End immigration detention!

end-immigration-detention

The new Tory-Liberal Democrat coalition government has announced plans for a cap on non-EU immigration.  Any hopes of the Lib-Dems’ promised ‘amnesty’ for migrants who have lived in the country for 10 years, can speak English and hold no criminal record have been dispelled as this proposal fell by the wayside in the coalition bargaining process.  The only seemingly positive note in the new government’s agenda is the promise to end child detention.  However, there is no guarantee that this will be enacted soon and even when it is, it signals the horrific prospect of ‘free’ children with detained parents being taken into care and traumatised by separation.

 

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Police attack UAF demonstration against EDL in Bolton

The state’s response to the Unite Against Fascism (UAF) counter mobilisation to the English Defence League (EDL) event in Bolton on 20 March was a change in tactics from previous confrontations.

The police used a clear strategy of attempting to criminalise the UAF demonstrators and leaders, by using ‘kettling’, snatch-squads and dogs to attack and arrest people. From mid-morning they blocked entrances to Victoria Square, preventing many anti-racists from joining the demonstration. Over 50 people were arrested, with many suffering head wounds as police riot squads covered in body armour lashed out all around with extendable truncheons. UAF Joint Secretary Weyman Bennett was lifted by a snatch-squad from the speakers’ area and arrested, apparently on suspicion of ‘conspiracy to organise violent disorder’. He was later released on bail. Rhetta Moran, a leading figure in Greater Manchester UAF, was also arrested and released on bail, with conditions which prevent her from attending any EDL or UAF gathering in the country. While she was being held, the police entered her house and copied the data on her computer.

 

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Close Yarl’s Wood! Close Harmondsworth! Close all immigration prisons!

From 5 February to 19 March women asylum seekers at Yarl’s Wood immigration prison staged a defiant hunger strike in protest against their detention and treatment. Nicki Jameson reports.

They withstood physical reprisals from the guards employed by Serco, the private security firm that runs Yarl’s Wood on behalf of the UK Borders Agency (UKBA), the snatching and imprisoning in criminal gaols of some of their most vocal spokeswomen on the grounds they were the protest’s ‘ringleaders’ and the summary deportation of some participants. UKBA lied to the press, claiming there was no hunger strike and that there has merely been a short-lived protest that was ‘peacefully resolved’. As FRFI goes to press, the hunger strike has been suspended for three weeks to give the Home Office an opportunity to respond to the women’s demands. If they are not met, the protest will resume.

 

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Support migrant workers

By now the cleaning companies that service London’s banks, offices, universities and transport systems should have realised that their low-paid migrant workforce is not as much of a pushover as they might have hoped! Despite repeated at­tacks on working conditions, the imposition of anti-social shift patterns, refusal to pay the London Living Wage and the use of immigration snatch-squads to terrify the workers into submission, London’s migrant workers continue to organise in defence of their rights. Lead­ing the struggles are comrades such as Alberto Durango and Juan Carlos Piedra Benitez, both members of the Latin American Workers Association (LAWA).

 

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Police ignore racist attacks on asylum seekers

Manchester FRFI supporters spoke to two Kurdish refugees from Iran. Faraydun Abdullazada and Rahman Rasoulzada, who told us about a horrifying catalogue of racist attacks they have suffered and the total lack of response from the police.

July 2005 Faraydun was approached by 10 white people in Stoke-on-Trent city centre, asked ‘What are you doing here?’ and set upon as he tried to walk away. He was attacked with sticks and chased into a Chinese takeaway as the racists yelled, ‘come on motherfucker’ ‘bastard terrorist’ and so on. Faraydun called the police, who never came.

 

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Red Road flats, Glasgow: no suspicious circumstances?

glasgowreport

On the morning of Sunday 7 March, the bodies of Serge Serykh and his wife and stepson were found at the bottom of a 30-storey tower block on Petershill Road, north Glasgow, used by the YMCA to house asylum seekers. The Russian family had apparently committed suicide by throwing themselves off the 15th floor balcony. Since the deaths were announced, the police and the BBC have repeated like a mantra that there were ‘no suspicious circumstances’.  But there clearly are ‘suspicious circumstances’ surrounding these tragic deaths, and the prime suspects are the British Labour government and its punitive immigration policies.

Neighbours told Unity (the asylum seeker support group) that Strathclyde police visited the family’s flat last Friday to tell them their asylum application had been refused and that they would be evicted. Generally, the police only come to the door of refused asylum seekers at the request of the landlord after the family have refused to leave. The landlord in this case, the YMCA, has a history in Glasgow of colluding with the state to attack asylum seekers (http://tiny.cc/aDgpi).

 

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Racism against Muslim prisoners

I want to highlight an incident that has seriously affected my situation in prison. I am serving a ten-year sentence. Since my conviction I have been exemplary in behaviour and incurred no disciplinary reports prior to the incident I am about to describe. I am of Pakistani origin and until recently had not experienced any discriminatory treatment in prison or ill-treatment at the hands of other prisoners. Sunny Nasir Ahmed writes from HMP Glenochil.

 

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Fight racism, fascism and imperialism

With the General Election looming most of the left, running scared at the thought of a Tory victory, are openly calling for a vote for the racist war-mongering Labour Party. We say don’t vote, organise the fightback!

 

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Close Yarl’s Wood and all immigration prisons! Support the protesting detainees!

protestOver 80 women detained in Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre in Bedfordshire have been staging a hunger strike since 5 February in protest at their continued detention and treatment. On 8 February private company Serco, which runs Yarl’s Wood, tried to end the protest by force, but the women have continued to stand firm and 50 remain on hunger strike.  The UK Borders Agency has issued several statements claiming the protest is over, but despite brutal reprisals and the removal of some women to criminal prisons, the protest continues.

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! opposes all immigration detention and stands in total solidarity with the Yarl’s Wood protesters.  We reproduce in full a statement from protesting detainee Mojirola Daniels, circulated by the National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns

 

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End detention of children!

child_detention_in_uk‘My three year old daughter realised we were locked in a prison. She would point at the window and say “out, out”. Even if they improved conditions inside, they still won’t get rid of this negative impact on children’. Laureine - member of Tyneside Community Action for Refugees (TCAR) who was detained in Yarl’s Wood with her two small children last year.

Recent headlines and parliamentary questions have highlighted the scandal of child detention in Britain.  Asylum seekers and campaigners have been calling for an end to this appalling practice for years and this sudden and belated interest is welcome but will only be of any practical use if accompanied by action, rather than simply by hand-wringing.

 

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Stop the deportation of Lili and Keiran to Cameroon!

lilkeiranlili_protest_1lil_protest_2

Berminie Carine Lili, known to her friends as Lili, faces deportation with her two year old son Keiran Nana on Monday 25th January 2010. They were detained by six immigration police who demanded entry to their home in Hendon, Sunderland, in the early hours of Tuesday 12th January.

 

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Who is more dangerous – the BNP or the Labour Party?

In the June 2009 election to the European Parliament, the openly racist British National Party (BNP) won 6.2% of the vote, giving it two seats. On 22 October BNP leader Nick Griffin appeared on BBC television debating show Question Time alongside Labour Party Minister of Justice Jack Straw. Griffin’s appearance was greeted with widespread and understandable outrage. At a series of meetings around the country the RCG posed the question ‘Who is more dangerous – the BNP or the Labour Party?

 

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Unite Against Fascism backs Labour racists

FRFI’s criticism of Unite Against Fascism (UAF) as no more than a vehicle for shoring up Labour’s disintegrating electoral support, was confirmed by the announcement that the UAF will support Barking MP Margaret Hodge against BNP leader Nick Griffin at the next general election. It comes after the UAF and its joint secretary Weyman Bennett, a leading member of the SWP, have cosied up to reactionaries and opportunists in a series of protests against the English Defence League (EDL) and Scottish Defence League (SDL) and undermined effective opposition to racism and fascism.

 

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Racist Europe tightens screw on migrants

FRANCE: Law of the Jungle

At daybreak on 22 September, more than 500 police officers encircled the migrant squatters’ camp known as ‘The Jungle’ outside the port of Calais in northern France as police helicopters hovered overhead. Despite protests by migrants and their supporters, who shouted out ‘Shame on France’ and held placards reading ‘We need shelter and protection, we want peace’, 278 migrants, half of them children, were rounded up, with riot police cordoning off the area to pick up any who tried to escape, and herded onto buses. The tents and tarpaulins, including a makeshift mosque, were razed to the ground with bulldozers and flame-throwers.

 

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Asian youth fight racist provocations

Since May 2009, racists under the banner of the English Defence League (EDL) have organised a number of demonstrations and rallies against ‘Islamic extremism’. A march in Luton in May was followed by two demonstrations in Birmingham on 8 August and 5 September, a rally at a mosque in Harrow on 11 September and a counter-protest to the annual Al Quds march through central London two days later. The EDL is planning further events in Manchester, Leeds and Bristol.

 

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Tyneside Community Action for Refugees stands against the BNP

tcarOn Saturday 28 November FRFI activists arrived at Newcastle's Monument for the monthly Speak Out Against Racism organised by Tyneside Community Action for Refugees (TCAR) to find a large BNP stall with a main banner reading: '800,000 Muslims killed in Iraq. Labour and Tories backed the war; the BNP opposed it. Who are the REAL racists?'. The BNP had clearly decided to pre-empt a simultaneous protest called by Tyneside Stop the War (Tyneside STW) in expectation of the 100th British soldier dying in Afghanistan this year which had been built around the slogans of 'Afghanistan: The Unwinnable War' and 'Bring Our Troops Home'.

 

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No to the BNP! - No to the racist Labour government!

The BBC has invited Nick Griffin of the British National Party on to its flagship debating show, Question Time, where he will share the platform with the Labour Party representative Jack Straw and others. Anti-racists, the Muslim community, those who oppose corporal and capital punishment and all progressive people are right to be angry that  the overtly racist BNP should be given public time and space to publicise themselves. But this does not mean that we should forget or forgive the hideous record of the Labour Party in power and its representative in this debate – Jack Straw.

 

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FREE MURAD AKINCILAR!

muradMurad Akincilar is a Turkish trade unionist and human rights activist, who is currently in prison in Istanbul awaiting trial on unspecified charges.

Supporters of the newspaper Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! have known Murad for 18 years, since he was a Masters student at the London School of Economics, and is supporting the campaign for his freedom being organised by Swiss trade union UNIA.

Having been living in Switzerland since 2001, during which time he worked for UNIA and campaigned for rights for migrant workers, Murad returned to Istanbul this summer. On 30 September 2009 he was arrested. Four days later he was taken to court and remanded in custody.

 

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Stephen Lawrence inquiry: Police racism exposed

by Cat Wiener

'My son was stereotyped by the police: he was black, then he must be a criminalÉ[his] crime was that he was walking down the road looking for a bus to take him home. Our crime is living in a country where the justice system supports racist murders against innocent people.' (Doreen Lawrence)

In March, at the start of the public inquiry into the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence, Mike Mansfield QC described the original investigation as so flawed that one had to conclude 'deeper causes and forces had been at work'. What has emerged so far is a picture of police incompetence so gross that it can only have been the result of racism.

 

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Sonia and Delroy Lindo fighting back against police racism

Arrest number 20

On 2 July, one of the few warm Sundays of this year, Delroy Lindo was washing his car outside his home with his little daughter. When he walked round the corner to the local garage for more oil, he saw police in the process of arresting a black man and removing the number plates from his car. Delroy stopped and observed, noting the time on a piece of paper. The police officers noticed him, abandoned the arrest and turned on Delroy. Within seconds he was detained, handcuffed and bundled into the police van. Arrest number 20 had just taken place! This time it was to be different. As soon as his wife Sonia was informed of the arrest by a neighbour she alerted the telephone tree that had been set up after the last court case, which we will call Court Case 19.

 

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Asylum: Labour government – blood on its hands

tony blair jack straw

On 18 June 58 Chinese people were found dead in a lorry at Dover. Their deaths are directly attributable to British immigration laws, and in particular to the Labour government's 1999 Asylum and Immigration Act, which renders almost all methods of openly arriving in Britain to claim asylum illegal and forces immigrants into the hands of unscrupulous racketeers.

 

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Lindo family carry on the fight for justice

Fight Racism!: 'The public has a right to know about racism' 

On Wednesday 20 December, comrades from Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! joined Sonia and Delroy Lindo and supporters at a lively picket outside Scotland Yard, to demand a copy of the report detailing police harassment against the Lindo family. The fact that the Metropolitan Police had been forced to carry out an internal investigation into this harassment is a victory for the campaign.

Throughout the year 2000, the Lindo Family Defence Campaign organised pickets of Tottenham police station and local courts, and had a vocal presence in community meetings. They used the media to demand that an investigation be carried out into the relentless harassment of the Lindo family by Haringey police.

 

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Sans-papiers organise in Switzerland

FRFI 163 October/November 2001

Switzerland is one of the two richest countries in the world, with an annual per capita income of over $33,000. During the 18th and 19th centuries it was a country from which people emigrated but since the First World War it has been a country to which people migrate. A public debate is currently taking place about the role played by the Swiss state in building up the German war machine through provision of financial support for Nazism and by blocking the assets of the communities persecuted under the Nazi reign and since. This is in addition to the routine role of Swiss finance capital, which is to camouflage the huge sums of money extracted by dictators and racist politicians throughout the world.

In Switzerland itself, a racist, xenophobic ideology is gaining strength, especially in the richer, German-speaking, eastern part of the country. In September 2000, Swiss people voted down proposals to restrict immigration by limiting the proportion of non-Swiss residents to 18% of the population. 64% voted against the new measures, however the voting was not even and in cantons where the political agenda is dominated by conservative movements, the percentages voting in favour of repressive measures were far higher.

 

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Racist Britain

The viciously racist climate which led to the murder of Firsat Yildiz is being replicated throughout Britain, as the Labour and Conservative parties compete for the title of ‘toughest’ on asylum seekers.

All sections of the media are contributing to this relentless build-up of racism, with the Daily Express leading the pack. On a daily basis its front pages scream of the chaotic system currently in force, of deportees who are never deported, of Iraqi refugees smuggling in bombs for Saddam, of a visible and terrifying assault by tens of thousands of aliens who arrive in boats and planes, or run through the Channel Tunnel at night, hell-bent on reaching Britain, where they will threaten our jobs, our homes and all that middle England holds dear.

 

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Fortress Europe

The strengthening of border controls around ‘Fortress Europe’ continues, as European Union (EU) countries discuss joint measures to repel immigration from outside the Fortress. Although Denmark, which will take over EU presidency from Spain later this year, has the strictest immigration policies of any individual European country, it is undoubtedly Britain which is leading the pack of wolves baying for yet more vicious controls to be implemented throughout the EU.

At the Seville summit this June, EU leaders failed to wholeheartedly embrace British and Spanish plans to deprive poor countries of economic aid, unless they signed up to draconian measures to prevent migration. However, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw announced that the EU would nonetheless be adopting a different version of the policy, focussing on the carrot, rather than the stick. While Tony Blair had hoped the EU would agree to actively withhold aid from uncooperative countries, Straw announced that bribery will be used instead, with additional aid being provided to countries that are prepared to provide the required amount of self-policing. To complicate matters further, several of the targeted countries, including Turkey and Poland, are themselves currently attempting to join the EU.

The Seville summit agreed to create a network of immigration liaison officers and speed up negotiations on readmission of refugees who have been refused in one member state and who then attempt to enter another. It also agreed to tighten the terms of the 1990 Dublin Convention, which deals with asylum applications to EU member states, in order to render it legally binding that the state where an asylum seeker first sets foot on EU soil is responsible for handling all that person’s asylum applications.

 

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Victory against the Terrorism Act

FRFI 178 April / May 2004

On 1 March 2004 the charges against six people accused of DHKP-C (Revolutionary Peoples’ Liberation Party-Front) membership were thrown out. They had been arrested in December 2002 by the Metropolitan Police’s Anti-Terrorist Branch, held and interrogated at Paddington Green police station for a week, then released on bail. They had been awaiting trial for 15 months.

Shortly before the trial the defence counsel noticed the Attorney General’s written consent for the prosecution had never been given, which is a requirement under the Terrorism Act as the charges concerned the affairs of a foreign jurisdiction – in this case Turkey. In an attempt to cover this up the prosecution claimed that membership of a foreign organisation and sending funds abroad to a proscribed organisation did not actually involve the affairs of any foreign jurisdiction! Although the defendants lost that particular legal argument they won the next one concerning abuse of process.

 

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Terrorism Act powers abused – same old story

A climate of racist hysteria is being engendered by the government, police and media. Repeated mass raids under anti-terrorist laws are widely publicised and arrests given a high media profile. When those arrested are later released the story is barely reported. Thousands of people are being subject to police stop and searches under the guise of anti-terrorism. The real purpose is intimidation.

Raids
On 19 April ten people were arrested in Manchester amidst a blaze of publicity, when 400 police officers from four forces raided premises in Greater Manchester, Staffordshire, South Yorkshire and the West Midlands. Intense speculation followed about threats to local shopping centres and possible plots to bomb a Manchester United football match, causing unprecedented carnage. When the eight men, one woman and one boy were released ten days later having been charged with nothing related to any terrorist activity, there was hardly a murmur. The Iraqi Kurds at the centre of this furore were neither political nor religious. One of them had been a professional footballer in Iraq and a Manchester United supporter for ten years. The tickets for Old Trafford found in his possession were not a clue to a target but a souvenir.

 

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Supporting asylum seeekers in the North East

In Newcastle, FRFI comrades have been playing a leading role in the Tyneside Community Action for Refugees network (TCAR), which brings together local and refugee communities in defence of asylum seekers. The main focus has been regular pickets outside North Shields Reporting Centre, where ‘failed’ asylum seekers have to sign their continued compliance with an unfair system. TCAR offers tea and coffee to asylum seekers going to sign and engages in discussion.

On 11 March TCAR held a lively demonstration demanding the right to legal work for all asylum seekers. Protesters gathered in the snow in central Newcastle under the banner ‘We’re not here for benefits. Let us work!’ We used street theatre and organised an open mic so that as many people as possible could speak. A woman from the Congo demanded asylum seekers be treated with respect and dignity while a man from Nigeria pointed out the irony of the British ruling class portraying asylum seekers as scroungers when imperialist Britain has been pillaging and exploiting Africa for centuries.

 

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Asylum and immigration: maximising Britain’s economy

Labour’s racist attacks on asylum seekers are set to intensify. The government intends to increase deportations (already 1,350 per month), detentions and use of ID cards and electronic tagging for all new adult asylum seekers. At the same time, 345,400 immigrants from Eastern Europe have been encouraged to enter Britain under temporary work permits since 1 May 2004. This ‘managed migration’ is now to be extended via a five-tier points system based on age, skills and qualifications to migrants from outside the EU, while asylum seekers are not allowed to work and deliberately driven into destitution.

Destitution as policy
Thousands of asylum seekers have been thrown into poverty. 1,600 Iraqi refugees in Yorkshire and Humberside have been denied Section 4 (‘hard case’) support (a room and £35 in food vouchers/week). In Leeds 250 single men were forcibly evicted and have ‘vanished’ into Britain’s cold winter (Yorkshire Evening Post 14 December 2005). Over 300 asylum seekers in Newcastle are homeless and surviving on charity; many have physical and mental illnesses. Even those who do receive ‘hard case’ support, including new mothers, are denied basic toiletries like nappies and sanitary products.

 

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Protests after man dies in police custody in Burnley

Hundreds of people protested in Burnley on 7 July after the death of Nadeem Khan in police custody. On 30 June the 28-year-old, known as Dean, was arrested following what officers described as a ‘violent struggle’. His family, including his mother Brenda, currently suffering from cancer and who signed herself out of hospital, led the protest.

Mr Khan, a father of two, was arrested at around 8.50am Saturday. Police were called to the area after residents said they had seen a man in the street vandalising cars and homes whilst leaving a trail of his own blood. It is then reported that Mr Khan walked into a hairdressers shop on Burnley Road asking staff and customers for help but was followed by officers and sprayed with gas.

 

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Close down Communications House!

Solidarity with asylum seekers.  Close down Communications House!

London FRFI has been holding monthly demonstrations outside Communications House Immigration Reporting Centre for over a year. We spoke to Dixy, an asylum seeker from Congo Brazzaville, who reports there weekly:

‘I came to England in 1999. My brother was granted asylum because he was an activist in my country. But they said that because I was too young, I would not be persecuted if I returned. In June 2006 I was taken to Harmondsworth. It is not a good place to be, the regime is bad, the people who run the centre bully detainees. For example they don’t allow you to go to the library, to move around. What it says on paper is not what happens in practice. You are stopped from researching your case. You are told to get back into your room. They want you to take voluntary return so they make it harsh deliberately to force you to want to go.

 

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