Support the Stansted 15: When solidarity becomes a terrorist-related offence liberty and democracy die

22/03/2018 by

Last March, 15 activists chained themselves around an aircraft that was being used by British authorities to deport asylum seekers from Stansted Airport, many of whom had legitimate reasons to fear for their lives if returned to countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan. While at first the Stansted 15 were charged with aggravated trespass, the charges were soon upgraded to terrorism-related offences. This is OUTRAGEOUS. It heralds a brutal turn in Western democracies as demonstrators, conscientious objectors to deportations, defenders of the right to life of the persecuted are treated as terrorists.

This is the moment for people of a genuinely liberal conscience to take a stand. As the court case unfolds in Chelmsford, Essex, it is imperative that the Stansted 15 receive maximal solidarity for those who understand that their prosecution is the harbinger of hideous attacks on what are meant to be open, democratic societies.

Below you can a recent letter to The Guardian in support of the defendants:

Last March, 15 people chained themselves around a deportation charter flight for 10 hours to prevent it taking off. The Stansted 15 were subsequently charged with a terrorism-related offence and their trial starts on Monday. If found guilty, they could serve many years in prison. Secret deportation flights take thousands of people from our communities every year. Parents, friends and neighbours are targeted on the basis of their perceived nationality and snatched to fill a flight that the Home Office has chartered. Many critics have argued that like Trump’s “Muslim ban”, these deportations are unjust and racist. Violence and abuse from security contractors have been documented on these flights. Most people would be horrified if they were aware of the nature of this process.

The Stansted action was the first time a deportation flight has been grounded in the UK by people protesting against the immigration system. People who would have been forced on to the flight were able to stay in the UK because of the action, as it gave them time to have their applications heard. People across the UK are standing together to stop the Home Office breaking up families and tearing communities apart. We call for all charges against the Stansted 15 to be dropped and for the Home Office to immediately cease chartering flights for deportation.
David Ramsbotham Formerly HM chief inspector of prisons
Caroline Lucas Green party leader 
David Lammy MP for Tottenham, Labour party
Philip Pullman Novelist
Naomi Klein Writer and activist
Patrisse Khan-Cullors Co-founder, Black Lives Matter
Gloria Steinem Writer
Aki Kaurismäki Film director and screenwriter
Emma Thompson Actor and screenwriter
Maxine Peake Actor
Ken Loach Film director
Sue Johnston Actor
Jimmy McGovern Screenwriter
John Akomfrah Artist
David Edgar Playwright
Lowkey Musician
Akala Rapper and poet
Awate Rapper
Dame Marina Warner Novelist
Chris Williamson MP for Derby North, Labour party
Lloyd Russell-Moyle Labour and Cooperative MP for Kemptown and Peacehaven
Emma Dent Coad MP for Kensington
Sian Berry Green party
Caroline Russell Green party
Baroness Helena Kennedy QC
Edward Mortimer Distinguished fellow, All Souls College, Oxford
Revd Robert Wiggs Priest, Chelmsford
Pól Ó Ceallaigh President, Oxford and District Trades Union Council
Penny Wangari-Jones Racial Justice Network
Dr Omar Khan Director, the Runnymede Trust
Lisa Matthews Right to Remain
Asad Rehman Director, War on Want
Nick Dearden Director, Global Justice Now
Farzana Khan Platform London
Eve Ensler Writer
Susan George Writer
George Monbiot Journalist
Owen Jones Journalist
Reni Eddo-Lodge Writer
Ahdaf Soueif Writer
Inua Ellams Poet and playwright
Anders Lustgarten Playwright
Josie Long Comedian
Matthew Herbert Musician
Ezra Furman Musician
Caroline Criado-Perez Journalist
Ellie Mae O’Hagan Journalist
Aaron Bastani Journalist
Ash Sarkar Journalist

Caroline Lucas in the Independent
Open Democracy, for an in depth exploration
Novara Media

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