Two hundred protesters descended on the Home Office on Friday 12 November in an emotional and at times angry event which marked one month since the killing of Jimmy Mubenga.
Jimmy was ‘restrained’ by G4S security personnel during his forcible deportation on a British airways flight to Luanda, Angola. He was escorted by security men and his last words are reported to have been “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe!” After being held down by three security men for about 45 minutes, he died on the plane.
As the Coalition Government pursue their targets of fewer immigrants and more removals in the UK, we can only expect the number of forcible removals to increase.
In an emotional address, one of the protest organisers, Rosario Miranda, said “We came here today to ask for justice for our brother Jimmy Mubenga. He begged you to allow him to live with his family here, but now he is alone in the mortuary. You wanted so much to get rid of Jimmy on that Tuesday that any means for you would justify the ends. That’s why he ended up dead.”
He then went on to question why Jimmy’s body was still being held by the authorities. “We are amazed and surprised that one month later, Jimmy is still in the UK. Does it mean that you have finally granted him asylum? “
Jimmy had five children with his wife Makanda Kambena and lived in Ilford, Essex. Their youngest child was just seven months old. “We cannot understand that why after living here for 16 years you could not allow him his divine right to live with his family?”
MP Jeremy Corbyn also addressed the demonstration at the doors of the Home Office. He pointed out the links “between newspaper attacks on the right to asylum, the rise in racist attacks and the growth of the BNP.”
Then, surrounded by their supporters, Makanda and Jeremy Corbyn handed in a letter to Home Office official David Cheesman who refused the family access to the Home Office building as they hadn’t made an appointment. The letter demanded an inquiry into the death of Jimmy and more broadly, into the practice of forced removals and deportations from the UK. The letter also requested that Jimmy’s family be granted leave to remain in the UK, so they might participate in the inquiry.
Jimmy’s death has been described as “extremely regrettable” by Baroness Neville-Jones, the Security Minister.
Since Jimmy’s deaths the three security men have been arrested and are currently on police bail. The contract for forcible removals has been awarded to a different company, Reliance Security Task Management.
A security personnel blog site reveals that Reliance probably won the contract from UKBA by virtue of bidding a lower price, and that G4S staff involved in forcible removals were likely to apply to Reliance stressing their experience and expertise in this area. One poster said “G4S to Reliance? Out of the frying pan..“
It is the practice of forcible deportations that needs examining, not just the perpetrators.