THE death of a 46-year-old family man being deported from Heathrow has thrown the spotlight on the entire racist immigration policy and its private enforcers.
Jimmy Mubenga was being deported to Angola and in the custody of three guards employed by the security firm G4S.
According to a press release issued by the company and echoed by the Home Office, Mr Mubenga ‘became unwell’ as he was held on a plane at the airport.
Eyewitnesses dismiss this report as ‘absolute rubbish’. They describe how Mr Mubenga, who was in handcuffs, was held down by two security guards sitting on either side of him whilst the third, sitting in a seat in front, joined in.
The witnesses describe how, far from suddenly becoming unwell, he was moaning and groaning as if in pain for some time: for at least ten minutes he complained of being unable to breathe before finally losing consciousness.
Another witness claimed that he had heard Mr Mubenga screaming ‘they are going to kill me’ repeatedly, and that for about 45 minutes the guards had been on top of him, restraining him by pushing him down – the kind of position known to risk respiratory problems or positional asphyxia.
This is not the first time that the methods employed by these private security guards have been exposed. In March this year, the Home Office was forced to produce a report into allegations of violence being used against people being detained on immigration grounds.
This report concluded that some employees of private security firms were behaving like thugs, and followed in the footsteps of a 2008 report by doctors and lawyers which claimed there was ‘widespread and systematic abuse’ of detainees by private contractors.
The whole system of detention and forced deportation has become an immensely profitable business for companies like G4S (the old Group 4). The company was paid more than £9 million for ‘overseas escort services’ in 2005-06.
However, its appetite has only been whetted. Yesterday, G4S announced that it is in talks with the government to create the country’s first ever totally private-run police cells.
In plans, which they say have been approved by the home office and the police chief constables, G4S will build, own and run these cells which the police and other agencies can then rent from them.
All staff, except for one custody sergeant, will be private employees of the company, which already operates and runs custody centres throughout the country.
The death of Jimmy Mubenga rams home the brutality of British capitalism, and that those who resist deportation at the hands of its enforcers risk death or serious injury.
No doubt the regimes in the private cells of these companies will be no different from the regimes at Campsfield and other detention centres.
The trade unions must fight to ensure that Jimmy Mubenga is the last person to die while being restrained by private security forces.
They must launch a national campaign to drive private companies out of the prison and detention system, and must demand that all of the Campsfield-type centres are shut down and their inmates freed.
They must also act against the source of this poison and campaign for the repeal of all of the immigration acts, so that just as capital has a global right, the working class has the right to work and live anywhere it pleases.
Above all, the trade unions must take action to bring down the coalition with a general strike and bring in a workers government that will break up and smash the capitalist state and bring in socialism.