Hidden among the stories of the past few months, the crisis in Iraq, conflict in Ukraine and the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, there have been the occasional underplayed article involving boat loads of migrants drowning in the Mediterranean. By and large these stories refer to migrants attempting to sail from Libya to either Italy or Malta and suffering terrible consequences, drownings from capsized boats, dehydration, vessels rammed and tipped over, people being forcibly returned to the Libyan authorities. So what exactly is going on here? Who are the principal actors? And who are the people who seem to risk everything to get to Europe?

libyalibya2

The route from Libya to Europe is referred to as ‘the Central Route’ by Frontex, the European Union’s central organisation responsible for intelligence and joint operations on the borders of the member states. Data collected by Frontex since 2008 reveals a striking picture of the results of numerous deals and interventions by players as diverse as NATO, Italy, the EU Commission and Libya’s National Transition Council. Libya and the Central Route are considered a major source of illegal migration into the EU. Since 2008 Libya has seen Gadaffi be overthrown and deposed by a revolution which has desecended into a civil war – with militias taking over responsibility for various government departments, including immigration and asylum. With neighbours caught in internal repressions and conflicts (Eritrea, Somalia, South Sudan), and an increasingly xenophobic EU demanding the prevention of migrants using boats to cross the Mediterranean, Libya has become a hell on earth for refugees.

Back in 2007/8, the Central Route saw a sharp rise in the number of illegal crossings. Frontex figures reveal that in 2008, approximately 40,000 migrants were recorded making the crossing. Such numbers prompted the Italian government to push for a bilateral agreement with Libya and Colonel Gadaffi, in an attempt to slow the movements. This agreement saw Libya using highly repressive actions to stop migrants leaving in boats, and Italy paid for a new militaristic infrastructure to identify, detain and deport migrants attempting to cross into Italy. Frontex figures show the success of this agreement, with 11,000 making the journey in 2009 and only 4,500 recorded in 2010.

However, with the advent of the Arab Spring and the rebellion against Gadaffi in 2011, a space was opened up for migrants escaping the Horn of Africa and North African regimes such as Tunisia to cross the Mediterranean. With internal conflict and the forcible expulsion of sub-Saharan Africans the figures show that a staggering 64,300 people crossed that year. With the border regime in Libya in turmoil and increasing numbers making the crossing Italy again responded. In 2012 the National Transition Council (NTC) in Libya made a deal with Italy to prevent boats leaving. It also allowed the Italian coastguard and Navy to patrol the waters, push back any identified vessels and hand them over to the NTC authorities. This action was a flagrant breach of several acts to protect human rights, including the EU Human Rights act and the Geneva Convention on Refugees. An EU judge ruled that any vessels intercepted by Italian authorities were under the protection of the Italian government and as such deserved their rights as potential asylum seekers. Italy also signed an agreement with Tunisia to return the majority of the Tunisian migrants. Even so, these illegal actions were highly effective, and figures for recorded crossings dropped to 15,900 in 2012. Also implicated in these illegal actions were NATO warships and vessels. Goldmiths University produced a report using sophisticated oceanography technology and claimed that NATO vessels had spotted several distressed boats of migrants and refused to help, and in some cases pushed them back. Survivors reported NATO helicopters and boats observing them for hours without offering assistance.

In the past year Libya has seen a tremendous upsurge in violence and internal repression. Refugees and migrants are treated with an appalling lack of respect. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty have made several reports outlining the degrading and brutal treatment of detainees in Libyan detention facilities. Torture, sexual assaults, whippings, refusal of medical treatment, lack of access to legal infrastructure and other violations have been outlined here and here. Libya remains a nexus for migration, due to its geographical location and existing trafficking networks. In 2013 the greatest upsurge of demographics were in the Syrian refugee population which increased by 8,699% from the previous year to 9,591 recorded crossings. Also highly visible were Eritrean and Somali populations. With no end to the militia based conflict inside the country, refugees remain trapped between the need to escape their home countries, earn some money working in Libya and then attempting to leave via a boat.

Despite the whipping up of anti-immigrant sentiment in the UK, which portrays all asylum seekers and refugees as opportunistic parasites coming to claim hard working cash from British people, the people crossing the Mediterranean come from a few specific countries. By and large the Eritran, Somali and Syrian populations are currently highly represented. This is not surprising given that Somalia is a failed state gripped by warfare, Syria is in the midst of an endless civil war, and Eritrea may qualify as one the most brutal dictatorships in the world (Eritrea is such a closed regime even the Minister for Information fled the country in 2013 as a refugee!). It makes a mockery of the aspersion that these people know the ins and outs of the UK benefit system.

The situation that these refugees find themselves in, crossing in small wooden boats – overcrowded and under-stocked with fuel, food and water, is not a natural or inevitable one. It is one of design, created by specific pieces of legislation. The implementation of lethal border regimes forces this journey on people and so must bear the responsibility of the deaths, which are fast becoming a daily occurrence. It’s time we recognised that the consequences of Europe’s borders are not statistics, but real human misery and death. Changing this would require political courage and a strong demand from civil society not to tolerate this situation in our name or in the name of our security.

A

Further info:

Youtube documentary on the situation

No Borders South Wales, with Stop NATO Cymru, has called for a day of action against racism, prisons and borders.

This is Tuesday 2nd September. There is a planned demonstration in Cardiff. We welcome other solidarity actions for those unable to make it to Cardiff.

A key means through which NATO and its constituent members maintain their power is through the control of the mobility of all but the richest few, which has given rise to increasingly militarised border regimes across the globe.

afm-press-office-2012-28-08-afm-libyan-trainingdronesarton175603-85fb8 You can tell what country NATO is currently terrorising by who’s desperately trying – and often dying – to get to the “safety” of the UK. Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia and other parts of North Africa, and more recently Syria. Countries that the West – frequently with their Saudi friends – have turned into “failed states”.

India_pakistan_2448518b0,,3972346_4,00indexPeople fleeing death, rape, their homes destroyed. Drowning in the Mediterranean. Being battered by cops in Calais, asphyxiated on container lorries, locked up in the prisons laughingly referred to as UK detention centers, put in solitary confinement or regular prisons if they standup for themselves. And then deported, often to their deaths.

pirhayati20110610153644140frontex-greece_thumb[1]palestinian-journalists-media-press-israeli-soldierImmigration control – aka racist state terrorism – is not just about UK racism. It’s about global capital’s strategy of free movement of capital. And selective control of labour, where wanted skills are allowed entry and the rest are expected to die quietly.

No Borders South Wales calls for a day of action on the theme of borders and anti-racism.

no borders

We call for a “noise demo” at 12noon on September 2nd outside the regional headquarters of the Home Office, 31-33 General Buildings, Newport Road, where life and death decisions are made and dawn raids ordered and carried out.

See here for posters and leaflets that can be printed for distribution: poster / flyer

STOP NATOWe also call for decentralised actions by affinity groups throughout the day (see Stop NATO Cymru maps for ideas).

For more information on days of action and opposition to the 2014 NATO summit see:  http://network23.org/stopnatocymru

images

no borders Full call-out and final draft of poster coming soon…

Save the date: Tuesday 2nd September!

 

Get involved by coming to our next meeting:

Monday 25th August at 7pm at the Red and Black Umbrella.

No meeting this Monday, as many of us will be out of Cardiff.

Next meeting will be Monday August 25th -

From 7pm – 8pm at the Red and Black Umbrella Social Centre.

We will be also going to eat or drink together afterwards. This will depend on what those present want to do.

 

We plan to meet fortnightly to build campaigns in the South Wales area as well as looking to our day of action during the NATO summit in Newport this September.

The next meeting will be on Monday 4th August at 7pm at the Red and Black Umbrella Social Centre on Clifton Street, Adamsdown.

We aim to keep meetings to an hour and then get something to eat or drink together afterwards.

If you can’t make the meetings you will be able to get a message to us through 078 4560 1239 or noborderswales[at]riseup[dot]net.

Racist vans, harassment of migrants via text messages from private companies, cuts to legal aid, cuts to English language learning provision, cuts in support services – and phone-lines that people now struggle to use…and more to come from the new Immigration Bill – some might just conclude that the government’s policies are an attack on the vulnerable, but then again, when hasn’t this been the case?

Home Secretary, Theresa May has openly stated a desire to create a “hostile environment” for all but “the brightest and best” migrants.

But whatever governments try to do, people will be there, working together in unity and solidarity to try and change the far-right policies that don’t help anyone, even the richest or bigoted.

Action has been taking place around Europe to build resistance and empower people to stand up for their rights.

freedombanner

The ‘March for Freedom‘ walked for 450km between Strasburg and Brussels, and defied laws by crossing borders that is now a normal occurrence for Europe’s citizens, but denied to vistors seeking sanctuary from wars and conflict.

Activists in Calais have stood up to openly fascist groups and seen support grow as far-right demos were cancelled. Many have now reclaimed a major space in the city to use for solidarity work.

cms

Here in south Wales, activists have recently become involved in the necessary work to support destitute asylum seekers. The government cuts are forcing more people to sleep rough. Cardiff Destitution Network is helping to make the grass-route changes that challenge this bogus system, it was set up by solidarity activists in CMS Wales, which has been active since 2012 after being inspired by the Unity Centre in Glasgow. Some activists have spent less time coming to meetings and more time helping to promote events and organise local benefit gigs which help to fund the vital work that keeps people safe and alive.

Some have worked with various organisations to help make Cardiff a ‘City of Sanctuary’ – hoping that their input helps to make a real difference on the ground so that those that need to the most can directly benefit from the ‘award’.

Many others have been involved in anti-deportation campaigning, alongside friends in south Wales and a now released Dignity marcher to South Wales from Bristol.

We want to build on this though.

We have plans to hold a day of action during the NATO summit in South Wales, and also to help organise a new No Borders Convergence, bringing together migration activists from all over the UK and beyond. Our friends in Bristol and Leeds are growing the No Borders struggles there, and other groups in Manchester, Brighton, Oxford and Nottingham are building a new Migrant Solidarity Network, which Cardiff is also linked to.

This work is to create a world where no one is oppressed or discriminated against because of their status, ethnicity, gender or sexuality.

We want a No Borders group again, that will use protests and many forms of direct action to get results. When detention centres have been blockaded and flights have been cancelled, people’s lives have been saved. We’re meeting tonight to help make this happen. We hope that you can join us at Cathays Community Centre from 6pm to be a part of it. We will aim to meet regularly after that.

You can contact us for more information but we’d like to see you stand together with us if possible.

For a world without borders, in which all are equal and live without conflict.

Image

More info: https://www.facebook.com/events/609343772468721/?fref=ts

URGENT CALL OUT TO ALL THE ANTIFASCISTS IN BRITAIN

A WHITE PRIDE WORLD WIDE DEMONSTRATION HAS BEEN CALLED BY THE NATIONAL
FRONT IN SWANSEA ON THE 5th OF APRIL 2014. THE DEMO IS CO-ORGANISED BY AN
UMBRELLA GROUP OF BRITISH WHITE NATIONALIST THAT CALL THEMSELVES 'FOR RACE
AND NATION COLLECTIVE'.

The National Front is on the rise in south Wales. In January 2014, they
held their Annual General Meeting in Swansea. This meeting went ahead
un-disrupted by any antifascist and/or antifa.

Since then, people from several areas throughout south Wales have
contacted the NF to organise local demonstrations. In one of them, a small
group of people confronted them. However, no call out was made nationally.

In March 2013, the first UK-wide White Pride World Wide event was held in
Swansea organised by the National Front. Up to 100 fascists attended and
although outnumbered, they held a static demonstration with minimal
confrontation or disruption. This time, they are trying to make it bigger
than last year.

The NF is also part of For Race and Nation Collective: a combination of
multiple fascists groups who believe in white supremacy. They are
co-organising this demonstration.

If they are not properly confronted again, the city of Swansea is in
danger of becoming the White Pride UK Capital. Swansea is becoming the NF
capital in Wales, as mentioned earlier.

This as we know, must not happen. Fascists should not be welcomed in
Swansea, Wales or anywhere on this planet. We, as antifascists in Wales
want the National Front and all fascist groups out and out forever.

This is an urgent call out for anyone who identifies as an antifascist to
come to Swansea on the 5th of April 2014.

This is the time when we urgently need all the support from anyone from
anywhere who is against fascism and racism.

Please put the 5th of April 2014 in your diary and come to Swansea to stop
the UK’s White Pride World Wide.

See you on the streets! ¡No Pasarán!

•        We are an independent group of antifa people who live in Wales

•        Our main objective is to organise resistance against fascism in
Swansea.
We are currently organising a counter demo.

emily-yehEmily Yeh has lived in Newport for 18 months, arriving to seek sanctuary from Taiwan. She refused to be an intelligence officer for the Taiwanese government as she became morally uncomfortable with the work she was asked to carry out.

She was detained on Tuesday 10th December, “Human Rights Day”, and held at Newport Central Police Station.  As soon as news came out that she was to be forcibly removed from the police station to a detention centre, some 25 friends turned up to show solidarity and kept a presence there for over 12 hours. She is now in imprisoned in Yarl’s Wood, a detention centre run by Serco, on behalf of the UK Home Office, who intend to forcibly remove her from the UK.

MY1

Since then, her friends and other activists have set up a campaign (originally referring to her as M.Y. to protect her identity) calling for her to be returned to Newport – where she can continue to build a new life for herself within the community where she has become such an important and valued member. In Taiwan she would face a very uncertain future.  There is a website and a Facebook page with daily updated information.

Her case has gone global, with reports in the media in Taiwan, China, Pakistan and Qatar, among others.

MY must stay!

Hundreds of emails and phone calls later – most during a phone blockade of EVA Airways, who were due to fly her out of the UK  – Emily is still in the UK, but has been taken ill; with bad stomach pains, blood in her urine, and a diagnosis of kidney stones, and possible epilepsy.

Emily is incredibly grateful for the overwhelming support she has received, and, as she attempts to recover from her illnesses, almost definitely made worse by the stress of her situation, she is in talks with her solicitor, who is also fighting for her to stay in the UK, as is her right under the Geneva Convention and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Her friends have reported that Emily claims that staff at Yarl’s Wood had “pushed (her) off her seat” and that there were “bad things said to her/about her”. If confirmed, this would be a serious allegation against the staff there, especially after when much controversy has already surrounded Yarl’s Wood, after hunger strikes, fires and the recent sexual abuse some of the woman detainees have suffered at the hands of its staff.

The campaign still hopes and plans to continue trying to persuade the airline not to take Emily, and for the Home Office to release her so that she can be returned to Newport where she belongs.

If you want to get in touch with the campaign, you can do so at southwalessolidarity@hotmail.com

044 In Calais, inside an old “cash and carry” of beers ,which is abandoned since years and called “Beer house” by its inhabitants, living about 150 and 200 hundred migrants from Sudan, Chad, Syria, Eritrea, Somalia, Palestine…)

They have  found a shelter there since almost a year. It’s been some time that the authorities want to close this place and the eviction is really near ( a matter of days).

The inhabitants wanted to express their non-understanding of the situation and their fear of loosing even the last peaces a human live. With the eviction of the beerhouse the authorities would reach a new level of violation against humanity.

The people from the beer house explaining their situation themselves like that:

“ The life is hard in “Beer house”, there is no shower, no toilets, no electricity, no water, no food. We can only eat what Salam gives to us and it is only one meal a day. When the winter will come, it’s going to be very cold and we will a lot of diseases. Besides, We can’t even wash our clothes.

We live like dogs while we are human beings. Even dogs have a roof and food to eat in Europe and treated better than us. They live in a house and us amongst the garbage.

Despites those conditions, we have accepted this situation, and now they want to withdraw from us the small thing we have? Here, we died already one time, and, by putting us in the street, they are going to kill us again. What are the police and the government are going to do for us if we are in the street?

Are they going to help us ?

We are not seeking to condem France but to lights up our inhumane living conditions and to call for help to live at least under human conditions.”

About fifty of us are asylum seekers or are willing to become one.

Some of us are waiting since two years in Calais without any answer from the government and a place to stay, while other are waiting in the streets for the first asylum interview for months.

We don’t have access to a house or a center for asylum seekers. We would just be put in a “foyer” which are like jails with strict rules and no freedom. Under such conditions the french government is forcing us to ask for asylum in England.”

This is the case for most of the inhabitants of the beer house. Put under pressure and fear, caused from the coming eviction. People hurry to cross to England and taking by that even all the risk. For example fourteen people tried to cross in a truck full with
chemical products where they almost choked.

The « beer house » inhabitants would like «the whole world”, to worry about their living conditions, the eviction and its consequences.

ref3People from Cardiff joined the ‘Dignity not Destitution March’ in Bristol this weekend, in solidarity with destitute asylum seekers. Marches and demonstrations were also held in Bradford, Leeds, Sheffield and Glasgow.

This weekend, Cardiff Migrant Solidarity are announcing the creation of a new resource called Share Dydd. Share Dydd aims to offer hospitality, in theform of accommodation, meals, welcome and solidarity, to destitute asylum seekers in Cardiff.

http://asylumseekersinbristol.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/bristol-march-off-to-great-start.html

Asylum seekers become destitute because they have been refused sanctuary by the Government and all financial and other forms of support has been withdrawn from them. In very limited circumstances refused asylum seekers can apply for ‘Hard Case’ support, or Section 4, as it is known. However many asylum seekers don’t apply for Section 4, because they are afraid, as it means they will have to agree to return home to countries where there is on-going conflict, violence or human rights abuses.

They remain here, cold and hungry on the streets of Cardiff.

We hope to launch Share Dydd this later in the summer

For more information please email sharedydd@gmail.com

As well as campaigning against the racist border regime, it’s important to organise against fascist thugs when they try to take over our streets. Ignoring the obvious contradiction, the National Front have called a “White Pride World Wide” demonstration in Swansea on March 9th, and a strong antifascist presence is planned in response.

The National Front showing up again after all these years is easily interpreted. With the English Defence League in a shambles and the BNP imploding, racist yobs are hoping to unite under an old banner unsullied, as they see it, by the various failures, fractures and disgraces that have engulfed the far right in recent years. We need to take them seriously, and oppose any attempt to bring their hateful, hideous ideologies onto our streets. A threat to any section of our community is a threat to society as a whole and must not be tolerated, whether it comes in the form of a dawn raid by the UKBA, or a fascist’s intention to intimidate their way through the city centre.

“Only one thing could have stopped us – if our adversaries had, from the first day, smashed with the utmost brutality the nucleus of our movement.” – Adolf Hitler

Counter-demonstration to meet at Castle Garden Square, 11am. More details coming soon.

Facebook group here: http://www.facebook.com/events/113020642216513/?ref=ts&fref=ts

Citizens UK is an organisation that aims to unite “community leaders” for a strong civil society. The ‘Temple of Peace & Health’ was the host to an event by Citizens UK to develop a chapter in Cardiff.

Four activists from Cardiff decided to try and bring some accountability to the organisation on December 5th this month, after experiencing the effect that family detention and deportations have on people known closely.

Party leaders and Citizens UK - failed

Party leaders and Citizens UK – failed

The reason that Citizens UK is a target, is that despite having a campaign to end child detention in the UK, it has failed to speak out since the opening of the most recent detention centre, CEDARS, which opened last year. CEDARS is controversially partly run by charity Barnardos, for families in the UK, and despite the fact that no open procurement tendering process for the facility, (as required by EU and UK legislation), took place, activists came together over a year ago to try and close CEDARS before it was even open, which was also made harder by public access to the planning application being restricted.[1] Because of the difficult nature of the campaign in 2011 and noticeable absence of more establishment campaign groups backing it, CEDARS opened in August 2011. Since then, the centre has held over 40 families and around 100 children, yet Citizens UK still attempt to claim on its website that all child detention has ended, when UKBA figures themselves contradict this.[2]

Offical figures show that hundreds of children have been detained since 2010, some of them more than once – which breaks the ‘red lines’[3] that Barnardos have set themselves in the running of this detention centre – and in the figures released by UKBA only days before, 47 children have been detained by UKBA in the last 3 months, with more than half of those in existing detention centres, explicitly against one of the campaign demands that Citizens UK had in 2010.[4]

Leaflets with these facts, and a quote from Citizens UK claiming that all child detention has ended, were taken to the event at the Temple of Peace, Cathays Park, and left on every table and in front of most of the attendees.[5] This leaflet also questioned why Citizens UK has not spoken out against CEDARS detention centre and highlighted the campaign that is ongoing against Barnardos for allowing this detention centre to be built due to its complicity in the running of it as an accomplice to notorious security company G4S.

As the charity Medical Justice puts it:

“they ruined the campaign to end the detention of children, which campaigners felt could be achievable as the government had already promised it.”

As the distribution of these leaflets was allowed to take place without incident, despite them being very critical of Citizens UK, campaigners stayed for a while to talk to some participants about their concerns. Some participants even came themselves to talk to the group, and after a brief discussion about the groups aims, we wait to see if Citizens UK might now speak out against future detention, or campaigners might be back to future events to hold them to account for 2010 promises.

Cardiff activists also encourage other groups to take the campaign to Citizens UK in other cities until child detention has finally ended in the UK.

An injury to one is an injury to all!

No-one is illegal!

End all child detention!

For more information about the campaign to end child detention in the UK see: http://network23.org/barnardosout  /  http://ecdn.org/

Footnotes

[1] http://london.noborders.org.uk/node/473

[2] http://www.justiceandpeacescotland.org.uk/Home/tabid/40/ctl/details/itemid/651/mid/531/ukba-immigration-statistics-quarter-3-julyaugustseptember-2012.aspx

[3] http://www.barnardos.org.uk/news/media_centre/press_releases.htm?ref=70802

[4] http://diaspora-newcitizens.nationbuilder.com/child_detention

[5] Leaflet below

Leaflets were made that called on Citizens UK to speak out against CEDARS

Leaflets were made that called on Citizens UK to speak out against CEDARS

News arrived on Tuesday afternoon that the Saleh family had been given removal directions for 8am the next morning. Friends of the family immediately scrambled to get to the hated ‘Barnardo’s’ detention centre ‘Cedars’, near Pease Pottage. By midnight we had some idea of numbers – around 20, or 25 tops – and all met up nearby for an impromptu picnic and a chat about what to do. Everyone was on the ball, everyone determined to do whatever they could to hold up that bus.

While we were talking two devastating pieces of news came through. An injunction had been passed to stop the Saleh family’s deportation but after a phone call from the UKBA explaining that the Border Agency had spent £60,000 on chartering a plane to deport the family, Judge Eady had reversed his decision and cancelled the injunction.

While we were reeling from that we were told that Mrs Saleh, a personal friend to some of us and the mother of one of our closest mates, had slit her wrists.

People fell to their knees, weeping. Others held each other tightly. As phone calls were made to scrape together further news, a picture emerged. Mrs Saleh was alive and, despite the mental and physical harm done to her by this situation, was still due to be deported. In her desperation she had written a message in blood on the wall of her cell: “I only wanted to save my children.”

We turned up at Cedars in drips and drabs, approaching on foot from the north in small, discrete groups who could duck into hedges and cover the white of their faces as headlights swelled in the darkness. At around 1.30 the first group was stopped by a police car near the entrance to the centre but others slipped past and melted into shadows and hedges. Police followed, trying to pick people out with torches but couldn’t seem to get a handle on our numbers. People moved up and down the road, drifting around the gates to the centre, and gradually moving to block both gates. A line of police formed up on the left gate but left the other gate alone as a small number of people were already clinging securely to the bars – they stayed there all night.

There was a stand-off for a good hour and a half. More police arrived and blocked the left gate, asking demonstrators to get off the drive but not trying to move them. The right hand gate, with people still clinging on, was further blocked by the arrival of a police car. The atmosphere was tense, as whispered plans were formed and reformed. More cop vehicles arrived on the scene, and a dog unit could be heard, gradually moving around behind the demonstrators at the left gate. People kept milling around, with no consistent numbers on either gate but lots of movement between the two. Police numbers seemed to be around the 30-40 mark.

The bus arrived at left gate around 3am. A line of us linked arms and tried to stand in its path but were roughly pulled apart and moved aside by police – the manhandling was quite intense considering our low numbers and some of the cops seemed rather wound up, barking at us to “back off” while holding us two-on-one in assorted wrist and arm locks.

That was when the screaming started. As the ruck was broken down one of ours was lying face down on the edge of the drive with two pigs on top of her, wailing at the top of her lungs for a medic. The medic was restrained a couple of metres away but the cops would neither let him go, nor get the injured woman the attention she needed. As the bus went into the centre everyone held at left gate except for this woman was shoved onto the grassy area between left and right gate. The medic kept an eye on the injured who was now frozen in a dodgy kneeling position, and kept asking the cops to let him through, call one of their medics, get an ambulance or at least support the person’s drooping head as the back injury could have been some kind of spinal. None of the cops seemed to give a toss but eventually an ambulance was called, although one of ours had already called one.

As the bus pulled through the gates a shadow darted across in front of it, dived beneath the chassis and locked itself on to the vehicle’s front axle. Immediately the call went up NOT to drive or try to drag the hero away. The bus was immobilised!

It was a good half hour before the ambulance arrived for our injured one, during which time no support or first aid was given by the police, no medic was called from Cedars, our medic was prevented from assessing the woman and the cop assigned to ‘looking after’ her pretty much just wandered around with her hands in her pockets.

Then, after around 45 minutes, the Fire Brigade arrived to cut away our lock-on hero. People tried to persuade them they were enabling an illegal deportation and that the family would face honour killing, violence and rape if they complied with the police. Unfortunately the fire crew did not show their usual courage and made no attempt to delay their work. This horrific system is made up of thousands of people ‘only doing their job’. Lock-on guy was busted for aggravated trespass but has now been released on bail without charge. Perhaps the CPS is unsure whether a lock on in this case counts as disruption of a ‘lawful’ activity, as the deportation itself is so dodgy…

Then came a quiet spell. Some of us watched silhouettes – possibly those of the family – waving from a first floor window. Others attempted to engage individual cops with the issue. Mostly we got blank faces, and cowardly rubbish about ‘following orders’. However, we pressed on, talking to them anyway undeterred by their refusal to talk to us. Eventually some of them wavered, clearly interested now. We attempted to persuade them that they, as individuals, had full autonomy at every moment of their lives but were using their energy and choices to protect an activity they couldn’t actually defend in conversation. Another cop was welling up when we explained that Mrs Saleh’s 17 year old daughter now faces FGM, rape and forced marriage. She was wiping tears away as we told her about our friend in Cardiff, desperate for her mother not to be sent away to her death, and wondered aloud what we would do without our own mothers. We explained that her shield of passive aggression, training and discipline was a barrier to her expressing the healthy emotions she clearly felt about the situation, that we were there because we felt something and she was there because she wasn’t allowed to. I hope a degree of soul searching has followed that conversation.

More cops arrived on site, and around 5.30 we got the message that the family had been moved from their rooms to board the coach. This was make or break time.

The cops around left gate had surged and now an escort van was waiting for the bus in the driveway. We were hideously outnumbered. Someone counted 30 cop vehicles on Brighton Road – more than one car for each of us – and who knows how many cops. The bus moved to the gate at around 6.30am, running very late. It had been held up for hours but was now implacable. One of ours tried to stand in front of the escort van and collapsed rather than be moved away. Physically restrained and overwhelmed, we could do nothing but shout and struggle as the coach drove past.

We piled into cars and tore down the motorway but could find no trace of the bus. One car went to Heathrow but no-one would tell us anything, the others went to Gatwick and came up blank but ran into a ton of armed cops, who weren’t too pleased by the sudden appearance of ‘No Borders’ types and gave our crew some hassle. Sadly, the Saleh family was deported at 8am but we couldn’t even confirm this for hours.

We now have more details. The day after the Director of Prisons issued a damning report ordering G4S to stop using force on minors in detention centres, Mrs Saleh’s 17 year old son was beaten up under the noses of sell-out charity Barnardo’s for resisting deportation. The family called us from an airport in Italy before being bundled onto a Denim Air charter flight and landing in Cairo that evening. They received some form of hassle from Egyptian airport staff and are now lying low, waiting for the next move.

Before their plane even touched down an appeal launched by Mrs Saleh’s solicitor was gathering serious momentum. Due process has been undermined in deporting this family before their judicial review hearing. A judge has reversed an injunction based on the cost of the family’s charter flight after being leaned-on at the 11th hour by some UKBA scumhole. And a minor was beaten up at a Barnardo’s-run detention centre within 24 hours of fierce condemnation of such practices by the Director of Prisons. These people are going to learn that they are not invulnerable and there are serious legal consequences to their actions.

Love and rage to all people facing detention or deportation, and to everyone fighting this sick, sick border regime.

PEACEFUL DEMONSTRATION in Support of SALEH FAMILY!

Saturday 27th October, 11.30am

Aneurin Bevan Statue on Queen St, Cardiff.

Bring signs, banners, instruments and friends!

Archives

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,596 other followers

Twitter Updates

RSS Migration Mash-up

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,596 other followers