Group 4 have been a national laughing stock ever since
they first blundered into the field of private custodial services...
They fouled up the initial stages of the police enquiry by the improper
showing of photographs to witnesses; they organised group counseling
sessions, risking the contamination of evidence. - Mr Nigel
Rumfitt, prosecuting QC in Yarls Wood trail.
In last weeks farcical Yarls Wood trial, four people
were found guilty of violent disorder, others who were acquitted
were re-arrested in court and taken back into detention. Many potential
key witnesses for the trial had been deported soon after the small
riot and fire at the £100 million Yarls Wood removals
centre last February. The unrest was set off after Eunice, a 55
year old woman held at Yarls Wood, was prevented from going
to a prayer meeting by prison guards who pinned her to the ground.
Through a glass partition male inmates saw her struggling with staff
and becoming emotional. They tried to break through the locked door
and groups of detainees smashed lights and security cameras and
fire was started. Later a Group 4 manager, ordered detainees and
staff to be locked inside the burning building.
At the beginning of the trial there were eleven detainees charged
with violent disorder, some with arson, on the basis of accusations
by Group 4. Some of them were either on a committee set up by detainees
to raise complaints about Group 4 or had been vocal at meetings.
Several had warned that if detainees were not treated better, they
feared serious consequences.
Both Group 4, the private company in charge of running Yarls
Wood, and the Home Office, who put them there, were accused of gross
negligence in court and Group 4 was initially treated as a suspect
and investigated for the offence of corporate manslaughter by the
Bedfordshire police force. Former employee Darren Attwood told the
court that they were told to lock the detainees in the burning
Not that this is the first time Group 4 have been economical with
the truth. How about Campsfield House Immigration Detention Centre
in Oxford, which hosted a disturbance of its own in 1997?
Nine detainees were charged with riot in a case that spectacularly
collapsed, as Group 4s evidence was deemed unreliable
The Haslar detention centre has been subject to similar inhuman
conditions there are regular hunger strikes to protest against
conditions in the prison, in the last two years there has been four
attempted suicides and in March one man killed himself the night
before he was to be deported. SchNEWS has visited Haslar and heard
accounts of inedible food, random strip searches, metal dorm-room
doors behind which there were no smoke alarms, clear Perspex shower
doors, no toilet doors and no privacy. Detainees are kept locked
up for sixteen hours a day and that over a hundred people had only
one payphone to share in order to make calls to family, friends
and legal support.
On top of all of this there are a number of parasitic solicitors
who abuse the vulnerable in these centres to get their legal aid
handout and do nothing to assist those being kept randomly locked
up and simply count their cash. Two Chinese men, whose names were
not known by detainees because they couldnt speak English,
had received a letter from the Home office informing them they were
to be deported. They were unable to understand its contents because
they had no access to a translator.
Given these conditions its no wonder people have been trying to
escape: Four young Sri Lankans escaped from the detention centre
in Gosport on Sunday, after cutting through window bars and scaling
the perimeter razor wire topped fence. Apparently they received
a file in the post to help their escape! Another detainee escaped
two months ago.
Group Free 4 All
Both Haslar and Yarls Wood are part of an increasingly repressive
immigration policy in the UK and Europe. Last year Home Secretary,
David Bland-git, coldly set down quotas of asylum seekers to be
expelled. His grand plan would have seen 2500 asylum seekers expelled
every month and the 1000 person Yarlswood centre was a pillar for
As Yarlswood shows, private companies are not the best people to
deal with asylum seekers. Group 4 were awarded a fast track
contract not only to build the Yarlswood centre but also to
run it for 6 years. Six of the nine removal centres in the UK are
run by private security firms. Private guards are paid around half
what prison officers are paid, with Group 4 recently advertising
for new guards offering £6.95 per hour , no experience
necessary. In general the private guards, entrusted with the
care of traumatised refugees, are often grossly racist and provoke
the detainees.On the other hand, the great majority of detainees
are in the process of applying for asylum and therefore theyre
not even technically illegal. Unfortunately for them
though the purpose of detention, the government admits, is to deter
others who might come to this country for refuge. So youll
be locked up regardless, mate. There are similar conditions in much
of Europe with private companies taking over running asylum centres.
The European Union is pushing for asylum claims to be made from
asylum seekers country of origin, and have put forward a 250
million Euro programme to rapidly kick illegal human
beings back to the country they entered the EU from. Nearly 150
million euros is to be spent harmonising EU border patrols
and co-coordinating their efforts in expelling the unwanted.
Amidst the corporate media frenzy of labeling asylum seekers as
scroungers, terrorists or AIDS infected
a lot of realities are forgotten. Many scrounging asylum
seekers work in Britain in low paid jobs that most British refuse,
contributing millions to the British Economy. Labeling asylum seekers
as terrorists is rather far fetched when you think of
the billion dollar western arms industry that supplies dictators
in the Majority World with weapons that fuel divisive civil wars.
People arrive at our shores fleeing this terror as well as western
corporations devouring their resources and then sending the profits
of $50 billion per year back to Western banks. And finally, calling
asylum seekers diseased or AIDS infected
is downright racist. Every year Majority World governments train
thousands of medical staff who are poached by the NHS and other
western countries. Then we have the cheek to deport AIDS sufferers
back to the hospitals that weve depleted. Maybe asylum seekers
are seeking asylum. And maybe we should offer it to them, and question
ourselves a bit more and not them.
*Yarls Wood Campaign meeting Saturday 23rd August, Camden
Town Hall, 11am1pm.
* Boundaries to Bridges Caravan Tour. Activists will be gathering
in Almeria, Spain this October before moving through various countries
to St. Louis, Senegal by March 2004. The Caravan will serve as a
platform for talks, workshops, info-exchanges, parties, circus and
theatre performances and will also have a mobile cinema showing
documentaries and films covering themes of immigration and frontiers.
If you wanna get involved see www.memenet.de/tour.htm
* Recommended reading Open Borders: The case against immigration
controls Teresa Hayter, Pluto Press 2000
* We hope to have names and addresses of detainees who would like
to receive letters of support in next weeks SchNEWS.
Crap Arrest of the Week
For having a nano blim of pot!
We are talking a really small piece of dope. When it was weighed
it came to the staggering weight of 1/50th of a gram. If you were
a flea it still couldnt get you stoned. But after 3 days of
trial he was found guilty of possession. Stone me - it happened
WATTS UP DOC?
As America plunged into the dark ages last week and millions of
Americans went without electricity, the message was clear: the terrorists
had struck. Except these terrorists werent your easy-to-target
Allah lovers, they were the barons of fossil and nuclear power and
their government cronies. Their weapon is an ancient electric grid
thats, in their own words, fit for a third world country.
Its an insanely fragile device that inefficiently sends electricity
from polluting, centralised generating plants to buildings that
waste massive amounts of energy and generate none. And it will crash,
crash and crash until its replaced.
The technology exists to replace it now. Back in 1952 a report
to President Harry Truman predicted that Americas future lay
with renewable energy. It envisaged 13 million solar-powered homes
by 1975 with the promise of decentralised, off-grid self-sufficiency.
Still today solar technologies make energy self-sufficiency a real
possibility. Solar panels on roof tops and embedded in windows can
produce grid-free electricity. Methane digestion can turn waste
into usable gas and basement generators can run on biomass fuels
such as ethanol. So why are Americans not using such decentralised,
green energy? Why are they relying on a crusty old centralised grid
run by a handful of fat-stomached corporations? Well, were
gonna have to break our way through the incestuous web of US business
and the state to find out.
Regulations were put in place by Franklin Roosevelt back in the
30s to make sure all energy charges were linked to real expenditures
by the energy suppliers, blackouts to hike rates were illegalised
and all electricity companies were closely monitored by the federal
power commission. Then came Dubyas Daddy and deregulation.
Big electricity companies, such as Enron, had been scheming to avoid
regulations that imposed huge fines on them for ripping off ratepayers.
They decided not to break the rules but to eliminate them altogether
and they christened their dodgy little baby deregulation.
It was, according to the investigative journo, Greg
Palast, like a committee of bank robbers figuring out how
to make safecracking legal. So with the barons of fossil and
nuclear power firmly behind him, Dubyas Daddy gave his corporate
chums federal deregulation of electricity, which meant
they were on the way to taking ratepayers hostage and not having
to worry about any pesky fines or regulation things.
To fully deregulate energy consumption the big electricity companies
now began to focus on state deregulation. After a massive campaign
in California promising electricity bills reduced by 20%, a deregulated
San Diego looked at their bills and realised that their 20% savings
were swallowed by a 300% jump in surcharges. Becoming more and more
powerful in their lawless, deregulated paradise, three power giants
began to withhold power from the state of California in the year
2000 and ripped off over $6 billion in excess charges from ratepayers.
After Clinton had imposed price caps on electricity bills in California,
Dubya waltzed in to the White House, dancing to a $16 million tune
from the power companies, and immediately blew the caps away. At
the same time, New Yorks Republican Governor, George Pataki,
ripped the lid off electricity prices and relieved the Niagra Mohawk
power company of the annoying duty of maintaining the grid system.
So now after being plunged into the dark ages are Americans gonna
finally think about how much energy they consume? Is the corporate
media gonna run stories about the necessity of decentralised, self-sufficient,
green energy? Is George Bush gonna break with his power baron chums
and overhaul a rotten, centralised energy grid? Course not. This
is the American state and big business were talking about.
Bush has just pushed through a law to upgrade the grid
which, in the words of Harvey Wasserman, is a new money pit
for the same old unsafe nukes, polluting coal burners and gas turbines
all looped together by dangerous, wasteful wires that are bound
to crash again and again. See: www.zmag.org
MARMOSET ON TOAST
The verdict is expected soon on the University of Cambridges
proposed Primate Testing Centre, The Centre would house a breeding
colony of some 400-500 marmosets in tiny, barren metal cages; the
animals would then be used in neurological experiments and endure
horrific suffering at the hands of the researchers
The Science Minister at the Department for Trade and Industry Lord
Sainsbury and the University has touted its essential
purpose in solving human neurological disorders. The governments
claims are bogus as Dr Ray Greek of Europeans For Medical Advancement
confirms, Everything we know about Alzheimers, Parkinsons
and other specifically human neurological disorders has been learned
from studying humans and their tissues... Mutilating monkeys helps
no-one and actually harms patients by misleading researchers and
diverting them from more productive avenues of research, such as
brain-scanning and clinical research.
Stopping the centre is essential if the battle against animal testing
facilities is to be moved forward, according to Professor Roger
Lemon director of the Institute of Neurology It would effectively
be a signal that would block any new animal-research facility for
the foreseeable future.
Protest on 23 August, Parkers Piece. September 3 public meeting
, 11 October National rally all in Cambridge.
Stop Primate Experiments at Cambridge 07957588253 www.primateprison.org
The Burma Campaign this week published an updated version of its
Dirty List of companies whose operations are helping
to finance the military dictatorship in Burma.
The list of companies that are lining the pockets of the military
is too long to put in SchNEWS but heres a few. Most well known
is British American Tobacco who makes $400,000 a year for the regime
and has contributed $16m in total to the junta. Hutchison Whampoa
Ltd are a company youve probably havent heard of but
they own Superdrug, 3 Mobile and three major ports Felixstowe,
Harwich International and Thamesport, as well as major stakes in
luxury property developments. They also own Myanmar International
Terminals Thilawa, a major port in Burma.
Theres Oracle, Total and Unocal who are building a gas pipeline
from Burma to Thailand; Carnival/P&O; Daewoo; Accountancy firms
Price-Waterhouse and Ernst & Young; Suzuki who have a factory
jointly owned with the military government and the right on
Lonely Planet who insist that just because they publish a
guide to Burma this doesnt mean theyre encouraging people
to go there! Tourism is a vital source of income for the Burmese
dictatorship in Burma, providing it with millions of pounds every
year. There are also companies which maybe local to where you are
- in London theres a law firm called Norton Rose and in Sussex
theres a garden furniture manufacturer Lister which sources
all teak wood from the rainforests of Burma.
For the full list call 020 7281 7377 www.burmacampaign.org.uk
SchNEWS in brief
- Yesterday the head office of Spearhead, the company organizing
Europes largest arms fair, Defence Systems Equipment
international (DSEi) was occupied by protesters. The fair
will happen at the Excel Centre in London next month and a week
of protests have been organized. Actions are happening around
the country in the lead up to DSEi: On 31st August theres
a Cardiff Disarm DSEi Day from 1pm at East Moors Community Centre,
Sanquahar St, Splott. Contact: 07754 585856 http://uk.msnusers.com/cardiffsocialforum/messageboard.msnw
On 1st September theres an anti-DSEI disco benefit night
at Notting Hill arts club along with visuals and films from Guerilla
TV , info - firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about Disarm DSEi actions see www.dsei.org
- Anti war protesters have won the right to challenge the police
against the draconian powers they used at the Fairford demo on
22nd March. 3 coaches were stopped on the way there and then made
to go back to London.
- Gillette have abandoned the use of RFID smart-chips
in products following a recent trial of the technology in Tescos
supermarket in Cambridge (SchNEWS 415),
which attracted protests by local residents. Following the recent
protest in Cambridge against the introduction of smart-chips to
track in-store product movements. In Boston, the home of Gillette
the Boston Globe ran an article on the issue and within hours
Gillette announced they would be abandoning the use of RFID in
- Ladyfest four days and nights of oestrogen
to showcase, celebrate and encourage the musical
and artistic talents of women. 4-7 September, Zion Arts,
Stretford Rd, Hulme, Manchester. 0777 612 6525 www.ladyfestmanchester.org
- Brighton Alliance of Sound Systems Random Party this
Saturday (23) @ Concorde2 Madeira Drive, Brighton 10pm-3am. £3
- Ska Punk Losers have a homecoming concert on Saturday
6th September for Neil Bartlett who has spent the past
two years inside for animal rights stuff. Littlehampton Railway
Club, opp. The train station. Doors open 6.30 pm and its
- A new squatted social centre has opened in Newtown, Wales.
Music, food and cinema are all on offer. Call 0402 522485 after
12pm on Sunday 24th for directions.
- Benefit gig for Brighton Peace and Environment Centre.
Attila the Stockbroker and Rob Johnson at the Kings and Queens
pub on Marlborough Place, 7.30pm 29th. £8/£5.
- If youre handy with computers and want to become part
of the SchNEWS web design team on a Thursday evening get
in touch with the office.
While the fight against the building of the new A30 at Fairmile
in Devon (See SchNEWS 103) was happening the local pub, the Fairmile
Inn, refused to serve the eco-warriors who were living in the protest
camps (Remember them?). But now thanks to the new road the pub has
lost all its passing trade and has been forced to close through
lack of punters! What do they say about karma? Or is it just time
for one for the road ?
SchNEWS warns all committed readers we still seek refuge in your
NOW OUT!!! 'PEACE DE RESISTANCE' - SchNEWS Annual
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