Leeds, Friday 1st December
Protesters gathered outside of the Waterside Reporting Centre, (where practices in a recent prison inspectorate report were also declared unfit for purpose), in a solidarity vigil called by Leeds No Borders. This took place to express support for detained asylum seekers residing in the Harmondsworth removal centre, where practices were last week condemned by the Prison Inspectorate in the work report into asylum seeker treatment so far. Within hours of the reports publication, riots broke out, with fires starting in four separate areas. Many asylum seekers were effectively locked into their wings, therefore locked into a burning building, as events unfolded.
As the Inspectorate plays a role in the Governmental public relations framework, it is safe to state, particularly given that which has recently circulated by first person accounts from ex Harmondsworth detainees within support networks, that conditions are worse than those exposed.
The event was a success, and many asylum seekers spoke to demonstrators expressing an active desire to build their own support networks. Needless to say staff at Waterside were none to pleased, and their frustration surfaced when the Centres very own resident plod came out to advise and potentially caution a protestor for “stepping over the line” demarcated by a gateway into the carpark.
A national No Borders Gathering is being called in February. It is hoped that stronger solidarity networks and bigger demonstrations and incidences of direct action can gain momentum and emerge to take on this country’s disgusting racist immigration control system.