This week at Chelmsford Crown Court, 15 comrades were convicted of terror-related charges in a verdict Amnesty International has described as a “crushing blow” for human rights in the UK.
Eighteen months ago, the Stansted 15 bravely – and peacefully – put their bodies and liberty on the line to stop a government-chartered deportation flight from Stansted Airport.
On the flight were victims of human trafficking, a lesbian woman threatened with death upon deportation, and a man who was subsequently given leave to remain in the UK rather than be separated from his pregnant wife and family in the UK.
Because the defendants stopped this flight, 11 of those people, who were hours from potentially permanent removal from the UK, remain here.
This was just one instance of the inhumane, racist and violent practice of deportations that our government inflicts on migrants in the UK.
Finding the 15 guilty of a terrorist offence – almost at the instruction of the judge – strikes at the heart of the right to peaceful protest in this country and sends a chilling message to those who seek to challenge the Home Office’s ‘hostile environment’ policy of ‘deport first, appeal later’.
Replying to the verdict, the 15 stated: “We are guilty of nothing more than intervening to prevent harm.
“The real crime is the government’s cowardly, inhumane and barely legal deportation flights and the unprecedented use of terror law to crack down on peaceful protest.
“We must challenge this shocking use of draconian legislation, and continue to demand an immediate end to these secretive deportation charter flights and a full independent public inquiry into the government’s ‘hostile environment’.”
Clapton CFC and its members stand in solidarity with the 15 defendants and with End Deportations in their fight to dismantle the brutal practice of charter flight deportations.
We urge our members and supporters to assist the defendants and their legal team to appeal this outrageous verdict.
How to help
At Saturday’s game vs Ealing Town we will have a collection for the Stansted 15’s legal fund, which aims to help offset the defendants’ costs.
We encourage those not able to attend to donate online if possible.
You can also show their support by signing the petition.
International Migrants Day
On Tuesday 18th December, there will be an associated Day of Action in cities across the UK, ‘Helping Migrants is Not a Crime’, so get down to your nearest one to stand with the Stansted 15 in the fight against borders.