UK Refugee Week 2006 Feature Archive
In an attempt to rejuvenate the watered-down offical Refugee Week, with the more serious issues regarding asylum and immigration often being muffled or overlooked, many grassrooots groups throughout the country organised alternative events and actions during and around the Week (19-25 June) to bring these issues to the fore.
At a time when enforced deportations are at their highest rate ever and corporate-run detention centres are packed with thousands of people, whose only crime was to seek refuge in this country; when dawn raids and the weekly reporting are constant nightmares for many asylum seekers and the government is introducing increasingly more restrictive and racist immigration controls every day (asylum quotas, immigration point system etc.); comes Refugee Week (19-25 June) to "promote understanding and to celebrate the cultural contributions of refugees."
While the "nationwide festival" is, indeed, an opportunity for refugees and immigrants to make their voices heard, faced with all the "asylum madness" of mainstream media, there are many reasons to assume that the event is essentially a cheap public-relations exercise, both for the government and for some of the organisations and corporations involved. The events appear to be designed to deliberately hide the real issues surrounding asylum and immigration. Serious political content is systematically suppressed. Besides the Home Office, some events -for example, Birmingham's Celebrating Sanctuary- are partly funded by such dodgy asylum profiteers as the Angel Group. Furthermore, the way in which things are organised mirrors much of Labour's discredited multi-cultural policies in terms of dividing refugees along ethnic lines.