About Us
Back Issues
The free weekly direct action newsheet published in Brighton since 1994 - Copyleft - Information for Action
Harmondsworth demo

An energetic 60-strong demo lead by Movement for Justice rocked around Harmondsworth and Colnbrook detention centres near Heathrow yesterday (Saturday 5th), bringing a message of solidarity to detainees and rage against the immigration system.

The demo began outside, before snaking it's way slowly around the centres themselves to each block of the prisons. For around two hours, shouting chants of “Detention centres: Shut them down!”, “Claiming asylum is not a crime!” and “Solidarité avec les sans papiers” echoed around the site, where the demo was separated from the prison by 6 metre high fences topped with razor wire.

Police looked on quietly as speeches were made through the megaphones. Ex-detainees spoke of their experiences of the lack of medical care inside, and the horror of seeing aeroplanes taking off overhead and wondering if you could be next. Friends inside spoke via mobile phone. Other detainees responded to the protest by holding messages up to their barred windows and shouting back – ranging from the tragic, “I'm dying in here”, to the tenacious, “Keep pushing, keep pushing”.

The pressure is building on Harmondsworth IRC – a GEO-run facility which houses 700 men, 400 of whom are subject to the 'fast-track' system - which has become notorious for poor conditions and brutality.

A rundown of the crimes committed by GEO in the centre can be seen here. It's a harrowing list which includes poor healthcare resulting in deaths from neglect of vulnerable individuals, overuse of solitary confinement punishments and abuse by guards. That's not to mention the inherent injustice of placing ever-increasing numbers of people on the two-week turnaround 'detained fast-track' (DFT) procedure, which makes it impossible to people to compile evidence or make their asylum case. The rules to exempt torture survivors on DFT are routinely ignored. Others are simply held indefinitely.

Saturday's demo had a bigger turn out than the last, in June, which coincided with hunger strikes and a sit-down protest in the centre. Those involved were either issued immediate deportation orders or transferred to other centres.

Movement for Justice, a London-based campaign for immigration rights and against racism and homophobia, is going from strength to strength. Activists spoke of “diversifying the struggle for immigration rights”, from fighting individual cases to building resistance to the system as a whole. Amongst their number are many who have experienced the asylum system first hand, either themselves or their friends and family.

There's talk of mobilising a mass march for immigration rights in the capital this autumn – keeps your ears pealed.


Stories about similar subjects...

As tensions escalate between migrants and the authorities in Calais, the right-wing mayor Natasha Bouchart has made some surprising announcements: demanding a new reception centre for 400 vulnerable people and a day centre for migrants from central government. What's that all about?

The use of 'secret dossiers' to detain Palestinians indefinitely and without charge - the struggle continues as the latest victims are kidnapped and imprisoned. 

Pro Patria (For Fatherland), a new far-right group with seasoned members, raise their ugly head in the Netherlands with a demonstration announced for the 20th September in the Hague.

Mass squatting action in metal recycling plant pulled off in style, after brutal policing leaves hundreds of undocumented people without shelter.

The US and the EU are negotiating a new trade agreement – TTIP – which amounts to the biggest transfer of power to corporations seen in recent years.

Amsterdam squat evicted in gentrification battle.

Mass evictions of migrants in progress now

We started writing about three interesting but unrelated things happening in June. Here is an amalgamated version, which is worth a read.

Twitter: @SchNEWS