Practical resistance


The (above) film from the Protest Productions Collective in Vienna suggests some examples of how you may be able to practically resist deportation when on board the plan – catching the attention of other passengers on the plane or the pilot.

This is possible on board a commercial flight with other passengers who are not being deported. On a private charter flight it is much harder due to the lack of independent witnesses and the widely experienced violence on board charter flights from “escorts”.

It is important to know that people have been killed resisting deportation. Most famously, in October 2010, Jimmy Mubenga was murdered by G4S guards, on a British Airways plane deporting him from the UK. While the case was high-profile, the G4S guards who killed Jimmy Mubenga were acquitted, demonstrating that there are often no consequences for the violence of escorts during deportation – and this is important to remember as it can mean they may have no limits to the violence they inflict in order to silence a deportee.

If you are a passenger witnessing a forced deportation, you can ask the pilot and employees to “refuse to participate in this forced removal and not allow the person to be taken on the flight”. You are making them aware that the person may be in grave risk of danger (or even death) if removed to their country – and is being deported against their will. Here, solidarity is simple, and getting involved on board can really make a difference as to whether someone is deported or not.

Pilots have the discretionary power to take people off their flights. The Unity Centre have seen many people taken off flights after members of the public have complained or after the pilot has seen it as “too much trouble”. They report that one woman was taken on the first flight successfully but when they tried to board her onto her second flight, from Paris to Ivory Coast, the pilot could see that she had been injured and was greatly distressed and the Home Office had to bring her back to the UK.

The leaflet on resisting deportation from the No Deportations group in Germany can be useful in the context of a deportation from the UK.

It’s important to remember just how much the Home Office, and all of the organisations and companies that work with them, get away with purely because people are not watching them. A real difference can be made if these organisations and companies realise that we are watching them, and that the public is aware of what they are doing. If enough people take action – both by smearing these airlines and by trying to persuade their workers to act, people can get off flights. Remember, these workers are also people and many of them will feel something about what their company is doing, and can possibly be motivated to act. Solidarity means all standing together against the racist infrastructure of forced removals from this country, whether in our jobs, in our lunchbreaks or at home.



See Right to Remain’s toolkit guide on legally challenging a deportation, and Legal Action for Women’s self-help guide (useful not only to women).

There are several organisations in the UK who may be able to support or suggest potential avenues for challenging deportations, such as The Unity Centre, SOAS Detainee Support, Detention Action, and Leeds No Borders.


If you are unable to resist deportation and are expecting to be removed from the UK against your will, see the Post-Deportation section of this website.