On Saturday 21 May the Revolutionary Communist Group joined a protest, entitled ‘Dosta, Grinta, Enough!’ It was called to challenge the new housing and planning laws that both redefine Gypsy, Roma and Traveller identity and seek to deny the community a culturally appropriate home.
A demonstration took place in Parliament Square, where protesters took over the roads, marching loudly with horses and wagons, banners and placards claiming the streets of Whitehall! ‘Travellers have human rights!’ was the message shouted at Westminster! Representatives from Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities across Britain and Ireland then held a rally opposite the Houses of Parliament.
The message was clear- the new Housing and Planning Act is a direct attack on their communities.
Alongside the fact that it will put an end to secure lifetime council tenancies, bring in market rates and push people in to private rented accommodation - it is also a massive attack on Gypsies’ and Travellers’ rights. Sites won't be built and the Accommodation Needs Assessments will no longer be statutory. Speakers highlighted the daily racism against their community - which will only be exacerbated by the new laws.
Romany Gypsies and Irish Travellers have ethnic status, yet they are marginalised and have to constantly fight to maintain their cultural way of life. There is a dire shortage of appropriate accommodation for travelling families, and this is going to be made even worse with new Act.
The new laws will limit the development of new Gypsy and Traveller sites and potentially threaten those living on existing public or private legal Traveller sites. Much of the community will be forced back onto the road either because they will be made homeless, or because they will be required to ‘prove’ their status and heritage to retain their homes.
The rally was called as a people’s march welcoming all who support the Gypsy and Travellers cause, and a democratic open mic meant many different supporters were able to speak. The Revolutionary Communist Group speaker highlighted the need for all progressive forces to organise against this vicious legislation that will be used to accelerate the social cleansing of whole communities, and to unite with all those facing the racist policies of the British state.
Travellers’ right are human rights! More sites now!
On Saturday 7 May London and Birmingham RCG branches travelled to protests at Yarl’s Wood detention centre near Bedford, and Harmondsworth detention centre near Heathrow, London, as part of a national day of action against detention and deportation of asylum seekers.
The day of action saw protests taking place at detention centres across the country, including the Verne detention centre in Dorset, which Bristol RCG comrades attended, and Dungavel in Scotland, supported by Scotland RCG. This follows a large mobilisation on 12 March of 2,000 people at Yarl’s Wood.
About 400 women are held at Yarl’s Wood for the ‘crime’ of seeking asylum here in Britain, an imperialist country which exploits and invades countries around the world all in the name of profits. Britain is the only country in the EU that has no limit on the amount of time asylum seekers can be held in detention prisons.
Mabel Gawanas, an organiser of Movement for Justice and the Yarl’s Wood demonstration and an asylum seeker previously held in detention there, sent this message after the demonstration: ‘I really had fun. Most of the attention was on my girls screaming Free Mable. I feel so strong and confident, although I am really frustrated, I appreciate what you guys do. We know more now that we can stand together as one and fight this struggle together as mother and sisters and daughters. This protest brings us together and gives us the strength of unity. The girls wish me good luck and the screaming of "Free Mabel Gawanas" was a personal great if sad feeling for me.'
Protests at Yarl’s Wood and other detention centres are growing in attendance. Join our contingent on the next one. Contact us today.
On Saturday 16 April 2016, the Revolutionary Communist Group joined the the Peoples Assembly demonstration demanding both Prime Minister David Cameron’s resignation and an end to austerity in this country.
Thousands gathered in Gower Street, to protest against the government’s increasing attacks on the working class, before marching to Trafalgar Square. The RCG contingent was strong, and very motivated despite the grey weather.
Side by side with anarchist and antifascist comrades, the RCG led chants, blasted music and provided an open mic for discussion, debate, and speech. Inspiring and thought-provoking contributions were made by RCG members, supporters, and the general public alike.
Interwoven with political rallying was rap and spoken word, raising the spirits of those marching. Housing petitions were passed around, and badges and copies of FRFI were sold throughout the day.
Comrades were openly criticising the Labour party, whose local councillors have been implementing savage cuts across the country. For example, we asked will the Labour Party refuse to evict those affected by the housing bill if it goes through parliament? So far they’ve refused to comment on the issue, so why were so many on this march calling for a Labour vote? Our invitations to the Labour supporters to engage in debate on the open mic over the nature of their party were met with uncomfortable looks, and silence.
On Tuesday 5 April, a protest called by the Croydon branch of the Revolutionary Communist Group took place outside Lunar House in Croydon, the (Home Office) UK Visas & Immigration HQ, to raise awareness in opposition Britain’s latest racist Immigration Bill.
The colourful and lively protest started at 10.30am, a busy time at the centre when migrants are effectively being told what to do with their lives, giving them a chance to get involved and have their voices heard. This is the building where deportations are processed, in many regards the epicentre of Britain’s racist immigration controls.
The RCG raised money for the All African Women's Group to attend, a prime example of migrants living on the breadline in Britain while being threatened with deportation. As well as other RCG comrades from South and North London branches, other supporting organisations in attendance included: Black Women's Rape Action Project, Class War, CPGB-ML, Focus E15, Movement for Justice by Any Means Necessary, the Pan-Afrikan Community Society Forum, Women Against Rape and Queer Strike.
The RCG ran an open mic on its sound system throughout the picket. RCG comrades stressed that as an imperialist and oppressor nation, Britain’s immigration controls are inherently racist, explaining that the latest Immigration Bill is an unprecedented expansion of the powers to detain individuals, to seize property and earnings, and generally invade privacy, all on the mere suspicion that a person is living and working in the UK ‘illegally’. A new criminal offence for people without the right papers will result in 12-month jail sentences and unlimited fines. 'Deport first, appeal later' provisions have also been expanded to people claiming asylum on grounds of human rights. Restrictions on asylum support threaten families with hunger and homelessness.
This is happening to defend imperialism in a period of economic crisis, the result of a decaying capitalist system. RCG comrades communicated the Marxist analysis that imperialism is the root cause of racism in Britain, and handed out flyers explaining this clearly, re-emphasising that any anti-racist movement which does not struggle against the British state and British imperialism cannot hope to combat racism.
British imperialism needs a special 'super-oppressed', super-exploited layer of cheap labour, to depress the average wage and maximise profits for the capitalist class, and which is easily dispensed into the reserve army of unemployed labour needed for capitalism to function, especially during a period of capitalist crisis. Racist and sexist discrimination is the expression of capital's need for this super-oppressed layer. This, we explained, is why, for instance, we currently see mostly black migrant women hospital cleaners striking, because they earn less than the living wage with no sick or holiday pay. The threat of deportation and dismissal is used to discipline black and Asian workers so that they are less likely to fight for their rights as workers and human beings. Immigration controls tighten in a period of crisis because the labour shortage becomes a labour surplus.
RCG comrades also called on the people working inside Lunar House to refuse to implement deportations, including PCS union members who recently marched against racism in London – a position that clearly amounts to disgraceful hypocrisy of the highest order. Britain’s warmongering role in creating the so-called refugee crisis was also highlighted, along with the fact that the UK is nowhere near ‘full’ because at least 700,000 empty homes exist in England and Wales as a result of a parasitic and decaying capitalist economy that has to prioritise profit ahead of people. The contrast with socialism was also made – while Britain has reluctantly promised to accept 20,000 Syrians over the next five years, Venezuela immediately offered to resettle 20,000 with open arms.
Representatives from the All African Women's Group spoke passionately about the suffering, neglect and destitution they had experienced at the hands of the British state and called on Home Secretary Theresa May to stop the deportations that are separating families and ruining lives.
Movement for Justice by Any Means Necessary, organisers of the now well-known Surround Yarl's Wood protests against detentions of immigrants, stressed that we cannot rely on authorities to take a miraculous progressive turn, and that it was up to campaigners to build a movement that forces the state to end detentions and deportations.
Queer Strike made the important point that while the government has taken credit for legalising gay marriage, it has continued to distress, oppress and interrogate LGBTQ migrants and deport them to countries where they face lawful discrimination and murderous persecution – countries homophobia was exported to by British colonialism.
The purpose of the protest was really underlined by a Sri Lankan friend of a Focus E15 comrade who called from inside a detention centre. With a phone put against the mic to amplify his voice, he told those gathered how immigration officers had raided his home in the early hours of a Sunday morning no less, and pleaded for his freedom. This is just one anecdote of the oppressive reality for migrants living in racist Britain.
So the message was loud and clear: anti-racists must build a mass anti-imperialist movement if solidarity with migrants and refugees against Britain's racist capitalist immigration laws is to be effective on the necessary scale.
Fight the racist Immigration Bill! Stop deportations! End detentions! Britain out of the Middle East! Stop imperialist war!