Sunday, 23 December 2012

TCAR Public Meeting - 'Against Racism', Saturday 26th January

TCAR is currently building for a big public meeting to discuss, learn, and educate around issues of British state racism. With cuts and austerity deepening and disproportionately effecting black and asian people, we need to make this a great event to build the fightback against racism. Contact us for leaflets or posters to build the meeting in your area, and to get involved in organising. See below for details of speakers, venue, and running times. Together we are stronger!

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Justice for Raul Ally! Shame on ITV! We demand fair and accurate reporting NOW!

On Wednesday 21st November TCAR held a demonstration outside Tyne Tees Studios in Gateshead against ITV News censorship. 

This was in response to ITV’s refusal to report on the demonstration TCAR organised on 24th October in solidarity with Raul Ally, a young Somali man facing deportation to Tanzania (see full report of that protest below: ITV sent a reporter who filmed the protest on 24th October and interviewed Raul extensively. Raul has recently been released from Morton Hall immigration detention centre, where he witnessed mistreatment of asylum seekers. Raul and his supporters in TCAR were happy that ITV wanted to report on this matter. We expected to see the report on the evening news but it wasn’t aired. ITV didn't explain why they didn't show the report until we contacted them. We found out that ITV would no longer report the story because the UK Borders Agency (UKBA) had told them that Raul was ‘not who he says he is’.  Effectively they called Raul a liar, just like they do to thousands of refugees. ITV made no attempt to investigate the story further, simply following the government line. Britain is supposed to have free press: ITV, do you really expect a government agency, who is attempting to deport a young man to country he’s never even been to, to tell the truth?

As well as claiming Raul is not who he says he is and is not Somali UKBA continue to assert that Raul and his brother are not even related, despite blood tests proving that they are in fact brothers. Whether it is outright lies or incompetency it allows UKBA to undermine Raul’s case and attempt to deport him more easily. This is not an isolated case. UKBA incompetency has been highlighted very clearly recently with a report published on 22nd November 2012 by Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration John Vine. The report found that UKBA staff dealt with a backlog of immigration cases so inefficiently that at one point 100,000 items of post were unopened. More than 150 boxes of post, including letters from applicants, MPs and lawyers, lay unopened. This means that accurate information and supporting evidence is not used when deciding an individual’s asylum claim which will cause severe delays and stress (and the illnesses associated with this), it plays havoc with people’s lives and results in people being deported.

When Raul and TCAR supporters got to the entrance of Tyne Tees Studios we were met by two police officers who claimed they were there to facilitate our right to protest. We asked to see an official to explain our demands, the security guard present initially said there was no one available and that he would pass on the demands. However, we persisted and were able to speak to the Programme Editor Julie Harinson. When asked why ITV made no efforts to investigate UKBA’s claims she said that the reporter had tried to contact Raul, but when Raul challenged her saying that he had not been contacted she said the reporter ‘must have had a bad signal at the time’. Some investigation! After discussing Raul’s case Julie Harinson made a commitment to investigate the story with a view to airing it in the near future and has since been back in touch with Raul, TCAR and Raul’s solicitor. Without the protest it is clear ITV would have remained silent on the issue. It is important that we keep up the pressure to ensure Raul’s story is broadcast.

End the media blackout on immigration detention and deportations!

Barnardo’s ‘Believe in children’ – what about the children of asylum seekers? Stop detaining children – pull out of Cedars now!

We demand Barnardo’s ceases its involvement in child detention.

We demand Newcastle City Council put pressure on Barnardo’s to pull out of their Cedars child imprisonment contract or risk losing its £600,000 contract with the council to provide youth services.

As part of a national day of action called by Barnardo’s Out on 8th November 2012 Tyneside Community Action against Racism (TCAR) went to Barnardo’s regional head offices in Jesmond to hand in a letter demanding their immediate withdrawal from the contract with UK Border Agency to run Cedars ‘pre-departure accommodation’ for families awaiting deportation and an end to their involvement in child detention.

And on Saturday 10th December, TCAR held a demonstration outside a Barnardo’s charity shop on Adelaide Terrace, Benwell. Both actions were met with support from Barnardo’s workers who do not agree with the contract and from a lot of local people passing by.

Barnardo’s said that it took the contract at Cedars to help ensure children’s welfare yet this ‘pre-departure accommodation’ in Sussex is nothing more than a prison for families seeking asylum and Barnardo’s run it with notorious security thugs G4S – the very same firm who murdered Jimmy Mubenga during a forced deportation on 12 October 2010.

As well as its contract with UKBA, Barnardo’s has a yearly contract worth £600,000 with Newcastle City Council to provide youth services. The tender Barnardo’s applied for was for four different parts of the city and organisations had to submit separate tenders for each area but Barnardo’s won the contract for all of them. Labour-run Newcastle Council is pushing through £90m worth of cuts to local funding, with the 2013-2016 budget due to be finalised on 6th March 2013. These cuts include the complete scrapping of the Place Service and all but two workers in the Youth Service. In order to create new sources of profit for British imperialism the government and local councils increasingly outsource public services to private multinationals like G4S and other unethical providers like Barnardo’s. Please put pressure on your councillors to demand Barnardo’s pulls out of the Cedars contract or risk losing its contract with the council. Write letters to your councillors, go to their surgeries, stage protests – contact TCAR for more information and support with this.

Despite the government claiming it has ended the detention of migrant children, a total of 47 children were detained in quarter 3 of 2012 (this does not include children whose age is disputed). Of these, 20 children entered Cedars ready to be deported and since it was opened in August 2011 more than 39 families with 84 children have been locked up there.

Barnardo’s made a number of conditions when it entered into the Cedars contract. The charity set out a list of ‘red lines’, saying that it would speak out and withdraw its services if these were broken. Yet these conditions – including the use of force against children, the repeated detention of families at the centre, and the detention for longer than a seven day limit – have been repeatedly broken. These violations were further highlighted in the HM Inspector of Prisons’ report on Cedars released 23rd October 2012. It found that:

  • Cedars staff have used “unacceptable force” with at least six families during the period of inspection, including using violence against children. In one case, staff assaulted a pregnant woman in a wheelchair and dragged another woman by her hair.
  • Family members held in Cedars have self-harmed.
  • The same families have been detained at Cedars repeatedly – longer than the 7 day limit.
  • Half (49%) of the families had no legal representation.
  • Two members of staff have already been suspended for inappropriate behaviour.
  • Unlike other prisons and detention centres, there are no clear rules about the use of force at Cedars.

Yet Barnardo’s continues its involvement in Cedars, has broken its promise to withdraw, and has refused even to comment on what is happening at Cedars. The Institute of Race Relations has commented that Barnardo’s involvement actually makes matters worse by “legitimising” the continued detention of children. The charity Medical Justice said in a recent report:  Barnardo’s “ruined the campaign to end the detention of children, which campaigners felt could be achievable as the government had already promised it.”

For more information on the Barnardo’s Out campaign and what you can do see:
Stop locking up children! Shut down all immigration prisons! Stop deportations!

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Video and report of protest outside North Shields Immigration Reporting Centre - 24th October 2012

On Wednesday 24th October 2012, during the time Raul Ally had to sign at North Shields Immigration Reporting Centre (IRC), TCAR held a protest to demand justice for Raul and an end to immigration detention and all deportations.

Raul, his friends, other anti-racists and Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! gathered at North Shields Immigration Reporting Centre (IRC) where they held a lively demonstration with banners, placards reading ‘Imperialist Hands Off Somalia!’, speeches and chants of ‘Immigration is no Crime! End Detention!’ And ‘1, 2, 3, 4 Deportations No More! 5, 6, 7, 8 Britain is a Racist State!’

Raul spoke about his experiences of being treated like an animal and locked up in Morton Hall Immigration Removal Centre despite having committed no crime. He spoke of how people have been detained for up to 5 years and have no idea when they will be released, and demanded that all immigration prisons be shut down.

"I feel like I am worthless. The government gives me nothing, they don't even give me the money to come to North Shields to sign."

Other people spoke about how the British state creates conditions of war and poverty in countries like Somalia so it can steal natural resources, force down living conditions and wages for British companies and open up new markets for ‘investment’. And how the government, state institutions and the media use racism to justify this oppression by labeling African people as corrupt and Arabs as terrorists who are naturally war like and incapable of running their own country without the intervention of the west. 

Others spoke about how the British state uses racism to divide the working class with asylum seekers being locked in immigration prisons and labeled as benefit scroungers and migrant workers blamed for a lack of decent housing and jobs, despite being forced to work in the worst jobs, with the lowest levels of pay and conditions and to live in the worst housing.

Raul, like most asylum seekers has to report weekly to the IRC as another way for the Home Office to keep strict control of asylum seekers, make their lives even more difficult and to force them to accept their position in society. One woman who had been signing while we were there explained she was meant to sign the previous week however her young child was very sick with vomiting and diarrhoea so she phoned to say she could not attend and went this week instead, even though her child was still sick and she was going to the doctors afterwards. When she got there the immigration officers, with no medical training, explained that her child did not look that sick to them and they were going to refuse to let her sign and to give her travel expenses. This is just an example of the small scale contempt the Home Office has for asylum seekers and the day to day racism people experience. A small victory was won however; because of the demonstration outside the centre the Home Office personnel felt pressurised into letting the woman sign and gave her the travel expenses.

The fight continues. All anti-racists are welcome to come to the next organising meetings where you can share your own experiences and we can discuss further action we can take in solidarity with Raul and against all forms of racism.

 Together we are stronger! Together we can win!

Statement from Raul Ally

The below is a statement by Raul shortly after he was released from Morton Hall Immigration Prison

I’m glad I’m out but the two months I had inside were the worst experience I’ve had in Britain, I want to say the worst in my life, but the situation in Somalia is so bad too. Now I am out but I am still unsure about my situation. I am still under threat of being deported; I have to sign on at the Immigration Reporting Centre in North Shields every week. I am scared of what they will say, if they will try and take me again.

I had very, very threatening and stressful experiences. There are people who are locked up who end up in a bad mental state because of all of the stress and not knowing what is going to happen to them. I feel a lot of sympathy for the people still inside and what the government is doing to them. Everyone is worried about getting deported. There are a lot of people still locked up, people being held for 5 years, blind people, people with diseases, missing limbs and illnesses. The nurses lie and say people are in good health. There is one man who cannot walk, he has to get his meals brought to him and the nurses say he is fine and fit to travel. When they come for you if you refuse to move the guards cuff your hands behind your back, they put their hands around your throat and pull your head up and two more pull you forward, people are treated like animals.

My situation is still uncertain, I could still get deported, there are many more people still locked up and they have mistreated me and others and continue to do so even though we have done nothing wrong. I am asking you to come to our meetings and protests. We need to continue fighting; we can’t let them get away with this.

Raul Ally

Britain's Interests in Somalia

The below is a speech given by a Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! supporter at a 'Free Raul Ally!' organising meeting on 5th October 2012. Raul is originally from Somalia.

Britain’s Interests in Somalia

In February 2012 British foreign secretary William Hague visited Somalia in what was the first visit of a senior British minister in over 20 years, the intention was supposedly to try and find a solution to the crisis facing Somalia and to combat piracy and extremism. Hague described Somalia as the "world’s most failed state" yet under the pretence of humanitarian aid and security assistance Britain is leading the race for exploitation of oil in the war torn country.

At The London Conference on Somalia on 23 February, convened and hosted by British Prime Minister David Cameron, Britain along with representatives of the transitional federal government agreed to ‘inject momentum into the political process, strengthen AMISOM [the African Union mission] and help Somalia develop security forces, build stability, and tackle ‘pirates and terrorists’. The outcome of the conference included that AMISOM will be increased from 12,000 to 17,731 police and troops, and equipment support increased, doubling the required UN budget to $500m annually. 4,600 British trained Kenyan troops make up the bulk of the increase. The Conference was a greedy cover to enable Britain and the US to bargain over Somalia’s oil resources.

Away from the fanfare of the London Conference on Somalia, secret talks were going on ‘between British officials and their Somali counterparts over exploiting oil reserves that have been explored’ in Somalia (Observer, 25 February 2012). The Puntland minister for international cooperation admitted: ‘We have spoken to a number of UK officials; some have offered to help us with the future management of oil revenues.’ Somali Prime Minister Abdiweli Ali said a share of natural resources would be offered in return for help with ‘reconstruction’: ‘What we need is capital from countries like the UK to invest.’ BP and Shell promised to support ‘job-creation projects’ in the coastal regions.

The potential for oil and natural gas off Somalia in the Indian Ocean is the big prize for imperialism. The entire East African coastline is teeming with international oil company exploration teams on land and offshore, and is expected to rival the massive oil fields of West Africa. Fields containing reserves estimated at 110 trillion cubic feet of gas have been found off Mozambique and Tanzania in recent months. Britain’s top priority in Africa is to secure access to its natural resources and it has rushed to get first dibs on Somali oil ahead of US and Chinese rivals.

"What we are seeing today in Africa is a replay of the colonial scramble for control of resources by the major imperialist countries over a century or more ago in the late 18 and early 19th century" Trevor Rayne, Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!

It was in 1848 that Britain gained control of Somalia as a protectorate, the intention being to secure the Gulf of Aden, in order to allow for the safe passage of British ships carrying vast resources taken from India into Britain by way of the Suez Canal and Mediterranean Sea. Today the Gulf of Aden has 23,000 ships pass through it annually and is the second busiest trade route in the world, Britain alone makes £10 billion from this particular trade route.

Since the conference earlier this year Britain has been able to expand its operations in Somalia through the use of proxy warfare. By commanding the Kenyan and Ugandan military and the EU navy to launch attacks on Somalia, Britain is able to keep its intentions quiet whilst allowing these imperialist collaborators to suffer the casualties. In other words these forces are doing Britain's dirty work.

The rushing through of a new Somali constitution (at a cost of $60m) in August 2012, which was strongly backed by the British government but not the Somali people, aimed to convert the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) overnight into a Western-friendly regime that can facilitate imperialist plunder of the new oil in the semi autonomous region of Puntland in northern Somalia.

The deals that were arranged for British oil companies BP and Shell does not end there for British interests. Dubai-based, but British owned company SKA Air & Logistics (which has contracts in imperialist-occupied Iraq) won the contract for Mogadishu airport, while Halliday Finch (run by a British ex-military officer) has signed up deals to run ‘Somalia Maritime Services’ for the Somali government, worth millions.

Despite a UN report published in June 2011 that stated: ‘Armed private maritime security companies have no official status under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, private security contracts in the Bab-el-Mandeb Straits and Horn of Africa have become a lucrative market. Martin Reith, former chief executive of the Lloyds of London insurer Ascot Underwriting, has announced his plans for a Convoy Escort Programme (privately armed patrol boats), which will challenge the market of ‘shipriders’.

Many of the firms operating as ‘shipriders’ are British-based or owned, including Drum Cussac, Group 4 Securicor (G4S), Neptune Maritime Security and Triskel Services. Some are contracted by the British government to work in Somali territory. It’s enlightening to see who the real pirates of the seas are: the very same British government that is escalating the war in Somalia to secure oil resources is also profiting from people seeking protection from the very same war.

Britain is an imperialist county that’s economy is reliant on the exploitation of oppressed countries, that for years were underdeveloped under colonialism and continue to be underdeveloped, as the neo liberal policies forced on them by the IMF/world bank mean the majority of the country’s economy goes on re-paying debt. The money Britain takes in from these oppressed countries is triple the amount made from its GDP. It is this reason that stops Britain from allowing Somalia to determine its own leaders and government, Britain has to intervene in order to protect its access to resources. When Gaddafi in Libya and Saddam Hussein in Iraq threatened to trade in Euro's not dollars, their overthrow shortly followed, the threat of an Islamic state that is unwilling to be exploited by European and US imperialists in Somalia or a state that sees China as a better trading partner is not acceptable for the imperialist countries. Britain boasts of its humanitarian assistance yet locks up those that flee from the turmoil it creates, it seeks to only take the profits from oppressed counties but not the people, this is inherently racist, and this is why we fight against immigration controls, fight in solidarity with Raul and all asylum seekers and demand an end to detention centres.

Justice for Raul Ally!

Justice for Raul Ally!

TCAR demands that any future detention or deportation of Raul be halted.
TCAR demands that Raul be given exceptional leave to remain in Britain.

There are currently several countries – including Somalia, Iraq and Zimbabwe - to which asylum seekers cannot generally be deported due to difficulties in obtaining travel documents and the dangerous situation in those countries. Yet Somali men are still being held for long periods of time. 
Raul Ally is an 18 year old Somali man who fled war torn Somalia when he was 12 after his father was killed. He and his younger brother came to Britain to seek asylum. He has no family in Somalia and has made a life for himself in the North East with family members; he has forged friendships and represented his school in athletics and played for local football teams. This September he was due to start a degree in Sports Coaching at Sunderland University.
But one day he was arrested and locked up in Morton Hall Immigration Removal Centre (IRC) in Lincolnshire on 1st August 2012. Despite having committed no crime, no charges having been brought against him and no date set for a trial, he was told he was being held until ‘further notice’. After over two months in detention Raul was released on bail on 8th October 2012 - he still has to sign every week and is still under threat of being re-arrested and deported at the whim of the government. The Home Office has told Raul he is prohibited from getting a job; at the same time they have not provided him with any financial support. Raul’s situation is similar to others who are being criminalised when they arrive in Britain, despite fleeing from desperate situations - many of which British imperialism is itself responsible for, this can be seen clearly in the case of Somalia.

TCAR is leading a campaign to fight for justice for Raul with protests, meetings and petitioning. See the events section for more details.

Stop Deportations! Imperialist Hands Off Somalia!

In his November 2011 speech at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet, David Cameron made his intentions on Somalia clear—British intervention. He explained that ‘Somalia is a failed state that directly threatens British interests.’  The London Conference on Somalia that followed in February was led by Cameron. It was presented as being about democracy whereas in fact the aim was to impose an undemocratic constitution on the Somali people with the purpose of establishing enough political stability for renewed imperialist looting of oil resources. This is being achieved through corrupt political dealings and direct military intervention including drone attacks and an occupation force of over 17,000 mercenaries. The British government is leading every step of this process towards domination of the region. Yet when Somali people seek refuge from war and extreme levels of poverty they are the ones who are criminalised and imprisoned.

Racism and the British State

British imperialism has butchered its way round the world, hacking an ‘empire’ out of the bare flesh of the indigenous population of Asia, Africa, and South America. Today Britain’s overseas assets are a staggering £8,679.7bn (end of 2009). This is 6.2 times Britain’s GDP. Britain is dependent on this wealth that is produced abroad; this can be seen expressed in the need to maintain the 'City of London' as the financial centre of the world, especially with the economic crisis and the bailing out of the banks. This parasitic dependency is the material basis of racism in Britain and Britain's foreign policy.

Immigrations Controls, in Britain, are Racist!

When migrants arrive here, they are treated with suspicion and contempt by the British state where their 'value' is measured in purely economic terms. Asylum Seekers experience the full force of state racism with continuous harassment, a policy of forced destitution, they are terrorised with 'dawn raids', and criminalised in immigration prisons. UKBA acknowledges that “detention must be used sparingly, and for the shortest possible period necessary.” However, immigration detention in Britain is without time limit. People are being imprisoned for purely administrative reasons, with no charge against them, no trial and often no solicitor.

End detention! Shut down all immigration prisons! No deportations!