A National Weekend of Action against TUI Airways has been organised for the 28th-29th of August, calling on the company to stop running deportation flights.
Building on the picket of the Brighton TUI offices in July, protestors will assemble outside the airline’s stores across the country. The action also comes on the back of a successful campaign last month by These Walls Must Fall which prevented the deportation of 36 Zimbabwean refugees.
Inspired by the 2018 protests which pressured Virgin to halt its deportation flights, the Stop TUI campaign is organised by abolitionist group SOAS Detainee Support (SDS), with the support of Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants, the Kurdistan Solidarity Network, and Global Justice Now. Working directly with migrants held in detention, SDS envisions a future with no borders or prisons. Their open letter against TUI can be viewed here.
An SDS spokesperson explains:
“The people we are supporting are being unjustly deported from the UK on TUI charter flights to countries where they feel their life is in danger. By taking a stand together, and protesting outside of TUI shops, we are telling TUI we will not let them silently get away with profiting from the violent treatment of human beings.”
TUI is now the number one airline for UK deportation flights, having carried out 21 mass deportations since January 2021 alone. To circumvent passenger solidarity with migrants, the Home Office uses non-commercial, charter flights to undertake the violent removals. The destinations of these flights are often countries that have been victims of British colonialism and ongoing economic imperialism, including Jamaica, Nigeria and Zimbabwe, as well as Vietnam.
TUI presents itself as a family-friendly business, but it is actively profiting from the hostile environment for migrants and refugees enforced by the British state. The company also pressured hotels in the Canary Islands not to provide African refugees making the perilous journey to Spain with emergency shelter. An aim of the Stop TUI campaign is thus to put pressure on the airline by unmasking the cruelty behind its public image.
The Kurdistan Solidarity Network has further drawn attention to the airline’s extensive operations in Turkey, where the Erdoğan government is committing human rights atrocities against Kurdish people.
Deportations are set to increase further if the UK government’s proposed Borders and Nationality Bill passes, necessitating a strong and coordinated response against rising state violence.
Supporters of the Stop TUI campaign are encouraged to join a local picket on the Weekend of Action, and show solidarity on social media using hashtags #TUIDropDeportations and #BoycottTUI.