The following was written by someone who was due to fly on the Charter Flight last month to Nigeria and Ghana. It has been published here with their permission, but they want to remain anonymous.
The secrecy around Charter Flights needs to be broken down, people need to understand what is really happening.
I was actually meant to be on the Charter flight to Nigeria and Ghana. None of us was given ticket, from last week or two weeks ago depending on individual case, the home office as been issuing removal window notice but to detainee surprise, this is actually referred to as ticket.
On 23rd August 12:00pm the officers came asking every individual who is ready to go and who is not, some people that were fed up obliged and people like myself with pending case and valid reason to stay said no. They came back just before dinner and start forcing everyone to the reception or sometimes lie that immigration is waiting for you at reception for an interview, when you go to the reception, they go in your room and pack your belongings, before you know it, you are being forced into a luxurious coach or in my case in a van with four officers restraining me with a belt all over my stomach and arms, apparently this was procedure. I asked where was the immigration officer i was meant to have an interview with, they said one will be available on the flight. I was shocked, frustrated, depressed and my health deteriorated even more.
In a convoy, two luxurious coaches and two vans made there way out of the detention centre, every detainee thought we going to a airport so at least we can state our individual case to a immigration officer before boarding but to every ones surprise, we were still travelling after 3hours on the coach and van specifically, all this time i was still restrained.
To cut the long story, pain and stress short, after 3 and half hours, we arrived at a RAF military base in Oxford, I found out afterwards it was called Brize Norton. It all looked like we were being smuggled out of the country. We were packed on the runway with military guards armed with guns and dogs, we were treated like terrorists or sometimes even worse. We asked for immigration officers and none was on sight, we were told they will be on the flight and would only attend to us when the flight is moving on the air.
I am a father of two British citizen in the country, I had an appeal pending and so did some of the guys on the flight, they shouldn’t have been in that flight or even gone through that process in the first place. A lot of people seeking asylum were on the flight, there was no solicitors to contact or anyone to call, they intentionally started the removal after office hours. I was denied my right to phone call in the vans and I’m sure some of the other guys on the coach will have their own experience to share.
At 1am just before they start loading everyone on the flight, i was feeling dizzy, i called my British partner to say my goodbyes and all she could do is cry and feel sorry for me. My depression got worse on this journey. It was my turn to get on the flight when i was told a call as come in to take me back to the detention centre, i was no longer going to get on the plane.
No apologies for all the bad treatment I got, no apologies for my time wasted, no apologies for the stress and depression they made me go through and what about the other guys on that plane that got a case pending etc. I couldn’t ask this question, at this time i just wanted to sleep when they took off the restrained locks and free my hands (even doe i have never struggle with them from the start). I called my partner to inform her and i cant imagine the stress this process as put her through. I am still in detention at the moment and i just felt the most i can do is make awareness for this inhumane treatment by the Home Office and UK Government as a whole. I wish the guys on that flight good luck now and the future to come.