London, 1 October. Noborder activists unfurled a large banner in Old Street, East London, across the front of communications house, as part of a day of action against detentions and deportations [pics] Communications House is a "reporting and enforcement centre" of the Immigration and Nationality Department, in fact a prison for asylum seekers in the heart of London [irr-report]. An activist says: "Streams of people were registering. The action wasn't the most dramatic thing, it was like a beginning of something."
What is Communications House?
From the press release of noborder / no one is illegal: "It is a "reporting and enforcement centre" of the Immigration and Nationality Department (IND). Asylum seekers who report here can be detained and removed – and may not ever see their friends and family here again. 85 people, including families, were seized this way in six months to April 2004. Communications House is right in the heart of London, yet few know it is there, or what happens there."
"Communications House contains a "Short Term Holding Centre" managed by private prison company GSL (previously part of Group4) – subject of 2 major media exposes of racist abuse by employees. Those seized at Communications House are held incommunicado until a Wackenhut van removes them to their unknown fate. Friends, lawyers and family may not discover what has happened to them for days. Communications House is part of a spreading web of racist prisons (“holding”, “detention” or “removal centres”) that hold thousands of people who have committed no crime, almost all run for private profit."
Last year, an inspector visited Communications House, and complained about several conditions [report]. An activist explains: "Detainees can make no phonecalls, they have no way of informing people, to ring friends or relatives. If you happen to be detained, there is no way of knowing where you are. You might have left children at home. You suddenly disappear. It is difficult for people to find out where you are."
The atmosphere was calm, with a small band of musicians playing drums, saxophon, fiddle. Many conversations between friends and relatives, supporters, activists, people who work in the area, passers-by. Iranian and Zimbabvean asylum seekers joined in, the Zimbabveans had their own rally at the embassy later that day. Everybody was really interested, and shocked. A woman from Zimbabwe who participated in the picket talked about her experience. She had been in detention and on hungerstrike. Many leaflets were distributed.
"There were lots of people who were not allowed into the buildings - friends and relatives of those who had to sign on. Many had to sign on on sat morning. A constant stream of people turned up to sign on on a saturday morning."
"Two young men from a building opposite came out for their lunch break. They had no idea what this place does. They were really shocked, really interested."
At the end of the picket, a collection to support asylum seekers was made. One security guard made a contribution.
Day of Action against Detention and Deportation
1 October 2005 was called at the no one is illegal conference as a day of action across the country for the rights of refugees and migrants who face deportation or detention, who are denied welfare rights. Under new rules – Section 9 of the Asylum and Immigration Act – migrants could face the choice of eviction and having their children taken into care or returning to a country where danger, death and poverty await them. Demos took place in Bolton, Manchester (details | Sukula family call | Manchester noborder website), Glasgow. Sheffield noborders people will hold a magical mystery tour on 15 October, inspirted by make borders history.
If you want to contact noborder/nooneisillegal in London, mail nooneisillegal at gmx.net, or join the picket at communications house the first tuesday every month from 5 to 6.30pm. Or meet us at the noborder meeting at the anarchist bookfair on Saturday Oct 22, 3pm, 356 Holloway Rd, London N7.