Letters - FRFI 264 June/July 2018

MAJF protest against Jomast

Forced room sharing injustice

The Migration and Asylum Justice Forum is deeply disappointed with the 16 May  legal ruling that forced room sharing in Newcastle does not breach existing environmental health laws. We reiterate that, whatever the vagaries of legislation, the overcrowding and forced co-habitation of unrelated adults in the North East is an affront to their dignity and a threat to their mental and physical wellbeing. We will not cease to take the fight to Jomast, G4S, and the Home Office until this practice is entirely ended – regardless of whether this is done through the justice system, local government, or street protests.

We believe that it is important to note that, despite this setback, the last few months have proved extremely important in forcing the issues facing migrants and asylum seekers into the centre of local and national politics. With scandals around the provision of accommodation for asylum seekers, whistle-blowing on abuse in immigration detention centres and the farce of the treatment of the Windrush generation, it is clear that Home Office immigration policies and contracts are a disgrace. Without the constant protests of migrants, asylum seekers and their supporters it would be impossible to imagine an anti-room sharing policy such as the one currently held by Newcastle City Council, not to mention the local authority taking a contractor to court over such a policy.

We urge Newcastle City Council to do everything in its power to find other ways of enforcing the policy. We have a wealth of evidence that highlights the inadequacies and appalling conditions faced by asylum seekers under the G4S held COMPASS contracts. The tendering of new contracts for asylum housing is already underway and we urge the council to put pressure on the companies vying to win these locally.

We would like to thank all our members and supporters for their time, hard work, spirit and bravery over the last few months. Legal processes may end, but the struggle for justice does not, and we are prepared for a long fight.

One Room One Person!

One House One Family!

Migration and Asylum Justice Forum


Racially attacked by police for telling the truth

I am a musician, and this letter is about the venomous reaction I have had in Nottingham while trying to use my music on the streets to freely express the truth that the system we live under is a racist machine designed to destroy black lives. I have been targeted as if I were a criminal and in the eyes of this system that is exactly how I am viewed.

Not only have I been excluded, marginalised and intimidated whilst being in Nottingham. I have also been physically assaulted on two occasions by members of the police acting outside the law in order to abuse and subjugate black people. As a black man, I am seen as a threat. It makes no difference that I am simply entertaining people. I am seen as a problem to be removed. This is not individuals within the police force and council acting out of step, but systematic control and oppression.

After days of abuse by the police and council, I was playing on a Monday afternoon in the main square in the city centre. It was not long before I was once again approached by a community protection officer.

As is always the case his intention was to instigate a problem that would lead to my arrest. His method of achieving this was to switch off my equipment while shouting in a loud voice that he had asked me to turn off my equipment. This was simply to give onlookers, of which there were many, the idea that I was non-compliant. The truth was I had never been asked to turn off my equipment and it is my belief based on my experience that this was simply done to trigger a negative reaction from me and provoke an arrest. However, the crowd rallied to my side as I stood up to the police.

I am not telling my story to be viewed as a victim, I am telling it so that the truth about a racist system that has the sole intent to incarcerate as many black men as possible is known. It has fallen on deaf ears that only recently David Lammy wrote a report about the racism built into the fabric of the criminal justice system. I have been targeted for nothing more than playing what is considered to be black music.

It is my hope that as I continue to tell my story more voices will start to speak out because there is something very ugly happening in society and I fear that many are blind to the truth of what is happening as a result of systemic racial hatred both here and abroad in the name of this power structure.

Elavi Dowie


Scottish health care cuts target elderly

After reading the article ‘Health crisis: patients’ lives at risk’ in FRFI 263 I felt compelled to write in about hard-hitting cuts in Scotland.

At the end of last year my aunt passed away in hospital at the age of 81. At the beginning of the year anyone would have thought she had years to live apart from needing dialysis every few days. In Easter last year my aunt slipped and fell at a family gathering. She was admitted into hospital and stayed in for eight weeks, by which time she was fit enough to get out of hospital.

However, after a physiotherapist assessed the suitability of her home it was advised that she would need to go into a nursing home. The problem was there were no rooms available in any state nursing homes so she was stuck in hospital until my cousin could arrange a private nursing home for her.

Last November my aunt had another fall and fractured her hip. The only strong painkiller the private nursing home had was morphine, which she was allergic to, so she had to endure the pain while waiting on an ambulance to arrive – this took four hours! During her stay in hospital dementia set in and her dialysis was stopped. She was given palliative care for the last few weeks of her life.

Many who knew her before and saw how she changed over this period believe that she would still be here today if proper health care was available.



Sri Lanka files destroyed

The British Foreign Office has confirmed that it destroyed 195 files on Sri Lanka dating from 1978 to 1980. An official review, conducted in 2012, revealed that the Foreign Office destroyed thousands of documents dealing with British counter-insurgency operations in Kenya and other former colonies. Surviving Ministry of Defence files, held at the National Archive, reveal that the SAS and a director of MI5 were asked by the Sri Lankan government to help counter the Tamil struggle on the island in 1978 and 1979. This was during the Callaghan Labour and Thatcher Conservative governments. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam were founded in 1976 and the Sri Lankan government requested support from Britain to fight them. The SAS secretly trained Sri Lankan army commandos. The war on the Tamils was marked by torture, disappearances and mass slaughter.

Under the 1958 Public Records Act, government departments are required to preserve historic records. Responding to a freedom of information request from The Guardian, the Foreign Office said of the destroyed files that their content ‘may be of a policy nature but might also be administrative or ephemeral’. The destruction, it said, would have been ‘offsite by the company contracted…for this purpose’. Whoever had the contract would have been very busy.

Trevor Rayne

South London

Stop deportations to Iraq!

I am writing on behalf of the Iraqi and Kurdish community about Royal Jordanian Airline allowing their charter flights to be used by the British state to forcibly deport people to Iraq.

Many Iraqi and Kurdish asylum seekers who have built their families in the UK over many years have been affected. Many of those who have been forcibly deported through Royal Jordanian Airline have become mentally ill, committed suicide or become refugees again.

The company is putting profit before human rights and is complicit in human rights abuses. The International Federation of Iraqi Refugees calls on Royal Jordanian Airlines to stop co-operating with and profiting from the UK’s deportation policy, to stop accepting bookings from the UK Border Agency and to cancel bookings already made.

Dashty Jamal

Secretary of International Federation of Iraqi Refugees

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 264 June/July 2018


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