| Friday 2nd May
2008 | Issue 630
Back to the Full Issue
SNATCH OF THE DAY
AS PROTESTS TARGET REFUGEE DEPORTATION DAWN RAIDS
“Following on from the successful day of action on UN International Migrant’s Day on 18th December last year, we want to maintain the pressure on the frontline agencies of so-called ‘Managed Migration’.” - Paul Johnson from the UK No Borders Network.
Protests against the forced removal of migrant families have been continuing (see SchNEWS 618), with a second ‘UK-Wde Day of Action Against Immigration Snatch Squads’ taking place last Thursday. The actions happened in the early hours in order to intercept snatch squads as they attempted to leave on dawn raids to forcibly take asylum seekers into custody for deportation.
Although activists found themselves being greeted by numerous police vans when they arrived at the Norman House removal centre in Portsmouth, campaigners in Newcastle and Cardiff had more success.
Protestors from the South Wales No Borders network successfully blockaded the Cardiff offices of the Border and Immigration Agency (BIA) from 5am, preventing snatch squads from leaving the building and holding a picket outside.
In North Shields, Northumberland, activists managed to blockade the car park of the Northumberland House reporting centre, while in Newcastle there were banner drops from key locations around the city.
The Leeds No Borders group made their move the following day with a demonstration outside the Waterside Court reporting centre. Leaflets were handed out to the staff and a stall was set up providing information about anti-deportation campaigns and the No Borders network. A ‘Free Shop’ was also set up and food and drinks were provided for those having to sign.
In Portsmouth however, activists had less luck and were pulled up by three van loads of coppers as they were approaching the Norman House removal centre. Their van was searched for articles used to commit ‘criminal damage’ under Section 1 of PACE (The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 – the one that gives cops all their stop’n’search-for-no-particular-reason powers, and recently amended to mean that, in the event of arrest, the right to legal aid has now become the right to ring a call centre – see SchNEWS 618). All their D-locks, chains and arm tubes were confiscated.
The Cardiff blockade was drawing attention to the recent deportation of Ghanaian woman Ama Sumani, who was being treated for cancer at the University Hospital of Wales when she was forcibly sent back to her homeland in January. With the necessary drugs for her treatment unavailable in Ghana, she died on March 20th – ironically just days after her family had learnt that fundraising on Ama’s behalf had raised £70,000. The Lancet medical journal called the removal “atrocious barbarism” and even rock guru Sting was up in arms.
The BIA was unmoved though, with its boss, Lin Homer, telling MPs that there was nothing important about Ama’s case that stood out from the pile of other deportations in her out-tray. Instead, Home Office minister Alun Michael put the blame on Ghana for not providing free medical care and told the public that the real question was, “whether it’s right for somebody who has no right to be in this country to be given medical treatment” - errr, if they’re dying of cancer Alun, here at SchNEWS towers we think that’s an unreserved ‘yes’.
Meanwhile Alun Michael’s sponsors in the boardrooms of the City of London continue to clobber Ghana with more than £2 billion of debt – four times the country’s annual health budget … but that’s another story.
EARLY KICK OFF
Not content with picking on the terminally ill, the newly formed UK Border Agency also happens to snatch kids from their beds as part of the ‘managed system of migration’. Careful not to get a bad press for snatching children from the class room (or risk solidarity actions from other parents), BIA goons prefer to remove the family as a whole while the rest of the world snoozes in bed. But not everyone’s been sleeping - with further dawn actions in Glasgow and Newcastle keeping immigration offi cials fi rmly in the office and migrant families in their homes – at least for a little while longer.
Some of the migrants facing an early morning wrestle for their freedom already have UK passports. Often leave to remain in the UK is dependent on toeing the line and forced removals of people busted merely for a traffic offence have taken place. Even if you’ve got an appeal pending you can be sent to a detention centre pending ‘removal.’ The Home Office has not yet contracted out the removals system to the private sector, but to keep some of the expenditure ‘off the balance sheet’ - as party-donating corporations profi t from taxpayers money and provide revolving door jobs for their political chums – they have handed over the refugee detention centres to become a nice little earner for companies like Serco (See SchNEWS 545).
Amongst their huge portfolio of publicspirited contracts - from nuclear weapons to surveillance to offender tagging to waste management to railways (see SchNEWS 497) - Serco run detention centres including Colnbrook and Yarl’s Wood, which is currently home to hunger striking mothers in the centre’s ‘family unit’. Seven women, including two mothers still breastfeeding, have been starving themselves to highlight the brutality of the Serco regime and, in particular, the forced removal of a Burundian woman and her baby on 17th April. In their petition the women say, “They treat us like animals. We are claiming asylum, we’re not animals. They treat us as if we’ve done something terrible.” And shareholders get paid dividents from this line of work...
Can’t believe that UK plc snatches kids from beds and deports the terminally ill to certain death? No Borders are keeping up the pressure – why not get involved with your local group or set one up?
* See www.noborders.org.uk for more
Subscribe to SchNEWS: Send 1st Class stamps (e.g. 10 for next 9 issues) or donations (payable
to Justice?). Or £15 for a year's subscription, or the SchNEWS
supporter's rate, £1 a week. Ask for "originals" if
you plan to copy and distribute. SchNEWS is post-free to prisoners.