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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No justice for Jimmy Mubenga as racists walk free

It seems that no-one will be held to account for the death of a black man at the hands of the British state after the three racist and brutal security guards who restrained the Angolan deportee Jimmy Mubenga were cleared of manslaughter at their trial on 16 December.

Terrence Hughes, Colin Kaler and Stuart Tribelnig worked as detention custody officers (DCOs) for the private security company G4S, subcontracted by the Home Office to enforce deportations. The company is notorious for complicity with torture in the prisons it manages in Israel and South Africa, amongst other crimes. They were accused of forcing Mubenga’s head down and restricting his breathing as the deportation flight prepared to take off from Heathrow in October 2010. Originally they had not been prosecuted: the charges arose from the inquest into Jimmy Mubenga’s death in 2013 at which the jury found, by nine to one, that he had been unlawfully killed.


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Operation Skybreaker: Defending migrant rights

Supporters of FRFI in north London have been working with the developing campaign against the government’s latest attack on migrants in the capital.  

In a bizarre echo of a recent James Bond movie title, the current initiative is named Operation Skybreaker. Unlike its predecessor Operation Centurion, there was no media fanfare around its implementation and very little information about it is publicly available. Credit is therefore due to the Refugee and Migrant Forum of Essex and London (RAMFEL) charity, which has put the details of Skybreaker into the public domain and has provided information, support and training for those affected by it.


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Immigration Act intensifies exploitation

The Immigration Bill became law on 14 May. It includes:

  • the imposition of a racist regime of immigration monitoring at the point of access to health care, bank accounts, privately-rented housing and driving licences;
  • a new system of charging for health care for ‘temporary’ migrants;
  • removal of the right of appeal to many immigration decisions;
  • powers to strip British citizenship from naturalised citizens whose behaviour is judged to be contrary to the ‘national interest’, a euphemism for the interests of the ruling class.

These measures are the latest stages in a process of using immigration controls to divide the working class into special categories of super-exploited labour. They are a particularly vicious and racist element of the wider attempt to make it increasingly difficult to survive without accepting whatever work is on offer, no matter how low the wages or how poor the conditions. Tom Vickers reports.


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2014 European and local elections – UKIP the winners

Nigel Farage. © European Union 2012 - European Parliament.

The local and European elections on 22 May were always going to be about whether the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) would be able to demonstrate significant country-wide electoral support. That it won the most votes in the European elections, gaining 27.5% of the vote, beating the Labour Party into second place (25.4%) and the Tories into third (23.9%), shows the attractiveness of its simple anti-Europe and anti-immigrant message to Eurosceptic Tory voters. But it also appealed to sections of the working class who feel they are being left behind, and who blame their deteriorating position on EU immigrants who they think are getting a better deal than they are, especially in the areas of housing, free health care, jobs and welfare benefits.


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Racism and reaction: the Romanian and Bulgarian reception

On 1 January restrictions on Bulgarian and Romanian immigrants working in Britain were lifted. Previously, the restrictions meant that workers from these countries would need to apply for an ‘accession worker’s card’ from the Home Office in order to work, were not eligible for benefits and were restricted in the forms of employment that they could accept. Now, with the maximum seven years for these restrictions having expired, Romanians and Bulgarians will be able to live and work here with the same rights as citizens of other EU member states. The response from parliament and the media has been an avalanche of racism, reaction and scaremongering. JAMES BELL reports.


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Racism, poverty, and imprisonment – the plight of Syria's refugees

Three years of war in Syria have created a major refugee crisis. At least 2.3 million people have been forced over Syria's borders. Britain, France and other European governments are happy to fuel the war with money and weapons, but less generous when it comes to accommodating these refugees. The entire European Union has offered refuge, under a UN plan, to only 12,000 people – 0.5% of the total displaced. The vast majority are living in Syria's neighbouring countries. Those seeking to escape from these overcrowded and deprived situations face the militarised borders of the EU, immigration prisons, hostility and racism.


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Racism, lies and violence: scapegoating the Roma

In November 2013, Labour’s former Home Secretary David Blunkett warned of a potential explosion in his Sheffield constituency if recently arrived Slovakian Roma migrants did not change ‘their behaviour and culture’. Deliberately raising the spectre of the 2001 uprisings in northern cities, by Asian youth who were described as insufficiently assimilated into British life, he accused the Roma of being anti-social, of dropping litter and congregating on the streets, saying: ‘We’ve got to be tough and robust in saying to people you are not in a downtrodden village or woodland, because many of them don’t even live in areas where there are toilets or refuse collection facilities. You are not there any more, you are here – and you’ve got to adhere to our standards.’


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Repression and resistance in immigration removal centres

On 15 September, The Observer published the testimony of ‘Tanja’, a former detainee at Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre (IRC), run by private company Serco. Tanja described the blackmail and sexual abuse heaped upon detainees by Serco employees in graphic detail. Her testimony ranged from accounts of guards promising favours or offering to make life easier, saying they would have more chance of winning their case or staying in the country in return for sexual favours, to accounts of rape: ‘There were two occasions when I was made to do “blow jobs”... [The guard] was well aware that I did not want to’. Tanja’s experience is by no means unique. In her testimony, she stated that several other women were abused, one guard boasting of sexual behaviour with at least four women.


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Theresa May’s Immigration Bill – lies, half-truths and more repression

Amidst a climate of increasing state and media racism typified by government-sponsored vans featuring anti-immigrant ‘Go home!’ adverts and a Daily Express campaign against Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants which would not have been out of place in Nazi Germany, on 10 October Home Secretary Theresa May introduced the Immigration Bill 2013, which it is anticipated will become law in spring 2014. Nicki Jameson reports.

The Bill’s introduction was accompanied by a flurry of publicity, most of which centred on May trumpeting how living in Britain would become ‘tougher for illegal immigrants’. Most of the Bill does not relate directly to illegal immigration but this did not prevent May, when interviewed by the BBC on the morning of 10 October, using the word ‘illegal’ every time she said ‘immigrant’ and ‘hardworking’ every time she said ‘tax-payer’.


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Charges against Newcastle 14 dropped

On 1 August, after a ten week police investigation, the Newcastle 14 (N14) received letters from Northumbria Police stating that no further action would be taken against them. The N14 are anti-racist activists, including FRFI supporters, who were pre-emptively arrested before a national English Defence League march on 25 May. They were investigated under suspicion of ‘conspiracy to violent disorder’. Northumbria police used this as a justification to raid the homes of the 14, seizing computer equipment, mobile phones, cameras, literature and notebooks. It is clear that the primary purposes of this exercise were intelligence gathering and intimidation.


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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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Secrets, lies and brutality: Britain’s colonial record

In April, the Foreign Office finally released thousands of files relating to British colonial rule, having previously claimed they were ‘lost’. These documents, which were secretly shipped out of colonies such as Kenya, Aden and Malaya prior to independence, have only come to light as a result of a legal challenge a year ago made by lawyers for four former Mau Mau members brutally tortured by British officials during the struggle for Kenyan independence in the 1950s. About a sixth of the archive has now been published. In all, files relating to the military and police activities of British colonial administrations in 37 territories, including Cyprus, Guyana, Botswana and Lesotho, will eventually be published.


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Stephen Lawrence verdict: ‘no cause for celebration’

‘Despite these verdicts, today is not a cause for celebration...How can I celebrate when I know that this day could have come 18 years ago if the police who were meant to find my son’s killers had not failed so miserably to do so...The fact is that racism and racist attacks are still happening in this country and the police should not use my son’s name to say that we can move on.’ Doreen Lawrence

On 3 January 2012, two white men were convicted of the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence in southeast London nearly 19 years ago. The convictions of Gary Dobson and David Norris are, however, only a partial victory for all those, most notably Stephen’s parents, Doreen and Neville Lawrence, who campaigned so long for justice for their son. In doing so, they exposed entrenched police racism, culminating in the McPherson Report of 1999. Given the complete shambles of the original police investigation, marred from the very start by racist prejudice, corruption and sheer incompetence, it is extraordinary that there have been any convictions at all; the jailing of two of Stephen’s killers was made possible only by forensic advances since 1993 which allowed microscopic samples of blood, hair and fibres to link the two men to the scene of the crime and a 2003 change to the law that allowed Dobson, in the light of this new ‘compelling’ evidence, to be prosecuted again, having been cleared of the murder in 1996.


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Manchester: Farooqi family faces collective punishment

At the beginning of September in Manchester, Munir Farooqi, Israr Malik and Matthew Newton were convicted under the Terrorism Act of attempting to recruit people to go to Afghanistan to fight for the Taliban against British and US occupation forces. Now, not only has Munir been given a life sentence, but his family is facing eviction from their home by the courts in an act of vindictive collective punishment.

Munir and his brothers ran Islamic information stalls in Manchester which distributed religious literature. The police operation that led to Munir and the two other men being convicted lasted for over a year and involved two undercover police officers joining the stalls and pretending to convert to Islam. At the end of the trial Detective Chief Superintendent Tony Porter of the North West Counter Terrorism Unit (NWCTU) admitted, ‘this was an extremely challenging case, both to investigate and successfully prosecute at court, because we did not recover any blueprint, attack plan or endgame for these men’. In other words it was the evidence of these two undercover cops that was crucial to the conviction of Munir and his brothers. Harris Farooqi, Munir’s son, was also on trial but was found not guilty; Harris has stated that the undercover cops had been engaged in a systematic attempt to entrap him.


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