Setting off from the West End
Marchers included asylum seekers from Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Cote d'Ivoire, Malawi, Kurdistan and elsewhere. Several people who, with the help of TCAR, have successfully fought the government's attempts to deport them came to show their support for those still confronting the racist British government's asylum and immigration policies, including Joy Bowman, whose campaign against her deportation to Jamaica received national publicity, and Kurdish asylum seeker Guler Akdogan, who learned in December that her long fight against the deportation of her family to Turkey had been successful.
The demo stopped outside the Government Offices North East where speakers from TCAR and the UDPS opposition party from DRC spoke about the mistreatment of asylum seekers and immigrants in Britain. People whose only 'crime' is to flee oppression or poverty are criminalised, detained and deported. Those who are waiting the outcome of decisions on their cases are banned from working, which means they are further criminalised if they then do work illegally, while ironically becoming the butt of media abuse for not working and 'scrounging off the state'.
Speakers at the end rally at Grey's Monument included TCAR, Newcastle Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!/Revolutionary Communist Group, North West Asylum Seekers' Defence Group, South Yorkshire Migration and Asylum Action Group, Support the Harmondsworth 4 Campaign, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Tyneside Stop the War, the University and College Lecturers' Union, Tyneside Socialist Forum and International Federation of Iraqi Refugees. MC Drop Dead Fred performed some political raps for fellow protesters. Many more people spoke and there was always a long queue of people waiting to use the open mic.
The demo was also attended by contingents from Durham, Carlisle, Doncaster, Sheffield, Manchester, Middlesborough, Glasgow and Leeds and by members and supporters of No Borders, Antifa, Amnesty International and the Socialist Workers Party. At a time when political campaigners across the country are facing police harassment and restrictions on their right to protest, it was great to see the Monument covered in banners and surrounded by protesters.
The police originally tried to impose restrictions on the date and route of the march but they backed down. In the end the police imposed conditions that were identical to the agreed route. This meant the march had to stick to agreed times for setting off and dispersing, so although it was a victory for TCAR, the right to protest was still restricted. In addition, two arrests were made on the demonstration. The two activists arrested had previously been dragged out of the march on the route. The police liasion intervened and other demonstrators refused to 'just move on' as ordered by the police. Later the two activists were approached again and asked for their details. The officer referred to chants they had been singing. They refused their details. Witnesses heard the arresting officer say that she didn't intend to report the activists, she just wanted their names 'for intelligence purposes'. When they continued to refuse to give their details the activists were arrested. The police liaison organised a phone-in of the police station. The activists were released later in the day.
Get involved in TCAR!
For anyone that wants to get involved in TCAR, the email is firstname.lastname@example.org. The next General Meeting is on Saturday 26th January at St Thomas' Church, Newcastle. The meeting starts at 1pm. TCAR particularly needs people to get involved in its press group and newsletter group.
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