Friday, 26 February 2010

Quote Of The Week / Loosing The PR Attack Dogs

(or the Year because it really is a doozy!)

"I think we are well on to the way to becoming a world class asylum system." - Lin Homer, Chief Executive UKBA on Radio 4's Today programme this morning.

The immigration system apologists certainly have been on the offensive over the past few days following both the coverage of the Yarl's Wood hunger strike; MP's calls for an inquiry into it; Al Aynsley-Green's report on Yarl's Wood, the chief inspector of the UKBA John Vine's claims today that government targets of dealing with 90 per cent of asylum cases within six months, plans to clear the 450,000 "legacy" historic files by 2011 were "unachievable" with current resources and that a new backlog of unresolved cases was building up; [1] and yesterday's release of the latest Office of National Statistics migration figures. All this on top of the right-wing press' sustained immigration-related assault orchestrated by the Tories and Alan Green's vanity project MigrationBotch.

Tough times for Woolas and his cronies. So much so that he appears to be cracking, letting his mask slip on Newsnight after being challenged about so-called 'large-scale migration' into an area, claimed that "My own family, my children, have suffered from that and we recognise that point ..." Further compounding his faux pas by adding "Well, if you get, as the gentleman says, if you get a big influx of people coming into an area, Slough Council, Peterborough Council, have raised this point, that is the price you pay." Needless to say the yellow press were swift to jump on his comments, with the Mail taking the opportunity to trot out the same old tired arguments about migration. He has since been notably ascent from the airwaves, thus avoiding an embarrassing explanation of his bizarre claim.

Pride of place in these massed PR responses surely goes to the letter to MPs from Home Office Minister Meg Hiller in response to press, and in particular the Guardian's, coverage of the Yarl's Wood hunger strike. Her basic argument is that 'you are all liars'. "The current misreporting, based on inaccurate and fabricated statements by those who campaign against our policy, is irresponsible as it causes unnecessary distress to the women at Yarl’s Wood, their family and friends and those who work at the Centre to ensure the detainees are treated with respect." [2]

She then goes on to repeat her own chosen set of 'untruths' such as "detention is only used when people have refused to leave the country voluntarily, despite support being offered for them to do so, and we have to enforce that removal", that the women are not in fact on hunger strike, that Yarl's Wood staff have never displayed any form of racist behaviour and that "detainees are treated with dignity and respect". Then as final icing on the top of this confection, we get: "The current misreporting, based on inaccurate and fabricated statements by those who campaign against our policy, is irresponsible as it causes unnecessary distress to the women at Yarl’s Wood, their family and friends and those who work at the Centre to ensure the detainees are treated with respect." [3]

[1] On the issue of the government's claims to be keeping up with its government-set targets, a Welsh whistle-blower has revealled just how the UKBA have massaged the figures to conjure up a 75% success rate for processing asylum claims within the target 6 month limit.
[2] Thereby repeating the same points that the UKBA had made about the Aynsley-Green report the week before, namely that it contained "factual inaccuracies" and that in some areas, it was "misguided and wrong." There is an interesting follow-up article in the Guardian about this very point.
[3] She is definitely at pains to point out the level and degree of 'respect' that the detainees are shown by the employees and sub-contractors of the UKBA. Possibly in the same way that the government are at pains to point out that MI5 are never complicit in torture?

Daily Mail's Slack Grasp Of The Facts & Figures

The Daily Mail's (or at least it's journalist* and editorial staff's) grasp of simple arithmetic has been starkly shown up again. And of course the errors relate to an immigration story.

'Two passports a minute are given to foreigners as 1.5m issued since Labour elected' bellows the headline**, except this is patently not true. For a start, roughly 6,619,680 minutes have elapsed since the Labour government were elected on 1 May 1997 (counting up to 1 January 2010, as the ONS statistics that the article is based upon relate to figures for last year). So, 2 passports a minute would mean 13,239,360 passports in total?!? Something wrong there?

Maybe he means 'since the last election'? In which case that would be 2,404,800 minutes between 5 May 2005 and the beginning of this year. Which is 4,809,600 passports. Except that it is not, because if you actually read the article it says, "Passports were given to foreigners at the rate of two a minute last year." So, in fact he means that there were 1,051,200 or so passports issues last year (525,600 minutes x 2). So what evidence is there for this startling figure.

Well none actually.

What the paper does say is that "Officials approved a record 203,865 citizenship applications, 58 per cent more than in 2008. Another 190,000 immigrants were given the right to settle in the UK in 2009 – a rise of 30 per cent on the year before." So maybe Slack means a passport issued every TWO minutes? But then again, 203,865 x 2 = 407,730, so it can't be that either.

Frankly, we are a total loss to understand what this idiot actually means by this bizarre attempt at rudimentary schoolboy calculation. Unless of course one tries to calculate the whole thing on the basis of a civil servant's 40 hour working week in a year with 4 weeks holiday allowance. In that case it comes out at 115,200 minutes in the passport office, which could equate to roughly 203,865 passports being issued (allowing for the odd lunch and tea break).

* Our old mate James Slack 'by name, slack by nature' again (he really could not have a more appropriate name).
** Interestingly, the online version's tag is 'Number of asylum seekers arriving in Britain falls by 30%', which is a very different take on the ONS figures, something that the article itself doesn't explain in as plain terms as that. Instead it allows you to do the maths for yourself - "In the year to June 2009, 146,000 British nationals emigrated and 87,000 came back to the UK. This meant that net emigration was 59,000, down from 89,000 in the year to June 2008 – and a peak of well over 100,000 in 2004. In the same time period, net immigration by non-British nationals was 206,000, down from 257,000 in the year to June 2008." Probably just as well really!


Five Chinese Crackers have also covered this story at greater length and they too share our contempt for Slack and his ilk.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

""We are weak and tired but we are still going to continue...

...because people need to know what is happening here."

The women in Yarl's Wood are well into the third week of their hunger strike and doctors have warned that the core of the women who have been refusing food for what is now 19 days now risk doing themselves long-term damage to their health. As many as 30 are still refusing food and taking only a little sugar water to stave off the dizzy spells they are all suffering.

At the beginning of this campaign, the mainstream media were all to a certain degree (usually based on the degree of 'sympathy' their editorial line would allow them to display), yet most seem to have dropped the story (with the honourable exception of the Guardian) following the UKBA briefing that the 4 'ring leaders' had been removed and the 'incident resolved' on Monday 8 February. This fiction was repeated in the House of Lords yesterday (see below).

However, the women inside and their supporters outside know this to be a lie and have tried to help maintain a public profile for the hunger strike as the mainstream media attention has waned. There have been demonstrations outside the Serco offices in Holburn, solidarity 'hunger strikes', an unannounced visit to Yarl's Wood itself last Sunday and another public meeting and picket organised for later this week.

More on the women's health conditions and a link to audio recording of the Guardian's Matthew Taylor talking to a former Yarl's Wood detainee describing the beatings and racist abuse he suffered at the hands of the detention centre staff. See also Yarl's Wood: a disgrace.


London NoBorders has called for a public meeting and demo this week in solidarity with the women at Yarl's Wood immigration prison on hunger strike since 5th February.

Thursday 25th, 7pm - PUBLIC MEETING on the hunger strike: infoshare and discussion on future solidarity and protest. At LARC, 62 Fieldgate Street, Whitechapel, E1 1ES.

Friday 26th, 2.30pm - DEMO outside Serco offices, 22 Hand Court, Holborn, WC1V 6JF. Serco run Yarl's Wood on behalf of the UK Border Agency. Please bring banners and instruments.

"Why I Am On Hunger Strike At Yarl's Wood"

Below we reprint the words off one of the Yarl's Wood hunger strikers, Denise McNeil, courtesy of the Guardian and post a short video transcription of a phone call with an unnamed hunger striker.

"I have been on hunger strike for more than a fortnight. I feel weak and get terrible headaches. A ­doctor says I should eat, but I am still refusing food. I can't sleep because I am woken every hour of the night when the light goes on and somebody here checks on me.

The women have been through terrible experiences – some are survivors of rape and torture – but we are treated like criminals. When we staged a protest two weeks ago, we were locked in a corridor, with no water or toilet facilities. After two hours, some women felt sick. One had an asthma attack and we begged the officers to let her out, but they refused. Since then, I have been detained in isolation.

I came to the UK from Jamaica in April 2000. My brother had been murdered by a gang, and my sister was going to be a witness at the trial – then she was killed too. I realised I would be murdered if I stayed, so I came to Britain. My son, then seven, joined me a few months later.

I didn't know that I could claim asylum. Instead, I started a computer course and applied for a student visa. This was refused. Around the same time, I started a relationship with a British man and we were married and had a son, so I applied for a marital visa. This was also refused.

I was brought to Yarl's Wood in March last year and told I would be deported. My other brother came to the UK in 2000, but he was ­deported to Jamaica within five years. Last month, he was murdered. I am still trying to ­convince the immigration officials that my life is in danger too. All I want is to live a safe, normal life with my children in Britain."

Video of a phone interview with one of the Yarl's Wood hunger strikers.

Ignorance Is Politically Expedient

The following question was asked by Lord Hylton in the House of Lords yesterday:

"To ask HM Government what assessment they have made of the cause of the recent hunger strike at Yarl's Wood Detention Centre; how many people were arrested; how many suffered injuries; and how many were locked down within the Centre."

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead) replied:

"A passive protest was undertaken by some of the residents of Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal Centre over the weekend of 6 to 7 February which was resolved on Monday 8 February. No arrests were made although four women were detained by Bedford Police under immigration administrative powers. The incident was resolved without any use of force. One woman sustained a minor cut to her finger for which medical treatment was given. In total, 47 women were involved in the disturbance, in three different parts of the centre. The incident is subject to a management review."

Clearly Alan West's* response was woefully inaccurate, either because he was badly briefed or because he was knowingly telling a series of porkies.

* An ex-First Sea Lord and hence probably not an expert on these things (as if a politician would ever use that as an excuse).

Monday, 22 February 2010

Protest At Yarl's Wood Yesterday

As part of a series of on-going protests in recent weeks in support of the women on hunger strike in Yarl's Wood and those singled out for punishment through transfer to prison there was a noisy demonstration at Yarl's Wood itself yesterday. The protesters caught both Serco and the police unawares and managed to get into the grounds of the immigration centre and made their presence known to the people detained inside.

Photographs of the action and a related article can be found at Indymedia. Other actions have included a series of protests outside the Serco offices in Holborn and a picket on 17 February with 60 people of HMP Holloway where the four women singled out by the authorities as 'ringleaders' are currently being held.


London NoBorders Press Release:
Successful Protest at Yarl's Wood today in solidarity with detainee hunger strikers

Sunday 21 February 2010
From: "London NoBorders"

Anti-detention campaigners today held a protest at Yarl's Wood immigration prison in Bedfordshire in solidarity with women detainees who have been on hunger strike since 5th February.
Activists from No Borders London, Campaign Against Immigration Controls and Feminist Fightback managed to get past the prison's security barriers and walk around the barbed-wire fence with banners, shouting solidarity slogans via loudspeakers and making noise with pots and whistles for well over an hour.
The protesters were repeatedly cheered by detainees inside, who waved their hands through half-open windows. Some also displayed hand-written placards summarizing their suffering and shouted 'freedom' and 'shame on Serco', the private security company that runs Yarl's Wood on behalf of the UK Border Agency.

During the demonstration, protesters spoke to some of the detainees on the phone. One woman, who has been on hunger strike for nine days, said detainees were being "punished" by being offered "disgusting food" that many are refusing to eat. She said they were being treated "very aggressively" by the security guards and not provided with any medical care. The woman, who is originally from Jamaica and has been in detention for eight months, added that detainees were being subjected to racist abuse. This morning, she said, she was called "a monkey" by one of the guards.

Another woman, who had just stopped her hunger strike as she "couldn't take it any more", described the "physical and psychological torture" that detainees suffered. Having spent several months in detention, the woman felt "devastated" being away from her 7-year-old son and British husband.

A third woman, who has been in the UK for 11 years, of which the last 6 months have been in Yarl's Wood, described the events of February 8th, when Serco security guards tried to break up the hunger strike by force. "We were locked out between 6:00 pm and 2:00 am," she said. "Some women who tried to climb out of the windows were beaten up really bad. I eventually fainted, as did many others. They're still treating us aggressively and offering us repugnant food, which many are refusing to eat."

The protesters also learned that one of the hunger strikers, who had been in isolation for the past 14 days, had just been 'removed' from Yarl's Wood, in what appears to be a strike-busting tactic by the prison management. She had apparently been dragged by five security guards, handcuffed and taken to Colnbrook immigration prison near Heathrow airport.

One of the demonstrators, who preferred to keep anonymous, said: "As if it weren't enough to lock up innocent people for such lengthy periods in such horrible conditions, thereby destroying their lives and families, those who dare to protest against their inhumane treatment are punished with even more brutality. Companies like Serco are not only allowed to profit from people's suffering, they also often get away with this kind of medieval and clearly unlawful acts. What will happen next? The Home Office will claim they take all allegations of mistreatment very seriously and promise another investigation that will never materialise."


For any further information, please contact
Photos available on request.

1. The mass hunger strike, which involved some 84 women at the start, was started on 5th February, sparked by detainees demanding that "the frustration and humiliation of all foreign nationals [in detention] ends now." More than two weeks on, at least 36 women are still on hunger strike, while others have stopped but are refusing to eat the food provided by the prison management. A list of the hunger strikers' demands can be found at

2. On 8th February, Serco security guards tried to break up the protest by force. Some 70 women were locked in a corridor for up to 8 hours without access to food, water, toilet or medical care. Many collapsed and about 20, who tried to climbed out of the windows, were beaten up and taken into isolation cells. Four of the women, singled out as 'ringleaders', were taken to Bedford police station and subsequently transferred to HMP Holloway and Bronzefield in London, without being charged with any offence or brought before a judge.

3. A number of protests in solidarity with the hunger strikers have taken place, including pickets of Serco's offices in Holborn, London, and one-day solidarity hunger strikes by students and campaigners. For more details, see

4. A similar mass hunger strike in Yarl's Wood in June last year was met
with violent assaults on detainees by Serco security guards. For more
details, see

Latest BWRAP Press Release On Yarl's Wood Protests

Message from Black Women's Rape Action Project

ACTION ALERT 21 February 2010

Over 22* women are still on hunger strike in Yarl’s Wood Removal Centre. Five are on suicide watch and one has been taken to health care after self-harming. At least eight women have been threatened with removal since the start of the hunger strike on 5 February. Four women were transferred to prison. Three women have managed to stop their removals and others are in the process of doing so with the help of supporters and lawyers. At least five women have been released. Some have been referred to lawyers because they suffered violence and racist abuse from guards or because their detention is illegal.

Women are demanding:
an independent investigation into reports that women were subjected to violence, mistreatment and racist abuse from guards, were “kettled” for over five hours in a hallway, denied access to toilets and water and locked out in the freezing cold;
a moratorium on all removals of women who took part in the hunger strike pending the results of the investigation.

You can help.

a) Write to Minister of State Phil Woolas MP or to condemn the detention of victims of rape and other torture, of mothers separated from their children and anyone who does not face imminent removal. Such detention flouts international conventions and UK immigration rules.

b) Write to women inside. Contact us if you can write to women who want to receive letters. Remember, the first people killed in the concentration camps were those that got no mail. Help ensure the guards and the government know that women are not forgotten.

c) Help find legal representation for women to lodge or appeal an asylum claim. Most women don’t have lawyers or their lawyers do nothing. Some demand extortionate fees. Most women’s cases are not “straightforward” so many lawyers won’t take them. Legal aid cuts have reduced the paid time that lawyers can spend on each case.

d) Money to pay for phone calls to keep in touch with lawyers and supporters. We are sending £10 in to a limited number of women to pay for phone costs.

Women report that the well-funded asylum organisations like Asylum Aid, the Refugee Council and Refugee and Migrant Justice, have offered little or no practical or financial help. Support has come from grassroots organisations such as ours.

The All African Women’s Group (AAWG) and Black Women’s Rape Action Project (BWRAP) need help. With Women Against Rape, we are now working flat out to try to stop women being removed. For two weeks we have been taking and returning calls to over 20 women a day (calling out from Yarl’s Wood is very expensive). We are regularly posting updates, and faxing legal and other information in to women. AAWG is unfunded and BWRAP operates on a shoestring budget. Any help to cover the costs of these expenses will be gratefully received.


Crossroads Women’s Centre

230a Kentish Town Rd

London NW5 2AB 

020 7482 2496 / 07980659831

All women have compelling cases to be released because they are: mothers separated from their children; survivors of rape and other torture, detained contrary to Home Office rules; not facing imminent removal.

- - - - -

Ms T was due to be sent back to Nigeria on Friday 19 Feb. She came to the UK over six years ago to escape the threat of rape and forced marriage. Bad legal representation meant that she never put in an asylum claim. She was picked up ? and detained. Once informed of her rights she tried to make a claim for asylum but this was ignored and she was taken to the airport. At our suggestion, she asked to see the Immigration Officer at the airport, made her claim, and her flight was stopped! She was returned to Yarl’s Wood in the early hours this morning. Her case is being fast tracked and we are helping her challenge this decision, so that she can be released and get the help she needs.

- - - - -

Ms C was due to be removed to Nigeria earlier this week after Refugee and
Migrant Justice (RMJ) refused to help her make an asylum claim. Their refusal letter made no reference to the violence and threats she faced and they failed to inform her of her right to a free lawyer from the Immigration Service. We gave her information on precedent cases, she put in her own claim for asylum and her flight was stopped! Her case is in the fast track – where decisions are made within days. We are helping ensure her lawyer challenges any decision by the Home Office to treat her claim as “manifestly unfounded” -- another way cases have been dismissed without proper consideration.

- - - - -

Ms D escaped from Jamaica with her child after her brother was killed in gang wars and her family received death threats to stop them reporting to the police. Ms D’s other brother was deported to Jamaica on 29 January and was murdered there. Like increasing numbers of vulnerable people fleeing violence, Ms D never claimed asylum in the UK. She feared that she would not be believed as Jamaica is considered a “safe” country and that she would be sent back. She was detained for 11 months having been convicted and imprisoned for “racially aggravated assault” after police were called to an argument in a shop. She tried to stop police taking her five year old son from her, was held down and accused of kicking a police man. One of the officers (all white) called her a 'Black bitch' to which Ms D responded 'white bastard'.

- - - - -

Once in Yarl’s Wood she went to the legal aid clinic and was refused help. She was due to be deported without her children in October but it was cancelled after BWRAP raised that it would contravene her “right to a family life”. Her 16 year old son is in the care of social services and her seven year old with a cousin. Ms D was assaulted by guards on 8 February, when women were “kettled” and abused. She has received no medical treatment for her injuries and is the only woman remaining in segregation, we believe, because of the visible bruising she has sustained. We have found her a lawyer to bring a civil action who is also pressing for her urgent release.

- - - - -

*Ms O was in Yarl’s Wood for five months and has now been sent to Holloway prison. She fled to the UK having suffered years of domestic violence from her uncle in Nigeria and the threat of Female Genital Mutilation. She was told by a woman who befriended her that she didn’t stand a chance of asylum.[1] In 2007, she was arrested and convicted of possessing criminal property because she had a few thousand pounds in her bank from the sale of her parent’s home. She was remanded in Holloway and eventually in desperation and believing that she would be released sooner, pleaded guilty. She was taken straight from prison to Yarl’s Wood. She reported to the health centre that she was a survivor of torture and showed them her scars, but no action was taken. (Women Against Rape helped a woman win £38,000 compensation for similar treatment.) A solicitor demanded £4000 to represent her. Her barrister used the wrong name in court, didn’t present all the evidence in her case and she was refused. During the hunger strike, she was told by Yarl’s Wood staff that "You are from the jungle” and she should “go back”.

- - - - -

[1] Home Office Operational Guidance Notes on Nigeria accept that FGM is widely practised in Nigeria, that women are unlikely to get state protection but say that it would be safe for a woman to relocate to another area. Asylum claims should therefore be “certified as clearly unfounded”.

* Another version of the press release from NCADC states that there are "over 36 women".

Friday, 19 February 2010

Latest Calais Migrant Solidarity Callout Concerning The Kronstadt Hanger


Yesterday, activists from SOS Soutien O Sans Papier and the No Borders network were once again evicted from the Kronstadt hangar in Calais which they are legally renting. Despite having informed the police that morning that the space was only open between 10-6pm, and with no migrants present in the hangar, the street was cordoned off by riot police at around 6.30pm.

The police were told by the five inhabitants that no-one else was in the building and that they were welcome to come and look inside to verify this. The offer was refused and without stating their reasons or providing any official documents, the CRS began to try to smash down the door. The inhabitants quickly opened the door before the CRS burst in to search the space and take everyone present to the police station.

No concrete reason has been provided as to why they were taken and not allowed to return. A police van is still blocking the entrance to the hangar.

The authorities claim that the building is not adapted to welcome the public. This is simply a pretext used to suppress any opposition to Franco-British border and immigration policies which have resulted in migrants being forced to live in woods and wastelands, and to wander the streets of French towns and cities. Are the streets more adapted to welcome public ?

We demand access to the space we are legally renting.

This hangar is not humanitarian shelter, but a space of exchange, discussions and political opposition. We want to struggle against a situation of human suffering provoked by the closure of borders, not just in Calais but all around the European Schengen space. It is not us but the state and the racist, repressive immigration regime that should challenged.

We demand freedom of movement and equal migration rights for all, and that every human, as we do, should be able to choose their destination.

We demand that the local and national authorities stop pretending that the situation of people being forced to leave their countries can ever be resolved through the closure of borders. It is the economic policies and wars of rich countries which are the principal reasons forcing people to leave.

We oppose a world where tourism is never seen as a problem and where people who are forced to migrate are criminalised.

We call for a gathering in front of the sub-prefecture in Calais at 2.30pm tomorrow, Friday 19th February.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Fantasy Island - Courtesy Of The Daily Express

Once again Peter Allen, well known right wing hack journalist, has had another vituperative piece of fantasy on the situation in Calais published, this time in the Express. 'Now Migrants Get A 'VIP Club'' blurts the headline of this totally bizarre article. So twisted is it, cobbled together as it obviously is from No Borders press releases, French press articles and the deranged fantasies of a pair of reactionary fruit-loops, it would be laughable if it wasn't getting lapped up by so many people who get further than looking at the pictures or reading the ports pages in their copy of the Express.

We can just imagine Allen whipping himself up into a frenzy of indignation as he pens the piece, flecks of foam and whiskey-scented spittle staining his laptop as he busily pulls 'facts' and 'quotes' from the ether prior to hawking his missives around likely outlets in the British yellow press.

Here's a taste of his own very special brand of mendacious stupidity:

"UK-bound migrants were yesterday massing in their own comfy members-only club in Calais before making their bid for Britain, the Daily Express can reveal." - "The Daily Express can reveal", as though this is some sort of journalist coup. "Comfy members-only club" makes it sound like the Athenaeum or something. It a freezing cold industrial hanger with concrete floors and a couple of thin walled bottom of the line Wendy house-style tents with small electric heaters inside to make it seem at least partially comfortable if one chooses to sit down on one of the rickety chairs.

"French charities have helped to create a virtual “departure lounge” for illegal immigrants heading across the Channel, offering them rest and recreation before they complete the final leg of their journeys." That word charities again. He just can't get his limited imagination round the idea that people are doing this because they are committed politically not because they merely feel sorry for the migrants or something.

"Our investigators gained access to the illegal “Sangatte II” centre and exclusive photographs show it bears a closer resemblance to a holiday camp than a shelter for the homeless." He just loves that Sangatte II label (after all he more or less invented it and clearly need to keep using it). "Our investigators gained access"...Oh no they didn't, but to some it could more resemble "a holiday camp than a shelter for the homeless" in that there are a couple of the sort of large white gazebos (our Wendy houses) that you see pitched on a summer lawn. Except they are along one wall of the cold, dark hanger and possibly it resembles a holiday camp in East Germany in the 1950's. It certainly doesn't have the beds that Allen fantasised about in a previous article on the Kronstadt Hanger.

And where are these "exclusive photographs" that are supposed to show all this then? Certainly not in the article. The one used in the article is taken at the old feeding station that hasn't been in use since before last summer. The plain fact is that the press are allowed in the hanger by invite only and nobody from the Express or any other newspaper would be allowed to take photographs while the hanger was in use.

"One observer said: “They are being treated like VIPs.”" So that wouldn't be one of your investigators then that supposedly made it inside. And which VIPs would that be Peter? Certainly not any on this planet.

"The converted warehouse, just a short walk from the town’s port, offers migrants a range of amenities, from relaxation rooms with a piano, a cinema and sports hall for indoor games like table tennis and football to even a makeshift disco for dancing." Fucking hell, you make it sound like the Ritz Pete. It's a hanger. It has not been converted into anything. There is one small office built onto the back wall of the hanger, just like in any old garage or small warehouse building, with enough room for a desk and a filing cabinet. Where do the "relaxation rooms...cinema and sports hall" come into it? Again, you have must have been inside a completely different building. Or maybe you are just plainly lying? We know which it is Pete and you can sue us if you like.

"The centre – which bears a huge “Welcome To All” banner – was officially closed down 12 days ago by riot police after Calais authorities deemed it unfit for public use." No, it did have a welcome banner outside on the day it opened but not now (see photo below taken yesterday). And we all know that the "unfit for public use" excuse is just that, an excuse.

"And last night the CRS riot squads returned – forcing the migrants and activists out using batons and shields. But it is expected they will just move back in." Again, this is just not true. The migrants had already left when the cops decided to force their way into the building. They were already outside at 6pm but did nothing to harass the migrants, as they would normally do given such an opportunity because of the presence of No Borders activists who accompanied the migrants to the evening meal for exactly the reason of preventing such harassment.

"The charities SOS and the No Borders Network got round prohibition by opening it as a private space for members, declaring: “All migrants and activists inside the hangar have official membership.”" Which is where they got the idea of a 'members club' (transformed into a 'VIP club' for effect of course).

"The organisers have also painted the text from Article 1 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights on a sign warning that any attempt to close it down could face a challenge in the courts." , and the sign is in fact there, proving only that they read yesterday's press release! But it gives an 'in' for the usual reactionary rant about 'uman rites', this time by some UKIP nutter and some 'rent-a-quote' from the TaxAvoidance Alliance.

And to finish off this heap of steaming odour, our two intrepid avoiders of the truth (whatever that is) fabricate a number of quotes from a mythical "spokesman for Calais Migrant Solidarity":

"A spokesman for Calais Migrant Solidarity, which No Border activists have formed when taking part in action at the French port, said the hangar is open for migrants from 10am to 6pm."

"“The mayor of Calais ordered the eviction of the hangar on the grounds that it was not fit for public use, so the Kronstad Hangar is now open as a private space for members of SOS,” he said. “All migrants and activists inside the hangar have official membership.”"

"“The hangar is not just a humanitarian space but also a space for political discussion and debate, as well as various cultural and entertainment exchanges.”"

Now compare the last 3 paragraphs with first 3 paragraphs of yesterday's press release below (even down to repeating the misspelling of Kronstadt). Typical of the Express and Peter Allen to get things arse about face yet again.

*No doubt he has had to bow to pressure of history and adopt some modern technology to function in his job, after all, carrier pigeons are not a reliable method of getting his copy from his perch in Paris to London.

Kronstadt Hanger Reopens & Is Raided Yet Again

Once again the Calais authorities have intervened at the Kronstadt Hanger. Yesterday the hanger reopened after activists had repaired the damage inflicted by French riot police when they stormed the building on Sunday 7 February. After the doors were opened at 10am, between 30 and 50 migrants used the building, filling it up as LibeLille* put it "with conversations and music: Kurdish dances, a cinema area, with the projection of Albert Lamorisse's film The Red Balloon, and under a garden tent (see photo) a group sat around a heater. There was tea and coffee, English, French, German and Finnish No Border campaigners, and fifty migrants, mainly Kurds and Iranians."

At 6pm the migrants all left as agreed to go and attend the evening food distribution, leaving 5 activists behind in the shut hanger. The police then decided to pay an uninvited visit. Of course they didn't knock on the door and wait to be invited in, instead they forced their way in again and arrested those present and took them away for the usual ID checks at the local police station, whilst other searched the hanger yet again, confiscating who knows what this time? Apparently they will be allowed back in one by one to retrieve their personal belongings.

No official documents, such as a search warrant or arrest warrants, were again shown and we are again left to wonder on what legal basic they are closing the hanger down this time. Of course, we all understand what the violence and aggression on behalf of the authorities is all for. After all No Borders activists in Calais have witnessed it being meted out to the migrants for what is now two decades. It is a war of attrition. Brutalise them enough and they just might go away. Except that the migrants are there largely out of necessity and we No Borders activists are there out of principal, unlike the mercenaries in CRS uniforms and the self-serving politicians and bureaucrats.

* The Lille version of Liberation. See also: No Border, le retour du hanger.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

More Criticism Of Child Detention

"My contention remains that detention is harmful to children and therefore never likely to be in their best interests, and we continue to argue that the detention of children for immigration control should cease." - Al Aynsley-Green.

Once again the Children's Commissioner for England, Al Aynsley-Green, has criticised the government's policy of detaining children at Yarl's Wood immigration prison and yet again the UK Borders Agency has come out with the usual homilies about each case being "considered carefully on its own merits" and that "the presumption in all cases continues to be in favour of granting temporary admission or release wherever possible", garlanded with the usual untruths about "people who are in detention are there because both the UK Border Agency and the independent courts deem them to have no legal right to be here". (NB: The press release does not say ALL people or THE ONLY people.)

The report* is a follow up to last year's 'The Arrest and Detention of Children Subject to Immigration Control', published in May 2009, which was highly critical of the Yarl's Wood regime and of the detention of children involved in the immigration system in general. The follow up was conducted in October last year based on 2 visits; one consisting of face-to-face interviews with detained adult family members, and held participation sessions with school aged children, and the second involving independent health and social care professionals studying a sample of detained children's medical records and welfare files.

Whilst the latest report did not dispute the UKBA's figures that, of the 1,000 plus children detained every year, the average length of detention is about two weeks. However, many children are obviously held much longer and in one case the study found a family was held for 70 days. As the report states "Article 37(b) of the UNCRC [UN Convention on the Rights of the Child] requires that detention is used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time ... Our evidence that some children are admitted to Yarl’s Wood for prolonged periods, and sometimes repeatedly, challenges this intent."

On the health front, the first report was also highly critical of health provision, and the follow up also found a failure to assess "even at an elementary level" the general psychological well-being of a child on arrival and a failure to recognise psychological harm when faced with dramatic changes in a child's behaviour. Medical records also revealed "the case of a three-year-old child with a fractured arm was symptomatic of a failure to provide a standard of NHS care that any British citizen could expect. The child had been examined by a nurse hours after a fall, but was not seen by a doctor until 15 hours later and, five hours after that, was taken to hospital."

The children's sessions found that the majority (62.5%) disagreed with the statement that the arresting staff were ‘friendly and helpful’. In fact, the report noted how many children "commented on the loud or violent way in which homes were entered, rude behaviour or treatment by officers, and the shadowing of children using the bathroom and toilet." Children also complained about being physically escorted from their homes, thereby making them feel and look like criminals.

Stung by the publicity the criticism garnered, Dave Wood, head of criminality and detention at the UKBA, later elaborated on the relatively bland UKBA press release, that the report contained "factual inaccuracies" and that in some areas, it was "misguided and wrong." He also tried to push the blame for the situation onto the parents of the children, claiming that the majority of cases of prolonged detention were the fault of the parents making “vexatious” legal claims and using judicial review to delay their deportation.

On the positive side, the report did commend the end to the use of ‘caged vans’ to transport children as per the previous report's recommendation. However, it also noted that there now appeared to have been a "coincident increase in the use of separate vehicles to transport children and parents at the point of arrest", and went on to argue that "separating young children from their parents – even for a short time during transportation - is potentially extremely damaging and should only be used in the most extreme circumstances."

* Link to the Follow Up Report and the Executive Summary.

"We stand by our contention that arrest and detention are inherently damaging to children, and that Yarl’s Wood is no place for a child."

Movement Issue #4 Now Available

Issue number 4 of the UK No Borders network newsletter 'Movement' is now available for download [right click on image and Save].

Alternatively, why not join the mailing list for 'Movement' by emailing:

You can also find all the back issues and extensive links here:

Migrant Hangar Reopened In Calais


At 10am today, the No Borders network (1) officially reopened the Kronstadt Hangar (2) in Calais to the migrant population. This follows the first public opening on Saturday 6th February, and the subsequent violent police eviction the following day (3).

The major of Calais ordered the eviction of the Hangar on alleged grounds that the hangar was not fit for public use, so the Kronstadt Hangar is now open as a private space for members of SoS Soutien o Sans Papiers only. All migrants and activists inside the hangar have official membership.

The hangar is presently open to migrants from 10:00 until 18:00. The hangar is not just a humanitarian space but also a space for political discussion and debate, as well as various cultural and entertainment exchanges.

Marie Chautempts says "while the authorities are blocking any shelter proposals, migrants in Calais are facing one of the coldest winters in recent history and a constant ritual of police harassment. The situation is degrading and goes against any common understanding of decent behaviour towards other human beings. Something has to be done, so we are fighting to creating to a space for migrants to come and engage in activities at their leisure."

It is to be noted that at the time of writing the circumstances regarding another police intervention are unknown. However, on the new front door of the hangar Article 1 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights (4) has been painted. Any violent police intervention into the hangar is regarded as contrary to human rights law.

Tim Wallace says "another violent eviction will not deter us, we will not stand by and watch human beings being treated as animals. 8 years of violence and migrants are still in Calais because there is no recognition of the reasons behind migration from places such as Afghanistan, Darfur and Iran."

Calais Migrants Solidarity.


Notes to editors

(1) The No Borders network is a global movement of individuals and groups fighting for the right to freedom of movement for people, not just for the Lorries that make sections of European society rich. Since the No Border Camp held in Calais in June 2009, No Borders activists have had a constant presence in Calais under the banner of Calais Migrant Solidarity. We have monitored and documented police abuse and violent, collectively resisted evictions, organised humanitarian aid distribution, and made direct interventions for the rights of migrants.

(2) As a continued act of resistance and solidarity with undocumented migrants in Calais No Borders have rented the Kronstadt Hangar for the months of February and March, together with SoS Soutients O Sans Papiers. The Hangar is in between the port and the centre of Calais.

(3) On Saturday evening, about 100 migrants came to the warehouse with the intention of entering. They were met by two separate lines of French police on either side of the hangar. Shouting “freedom! freedom!”, the migrants and No Borders activists pushed through the police lines and successfully occupied the hangar. Donations of blankets, extra-clothes, basic mattresses and hot tea were provided for the migrants.

However, after a safe and secure night, 75 CRS police arrived on Sunday afternoon and forcibly evicted the new space by smashing down the front glass doors. 12 activists were arrested, but later released, while one was taken to hospital.

(4) Article 1 reads:"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood."

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Demo In Solidarity With Yarl's Wood Hunger Strikers

Wednesday 17th February 6.30pm-7.30pm, outside Holloway Prison, Parkhurst Road, London N7 0NU.

On Thursday 4th February 84 women started a hunger strike in Yarl's Wood Immigration Detention Centre near Bedford, demanding their release.

On Monday 8th February the hunger strikers were locked up by the centre's guards for 8 hours, without access to water or toilet facilities. Four women were picked out as "ringleaders" and were taken to various prisons. All are now incarcerated in HMP Holloway.

We are calling for the immediate release of the "Yarl's Wood 4" and all the other women still on hunger strike in the centre.

Please come and demonstrate outside HMP Holloway this Wednesday between 6.30-7.30pm. Bring banners and instruments.


Report On Friday's Demonstration...

...outside Serco's offices in London can be seen at: Report.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Women In Yarl’s Wood Vow To Stay On Hunger Strike...

...Until They Are Released

Statement From: Black Women’s Rape Action Project

We have spoken to over 50 women in the last few days and they all have a compelling case to be released: their continued detention is either inhumane or contravenes Home Office rules. Some have been referred to lawyers because their detention is illegal.[1]

STOP PRESS: we just heard that one woman has been released but three others faced removal. 50 still on hunger strike

Most women are:
SURVIVORS OF RAPE AND OTHER TORTURE.[2] Operations Enforcement Manual rules say they should only be detained “under very exceptional circumstances.”

MOTHERS SEPARATED FROM THEIR CHILDREN. The impact of detention on children is finally widely condemned. But what about the impact of separation on children left with social services or other family members when their mothers are detained? Some families face permanent separation if women are deported. Mothers speak constantly of their anguish at not being able to care for their children who suffer depression, bed wetting and feel at risk of harm.

NOT FACING IMMINENT REMOVAL. According to the Home Office people should only be detained when: their removal is imminent; there is a risk of them absconding; other alternatives have been considered; and the person has no particular health needs or vulnerabilities. Yet many of the women on hunger strike have been detained for months, some for up to two years and no independent assessment of their circumstances has been done.[3]

CRIMINALISED FOR TRYING TO SURVIVE. What is not generally known is that many women are in detention having been convicted of “crimes” of destitution or for travelling on false papers (unavoidable when you are fleeing persecution). They are convicted, imprisoned and then transferred straight to detention pending removal. Many have lived and raised families in the UK for years.

Lord Justice Sedley, a Court of Appeal judge, commented that the rule telling judges to dismiss asylum-seekers who have fled their home country using a false passport is a “serious invasion of judicial independence”.[4]

Hunger strikers are from a wide range of countries including: China, Cote D’Ivoire, Eritrea
Ghana, Guinea, Jamaica, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Qatar, Romani, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Trinidad and Tobago, Vietnam, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Many women report suffering violence from guards. Some were left outside in snow storms on Monday wearing only light clothes. A recent report upheld 97% of complaints against UK Border staff.[5]

The All African Women’s Group, a self-help group of women asylum seekers, some of whose members are in detention, are part of a daily rota taking calls from hunger strikers.

Women on hunger strike include:

Ms O, who has now been taken to Holloway prison. She fled to the UK having suffered years of domestic violence from her uncle in Nigeria and was then threatened with Female Genital Mutilation. She was told by a woman who befriended her that she didn’t stand a chance of asylum.[6] In 2007, she was arrested and convicted of possessing criminal property as she had a little money in her bank account because her parents’ home had been sold. She was remanded in Holloway and eventually in desperation and believing that she would be released sooner, pleaded guilty. She was taken straight from prison to Yarl’s Wood. She reported to the Yarl’s Wood health centre that she was a survivor of torture and showed them her scars. But she remained in detention. (Women Against Rape helped another woman win £38, 000 in similar circumstances.) A lawyer demanded £4000 to represent her. Her barrister used the wrong name in court, didn’t present all the evidence in her case and she was refused. During the hunger strike, she was told by Yarl’s Wood staff that “You are from the jungle” and she should “go back”.

Ms D, a Black woman and a mother of two, has been detained for 11 months. She was convicted of “racially aggravated assault” after police were called to an argument in a shop. She tried to stop police taking her youngest son from her, was held down and accused of kicking a policeman. One of the police officers (all white) called her a ‘black bitch’ to which Ms D responded ‘white bastard’. This led to a conviction for possession of drugs. She was imprisoned and then taken to Yarl’s Wood. Her 16 year old son is in the care of social services and her seven year old with a cousin. Ms D was assaulted by a guard on Monday and suffered bruising to her head. She is being held in segregation because she has visible bruises and she has had no medical treatment for her injuries.

Ms N, a lesbian woman and a single mum with two children, has been in the UK for 12 years. She fled to the UK from Jamaica after she witnessed a murder, was falsely accused of being a “police informer” and beaten and stabbed. She had no idea that she could claim asylum in the UK. For years she was unable to speak about the rape she suffered from her stepfather as a child. She eventually disclosed it to Women Against Rape describing how when she told her real father about the abuse, her stepfather killed her mum. She won asylum in late October but the Home Office appealed and has been kept in detention since. Her son has been attacked by a gang and threatened with guns while she’s been inside.

Ms W has been in Yarl’s Wood for eight months and is on the seventh day of her hunger strike. She has lived in the UK for 10 years and her daughter is British. She was convicted and imprisoned for 10 months for possession of drugs after she was forced to carry a package by men who threatened to kill her and her daughter. She could never speak about the threats as the men told her that they knew where her daughter was and would kill her if she talked. Ms W has not seen her seven year old daughter for 1 ½ years. Her daughter cries constantly on the phone. Relatives say that she sometimes starts packing her bags to “go and see mummy”.

Ms S has been in Yarl’s Wood for eight months. Ms S is from Jamaica. Her mother left for the UK when she was six and she didn’t join her mother until she was 12. She was traumatised by the separation. In her teenage years, she started using drugs and at 19 was arrested for intent to supply. She was threatened by a gang that if she gave information to the police she would be killed so, fearing for her life, she went on the run. After 15 months she was caught and got a heavier sentence because she had broken bail. She now faces deportation to Jamaica where she has not been since a child. Other women say she has been transferred to prison but we can’t get hold of her.

Ms M fled rape and other torture in Gambia. She tried to get help from the legal aid clinic in Yarl’s Wood but they didn’t get back to her for four months. She is on five different medications but still joined the hunger strike.

Women are available for interview: 07980659831
More information about the conditions in Yarl’s Wood reported by women recently released who spoke at the House of Commons 14 January 2010.

Black Women’s Rape Action Project
Crossroads Women’s Centre
230a Kentish Town Rd
London NW5 2AB 020 7482 2496
12 February 2010

[1] Minister ‘admits paying millions to detained migrants’ Thursday, 11 February 2010
[2] 70% of women in Yarl’s Wood are survivors of rape and other torture. “Bleak House in Our Times: An investigation into women’s rights violations.” Legal Action for Women, June 2006
[3] Council of Europe report: “The detention of asylum seekers and irregular migrants in Europe” (January 2010) provides 10 guiding principles governing detention including that “detention shall be ordered only for the specific purpose of preventing an unauthorised entry or with a view to deportation or extradition; vulnerable people should not, as a rule, be placed in detention.
[4] “Asylum-seekers put at risk by law, warns top judge.” The Independent, Wednesday, 2 July 2008
[5] ‘Fast and fair?’ A report by the Parliamentary Ombudsman on the UK Border Agency Fourth report Session 2009/2010 found 478 complaints made against the UKBA since last June. 97% of those investigated were upheld.
[6] Home Office Operational Guidance Notes on Nigeria accept that FGM is widely practiced in Nigeria, that women are unlikely to get state protection but say that it would be safe for a woman to relocate to another area. Asylum claims should therefore be “certified as clearly unfounded”.

Mojirola Daniels Speaks Out: The Testimony Of A Yarl's Wood Hunger Striker

I am one of the ladies on hunger strike at Yarl’s wood centre. On Monday 8th February 2010 around 11 45am GMT time, some group of women stood at the centre of a hall in the center. We were protesting about the condition at the centre and the length of time we spend in here. An officer approached the group and informed us that an immigration official would like to see us all to discuss the issues that we have raised.

The officer told us to follow him down the corridor to the immigration office. We proceed down to the end of the corridor. When we got to the very end, the officer asked that we should go inside the office 4 ladies at a time. They allowed 4 women to enter and told us that they will let 4 more in when those 4 inside gets out. One of the manager of the centre ( a lady manager called Viv Moore) came from the long corridor and asked us if we wanted to go back to our rooms. We told her that we were waiting to see the immigration. She said we are just wasting our time and that nothing is going to be achieved from our protest. She then asked the officers in the room to come with her and as soon as they got to the door, the last officer locked the door on us. They all stayed outside watching us through the door window.

We were singing and chanting for about one and a half hour since we have been looked up, some ladies went to the door and asked to go to the toilet. The officers including the manager Viv Moore told us that we are not allowed to leave where we are. Some of the ladies started getting sick and collapsing on the floor. There was one asthma lady, one sickle cell lady and two others who were choking on the floor. We were all hyper-ventilating and sweating. There was no door or windows open and we were all complaining of lack of air. Around 2.00pm, Some Chinese girls asked the officers to go to the toilet and they were told no one is allowed to get out. The Chinese bend down at the corner and pee on the floor. Few minutes later others copied them and wee on the ground. the officers were all watching and still refused to open the door. Some people decided to call the emergency service for the ladies having breathing difficulty. The police and ambulance were asked for and they called us back to tell us they are outside of the center but are not allowed entry.

About an hour after the police called us back, some ladies realised that the window was only closed not locked. They opened the window and got out into the compound. Other ladies went through the window and joined them. More were trying to get out through the window but the officers had seen what was happening and had gone round the compound to meet them. They were carrying police guard shield and wearing heavy jacket. They crushed the ladies who were trying to get out with the guard shied and pushed them to the ground. Some women were crushed to the ground and beaten up. Two ladies were physically injured and were bleeding. The windows were protected with the guard shield and the officers holding on to the guard shield. We were all hysterical and upset and were begging the officers not to hurt the women outside. The officers laughed at us as more officers joined them and formed a line to force the women outside in one small corner.

Some women needed to change their sanitary towel cause they were on their period but they had to throw bloodied towel next to where we were standing. We were all exhausted and demoralized by 5.00pm and we had no choice but to sit on the soiled floor. There was no chair or anything to lean on. There was an helicopter hovering above outside by this time but the women outside were not allowed to move from where they are being crushed. Some officers came outside to offer the officers chips and hot drinks. They were replaced by new officers every hour. No officer stayed guard for more than one hour. Every next hour, new sets of officers comes to replace them from their position. The women locked up and the 19 women outside were not offered any food or drink.There was no heat in the small place where we were locked and we all suffered from hypothermia. The ladies outside had to stand in the cold snow without sock and jacket and the officers will not allow them to have jacket. We tried to get them jackets and jumpers through the windows and the officers smashed the window on one of the ladies fingers.Her middle finger was damaged and her fingernail came off. There was blood everywhere and the officers still refused her medical treatment. We were not moved from where we have been detained until 7.30pm.

We were told to come out in pairs and were searched with around a dozen officers watching us. We were offered food and medication after the search and then led to our wings. We were about 70 which consist many Nigerians, Chinese, Jamaicans, Zimbabweans and some nationals that I do not remember. I have been traumatised and victimised because of this experience. I can never believe this can happen in the UK and I am still in shock.

Please publish and pass this story to who ever is interested.

You can use the personal information that I supply below

Mojirola Daniels
Aged 45
Came to UK- December 1987.
3 British children

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Phone Blockade In Support Of Yarl's Wood Hunger Strikers

London Detainee Solidarity Network are calling for people to ring Serco Offender Management and the centre manager of Yarl's Wood tomorrow, Friday 12th February, from 10am-midday to express support for the hunger strikes and disgust at their treatment by Serco's guards.

Serco Home Affairs Office - 01344 386300
Yarl's Wood Duty Manager - 01234 821517

There will be a demonstration outside Serco's offices in central London (22 Hand Court, Holborn, WC1V 6JF) at 2.30pm tomorrow. Please bring banners and instruments.

Yarl's Wood Hunger Strike Update & Protests

Whilst the picture coming out of Yarl's Wood is confused, with the UK Borders Agency claiming the hunger strike has ended, some of the women are still in contact with the outside world via mobile phones and they claim that they are still refusing food. Even the local paper claims that the protests are still happening (though it's hardly "the full story").

What is for definite is that in reprisal for the protests four women were removed from the detention centre on Monday night and spent the night in the cells at Bedford police station. They were not arrested and have been charged with no offence. However, they were taken to Colnbrook STHC the following day and feared they were going to be summarily deported.

Yesterday morning at 01:15 they were woken up and told they were being transferred to prison. When they asked why, they were told it was because the detention estate had no free spaces, a blatant lie. They are believed to have been split up, with 2 taken to HMP Holloway and 2 2 to HMP Bronzefield. The latest news on the hunger strike is that it is still ongoing, with more women joining it (68 on hunger strike at the last count).

The hunger strike is garnering widespread media coverage and has reinvigorated the Campaign to Shut Down Yarl's Wood itself and the general campaign against the detention of children in immigration prisons. Yesterday, the SOAS Detainee Support group, who are in regular contact with the Yarl's Wood women, held a demonstration outside the Serco offices in Holborn.* A handful of MPs were even stirred out of their normal lethargic state and held a debate on the issue.

* Their posts on Indymedia and London Indymedia have updates of the information they have received from the hunger strikers.

Protest In Support Of The Yarl's Wood Hunger Strikers

London Detainee Solidarity Network have called for a demo this Friday at 2.30pm in support of the Yarl's Wood hunger strikers.

The demo will take place at Serco's offices (Serco manage Yarl's Wood on behalf of UKBA) at 18-22 Hand Court (off High Holborn), London, WC1V 6JF. [Map]

Please bring banners and instruments.

Kronstadt Hanger Reopens In Calais

Yesterday, despite the effort of the local authorities and the lies spread about the aims and activities of No Borders and SoS Soutien aux Sans Papiers by Besson and Bouchart [1], local Calais activists [2] reopened the Krondstadt Hanger and held a press conference there outlining our response to the authorities' actions. These potentially include suing both Besson and Bouchart for defamation and taking legal action against the closure of the legally acquired space, something that was so blatantly a political act dressed up as a health and safety issue..

Unfortunately, No Borders still do not know the full reasons cited in the administrative order closing the hanger as the Calais Council have not seen fit to issue SoS Soutien aux Sans Papiers (who officially rent the building) with the order. However, the deputy mayor in charge of the safety committee, Philippe Mignonette, said in a TV interview that gas heaters were being used in the building and that "were cylinders badly closed". The problem is that the only gas cylinders were already there and that only small electric heaters and hot plates to heat soup were being operated. There was no gas heaters or any other gas appliances on the premises.

So, as of 3pm yesterday, the Kronstadt Hanger is open and fulfilling the role it was originally meant for, not the one that Besson fantasised it to be.

[1] Besson labelled No Borders activists as members of the "violent extreme left"and Mafia, saying "will not allow the reconstruction of a place which serves as a base camp to Mafia networks of clandestine immigration near the port of Calais."
[2] Bouchart claimed No Borders were outsiders walking over the feet and bellies of Calaisiens ("sur les pieds et le ventre des Calaisiens")!




The C'SUR collective offers its support to the No border volunteers that are in Calais and is indignant about the remarks made by the government and the mayor against them. They are neither violent nor terrorists but activists that fight for the respect of fundamental human rights.

In this sense the no border volunteers in Calais fight like the other associations for the respect and the dignity of the migrants. When Sangatte closed, we also invaded public places and parish rooms to accommodate the migrants whilst those who had applauded the closure of Sangatte were not interested in their fate.

When the laws do not respect man we go beyond them to live the law of universal fraternity.

For several months the volunteers of no border have supported the actions of the humanitarian associations on the ground. We thank them for this.

The hangar project is interesting: it was not destined to become a place for accommodation but was to be a place of welcome for diverse activities for the migrants and also a friendly place for exchange and meeting of volunteers, inhabitants [of Calais] and migrants (exhibitions, conferences, debates and concerts were planned)

We regret certain words of the authorities that are dangerous because they stir up hatred between Calaisiens and migrants. The population denounce the omnipresence of police in Calais. Many Calaisiens show solidarity with the migrants and volunteers who help them (at the last count 483 Calaisiens had signed a petition of support).

The dignity afforded by the better sleeping conditions of the BCMO: boxes on a cold and damp floor, is that enough ??? Proper toilets!

We invite all the associations to show solidarity and the leaders to mobilise more strongly on another project than the repression of Mr Besson.

10 FEBRUARY 2010


For all contacts: JP Boutoille spokesperson of the collective 0624758082

Monday, 8 February 2010

What Really Happened Chez Les Flics Aux Hanger Kronstadt

Since the news of the impending opening of the Kronstadt Hanger, a self-organised resource centre for activists and migrants alike, the police had closely monitored the building and effective mounted a blockade of it since last Friday. On Saturday, people managed to circumvent the 3 police lines blocking access to the front door (they did not force their way in as Besson has claimed). Their numbers were swollen with migrants who were once again shelter-less following the closure after 2 days of the cold weather shelter at the BCMO. What had been organised, as the Nord Littoral accurately put it was "an afternoon and evening discussions to inform and debate with neighbours on the use of Kronstadt Street Hangar."

The police then reinforced their lines and told the occupants that they would be allowed to leave but that no one would be allowed to enter the hanger, thus turning it into a siege. Migrants were allowed to leave to go for their lunch on Sunday but when they tried to return, together with a number of activists who had been trapped outside the building all day, they were brutally assulted by CRS officers in riot gear. All this time journalists were kept away from the building despite requests to enter.

The police then parked 2 large trucks in front of the building, effectively screening the entrance from the surrounding streets. The waiting press, including TV cameramen, were violently pushed back by the CRS (a senior officer was heard to cry out "Pas de violences médiatiques!"*) as they formed a cordon around the front of the building and arrested activists outside the hanger. The migrants inside, fearing for their safety, then left in small groups with the No Borders activists barricaded inside.

70 police then proceeded to smash their way into the building through the glass doors when only a dozen or so No Borders activists, well below the fire safety limit which is one of the excuses the authorities have been putting forward as a reason for closing the hanger down, were left inside. One volunteer had her nose broken and activists were bullied before being arrested and taken away for identity checks. The police then set about smashing much of the donated materials inside, including a long wooden counter. Many items were removed (stolen) and the large metal shutter on the front of the building has since been securely fastened to prevent further entry.

Our response is to take the authorities to the courts to secure our legal right to use the building. Besson and Bouchart have framed their reasons for closing the hanger down almsot exclusively in political terms:

"[The state] will not allow the reconstruction of a place which serves as a base camp to mafia networks of clandestine immigration near the port of Calais". - Besson

"(There will be) neither a new Sangatte, nor a new jungle" - the Secretary of State for the Family Nadine Morano. "We will not let anyone stay in the woods or in hangars ... the doctrine of the government is clear: we want a humane immigration, respectful whilst, at the same time, fighting against the networks of clandestine immigration."

Bouchart (the mayor of Calais) claimed that they had been tricked and spoke of "provocation" by the network No Border (sic). "The plan grand froid was activated for a day and a half and, as agreed with the associations, the room [BCMO] was closed. It had been agreed by all" (i.e. all that accept the mayor's paltry 'aid' and who refuse to criticise her in any fashion) that the room could not longer be "occupied at night."

"(We will not) allow zealots to manipulate us and risk triggering an extreme response." - Bouchart. So No Borders manipulated you into ordering the extreme (violent) response by the CRS?

Whilst rationalising it as a 'heath and safety issue':

"The police forces and the state have guaranteed me that they have set up an operation to prevent the migrants from entering the private place." - Bouchart

The occupation of this hangar which is "unsuitable to accommodate people" is "unacceptable", concluded the minister, who has "started to consider actions which will bring an end" to this situation. - Besson

Why is it that the French media can paint an at least somewhat accurate picture of the goings on but the UK media needless to say consistently get most of the details wrong?** "French riot police forcibly evicted 100 Britain-bound migrants last night from a building dubbed ‘Sangatte II’." - Metro. "Riot police clashed with UK bound migrants yesterday during a mass eviction of a charity welcome centre in Calais." - Daily Mail.

* "Don't injure the media" - the No Borders activists anfd the migrants are 'fair game', but not the press.
** Of course this is a rhetorical question.

84+ Women On Hunger Strike Behind The Wire @ Yarl's Wood IRC

Detention results from political decisions that represent a "hardening attitude towards irregular migrants and asylum seekers" (*PACE)

End the Detention of Foreign Nationals Now!

Since the 5th of February 2010, we the residents at Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal Centre are on hunger strike which involves over 84+ women, who are protesting against the period of time spent in detention and the treatment that they receive while being detained.

The strike was sparked to protest and demand that the frustration and humiliation of all foreign nationals ends now.

We are demanding the following actions

*End the frustrations, physical and mental torture at the centre

*Allow enough time and make resources available to residents who need to fully present their cases.

*To end all false allegations and misrepresentations by the UKBA regarding detainees in order to refuse bail or temporary admissions.

*Access to appropriate medical treatment and care as in the community, access to edible and well cooked food, phones with good mobile connections, with camera and recording facilities to back up cases.

*To stop the forceful removal and degrading system of deportation of detainees

*To put law into practise, European rules governing standard of conditions of detention for migrants and asylum seekers and the length of time in detention.

*The abolition of detention for asylum seeker and torture victims

*Detention should be by a standard procedure prescribed by law, authorised by judicial authority and be subjected to periodic judicial reviews.

*To end the detention of children and their mothers, rape survivors and other torture victims, to end the detention of physically, mentally sick people and pregnant women for long period of time.

*To end the separation of children from their mothers being detained whether in detention or destitution.

*To end the detention of women detention after serving time in prison.

* To abolish the fast track system, in order to give asylum seekers a fair chance with their application, while understanding the particular needs of victims of torture, and access to reliable legal representation which the fast track system denies.

*To end the repeat detention of women granted temporary admission while reporting or signing after a short period out of detention.

*To a set period of time allowed to detain women, which should be no longer than 1 month, while waiting decision either from UKBA or court proceedings.

*Finally instead of detention of foreign nationals, there are alternatives to detention stated by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). 'The detention of asylum seekers and irregular migrants in Europe ', Adopted on the 28th January 2010, extracts below.

9.1.1. detention of asylum seekers and irregular migrants shall be exceptional and only used after first reviewing all other alternatives and finding that there is no effective alternative; placement in special establishments (open or semi-open); registration and reporting; release on bail/surety; controlled release to individuals, family members, NGOs, religious organisations, or others; handover of travel and other documents, release combined with appointment of a special worker;

Full Text:
Council of Europe - Parliamentary Assembly Resolution 1707 (2010)1
The detention of asylum seekers and irregular migrants in Europe

Please support our concerns, lobby your MPs, Councillors, MEPs, demanding our immediate release and an end to arbitrary detention.

With Thanks,

Women behind the Wire @ Yarl's Wood IRC

Messages of support/solidarity to:

End of Bulletin:

Source for this Message: Women behind the Wire @ Yarl's Wood IRC

UPDATE: 13:00

Serco management and the Borders Agency are currently trying to forcibly move four of the women involved in the hunger strike. The situation deteriorating, with about 70 women locked into one of the corridors, no open windows and there are sounds of distress coming over the phone for those in contact with the hunger strikers.

Latest Calais Press Release


23:00 Sunday 7 February

Under instruction from the town authorities, the elite French CRS riot police today forcibly evicted the new Calais migrant centre – called Kronstadt Hangar - by smashing down the front doors, less than 24 hours after migrants and No Borders activists pushed through police lines to occupy the building, which has been legally rented by No Borders [1] and SoS Soutien aux Sans Papiers. [2]

Marie Chautemps said: “The Kronstadt Hangar was opened as a direct intervention into a winter of repression that the migrants in Calais have faced since their ‘jungle’ communities were destroyed in a cruel PR stunt, back in September.”

She continued that: “With the authorities blocking any attempts to create a place for migrants to shelter from constant police harassment or from the bitterly cold winter, the Kronstadt Hangar intervention was made in the name of common human respect as well as resistance to an increasingly fascist EU border policy.”

On Saturday evening, about 100 migrants came to the warehouse with the intention of entering. They were met by two separate lines of French police on either side of the hangar. Shouting “freedom! freedom!”, the migrants and No Borders activists pushed through the police lines and successfully occupied the hangar. Donations of blankets, extra-clothes, basic mattresses and hot tea were provided for the migrants.

However, after a safe and secure night, 75 CRS police arrived on Sunday afternoon and forcibly evicted the new space by smashing down the front glass doors. 12 activists were arrested, but later released, while one was taken to hospital.

The police proceeded to trash the hangar and all the possessions inside, and have welded the entrance shut, so that it is now currently impossible for anyone to re-enter the warehouse.

In a press release issued earlier today, SoS Soutien aux Sans Papiers highlighted the joint agency between the French and UK governements, in operations such as these. [3] Just as there is increased collaboration between the governments on both sides of the channel, so there is an increase in resistance to the repressive policies of Szarkozy, implemented with the approval of the British government. Alex Parks said “The authorities in Calais have been trying to remove migrants from Calais for years without success, because they are in denial about the terminal reality of the un-equal world we live in. This is not over, solidarity and resistance for the right to freedom of movement will continue in Calais.” [4]

For further comment, please call +447531647480 or email:


Notes to editors

[1] The No Borders network is a global movement of individuals and groups fighting for the right to freedom of movement for people, not just for the Lorries that make sections of European society rich. Since the No Border Camp held in Calais in June 2009, No Borders activists have had a constant presence in Calais under the banner of Calais Migrant Solidarity. We have monitored and documented police abuse and violent, collectively resisted evictions, organised humanitarian aid distribution, and made direct interventions for the rights of migrants.

[2] SoS Soutien aux Sans Papiers is a French organisation that fights for freedom of movement for all and migrants rights. The 2 networks have collaborated since the No Borders Camp in June 2009.

[3] For example the joint charter flight that returned migrants to Kabul at the end of last year.

[4] London No Borders are organising a protest at the French Consulate Tuesday 9th February 12.30 in solidarity with those in Calais.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Calais Update: Police Smash Their Way In

Below is the latest press release on the situation in Calais, as the police broke into the hangar this afternoon after the visiting migrants had left peacefully, fearing for their safety following the violence from the heavy police presence outside the Kronstadt hanger. The 30-40 activists inside we all arrested and taken away for questioning. The latest update indicates that the inside of the hanger has been trashed by the police and they have welded the front doors shut, preventing No Borders (who are legally renting the space) from entering). Meanwhile the routine harassment and arrest of migrants goes on and there continues to be a heavy police presence on the ground.


This afternoon, Sunday 7th February, police raided the Kronstadt Hangar in Calais, smashing glass doors and arresting those inside.

The hangar, a new space for migrants and activists in Calais rented by the No Borders network and the French organisation SoS Sans Papier [1], opened yesterday afternoon to immediate repression from the authorities.

After the opening police blockaded the streets around the hangar and tried to prevent migrants from entering. In spite of this 150 migrants went in to have tea and coffee.

When people tried to leave this lunchtime they were beated by police batons and several of them sustained injuries, including one who was hospitalised. Soon afterwards, police forced their way into the hangar, causing damage to the building and arresting those inside.

London No Borders condemns this repression of migrants and supporters in the strongest terms. Its spokesperson Thomas Hausberg said that "if providing even basic support to homeless and destitute migrants is considered a criminal offence, the state has lost all semblance of humanity."

It seems that this police repression and violence has been officially sanctioned. French Immigration Eric Besson has branded the Kronstadt Hangar "unacceptable" and in recent days Calais mayor Natasha Bouchart said she was prepared to use all means to prevent the space from opening. "Bouchart", commented Rosie Young, another No Borders activist, "seems to have a personal vendetta against the migrants".

This Tuesday London No Borders and No Borders Brighton are calling for a protest at 12.30pm outside the French Consulate in London.

London No Borders

For further comments please call 07535 319119 or e-mail

[1] At a press conference hosted by London No Borders last Thursday, it was explained that the aim of the Kronstadt Hangar is to provide a safe space for migrants and supporters to meet, to make the migrants visible and give them a voice of their own. For more details on the press conference see:
See also Guardian article from Thursday:

Demonstration At The French Consulate In London, Tuesday 9 February

No Borders Brighton and London NoBorders call for a demonstration at the French Consulate in London (opposite the National History Museum on Cromwell Road) to protest against the repression of the new Kronstadt Hangar project in Calais by the French authorities.

Time: Tuesday, 9 February, 12.30pm,
Venue: French Consulate , 27 Cromwell Road, London SW7 2EN

Please bring banners and instruments.

Kronstadt Hanger Update

The following was posted by Calais Migrants Solidarity on Indymedia:

About 12.30 French time today everyone was in the No Borders/Kronstadt warehouse, chilling out, when police came to surround the building. People were told they can leave the building, but couldn’t return for lunch. Police say this is an ‘Order from the council’.

The response from the 100 or so people in the building was ‘fine, then we won’t leave’. A phone call to someone in the building described the situation as “everyone seemed to understand our political stance. Eventually some people tried to leave, and discovered that all the surrounding roads had been blocked by police. Then riots cops charged us several times, hitting out with batons. A friend got whacked on the mouth while lying on the floor – we managed to find a way out and are on our way to hospital now. One of the undercover cops, calling himself Msr Buzin, said that anyone can leave, but can’t return for to eat [?]. They are effectively starving people out of the building”

There are still about 100 people inside, mainly Pashtun. Local French journalists are around, but no British press.

If anyone can pass this on to UK press that would be good.

Also more help on the ground appreciated

Kronstadt Hanger Under Police Seige In Calais

For Immediate Release: 05/02/10

Police blockade newly-opened space for migrants and activists in Calais.

Today, despite a heavy police presence migrants successfully entered the newly-opened Kronstadt hangar at the invitation of No Borders activists. The hangar is intended to be a space for information-sharing, debate and practical solidarity.

Together, around 100 activists and migrants broke through police lines chanting “Freedom! Freedom!”. Riot police in full body protection are currently circling the building and threatening the migrants with mass arrests. People are currently occupying the building.

Stephane Blois, from Calais Migrant Solidarity, explains: “When the police cleared the jungle, they used coaches like those outside the hangar to transport hundreds of migrants to the detention centre. What we see here tonight is another example of repressive policing where migrants are routinely arrested and then shortly after released shortly. We want to work together here to resist this coordinated strategy of cross-channel oppression.” [1]

The increase in opposition to the policies of the French state in Calais are testiment to the failure of an immigration system which rests on using police repression to drive away migrants. [2] Besson´s attempt to make the town a “migrant-free zone” can never be successful because it does not acknowledge the number of factors that contribute to migration.

The events of tonight show the force of the state´s response to any form of opposition to the current border regime. The hangar was opened in response to the extreme situation in Calais and as an act of solidarity with migrants. Jenny Roberts said: “This is not a new Sangatte. This is the result of the endless persecution of migrants in Calais, and the hangar was opened with the support of local humanitarian organisations and some residents.” [3]

To speak to someone in the hangar call 0033 699 746 700

Contact in France:
Contact in the UK:


[1] In November, NoBorders activists from both sides of the Channel organised a demonstration at the centre of joint intelligence in Folkestone and in December the first joint charter flight between the UK and France took place.

[2] The media response to the high-profile destruction of the jungle in September showed the concerns surrounding the methods used by the French government . Alan Johnson, the UK Home Secretary, said he was “delighted” with the operation.

[3] No Borders activists have maintained a presence in Calais since the No Border camp last June, and this new collaboration with associations is an expression of the urgent need to have a political response to ongoing oppression which has escalated since the destruction of the jungle in September. For an overview, see