On 27 March, Augustine, a Biafran independence activist was deported to Nigeria, where his brother has been killed and his wife and children are missing. He is still laid up with the injuries he sustained by the five thugs who twisted his neck and kicked and punched him to the ground while handcuffed. Unable to afford medical care, we fear for his life.
Three anti-deportation activists leafleted and spoke to passengers to ask them to intervene should they hear Augustine struggling get off the flight. One man whose family was on the flight joined us.
On hearing his cries, people responded. And Augustine was removed. But the airport authorities returned with police and dragged one man, Ayodeji Omotade, off the plane, which provoked even more solidarity. All 136 passengers in economy class were removed from the flight, but Augustine was brought back on hours later and deported - alone with his warders and the first class passengers.
Ayodeji missed his brother's wedding, had his bags lost and money seized and was ordered to report to a magistrates court to prove this money was not the proceeds of crime! He has been banned from flying with BA.
This treatment of Ayodeji has caused uproar around the world and growing numbers of Nigerians — over a thousand already — are threatening a boycott the company should BA not back down and issue a full public apology for what is seen as overt and humiliating racism suffered by Ayodeji and the other passengers.
Ayodeji deserves our full solidarity. His actions and that of other passengers in defense of Augustine are an example to all of us - and the first steps towards defeating the grotesque system of detention and deportation of migrants.
In the growing campaign to take on the outrageous conduct of BA, which has got the attention of mainstream media across the UK and Africa, we also want to highlight Augustine’s fate, and the sheer bloody-mindedness of booting off a plane load of Nigerians needing to fly in order to proceed with the rendition of a man who they know faces persecution and now the challenge of overcoming the terrible physical and mental injuries he suffered at their hands.
The Campaign Against Immigration controls will be making contact with air transport workers to build solidarity and non-compliance with forced deportations.