Immigration ‘Must Be Slashed’ To Keep Population Below 70 Million

Asylum seeker sewed mouth up in attempt to avoid deportation

A Kurdish asylum seeker sewed his mouth together in an attempt to avoid being returned to Iraq.

By Chris Irvine
Last Updated: 1:31AM GMT 16 Dec 2008

He was one of 49 rejected asylum seekers put on a special charter flight to northern Iraq last week which took off six hours later from London Stansted and was forced to return to the UK 31 hours after leaving.

Despite the protest, he had the stitches forcibly removed and was put on the plane the next day.

Two other asylum seekers had be removed from the flight before take-off, with one allegedly smuggling a blade on board and cutting his stomach, while another concussed himself by banging his head against a window.

The prisoners had been taken to Stansted from Dover and Colnbrook immigration detention centres in preparation for the flight.

After leaving six hours later, it stopped at Bucharest for refuelling before travelling on to Irbil in northern Iraq.

Despite it arriving in clear conditions, the flight made several passes before returning to Turkey because of bad weather, and eventually returned to Stansted.

Hassan Muhammad Kochar, one of the deportees, said: We were taken to Irbil, the plane was circling in the air. After three circles the plane turned round and landed in Turkey. We waited there fore an hour and a half. The guards said theyd take us to Kurdistan, but they didnt. Then we went to Romania. They told us theyd send us back, but they didnt. They said it was because of the weather, but that doesnt make sense.

Michael Woolley, of the Visitors Group at Haslar immigration detention centre, Portsmouth, said possible reasons for the events on the plane were recent reports that deportees who had returned to northern Iraq had all died.

He also said one deportee had been in England since 1999 and had an English partner and three children.

A UK Border Agency spokesman refused to comment on the flight but said returns to northern Iraq were enforced when officials were satisfied that it was safe to do so.