UK: 'Tamil asylum seekers to be forcibly deported'
London: Dozens of Sri Lankan asylum seekers will be forcibly removed from Britain on a secretive deportation flight, despite evidence that they face arrest and retribution on their return, according to report.
A chartered plane, PTV030, is due to take off on Thursday from an undisclosed London airport and fly direct to Colombo.
The forced removals come as Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was the architect of Sri Lanka's final victorious push three years ago against the Tamil Tigers, flies into the UK to join the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations, The Independent reports.
Meanwhile, human rights organisations have called on the UK Border Agency to halt the flight on the grounds that Tamils who are known to be critical of the Sri Lankan government have been brutally treated following their return.
Human Rights Watch has documented 13 credible cases over the past two years in which failed Tamil asylum seekers from Europe have been tortured after returning to Sri Lanka.
The organisation warned that those cases are likely to be ‘just the tip of the iceberg’.
According to the paper, some of those on board today’s flight include people who have overstayed their visa and immigrants who have been convicted of a criminal offence.
But it also contains dozens of ethnic Tamils who have had asylum bids turned down and are at risk of political persecution.