The Home Offices answer to the abuse seen on the BBC programme is to call yet another public inquiry concerning GSL (Group 4) which has taken over the contract from Wackenhut according to the BBC. This is the third enquiry into this company. The last inquiry into allegations of abuse at Yarls Wood concluded that most of the incidents exposed by an undercover journalist did happen, and yet GSL retained all its contracts to run Removal Centres plus a huge contract of undisclosed value to build and manage an accommodation centre for asylum seekers was awarded to them only thirty days after the publication of the results of the inquiry.
Dallas Court is effectively a ‘point of disappearance’ for some, into detention and eventual deportation to potentially unsafe countries. The Home Office insists that asylum seekers who barely have enough money to buy food, let only transport, have to report at centres like Dallas Court up to five times a week. Those without transport money can end up walking up to 25 miles to reach the centre from the Greater Manchester boundary. Each time an asylum seeker reports to Dallas Court, they fear being snatched, detained and deported.
The purpose of the demonstration was to show support for asylum seekers arriving to report at Dallas Court, to highlight the fact that there are campaigning groups who can assist asylum seekers in finding legal representation and to offer asylum seekers an opportunity to speak out against the unjust and inhumane treatment they suffer, bringing the hidden stories of people out into the open. Despite the sadness and anger that came out when people seeking asylum spoke on the open mike, there was also
a real feeling of celebrating solidarity with people coming in to sign and
with other people demonstrating. A group of Zimbabwean drummers came and they
were the focal point of the demonstration with people dancing and singing. Asylum seekers reporting at Dallas Court that day, came out of the centre and joined the demonstration. Representatives from The Times newspaper, the Guardian and the Area News were there and the demonstration was also covered later that afternoon by BBC Asian Network on radio.
Plans are to do it again on a regular basis. Possibly to target a day when someone with a high risk of arrest goes to report. We also have tentative plans for a mass picnic there when the weather improves and welcome any creative ideas from people who want to be involved. Most importantly, we have to continue being a thorn in the side of Dallas Court to constantly keep the spotlight on the inhumane procedure and practice of detention. The UK currently indefinitely holds more than 1,500 men, women and children in detention and the government would prefer the general public not to know what happens inside detention centres and during deportations. Assaults, disturbances and suicide are a frequent feature in the detention and removal process. Not the most palatable of truths for a government whose Home Office states they are building a just and tolerant society.
The demonstration was supported by No Borders network, NCADC the Iraqi Solidarity Campaign and the Committee to Defend Asylum Seekers.
For further information email firstname.lastname@example.org
No Borders network www.noborder.org
National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns (NCADC) www.ncadc.org.uk
Committee to Defend Asylum Seekers www.defend-asylum.org
Iraqi Solidarity Campaign