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:

Thursday, 9 September 2010

EU: Stop Deporting Roma

The European Parliament has just passed a motion 337 to 245, with 51 abstentions, calling on France to suspend the expulsion of Roma at the same time as 2 French ministers are in Romania to try and negotiate an emergency plan with the Bucharest government to help get France out of the corner its patently racist policy has gotten it into.

Amusingly, the Romanian President Traian Basescu warned the French ministers that: "If they come to lecture us, it (the visit) will not be productive... France is not handling this like a European state." Less amusing was his totally disingenuous claim that "The greatest responsibility lies with the Roma themselves though. In a civilised Europe, everyone is responsible for their own fate. No one is stopping them from sending their children to school and not begging."


Video: Inside Story - The fate of the Roma in Europe [an Al Jazeera report]

Child Detention Australian Style

Maybe the LibCon government could take a leaf out of the way Australia treats it's children detainees. Unlike adult migrants, they are not dumped on Christmas Island to endure the overcrowding there, instead they are held on the mainland in so-called Alternative Places of Detention (APOD). These include the Leonora Mining Camp slap-bang in the middle of Western Australia and four motels in Darwin and Brisbane. Apparent luxury one would think but not according to Pamela Curr, campaign co-ordinator of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.

The APODs are all run by Serco and, whilst the motels aren't surrounded by razor wire-topped fences, life inside is far from cozy. Families are crammed into single rooms and daily head counts are carried out by the numerous Serco guards at 5:30 in the morning. There is almost nothing for the children to do and at the Asti Motel in Darwin the children still have no access to schooling after being moved there three months ago. Volunteers vetted by Serco are allowed to bring toys and games into the motel for a couple of hours a day but take the toys away with them when they leave. Even the motel pool has been out of bounds till very recently, and the children are still only allowed one hour, three times a week as Serco can only afford to employ the outside lifeguard to come in and supervise for 3 hours a week. Can't have health and safety regulations interfering with the maximisation of profits after all.

And how about this? "Children get 30 points and adults 50 each week to spend in the store. Thirty points will buy them a can of soft drink, a packet of chips and maybe some nuts." Serco should definitely try persuading Ministers that this is the sort of regime they should be allowed to run at Yarl's Wood.

No End To State Sponsored Cruelty

So, Damian 'The Omen' Green has confirmed what many of us had assumed all along, that the government's promise to end the internment of migrant children was a lie. There was never any real desire to end the barbaric practice and it was merely a PR exercise aimed at keeping the likes of the LibDems tied to the coalition.*

The whole way the supposed initiative was announced, it's piecemeal application first in Scotland and then with the emptying of the families unit at Yarl's Wood, all without any apparent form of comprehensive plan** stank of prevarication and spin. This government is desperate to maintain its anti-immigration profile and anything that will contribute to that will be embraced even if it does mean state sponsored cruelty.

Ironically this revelation by Green, in the answer to a parliamentary question about the future of Yarl's Wood, comes on the same day as the charity Medical Justice published their 84-page report ‘State Sponsored Cruelty’, which details "the key findings from the UK’s first large scale investigation into the harms caused by detaining children for immigration purposes."

The report examines "141 cases... from 87 different families, involving children detained between 2004 and April 2010. These children spent a mean average of 26 days each in immigration detention. One child had spent 166 days in detention, over numerous separate periods, before her third birthday." And sober reading it makes.

'State Sponsored Cruelty' 16-page summary report

'State Sponsored Cruelty' 84-page full report

* And no doubt this will be just the first of many chippings away at the LibDem parts of the ConDem coalition agreement.
** Never a mention of Tinsley House.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010


the latest 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):

Immigration scare tactics. Get Bruce Willis! - Five Chinese Crackers' latest comment on the usual thinly disguised racist Tabloid coverage of another batch of population statistics. In particular, we like very much the rubbishing of yet more MigrationBotch disinformation and down-right lies.

Defying Borders at a De-Facto Refugee Camp in France - coverage of No Borders activity in calais by an independent journalist.

Why Becoming a Legal Immigrant Is Next to Impossible - an American view of why asylum has become a dirty word through the progressive (sic) criminalisation of almost all forms of migration (except of course the few routes that make the host country materially better off - imperialism still holds sway).

UN Report: US abuse of Native Americans and migrants - an article on the publication of the Universal Periodic Review Joint Report y the U.S. Human Rights Network. A must for anyone still labouring under the delusion that the U.S. is still the home of the brave and the land of the free.

Is France lying about Roma crime rates?
- an English language story from the Tehran Times based on a Rue89 article outlining well-known post-fascist French Interior Minister Hortefeux's rather less than truthful use of statistics to help justify the on-going Gallic persecution of Roma.

Immigration to Europe: how many foreign citizens live in each country? - just what it says. 43.5% of the population of Luxembourg are foreign citizens; 21.7% of anti-minarets and veils Switzerland; 10.3% of Jörg Haider's Austria; and 6.6% of David Cameron and (not) Nick Giffen's UK - almost exactly the same as the EU27 average of 6.4%.
From the Guardian, all the statistics needed to help you counteract the next idiot that starts quoting dodgy Daily Mail or MigrationBotch statistics at you.

Speaking of which...

Are foreign students good or bad for Britain? - from Mark Easton's BBC blog. Can the incredibly arrogant commentator nautonier on this piece be none other than Mr MigrationBotch Andrew Green himself? "Yes ... I also know that many British people work/study overseas ... I have worked extensively overseas myself and do not need a lecture from anyone about British people working overseas..." "Do you really know better than the House of Lords, Mr Easton?" See what you think?

Sri Lankan Tamil refugees spark racism row in Canada - the true face of a Conservative PM?

Agency 'Manipulating' Asylum Figures - Sky News breaking a story criticising the UK Border Agency's manipulation of figures to show that rather than 60% of new cases dealt with within 6 months, the figure is actually only 4%? Whatever next?

Anti-immigration hysteria tied to the private prison industry - absolutely no surprise here. After all, the private prison industry has to expand even in these financially troubled times, so where better than into running immigration prisons. And if that means stirring up racist sentiments, then so be it.

Anti-Anti Immigration: Principles to Make Migration Work - a sort of companion piece to 'Why Becoming a Legal Immigrant Is Next to Impossible' written by the Co-Directors of Immigration Studies at NYU.

Dale Farm Update & Thoughts

News is still sketchy but there were at least 2 arrests when around 50 bailiffs from the notorious Constant & Co., supported by 3 van-loads of police and a number of Basildon District Council officers, attempted to enter the Hovefields Drive site to evict families and their caravans from 7 sites. Bulldozers were used to tear up the ground works in order to prevent the caravans return.

The bailiffs were met by a number of protesters who had gathered in advance of their arrival to try and prevent the eviction but they were overwhelmed by sheer force of numbers. As one observer said: "The bailiffs came in at eight in the morning and told everyone they had to leave immediately. I think it's been pretty violent in how they were dealing with things."

One Hovefields resident, who managed to get a High Court injunction following last month's issuing of 28 days notice of eviction by the Council, remained on the site following the bailiff's action. As to the fate of the other residents forced out, some of the children involved were being sheltered by other Dale Farm residents but many of the families no doubt spent the night parked up on the side of the road somewhere nearby.

The whole Dale Farm saga is indicative not only of the nimby attitude of residents to gypsies, travellers and Roma in general, but also reveal a widespread racism that lurks just below the surface of polite society. This almost universal stigmatisation of Roma and travellers has lead to centuries of persecution and marginalisation within society, resulting in the 'self-fulfilling prophecy' of a whole group of peoples who just wish to be left alone to live their lives as they see fit.

Yet, 'normal society' want them to assimilate, to settle down and be just like them. Failing that, to just go away. But 'society' refuses to accept any of the blame for creating 'the problem'. I Eastern Europe the centuries of persecution of Roma and traveller folk developed into official state policy, reinforcing and legitimising this racism. Even now, governments are struggling to undo this structural persecution, the condemning of a particular group of people to being second class citizens. Having their children singled out for sending to inferior schools, then being denied access to further eduction or jobs; denied housing and health care; access to the courts; all simply because of who their parents are. Basically Apartheid under another name.

Now this problem, which has existed on a smaller scale through out the rest of Europe* has move on to our doorsteps and the consequences have been played out in the headlines and T.V. news reports in France recently, and before then in Italy. In those cases, the Roma have moved in order to flee that persecution only to run into the same sort of racist resentment and stigmatisation, dressed up in the guise of protecting law and order.

In the Dale Farm situation exactly the same forces are in operation.

* One only has to think of how many derogatory terms for gypsies and travellers are in common usage to work out how true this is.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Dale Farm Eviction Starts

The eviction of the Hovefields site at the dale Farm travellers site in Essex started today, with water being cut off and bulldozers moving in to tear down structures. A number of arrests amongst those who were on-site to resist the evictions have taken place. More to follow.

Press release from the Dale Farm Support group:

The eviction of Gypsy families at Hovefields, Essex SS12 9JA started this morning. Approximately 50 bailiffs arrived this morning at the site to launch the next stage of the eviction process. Legal proceedings are currently underway regarding breaches of health and safety law at previous operation Hovefields in June. (1)

Basildon District Council is employing Constant & Co bailiffs, who were recently awarded a £2 million contract to evict Dale Farm, the largest traveller site in the UK, (2) only 2 miles away.

Bailiffs arrived from 8am this morning, with large numbers of police. They have occupied a plot in order to set up an operating unit, and are currently telling families to leave the site.

Residents from around East Anglia are supporting the traveller communities facing eviction, including the Hovefields residents, through the Save Dale Farm campaign:

Information and interviews at the site:
Phone: 07783322752

Notes to the editors