Remembering the Viraj Mendis Defence Campaign

The Revolutionary Communist Group has always emphasised the link between fighting racism in Britain and fighting imperialism internationally.  In 1984, when one of our own members, Viraj Mendis, was threatened with deportation to Sri Lanka, we set up the Viraj Mendis Defence Campaign (VMDC).  Over the next four and a half years, the campaign brought together communists, anarchists, Christians, liberals and others, and was supported by thousands of individuals, hundreds of organisations and, eventually, the majority of the parliamentary Labour Party.  In 1986 the campaign organised a march from Manchester, where Viraj was based, to the Home Office in London, drawing in support from all the cities in between as it went. Later the same year, having lost his legal appeals against deportation, Viraj went into sanctuary in the Church of the Ascension in Hulme, Manchester.  Over the next two years the church became a focus for anti-racist and anti-deportation campaigning and VMDC hosted major conferences and demonstrations.


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The road to murder

Anders Behring Breivik

On 22 July 2011 Anders Breivik bombed  government buildings in Oslo, killing eight people, and then shot dead 69 members of the Workers’ Youth League of the Norwegian Labour Party on an island youth camp, wounding many others. Breivik’s online manifesto advocates the expulsion of Muslims from Europe, support for Israel combined with anti-Semitism and hostility to ‘cultural Marxism’. Such hatred of Muslims and belief in racial superiority has been fed by a steady stream of lies by the ruling class. The cold calculation with which Breivik planned these murders reflects the racist incitement which has accompanied the ‘war on terror’ over the last ten years.


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Defend Dale Farm Travellers!

As we go to press, Travellers on the Dale Farm site in Basildon, Essex, are waiting to hear whether the High Court will extend the reprieve against eviction they won on 19 September, as well as ruling on two further judicial review applications lodged on 22 September.

The Travellers won the last-ditch injunction as bailiffs were already entering the site and supporters had locked themselves to gates and barricades. The High Court postponed the eviction on the grounds that Basildon Council’s eviction notices are incomplete and the council might ‘go further’ than the eviction notices allowed. However, no one is under any illusion that the reprieve is permanent. The battle to save Dale Farm depends on mobilising the widest possible forces on the ground because the racist council, pandering to local prejudice, is determined to win a battle they say has already cost £8 million and whose final cost could reach £18 million.


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Fight all deportations!

While the Con-Dem coalition government continues to implement all the racist immigration policies brought in by the Labour government during its 13 years in power, activists and the few remaining legal aid immigration lawyers continue to challenge these attacks, and have had some recent inspiring victories.

• On 21 May the Upper Tribunal of the Immigration and Asylum Chamber ruled that ‘in relation to the proposed administrative removal or deportation of one or both of his non-national parents, the welfare of a child, particularly a child who is a British citizen, is a primary consideration’. This was the latest in a series of crucial rulings over the past year, which have compelled the UK Borders Agency to pay far more attention to the effect that deportation of parents will have on their children.


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Support Dale Farm Travellers against eviction

dale_farm_courtConservative-controlled Basildon Council is poised to evict hundreds of Travellers from Dale Farm in Essex, at a cost of £9.5 million. This follows the home office announcement in June that it will contribute £4.65 million to the policing costs, thereby giving the green light to the council’s racist assault.

Dale Farm is one of the largest Traveller communities in Europe, consisting of nearly a hundred separate family plots, mainly owned by Irish Travellers, although there are also some Roma families. While almost half the plots have planning permission, the remainder have consistently been refused planning consent, even though the site was previously a disused scrap yard.


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John Freddy Suarez's deportation stopped for the second time! - 24 June 2011

John Freddy’s family

On the order of Home Office authorities, John Freddy Suarez faced deportation again this morning, Friday 24 June. Thankfully his deportation has now been stopped for a second time.

At 9pm last night legal attempts to get an injunction to suspend the deportation ended without success. John Freddy’s family were saddened and disappointed that once again a judge had overlooked the multiple irregularities of his case. At dawn on Friday, John Freddy was moved into isolation in the immigration detention centre where he is being held, ready to be transferred onto the Iberia flight from Heathrow which would return him to Colombia.


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30th Anniversary - The Bradford 12 and the fight against racism

The Bradford 12 were young Asian men, members and supporters of the Asian Youth Movement, who were arrested in July 1981 on charges of conspiracy. Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! joined their year-long defence campaign and our paper carried the report of their victory in issue number 21, July/August 1982. ‘After a trial lasting eight weeks in Leeds Crown Court the jury found them all not guilty of the charges of conspiracy and making an explosive substance with intent to endanger life and property. A great victory has been won for all oppressed people against British imperialism.’


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Newcastle - Facing up to the EDL

In Newcastle, anti-cuts activists have to face both political policing and threats from the fascist English Defence League (EDL). The HSBC3 are three activists arrested and subsequently charged with peacefully protesting outside a Newcastle branch of HSBC last December. Charges of police assault against one defendant were dropped before the trial at the end of March, but the two others, Mark Pearson and Patrick Reay, were found guilty of breach of the peace and police obstruction and fined £760 in total. The two have appealed, and a Crown Court hearing has been set for 27-28 September. A financial appeal has also been launched to cover the fines and legal costs. Send pledges to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. For news visit the campaign blog at: www.defencecampaign.wordpress. com


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Charity collaborates with imprisonment of children

Charity collaborates with imprisonment of childrenFollowing the LibDem party’s insistence that the Coalition government honour an election pledge to stop keeping children in immigration detention centres, the government has contracted Barnado’s, Britain’s largest children’s charity, to help run a new 'family friendly' ‘pre-departure accommodation facility’ in Pease Pottage, Sussex, near to Gatwick airport.


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Stop the deportation of John Freddy Suarez Santander! - 16 April 2011

Stop the deportation of John Freddy Suarez Santander! - 16 April 2011

John Freddy Suarez Santander arrived in this country along with his family more than 17 years ago, when he was only six years old. Unfortunately, when he was 17 he committed a criminal offence and was sent to a young offenders’ institute for seven months. Two years after his release, the British Labour government implemented a law to the effect that immigrants with criminal records should face deportation. John Freddy was arrested and served with a deportation order.

His deportation was stopped following a protest at the airport by more than 50 family members and friends wearing T-shirts with his face on them and the slogan ‘Please don’t take my son away!’ John Freddy was removed from the aeroplane and the deportation was suspended. Our protest was legitimate because John Freddy’s case had been taken to the European Court of Human Rights and was awaiting consideration of the following arguments:


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Cameron plays the racist card

Prime Minister David Cameron chose to make a statement about what he calls ‘state multiculturalism’ on 5 February, the same day as a much publicised English Defence League march through Luton in south east England. Cameron’s speech was a muddled mixture of clichés recycled from those of his Labour predecessor Gordon Brown promoting Britishness, but it contained nothing as specific as Brown’s suggestion that Labour’s supporters should ‘embrace the union flag’ (Union Jack). Cameron gave no indication of what he means by ‘state multiculturalism’, but made the usual attacks on behaviours ‘that run counter to our values’, throwing in terrorism and forced marriage as examples.


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Migrant workers in Greece win hunger strike victory against racism

On 13 March 2011, 300 migrants won a hard-fought struggle against the Greek government. The migrants, most of whom faced deportation to North Africa, began a hunger strike at the end of January in protest at the refusal to grant them documentation to remain in Greece.

Their demands were:

• The immediate legalisation of the 300 undocumented workers on hunger strike;

• The legalisation of all undocumented workers;

• The abrogation of the Dublin II Regulation which puts the lives of migrants in danger by turning immigration detention in some countries into warehouses where violence and human rights violation are commonplace. (Under the Regulation asylum seekers can be returned to the first EU country they entered. Due to its geographical location, Greece is commonly a first country.)


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EDL attacks anti-cuts and anti-racist stalls: SWP walks away

On Saturday 19 March, over 30 members of the English Defence League (EDL) descended on Grey’s Monument, the main site for progressive stalls and demonstrations in Newcastle. Their first target was a Socialist Party (SP) anti-cuts stall. The EDL members surrounded the stall, tried to put their own anti-Muslim literature on the stall, and harassed the SP activists. As FRFI has consistently argued, the EDL is not only racist but is rapidly developing into a fascist organisation.


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Stop the deportation of Peter Gichura!

peterOn 21 February 2011 the British state’s latest attempt to deport disability rights activist Peter Gichura to Kenya was averted by last minute legal action.

Peter has been in Britain since 2001, having fled persecution in Kenya as a result of his activities there, which included the establishing of an organisation which advocated for the rights of disabled street sellers.  He sought asylum in 2006 on the basis that: ‘As someone with spinal injury I am vulnerable to chronic kidney infection and need sanitary living conditions to survive - but there is no running water where I am from in Nyahururu, Kenya. I cannot afford medical treatment - and there is no free healthcare.’ Expert evidence confirmed this but was ignored, and Peter’s claim was turned down.

70% of Kenya's national wealth is in the hands of foreign corporations especially British companies such as Brooke Bond and Unilever (Kenyan Sunday Standard, 17 April 2005). These companies benefit directly from the poverty of Kenyan people which exploded into violence in early 2008, when over 1,500 people were killed and 350,000 forced to flee their homes in a tribal conflict orchestrated by the British-backed Kenyan state. Vast tracts of Kenyan fertile land are used to grow flowers, tea and coffee for export to supermarkets in Europe, while millions of Kenyans starve.


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ConDems keep up Labour’s attacks on immigrants

When the Conservative/LibDem coalition government took power in May 2010 it inherited a massive immigration policing machinery constructed over the previous 13 years by the Labour government. Labour had brought in a complex series of laws, each more punitive than the last, and built up an infrastructure that included 12 immigration detention centres, 25 reporting centres, five coastal patrol boats and the capacity to effect mass deportations on specially chartered aeroplanes to countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria and Democratic Republic of Congo. Nicki Jameson reports.


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Jayaben Desai 1933-2010

‘What you are running here is not a factory, it is a zoo, in a zoo there are many types of animals. Some are monkeys who dance on your fingertips; others are lions who can bite your head off. We are those lions, Mr Manager’.

Jayaben Desai was born in India and settled in England in 1969. She started working at the Grunwick Film Processing Laboratories in northwest London in 1974. This mail order photographic business had a largely female workforce of 440 of whom 80% were of Asian origin and 10% Afro-Caribbean. Average pay was £28 per week while the average national wage was £72 per week and the average full time wage for a female manual worker in London was £44 per week. Conditions were said to be ‘not bad’ but workers were expected to do overtime and long hours at short notice and the management were well known for their bullying, rudeness and racism. The boss, George Ward, refused union recognition and a number of workers who had joined the Transport and General Workers Union in 1973 had been sacked.


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Faraydun wins asylum - here to stay, here to fight!


On 6 August 2010, Iranian Kurdish refugee and communist Faraydun Abdullazada won his asylum claim after almost eight years of struggle. He was an active member of the Worker’s Communist Party of Iran – Hekmatist (WCPI-H) and has been active in Britain against racism, oppression of migrants and Zionism.

Faraydun Abdullazada fled Iran after his communist views were made known and he was arrested. Whilst on bail he fled to escape possible torture or execution in a country known for repression of Kurds and communists. A people-trafficker in Turkey starved and tortured him and he had to jump out of a window to escape. He arrived in Britain in January 2003 and was in London until the ‘7/7’ terrorist attacks in July 2005. ‘Racist attacks became too much after that…the police never came’. He was attacked many times, his ribs broken and he had to flee London. He escaped to Finland but was deported back to the UK in January 2006 and ‘dispersed’ to Manchester a month later.


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Fight for decent housing for all!

In October 2010, Birminghamand Wolverhampton Councils announced that they will no longer house asylum seekers on behalf of the government when their five year contract with the UK Border Agency (UKBA) ends on 30 June 2011. This will mean that asylum seekers will be housed by private housing providers, like the notorious Angel Group, who make millions out of government contracts to house asylum seekers in intolerable conditions.

Birmingham and Wolverhampton Councils are part of a consortium with Dudley and Coventry. Birmingham, the biggest council in the country, currently provides up to 190 homes for asylum seekers and Wolverhampton provides 124 homes. Dudley Council, which provides 73 homes, said it will remain in the consortium until at least June 2012, and Coventry Council, which provides 74 homes, said it will continue working with UKBA but will closely monitor the situation. Other councils could soon follow suit.


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UAF capitulates to Zionist racism

edl_demonstrators_with_israeli_flagOn 24 October, Unite Against Fascism (UAF) called a counter-protest to an English Defence League (EDL) demonstration in support of Israel outside the Israeli Embassy in London. Although the UAF claimed it held a ‘lively anti-fascist event’, there were at most 60 anti-fascists, of whom only a handful were actually from the UAF; they were significantly outnumbered by 200 EDL supporters.

The event revealed UAF’s completely unprincipled stance on the Palestinian struggle. In a statement beforehand it said ‘UAF does not have a position on the question of Israel and Palestine but unites around the common aim of opposing fascism and racist division’ – as if the question of Zionism were not one of fascism and racism!

Let us be clear: Zionism is racism, and until US imperialism got its way in 1991, had been defined as such by the United Nations since 1975. Its aim is genocide: making life so intolerable for the Palestinian people that they are remorselessly driven from their lands in the West Bank and Jerusalem, completing the expulsions of 1948.


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No plot against the Pope

Between 16 and 19 September the state visit of Pope Benedict XVI provoked a range of reactions: many Catholics turned out to welcome the pontiff, while a 20,000-strong demonstration opposed the visit for multi-faceted reasons, including the long-running and massive international scandal of child abuse perpetrated and covered up within the Catholic church and the Vatican’s general attitude to women’s rights, contraception and homosexuality. The visit also saw the latest in a catalogue of arrests of innocent Muslims accused of plotting imagined acts of terrorism.


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George Jackson: Legacy of a Black Communist

George Jackson 1941 – 1971

‘The monster they’ve engendered in me will return to torment its maker, from  the grave, the pit, the profoundest pit. Hurl me into the next existence, the descent into hell won’t turn me. I’ll crawl back to dog his trail forever. They won’t defeat my revenge, never, never. I’m part of a righteous people who anger slowly, but rage undammed. We’ll gather at his door in such a number that the rumbling of our feet will make the earth tremble.’

George Jackson was an Afro-American working class communist. Born in a Chicago ghetto in 1941 he was murdered by warders in San Quentin Prison in 1971. At 18 he was sentenced from one year to life for the theft of $70. He spent the rest of his life in prison. There ‘I met Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, Engels, and Mao…and they redeemed me.’ In prison he also joined the Black Panther Party. One year before his death, the police murdered his 17-year-old brother Jonathon who, single handed and armed, invaded San Rafael Courthouse to free three black comrades. EDDIE ABRAHAMS and CAT ALISON chart George Jackson’s contribution as a revolutionary.


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Bradford sees off the EDL

On 28 August in Bradford the English Defence League (EDL) held another anti-Muslim demonstration. According to the EDL, Bradford was going to be ‘the big one’, a show of strength in a city where working class Muslims had risen up against poverty and racism in 2001, fighting back against police and fascists. But although the EDL claimed that they would mobilise 5,000 people, on the day they had closer to 700. When around 200 EDL members left the area designated by the police, they were physically opposed and contained by a mobilisation of several hundred, the vast majority of whom were working class Muslim youth, including members of the Muslim Defence League. The EDL were harassed until they were bussed out of the city, with reports that some of their coaches were stoned and the tyres slashed. The only reported arrests were of five EDL members.


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Build an anti-imperialist movement against racism and fascism!

On Saturday 17 July, 500 members of the English Defence League (EDL) rampaged through Dudley in the West Midlands, attacking Muslim and Hindu residents.  The EDL is fast developing in the direction of a new organised and violent fascist street movement, which offers a focal point to sections of the working class who support Britain’s wars in the Middle East and are prepared to physically confront public opposition to those wars.

The EDL represents a popular reflection of government strategy. Its rhetoric focuses on Islam, in a context in which Britain’s wars in the Middle East, Israel’s occupation of Palestine, and attacks on Muslims in Britain are all depicted as part of a battle against ‘Islamic extremism’. The EDL first developed out of a violent response to an anti-war demonstration by a small group of Muslims in Luton in March 2009.  In the months before this thousands had come out on the streets to protest against the Israeli massacre in Gaza, with sections of Muslim youth playing a leading role. This was not the first time, with predominantly working class Asian youth playing a leading militant role in the anti-war and Palestine demonstrations during the early anti-war movement in 2000-2002.


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Who are the English Defence League?

For the past year the English Defence League (EDL) and its local variants, the Scottish and Welsh Defence Leagues, have been staging regular, vocal demonstrations throughout Britain, directed ostensibly against the spread of Islamic fundamentalism. In reality their target appears to be Muslims in general. Although the EDL is clearly nowhere as dangerous as the British state, which has an entire machinery at its disposal with which to attack the Muslim community, its persistent and confrontational street presence means that anti-racists must have an understanding of what it is and be prepared to join mobilisations to physically oppose its racist message.


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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?


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 (


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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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