, president of the Gypsy Council.  Dale Farm Housing Association has submitted plans for two alternative caravan parks on land belonging to the Homes and Communities Agency. An earlier plan for a site at Pitsea was rejected by the council.

The eviction is taking place despite pleas from two UN bodies and an investigation by the Council of Europe. Lawyers for the Travellers will attempt to challenge the decision to evict through a judicial review application.

Hundreds of people have pledged to join residents in nonviolent resistance to the destruction of Dale Farm. A support-base, Camp Constant, is being set up on August 27h, before the final notice expires, and there will be activity days during the weekend until the notice expires.

"An entire community will be made homeless and we'll see children pulled from their schools and dumped out the roads," said supporter Natalie Fox.

An international team of legal observers are to monitor the conduct of bailiffs and police.  For more information, as well as a press pack, visit and copies of the eviction notice.


Grattan Puxon, Dale Farm Housing Association 01206 523528, 07757533380
Dale Farm Solidarity: 07891854430, 07583621312
Richard Sheridan, president of The Gypsy Council and resident of Dale Farm
Mary Ann McCarthy 07961854023, resident of Dale Farm

Rabbis And British Jews Show Solidarity With Travellers At Dale Farm

Wed, 22/06/2011 - 10:41
On Wednesday 22 June a delegation of Rabbis and British Jews will visit Dale Farm in Essex, the largest Traveller and Gypsy-owned estate in the UK (and a former scrap yard), to express their solidarity with a hundred families that are facing the destruction of their homes by Basildon Council. The Council plans to forcibly evict these families from the land they own and bulldoze their homes in an operation that is estimated will cost £18 million.

The delegation will be met at Dale Farm by the President of the Gypsy Council Richard Sheridan and received in her home by residents' spokesperson Mrs Mary Ann McCarthy.

Rabbi Janet Burden said: "I believe that the history of the Jewish people calls on us to stand up for the vulnerable. I want to see for myself what is happening and to do what I can to help”.

Dan Glass, Jewish social justice activist said: "For many 2nd and 3rd generation Nazi Holocaust surviving Jews in the UK, we are inbuilt with a sense of injustice from a very young age. We are here to stand against the calculated policies perpetuating displacement of people and a breaking of human rights. Throughout our history our eyes have been opened - people have supported us for our freedoms and will will continue to share this solidarity with others."

Dr. Margaret Greenfields, who has long campaigned for Gypsy, Roma and Travellers' rights, is calling out to the Jewish community to help.

With the Rabbis will be members of the Jewish Socialists Group which has issued a statement saying that it believes the persecution, harassment and eviction of Gypsies, Roma and Travellers in Britain is part and parcel of what is being carried out by the authorities in France, Italy and some eastern European countries.

It says the Jewish Socialists Group will actively encourage its members to join the Dale Farm Solidarity group and Dale Farm residents in resisting the huge £18m eviction operation at Dale Farm, which is to be funded by Basildon Council, the Home Office and the Department of Communities and Local Government.

The visit by the British Jewish delegation will coincide with the official launch of the website, which makes the connection between persecuted populations such as Travellers and Jews by substituting the word “Jew” for “Gypsy” and “Traveller” in news articles.


Dale Farm Residents Association tel: 01206 523528

Dale Farm Solidarity tel: 0758 3761462 email:

Jewish Solidarity delegation via Dan Glass tel: 0771 7811747

Notes for Editors:

The delegation will be meeting at Liverpool Street Station at 10:20 am on 22 June, to catch the 10:35 am train to Wickford. Meeting point will be the entrance to platform 10.

Blockade Of Heathrow Detention Centre Helps Stops Iraq Deportation Flight

Wed, 22/06/2011 - 10:39
Yesterday anti-deportation campaigners blockaded Colnbrook and Harmondsworth detention centres in a last-minute attempt to stop the forcible deportation of Iraqi refugees to Baghdad on a specially chartered flight scheduled to leave London that evening.

30 angry protesters from No Borders, Stop Deportation and other groups blocked the joint entrance to the two detention centres near Heathrow airport. Six of them encased their arms in glass and plastic tubes attached to concrete barrels, while others held banners and shouted slogans against the 'brutal deportation machine.'

Three coaches carrying over 30 of the deportees to the airport were prevented from leaving the complex. Another 30 were supposed to be taken at the same time from Brook House detention centre at Gatwick airport and Campsfield House in Oxfordshire. In total, it was expected that the flight, scheduled to leave an undisclosed airport at 11pm, would carry between 60 and 70 deportees, accompanied by twice as many private security guards and immigration officers.

One of the protesters, who preferred to stay anonymous, said: "Mass deportation flights have become the government's favoured way to deport those who have fallen foul of its inhumane immigration controls. They're meant to save money and keep deportations outside the public gaze. But while every deportation is a violation of people's right to freedom of movement, these charter flights are a particularly sordid way to do that. On top of the trauma and hardship caused by deportation, these flights further undermine the legal rights of the refugees and asylum seekers."

Campaigners claim that many of the deportees had not exhausted all legal avenues available to them and had not had access to adequate legal representation. The emphasis of mass deportations, they argue, is on filling the flight and "getting rid of as many, as soon as possible." Solicitors acting on behalf of the deportees had sought a judicial review in the High Court as to whether the flight as a whole is legal.

Earlier this month, some of the detainees held in Campsfield went on hunger strike in protest at their planned deportation. In a statement they said: "Some of us don't have any homes or nowhere to go in Iraq. If we were returned we would be left to survive for ourselves on the streets with nothing. Some of us don't even know if our family members are alive or dead because we haven't had any contact with them for a long time... We have family and friends here. Being parted from them at this time is very hard and stressful for both sides... Everyone has the right to be able to live in a safe country."

According to media reports and evidence collected by the International Federation of Iraqi Refugees (IFIR), many of those who have been deported to Iraq over the past few years are now living in hiding, in fear of the persecution they originally left Iraq to flee. Some have been assassinated or kidnapped and killed, while others have had mental breakdowns or committed suicide days after being deported. Many more have had to leave the country and become refugees again.

IFIR's secretary Dashty Jamal said: "The UK government is responsible for the tragedy in Iraq. They are playing politics with the lives of Iraqi refugees. They are making a deal with the despotic Iraqi regime, which the Iraqi people are currently rising up against, to send people back."

This is not the first time that Colnbrook and Harmodsworth have been blockaded by anti-deportation campaigners. In May 2009, a similar blockade to try and stop a mass deportation flight to Iraqi Kurdistan ended with six of the activists being violently arrested, only to be found not guilty by a magistrates judge.

The blockade, which started around 4pm, ended at 9pm without any arrests being made after it was learnt that the Immigration Advisory Service had obtained an injunction and the flight has been cancelled.

For pictures and links to an incident on Monday when another deportee on a plane at Heathrow cut his throat in order to prevent his removal and news that one of the G4S guards facing manslaughter charges over the death of Jimmy Mubenga last year has been showing his contempt for other refugees by posting photos on a social media site mocking two other people he had been involved in the deportation of are available here.

Another Indymedia report here.