Asylum seekers protest against shameful Jomast housing conditions in Tyneside

Two to a room, bedbugs, broken cookers, leaking roofs ... these are all common problems facing Jomast tenants across Tyneside. Under the Home Office Compass contracts, the self-titled ‘urban regeneration specialists’ are subcontracted by notorious security company G4S to house asylum seekers. In sharp contrast to these squalid conditions, Jomast director Stuart Monk has bagged personal wealth of around £175m and is one of the richest men in the north east.

On 23 March FRFI supporters joined the Migration and Asylum Justice Forum (MAJF) to protest at Jomast’s offices, situated in their luxury urban living and leisure development ‘Jesmond three sixty’, where plush two-bedroom apartments are let for £1,275 a month.

 

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British state racism ‘the hostile environment’

britains racist imigration laws

The first months of 2017 have seen an intensification of the ‘hostile environment’ for migrants in Britain, as new measures are passed and previously announced policies take effect. From April new immigration checks will be introduced in hospitals, part of the package of measures introduced following the 2014 and 2016 Immigration Acts. Checks also now operate in areas of everyday life, including private rented housing, employment, banking, and traffic enforcement. A further Immigration Bill is planned later this year. Refugees and migrants are under attack and there is an urgent need to organise and resist. Tom Vickers reports.

Children and families under attack

In February, Ministers capped the number of child refugees to be accepted under the ‘Dubs amendment’ at 350, and introduced a new rule that only those who arrived in Europe before 20 March 2016 would qualify for one of the remaining 150 places. The open racism of the Conservative government has reached the point at which even a tiny number of children are seen as a threat.

 

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The Asylum Market - film on G4S and asylum housing pulled by BBC

This short film, made by Brass Moustache Films, is a powerful insight into the housing situation asylum seekers in Britain are forced into, and the role of G4S. It was due to be shown on the BBC on the Victoria Derbyshire show on the morning of 31 January 2017 but was pulled at short notice apparently due to G4S pressure. We are publishing this on our website to ensure as many people as possible can see some of the reality of life as an asylum seeker in Britain, in spite of any attempts to prevent this.

Fight Britain's racist immigration laws! Freedom for migrants! Justice for refugees!

 

Casey Review: nationalist assimilation

 

In December 2016 the government published the Casey Review into ‘integration and opportunity’, commissioned a year before by David Cameron. The review was led and authored by Dame Louise Casey, formerly the ‘homelessness tsar’, who told people not to give money to homeless people, and now the ‘integration tsar’. Casey also oversaw the 'Troubled Families' programme that followed the uprisings in 2011, and which shifted the blame for police racism, poverty and cuts onto the supposed moral failings of working class families. She has done the same with this review -  blaming Muslims and particularly those of Pakistani and Bangladeshi descent for the inequalities they face and for a whole range of other social problems.

 

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Calais migrant camp razed

The operation to clear and demolish the ‘Jungle’ camp situated near to the French port of Calais began on 24 October 2016. Hundreds of people were herded towards the warehouse where processing was to take place. They were not told where they would be sent and went because they had been threatened with deportation if they failed to co-operate. Before dawn, the CRS (riot police) closed the gate out of the camp and kettled hundreds of youths, forcing them to sit on a muddy bank. Police vans and fire engines were positioned around the perimeter to control and threaten the queuing people, who were separated into four queues (adults, families, unaccompanied children and ‘vulnerable’ people) and assigned a wristband. Across the three-day operation the CRS attacked teenagers and deliberately destroyed their wristbands, meaning that they would be treated as unprocessed adults. The State of Emergency (see ‘France – secularism becomes racism’ on our website) was used to impose a ban on entry to the camp during the operation. ID checks on anyone suspected of being a migrant were carried out at the train station and in the park in front of the town hall.

 

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Racist Attacks: 1980

Leeds: The Police, the Courts and Racist Attacks

Today, when we read in the British press of the activities of the racists in this country, the picture that we are being force-fed is that of a mob of ranting degenerates waving their Union Jack and National Front banners, of Willy Whitelaw or Enoch Powell delivering one of their speeches or even of a house-seller advertising his house for sale to whites only. But how much is this picture a true assessment of the increasing acts of racism blacks in Britain have to put up with. The truth is that British institutionalised racism affects black people day in and day out. It affects them in their employment of they are 'lucky' enough to be employed), it affects them in their education, it affects them on the housing market but most of all it affects them in their dealings with the law — British racist law.

 

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November 5th 1979: Chapeltown

On November 5 the police launched a violent attack on the black people of Chapeltown. This is not the first time that the police have launched such an attack. In Chapeltown, the police have used Bonfire Night as an excuse to try and terrorise young people because they are black and on the streets. Their record over the past few years proves this.

 

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The Attack on Overseas Students in Britain

The overseas students in this country are being victimised and harassed by the British state. The massive increase in fees is perhaps the most devastating of the attacks on them. In many instances situations have arisen where students have not been able to cope with the fee increases and have had to leave without completing their courses. To wage a successful campaign against this victimisation it is important to have a correct understanding of its basis.

 

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Victory against racism at Leeds school

A particularly blatant example of the use of suspension as a method of racist harassment of black school children has recently occurred in Leeds. We report this not only because it highlights the racism of the British educational and judicial system but also because it shows the effectiveness of resistance to the attempts of the state to deprive black children of their education and to split black families.

 

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Racist Attacks

Introduction

Every day, in every town, the British state pursues its campaign of harassment against black people. As the following three cases show, no black person is safe — the old, the sick, the young — all are victims of this campaign. We are publishing the following reports of police harassment not because they represent something exceptional but precisely because they are normal and typical examples of what black people are suffering. What the police did at Southall on April 23rd they did on one day in one concerted attack. What they have done to the X family, whose case is reported below, they have done over a period of years. The results for the X family are as shattering as those suffered by the victims of April 23rd in Southall. The X family now has one son in prison, one son facing charges and one son who is threatened with spending the rest of his life in a mental institution.

 

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Immigration controls: The racist British state

Figh Racism

‘British officials in Bangladesh are telling women and children who want to settle in Britain that they must first have X-ray examinations to prove their identity ... One such case involved a pregnant woman whose skull was X-rayed, despite the fact that Department of Health regulations would prevent such a test on pregnant British women except in cases of absolute medical necessity, because of the danger of an X-ray damaging the unborn baby.' (Guardian 8 February 1979)

Such brutal racist practices, X-rays, virginity tests, the splitting up of families and detention of immigrants, are daily events in the British state's drive to exclude and persecute immigrant workers. The racism of Britain's immigration controls is rooted in the nature of the British state. It is because the British state is an imperialist oppressor state that its immigration controls are necessarily racist.

 

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Defend Southall!

It is now five months since the British state used its police force for a brutal and murderous assault against the black and Asian people of Southall. Accustomed by years of practice, the British state has since taken all measures necessary to cover up what happened on that day. Blessed with the most servile labour movement leader-ship and the most cringing media, British imperialism has now moved smoothly on to the stage which normally follows its bloodiest deeds — the prosecution and persecution of the victims of its assault.

 

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Racist Britain 2016 time to fight back

racist britain

In August the Equality and Human Rights Commission published a major report on the state of race inequality in Britain.1 The report amasses a wealth of statistics that show that, despite decades of race equality legislation, racism continues to operate in every area of British society, and in many respects is getting worse.2 Any movement to defend the interests of the working class as a whole needs to take into account the specific oppression of ethnic minority workers and place anti-racism at the core of its politics.3

Education

The report shows that Black Caribbean and Mixed White/Black Caribbean children are permanently excluded at three times the rate of all children, and Gypsy/Roma and Irish Traveller children have the highest rates of both temporary and permanent exclusion. There is significant evidence of racist bullying in schools, with over 1,400 young people phoning ChildLine for this reason in 2012/13, a 69% increase on the year before.

 

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Theresa May – racist Home Secretary becomes racist Prime Minister

mayPM

On 13 July Theresa May became the Prime Minister who will oversee Britain’s withdrawal from the EU. May’s record as Home Secretary over the past six years of Conservative government equips her alarmingly well for this task and no-one should be fooled by her Remain stance in the run-up to the Referendum; Theresa May is an unrepentant ruling class racist. Nicki Jameson reports.

May addressed the nation from outside Downing Street with a crafted speech reminiscent of Thatcher’s ‘where there is discord…’ Alongside an unambiguous commitment to the Union – not the European one but the United Kingdom – designed as a slap in the face to the Scottish National Party’s pro-EU stance and second independence referendum plans, the speech was replete with rhetoric about fighting injustice and tackling gender and race inequality, aimed directly at the constituencies of UKIP and the Labour Party.

 

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National Day of Action against the 2016 Immigration Act

On 13 August the Migration and Asylum Justice Forum called a national day of action against the racist 2014 and 2016 Immigration Acts. Around the country supporters of Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! joined the protests and will continue to support this important work. We would like to thank the Migration Forum for calling this positive action and engaging so many different groups in the campaign. Below, we publish the report from the Migration Forum with pictures of all the different protests. We look forward to taking part in the next action!

 

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Organise against state racism

After brexist

As an initial reaction to the police killings of black people in the US, but also in response to state racism and violence in Britain, a wave of anti-racist protest took place across Britain in July. Most of the demonstrations were led by working class black people, who brought city centres to a standstill and protested outside police stations, law courts and the offices of the so-called Independent Police Complaints Commission. When 18-year-old Mzee Mohammed died in police custody in Liverpool on 14 July, this movement was ready to respond, and on 16 July more than a thousand people took to the streets of Liverpool. In Manchester, a longstanding black activist told FRFI, following a Black Lives Matter march in the city: ‘The last time I saw Moss Side like this was 1981’ – a time of widespread radical politics and uprisings led by black sections of the working class. Tom Vickers reports.

 

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Immigration raids in London and Lancashire

The introduction of the Immigration Act 2016 has seen a wave of immigration raids across the country, with restaurants in particular targeted for 'illegal' workers. On 4 July in London, at a dozen branches of the luxury burger chain Byron, workers were summoned by management to bogus early morning training meetings. UK border agents then burst into the rooms, shouting 'Nobody move, this is immigration!' UKBA later confirmed that 35 nationals from Brazil, Nepal, Egypt and Albania had been arrested and faced deportation. One worker, who has now been deported, told the Guardian: 'I feel so bad... I worked hard, I paid taxes and Byron did this to us. It is immoral. They were happy to employ me for years doing really hard work that no British person would do.' Protests against this despicable collaboration between Byron management and UKBA have been taking place, with one in London on Monday 1 August closing down two branches. Another will be taking place in Edinburgh on Friday 5 August, called by the Migrants Solidarity Network, from 17:30 at Byron Burgers on North Bridge.  

 

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Racism and poverty in Britain

Yarls Wood Immigration Removal Centre

Some have seen the election of Sadiq Khan as Mayor of London as a victory against racism – The Guardian claimed: ‘His election shows British Muslims they can succeed against the odds’. The defeat of Zac Goldsmith’s racist election campaign is welcome, but what does the election of London’s first Muslim Mayor mean for the majority of Muslims, ethnic minorities and migrants in Britain? Tom Vickers reports.

We are witnessing a rapid rise in state-driven racism, with thousands locked up in immigration detention, tens of thousands of deportations every year, routine workplace immigration raids, ID checks at London tube stations and ever more punitive surveillance and restrictions on access to services and state support for anybody suspected of being a migrant. On 14 May the 2016 Immigration Act became law, further intensifying this attack.

 

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35th anniversary of the Black People’s Day of Action

OBPDA 1981

‘We had to disrupt British society; that was absolutely clear.’

2 March 2016 marked the 35th anniversary of one of the most significant political demonstrations in 20th century British history, and one which deserves to be better remembered. Around 20,000 people marched across London to protest against the racist murder of 13 young black people in the New Cross fire six weeks earlier. The Black People’s Day of Action brought large parts of the capital to a standstill and marked a turning point in the struggle of black people against the racist institutions of the British state, laying the ground for the uprisings in Brixton, Liverpool 8, Moss Side and other inner city areas, which were to follow in the months and years ahead. FRFI took part in the demonstration and we wrote at the time that:

 

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Calais - Migrants fight for their lives

Thousands of destitute migrants including unaccompanied children are being forced to live in barbaric conditions in ‘the Jungle’, the makeshift campsite in Calais. They are faced with increasing repression from the French authorities. Most recently, demands have been made for all structures within 100 metres of a nearby motorway embankment to be vacated and moved or demolished. On 18 January, bulldozers were brought in, clearing the area. Many residents are anxious that these evictions won’t stop at the 100-metre mark, estimated to include approximately 20% of the camp, and the homes of 1,500 people. Amy Marineau reports.

Faking compassion, the French authorities set up a ‘container camp’ (shipping containers) to house the people displaced by the evictions. The camp is prison-like – surrounded by barbed wire, requiring a fingerprint scan to leave or enter. These evictions also disrupt the communities which have developed among the refugees. Many migrants are concerned that, if they are moved to this container camp, their options for residence would be restricted and they would perhaps be allowed refuge only in France.

 

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Prevent - criminalising Muslims

During the first ten months of 2015, a total of 1,355 people under the age of 18 were referred to the government’s ‘Channel’ re-education programme for ‘suspected extremists’. This compares to 466 during the previous year. Between 2012 and 2016, 415 children under the age of 10 were referred to the programme. While the government pretends that the Channel programme is built on dialogue with faith leaders and communities, this is clearly not the case – instead this ‘re-education’ forms a central part of the government’s strategy to isolate and criminalise the Muslim community under the guise of defending the country from the threat of violent extremism, targeting in particular young and vulnerable working class Muslims. Becky Fry reports.

The ‘Prevent Strategy’ was first introduced under the 1997-2010 Labour government, and, while claiming to target all forms of ‘extremism’, both political and religious, focused predominantly on mosques, university Islamic societies and, prisons with large numbers of Muslim prisoners. In FRFI 246 we reported on how on 1 July 2015 this ideological offensive became the statutory ‘Prevent Duty’; section 26 of the Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015 states that all employees of councils, police forces, prisons, health services and schools have a duty to exercise ‘due regard’ to prevent people being drawn into terrorism. Everyone working in public sector service provision, from leaders to frontline staff, is expected to look out for symptoms of ‘radicalisation’ and take action to notify the appropriate authority of any suspicions, based upon finding antipathy toward ‘British Values’

 

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Red door apartheid for asylum seekers

Jomast, the company contracted by the Home Office to provide housing for asylum seekers in the North East of England has finally agreed to repaint the characteristically red doors on their properties in Middlesbrough after reports of years of racist attacks hit the headlines.

Jomast, self-styled ‘urban regeneration specialist and pre-eminent force in the UK property market’, holds assets of more than £250m. Allegedly to cut costs, Jomast bought a lot of red paint to be used mainly on properties housing refugees. The Home Office’s forced dispersal policy means that Middlesbrough is home to 982 asylum seekers, one per 173 of the population, the highest proportion in Britain, breaching government guidelines. Middlesbrough has the second highest unemployment rate in Britain at 14.4%, and the End Child Poverty campaign reports that 35% of children in the city live in poverty. Refugees, after facing huge obstacles to enter Britain, are lumped in one of the most deprived areas of the country and singled out with a bright red door.

 

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Imperialism is to blame for the refugee crisis

The responsibility for the large number of refugees and migrants coming to Europe, fleeing climate change, poverty, war and violence, must be laid squarely at the feet of the imperialist system. Britain, one of the world’s major imperialist powers, has meddled in the affairs of these regions for centuries – plundering, exploiting and massacring millions to bolster the profits of imperialism. In FRFI 220 we pointed out that the campaign against Libya was the 46th British military intervention in the Middle East and North Africa since the end of the Second World War. Since then, Britain has launched new airstrikes on Iraq, and has begun covert airstrikes on Syria. Britain is the world’s sixth-largest arms exporter. British imperialism is culpable in the causes of each flow of refugees and migrants. Any movement which fights in solidarity with refugees, must fight British imperialism. Toby Harbertson reports.

 

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Britain’s racist immigration history

Poster advertising public meeting in 1902 calling for restrictions on the immigration of 'destitute foreigners'. In 1905 Britain introduced the Aliens Regisration Act.

In response to Prime Minister David Cameron’s heartless stance in the face of the deaths of migrants, many commentators – from the Green Party to his own backbench MPs and Lords – have cited Britain’s ‘proud tradition’ of providing sanctuary to refugees fleeing persecution. NICKI JAMESON looks at the real history of Britain’s immigration laws.

Fleeing persecution – facing racism

Until the 20th century there were no laws regulating immigration to Britain. The first British immigration law was the 1905 Aliens Act, which was specifically designed to limit the numbers of impoverished East European Jews fleeing pogroms who could seek sanctuary in Britain. The Act was accompanied by a media campaign in which newspaper headlines railed against a threatened invasion of ‘dirty, destitute, diseased, verminous and criminal foreigner[s]’ (Manchester Evening Chronicle).

Further Aliens Restrictions Acts followed in 1914 and 1919, and in 1938 Britain introduced visa requirements for nationals of Germany or Austria. This directly reduced the possibility of seeking asylum for Jews fleeing Nazism.

 

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Cracks open up in Fortress Europe

Since the beginning of 2015, hundreds of thousands of migrants have crossed Europe’s borders; hundreds of thousands more are expected to try to do so over the coming months. The vast majority are fleeing the ravages of imperialist-backed wars in Syria and Afghanistan; others are escaping civil war, poverty, desperation and human rights abuses in Africa and elsewhere in the Middle East that are the legacy of years of exploitation, intervention and under-development by imperialist nations. Many have risked their lives to reach safety and embark on a better life for themselves and their families in the wealthy countries of northern Europe. Their sheer determination has overcome all the brutal and racist attempts of Fortress Europe to shut its borders against them, and has exposed the deep fault-lines of the European Union. Tom Vickers reports.

A crisis of Europe’s making

The so-called crisis is not the inevitable result of the numbers of people involved. Migration is a global fact. There are an estimated 60 million refugees in the world today, in addition to millions forced to move because of economic necessity. The 500,000 unauthorised crossings since the start of the year reported by the EU’s Frontex enforcement agency is significantly higher than 2014, but still only amounts to 0.8% of refugees in the world and 0.1% of the population of the EU – a number that could easily be accommodated. The ‘crisis’ has been created by the response of the EU states.

 

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Islamophobia now a public sector duty

In a speech on 20 July, Prime Minister David Cameron identified the ‘struggle of our generation’ as ‘the fight against Islamic State’. Cameron defined ‘extremism’ as an antagonism toward British Values. His address to the nation was delivered from Ninestiles Academy in Birmingham, a school which was subject to an investigation by the Department of Education and other government agencies into the so-called Trojan Horse letter.* The speech deflected much media attention from the vote on the welfare bill that took place that evening in the House of Commons. It was a speech to inspire in a fearful public a message about British security and British Values.

 

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Close Yarl’s Wood immigration prison now!

© 2015 Peter Marshall www.mylondondiary.co.uk

Pressure is growing on the British government to close Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre (IRC) in Bedfordshire. On 5 August 2015 the Movement for Justice led the latest in a series of large demonstrations in solidarity with Yarl’s Wood detainees and on 12 August the Chief Inspector of Prisons Nick Hardwick issued a critical report of an unannounced inspection in April, which ‘found that in some important areas the treatment and conditions of those held at the centre had deteriorated significantly, the main concerns we had in 2013 had not been resolved and there was greater evidence of the distress caused to vulnerable women by their detention’.

Yarl’s Wood is run by infamous private security company Serco and holds 350 detainees, the majority of whom are single women, with a few men and some family units. According to the inspectorate: ‘A few detainees were held for very long periods. At the time of the inspection, 15 detainees had been held for between six months and a year and four for more than a year. The longest had been held for 17 months. The Home Office’s own policy states pregnant women should not normally be detained, but 99 had been held in 2014.’

 

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Fight racist immigration controls

The capitalist crisis is driving a proliferation of wars, new forms of political persecution, and deepening poverty in many parts of the world. This is increasing the desperation of many people from oppressed countries to seek the relative safety and prosperity within the European Union (EU). These new migrants, and some who migrated long before, are being met with an increasingly sophisticated apparatus of racist repression and control that operates within EU member states, at the EU’s borders, and beyond them. Its purpose is to either keep migrants from oppressed countries out of the EU entirely, whatever the human cost, or to subject them to special conditions of exploitation. Tom Vickers reports.

 

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Britain attacks migrants at home and abroad

In the run-up to the general election, David Cameron came under attack for failing to meet his 2010 election promise to reduce immigration to Britain. For despite vicious, racist immigration laws and appalling treatment of migrants who make it past border controls, the numbers making the dangerous journey here keep on rising, fuelled by poverty, oppression and war. So this time round, with an eye to the millions who voted for the anti-immigration UKIP, David Cameron is making even tougher controls, at home and abroad, a central plank of government policy. The new Immigration Bill announced in the Queen’s Speech aims to make life unbearable for those who do make it to Britain, and make it more difficult for migrants to leave for Europe in the first place.

 

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Support migrants in Calais!

The town of Calais in the north of France is witnessing a drastic situation, as asylum seekers and migrants from Eritrea, Sudan, Afghanistan, Syria and Ethiopia, continue to arrive, fleeing hunger and war and seeking a normal life of the kind that everybody should be afforded.

Across Europe there are twice as many empty houses as there are homeless people (‘Scandal of Europe's 11 million empty homes’ The Guardian, 23 February 2014). In the Calais area there are over 2,500 migrants living in the streets, in tents and on mattresses. This is a problem created by capitalism, which in turn cannot find a solution. The physical conditions which the asylum seekers face are inhumane. The very fact that they call the places where they live ‘the jungles’ shows that they are treated like animals. Most of the migrants have no shelter from the cold and rain; they have no sanitation and very limited access to running water. During a recent visit by Human Rights Watch (HRW)*, daytime temperatures were as low as 1C, with below freezing conditions at night time. Zeinab, a woman from Ethiopia interviewed by HRW, explained that ‘more than food, not having a bathroom is a bigger problem’. The majority of migrants depend on food provided by local organisations and volunteers.

 

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No vote for racists

As the 2015 General Election approaches, the racism of Britain’s ruling class is in full flow. On 20 November UKIP gained its second MP in the Rochester and Strood by-election, triggered by the defection of sitting MP Mark Reckless from the Conservatives. In a televised debate, Reckless admitted that UKIP supported the repatriation of migrants following withdrawal from the EU. UKIP leader Nigel Farage hastily issued a correction, but Reckless maintains that up to that point repatriation had been party policy. A few days later, Farage claimed that children born to immigrants in Britain should also be viewed as immigrants – a position this time defended by a UKIP spokesperson. Tom Vickers reports on the escalation of racism.

 

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