graffitiIn mid-June in a Cardiff nightclub Alfa Diallo was attacked. A man offered him a drink responding “No thank you I don’t drink” he was shouted at, pushed, punched & called a nigger. He & his attacker were escorted outside where he was punched & kicked some more. The bouncers called the cops, who turned up, saw the colour of Alfa’s skin & searched him finding his asylum documents. They took him to the station, let his attacker go & put Alfa in a cell. Afraid & unaware as to what was going on, sometime later immigration officers came & took him to Dungavel one of Britain’s 8 detention centres in Scotland.

Alfa had been inside for two weeks when we spoke to him. Scared & confused, he still hadn’t been told why he’d been detained. All his belongings had been taken from him & he had no access to legal advice or representation. A solicitor was found that was willing to visit & see if he could help but on the day they arranged to meet Alfa was moved to Harmondsworth, one of two detention prison’s near Heathrow airport. Just after the move he was put in segregation where amongst other things he lost his phone privileges. We were told that he’d been “a naughty boy” & that they couldn’t tell us when Alfa would be let out of segregation & get his ‘privileges’ back.

Over the next week, & despite many phone calls & heated exchanges with phone answerers at Harmondsworth, Alfa was uncontactable. After a week of this we were told that Alfa had been taken into police custody a few days previously. A few phone calls later we managed to find Alfa & speak to him – he was now being held in Colnbrook, Heathrow’s other prison next door. We spoke a number of times over the next few days. He was very worried & felt that he could be deported any minute – a few days later he was. He never did get to see a legal professional – apart from all those involved in processing what will be seen by the government as a successfully executed deportation. Another number for the statistics. Another shining example of the governments ‘firmer, faster, fairer’ migration regime. A regime that doesn’t discriminate in terms of who it locks up – men, women & children – all are fair game!

Maybe Alfa got lucky & returned to smiling faces & people who cared for him. Let’s hope so! Not like those who, often after years in detention, are finally released only to find themselves destitute – being unable to work or to claim any state support – or those that, as well as this, are threatened with having their children taking into care, all as a means of “influencing” them to “voluntarily return”. Nor like those that are returned to the prospect of torture, & murder. All because they happen to be born in one place rather than another.

This article appearing in Gagged! #13