The recent wave of hunger strikes and other protests in UK migration prisons has subsided, as prisoners have been silenced, moved between prisons, and humiliated and beaten. This report from the Anti Raids Network is just one of many cases of how people are treated in detention centres and during deportation attempts.
Tahar Khalifa beaten by guards in an attempted deportation on Tuesday 31st March.
On Tuesday, 31st March, Tahar Khalifa, detained at Brook House detention centre [one of the two migration prisons inside the perimeter of Gatwick Airport], was forcibly removed from the centre in an attempted deportation to Tunisia, on flight TU791 at 1745hrs. As he was going up the stairs to the plane he was physically assaulted and beaten by the guards.
In a statement Tahar says that there were multiple officers trying to get him up the stairs; one was choking him, another was twisting his upper body. Tahar was handcuffed at the front and one officer was holding him by the wrist and pulling very hard.
The attempted deportation has left Tahar with multiple physical injuries. The handcuffs left him with deep cuts on his wrist; two of his fingers on his left hand are swollen very badly and he can’t move them and he has an injury to his leg.
Tahar has indefinite leave to remain in Greece and has lived there for 21 years. UKBA was trying to remove him to Tunisia against his wishes. Tahar has said he will go back to Greece, as he should by law under the Dublin convention, but does not want to go to Tunisia.
When Tahar arrived back at Brook House, one detainee was witness to his injuries when he was brought back to the centre called 999. He was put through to 101, which he called several times. As soon as the local police force heard he was calling from Brook House, they ‘didn’t want to know’ and said it was nothing to do with them.
The witness spoke to three people in the local force, they all said the same thing. He called 999 a second time, who also said that Brook House was not their responsibility. The police called Brook House and informed the officers of the name of the caller. The officers came and questioned the caller threateningly about why he had called the police.
Tahar described that the officers were “really worried” after the incident and took him to hospital, where he stayed for about 5 hours. That night he was feeling very paranoid because he didn’t feel safe in the cell and had to have people around him all the time. The next day he saw the doctor inside Brook House, together with a witness who helped with translation and tried to explain about the paranoia and flashbacks that had followed the attack. The witness saw the paper the doctor was writing on, and he was signed off as without serious problem.
There was a nurse present with a camera but she did not take pictures of the injuries. When the witness mentioned the police, the nurse’s “face changed and she was really angry”.
One witness said:
“they know what they are doing. They pull the fingers from the joints so they don’t break them but it causes so much pain and damage. If it had been an officer who was beaten up the police would have come right away. We don’t feel safe to be in the care of the state because they have left our care in the hands of agency workers. We don’t have access to any legal information or anything like that. We don’t have access to the internet. We have computers in there but just screens not internet. Access is denied to all websites. It’s just a facade. He’s a humble guy, he’s not a trouble maker. He’s not a violent man, he can’t even speak English”
This incident is not an isolated case but part of a systematically violent immigration detention regime. Several reports released last month document the abuse and racism detainees suffer in detention centres in the UK:
*Recent report on Harmondsworth by Corporate Watch: ‘Its gonna break: life in the UK’s biggest detention centre’
Over 20 people have been killed in the UK detention system alone, and this figure does not include all the people killed in prisons or by the police.
In 2009 Jimmy Mubenga was killed during an attempted removal to Angola by plane.
Shut down all detention centres.
No deportations. No Borders. No Eurodac.
Photos of some of his injuries.