Racist Britain

FRFI 175 October / November 2003

Close Dungavel! Stop deportations!
On 8 September thousands of protesters gathered outside Dungavel detention centre in Scotland to demand its immediate closure.

Families are locked into the former prison, run by Premier Detention Services, and have to get permission to visit the centre shop. One mother was fined her entire weekly allowance of £3.50 for taking a cereal biscuit back to her room to her child. Children have limited access to play areas and education facilities are completely inadequate. They are not permitted to attend local schools and there is one teacher for one composite class.

The Scottish Parliament debated the future of Dungavel on 11 September; however a decision had already been taken in June by the Labour-run Scottish Executive and the Home Office to massively expand the centre.

Labour murderers
On 28 August, 30-year-old refugee Israfil Shiri walked into the offices of Refugee Action in Manchester, poured petrol over himself and set himself alight. He suffered 80% burns and died after five days on a life support machine. His killers are without doubt this callous, inhuman, racist, Labour government.

Israfil had fled political persecution in Iran. A year ago his asylum claim was rejected; after that he was refused benefits, refused treatment for a serious medical condition, and made homeless. Unable, under Labour’s racist immigration laws, to work, Israfil was destitute and desperate.

More information from ncadc-north-west @ncadc.org.uk / 0161 740 8206.

Government wins right to starve asylum seekers
On 17 September the Home Office successfully appealed against an earlier judgement which had ruled unlawful its policy of denying all financial and material support to asylum seekers who do not register their claims immediately upon arrival in this country. The government now has the legal right to leave a vulnerable group of people entirely destitute. Further legal challenges are expected, together with protests by those denied benefits. Many asylum seekers are forced to sleep rough and throughout August a group of asylum seekers openly slept out in south London, keeping together both for safety and to publicise their situation.

Sylvester Inquest – cop changes story
The inquest into the death of Roger Sylvester heard a police officer dramatically change his story. Roger, a black council worker, was arrested in Tottenham, London, in January 1999 and taken naked and handcuffed to hospital, where he was ‘restrained’ by eight policemen.

In the witness box, PC John Anderson (now promoted to sergeant) retracted a report made on the night of the incident, a statement to a police doctor and a statement to Essex Police, who investigated on behalf of the Police Complaints Authority.

The police claim that although Roger was handcuffed he was in the recovery position. Under cross-examination Anderson realised that his statement – ‘I was kneeling on his upper legs’ – made this unlikely, so he changed his story.

Another officer, PC Steedman, gave an account of Roger’s death which, under cross-questioning, also cast doubt on the police story. He said that while being restrained Roger managed to lift his head 18 inches off the ground before losing consciousness. Barrister Ian McDonald suggested this could not have been possible if he was lying on his side.

Michael MacGregor, Bob Shepherd, Jim Wills and Nicki Jameson


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