War, environmental exploitation, poverty, economic conditions,
dictatorships, all of these situations create refugees. The cause
of refugees, whether it is economic reasons or war, is capitalism.
Osaren, The Voice Refugee Forum, Germany.
In a group of actions spanning ten days (19-28 July), people from
all over Europe hooked up with migrants without papers to reclaim
the city of Strasbourg, on the French/German border for a No Border
action camp. The focus was a resistance to Europes draconian
policy of treating refugees as criminals. Home to the European Parliament
and the European Court of Human Rights as well as the Shengen Information
System, or SIS, (SchNEWS 312) as well as its very own detention
centre, Strasbourg truly represents failed democracy. People were
spoilt for choice. Amongst chosen targets was the Accor hotel group
who own detention centres in France and supermarkets in migrant
zones in Germany. They up the prices in their supermarkets
so that migrants, who have to shop there, get even less for their
40 Euros a month (£27). A large part of their workforce is
made up of undocumented migrants, on strike since March about low
pay and bad conditions. Other actions included the usual trashings
of institutions and corporations as well as cyberactivism, where
hackers broke into the SIS.
The camp was based on self-organisation. People sorted out kitchens,
showers and toilets as well as going on daily skipping runs to feed
the camp. I like it that people are so open here and that
its well organised. Its decentralised and provides a
platform for resistance and engagement in Europe Gaston, an
asylum seeker, told SchNEWS. Everyone got together in their immediate
areas to form barrios, which centred around a kitchen/meeting area.
Someone from each barrio could then go to an inter-barrio meeting
to make more general decisions about the camp, actions and broader
One of the biggest, fattest, most vicious lies weve been
told is that asylum seekers are stealing our jobs and invading our
lives out of choice. The opposite is true: they dont want
to die, its as simple as that. There are an estimated 22 million
refugees worldwide, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees
(UNHCR) in May 2002 and the situation most refugees find themselves
in is desperate. As Osaren told SchNEWS, They borrow money,
sell things, cars, homes if they have them before they leave to
seek asylum in another country. If they are lucky they get a bad
job and can start to pay back the money they have borrowed.
In Germany, people whove been granted asylum are restricted
to a specific area or part of town. In some cases theyre tagged
but usually theyre just monitored to make sure they dont
nip across a boundary to make a phone call or go to the supermarket
or something. So far this system of separation where refugees are
kept in isolation and require special permission to leave their
area is unique to Germany. Children have no right to
education and theres no right to healthcare or work. All
we can do is sit, maybe eat something, and think. Those of us who
can go home will probably have to in a year or two if we dont
get any chances to live here. Those who cannot return will just
self-destruct. Their strategy is to separate and persecute us.
- Abdul, asylum seeker in Germany.
As the WTO (World Trade Organisation) threatens to have a scrap
with anyone blocking free trade and the free movement
of money, people find themselves confined to ever smaller areas,
watched for their every move. For these reasons the No Borders network
are demanding the right to freedom of movement without any limitations
for all the people of the world. At the heart of the problem is
SIS - a centralised database used to collate info on Europes
unwanted. At the same time as the action camp in Strasbourg an Afgani
family in the UK who had been sheltering in a Mosque were violently
removed by riot cops and banged up in a detention centre. This was
because their asylum application in Germany had been turned down
information that the UK got from their finger prints.
Germany is the model for Fortress Europe and Britain is trying to
push through tougher laws this autumn to keep up with their fascist
policy. The governments latest white paper Secure Borders,
Safe Haven states that the already racist border controls
are to be tightened using the SIS database, iris recognition, ID
checks and increased powers to screen passengers. It doesnt
take a genius to guess the colour of the skin of people most likely
to be harassed by immigration cops. The Secure Borders white paper
states that the govt target is to deport 30,000 refugees by spring
2003 thats 2,500 a month. All new asylum seekers are
to be housed in four planned accommodation centres to further segregate
them from our society.
Talking about his experience of the camp, Osaren from the self-organised
migrants Voice Refugee Forum told us, The distance between
the activists and refugees is very wide. Very few activists engage
with refugees on a daily basis. My advice would be for activists
to get closer to the most repressed people in society, find out
where they are and support them from below. The struggle cant
have a base unless this has happened. We need to re-evaluate support
and resistance from the base.
some of that resistance...
- Italy: We have occupied houses with Italian activists
and migrants working together, we are now 500 people strong and
have 10 houses with 100 migrants and people without papers. Last
Tuesday the Italian military sank a ship carrying 60 Albanian
migrants. There will be no investigation.
- Lyons, France: Despite police repression we have
been fighting for a year, occupying buildings and orgaanising
- Seville, Spain: We come from a place where 7,000
migrants live and work with no water, no food, no medicine - we
are living in plastic shelters. Because of these conditions we
decided to organise ourselves. We have occupied the Seville University
for the last 2 months. Info: email@example.com
- Belgium: Over 25 people are occupying the ex-Somalian
embassy in the capital Bruges.
- Germany: From 17 Aug 21 Sept there will be a caravan
tour of Germany campaigning for the rights of refugees and immigrants.
To find out dates and places check www.humanrights.de.caravan/index_de.html
- Britain: Shut the Dover removals centre picket on Sat
Oct 19th. Meet 10am Western Heights, Dover and move on to Sangatte
Red Cross Centre. contact Kent Committee to defend asylum
For more about actions and camps around the world www.noborder.org
or info on prison building contact: CAGE 07931 401962
Arrest of the Week
For calling someone Mister...
A Turkish economist has been charged with spreading separatist propaganda
after referring to the imprisoned Kurdish leader Abullah Ocalan
as Mr. Its against Turkish law to show support
for Ocalan or his organisation the Kurdistan Workers Party. Calling
someone Mr (or sayin in Turkish) is used to show respect,
so he could now face three years in prison.
Its a year since the G8 summit in Genoa (See SchNEWS 314/5),
when the Italian city became a militarised zone, with police cruising
round in armoured cars and the city centre ringed with a 15ft steel
fence. The 250,000 people who marched through the streets opposing
the eight most powerful leaders in the world faced massive police
repression, with over 6,000 tear gas canisters fired by cops who
also used live ammunition with which they killed Carlo Giuliani.
One year on, up to 100,000 took the streets of Genoa on Saturday
20th to remember Carlo Giuliani - much more than the 30-40,000 expected,
which shows the anti-capitalist movement is still alive and well
after September 11th. At 5:27 p.m., the time that Giuliani was shot
by a young police trainee (Officer Plannica) trapped in a paramilitary
police jeep, the crowds broke into a prolonged cheer and released
hundreds of coloured balloons into the sky. This is not a
funeral. We wanted to have a celebration of life, of the right to
live and of so many rights that are denied in the world and in Italy,
said Giulianis father in the piazza where his son was shot.
But as a final sickening note to Carlos murder, Officer Plannica
sold his story for 30,000 euros (£20,000) to one of Italian
Prime Minister Berlusconis TV channels, claiming he was not
guilty of murder or manslaughter.
The worst aspect of pre-meditated police violence a year ago was
a raid on the Indymedia Centre and Diaz School where some protestors
were staying. During the raid 93 people were arrested with 63 put
in hospital, but none of those arrested have been charged with any
offence. This year a press conference by many people beaten and
arrested at the Diaz School called for deputy prime minister Gianfranco
Fini, leader of the fascist National Alliance party, to be held
accountable for the brutal raid. During the raid police produced
two molotov cocktails as evidence that the School was a base for
violent protesters. Since then it has emerged that these molotovs
were in fact recovered seven hours earlier hidden in Genoa city
centre, with a policeman confessing that he planted the explosives:
I brought the molotov cocktail to the Diaz school. I obeyed
the order of one of my superiors. His superior, Pietro Troiani,
from a mobile police unit in Rome, is already being investigated
after another colleague accused him of providing false information
to justify the raids.
The Italian Government has come under fire for failing to prosecute
those responsible for police brutality against demonstrators and
Amnesty International has criticised the police. MPs in Rome are
calling for another enquiry. 77 police officers are under investigation,
including the one who shot Carlo Giuliani. Genoa police chief Gianni
De Gennaro was demoted after admitting some of his men might have
used excessive force.
In Italy the cops may be blatantly fascist, but in Britain the situation
isnt much different. Two people arrested at a demo outside
the London Italian Embassy last February recently had their charges
dropped. Police at the demo had punched and kicked protestors and
one cop (PC D343) was heard to say I dont give a fuck
about the law. Thats because, like in Italy, the police
can get away with being violent towards protestors and never get
* Indymedia have produced a video, Genoa Red Zone. Copies from www.cultureshop.org
* Read On Fire: Genoa and the Anti-Capitalist Movement
published by AK Press for £3 a go. www.akuk.com
- This Saturday sees the beginning of the National Week of Action
Against War and Sanctions on Iraq. Info 0845 458 2564 www.viwuk.freeserve.co.uk
- Last Saturday over 150 people demonstrated outside the Department
for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in London calling for
the government to abandon the testing and possible future commercialisation
of GM crops. 17 bags of crops from GM test sites that have been
destroyed this year were dumped on the steps of the building.
- Direct Action Against War Now are organising a demo and occupation
of Oxford Street Selfridges who sell products produced in illegal
Israeli settlements. Sat 3rd, 1pm at the entrance or dress
as shoppers and do what you have to do once youre inside.
07817 061 183 firstname.lastname@example.org
- Theres a Justice for Mark Barnsley national meeting and
social this Saturday (3rd) to discuss the future of the campaign.
1.30pm, at The 1in12 Club, 21-23 Albion Street, Bradford. www.freemarkbarnsley.com
- A new protest camp set up to protect Bilston Woods, Penicuik,
near Edinburgh from being destroyed to make way for a bypass is
now up and running and urgently needs people and tat. 07753 808709
- Trident Ploughshares have a two week (4th-19th August) disarmament
camp at Coulport, near to the Trident nuclear warhead depot on
Loch Long. Info: 0870 4583117 www.tridentploughshares.org
- Demonstration against the Draft Mental Health Bill, noon 12th
August at the Department of Health, Richmond House, Whitehall.
- The Nigerian Women occupying a Chevron oil pipeline terminal
(see last weeks SchNEWS) have ended their occupation after
reaching an agreement with the company http://nigeria.indymedia.org
People are considering legal action against Avon and Somerset Constabulary
after 50 officers in full riot gear broke up a free dance party
at Cumberland Basin, near Bristol a couple of weekends back, seriously
injuring at least nine people. Cops made no attempt to negotiate
with party-goers, telling them If youre down there,
youre going to get hurt. The police had even thoughtfully
brought an ambulance with them just in case they kicked anyones
head in - which they did. Police blamed party-goers for the injuries
commenting It was clear a rave at this location would put
a risk of harm to those attending. The location
was under a motorway flyover, far away from residential housing,
which had been used as a party site on numerous occasions before.
Avon and Somerset Police seriously got their fingers burnt over
the massive Steart beach party over the Jubilee weekend (SchNEWS
363) and local media have been busy whipping up a frenzy as hooligan
ravers descend on the countryside to have fun. One party organiser
told SchNEWS We reckon the cops decided it was payback time.
The Free Party Defence Collective is now appealing for witnesses
to mount legal action 07810 601703 www.guilfin.net
* Four Brighton based sound systems have finally been charged after
having rigs seized from a Shoreham warehouse during Easter bank
holiday. Despite never getting to turn on sound systems, attract
a crowd or actually disturb anyone other than local plod, party
organisers have been charged with Conspiracy to cause public
nuisance - and all for not quite getting to throw a free party.
* Thanks to the cops and the local council this years Welsh
Green Gathering was cancelled, and so a Greenwar Gathering is being
organised. Its on an urban common in Glamorgan starting 8th
August. For details of how to find it see the environment pages
on www.protest.net or email:
Nine unnamed prisoners who have been locked up in the high security
Belmarsh Prison, without trial, since September 2001 have won an
appeal against their imprisonment. They were interned under the
knee-jerk Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act (see Schnews 363).
The Act makes it legal for the government to imprison non-UK nationals
who they believe to be involved in terrorist activities
and whom they are unable to deport because for example, they
could face degrading treatment or death. Those detained are not
given a reason for their internment, and they cant defend
themselves in court. The appeal was upheld because the Act breaches
the European Convention on Human Rights. Unfortunately the ruling
does not make the detention unlawful, and the nine individuals are
still behind bars. The Foreign Office will appeal against the verdict
on Oct 7th. www.blagged.freeserve.co.uk/ta2000/index.htm
Englands first ever earthship is to be built in Brighton.
An earthship is a building made of rammed earth and used car tyres
and solar energy and rain provide heat, power and water. They also
have their own sewage systems. Not only do they help solve the problem
of a growing tyre mountain, but provide low cost homes as they are
far cheaper to build than conventional houses. The earthship will
be built in Stanmer Park as part of the Stanmer Organics project
and it will be a meeting place for groups and a model for future
houses. Theres an open day at Stanmer Organics this Saturday
(3) where you can see the earthship site, learn about permaculture
techniques, organic food and green-recycling as well as crafts and
music. 11 4pm 01273 620486. E-mail: email@example.com
For more about earthships: www.lowcarbon.co.uk
A 22 year old man from Stockholm has received 5 years prison for
actions at the EU Summit in Gothenburg last year. Five others are
still in prison. Send letters of support and money to: Solidarity
Group GBG, c/o Syndikalistiskt forum, Box 7267,
SE-402 35 Gothenburg, Sweden. e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
So what is it with asylum seekers that make them want to come to
our shores? The hospitality and all year sunshine? Our generous
benefits system and friendly immigration officials?
Er, no. According to research after interviewing 65 asylum seekers,
the main reasons people come here include: Margaret Thatcher, because
the old bag gave the impression of the UK being a powerful country;
Manchester United football club as evidence that Britain is loaded:
and the Beatles and the Spice Girls contributing to the idea that
this is a progressive and tolerant place.
The authors also mentioned that many of the asylum seekers they
interviewed were fleeing persecution and were more concerned about
escaping their own country than about where they would end up, and
get this, few knew much about British asylum policy or had any detailed
knowledge of benefit levels they might receive, let alone how they
compared with other European countries. Funny that, SchNEWS always
had the impression that before coming here refugees would be surfing
the Net trying to find out the best location to come and sponge
off taxpayers, before legging it out the backdoor just in time to
escape torture and death.
SchNEWS warns all asylum seekers you would be bordering on the
insane to think there is any refuge in this country. Honest.
Theres not going to be SchNEWS next week cos well
all be at the Big Green Gathering.
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