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!