Britain OUT of the DR - Congo! - August 22

On 22 August London FRFI was invited to speak at a meeting organised by the Congo Support Project to organise resistance to deportations to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and in particular to oppose a planned mass deportation by charter flight on 30 August. The meeting was chaired by the Congo Support Project, with other speakers from the Refugee Council and Congolese organisations CCUK and Congolese Rights. We reproduce below our contribution to the meeting. The next day, 23 August, the High Court ruled that no deportation of asylum seekers to DRC could take place prior to the completion of the Country Guidance Tribunal at which the safety of deportations to DRC is being challenged. The Tribunal opened in July and has been adjourned to 17 September.

The racist Labour government has now announced that the charter flight will still go ahead, but will be filled with DR Congolese people who have not claimed asylum. Apparently the Border And Immigration Agency (BIA) has sufficient people in detention centres and prisons to proceed as planned but with the exclusion of refused asylum seekers from the DR Congo. BIA also intends to include Congolese people from the Republic of Congo (Congo Brazzaville), as the court case freeze does not apply to them.

Resistance must continue! Fight all deportations!

Greetings to the meeting from Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! FRFI is the newspaper of Revolutionary Communist Group. We are active in London, Manchester, Newcastle and Glasgow, where we campaign on a number of issues, one of which is in defence of asylum seekers and against Britain’s racist immigration policy.

We call the paper FRFI because we consider that it is impossible to separate Britain’s role as an imperialist power from racism and oppression within Britain. The treatment of asylum seekers from DRC is a good example of this link.

We believe that Britain is an imperialist country, which lives off plundering, oppressing and impoverishing other nations.

It gets away with this by bribing the working class here with a small portion of the wealth it has stolen to prevent unity, and using racist propaganda depicting people in nations it oppresses as inferior to those in western countries and immigrants as undeserving.

Although Britain has never directly colonised DRC, British companies are deeply involved in the exploitation of the country’s mineral wealth. DRC has the world’s largest deposits of copper, cobalt, coltan and cadmium, as well as chrome, timber, tin, rubber, oil, uranium, germanium, diamonds and gold. The war that has taken the lives of over 5 million people in DRC has been depicted in the international media as an ‘ethnic war’ or a ‘civil war’. In reality it is a war for the control of these resources. Since his election last year, Kabila has signed lucrative contracts with multinational companies, many of which have British links.

The more implicated in the country Britain is, the more important it becomes for the government to keep up the illusion that DRC is ‘safe’ and that the people seeking asylum here from DRC have ‘unmeritorious’ or even ‘fraudulent’ asylum claims.

The very presence of asylum seekers from countries such as Iraq or DRC is unsettling to the British Labour government. It provides an unpalatable and visible reminder of Britain’s oppressor role abroad and that it is imperialism that causes people from war-torn impoverished nations to seek sanctuary in richer countries.

Asylum seekers have no choice but to organise to defend themselves against ever more vicious state attacks. The more vicious the attacks the more they have no choice but to organise and fight back. This is clear from the continual hunger-strikes and protests within the detention centres – the latest being at Campsfield. It is also apparent from the response to demonstrations and events.

On 12 February 38 asylum seekers were deported on a special flight to Irbil in northern Iraq. As you know, two weeks later on 26 February, 40 adults and children were flown from Stanstead Airport to Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It was at this time that my organisation first began to work with the Congo Support Project and we organised a demonstration at the Home Office. Now preparations are underway for more charter flight deportations.

We need to involve as many people as we can in opposing them and build a strong militant defence of asylum seekers right to stay here, which exposes Britain’s imperialist role in DRC and other countries and confronts the Labour government’s racist immigration and asylum policy. Such a movement does involve court challenges and lobbying of MPs but it also involves taking the message out to ordinary people in Britain, gaining their support, explaining the propaganda that has been used to vilify asylum seekers and the silence around Britain’s role in DRC and other places. We would like to work with you to begin to build this movement.