- Created: Wednesday, 29 April 2009 14:05
- Written by FRFI
FRFI 201 February / March 2008
The British state continues to terrorise communities both in Britain and in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, which remain under brutal occupation. FRFI activists have been on the streets around the country in support of asylum seekers, in defence of our democratic rights and against the war.
End the occupation of Iraq and Palestine!
We call for the immediate withdrawal of imperialist troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and for the Labour government to be put on trial for crimes against humanity. We have found lots of support among the public. We also maintain regular pickets of Marks & Spencer, Britain’s biggest corporate sponsor of Israel, in support of the Palestinian people’s struggle for freedom. On Saturday 15 March we will be forming an anti-imperialist contingent on the national Stop the War Coalition demo. To join this contingent and other activities contact regional branches (see Events).
On 29 November 2007 activists working with Northumbria University FRFI Society in Newcastle mobilised in response to the BNP National Student Organiser standing in union elections. The meeting to propose a ‘No Platform’ motion had the highest attendance ever recorded by the union, with a strong representation of black and international students, and passed the motion by 135-54 votes. The FRFI society followed this with a public meeting on racism on 12 December. On 19 December FRFI had a stall at a Love Music Hate Racism gig in Newcastle. The promoters gave permission for the stall, but comrades were later thrown out on the insistence of a leading SWP member because we called for a complete break from the racist Labour Party.
On 19 January 150 people joined a militant demonstration organised by Tyneside Community Action for Refugees (TCAR) into Newcastle city centre, demanding freedom to work, freedom to stay, and the end to the criminalisation and impoverishment of immigrants. Several people who, with the help of TCAR, have successfully fought government attempts to deport them, came to show their support for those still confronting the racist British government’s immigration policies. These included Joy Bowman, whose campaign against deportation to Jamaica received national publicity, and Kurdish asylum seeker Guler Akdogan, whose long fight against the deportation of her family to Turkey has finally been successful.
The demo stopped outside Government Offices North East, where TCAR and the UDPS opposition party from Democratic Republic of Congo spoke. The end rally at Grey’s Monument was addressed by TCAR, Newcastle FRFI/ RCG, North West Asylum Seekers’ Defence Group (NWASDG), South Yorkshire Migration and Asylum Action Group, Support the Harmondsworth 4 Campaign, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Tyneside Stop the War, the University and College Lecturers’ Union and Tyneside Socialist Forum. The demo was attended by contingents from Durham, Carlisle, Doncaster, Sheffield, Manchester and Middles borough, and by No Borders, Antifa, Amnesty International and the Socialist Workers Party. In London, FRFI has been active in the campaign in support of the Harmondsworth 4 (see page 16). FRFI activists in Manchester attended the TCAR demo with NWASDG and plan future protests and meetings to fight against the Labour government’s insidious war against refugees and asylum seekers.
On 16 and 18 January FRFI in London and Manchester attended protests outside Holloway and Styal prisons organised by Pauline Campbell. Pauline campaigns to highlight the mistreatment of women prisoners and demonstrates outside prisons every time a woman dies in custody. 18 January marked the fifth anniversary of the death of her 18-year-old daughter Sarah in Styal prison.
Defend democratic rights!
On 6 December two police officers, one from Special Branch, turned up at an FRFI meeting on ‘Police, racism and the state’ in Govanhill, Glasgow. They demanded to sit in on the meeting, have copies of the talks and agendas and be notified of all future public meetings – needless to say, we refused! This follows attempts to prevent FRFI comrades from using the room, despite it being booked.
In December the Dundee Heathfield Defence Campaign held a city centre rally to publicly denounce the violent arrest of an FRFI member, while selling FRFI and handing out leaflets outside a meeting with a mainly Muslim audience. He was charged with disorderly conduct and the police claim he ‘lashed out with arms and legs’; however video evidence completely vindicates the comrade’s statement that the police arbitrarily and illegally assaulted him. The rally gained wide support from other organisations and individuals, including the Scottish Socialist Party, Solidarity, Scotland Against Criminalising Communities and Craig Murray, Rector of Dundee University, where the arrest took place.
Newcastle FRFI continues to fight attempts by the city council and police to ban collection of donations at campaign street meetings. The court case of four activists charged with participating in an unlicensed collection is on 11 March. Regular organising meetings have been held to bring together different groups to unite against these attacks. Councillors have been contacted and petitions are being collected on the streets and online to submit to a full council meeting on 5 March. A rally will take place outside the meeting. To sign the online petition visit: http://tinyurl.com/yqjjtl.In Liverpool, FRFI supporters have defeated attempts by the city council to prevent protestors handing out leaflets, selling newspapers, setting up stalls or using a megaphone in the city centre. This follows months of harassment of the left by Street Crime Wardens. On 29 Dec ember five such wardens forced three comrades to take down a stall advertising the Cuban speaking tour, claiming it was illegal. Immediately FRFI emailed the city council quoting the relevant law and arguing that the wardens had no legal authority for their actions. On 12 January FRFI joined a series of protests by the left to show solidarity with animal rights’ protestors, who have been constantly harassed by the council. The following week the council responded to FRFI, completely backing down, and on 19 January supporters held a stall unmolested by the wardens.