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

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 245 June/July 2015

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.

The inhumane living conditions are worsened by abuse from the police. Migrants have been subjected to harassment, abuse, beatings and attacks with pepper spray; a number have suffered broken bones. Salamou, another migrant interviewed by HRW, described his experience: ‘I was walking along as normal,’ he said. ‘Four policemen got out of their van and kicked me and beat me with a baton. After they beat me a policeman shone his torch on me and laughed. “Just help me”, I said, but he laughed. They kicked me on the ground, just like a dog.’ Reports like this are very common and include violence against women and children. Some reports say that the police pursue the migrants in order to scare them and force them to try to escape onto the motorway. At last 15 migrants died in 2014, the majority of them on the motorway.

Of course, the police and state authorities always deny committing abuse. The prefect of the Pas-de-Calais department and Thierry Alonso, the outgoing director of public safety, don’t want to admit to police violence. They have also the audacity to say that migrants’ injuries are caused by problems between migrants and not by police attacks on migrants.

Antifascists are mobilising in support of the migrants. It is not an easy struggle but it is an important and urgent one. It is not easy, because it has to face both the French government and the forces of fascism. Some fascists are now carrying out racist attacks against activists as well as against migrants. These racists have already fire-bombed a migrant camp and shot and injured three migrants with live rounds.

Life in the camps is precarious with the constant threat of eviction. The next round of evictions is expected to begin when it gets a bit less cold in April. Antifascist activists are preparing to support the migrants in their fight against eviction, and in the wider battle for citizenship, housing and employment within Europe.

Migrants are gathered in Calais in large numbers because the governments of France, Britain and other imperialist nations are waging war against their homelands, stealing resources and oppressing the poorer nations. The anti-racist solidarity we offer must therefore also always be linked to the fight against imperialism.

* http://www.hrw.org/news/2015/01/20/france-migrants-asylum-seekers-abused-and-destitute

Calais Migrant Solidarity offers practical and political support to the migrants. To support their actions see https://calaismigrantsolidarity.wordpress.com/coming-to-calais/

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  3. Operation Skybreaker: Defending migrant rights
  4. Immigration Act intensifies exploitation /FRFI! 239 Jun/Jul 2014
  5. 2014 European and local elections – UKIP the winners
  6. Racism and reaction: the Romanian and Bulgarian reception
  7. Racism, poverty, and imprisonment – the plight of Syria's refugees
  8. Racism, lies and violence: scapegoating the Roma / FRFI 236 Dec 2013/Jan 2014
  9. Repression and resistance in immigration removal centres / FRFI 236 Dec 2013/Jan 2014
  10. Theresa May’s Immigration Bill – lies, half-truths and more repression / FRFI 236 Dec 2013/Jan 2014
  11. Charges against Newcastle 14 dropped/FRFI235 Oct/Nov 2013
  12. Hunger strike in Yarl's Wood as women expose sexual abuse and the deportation of witnesses
  13. Defend the Newcastle 14!/FRFI 234 Aug/Sep 2013
  14. After Woolwich
  15. UKIP - Loongate and the Kippers: storm in a British political teacup/ FRFI 233 Jun/Jul 2013
  16. Immigration Bill divide and rule/ FRFI 233 Jun/Jul 2013
  17. The state that kills: Sean Rigg IPCC whitewash exposed
  18. RCG Statement: The tragedy in Woolwich
  19. Supporting struggles of immigration detainees – Jan 2013
  20. Outsourcing racism: Capita harasses migrants – Jan 2013
  21. Morton Hall prisoners protest against racist immigration detention - Dec 2012
  22. State revenge for 2011 uprising – the big gang attacks the poor and vulnerable
  23. End deportations to Somalia - Fight racist immigration controls /FRFI 229 Oct/Nov 2012
  24. Free Said Kasim Mohammed! End detention! Stop deportations!
  25. Running the Asylum