Hunger strike in Yarl's Wood as women expose sexual abuse and the deportation of witnesses

More than 30 women have been on hunger strike in Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal Centre, demanding justice and legal rights and in protest against ongoing sexual abuse. On 1 October, six of the women were deported, four of whom have witnessed and experienced sexual abuse at the hands of officers in the Serco-run centre. It will now be near-impossible to hear evidence from the women who were forced onto a charter flight to Pakistan, in what seems a deliberate attempt to silence them. The women who remain at Yarl's Wood continue their hunger strike.

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Defend the Newcastle 14!

On 25 May, 14 anti-racist protesters, including FRFI supporters, were arrested while leafleting for a counter-demonstration against the English Defence League (EDL) organised by Newcastle Unites. a coalition of Labour Party members, the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) and the Newcastle TUC. Newcastle Unites had told FRFI supporters we would be prevented from attending the demonstration because of our opposition to the Labour Party, and then worked hand-in-glove with the police to ensure this happened. Those arrested had their houses raided, and their computers and mobile phones seized. Since then the Newcastle 14 Defence Campaign (N14DC) has been active in mobilising support for the comrades, going from door to door with petitions, hosting speak-outs, and on 20 July, marching to the city’s central police station.

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After Woolwich

During the past two months, the killing of off-duty soldier Lee Rigby in Woolwich on 22 May has been exploited to boost the propaganda offensives of both the British military and the English Defence League (EDL). The day after Rigby’s death, over 100 EDL supporters gathered in Woolwich, draped in St George’s flags, many sporting black balaclavas with the EDL logo on, chanting: 'No surrender to the Muslim scum', ‘Rule Britannia’ and ‘Eng-er-land’. Since then the EDL has held marches and rallies in Newcastle, London, Sheffield, Birmingham and elsewhere. Most of these events have not been especially well attended and anti-fascist counter-demonstrations have frequently been as big or bigger; however the increasing frequency of these set-piece events is only one facet of the ongoing backlash. Nicki Jameson reports.

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UKIP - Loongate and the Kippers: storm in a British political teacup

Within weeks of a display of unity at the publicly-subsidised Tory day-out, Margaret Thatcher’s funeral (17 April 2013), the Conservative Party reverted to its more normal state of internecine warfare. The fundamental political fault line dividing the Conservatives is Britain’s membership of the EU, with immigration and gay marriage thrown in for phobic good measure. There is nothing new here.

What is new is a surge in the polls for the UK Independence Party (UKIP) which dramatically improved its standing at local elections in England on 2 May at the expense of the Conservatives, when its candidates averaged 26% of the vote. With upcoming European Parliamentary elections in 2014 and a general election scheduled for 2015, this was the trigger for a serious outbreak of infighting in the Tory party. The eurosceptics immediately filed an amendment to their own party’s Queen’s speech calling for an early referendum on EU membership, swiftly followed by an attempt to derail the government’s reform on gay marriage.

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Immigration Bill divide and rule

‘My government will bring forward a bill that further reforms Britain’s immigration system. The bill will ensure that this country attracts people who will contribute and deters those who will not.’

Queen’s speech, 8 May 2013

As communists we strive to create a society which can provide for everyone according to their needs. In the current period of capitalist crisis and enforced ‘austerity’, we stand against all cuts and all attacks on the working class, and fight for proper social provision for everyone. We utterly oppose all ruling class and opportunist attempts to divide and rule us and pit one section against another. The recent Queen’s Speech and the Immigration Bill that it introduced are part of such an attempt to divide and rule by, yet again, using immigrants as scapegoats and creating a diversion from the government’s failure to provide sufficient housing for the working class, and from the massive attacks underway on the NHS, education and other social provision. Mark Moncada reports.

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The state that kills: Sean Rigg IPCC whitewash exposed

An external review has harshly criticised the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) for its flawed investigation into the death of a black man who died in police custody in 2008. Sean Rigg, who was 40 and suffered from schizophrenia, was arrested as he walked down the road topless and performing martial art manoeuvres. Police restrained him in a prone position with his hands cuffed behind his back for over eight minutes. Still cuffed, he was taken to Brixton police station in south London and left in the van for a further 11 minutes, where he suffered a cardiac arrest. The IPCC found no police misconduct or negligence had contributed to Sean Rigg’s death.

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RCG Statement: The tragedy in Woolwich

On 22 May, two young black British men barbarically attacked and killed a young British soldier outside Woolwich military barracks in London. For the victim and perpetrators, their families and friends, this outrage is profoundly tragic. For the world, it has contributed to a wider tragedy.

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Supporting struggles of immigration detainees – Jan 2013

On 24-25 December 2012, 40 detainees in Morton Hall Immigration Removal Centre (IRC) protested against their treatment and conditions: including racist abuse, frequent beatings by up to 6 guards against one prisoner, sub-standard food and money sent in going missing. As a punishment for a fight between two detainees, the water supply was cut off, meaning that toilets could not be flushed and prisoners were not able to take showers.

Assaults against detainees in IRCs have led to deaths such as that in October 2012 in Harmondsworth IRC of Prince Ofosu. The Home Office and private security firm GEO, who are contracted to run the centre, refused to release any details, but an anonymous member of staff released a joint statement with detainees detailing how Prince was forcibly restrained and subjected to ‘massive blows’ from a member of staff who was instructed to hide evidence by removing his blood-stained clothes. Prince, who was reportedly on hunger strike at the time of his death, is the 7th detainee to die in Harmondsworth.

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Outsourcing racism: Capita harasses migrants – Jan 2013

‘Message from UK Border Agency. You are required to leave the UK as you no longer have the right to remain. Please contact us on 0844 3754636 to discuss.’ – Test message sent to thousands of people by Capita Plc.

In September 2012 the private company Capita was awarded a £40 million contract to help the UK Border Agency locate 170,000 people who were thought to be in the country illegally and assist UKBA in their deportation. Capita is now delivering this contract through an indiscriminate campaign of harassment, with some people reporting phone calls and text messages several times a day. Those contacted include people who left Britain years ago and people who have been granted British citizenship. This represents a sweeping campaign of intimidation against black people, and the outsourcing of another element of racist state repression alongside the immigration detention and transportation functions already outsourced to companies like G4S, Serco and Reliance.

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Morton Hall prisoners protest against racist immigration detention - Dec 2012

Morton Hall IRC
On 24 and 25 December 2012, around 40 immigration detainees at Morton Hall Immigration Removal Centre (IRC) in Lincolnshire protested against their conditions and treatment. Their complaints and protest went unreported in the press until, on 2 January 2013, the Prison Officers Association (POA) claimed that on 30 December, when tensions were still high in the prison, a number of guards had been injured while trying to break up a fight between two groups of detainees, and that the POA feared for its members safety and lives.

FRFI spoke to a detainee, who has been in Morton Hall for 28 months; he did not wish to be publicly identified for fear of reprisals, and who is referred to below as CF. He told us: ‘the BBC is always giving a platform to all the lies generated by the racist POA, but would never report anything we report to them. I have personally rung them every time assaults took place’.

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State revenge for 2011 uprising – the big gang attacks the poor and vulnerable

In September 2012 the Ministry of Justice issued an updated statistical bulletin on arrests and sentences related to the uprising in English cities, which followed the following the police killing of Mark Duggan on 4 August 2011. As of 31 August 2012, there were 606 people in prison (including those on remand) on riot-related charges; a further 837 who had been given custodial sentences had already been released.  

By August 2012, 3,103 people had appeared before the courts: 2,138 (69%) were found guilty and sentenced; another 16% were dismissed or acquitted. Of those sentenced 1,405 (66%) were given immediate custody with an average sentence length of 17.1 months. This compares to an average sentence of 3.7 months for those convicted at magistrates’ courts for similar offences in England and Wales in 2010.

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End deportations to Somalia - Fight racist immigration controls

‘We feel like criminals despite just wanting to come here because it is not safe in our country.’

FRFI North East has recently received phonecalls from several Somali men who have been held in immigration detention for between one month and five years. One 18-year-old, who has been detained in Morton Hall Immigration Removal Centre (IRC) in Lincolnshire since 1 August and is being held until ‘further notice’, spoke to us in detail about his situation.

He fled Somalia with his younger brother when he was 12 and has lived in the northeast of England ever since. He has no family in Somalia and has made a life for himself here with family members; he has forged friendships and represented his school in athletics and played for local football teams. This September he was due to start a degree in Sports Coaching at Sunderland University. During his A Levels, he was told: ‘someone wants to talk to you’; he was then arrested, handcuffed and locked in a police cell for three days. He was then temporarily released and then re-arrested four weeks later and taken to Morton Hall.

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Free Said Kasim Mohammed! End detention! Stop deportations!

Said KasimPlease contact the Home Office and Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre to demand Said's release and also Ethiopian Airlines to complain about his treatment (see below):

Home Office
Telephone: 020 7035 4848
Fax: 020 7035 4745
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre
Telephone: 020 8607 5200
Fax: 020 8759 7996

Ethiopian Airlines
Telephone: 020 8745 4234
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Fax: 020 8745 7936

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Running the Asylum

On 21 March international service company Serco won a £175m contract from the UK Border Agency (UKBA) to accommodate asylum seekers in Scotland, Northern Ireland and the north west of England. The other contracts, worth £620m overall, were won by G4S (Care and Justice Services) and Clearel Ltd. The £883m a year Compass contract to provide support services for dispersed asylum seekers is the largest project run by the Home Office.

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Border Agency attack London Metropolitan University – September 2012

Border Agency attack London Metropolitan University

On Wednesday 29 August 2012 the UK Border Agency (UKBA) revoked the ‘Highly Trusted Status’ of London Metropolitan University (LMU), thereby removing the university’s ability to sponsor international students for visa purposes. The detailed reasons for this decision have not been given. It represents a deliberate attack on one of the most working class universities in the country, which also has 2,600 non-EU / European Economic Area students.

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Racist laws attack immigrant families

The Government believes that strong and stable families of all kinds are the bedrock of a strong and stable society’ – Conservative Party website

On 12 June the United Kingdom Border Agency (UKBA) published a document entitled ‘Statement of Intent: Family Migration’, in which it announced guidance which would bring in changes to the Immigration Rules. The majority of these changes then came into force on 9 July.

Central to the new measures is a narrower interpretation of the right to family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Article 8 is in two parts: the first states that ‘Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence’; the second that: ‘There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.’

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