No Border campaigners to march from Crawley to Gatwick against immigration prisons
22 September, 2007
Hundreds of protesters are to march today from Crawley, West Sussex, to Gatwick Airport to protest against immigration prisons. No Borders UK had called for a "transnational day of action against immigration prisons" on 22 September, 2007. The day of action is part of the Gatwick No Border Camp, which is taking place between 20 and 23 September near the village of Balcombe in opposition to a planned new detention centre at Gatwick. Simultaneous actions are expected to take place in other parts of the UK and elsewhere in the world.
A spokeswoman from No Borders UK, the network organising the protest camp, said: "All over the world, refugees and migrants are being locked up in special prisons, disguised under various names, for the only 'crime' of fleeing wars or persecution or wanting to improve their lives. Immigration prisons are the most brutal and dehumanising aspect of this racist system whereby innocent and vulnerable people are interned in prison for political ends."
"On the other hand, resistance, both inside and outside these prisons, has been getting stronger and stronger. Hunger strikes, riots and pickets have become a common occurrence. But obviously not enough is being done as thousands of people continue to suffer in their cells."
The UK-wide network had called upon "all concerned individuals and groups all over the world" to join them in an "international coordinated day of action against immigration prisons everywhere." They had also called upon refugees and their supporters throughout the world to organise their own actions, both inside and outside immigration prisons, in a "global united cry" that says "no to immigration prisons; no to the racist border regimes!"
For further information, please contact:
The Gatwick No Border Camp press group
Tel: 078 0750 3282
Notes for editors:
1. The call-out can be found here: www.noborders.org.uk.
2. A new purpose-built immigration detention centre is planned at Gatwick Airport as part of the government's five-year strategy for asylum and immigration. The centre, to be called Brook House, is due to open in 2008. The new centre, which will have a total capacity of 426 places for male and female detainees, is being developed by BAA Lynton on behalf of the Airport Property Partnership. BAA Lynton had developed the existing centre at Gatwick, Tinsley House, in a similar way. The government has already seen the 'benefits' of locating 'removal centres' close to airports, with operations at Colnbrook and Harmondsworth, near Heathrow, and Tinsley House at Gatwick.
3. There are 10 so-called Immigration Removal Centres (IRC's) in the UK. Seven are run by private companies contracted by the Home Office's Border and Immigration Agency (previously the Immigration and Nationality Directorate), while three are run by the Prison Service. As of July 2007, these prisons have a total capacity of 2,506. However, the Labour government, which inherited 700 places when it took office in 1997, is aiming for a total of 4,000 places. In addition, there are many so-called Short-term Holding Facilities at many ports and airports throughout the country as well as at a number of Immigration Reporting Centres.
4. As of 31 March 2007, 1,435 people who had sought asylum at some stage were being detained in the UK solely under Immigration Act powers. This accounted for 70% of all detainees and excludes people detained in police cells and prison establishments.
5. In the last five years alone, there have been 41 suicides by desperate refused asylum seekers, 15 of which were in detention. HM Chief Inspector of Prisons has often criticised detention centres for miserable conditions and not being "fit for purpose".
6. There are over 175 immigration detention centres in the EU member states alone, while more have been built in neighbouring countries as part of externalising the borders of Fortress Europe (delegating countries such as Libya, Tunisia and Morocco to control and detain migrants and in-transit asylum seekers on their territories rather than doing that on European land, in total neglect of the EU’s international obligations).
7. The Gatwick No Border Camp will take place between 19 and 24 September, 2007, near Gatwick, to try and stop the new detention centre, with planned demonstrations in Crawley, Croydon and at Tinsley House. The camp, the first of its kind in the UK, will also be an opportunity to exchange ideas and experiences, with numerous workshops, panels and other activities. See www.noborders.org.uk for further details.
8. The worldwide No Border network has previously organised similar camps over the last 9 years, including those in Tijuana (Mexico), Genova (Italy), Woomera (Australia), Frankfurt (Germany) and recently Transcarpathia (Ukraine). Each camp often focuses on a specific issue but is ultimately campaigning against borders and for the freedom of movement for all people.
9. Previous migration-related international days of action include one on 7 October, 2006, and two European Days of Action on 31 January, 2004, and 2 April, 2005. See www.noborder.org for details.
10. No Borders UK is network of groups and activists across the country who stand against all visible and invisible borders and migration controls and struggle for the freedom of movement for all people. There are currently 8 such groups in Birmingham, Brighton, Glasgow, Leeds, London, Nottingham, Sheffield and Wales. The first UK-wide No Borders gathering was held on 11-12 March, 2006, in London. The global No Border network had existed since 1999. The first ever No Border meeting was held in Amsterdam in December 1999, following the European Summit in Tampere in October that year, when coordinated actions and demonstrations took place in eight European countries.