UK Migration Feature Archive
Shared National Day of Asylum Seekers Taking Action
This Saturday 29th June will see protests across the country by asylum seekers and supporters calling for 'Dignity not Destitution'.
In June 2012, 250 asylum seekers and supporters marched through Bristol to tell people our problems and to demand Dignity For Asylum Seekers [ Report | Press Release ]. This gave us more confidence to speak out. After last year's march we campaigned to get Bristol City Council to support us. We are pleased to say that in January they voted overwhelmingly to support us and condemn the government’s policy on forced destitution. Now, we are joining together with groups around the country to take action on the same day to say that forced destitution is wrong. Read the full article for details of events around the country.
Campaigners in the UK and Sweden have taken various actions against G4S over the last month. Meanwhile, various discussions and meetings are taking place to coordinate efforts aimed at forcing the multinational security giant to halt its “unlawful and criminal activities”, as well as to put pressure on public authorities to withdraw from and not award new contracts to the notorious company.
"When they put him in the room they were putting pressure on him saying he had no right to stay in this country. He was normally a very quiet person [...] but the pressure is too much for people in here."
On 2nd August, a 35 year old Indian man who was hours away from being deported hanged himself in the toilet block of Campsfield House.
Campsfield is not a house, it is a migration prison just outside Oxford where people are held arbitrarily for the "crime" of being foreign, non-white, and poor. Several hunger strikes, protests, suicides and escape attempts have taken place over the years since it first opened in November 1993.
This comes shortly after two detainees died in Colnbrook migration prison, on 2nd and 31st July. The first seems to have died of a heart attack amid reports that staff were very slow to call an ambulance. Not much has been said about the second; it is "being treated as unexplained".
Campaigners in Oxford responded by holding a vigil, while at Colnbrook a solidarity demo was held. These deaths are just the tip of an iceberg of deaths caused by borders (around 15'500 since 1993 across Europe, not counting undocumented deaths), and deaths are themselves only the most extreme part of the massive suffering imposed by this system.
Meanwhile, the Namaste project: a local initiative to match destitute asylum seekers with people willing to house them, is gradually gathering momentum.
[ Campsfield: report | press release | vigil ] [ Colnbrook: report | demo ] [ overview ]
[ Guardian: Campsfield | overview ] [ Close Campsfield Campaign | Oxford No Borders | Namaste update ]
[ List of deaths | Oxford migration articles ]
Asylum has been high on the agenda recently as 24 Iraqi refugees went on hunger strike in Campsfield House. This was followed up with a very successful blockade of deportation coaches near Heathrow Airport [ 1 | 2 ] by No Borders.
Anti-military action has also been around recently. First, a group of Oxford-based campaigners managed to force the the British Government to admit that it was still training Bahraini officers, despite the brutality going on in that country as part of the 'Arab Spring.' This was followed by an apparently unconnected act of resistance against the military as the armed forces building in Oxford was daubed with red paint.
Fighting the cuts continued with the return of the Big Society Hospital, the launch of the Save Garsington Buses Campaign, and the continuing refusal of the City Council to listen to the public.
Education was on the agenda as activists told Grayling exactly want they thought of his plans for private universities, whilst locally based NGO - People & Planet published the Green League asking 'how green is your university?'
Climate change concerns raised their head again as the defendants from the Ratcliffe 114 (many from Oxford) launched an appeal against their convictions, and Oxford-based Campbell Road Productions announced their new film investigating the Tar Sands.
In other news, the summer also saw the fourth happening of the Oxford Radical Forum.
Don't forget to keep posting your news here on Oxford Indymedia.
No Borders and refugee solidarity activists blockaded the Harmondsworth and Colnbrook immigration prisons, near Heathrow airport on 21 June to stop a mass deportation flight to Baghdad. About 70 Iraqi refugees, mostly Kurds, were due to be forcibly flown on a specially chartered flight from an undisclosed airport at 11pm. A last-minute court injunction forced the Home Office to call it off, so the blockaders decided to end their protest at 9pm, after making sure that the migration prisoners were safely off the buses. The action was an important step in escalating resistance to the deportation machine, in solidarity with the hunger strikers in Campsfield, the rioters in Brook House, the Yarlswood four, and all migration prisoners in their everyday struggle.
Welcome to the latest round up of grassroots news from Oxford. It's proven to be another busy month for activists and campaigners in Oxford. Local, national, and international attention has focused on our little city somewhere between London and the Midlands.
31-12-2010 18:36It's been a busy year for activists and grassroots campaigners in Oxford. Peace campaigners have kept up the pressure on the war-mongers, including those at AWE Aldermaston and BAe systems. Campsfield Detention Centre has remained a target for people opposed to the inhumane treatment of migrants. And, of course, the anti-cuts movement has grown from strength to strength closing down shops, occupying buildings, and bringing angry people out on the streets.
Clearly opposition to the cuts has been at the forefront of many people's thinking during November. This opposition is welcome, and much needed, but let us not forget all the other struggles and positive alternatives that are going on. Here is a round-up of non-cuts news in Oxford during November - peace, migration, zines, water, and food.
Three G4S security guards are accused of causing the death of Jimmy Mubenga, who died during his forcible deportation on a British Airways flight to Angola on 12th October. Eye witnesses told the Guardian how the 46-year-old man was being "heavily restrained by security guards and had complained of breathing problems before he collapsed." The three men have since been questioned by police and bailed until December pending further inquires.
In response to the government's deafening silence, on 15th October activists from South London plastered the area from Elephant and Castle to Peckham with posters holding witness statements and other info about Jimmy's murder.
From the Newswire: Group 4 murder Angolan migrant during deportation | Unacceptable death of Jimmy Mubenga | Jimmy Mubenga posters in South London | Dover detainees demand 'proper investigation' | The Angolan death on BA77 at Heathrow
A thousand EDL supporters rampaged through the streets of Leicester on Saturday (9th), attacking locals, anti-fascists and police.
On the Newswire: 1
Brighton's Smash EDO campaign are holding a mass demo at EDO/ITT on Wednesday 13th October. Anti arms trade campaigners plan to lay seige to EDO/ITT and shut them down for the day.
Info for the Day:: The meeting place for the demo is Wild Park Cafe (directions here) at 10am on Wednesday, but people are being asked to arrive on the evening of the 12th. Convergence space will be available. There will be a meeting about the demo at 7pm at the Cowley Club on Tuesday 12th. There will be a timeline on Indymedia and a twitter feed: @smash_edo
Local contacts for ITT's Hammertime: Birmingham - hammertime-brum [at] riseup.net | Bristol - bristolagainstarmstrade [at] gmail.com | Cambridge - hammertime-cambridge [at] riseup.net | Cardiff - val.swain [at] yahoo.co.uk | Cornwall - kernowaction [at] gmail.com | London - hammertimelondon [at] dsei.org | Manchester - info [at] targetbrimar.org.uk | Notts - alex.dable [at] ntlworld.com | Swansea - d [at] undercurrents.org
Previous features:They Think It's All Over ...ITT Is Now | Smash EDO Solidarity in Nottingham | Hammer Time: The EDO Decommissioners go on trial | Indymedia Coverage of Remember Gaza | Anti Militarists take on Barclays | Support the EDO Decommissioners | Mayday! Mayday! | EDO Smashed | Anti-Arms Protesters Shut ITT | Smash EDO Carnival Against the Arm Trade - Timeline | Carnival Against the Arms Trade | Marie Vesco RIP | On the Verge - The Film They Tried to Ban | Singers Arrested Outside Arms Factory | Smash EDO Action Camp: Shut down the Brighton bomb builders | Lebanon War protesters - Not Guilty! | EDO CORP: 2006 Alternative Report | 2007 Is The Year To Shut EDO Down | EDO MBM Injunction crumbles | EDO MBM desperate to stop protests as resistance increases | Smash EDO Take On The Law | Harassment Law Used Against Anti-War Campaigners | Campaign to Smash Edo | Arms company shut down
No Borders Camp 2010 in Brussels kicks off this Saturday (25th) til the 3rd October, so get yourself to the continent to make a start on creating a world where no one is illegal. Among the objectives of the camp are the denouncing of European migration policy; showing the links between this policy and the structures of capitalism and repression; the blocking of Brussels' deportation system and the organisation of an autonomous safe space for the voices of migrants and activists to be heard.1
Update (28/08/10): most of the detainees stopped the hunger strike on Tues 10th, but around 15 people are still refusing to take meals from the kitchen.
"Today we raise our voices until liberty is ours. [...] We deserve to be heard and until such time, we fight."
Around 150 migrants held at Campsfield migrant prison near Kidlington are on hunger strike "as a result of the treatment of detainees in detention centres especially for people who have been detained for a long period of time".
"Our lives incidentally have been stalled without any hope of living a life, having a family or any future [...] some of us are tortured and even face death or mental distress [...] We are issued removal directions without given enough time for an appeal. [...] On a regular basis, we are tortured, restrained, strapped like animals and beating to effect removal."
Local campaigners have responded by immediately organising several solidarity demos and calling for people to write to their MPs. At least one detainee perceived as a ringleader has been transferred to another detention centre and placed in solitary detention.First detainee statement | Second statement | Reports of loud chanting | Friday demo + other updates ]
[ Campaign to Close Campsfield | Oxford No Borders | Barbed Wire Britain ]
[ Previous Campsfield detainee actions: June 2006 hunger strike | March 2007 riot | August 2007 riot and escape ]
The first week of June saw a European Week of Action Against the Deportation Machine. Various events, protests and actions took place throughout the UK and other European countries with a common message: "Stop deportations! No to Fortress Europe! Freedom of movement for all!"
By trying to widen the scope and diversity of actions and groups involved, the Week tried to draw attention to the fact that anti-deportation is not a 'single issue campaign'. "People choose or are forced to migrate for a variety or reasons, from wars and armed conflicts fuelled by the arms trade and western interests, through poverty, exploitation, discrimination, gender oppression, domestic and state violence, to climate change."
Reports: Protest against deportation at Communications House reporting centre, London | Protest against deportation at Becket House reporting centre, London | Banner-drops Against Deportation in Cardiff | UKBA D-locked in Derby | Deportation travel agents awarded 'deportation profiteer of the year' title | Demo against deportation in Parliament Sq | Callout
The Africa House squat in Calais is to be evicted next Wednesday (9th). After a herd of 20 CRS vans circled the squat scoping the site on Wednesday morning (2nd), they deposited an eviction notice with those present, informing the migrants they had a week to hit the streets. The building - home to Eritrean, Sudanese and Ethiopian migrants, many of whom had already seen previous squats and camps destroyed - has been marked for demolition.
This Saturday (15th) people will be protesting at various places around central London to give the new 'stable, national interest' coalition a warm welcome.
SchNEWS gives a round-up of all the events taking place over the weekend to get your action-hungry teeth stuck into.
Another week of the election, another week of scapegoating migrants equals another week in which the deportation machine strides on; imprisoning men, women and children before deporting them to wherever is most expedient. The mainstream political parties' rhetoric surrounding immigration has become less and less distinguishable from that of the BNP. They point their fingers at migrants, positioning one group of oppressed and marginalised people as the cause of the dispossession of other groups.
This anti-migrant discourse is further developed by the mainstream press - including the Nottingham Evening Post - who seek to flog their rags with sensational headlines which blame migrants for all of society’s ills, unwilling or unable to develop a broader analysis.
Meanwhile, resistance continues in the form of migrant protests within the detention estate and solidarity attacks on the companies profiting from running migrant prisons, such as Serco.
Newswire: Serco goverment buildings attacked | Bristol: Serco van tourched | Serco goverment service office attacked in London | London protest at Serco over Yarlswood assaults | Hunger Strike @ Yarlswood | Women in Yarlswood vow to stay on hunger strike | Call for a European Week of Action against the deportation machine | NSPM Peace Conference Politics of Migration
On 23rd March 2010, a high-profile conference about 'policing the borders' that brought together Frontex, the UK Border Agency and senior police officers from various UK police forces was disrupted by No Borders activists protesting against Fortress Europe [press release | video]. Protesters have since posted two of the main presentations that were included in the welcome packs left behind by the delegates who rushed out of the conference hall, one by Frontex on "how to solve cross-border challenges and create an integrated border control system" and the other by ACPO on "the national strategy for UK border policing."
A mass hunger strike by migrant women detained at Yarl's Wood immigration prison in Bedfordshire has been ongoing since 5th February, 2010. The hunger strike, which involved some 84 women at the start, was sparked by detainees demanding that "the frustration and humiliation of all foreign nationals [in detention] ends now" (see demands below).
On 8th February, a violent attempt by Serco security guards to break up the protest saw 70 women being locked in a corridor for up to 8 hours without access to food, water, toilet or medical care. Many collapsed and about 20, who climbed out of a window, were beaten up and taken into isolation cells [detainee's account]. Four of the women, singled out as 'ringleaders', were taken to Bedford police station and subsequently transferred to HMP Holloway prison in London, without being charged with any offence or brought before a judge.
A number of protests in solidarity with the hunger strikers have taken place. On 10th February, students and campaigners held a two-day solidarity hunger strike at the London offices of Serco, the private security company that runs Yarl's Wood. Two days later, on 12th February, a noisy demo was held outside Serco's offices, with around 50 people present. 84 Northwest No Borders activists also took part in a 24-hour fast in solidarity with the 84 detainees on hunger strike. 66 people in Bradford also took part in a one-day solidarity hunger strike. On 17th February, a protest was held outside HMP Holloway in solidarity with the 'Yarl's Wood four'. On 21st February, a protester was held inside the perimeters of Yarl's Wood [press release | pics]. Another protest at the Serco offices in London has been called for Friday, 26th February.
A similar mass hunger strike in Yarl's Wood in June last year was met with violent assaults on detainees by Serco security guards. Again, a solidarity protest was held at the company's offices in London, where protesters sneaked a look at its 'protest response plan'.
On Sunday, 7th February, French Police attacked the Kronstadt Hangar as part of an ongoing campaign of repression against migrants, which included the destruction of many migrant camps and squats in July 2009. The Hangar had been hired by the No Border Network and the French organisation SôS Soutien aux Sans Papiers as an autonomous space for migrants and activists struggling for the right to freedom of movement. Before the Hangar was opened, migrants had been meeting up outside the night shelter during the day, but the night shelter had finally closed at about the time the hangar opened its doors on 6th February.