2007 is witnessing a resurgence of No Border Camps around the world as three Camps have been announced. The first one took place in Ukraine in mid August [Pics] and another one is announced at the US/Mexico border for November. But close to home, this week the UK sees the first No Border camp near Gatwick airport. Despite weeks of constant harassment of local farmers by the police, the Camp got under way as planned with several hundred people attending workshops and discussions, and taking part in actions and demonstrations throughout the week.
The No Border Camp sought "to try and stop the building of the new detention centre, and to gather ideas for how to build up the fight against the system of migration controls". The Camp progaramme consisted of four days of workshops, protests and discussions. Various actions were announced for the week, including a Transnational Demonstration on Saturday 22nd from Crawley to the site of Brook House attended by around 500 people. Brook House is planned to be Britain's largest detention centre for migrant people, and it is being build next door to Tinsley House. Another solidarity march took place in Newcastle. There were several actions also happening during the camp on Thursday and Friday. These included the occupation of Virgin Atlantic tour operator offices and a blockade outside Group 4 near Crawley, a welcoming event in Crawley as well as demonstrations outside Lunar and Electric houses reporting centres in Croydon.
Saturday 22nd: Timeline of Events | Reports: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | Pics: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | Video | Press Releases: 1 | 2
Friday 21st: Timeline of Events | Reports: 1 | 2 | Pics 1 | 2 | Video | Press Releases: 1 | 2 | 3
Thursday 20th: Reports: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | Pics | Video
Wednesday 19th:: report | report and pics | pics
Two years of No Borders UK
It was before the G8 2005 in Scotland that initiatives started to network around the issues of Freedom Of Movement in the UK again. A Make Borders History demo took place in Glasgow during the 2005 G8 summit in Scotland, calling at several institutions and companies involved in the Border Regime. Shortly after the G8, actvists forced the YMCA to withdraw from an "ayslum slavery Scheme".
Durnig the following year, No Borders groups were set up all over the country, in London, Brighton, Cardiff, Nottingham, Leeds and other cities. Regular demonstrations targeted immigration reporting centres and as well as detention centres.
The year 2006 saw the first UK-wide No Borders Gathering in London (on 11-12 March) at the Square Social Centre. Exactly one year later, another gathering was held in Glasgow at the Unity centre. The initiatives naturally had different focal points, from fighting against dawn raids [1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6], anti-deportation actions (e.g. in Leeds ), campaigning against the point-based system, to solidarity with migrant workers (e.g. justice for cleaners) and, of course, demonstrations at immigration prisons. In Glasgow, people started Unity, a union of by and for asylum seekers. In London, Harmondsworth became another focus of protests as well as building up practical support for detainees. The October 7th Network organised a demonstration in London as part of the Transnational Day Of Action for migrants' rights. However, when the Home Office disclosed plans to build a new immigration prison at Gatwick, the new Brook House became a focus for the whole network.
Days after the Home Office told refugees "We'll do everything we can to send you home", 26 migrant prisoners escaped from Campsfield, Oxfordshire, following days of protests. The riot was the latest episode in the migrants struggle inside detention after the Harmondsworth riots last November.
Relentless protests, both inside and outside detention, have managed to put many detention and deportation profiteers on the map. On 17 August, activists occupied the office of XL Airways in Crawley to protest against the charter airline's role in forecul deportations on behalf of the Home Office. Several demonstrations have been announced for August 28th to protest against a planned charter flight to deport a number of rejected asylum seekers to DR Congo.
The upcoming No Border Camp is organised by No Borders groups from Birmingham, Brighton, Glasgow, Leeds, London, Nottingham, Sheffield and Cardiff and supported by Barbed Wire Britain, Unity, Feminist Against Borders, West Midlands Antifa, Sex Workers Union, Vapaa Liikkuvuus (freedom of movement-group in Finland), Campaign to Close Campsfield, No One Is Illegal, Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! and many more.
Upcoming events in the next few weeks include:
- Wednesday August 22nd: film screening at the Camberwell Social Centre.
- The next Camp public meeting will take place on September 2nd in Brighton.
Events During The No Border Camp:
Thursday, 20th September
Welcome Demonstration - Crawley Town Centre, 5pm-7pm. To inform people about and invite them to participate in the No Border Camp.
Friday, 21st September:
Gathering at Lunar House, the Home Office reporting centre in East Croydon, 10am-2pm. A convergeance between those who have papers and those who don't; information-sharing, exchanging stories, food and music.
Saturday 22nd September
Transnational Demonstration at Tinsley House detention dentre at Gatwick, 12pm-2pm. Tinsley House, which has a capacity of 146, was the first purpose-built detention centre in the UK. The new planned Gatwick detention centre is to be built close by.
Later that day, groups will present their work and experiences in a Transnational Forum at the camp.
Announced workshops so far include ones with migration controls, ID Cards, practical support of people in detention, the political situation in the Middle East, alternative media, experiences from campaigns against companies and much more.
Migrating University is a set of workshops at Goldsmith University in the week before the No Border Camp.
Indymedia at the No Border Camp
As usual, IMC UK will be present at the No Border Camp. There will a public access tent, help with publishing and image processing, as well as workshops about alternative media.
Map of the area
The new site is located near the village of Balcombe, West Sussex, south of Crawley.
How to get there:
From London: At the southern end of the M23, the road becomes the A23 [southof Crawley]. Take the first exit left B2114 Brighton Road, signposted to Handcross. At the second roundabout turn left onto the B2110 High Beeches Lane, signposted to Turner's Hill. 2km along is a brick water tower on your right. Turn here into Brantridge Lane and the camp site is the first gate on your right.
From Brighton: Turn off the A23 at the Handcross junction signposted B2110. Turn right at the next roundabout towards Handcross. Left at the next junction in the village and right at the next roundabout signposted to Turner's Hill and follow the directions as above.
On the London-Brighton line, get off at Balcombe Station. Turn left onto the B2036 London Road. Turn left at the second junction onto Handcross Road. 2km along this road you get to a junction. On the left is Brantridge Lane and the camp site.
No Border Camp 2007
Many felt that there was a great turnout of people at the Demonstration this year. Various reports reflect that there were about 300 people, but some do feel it was more in the region of 350. Most of the Protesters in front were quite unaware of just how large the group was. It was only when we came around the ninety degree bend at Gatwick, that we were all pleasantly surprised to see the continual wave of protesters taking the corner. Regardless of the exact total, spirits were incredibly high throughout the march. The most popular Protest Chant was the well known ‘No Borders, No Nations, Stop Deportation’. Once again, the notorious ‘Samba Band’ did an excellent job. I wonder if they will ever record all these Protest Anthems? It would be great if they did.
The Telephonic Communication with several people in the present detention centre was incredibly moving. If anything, this connection pointed out that they are not alone and forgotten in those cells. Although the protesters are not subjected to the negative treatment that those detained have been, there was a mutual feeling of Hope. I did not stay at the Camp for the weekend, but kept in touch with people that did. Their feeling was that that the Camp went well. It was seen as an enlightening experience and the Workshops were viewed as incredibly educational.
And the Police, well they generally kept to themselves. There numbers were definitely overkill once again and there were some arrests in the beginning of the march. There behaviour was not as obnoxious and out of context as most of us in London have come to experience though. The legitimate Protest Area was way too small once again. The Police Photographers seemed to be acting from a distance as well. It was definitely great not having the infamous SCD43, Neil Sinclair around. He knows how to put a downer on any worthwhile event. The Police also seemed to refrain from their usual frantic Search and Docket intimidation tactics that so many of us have gotten used to. Protestors were also not prevented from using their own media equipment. The people at the Camp that I was in contact with reported a similar experience. Police did not appear to be interfering with the Camp Events and Workshops. They were only really seen outside of the Camp Site by the entrance points. The Search and Docket tactics of the Police were generally also not used at the Camp. There are several reasons why the Public Servants seemed to refrain from outright victimisation, as they did at Climate Change 2007 and Disarm DSEI 2007. These reasons were compiled during emails between Green Party candidate John Hunt and myself:
1. This No Borders 2007 Event was Policed by a different Police Force than Climate
Change 2007 and Disarm DSEI 2007. However, Surrey Police were part of the
wider Policing Operation at Climate Change 2007.
2. The March Format was strong, consolidated and with a larger turnout than even
expected by the Police. ‘United We Stand Divided We Fall’
3. ‘Gently, Gently’ instructions from top Police Officials following a number of
Climate Change 2007 and DSEI 2007 complaints. Although formal complaints
are often not viewed as the ‘Revolutionary’ thing to do, it does have an impact on
the freedom of the Police to be Brutal whenever they choose to be.
4. The protest action took place on the weekend and directly in the eyes of the
general public of Crawley. Very little would have happened un-noticed by them.
5. A significant number of parents in the Protest March had brought their children
with. The presence of minors and infants in a protest event does have a general
6. A controversial, but relevant factor was the strong Black Bloc and AntiFa (Militant
Anti-Fascism) presence. Although many people do not agree with these tactics, it
does balance out the intimidation factor with the Police. It is common place for
such activists to stand up to police harassment.
In conclusion, I feel that the No Borders 2007 Demonstration had a positive outcome. I’m sure that some people aimed for more and would disagree. However, there were a lot of us that were expecting the worse. At the same time, it was an excellent opportunity for a variety of people to meet and tackle a common concern. As for the apparent ‘Nationalist / Fascist’ photographer, I wonder if he got the point that none of us will ever forget where he was standing at the time. The joke is on him.