Rwanda protests: Nine people arrested blocking road near Heathrow in anti-migrant flights demo

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Activists block a road leading away from the Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre (REUTERS)
Activists block a road leading away from the Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre (REUTERS)

Nine protesters have been arrested for blocking the road to an immigration centre near Heathrow from where asylum seekers were due to be driven out on a coach for a flight to Rwanda.

Activists from Stop Deportations lay in the road at the Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre on the A4 on Tuesday night and unfurled banners condemning the Government’s controversial policy to send asylum seekers to the East African country.

The European Court of Human Rights blocked the removal of the first group due to be flown out in the latest legal bid to force Home Secretary Priti Patel to scrap the policy which she claims will stop people smuggling gangs.

The flight was due to leave from a Ministry of Defence airfield after the Court of Appeal had ruled that the government policy was legal but the dramatic 11th hour intervention from European court has opened a new front in the legal battle.

An activist blocking a road leading away from the Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre is detained by police (REUTERS)
An activist blocking a road leading away from the Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre is detained by police (REUTERS)

It is understood a total of seven asylum seekers were due to be flown to Rwanda before the flight was cancelled.

In a statement Stop Deportations said the policy was “racist and discriminatory” and vowed to press on with its protests.

It added: “It’s clear we cannot trust the courts to give us true justice and prevent this racist, fascist deportation, so that’s why we have taken action. No deportations, not to Rwanda or anywhere else.”

A Met Police statement said: “Police were called at 17.12hrs on Tuesday to reports of a group blocking the A4 Colnbrook bypass. Officers attended and arrested nine people for obstructing the highway, They have been taken to a central London police station. some roads were closed while officers attended the incident but have now been reopened.”

Police officers try to remove an activist blocking the road (REUTERS)
Police officers try to remove an activist blocking the road (REUTERS)

Britain struck a £20million deal with Rwanda to send some migrants, who arrived in the UK by crossing the English Channel in small boats from Europe, to live in the country. However, the policy has been attacked by human rights groups who have mounted a series of legal challenges.

Protests have been held across the country including a day of action at the Brook House Immigration Centre at Gatwick.

The government policy is aimed at stopping asylum seekers using unofficial routes, particularly small boats across the Channel, to get to the UK. They argue that people smugglers are exploiting them and if the prospect of being deported to Rwanda awaits them they will not make the journey.

After the intervention from the European Court of Human rights grounded the flight Priti Patel said: “It is very surprising that the European Court of Human Rights has intervened despite repeated earlier success in our domestic courts.”