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Emily 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.
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.
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 email@example.com
This October, in a bid to stir up racial tension and increase religious intolerance, a group calling itself the ‘English Defence League‘ (EDL) intend to hold two protests in south Wales with a “march against muslim extremists” in Swansea on Saturday 17th October and an ‘anti-mosque demo’ in Newport on Saturday 24th October.
It seems that the EDL, which has close links with the British National Party (BNP), have reached out to the fantasist Jeff Marsh of Barry who has cultivated a shady reputation through authoring a number of Cardiff City Soul Crew football hooligan books. Marsh, along with a handful of impressionable young racists raised on a diet of boastful hooligan memoirs and hate-filled extremist internet forums, have formed a “Welsh Defence League” which is acting as a front for both the south Wales protests.
We will be joining the call out by <a href="http://twitter.com/NewportCAR"Newport Communities Against Racism to fill John Frost Square before the fascists arrive and show them that their bigotry is not welcome here! There is an event page on both Facebook and Myspace, as well as a page on Twitter, please invite your online friends and Read the rest of this entry »
On Sunday 30th August we’ll be having a fundraising event in TJs, Newport. For a modest entry fee of £5, you can feast on a delight of rabble rousing rebel music.
Over on tour from Belgium are dub/ska-punk band The Usual Suspects who bring militant politics to music in a manner that can only be matched by Spanner who are coming over from Bristol. They are joined by Cardiff revolutionaries KilnAboy and Dirty Revolution who bring folk-punk and reggae-punk respectively.
There are event pages on both facebook and myspace, please help us promote this event by inviting your friends! On the night you’ll be able to find us activists taking turns behind our usual stall, it would be good to meet anyone who is interested in finding out more or getting involved.
It’s a bank holiday the next day, so check out these videos and if you like what you hear, why not come on down:
Sincere radical political music is a rare and splendid thing, we Read the rest of this entry »
All money raised, along with any other fundraising we can do over the next few months will be used to fund Read the rest of this entry »
On Saturday afternoon over 30 people joined with No Borders South Wales outside Newport Passport Office to protest against the introduction of ID cards for non-EU foreign nationals resident in the UK from this November.
Thousands of copies of our new leaflet “Big Brother is coming“, produced especially for the event, were distributed to members of the public. The leaflet lays out the government timetable for rolling out the scheme and makes the point that these new ID cards are not only a repressive measure against migrants, they are the first shot in an attack against everyone’s freedom. The vast majority of passers by who took the time out to speak with people on the demonstration were very supportive of our campaign and were adamant that they would not accept an ID card themselves.
A dozen police were waiting by the Passport office at 2pm when people arrived. The senior officer informed people that they were willing to ‘facilitate’ the protest providing only two people were stood outside the entrance to the passport office and everyone else stood on the other side of the road. The police were politely but firmly told that that was both unreasonable and unacceptable. The officer then said he would go inside the office and then return to implement “another course of action”. Unsurprisingly, this other course of action was to completely abandon his original demand and only ask us not to block the entrance, which we had already told him we had no intention of doing.
Though in this case the police soon realised we were not going to be bullied around and the protest was able to pass off without too much of their interference, it is a concern that less experienced people wishing to exercise their legal right to protest are intimidated into being sidelined into designated “protest zones”. Across the UK police forces regularly demand that protest organisers contact them beforehand, despite the fact we all have the right to gather and protest without asking for permission. Under the guise of “minimising disruption” and even protecting the protest from disgruntled members of the public(?!?), it is increasingly common for police to view an effectively policed protest as one which as few people as possible are aware is happening. A good example of this was the march against the military academy in Cardiff which the police forced out of sight down back-streets, earlier this year.
Four officers from Gwent Police’s ‘Evidence Gathering Team’ filmed participants at the demonstration constantly, both from a distance and at close range. They also frequently checked the inside of their hats where we believe they kept their ‘spotter cards’ which identify known activists. These four officers then followed a number of the demonstrators to a local pub where they stood outside patiently in the rain, waiting for them to come out and then followed them again, over the River Usk to the legendary TJs where Smash EDO were showing a film to build support for their upcoming protest before day two of No Border Fest. Their actions are clearly politically motivated. As one passer by noted:
“I didn’t know there were so many police in Newport”
The reaction of the NO2ID campaign to the introduction of these ID cards has been underwhelming to say the least. And has largely been limited to the press release quoted in a previous post and this extract from a longer comment on their website:
“Resistance to the database state is growing, but that has not discouraged Whitehall. It seems more determined than ever to sneak round obstacles using misdirection and to find new, softer, targets…
Latest of those soft targets are overseas students, and people seeking to settle in the UK with British husbands and wives. Those, people with strong reasons not to make a fuss, are the ones to be targeted for the new biometric card scheme that will act as a test bed for the ID scheme. Jacqui Smith’s launch of “ID cards for foreigners” was a shameless piece of spin to try to associate the unpopular ID scheme with the popular policy of restricting immigration.
There’s no real link. And it is unclear how much technology there is yet. But immigration law already gives the Home Office some of the powers it would like to exert over everyone, and so it has a free hand to try out, on a few selected foreign residents, the processes it eventually intends to use for everyone else.”
The discussion about this protest on the NO2ID forum certainly seems to reveal real naivety amongst at least some sections of NO2ID supporters, with one poster commenting that
“They aren’t ID cards for foreigners. They are biometric residence and work permits.“
It comes to something when a supposed opponent of the database state is inventing meaningless spin for the government as they are about to introduce the first ID cards! It is a shame that this new move by the home office is not recognised by more anti-ID activists for being what the government is very open about. This unwillingness to defend the rights of migrants endangers the struggle for everyone’s liberty. Previously Defy ID has been a vehicle for opposition to ID cards from a libertarian perspective, but given the manner in which the government is using a a greater repression of migrants as a testing ground for this scheme No Borders must intervene.
The first UK ID cards have been unveiled, and come into force from 25th November. The card will hold the holder’s photograph, name, date of birth, nationality, immigration status and an electronic chip with biometric details, including fingerprints and digital facial image. All indefinitely held on the UK Identity and Passport Service database.
Initially the ID cards will be issued to non-EU students and marriage visa holders then, foreign nationals wanting to enter the UK. From next year other foreign nationals living in the UK will begin to be issued with ID cards. These groups will be forced to enrol on the scheme and use the card, rather than their passport, for identification,
Once migrants have been used to test the scheme, in 2009 anyone, regardless of nationality, who works in an area the government deems “sensitive” such as airports will be required to have an ID card. From 2010, students will need ID cards to get a student loan and they will be available to the rest of us on a “voluntary” basis, with them being paired with passports in 2011.
The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) will produce the physical plastic cards, and use IBM to provide the technology. Foreign nationals who boycott the card could lose their right to stay. Those who refuse to make or turn up to an appointment to scan their fingerprints and facial image will face a £250 fine, rising to £1,000 for persistent refusal. Those who fail to tell police if they lose their ID card will face a fine of £125. Employers and sponsors of foreign nationals will be forced to keep records on them, including a copy of the employee’s ID card. Businesses found employing workers who do not have valid ID cards will face fines of up to £10,000 per person.
Nearly every section of society outside the government has voiced opposition to ID cards. Let no-one be fooled by this cynical nod to racism as anything other than an attempt to introduce ID cards by stealth.
“The government is picking on soft targets — people who have no choice but to comply. They’re actually targeting people who are completely justified in being here.”
Phil Booth, national co-ordinator of No2ID
It is patently clear that this card is the thin end of the wedge, the first blow in an attack on civil liberties we all enjoy. The government is open about their plans, it wants everyone in the UK tagged, numbered and repressed, using migrants as a testing ground for it’s authoritarian desire to increase the size of the surveillance state. The opposition to ID cards must begin now.
No Borders South Wales will be holding a demonstration against the new ID laws on Saturday 4th October at 2pm outside the Passport Office, Olympia House, Upper Dock Street, Newport, NP20 1XA (map). Come and join us.
Mark the first weekend of October in your diary for two days of punk, ska and folk at TJs, Newport. Along with them good people at Blind Destruction we’ll be holding No Border Fest, and all profits raised will go to No Borders South Wales.
It all kicks off on friday at 7pm when we’ve got crusty punks Jesus Bruiser over from Bristol, followed by local folk punk with KilnAboy and protest folk from Tracey Curtis from west Wales. Then Cardiff punks No Choice all finished of with dubby ska punk from Inner Terrestrials down from London.
Then on saturday a full day of Read the rest of this entry »