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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.
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. 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.
Offical figures show that hundreds of children have been detained since 2010, some of them more than once – which breaks the ‘red lines’ 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.
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. 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!
 Leaflet below
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!
Despite the best efforts of a handful of friends and family who blockaded Cedars detention centre and held up the coach for 5 hours, Mrs Saleh and her children were taken to an airport on Wednesday morning and deported to Egypt. However, the appeal against this course of action is building serious momentum as there have been a huge number of irregularities, illegalities and clear cases of abuse surrounding these events. Watch this space – we will be posting a detailed update really soon.
DEMONSTRATE! In Support of the Saleh Family
11.30am, Saturday 27th October
Aneurin Bevan Statue, Queen St, Cardiff.
Bring banners, signs, messages of support, and of course everyone you know!
An activist from Cardiff recently attended the No Borders Camp in Koeln/Dusseldorf. Here is a write up of his experiences:
The third convergence this year of the No Borders network in Europe saw a camp on the River Rhine attended by hundreds of activists from around Europe and beyond. The camps are a chance to network with other activists and host and attend workshops to learn about other people’s experience and projects. As well as the usual discussions and info-sharing there is also the opportunity to disrupt the increasingly privately militarised border
regime. Despite the camp having some conflict over people’s positions and ideals, which centred on a criticism of the level of institutional racism in the movement and the tendency of people to speak for people rather than engage with people’s dis-empowerment, the camp was able to take action to support local struggles.
The office of the local Green party was occupied due to their reluctance to support an ongoing hunger strike of refugees, and practical solidarity was shown to the refugees themselves by attempting to stop their harassment by the police. There was also an action at the British consulate in Düsseldorf in protest at the attempted deportaion of Tarik, a torture surviver who was on hunger strike against his indefinate detention in a UK detention centre (something which is contrary even to UKBA guidelines) and an occupation of the French consulate on the same day which lasted for four hours and highlighted the repression of refugees in Calais to many, and called for justice after the death of popular Calais refugee Noureddin Mohammed. More information about this action can be found here:
The final day of the camp saw a day of action against Düsseldorf airport authorities’ collaboration to deport refugees to countries where their lives are at risk. Hundreds of activists from the camp took trains together to the airport and despite heavy police repression, many manged to get inside the airport itself to take the message about Fortress Europe direct to the airport staff and passengers.
The No Borders camps are a big part of the movement’s calendar and a chance to bring the movement together for a few weeks of the year. Next year sees possible camps in the South-West of Europe and a possible camp again in Central Europe, and occasionally activists plan to hold events in other cities in co-ordination with the camps for those that can’t make it to the main events, and it’s always great to host an event in new places so there’s always a chance to be a part of the struggle.
Freedom for all!
Keep banging on the walls of Fortress Europe!
New group Cardiff Migrant Solidarity have set up an anti-deportation campaign for Chijioke Elijah, A Nigerian Activist who was arrested in Bridgend on Tuesday 26th June. Chijioke Elijah is currently being detained at Colnbrook IRC and has been given removal directions for 5th July.
Chijoke was forced flee Nigeria in 2005 following an extremely violent attack on him, which left him scarred and unconscious. He believes this was as a result of his activity with MASSOB a political organisation that works for the resurgence of the state of Biafra from Nigeria. His family and friends are extremely concerned that he may be deported to Nigeria imminently and are very worried about his safety there. Recent news articles show that the Nigerian police are regularly using lethal force to control crowds at MASSOB protests.
For the past two years Chijioke has been engaged to Lisa, a British citizen. Lisa and Chijioke are very much in love and Lisa’s family has welcomed Chijioke with open arms. If Chijioke is returned to Nigeria his relationship with Lisa will come to an abrupt end. With children and grandchildren in the UK Lisa is unable to relocate to Nigeria to be with Chijioke.
Chijioke would also be at risk because of the recent attacks on Christians in northern Nigeria. After an attack by gunmen at the start of the year, which killed over 20 Christians,  the radical Islamist sect Boko Haram told all Christians to leave Gombe state, where the attack took place. As a pastor in his former church, Chijioke would be particularly at risk as attacks on Christians in Nigeria increase.
Cardiff Migrant Solidarity is calling for people to write letters to the UKBA and the Home Office on his behalf to try and reverse their decision to return him to Nigeria. His campaign is also online at NCADC where you can find a template letter.
Chijioke says, “I can’t go back to Nigeria. My life is in danger there. I have a family here and I don’t want to be separated from them. My partner Lisa is devastated and her children were crying all day yesterday when they heard what had happened.”
For more information please contact email@example.com
We note the recent spat between Labour and Plaid councillors over claims of reporting Asian business’s to the UK Border Agency and over claims of racism by the UK Border Agency.
The polices of Border Agency, the UK Government and European Governments, mean that the UKBA focuses on business’s where they think they will find poorer people with darker skin. And this makes these polices racist.
In 2010 196,00 people migrated to the UK. The majority of these are from the Europe, but India and Pakistan account for 15% of those arriving. Of the top ten countries that send the most people to the UK, countries that are significantly poorer than the UK account for 26% of these people
According to the ‘The Migration Observatory at Oxford University’ in 2010 39,030 people were removed from the UK .
The top ten countries where people are removed to account for nearly 50% of those removed. Of these, there is a clear bias towards countries poorer than the UK. (India, Brasil, China, Pakistan, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Vietnam) Only 2 countries in the top ten (USA and Malaysia) are similar to the UK
No Borders activists have watched UKBA Officers at work on Queen Street, inviting the public to ‘discuss’ their immigration status with officers. In a period of 2 hours the officers only picked people of colour for their discussions.
The real story is that people in Riverside and all over Cardiff face uncertain futures, destitution and incredible hardship because of the policies of the UK Government and all European Governments. People have to work ‘illegally’ to survive and can be exploited by unscrupulous employers.
It may well be a councillor’s duty, as an elected government official, to pass on information to the relevant authorities about illegality and it’s great to hear councillors speak up about the policies and operations of the Border Agency.
But we think it would be amazing if wasn’t just at election time!
At 11.00am on Tuesday 5th of July activists attended and disrupted a Group 4 (G4S) consultation in Cardiff. G4S are bidding to run a service called COMPASS ( Commercial and Operational Managers Procuring Asylum Support Services). This is a project aimed at finding an outsourced provider for housing asylum-seekers, as well as associated services and transport.
Activists from No Borders and other groups disrupted the corporate double-speech to give one of their own, highlighting the violent and unaccountable nature of G4S. Questions were asked and activists argued that G4S were not fit to run services such as housing considering their history of abuse towards asylum-seekers. The response was one of denial and dismissal, when one young asylum-seeker spoke up about their fears of living under G4S they were flatly ignored.
Migrant housing is currently run by the UKBA, and their intention is that, by August 2012, asylum accomodation will be run by other organisations. G4S hopes to be that organisation. We argue that G4S should not be given this contract.
-G4S has serious allegations of abuse and unaccountability, most notably:
A 2008 report by Medical Justice details nearly 300 cases of alleged physical assault and racial abuse by private security in the deportation process. G4S is the largest private security company in this field.
In 2010, following a House of Lords report, Baroness O’Loan found that the majority of cases in which complaints were made, previous investigations were inadequate or not done. She said that, ‘on occasion there quite simply had been a failure to deal properly with the complaints’. Companies such as G4S are unaccountable.
In Oct 2010 Jimmy Mubenga died at the hands of G4S staff on a deportation flight. He was suffocated as he tried to complain about being returned against this will.
G4S are not social landlords. They are the worlds largest private army, running prisons, transferring detainees and are concerned with their profit, with a record of brutality and violence.
At around 3.00pm the UKBA decided to raid, in broad daylight, a beauty salon on Clifton St. Despite there being children and customers inside the UKBA shut the doors of the shop and closed the shutters. No Borders activists were present and quickly got support and a banner to highlight the reality that this is an everyday occurrence for people without the correct citizenship. Leaflets were handed out and passers-by stopped to give support or have discussions. Many people were outraged and told us that the shop had been raided before. They left without detaining anyone and carried on into Splott in two unmarked blue people carriers. Some supporters tried to ask a local traffic warden to ticket the illegally parked cars but she told them that she couldn’t because it was a UKBA vehicle.
On Friday 13th May the Congolese community came together for a lively demonstration against the potential re-election of President Joseph Kabila, a man surrounded by corruption and with his vice-president facing charges of war crimes in the Hague. The demonstration marched from City Hall, along Queen St through the city centre accompanied by songs and chants. Friday shoppers stood aside as the small but colourful demonstration swept past. The demonstration then proceeded by foot to the Bay to hand a signed letter to the Welsh Assembly Government.
The demonstration came just days after the release of a horrific new report in the American Journal of Public Health that 400,000 women were raped between 2006-2007 in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This amounts to 48 women every hour. They stress that this simply reflects better reporting ability for women in the DRC. Michael VanRooyen, Director of the Harvard Humanitarian Institute stated that “Rape in the DRC…has emerged as one of the great human crisis of our times”. There is further information here:
This news demonstrates the relentless violence going on in many parts of the DRC. However, whilst the country continues to be occupied by militias, the Home Office, the UK Border Agency and the EU still feel it appropriate to deport refugees en masse back to the DRC. No Borders has reported previously on expulsion flights leaving the UK for DRC. Most recently on Thursday 28th of April a Frontex charter flight deported people from the UK before leaving for Brussels and ultimately Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
At least 62 people died in the Mediterranean after weeks of attempting to sail to Italy. The ship carrying 72 African migrants contacted a refugee group in Rome by satellite phone and asked them to call the authorities. The Italian coast-guard contacted several ships in the area described as well as alerting Maltese authorities. The survivors tell a harrowing tale:
” Soon a military helicopter marked with the word “army” appeared above the boat. The pilots, who were wearing military uniforms, lowered bottles of water and packets of biscuits and gestured to passengers that they should hold their position until a rescue boat came to help. The helicopter flew off, but no rescue boat arrived”
Soon after an aircraft carrier believed to be the French Charles de Gaulle was spotted, two aircraft took off and flew low over the boat. Despite this they were left to die of starvation and thirst. The UNHCR has demanded an enquiry. They state that over 800 migrants have thought to have died so far in recent attempts of migrants fleeing conflicts in North Africa to reach Europe.
This show of indifference from the authorities underlines the reality of European attitudes to migrants when out of sight of the public. The border agency Frontex has been documented ignoring and turning boats over in the Aegean and Mediterranean.
This news comes as the latest from the horrific tragedies of people dying to reach safety yet again. Despite NATO bombing Libya in the name of peace they show their true colours when leaving the same intended protected people to drown.
Women Seeking Sanctuary Advocacy Group (WSSAG) Wales is a growing self help group run by and for asylum seeking and refugee women in South Wales.
“We offer moral, emotional, social and practical support to one another. WSSAG is a platform where we all share our experiences, difficulties, as a problem shared is a problem halved. We feel that together we make a better stand.
Even though we do not give immigration advice, we signpost our ladies to where to get help, we encourage and promote social cohesion within the community. We are committed to promoting a positive image of people seeking sanctuary.”
In partnership with the Cardiff Ethnic Minority Communities team the group launched a book called “Seeking Sanctuary: Journeys of Despair and Hope” on Tuesday 19th April 2011 at the Wales Millennium Centre, which is now available via their website. The book contains six real life experiences of women who have fled human rights abuse, persecution, and all sorts of other abuses but still have decided to speak out about their ordeals and hope to rebuild their lives.
On Thursday 28th of April there will be a Frontex* charter flight from Brussels to Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Our fellow activists in Belgium tell us that it will be taking 60 people, 15 from Belgium and another 45 from the UK, Holland, Ireland and Sweden. On the flight will be the Belgium federal police and possibly some private security.
Despite that speed of the operation it appears that No Borders activists in Belgium are putting up a struggle against this flight. Here’s hoping that the flight is stopped and people can return to their families and friends.
UPDATE: This morning (28/05/2011), around 20 activists blockaded entrance to the 127 bis detention centre in Steenokkerzeel, near the main airport of Brussels. Using lock-ons from around 4.30am they intend to prevent this charter flight from leaving. Indymedia article here: http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2011/04/478368.html
* Frontex is the European agency concerned with protecting the external borders of Europe. Amongst other things it co-ordinates European wide charter flights with member states.