Approximately ten Iraqi refugees were removed to Baghdad early this morning on a deportation flight via Sweden. At least three people’s tickets were cancelled before the flight and were instead given tickets for another deportation next Wednesday, the 16th, at 22.45.
Those whose tickets were cancelled for the flight today were to be removed forcibly. We believe the people sent back today had signed voluntary return papers. Approximately fifty people who do not want to go back are currently held in immigration detention centres and have been given tickets for the 16th June flight. If today’s flight is successful and a deportation route to Baghdad is opened it will make it easier to deport people who do not want to go back in the future.
Sabih Saleh in Colnbrook detention centre in London says:
‘They were supposed to send me back today but they told me last night my ticket had been changed for the 16th. I was a soldier in the Iraqi army fighting the terrorist groups in Mosul. I was personally threatened by the terrorist groups there so I left Iraq in 2008. I don’t want to go back. My life will again be in danger.’Zed Karam, from Baghdad, who has been given a ticket for next week’s flight and is currently held in Campsfield detention centre says:
‘I have lived here for three years. I had a good business in Iraq, I didn’t want to leave but I had to when I was threatened by the sectarian violence. I can’t eat or drink anything at the moment. If they put me on this flight next week they are sending me to my death.’After the last flight to Baghdad in October, when ten people were deported to the thirty-three others on the plane were sent back by the Iraqi authorities, an Iraqi Government spokesman said the Iraqi Government was against the UK government forcing people back to the country, but more than one hundred Iraqis have been interviewed by Iraqi Government officials in the last two weeks to assess whether they will accept them into the country.
Dashty Jamal from the International Federation of Iraqi Refugees says:
‘The new government is playing politics with the lives of Iraqi refugees, many of whom had to leave because of the war David Cameron and his party supported. That war was not fought to make Iraq more secure, as David Cameron said today, but for the economic and political interests of the US and the UK. Iraq continues to suffer from the effects of this war and people should not be sent back there. Iraqi refugees have the right to stay in this country with their families and lives here.’