My name is Angela MacKeith. This is me and my daughter May. She is one of fifteen human rights activists who have just been convicted of a terror offence for taking peaceful action to stop a deportation charter flight. She and her friends face a prison sentence.
The ‘Stansted 15’ have been convicted of ‘endangering an aerodrome’ under the Aviation and Maritime Security Act 1990 – a terrorism related law. The use of this draconian legislation is disproportionate and a clear abuse of power.
Helen, Joe, Lyndsay, Ben, Mel, Nathan, Laura, Jo, Nick, Ali, Eddie, Emma, May, Ruth and Melanie chained themselves around a deportation charter flight bound for Nigeria and Ghana in March 2017 in the sincere belief that they were preventing the sixty people on board from coming to harm.
As a result of their ten hour blockade, eleven people – including victims of trafficking recognised under the Modern Slavery Act – are still here in the UK with their loved ones.
This group of ordinary people took extraordinary and peaceful action in the knowledge that they were saving lives. But now they face prison sentences.
It is the UK government’s brutal and unjust ‘hostile environment’ which should be found guilty of endangering human lives, and not the peaceful efforts of fifteen people to keep them safer.
The UK is the only country in Europe to lock up people with uncertain immigration status indefinitely. 3000 people are incarcerated in immigration prisons in the UK at any one time.
The UK is one of the few countries to make up the numbers on chartered planes with deportees whose legal cases are still unresolved.
The Windrush scandal has shown us that the UK immigration system violates human rights. The Home Office constantly racially profiles; uses unfair targets; and victimizes and expels people who have the right to live here.
We call on the UK government to end its inhumane hostile environment policies and to end its barely legal and shameful practice of deportation charter flights. We also call for the Stansted 15 to be spared prison and for the unjust conviction against them to be overturned. They did not aim to inconvenience people, and this arduous trial has had such a profound impact on the defendants’ lives that they are unlikely to take such action again.
The Stansted 15 are a credit to human rights. They and their intentions should be supported, not punished.
The petition can be signed here.