Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Abdel Must Stay In Brighton

Stop His New Year’s Deportation - ACT NOW

Abdelkrim Madjoudj (HOref: M702098). Abdelkrim is a 39 years old gentleman, Algerian who is currently detained at Brook House since last 17/12/2010 and has already been given direction removals for New Year’s Eve. Abdel has been living in the UK for 13 years and he is very much loved in the Brighton community.

Abdelkrim arrived initially as a medical visitor in the UK in the 16th December 1994, sought an extension to stay unsuccessfully, and returned home to Algeria in September 1995. Abdelkrim was detained on return and tortured and accused of being involved with criminals and being a member of a banned political party. He was found not guilty of the alleged crime of failure to report criminals, but by that time Abdelkrim had been physically and mentally scarred by his experience, and he required psychological treatment as a result. He is afraid that this would happen again if send back to Algeria.

Abdelkrim returned to the UK in January 1998 and lived with his brother in Brighton. He did not apply for asylum or otherwise come to the attention of the authorities until August 2009 when Immigration Officers came to his flat in Brighton. He then applied to remain in the UK for compassionate reasons under the Article 3 (prohibits torture, and "inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”) and Article 8 (provides a right to respect for one's "private and family life, his home and his correspondence" ) of the European Convention of Human Rights. It was refused. Home Office states in the refusal letter that Abdel had not strong links in the UK and because he was living illegally in the UK, he should be removed.

Abdelkrim is not working in the UK still suffers physically from back pain. His brother is a successful businessman in the UK. Abdel is supported financially by his brother, has never been a burden on the State and if he were permitted to stay in the UK, he would be an asset to society as he has a degree in Civil Engineering.

Abdel is a committed and loved volunteer at Migrant English Project and Brighton Voices in Exile. MEP is run completely by volunteers and provides free English lessons and a safe and social space. Abdel regularly cooks for up to 50 people at Migrant English Project and he takes the lead responsibility for this. He is friendly and welcoming to new members and he is dearly missed already. After 13 years he is fully engaged in the Brighton and Hove community.

We believe that his removal is an abuse of process as he has no chance to lodge an appeal over the Christmas period with support organisations in Brighton closed, solicitors closed and the Home Office are closed for this period of the year.

And we know he is extremely distressed by the possibility of been removed after living in the UK for 13 years.

What can you do to help?

1) Call the Home Office now demanding he has a right to appeal his deportation order and ask that your message is recorded 0870 606 7766.

2) Write to the Home Secretary Theresa May and let her know that Abdelkrim should be released from detention and given permission to stay in the UK.
[Download model letter]

Rt. Hon Theresa May, MP
Secretary of State for the Home Office,
2 Marsham St London SW1 4DF
Fax: 0044 (0)20 7035 4745 or 02072191145


MEP (Migrant English Project)

STOP PRESS: [31/12]

Abdel's flight has been cancelled but we expect the Border's Agency to try to deport him again some time in the New Year, so we advise people to keep on contacting the Home Office and Abdel and his supporters would like to thank everyone who has offered support so far.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Free The Yarl's Wood 3

In February 2010 prisoners at Yarl's Wood immigration prison organised a hunger strike. They demanded an end to indefinite and abusive imprisonment. Their courageous protest lasted five weeks, despite violent attacks by guards at the detention centre.

As retribution several people involved in the hunger strike were moved to prisons. Three of those targeted in this way are still behind bars: Denise McNeil, Sheree Wilson and Aminata Camara. They have been away from their families, friends and communities for too long.

Their struggle was “for everyone in detention”. We need to support those who take action on the inside. When they use prison to try to silence resistance we will fight back. At the start of a new year, let’s show them that they have our support and that the struggle for freedom goes on.

At 4pm on New Year’s Eve demonstrate outside Holloway Prison, Parkhurst Road, in solidarity with the Yarl’s Wood 3. Please invite your friends and family. All ages are welcome. Bring noise-makers.

The nearest underground station to HMP Holloway is Caledonian Road on the Piccadilly line. Buses from outside the station go to the prison.

The Yarl’s Wood 3 will also have bail hearings in the coming month. Your support is very welcome. If you would like to come to the court to show support for them contact

For a good source of more information visit:

Tuesday, 30 November 2010


It looks like Muammar Gaddafi has the EU over a barrel. After years of having encouraged African migrants to seek their fortunes in his country or to use it as a stepping stobe to Europe, he has come under increasing pressure from the European Union to cut back on the numbers of migrants making for Italy and lucrative deals have been cut with the EU itself, via the International Organisation for (against) Migration, and more recently directly with his fellow autocrat Berlusconi.

At the same time he has launched his own war against his once welcome pool of cheap labour, setting up strings of detention camps and squalid prisons where tens of thousands of his fellow Africans survive some of the worst prison conditions on the continent since international approbation force his regime to quit using his previous preferred method of dealing with the 'problem' - wholesale transportation of migrants in converted container lorries to the desert borders with neighbouring countries where they were abandoned with no food, water or means of transport. Many hundreds are believe to have perished in this low-cost deportation solution.

Now, emboldened by his lucrative deal with Italy involving $5bn compensation for abuses committed during Italy's rule in Libya ($200m a year for 25 years invested in Libyan infrastructure projects) plus the loan of six fast patrol boats as part of an Italian sponsored 'push back' policy, Gaddafi is once again seeking €5bn a year from the EU in order to continue stopping African migrants from leaving Libyan shores in small leaky boats on their perilous trips across the Mediterranean.

Whilst he is right to criticise European countries for their neo-colonial attitudes in demanding that African countries open themselves up to more European exports and embrace neo-liberal free trade policies alongside 'good governance' policies (the EU argues that prosperity can only be guaranteed if Europeans don't have to pay too hefty a bribe in order to 'do business'), tying those demands to preventing "christian, white Europe" from becoming "black" is manipulative racist scaremongering of the lowest form.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Refugee Protest Camp Set Up In Athens

More than 50 Afghan refugees have set up camp next to the Propylaia Acropolis in the centre of Athens to protest against the Greek state's refusal to provide asylum and housing for the tens of thousands of refugees stuck in a Hellenic Limbo, many of them victims of Dublin II and unable to move on to the countries they desire because they have been detained, fingerprinted or otherwise identified as having passed through Greece, a country that grants only 0.04% of all asylum applications.

For more information and pictures on this story check out the Demotix website.

Glasgow Asylum Evictions: Cost-Cutting Negotiation Tactic?

Further details of the farce that has developed around the axing by the Border Agency of its contract with Glasgow City Council to house asylum seekers. It now appears that the termination of the contract on UKBA's part is a negotiating tactic to try and drive down the cost of the contract as it has not even bothered to contact at least one of the two organisations, Ypeople and Angel Group, that it claims are going to take over housing the 1300 people under threat of eviction and forced mass movement to points unknown across Scotland. In a parallel move, Alex Salmond has called upon Teresa May to reopen negotiations with the council.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Israel Plans Massive Internment Camp For Migrants

Following hot on the tail of Israeli plans to deport the children of migrants born in Israel and to erect a 150km long $372m hi-tech fence on its border with Egypt to keep out so-called 'infiltrators', come news that the country's government is planning to build a massive internment camp capable of holding up to 10,000 migrants and asylum seekers in the southern Negev Desert. The idea of such a facility, which could be ready in a matter of weeks and would be used to hold migrants from war-torn African countries such as Sudan and Eritrea that the Israeli state is currently unable to deport, is already drawing comparisons with Nazi concentration camps. But according to Eyal Gabbai, a top aide to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, "Israel is trying to fight a situation in which the state, its citizens, are vulnerable to infiltrators who enter with economic motives" and the threat of internment "will weaken their economic incentive to come to Israel."

MigrationBotch Call For More Emigration

MigrationBotch has called upon the Coalition government to introduce further policies to drive up the number of UK residents leaving the country on a permanent basis following the latest migration figures showing that a jump of 25,000 in the net migration figures was down to only a measly 140,000 British citizens emigrating, down 33,000 on 2008 and the lowest figure since 1999. The thoughtless-tank's supremo Dame Alan Greenbyname-Greenbynature) is quoted as saying: "After the spiffing news of the government's cap on coolie labour, this is a clearly a kick in the proverbials. The government need to made further and deeper cuts in order to drive more people from our shores and stop Blighty sinking under the waves (of dreaded foreigners). If we can return to the sort of sustainable population figure that Britain had at the end of the 18th century (37m) rather than the dreaded and extremely significant figure of 70m that I keep inanely bandying around, then our country will stay afloat and have the extra added bonus of there not being so many darkies around to boot."

Glasgow Asylum Families' Reprieve

After a degree of confusion (not least from us) over exactly what was happening with regard to the UK Border Agency plans to end a contract with Glasgow City Council to provide accommodation for around 1300 asylum seeker families and single people, where people would be given as little as 48 hours notice of eviction, it has been announced that the threat of eviction has been lifted.

In our original piece, based on a Glasgow Evening Times article and comments by Phil Taylor, the Agency's regional director for Scotland and Northern Ireland (which suggested that Glasgow City Council had 'invited' the Borders Agency to cancel the contract) we understood that the new providers of the contract accommodation would be moving the refugees out of Glasgow. But, following UKBA clarification and an emergency meeting between Damian Green and a number of Scottish Labour MPs, the Herald claims that few if any will now have to move as the new providers will merely be taking over the asylum seekers tenancies rather than moving them out wholesale. And where it proves necessary for families to move, at least 14 days notice will be given and the new provider will pay any moving costs incurred.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Kabul Inundated With Glaswegian Refugees

After news that Kabul is now safer than cities like Glasgow, the Afghan capital has been inundated with Scottish refugees seeking political asylum from a despotic British regime.

Nato official Mark Sedwill said the Afghan capital, as a “city of villages”, and was a better environment for youngsters to grow up in than any city found on the west coast of Scotland.

Sedwill continued, “People will point to the violence, the drug trafficking and the religious zealots intent on imposing their way of life on everyone around them, but I would just tell them to leave Glasgow and try Kabul instead.”

“Sure, there are still a few issues, but at least it you get a bit of sunshine here, and you can understand what most of the locals are saying.”

“I’ve never been threatened with a pint glass in Kabul, I’ll say that much for it.”

Kabul Safer Than Glasgow

The queue of Scottish asylum seekers arriving at Kabul airport has stretched local authority resources to breaking point, and raised the possibility of rejecting many applications simply because they can not cope.

Fraser Donald told Afghan immigration officials, “Please don’t send me back! The government wants to take away my freedoms and potentially imprison me, just because I won’t go and do a bit of litter picking.”

“I am in genuine fear for the freedom of me and my family to sit around doing nothing all day.”

Some have already had their asylum applications approved, with Dougal McDonald telling us, “This morning I’ve been shot at twice, and had to run to avoid a couple of IEDs, so yes, I’m feeling much safer here already.”

“I’d recommend it to any Scots considering the move. Just bring plenty of sun-cream.”

[Reprinted from News Thump]

Monday, 22 November 2010

Asylum Seekers: Britain Has Let Us Down

Four refused asylum seekers describe the intolerance, hatred and violence they face on the streets of Britain and how they survive without state benefits, shelter or the right to work on £10 food vouchers from the British Red Cross.

Christmas Island & Villawood Detention Protests

A hunger strike on Christmas Island which has involved more than 200 detainees has entered its second week. The exact numbers involved are hard to ascertain but current estimates vary between 150 and 230, with up to 20 of those involved having sewn their lips shut and currently only taking sugar water.

The protests follow a recent Australian High Court decision that overturns the presumption that off-shore immigration detainees had no right of access to Australian courts and opens up the way for refugees who have had their asylum applications refused to seek judicial reviews and the death of an Iraqi asylum seeker at the Villawood detention centre. The lip-sewers have been dismissed as self-harmers by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship staff, as has one of the hunger strikers who attempted suicide on Saturday.

Protests have also taking place at the mainland detention facility at Villawood following the death of Ahmad al-Akabi, an Iraqi father-of-three committed suicide last Tuesday. Mr al-Akabi, having been held in detention for more than a year and refused asylum for the second time, had apparently begged the Immigration authorities to send him home shortly before his death.

Detainees occupied the roof for several hours and others set fire to wooden furniture in protest against the death and their collective despair at the length of time people are being interned. Whilst 100 or so detainees protested inside the camp 200 supporters held a noisy demonstration outside the perimeter fence.

In a separate story, the plight of one of the Oceanic Viking families has been highlighted in one Australian newspaper. Sumathi Rahavan, her husband Yogachandran, their 2 children, Atputha and Abinayan (6 and 3 years old respectively) and the new baby that Sumathi has given birth to in captivity are languishing in Villawood awaiting medical clearance for the infant before they are returned to Christmas Island* where they will continue their life in indefinite detention limbo. This is because they have been labelled as national security threats by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and cannot also be returned to Sri Lanka as refugees under international treaties.

Under 24-hours surveillance with no access to the internet, limited vetted phone calls and 3 Serco guards employed to constantly watch over them, they too despair of their situation and are thinking of putting the 2 older children up for adoption in order to give them the chance of a better life.

* The Christmas Island detention centre medical unit does not have maternity facilities and the Rahavan family had to be moved to the mainland.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Shock! Horror! Ignorant Woman Can't Make Up Her Mind

Yes, xenophobe, failed politician and ex-chip shop owner Pauline Hanson has decided that she doesn't want to emigrate to to Britain after all. Having spent the past couple of months touring Europe she appears to have decided to stay in Australia:

"I love England but so many people want to leave there because it's overrun with immigrants and refugees. France is becoming filled with Muslims and the French and English are losing their way of life because they're controlled by foreigners in the European Union."

This of course is from a woman who is herself a descendent of immigrants; immigrants who hunted the Native Australians for sport, stole their children and tried to systematically eradicate their culture in what amounted to an official policy of genocide (much along the lines of the one perpetrated on Native Americans).

American History X

From the Pinky Show, an alternative view of the U.S. immigration debate courtesy of a couple of cool cats:

Friday, 12 November 2010

One Down ... Ten To Go

Today see the closure of Oakington detention centre. Opened in 2000 as a temporary so-called fast track facility, it was due to close in 2006 but the government prevaricated on this in the same way as the Coalition is dragging its heels over the continued detention of children. Many who passed through the ex-RAF barracks claimed that it was a shit-hole to put it mildly and the Prisons Inspectorate roundly condemned conditions there in its 2008 inspection report. Unfortunately, its closure comes too late for Eliud Nyenze, a Kenya national who died on 14 April this year after being refused mediacl assistance by the detention centre's G4S guards.


Apologies to Glasgow City Council but we screwed up yesterday's post 'Don't Break Our Communities Apart!'. It was the Borders Agency which cancelled the contract and NOT the City Council.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Don't Break Our Communities Apart!

The latest council, following the like of Birmingham and Wolverhampton, to opportunistically cancel its contract with the Border Agency to house asylum seeker families is Glasgow City Council. In Glasgow's case there are about 1000 asylum seekers who will soon be getting a letter through their doors telling them that they have as little as 3 days notice to leave their homes and be moved to an as yet unknown destination! They will also be told that they are "allowed to take two pieces of luggage per person. In addition, children’s toys, baby care items, medical equipment, buggies and disability aids are also allowed.”

This is all a thinly-disguised form of racist pandering will have a minuscule effect on housing waiting lists but will have a significant impact on refugee families across Britain. We should all oppose it.

Correction: It was the UKBA that cancelled the contract and NOT Glasgow City Council.


Keep the Contract with Glasgow City Council!
Join the Protest:
Monday 15 November
Outside Glasgow City Chambers,
George Square

Today at a meeting in Cranhill it was confirmed that the first asylum seeker families are to be moved out of Glasgow City Council accommodation starting as early as Monday next week.

One family has been told they will be moving on Monday. At least two other families have been told they'll also be leaving accommodation provided by the council next week.

On Saturday last week, the 900 plus asylum seeker families who are currently accommodated in housing organised by Glasgow City Council received letters stating that the housing contract from the UK Border Agency to house them had been terminated.

Staff at the Glasgow Asylum Seeker Support Project were told at 3pm on Friday afternoon after their acting head had received the news in an email. The move has taken everyone involved in supporting asylum seekers in Glasgow completely by surprise and came as a shock to many.

It is still not known where families are going to be moved to and the confusion is spreading anxiety and alarm through the asylum seeker community in Glasgow. Earlier today the UKBA press office was suggesting that, in the short term at least, the other current accommodation providers in Glasgow, the YMCA charity and the notorious Angel Group, would take on the contract.

The letters sent out to the tenants however suggest that they could be relocated to anywhere in Scotland.

Now facing significant disruption to their housing - and potentially facing being moved away from established friends and supporters as well as from services such as GPs and social workers - asylum seekers in Glasgow are extremely alarmed and concerned about this sudden news.

Many are concerned about how their children could be affected if they are moved out of established schools.

Many are also worried that they may have to move away from friends and supportive neighbours and community groups, breaking the strong ties that have developed over months and years in communities across the city.

Other concerns have also been raised about the ability of the YMCA and the Angel Group to provide adequate accommodation at such short notice.

Since taking over part of the housing contract in 2006, both the Angel Group and the YMCA, have received criticism over how they have provided accommodation to asylum seekers. The Angel Group, in particular, have had many accusations of providing inadequate housing and its staff giving poor service, made against it.

UNITY is calling for a protest outside of Glasgow City Chambers of everyone concerned about the sudden ending of the housing contract and against the disruption to our communities and its impact on the lives of our friends and neighbours.

Come to Glasgow City Chambers at 10.30 Monday 15th November to show your opposition to these developments and to call on the UKBA and Glasgow City Council to resolve any difficulties.

Demonstration For Jimmy Mubenga Tomorrow


This Friday, 12 November 2010, exactly one month after Jimmy Mubenga's death, the Mubenga family will march from the Angolan Embassy to the Home Office in central London. They will be joined by members of the Angolan community and a range of campaigners, as well as many other people who simply want to express their solidarity.

The family will hand in a letter to the Home Secretary calling for an inquiry in to the use of force in the deportation process. A letter will also be given to the Angolan Embassy calling on the Angolan authorities to lend their support to help ensure that we learn the full truth about how Jimmy died.

On arriving at the Home Office there will be several speeches, including:

* Mubenga family member

* Adalberto Miranda (Union of Angolans in the UK)

* Deborah Coles (Inquest)

* Emma Ginn (Medical Justice)

* Jeremy Corbyn MP

*Notes to editors*

1. Jimmy Mubenga, an Angolan man, died during an attempted deportation after being restrained by guards from the private security firm G4S on 12 October 2010 at Heathrow airport.

2. The family of Jimmy Mubenga will be attending the march but *will not* be giving any interviews.

3. Copies of the letter to the Home Office will be available on the day.

4. The demonstration is expected to arrive at the Home Office by 12.15-12.30.

5. A flyer is attached and a map of the route can be seen at:

6. For further information please call 07570 218 736 or 07972 850 143.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Phil Woolas...

[A Quick Gloat]

...found guilt of being a lying mendacious racially-motivated scumbag*, stripped of his Oldham East and Saddleworth parliamentary seat, barred from the Commons for three years and suspended from the Labour Party to boot for his election campaign antics. Don't say we didn't warn you.

And to think that Miliband reappointed him as shadow immigration minister!

* Well, not quiet, but you know what we mean.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Surprise, Surprise...

... the Coalition's immigration cap will, as anyone with even a passing knowledge of immigration politics knows, will do absolutely nothing to return the rate of in migration to the UK to the halcyon days of Thatcher, or at least that's what the Home Affairs committee is currently saying. Yes, even their modest desire to return to 1990 levels, whilst seeking in most other areas to take the country back to Victorian era values and standards, is doomed to fail.

It always was a 'pie in the sky' idea* and as the committee point out the only way it would be achievable would be for Britain to withdrawn from the EC, close down most of the universities in the country (it is only the revenue from foreign students that keeps most of them afloat), risk social unrest by ending the right of those already granted leave to remain in the UK to bring members of their family (spouses and children) to the country. Better think again about the defence review and start stationing those gunboats of the Channel coast Dave.

* Still it quietened the frontline party troops during the election campaign.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

MigrationBotch - Can't Keep A Bad Statistician Down

(More's the pity.)

Five Chinese Crackers has a highly recommended new post about the idiot(s) at MigrationBotch - 'MigrationWatch - a bit crap aren't they? But are they getting worse?'

A bit crap? Kind of pulling your punches there aren't you?

Demonstration In Memory Of Jimmy Mubenga RIP

Who died while in the hands of G4S private security guards.

Friday 12 November 2010

Assemble 10:30am @ the Angolan Embassy in London (22 Dorset Street, London, W1U 6QY). Nearest tube stations: Baker Street/ Marylebone.

March to the Home Office (2 Marsham Street, London, SW1P 4DF)

On 12 October 2010, Jimmy Mubenga an Angolan man died during a forced deportation from the UK. The Guardian reported that Jimmy was handcuffed and restrained by three private security guards on a British Airways flight from Heathrow. Shortly before he died, Jimmy was heard by other passengers crying out for help.

There have been fourteen deaths (twelve men and two women) since 1991 during forced deportations. The official cause of death in most cases was positional asphyxia or cardiac arrest. Of the fourteen that died, ten were Africans (of which six were Nigerians).

The full list of deaths:
* 2010 Jimmy Mubenga (Angolan - UK)
* 2010 Joseph Ndukadu Chiakwa (Nigerian - Switzerland)
* 2007 Osamuyi Aikpitanhi (Nigerian - Spain)
* 2003 Mariame Getu Hagos (Somali - France)
* 2002 Ricardo Barrientos (Argentinian - France
* 2001 Samson Chukwu (Nigerian - Switzerland)
* 2000 Christian Ecole Ebune (Cameroonian - Hungary)
* 1999 Aamir Mohamed Ageeb Sudanese - Germany)
* 1999 Marcus Omofuma (Nigerian - Austria)
* 1999 Khaled Abuzarifeh (Palestinian - Switzerland)
* 1998 Semira Adamu (Nigerian - Belgium
* 1994 Kola Bankole (Nigerian - Germany)
* 1993 Joy Gardner (Jamaican - UK)
* 1991 Arumugam Kanapathipillai (Tamil, Sri Lanka - France)

Manuel Bravo was a 35-year-old Angolan asylum seeker who took his own life in Yarl's Wood removal centre in Bedford the day he and his 13- year-old son were due to be deported to Angola in September 2005. Leaving a note saying: 'I kill myself because I don't have a life to live any more. I want my son Antonio to stay in the UK to continue his studies.'

Campaigning organisations:
No Borders
Corporate Watch
Free Movement
London No Borders
Medical Justice
National Coalition of Anti Deportation Campaigns
Union of Angolans in UK (UAUK)

Monday, 25 October 2010

Foreigners Stole My Mushrooms

'Migrants help to strip New Forest of its mushrooms' run the Excress headline. "Gangs of East Europeans and amateur cooks inspired by TV chefs are stripping a forest of its valuable mushrooms to the horror of locals ... Picking mushrooms is a part of life on the Continent but, traditionally, it has not been something Britons have taken to. Yet with TV chefs extolling the virtue of the free food, locals have joined immigrants in stripping the forest." Too much to expect the rag to run a headline saying ' Amateur cooks help to strip New Forest of its mushrooms' or even 'Locals help to strip New Forest of its mushrooms'? Of course not, not xenophobic enough.

The Storm In A Foreign Aid Teacup

The reactionary right-whinge news media are continuing to bang on about the 'injustice' of the recent raising of the foreign aid budget. And the most vociferous has been the Daily Excress* with reams of their usual blatantly racist bile about some mythical 'foreign aid fury' that could have 'saved the harrier'. "It could have equally paid for 310 new primary schools, or overturned the scrapping of child benefit for high earners." Of course the 'fury' is all theirs, the Daily Flail's and those mothballed Empire-ists at the Spectator.

Don't these people realise that this 'foreign aid' is always tied to some lucrative trade deal selling weapons (usually some redundant hand-me-downs or out-of-date technology) or privatising some utility or natural resource and UK companies get almost of of the money back? Either that or it all goes in servicing the countries' structural debt and ends up in Western coffers. Anyway, all this supposed 'wealth', the mere crumbs of which are finding their way into the aid budget,is based on a massive legacy of the concerted rape and pillage of the rest of the globe dating back to Empire, when Britain sold the ancestors of the very people who are supposed to benefit from all this aid into slavery. What comes around should definitely go around even if it is mere crumbs.

* No irony in the using of photo of a mother and baby captioned "Foreign aid will help starving families and those suffering from diseases" below the headline 'A shocking waste of billions' then?

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

The Spectre Haunting Us All

Around the world the spectre of reaction, of racism and xenophobia is rearing its ugly head as the economic crisis begins to bite - not that reaction, of racism and xenophobia ever went away, it just was simply more carefully hidden. Just as in the '30s, the scapegoating of minorities, especially the Roma and Muslims, has ceased to be a spectator sport and is rapidly becoming official government policy across the board - again, not that it ever hasn't been, it was merely more covert:

France has banned the burqa and is using fingerprinting to create biometric records of the Roma it forcibly removes from the country (giving them €300 and getting them to sign a piece of paper doesn't stop it from being a forced removal), as well as introducing a swingeing immigration Bill that will, amongst a long list of contentious measures, severely restrict the rights of refugees in detention and introduces measures specifically targeted against Roma.
Italy, which has ratcheted up the anti-immigration rhetoric and massively increased its anti-foreigner legislation in the past couple of years as well as unleashing a series of violent pogroms against Roma and African migrants, now wants to introduce its own ban; in Milan they are currently bulldozing Roma camps and Milan's vice mayor, Riccardo De Corato who is a member of Berlusconi's ruling party and is in charge of handling the camps, is quoted as saying "These are dark-skinned people, not Europeans like you and me ... Our final goal is to have zero Gypsy camps in Milan".
The Netherlands minority government, as a quid pro quo for gaining the support of dyed-Ayrian Gert Wilders (less than affectionately known as Wilders-the-beest) and his neo-fascist cronies, is also planning a ban; then again the Dutch have their own Roma 'problem' where 10,000-15,000 Roma, many of whom have been in the country for 30 years and have Dutch citizenship, face intractable social problems such as disproportionate unemployment, school truanting and mental health problems.
Switzerland was first in the long line of countries to enact anti-Muslim legislation with its ban on minarets and the veil, its patently racists citizenship system and the openly xenophobic Swiss People’s Party with its 64 seats and 29% of the vote in the most recent Federal Assembly elections. And now there are proposals to automatically expel all non-nationals who are convicted of a crime before they serve any jail sentence, a development that other EU countries are watching with interest.
In Sweden the Sweden Democrats, a party that repeatedly claims to be opposed to racism, is also riding the wave of covert (and not so covert*) xenophobia - a longing for bygone days of nostalgia-filled fantasy of a world without foreigners, a neverneverland preserved in aspic - and has won 20 parliamentary seats in the recent election on an Islamophobic platform; this against the backdrop of increasing numbers of Swedish deportations, especially to Iraq, something that has been condemned by the UNHCR.
Then there are the Danes, rapidly making their mark on the European scroll of shame with their recent copycat Roma expulsions and calls by the ruling right wing liberal party Venestre for migrants to be paid only half the national minimum wage rate.
Germany is also in the news, and not just for Bundesbank executive Thilo Sarrazin very public anti-semitic remarks. The Council of Europe and UNICEF both recently condemned Germany's expulsion of Kosovan Roma; mainstream German politicians claiming that there should be an end to all Arab and Turk migration or that immigrants should face an intelligence test; and to top it all, Angela Merkel has just claimed that German 'multiculturism' has 'failed', blaming immigrants for 'not fitting in' (as Pickled Politics puts it) - "At the start of the 60s we invited the guest-workers to Germany. We kidded ourselves for a while that they wouldn't stay, that one day they'd go home. That isn't what happened." - of course not, would you integrate when you were so obviously merely a tolerated 'guest arbieters' and were specifically excluded from citizenship?
In Austria far right parties like the FPO (Austrian Freedom Party) and the BZO (Alliance for Austria's Future), both not that different in policies from Hitler's NSDAP, are widely accepted as legitimate political parties by a population that can poll 53% in agreeing with the claim that asylum seekers "are more criminal than other society groups"; and there are widespread racist attacks on refugees and asylum seekers by neo-Nazis and skinhead groups and a police force condemned for its racism by Amnesty International.

And that is only a handful of European countries and we haven't even mentioned the call by the UN for all European countries to stop enforcing Dublin II returns to Greece because of the appalling conditions in the Greek detention centres, prisons and police cells. “All these detention facilities, with the only exception of the one in Chios (island), were totally overcrowded ... filthy, with very, very bad ventilation and lighting, and general conditions were just appalling,” according to Manfred Nowak, the UN special rapporteur for torture and other cruel treatment. The Special Rapporteur's preliminary report repeatedly complains of lack of access by detainees to toilets and showers, lack of access to outside yards for up to two years, lack of blankets and warm clothes amid plunging temperatures and inadequate medical care, detainees having to sleep on the floor for weeks on end, that many people had respiratory, skin as well as psychological problems. "Such conditions of detention clearly amount to inhuman and degrading treatment, in violation of Articles 7 and 10 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights."
Or the UNHCR concern over Iraqi deportations following the widespread decisions, including that in the UK by the Upper Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber), by EU states that Iraq is now safe enough for them to begin mass deportations of Iraqi refugees. This despite the fact that the autonomous Kurdish region has itself suspended permission for flights carrying detainees from landing in Irbil.**
Or the fact that the EU has taken advantage of Gaddafi's attempts to exploit the prevailing attitude within Europe by asking for €5bn a year to prevent hundreds of thousands of “ignorant” Africans from “turning Europe black”. This provided an ideal opportunity for the EU commission to outsource even more of its border protection and abuse of refugees to Libya, a country that does not even accept the concept of 'asylum seeker' and who has one of the worst human rights records when it comes to their treatment. The deal, worth up to 60m euros (£52m, $83m) in aid over three years, is tied to some vaguely worded agreement on Libya's part to 'protect migrants' rights' but doesn't go as far as stipulating that Libya sign the UN Convention on Refugees.

Then there is the rise of the Tea Party and the canonisation of that (someone who is being sued by the Federal government for wingnut Sheriff Joe Arpaiocivil rights abuses, Maricopa Office of Management and Budget have found that his Sheriff Department has misappropriated $50m in funds, his treatment of prisons has resulted in lawsuits that have cost the County more than $43m in settlement claims during his tenure) for his plans to set up anti-immigrant vigilante patrols.

Against this backdrop, things in the UK are not that different following the advent of a Tory government, with extra-added LibDem legitimacy, and its harebrained scheme to return levels of immigration to the 1990s (although most would obviously prefer 1890s levels), is also thinking of introducing a policy of forcibly returning asylum seeking children to their countries of origin in flagrant convention of a whole tranche of international treaties as well as cutting back further on the already meagre financial support refugees receive prior to their cases being processed.

We've also had the reform of the Legal Aid budget that, led directly to the closing of Refugee and Migrant Justice, Birmingham City Council's massive publicity exercise stating that it was going to end its contract with the UK Border Agency to house asylum seekers in order to prioritise 'locals'. Yet Birmingham has a housing stock of 65,000 homes and it houses only 190 refugee families i.e. they occupy only 0.3% of the homes. Eye catching but hardly significant. Wolverhampton has followed suit and is also going to evict the families of asylum seekers it provides housing to, all 124 of them, thus making a less than 1% dent in their waiting list of 13,405. And then there's been Chris Keates, the general secretary of the teaching union NASUWT, and Jonathan Ellis, director of policy and development at the Refugee Council, warning of the possibility of the government's immigration and education policies creating "apartheid in our schools" through the segregation of communities and increased racial tension. And the baying of the tabloids to follow France's Roma lead. Not forgetting the widely criticised [see also] decision to begin deporting Zimbabwean refugees just when the coalition government is reaching another crisis point in advance of next year's elections, the increasing repression of the MDC by the police and violence by ZANU-PF cadres.

* Per T K Wahlberg, who stood in the recent election and came 26th on the Sweden Democrats party list, recently caused a furore by claiming that Africans have a 'rape' gene'.
** Not to mention the UNHCR's Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Erika Feller, warning that the increasing criminalisation of the asylum process "has serious protection consequences for refugees and breeds its own secondary problems for states, including racism and xenophobia" and the Global Migration Group's claim that “[a]lthough States have legitimate interests in securing their borders and exercising immigration controls, such concerns cannot, and indeed, as a matter of international law do not, trump the obligations of the State to respect the internationally guaranteed rights of all persons, to protect those rights against abuses, and to fulfil the rights necessary for them to enjoy a life of dignity and security.”

Dover Detainees Demand 'Proper Investigation'

Detainees in Dover immigration detention centre have issued a statement demanding an official investigation into the death of fellow detainee Jimmy Mubenga, who died during his forcible deportation on a British Airways flight to Angola on 12 October.

Three G4S security guards are accused of having caused his death as witnesses told how the 46-year-old man was being "heavily restrained by security guards and had complained of breathing problems before he collapsed." [1]

The three men have since been questioned by police and bailed until December pending further inquires.

The statement, so far signed by over 25 of the detainees, also demanded that "all those responsible for this brutal crime at the UKBA, G4S and British Airways are held responsible and punished accordingly."

Detainees in other detention centres around the country are said to have been disturbed by the news and many said they fear that the same might happen to them when they are "deported in the caring hands of G4S." According to campaigners, detainees in various detention centres started to organise mass protests but these soon died out as many feared "management's retaliation."

This is not the first time that news of the use of excessive force by private security guards during deportation operations have surfaced. In 2008, a report by Birnberg Peirce & Partners, Medical Justice and the National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns documented "an alarming number of injuries" sustained by asylum seekers at the hands of private security guards contracted by the Home Office during their detention and forcible deportation. [2] An independent report by Baroness Nuala O'Loan, the former Northern Ireland police ombudsman, found in March that security contractors involved in deportations had "failed to properly manage the use of violent restraint techniques by their staff." More recently, research by the Institute of Race Relations revealed that at least 14 people have died since 1991 during forced deportations from various European countries, including the UK. [3]

One of the Dover detainees, who preferred to keep anonymous, said: "This is not the first time this happens and we know what happens with this kind of 'investigations' promised every time by the Home Office. We want a proper, independent investigation that holds all those responsible for Jimmy murder to account, not just the three security guards."


For further information, please contact stopdeportation[at-]

Notes for editors:

[1] See:

[2] See:


Sunday, 10 October 2010

Xenophobic Gloatting

'Ban On Asylum Seekers Taking Council Homes' - another typical xenophobic and untruthful headline from that well-known racist rag the Daily Excress. Birmingham City Council have not banned asylum seekers from council housing, they have said they will not regrettably renew its contact with the Borders Agency to house asylum seekers when it is due for renewal in June next year. Not exactly the same thing is it? That's not to say the Daily Torygraph with 'Birmingham stops accepting asylum seekers' or the Daily Flail with its gleeful 'Asylum seekers last in the housing queue: Britain's biggest council decides to put its locals first' are that accurate either.

Brussels No Border Camp Repression

The Brussels No Border Camp, which took place from 25 September to 3 October, was subject to a high level of police repression with the sort of 'preventative' arbitrary mass arrests aimed at incapacitating demonstrators; routine violence and brutalisation, which often ended in hospitalisation; threats of sexual violence and other humiliations in custody; the confiscation of threatening items such as banners and memory cards from cameras; as well as the theft of personal property, cash, passports and ID.

Statewatch has posted an informative piece on the policing issues and there are a number of postings of the experiences of individuals on the net such as Marianne Maeckelbergh. However, numerous actions and event manages to proceed (a list of which can be accessed at Indymedia Linksunten) and the police did not have it all their own way as witnessed by three activists disrupted a police recruitment event at the Commensurate Ixelles in Brussels. During question and answer session at the event the activists, one of whom had spent 24 hours in custody earlier on in the week, challenged the behaviour of the police. They were eventually dragged outside and spent much of the rest of the day under arrest.

Calais Audio Piece

There is a short audio piece currently available from Deutsche Welle on the situation in Calais, which includes an interview with a Calais Migrant Solidarity activist.

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Australia - Hunger Strike Ends/Afghan Asylum Processing Restarts

The sixteen Kurdish and Iranian men who have been on hunger strike for the past two weeks in the Villawood detention centre ended their protest last night and began taking on board food and water. The end of the hunger strike was marked by a demonstration outside the Department of Immigration in Sydney which were also called to protest the two rooftop occupations last week.

In other Australian news, the Gillard government had ended its six-month-long moratorium on the processing of Afghan asylum claims, signalling the likelihood of renewed efforts to begin deporting refused Afghan asylum seekers and help ease the overcrowding crisis in the Australian detention estate.

Monday, 27 September 2010

The Persecution Of Roma - Info Night

On Thursday the High Court reversed an earlier decision preventing Basildon Council from evicting the Dale Farm community and the council are likely to go ahead with what will be the UK's largest forced mass eviction in peacetime in the next 4-5 weeks.
We urgently need to mobilise resistance/support London No Borders have organised a meeting for tomorrow about this as well as what's happening in Europe!


TUESDAY 28TH SEPTEMBER, 7pm AT LARC, 62 Fieldgate Road, Whitechapel

In the last few weeks we have seen a terrifying attack on the Roma in France . Led by President Sarkozy himself, the French State has declared war on the Roma population, both recent arrivals from Eastern Europe and Roma who have lived in France for generations. There have been highly publicised eviction raids on Roma and Gypsy settlements with mass deportations to Eastern European countries. The language used by the French Sate is the same as that of Vichy when they rounded up Jews for the Concentration camps. This has polarised French opinion and thousands came out to demonstrate in solidarity with the Roma throughout France.

What is happening in France is the latest act in a recent round of attacks by Governments, mobs, fascists or all three in may countries across Europe . Roma people have been killed in Eastern Europe, driven out of their homes in Italy and Ireland in recent months. Here in Britain we are seeing the same things developing. Roma from Eastern Europe are targeted in the gutter press, local politicians often from the mainstream parties and fascists. And the authorities are stepping up their attacks on Gypsies and Travellers. The State is preparing to evict the largest site in the country - Dale Farm - and they have just brutally evicted Hovefields nearby.

Please come along to the info night. We have invited Roma organisations, we have speakers involved in local struggles here and we are hoping for a speaker from France also.

London No Borders:
No One is Illegal (London contact):

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Serco Punish Australian Rooftop Protesters

According to Australian refugee advocate groups, all of the 20 participants in this week's two rooftop protests, except a pregnant woman involved in the second action which ended late Thursday, have been placed in maximum security isolation since they ended their protests. Meanwhile, the main week-long hunger strike involving 16 detainees continues.

At the same time, the nephew of the 36-year-old Fijian man whose suicide precipitated the first protest has been released from custody, and who was to be deported alongside his uncle, has been released from the Villawood detention centre. Also yesterday, the memorial service for Josefa Rauluni originally planned to take place within the grounds of Villawood was cancelled at the last moment by Serco and the service had to take place on a footpath next to the detention centre fence so that detainees could still take part.

Interestingly, it has been revealed that Mr Rauluni's death, like the estimated 27 deaths to have occurred in Australian detention centres since 2000, will not be recorded in the official government register of deaths in custody, suggesting an attempt to circumvent the government's duty of care for detainees according to a number of refugee advocates and legal experts.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Something Strange Happened On The Net

The following article about the plight of Helen Bih, a disabled asylum seeker who has been forced to move home six times in the past 12 months because the flats allocated to her in Glasgow by the Angel Group, the organisation contracted by the government to provide accommodation for asylum seekers, was suitable for a disabled person, appeared on the internet site of the Glasgow Evening Times on Tuesday but has since mysteriously disappeared. Rumour has it that legal action was threatened against the paper if it did not take the piece down but the wonders of the internet means that a cached version of the article is still available on-line, which is where the following text is copied from.

Disabled asylum seeker moved six times in one year

Evening Times; Glasgow (UK), Sep 21, 2010 | by Caroline Wilson

HUMAN rights campaigners have called for an investigation into a government-contracted private landlord following its "inhumane" treatment of a disabled asylum seeker.

The demand was made after Helen Bih, 41, was re-housed six times in 12 months. The Glasgow accommodation was found by the Angel Group - an agency contracted by the government to find appropriate housing for asylum seekers.

None of the flats were accessible for her and she was left a virtual prisoner in her home. In the last property, in Ibrox, Helen said she was unable to use the shower or toilet and was forced to use a commode in her bedroom.

The mother-of-two, who fled Cameroon after witnessing the death of several family members and who has very limited mobility, said the repeated moves and the living conditions she had to endure left her "wanting to die".

Charity Positive Action in Housing (PAIH) is demanding an inquiry after concerns about Helen's treatment were raised by several agencies, including The Unity Centre, Scottish Refugee Council, British Red Cross and the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture.

Following mounting pressure from PAIH Helen has now been moved to appropriate accommodation by Glasgow City Council's social work department.

Charity director Robina Quereshi said: "Helen cried with relief when she was told Angel Group was no longer housing her."

Ms Quereshi has written to the Scottish Parliament calling for the Angel Group to be held to account.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Another Villawood Rooftop Protest

Yet another rooftop protest by asylum seekers broke out yesterday at the Villawood detention centre in Sydney 12 hours after the previous one had ended. The five male and four female protesters, one of whom is pregnant, have again threatened to self-harm and jump from the roof if their asylum applications, which they claim are caught up in the current massive backlog, are not sped up. This protest follows news that 3 of the previous rooftop protesters had been placed in solitary despite assurances of no retaliation for their actions.

Like the previous protesters and a group of 16 Iranian and Kurdish detainees who have been on hunger strike since last Friday*, the nine had been protesting by refusing food and water and were already suffering from dehydration before beginning their rooftop protest. However, their initial requests for water to be sent up to them were refused by officials. Since then one of their number has left the roof via a cherrypicker to begin negotiations with immigration officials and the protesters have finally been allowed bottled water after 18 hours.

As a result of the latest protest the Immigration Department are gunning for the Serco centre managers, threatening the company with fines and further sanctions for allowing another group of detainees access to the roof and the resulting bad publicity at a time when the Australian detention system is under particular strain.

* Three others have already been hospitalised as a result of their participation in the hunger strike.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

How Can The UK Be The 'First Safe Country' In Which To Claim Asylum?

An article in the Guardian for all of those who have found it difficult to understand the ins and outs of where refugees are 'allowed' to make asylum applications, why so many refugees are prevented from making applications in their country of choice and are forced to return to countries like Greece and Italy where they either have little or no chance of making a successful asylum application and/or the country's government have made it patently obvious that 'foreigners are not welcome here'.

On the subject of Greece, the UK Border Agency has suspended the return of asylum seekers to Greece under the Dublin Regulations and are going to process their asylum applications in the UK. As NCADC point out this is because of the massive backlog (around 1300 cases) that has been created by the Greek authorities feet dragging on processing requests for the return of refugees to them as a safe third country and not because of the fact that the UK can offer the applicants some meagre form of legal aid and potentially a better than 1 in 100 chance of being granted asylum, or due to multiple human rights abuses endured by asylum seekers in Greece.

More On The Brussels No Border Camp

From the 25th September until the 3rd October, a No Border Camp will take place in Brussels.

- What is it ?

A « no border » camp is a meeting of participants from many countries to fight against Fortress Europe, and to think about and act on the topic of frontiers, migration and the right for everybody to move and live anywhere they want.

- Where is it ?

The camp takes place on Tour et Taxi, come with your camping equipment to meet and talk with campers-activists from everywhere. The activities will take place in various different places (squats, cinema, concerts hall, bars? For more details see the programme) and on Brussels' streets.

- What can we do there ?

Tons of activities !!! From a simple chat to an impassioned debate ; from a concert to a movie or documentary projection ; from an anonymous action to a noisy and colourful demo?.there is something for everyone!

- In the programme :

- Sa 25/09: Building up the camp
- Su 26/09: Commemoration march for the death of Semira Adamu (killed by
Belgian policemen during her deportation)
- Mo 27/09: European migration policy and the militarization of borders
- Tu 28/09: Detention centres and deportations
- We 29/09: Capitalism and migration
- Th 30/09: Living clandestinely and the struggle of migrants
- Fri 01/10: The externalization of the European border policy
- Sa 02/10: Big No Border demonstration
- Su 03/10: Evaluation and cleaning up

During the whole week a programme concerning women and migration is planned in the Gesu squatted monastery.

You can follow the news of the activities via links to the Nomade newspaper and Radio No Border on the website.

We are waiting for you and your friends, with your smile, your indignation, your rage, to participate in the different activities organised throughout the week.

Come also (and mostly) for demonstrating together on Saturday 2nd October against the (anti)migrations politics decided by European Union, its member states and its partner countries.

No borders, no nations !

Noborderians greetings.

Some campers

Programme :

Website :

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

It's Not Just People Smugglers Who Exploit Refugees

a comment piece by Lyn Bender originally published by The Age

The tragic news of the recent suicide of a person detained in Villawood illustrates the big price that can be paid in human life because of our treatment of asylum seekers.

We accuse people smugglers as traffickers and profiteers in human misery, however, they are just the usual small fry victims who take the rap. With 4903 people in detention, 700 children and 21 centres, business is booming in the displaced people sector. At least $1 billion dollars a year is being spent to detain asylum seekers and the figure is bound to rise as boats keep appearing on the horizon, in response to wars, floods, drought, famine and human rights abuses. What a boost to Australia's GDP.

The Shire Council in the Town of Derby is hailing the proposed reopening of Curtin Detention Centre as an economic yippee for the town, 40 kilometres away from the centre. Especially as staff for the centre will live in the town and are expected to boost local business including that of nearby Weipa.

SBS World News has reported that in July 2010, West Wimmera Shire chief Jim McKay had appealed to the then immigration minister Chris Evans that an investment be made in a Wimmera processing centre rather than offshore. Mayor Ron Hawkins is reported to have said that this would boost the struggling town and bring much-needed jobs. His proposal was rejected.

This is all so yesteryear. In 2001 the Australian government agreed to pay $10 million to Nauru to detain 500 asylum seekers. Nauru with its depleted phosphate resources and poor economy needed the money.

The current government is considering setting up business in Timor — another vulnerable struggling state that the minority government under PM Julia Gillard figures could use the business. In a mutually beneficial deal Timor gets the money and we push untidy boat people offshore and look like we have found our own unique solution.

Again there is nothing new in all of this. According to recently released [2009] British cabinet Documents of 1979, Margaret Thatcher had considered buying an island with Australia in the Philippines or Indonesia to permanently settle Vietnamese refugees.

In 2002, when I was employed by the Woomera detention centre as a psychologist, I lived in the town of Woomera. The locals told me that the Reception and Processing Centre had made a difference in the town. The centre boosted jobs and consumption. The town did not welcome the prisoners but enjoyed the custom that emanated from the ongoing detention. The small hospital was not so happy that its beds were filled with people who were regularly rescued from suicide attempts and who had embarked on hunger strikes.

The local fireman, who was also the ambulance driver, found rescuing people from these attempts to be nerve wracking.

There is an abundance of research testimony and reportage from the period of the Pacific Solution that attests to the damage and trauma that detention inflicts on an already traumatised population. "A last resort?", the report of the National Inquiry into Children in Detention, was tabled in parliament on May 13, 2004.

But it is not just the trauma to the children we should be concerned about. Nor even the damage to families or the single men who embark on these absurdly dangerous voyages. They have a noble cause: a bid to save themselves and their families. Those who seek to profit from their plight can claim no such moral high ground.

The employees at the Detention Centres were poorly trained and frequently not emotionally equipped (who would be?) to manage the task of imprisoning traumatised people. They were inadequately supported in the job and subjected to abuse and violence. They became the bad guys inflicting often unintentional violence. I witnessed attempts to restrain hysterical detainees, that diminished the sense of the officers' self worth. Some became stressed and traumatised. Young nurses at Woomera questioned their own integrity in working at the centre, as did I. For that reason I felt compelled to speak out about the treatment of asylum seekers. And it seems here we go again. We all sustain moral wounds through any exploitation of the misery of the world's refugees: whether they are used to fire up electorates for votes, or simply are targeted to make us feel falsely secure in a massively changing world. Rather than harming and imprisoning the dispossessed, there is a better way all round.

We could reduce suffering and boost our economy by investing in infrastructure rather than prisons. We could feel more secure and gain self-respect and moral integrity by welcoming nurturing and integrating refugees within our communities.

Villawood Rooftop Protest Ends

The Villawood rooftop protests by 11 detainees has ended after nearly 30 hours. Some of the men had threatened to jump from the roof if their asylum claims were not re-examined, whilst others cut their arms and chests to write a sign on a sheet in blood that read "We need help and freedom". All had been refusing food and water and two men collapsed from exhaustion in the midday heat and were taken to hospital. The authorities responded by bringing in a cherry-picker, placing protective mats around the perimeter of the building and trying to negotiate with the detainees.

A large group of supporters also gathered outside the detention centre to voice their support, whilst 12 protesters who had chained themselves to the Immigration Department offices near Sydney's Central Railway Station were arrested. Meanwhile, Professor Patrick McGorry, mental health expert and, ironically, Australian of the Year, has warned that that this type of protest involving self-harm will become more frequent as the overcrowding pressures within the detention centres increase and the time taken to process asylum claims lengthens.

Right-Whinge Crocodile Tears

What a laugh! The Daily Telegraph yesterday was bemoaning the rise of the far-Right in Europe and blaming it on the failure of governments to tackle issues such as immigration, the burqa and mosque building that they have regularly been highlighting. Maybe, if they and their fellow Rightist propaganda sheets would stop peddling this constant tide of reactionary filth, the end result might just be a halt in the rise of the fascist Right?

After all, they only have to look at the comments left on the on-line forums attached to this type of story to see how much they are stirring up this type of reactionary dissent. But then again, they are hardly going to stop publishing such staple and sure-fire circulation boosting stories, are they? What other reason is there to buy such rags other than the daily dose of bile-stimulating reaction?

Maybe they should consider this, and its not very often that we get all Biblical, but "they that sow the wind shall reap the whirlwind."

UK Suspends Returns Of Asylum Seekers To Greece

The UK Border Agency has announced today the suspension of the return of asylum seekers to Greece under the Dublin Regulation. With immediate effect, the backlog of approximately 1300 cases and all new cases will have their applications heard in the UK, and not Greece.

This will come as a great relief to all those facing return to the “broken asylum system” of Greece. The decision-making process in the UK leaves a lot to be desired but at least we have legal aid (for now, and only just) and the initial sucess rate is more than Greece’s 1%.

The decision comes as a result of the Court of Appeal’s decision to refer the case of NS (formerly known as Saeedi) to the Court of Justice of the European Union. It appears that this process could take up to two years, so the UK Government has decided to use it’s powers to assess asylum claims in the UK during this period, rather than have the applicants wait for the outcome.

The UK Border Agency has stressed that this decision is purely pragmatic, and is in no way related to the multiple human rights abuses and the near impossibility of claiming asylum in Greece, as highlighted time and again by the United Nations refugee agency, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, etc.

Escape From Calais

Brussels No Border Camp

From 25th September to 3rd October migrants, sans-papiers, and activists from all over the world will hold an international No Border camp in Brussels.

The No Border camp will take place principally at "Tour et Taxi" (a deserted open space in the centre of Brussels) -- but diverse decentralised activities will occur across the city.

The Tour et Taxis site is an ideal location for the camp: in the heart of the city of Brussels, not far from the headquarters of capital and Euro-bureaucracy; and in an old industrial centre surrounded by working class immigrant neighbourhoods. Other locations for talks, workshops and film showings will include the squatted Gesu monastery and the Cinema Nova. Three activist kitchens will be cooking tasty vegan food.

The camp is a space of meeting and reflection, but also of actions with common objectives: ending the system of borders which divide us all; defending freedom of movement and settlement; and opposing the capitalist systems and authorities which cause forced exile, war and misery. The camp also coincides with two days of action against Ecofin and the "austerity" measures being introduced in Belgium and across Europe by capital in reaction to the economic crisis.

People don't migrate without a reason. The distinction made between political refugees and economic migrants is nonsensical. For example, when a Senegalese fisherman emigrates because he cannot support his family, underlying this is the politics of the abandonment of the Senegalese coast for Chinese businesses, a politics which operates within a capitalist system that allocates resources for profit. The same principles apply for refugees from war and from climate change.

The No Border network was set up in 1999 to demand freedom of movement and settlement for all. Since that time, numerous camps have been organised at the borders of the European Union in Poland, Ukraine, Slovakia, Germany, Sicily, Spain, Calais and finally Lesbos in 2009 (

This year's No Border camp will be located not at the periphery but at the heart of Fortress Europe, in Brussels. Belgium assumes the Presidency of the EU from 1st July to 31st December 2010. As capital of the EU, Brussels symbolises the (anti-)migratory politics which the NoBorder movement opposes.

Since the start of the 1980s Europe has turned inwards, putting up walls at its borders, deploying policies which are costly, ineffective and deadly, in the pursuit of the myth of Fortress Europe. A further step was taken in 2003 with the creation of a centralised European agency for external borders, named FRONTEX. This is an administration but also an actual armed border force, which has acquired helicopters and ships, and the agency is not limited to controlling European borders but has externalised to Asia and Africa. In effect, Europe pays various countries to "preventatively" intercept, imprison and deport migrants passing through their territory attempting to reach Europe. Sub-contracting its dirty work to governments which have little regard for human rights seems a priority for Frontex in recent years.

Migration policies currently imprison and deport thousands of people. Thousands of people die at borders every year. For these reasons we demand the abolition of borders, and freedom of movement and settlement for all.

The No Border camp will end on Saturday 2nd October with a mass demonstration in Brussels starting at 1pm.

much more information at:

End Anti-Gypsy Racism


Protest rally outside Royal Courts of Justice
11am-12 noon
Friday 24 September


Travellers Under Pressure To Abandon Community Living
By Grattan Puxon

Though facing imminent eviction, a senior couple have made it known to a judge that they can't accept a council flat because their lives depend on staying within their ethnic community.

John and Mary Flynn's case before Southend County Court, adjourned for a month on Thursday (16 Sept) seemly likely to become a test of the right of Travellers to maintain some essential elements of their traditional mode of living.

Married daughter Michelle Sheridan, who also lives at Dale Farm, Crays Hill, the large Traveller community under threat of destruction by Tory-led Basildon council, said after the initial hearing that her elderly parents would not survive an eviction.

"They would be dead within a week," commented Mrs Sheridan. "The council might as well shoot us all."

Like thousands of Gypsies around Britain, what the Flynns are asking is that they be allowed a secure place to live together in an extended family group inhabiting their own mobile-homes, small chalets and caravans. They had bought land at Dale Farm but have been refused a permit as the old clean-out scrap yard falls within a greenbelt zone.

Basildon has long refused to accept the need to re-accommodate some hundred Gypsies families at Dale Farm and nearby Hovefields in the manner they request. The Travellers say they want to stay where they are but would develop their own sites elsewhere if given permission.

Up until now council leader Tony Ball, pledged to resign if he does not get the Travellers out by next May's election, has claimed there is no spare land. However, a government body has stepped in offering several locations. The Homes and Communities Agency says Travellers are welcome to live on any of its land-holdings, providing Basildon agrees.

Possibly embarrased by this offer and upset over media leaks, Basildon made a surprise announcement at the county court to the effect that it was breaking off any further negotiations with the Travellers.

Undeterred, Dale Farm Housing Association has submitted a planning application to create a mobile-home park on an HCA site at Pound Lane, Lainden.

Brutal Eviction

Unfortunately, the HCA proposal has not helped families evicted earlier this month in a brutal operation at Hovefields, Wickford. They saw their homes bulldozed by Gypsy eviction specialists Constant & Co and have been forced out on the road with nowhere to go.

Out of seven families, two sisters alone found a legal plot in Braintree. Others headed for Kent while four caravans ended up on a car-park belonging the HCA but leased to Selex Systems. Ignoring a legal requirement to consider welfare needs, Essex police moved them on the next day despite the presence of two pregnant mothers, a lad with learning difficulties and small children who had just been through the trauma of seeing their homes bulldozed.

Worse, the notorious s61 of the Criminal Justice Act l994, a piece of legislation which has proved to be the death knell of the old travelling life, was used against them again that night when they tried to find respite at a car-wash forecourt. Exhausted, the four families next day again entered HCA land at Gardiners Lane, Basildon, one of the locations proposed for a permanent site.

But this time the HCA itself objected and the police issued another s61 order forcing them to take to the road once more. Landing up somewhere in Bedfordshire, one mother feared she would abort and called a midwife. Only after a plea from the midwife would Bedforshiore police allow the families to remain the rest of that night on some factory land.

Essex University Human Rights Law Clinic is now preparing a complaint against the police for repeated misuse of s61 which it says may have amounted to deliberate harassment.

The situation facing Gypsies in Britain, similar to and not unrelated to that of Roma across Europe, underscored as it is by an inexplicable and deep-rooted racial prejudice, will be aired in the courts again shortly.

Alone among the families at Hovefields, Matilda Boswell was able to obtain an injunction stopping Basildon from busting up her little property. On 24 September at the High Court she will be seeking a judicial review of the council's decision to enforce planning law without first fulfilling its duties towards her as a homeless person.

As at Southend last week, Travellers and Gypsies will protest outside the court with their growing number of supporters against what they feel is a concerted and relentless effort to pressure them to abandon their community-based life.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Death At Villawood Detention Centre

A 36-year-old Fijian detainee, Josefa Rauluni, in Sydney's Villawood Immigration Detention Centre has died after throwing himself from a roof in order to avoid deportation today. Witnesses say that he jumped when immigration officials arrived with handcuffs to take him and a younger relative to the airport. A protest by detainees have broken out in response to Rauluni's death, whilst sixteen Iranian and Kurdish refugees at Villawood have entered their third day of a food and liquids hunger strike. Refugee advocates say that their condition is deteriorating rapidly in the hot conditions and one hunger striker has already been taken to hospital.

This is just the latest in a series of incidents [1, 2] as the Australian detention estate reaches breaking point and, with something like 5000 people currently in immigration detention, the authorities desperate to find further detention space following the suspension of the processing of asylum claims for Afghan and Sri Lankan refugees.* Sites on the Australian mainland under examination to take an estimated 900 male asylum seekers include more isolated sites such as the Scherger Air Force base in northern Queensland and further expansion of the already overcrowded Curtin Detention Centre in Western Australia. Until the decision to suspend asylum applications is reversed, the situation can only get worse and the government holding out the 'hope' of further off-shore processing of refugees is mere pie-in-the-sky thinking.

* Recently released Australian government figures show that just 75 of the more than six thousand refugees to arrive in Australia in the past two years have had their asylum applications rejected and returned to their country of origin.

Thursday, 16 September 2010


more stories that you might have missed (an on-going service designed to cover up the fact that we have either been too busy or too lazy to cover certain news):

France: Amend Immigration Bill to Protect Asylum Seekers - a Human Right Watch article about an attempt to restrict the right of the French government deport asylum applicants before they have fully exhausted their legal rights under French law. The proposed amendment to a new immigration bill seeks to reform the so-called priority procedure and legislate to allow for an in-country appeal.

France's deportation of Roma shown to be illegal in leaked memo, say critics - coverage of a leaked internal order, circulated to police chiefs last month, that states that:

"Three hundred camps or illegal settlements must be cleared within three months, Roma camps are a priority. It is down to the préfect in each department to begin a systematic dismantling of the illegal camps, particularly those of the Roma."

Also covered by the BBC and Telegraph.

French Gypsies recall forgotten wartime internment - the current coverage has dredged up more stories about France's 'forgotten' wartime Gypsy internments and deportations.

Phil Woolas accused of stirring racial division to hold on to seat, Phil Woolas 'tried to foment racial divisions in election campaign' & Phil Woolas 'sought to make white folk angry' in general election campaign - Woolas squirms under legal challenge under his election publicity previous highlighted by this blog.

Illegal immigrants held in isolated jails struggle for legal help, survey finds
- the results of a survey by the Chicago-based National Immigrant Justice Center, published in Isolated in Detention, reveals details of the cruel, inhumane and degrading regime routinely operated by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency in the U.S.A..

35 foreign minors held in jail for over 60 days - like the UK, Israel routinely detains minors.

EU agency demands more coherent asylum procedures - a new report by the EU Fundamental Rights Agency claims that asylum seekers are getting unfair and inconsistent treatment across the EU.

"A lifer is better than a detainee" - revealing figures about detention in the UK in an article flagging up the imminent release of 'No Return No Release No Reason', a report by the London Detainee Support Group.

Intrepid Reporting Or Merely Pointless?

Damon Embling, intrepid BBC South reporter, is in Greece and one hopes for the poor licence-payers' sakes he's there on vacation and has just decided to turn it into a bit of a busman's holiday rather than being paid to tag along with a Frontex naval patrol on the Greece-Turkey border. The reason we say this is his article entitled 'On immigration sea patrol with EU border team' seems to only have a very tentative link with the South of England:

"The south of England is particularly vulnerable to illegal immigration - the vast coastline provides a target for those wanting to slip into the UK. The region is also home to busy airports and ports. But where are illegal immigrants coming from right now and how do they get here? European border officials say the biggest flow is from places like Afghanistan, Somalia and West Africa. The current illegal gateway of choice into Europe is the Greek-Turkish border. Britain is often the favourite destination, where people have the chance of a better life."

Really, is this news? And what real relevance has it to the Channel Coast? Maybe Damon is suggesting that Frontex should patrol off the Sussex coast?

Friday, 10 September 2010

Brussels No Border Camp Programme

The programme for the Brussels No Border Camp from September 25 to October 3 is now available for download: