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The summer of 2015 has seen a massing of support for refugees in Europe. If even the typically hostile Daily Mail urges us to think of the lives lost in the Mediterranean, inflammatory and completely dehumanising remarks like those of Katie Hopkins, just seem like a distant memory – and the fear towards ‘the other’ that the media had for so long attempted to smear us all with, appears to finally be well and truly changing.
In this context, and the thousands of people who are joining social media campaigns, setting up groups and organisations, raising thousands of pounds in donations, and making trips to Calais, as well as now also contacting existing organisations to ask to find out more and offer help, and helping to bring existing campaigns (like those of City of Sanctuary, Oxfam and Citizens UK) closer together in a wider spirit of solidarity, we could be heading towards a shift from the ‘little islander’ narrative that parties like UKIP have played on, and create a new narrative of international solidarity and a shared destiny for us as 21st century global citizens. However the next months transpire in terms of the media coverage and levels of support, people will still want to seek sanctuary in Europe from military warfare and the more oppressive regimes, so we must not forget the thousands of people who are still yet to make Britain their home, at least for some time, and show people some of the same welcome that has been so inspiring to see transcribed on banners across football stadiums in cities in Germany, and at the railway stations as people arrive – including now in Budapest, as donated shoes are left for the next to arrive there.
Wales has come together to show its support – the Nation of Sanctuary campaign has been launched and Facebook groups to support people in Calais and beyond have attracted thousands of people. Here are some for west and south Wales:
Cardiff became the city it is today because of immigration. The docks in Cardiff were built by the sweat of the brow of Irish migrant labour in the nineteenth century. They brought people from around the world to settle here and build a life for themselves. We need a 21st century culture of hospitality and welcome across Wales, especially for refugees who are seeking sanctuary from war and persecution.
At midday today, Wales will hold at least three demonstrations to support refugees and migrants, and highlight the need for greater support for Syrians and other asylum seekers already in the UK. The Cardiff demonstration is called ‘Wales says #RefugeesWelcome’ – marking the hashtag that trended as opinions about this summer’s refugee crisis changed. It will assemble at the statue of Aneurin Bevan, as we remember that the NHS wouldn’t be the same without the hard work and dedication of migrant labour in Britain. It will end with a march to the Home Office on Newport Road.
This protest has been initiated by campaigners from Cardiff People’s Assembly, Cardiff Stop the War Coalition. HOPE not hate South Wales, No Borders South Wales, Rumney Forum, UNITE Cardiff Community Branch and others. It is supported by Welsh Refugee Council and Trinity Centre Cardiff. It is part of a European day of action. The activists of Europe can work together, even as the governments of the nation states argue over who is to blame and what principles of the EU might remain after this summer. It is in fact working class solidarity that is needed more than ever, and is a part of the migrant struggle. If the working class is divided, the elite find it easier to exploit us – it is only through solidarity that we can build on what we have in common, then focusing together on the need to challenge those elite powers, that, at the moment, can decide all our lives and our futures – and work together to not be dominated by them. The refugees’ struggle is our struggle, and we’ve got a world to win.
There are several interesting meetings coming up in Cardiff over the next few weeks:
1) Anti-Raids Network Cardiff: Tues 30th Sept, Red Sea Club, 11-13 City Rd, 7pm-9pm
Organising against immigration raids through community solidarity and practical action. London based network info here
2) No Borders South Wales Introduction and Meeting: Mon 6th Oct, Cathays Community Centre, 7pm-8pm
A welcoming session to new people, explaining the work of NB in Cardiff and South Wales.
3) Universities of Sanctuary: Tues 7th Oct, Temple of Peace, 7pm-9pm
Discussion around creating a refugee-friendly institution within Universities in Cardiff. More information here
4) City of Sanctuary: Thurs 16th Oct, Red Sea Club, 11-13 City Rd, 11am-1pm
Regular meeting of the C of S group, more info here
Hope to see you in the next weeks!
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
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!
As part of the European Week of Action against the Deportation Machine; No Borders South Wales dropped some banners in the city of Cardiff. The UKBA in Cardiff has recently been at the heart of an investigation into racism in the Border Agency as a whole. We remind them that deportations and detention are racist and discriminatory and lead to suffering, misery and death.
As Europe tightens and co-ordinates its border controls using increasingly intrusive surveillance, violence at the hands of Frontex and deportations, detention and discrimination, activists step up at a local and international level to challenge this system of abuse.
No Borders South Wales has suffered its own members being deported in the past and continues to fight for freedom of movement for all.
Mashal Jabari has been released, the emergency campaign spearheaded by the Welsh Refugee Council has managed to release a 14-year-old Afghan orphan from detention.
Staff at the Cardiff office of the UK Border Agency had insisted that he was 18 and held him in adult detention ahead of deportation next week. He was released from Campsfield House IRC early yesterday evening following a Judicial Review where the Judge ruled that at present – until another full age assessment is completed – Mashal is to be considered 14 years of age and placed with Read the rest of this entry »
The Welsh Refugee Council is calling on the UK Border Agency to release Mashal Jabari, 14 years of age, from Campsfield detention prison, and to suspend removal directions until a full assessment of his age can be made. It is very unusual for the Welsh Refugee Council to comment on individual cases, which adds extra urgency to the compelling compassionate grounds for why this boy should be allowed to remain.
Zaki Jabar, aged 15, arrived in the UK alone and extremely traumatised in November 2008. He came from Afghanistan and when he left his father was missing presumed dead and his mother was sick. His family had been attacked after his father had given assistance to the American forces, and Zaki had seen his sister killed. He was placed in foster care in Leicester by Rutland Social Services and given Refugee Status. He is currently sitting his GCSEs. He was anxious to trace his younger brother Mashal.
Mashal Jabari arrived in the UK in October last year, and claimed asylum on arrival. By then he knew that both his parents were dead. He was assessed as being over 18 even though he said he was 14. He was sent to Cardiff where he was Read the rest of this entry »
Friday’s protest outside the UK Border Agency in Cardiff was the largest one to date with over 200 people, mostly refugees. The demonstration lasted three hours and featured speeches, chanting, dancing and a lot of energy. The demonstration was organised by Refugee Voice Wales with prominent members of Zimbabwean, Congolese, Kurdish and other community groups taking a leading role.
In this media age there was unsurprisingly a number of people tweeting short reports, uploading photos and providing live audio direct from the demonstration. Further full reports have already appeared on local radical blogs Everyone’s Favourite Comrade, Cryptonomicon and Welsh Green Dragon, which includes Read the rest of this entry »
The protest outside the UK Border agency in Cardiff this Friday called by Refugee Voice Wales has been gaining attention.
The BBC world service also recently aired an episode of Assignment: “Unlawful Detention” (Listen or Download) investigating claims that the government is routinely breaching its own guidelines and detaining vulnerable Read the rest of this entry »
On Friday 5th March we will be having a Benefit gig at The Promised Land, Windsor Place, Cardiff. For only £3 you’ll be able to see four great punk bands from South Wales and the West country.
Expect hard sounds and hard politics from these outspoken bands. There will be ska-punk from Spanner, crust-punk from Jesus Bruiser, anarcho-punk from Filthy Habits, and hardcore-punk from The Shortcuts. Doors will be open from half seven, first band on about 8pm.
All the money we take on the door (once the bands have had petrol money) will be spent on Calais Migrant Solidarity and Movement Newsletter; both worthy causes very much in need of your support. Any additional donations on the night will be gratefully received!
An article in today’s Guardian, has added extra meaning to our protest outside the UKBA this afternoon. Louise Perrett worked as a case owner at the UK Border Agency office in Cardiff for three and a half months last summer. Due to her experiences of her time in the agency she has risked breaching the Official Secrets Act to go public with evidence of anti-immigration views and abuse of power by UK Border Agency staff.
“I witnessed general hostility, rudeness and indifference towards clients. It was completely horrific. I highlighted my concerns to senior managers but I was just laughed at. I decided to speak out because nobody else was saying anything and major changes are needed at senior management level.”
Her revelations reveal a culture of bigotry and prejudice in the Cardiff office, where members of staff took pride in refusing applications.
- One manager said of the asylum-seeker clients: “If it was up to me I’d take them all outside and shoot them.”
- If a case was difficult, she was simply advised to refuse it and “let a tribunal sort it out”.
- Any officer who approved an asylum application had a stuffed toy “grant monkey” placed on their desk by other members of staff as a badge of shame.
- One official tested the claims of boys Read the rest of this entry »
On Wednesday, 3rd February at 5.30pm, there will be a specially chartered deportation flight to Nigeria. At 4.30pm we will be holding a protest against this outside the UK Border Agency, General Buildings, 31-33 Newport Road, Cardiff, CF24 0AB (map).
There have been previous deportation flights to Nigeria from the UK, (we’ve protested against them before) but ‘Flight PVT-JEUC’ will be the first Joint European Union Charter, a new scheme agreed at the EU summit in Brussels last year. It will be operated by Frontex and funded by the EU, as opposed to individual member states. In December BMI organised a flight to Afghanistan and Read the rest of this entry »
The photo exhibition “No Land’s Men: The Struggle for Calais” comes to Cardiff on Thursday 11th to Saturday 13th June.
This exhibition by Julie Rebouillat has been travelling around the UK over the last few months and will conclude in Calais for the No Border Camp on Tuesday 23rd June. It features Read the rest of this entry »
On Saturday 23rd May South Wales Anarchists will be hosting the first Anarchist Bookfair in Cardiff. We will be attendance with our stall in the main hall giving away free leaflets, newsletters and stickers as well as selling a small selection of books and badges.
We will also be hosting a talk and discussion at 1pm in room 1. Everyone is welcome, though we’ll be tailoring our talk to what we assume will be an anarchist audience. Like everything we’re doing over the next few months we’ll be using the opportunity to encourage people to join us in attending the Calais No Border Camp. Here’s a summery of Read the rest of this entry »
Over twenty people gathered in central Cardiff on Wednesday to coincide with the ‘ethnic charter flight‘ that deported Nigerian families at 6pm. There was also protests by Stop Deportation Network in London and Residents Against Racism in Dublin.
We distributed hundreds of copies of a leaflet explaining ‘ethnic charter flights’, our opposition to them and deportations in general with specific reference to Nigeria. The was no police presence and the reaction from people passing by was Read the rest of this entry »