“People are still being deported and thrown into detention centres”
An interview with British “Stansted 15” defendant Melanie Strickland
25 January 2019
World Socialist Web Site reporter Margot Miller spoke to Melanie Strickland, one of the “Stansted 15” defendants who were tried and found guilty in the UK after their courageous protest in defence of the right to asylum.
The 15 face possible lifetime jail sentences after they blocked the deportation of undocumented migrants at Stansted Airport in March 2017. The activists, who belong to the campaign group “End Deportations,” breached the perimeter fence and locked themselves around a government-chartered Boeing 767 to prevent take-off. On board, 57 undocumented migrants from UK detention centres were being forcibly removed, bound for Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone. Some faced torture or death on return, with the UK government’s actions a flagrant denial of the migrants’ human rights.
Campaigners displayed banners proclaiming, “mass deportations kill” and “no one is illegal.” The airport runway was shut for one hour and 20 minutes, with 19 flights diverted. A police removal team spent 10 hours extricating the protesters from the body of the plane.
After a nine-week trial at Chelmsford Crown Court, in December the jury found the defendants guilty of endangering safety at an airport in…