Fighting deportation: exposing the SNP

The Scottish government’s White Paper, published in 2013, proposed that in the event of independence the SNP would end dawn raids, close Dungavel Detention Centre and grant people seeking asylum access to the mainstream welfare system. As it is, immigration law remains a ‘reserved issue’ for Westminster, over which, according to the rules of bourgeois democracy, the Scottish government has ‘no power’. SNP politicians and ministers have repeatedly raised their opposition to inhumane UK immigration policy and proclaimed ‘refugees are welcome here’. However, the reality is that devolved Scottish institutions and public bodies, above all the police, are deeply involved in colluding with the racism of the British state and its associated violence. The apparent outrage of the Scottish government is worthless in the face of Police Scotland’s direct role in carrying out dawn raids and brutalising those who are actually opposing Britain’s racist immigration system.

This collaboration was starkly exposed by recent events in Glasgow. On 21 March, Police Scotland officers and local social workers assisted a Home Office Enforcement Team in carrying out a brutal early morning raid against Beverley Vaanda Kanjii and her 14-year-old son. In the course of the raid, in front of her terrified child, Beverley was handcuffed, dragged across the ground and repeatedly kicked, sustaining serious injuries. After her son refused to board a flight from Glasgow Airport, they were transferred to the Home Office’s Immigration Reporting Centre on Brand Street.

Having arrived in Glasgow in 2013, Beverley was seeking asylum due to persecution in Namibia as a result of her sexuality. Glasgow FRFI is among the many local groups supporting her campaign. On 21 March, Beverley’s friends, activists from the LGBT Unity group, the Unity Centre, Anti-Raids Network and others held an effective protest aimed at halting her forced removal. Activists blockaded the compound gates for several hours, supergluing their hands together and blocking any vehicles with Beverley inside from leaving. At 8pm, around 40 police thugs accompanied by dog teams violently attacked the protest and cleared the blockade, ripping apart the hands of those glued together, repeatedly pushing a heavily pregnant woman and throwing a wheelchair user to the ground.

Beverley and her son were then removed to the Cedars detention centre near London. However, resistance continued, with an online petition gaining 2,000 signatures in a matter of hours and a phone blockade of KLM airlines demanding they did not deport Beverley. On 24 March, it was confirmed that Beverley and her son were en route back to Glasgow, where their lawyer is now lodging a judicial appeal. The fight is far from over, but the necessity and effectiveness of resistance are clear. It was not through trade union motions and calls for leniency by politicians that Beverley’s removal was halted, but direct action and independent organisation.

Joey Simons

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 250 April/May 2016

 

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