Ongoing resistance at Harmondsworth and Colnbrook detention centres

Today noise demonstrations inside and outside the detention centres.det2

This morning, a small group of supporters of the ongoing resistance inside Harmondsworth and Colnbrook, went again to make noise outside the two centres.

People in both centres were heard shouting ‘freedom’ and ‘we want justice’ from the central courtyards. Some people held signs up to the windows saying ‘no more detention’, others were banging on the walls and windows. One group managed to open a window and were shouting to the supporters outside ‘we want freedom’.

Detainees inside said they were not eating again today and people were refusing to go to the kitchens. They said that the Home Office had given no response to their demands and so they would CONTINUE to RESIST. Some people involved in the resistance have reportedly been moved to the isolation unit. They have been threatened with removal to other centres and with removal directions out of the UK.

The security levels were high, 8 security from the centre came outside and 8 – 10 police arrived shortly after. One security officer was trying to intimidate the supporters group, making up false stories about protesters to the police, encouraging them to make arrests. The police with help from the security forcibly removed the people making noise outside, pushing and pulling them away. No arrests were possible.

People inside the detention prisons of Harmondsworth and Colnbrook ask for more support outside. They ask that people spread their messages far and continue to come to make noise outside.

Resistance continues inside and out.

Solidarity.

No Borders. No detention prisons. No Eurodac.

Some of the most recent statements from inside:

NO ONE CARES

‘’We eat or no eat, release or no release no one cares. It’s very bad here.’’

THE PROTEST IS STILL ON

‘’The protest is still on, we are outside. There are 150 people still out there and we have agreed not to eat until the demands are met. There is the possibility that they will stay outside in the courtyard tonight

We don’t have any access to social media but if you can post this it would be great.’’

I’M TALKING ABOUT THE 600 PEOPLE WHO ARE WITH ME IN THIS DETENTION

I’m talking about the six hundred people who are with me in this detention. This thing is not fair. If this place was in another country all you would see is BBC and every media…but because it’s a place in the UK they defend…so when I say to the Home Office “This place is prison”, they say to me “No- is not prison”.

THEY IMMIGRATION OFFICERS NOW HERE

‘’They immigration officers now here and they took the papers [with messages] from guys and trying to stop protest. They wrote the names of they guys who are protesting and had papers.’’

See https://detainedvoices.wordpress.com/ for more testimonies and information.

det3Other reports:

*Recent report on Harmondsworth by Corporate Watch: ‘Its gonna break: life in the UK’s biggest detention centre’

http://www.corporatewatch.org/news/2015/mar/04/harmondsworth-immigration-detention-centre-secret-filming-mitie

 

 

Coach blockade to stop mass deportation to Afghanistan

10.3.15

At around 5pm today, a coach leaving Brook House ‘Immigration Removal Centre’ was stopped in the road by people holding a banner saying ‘This Deportation is Illegal’.  As the coach came to a stop one person ran past the police car to the front of the coach and superglued her hands to the windscreen wipers. The coach was stuck in the road outside the detention centre for over two hours. All protesters have now been removed from the scene with 3 potential arrests.

The coach contained people who were on the way to the airport to be forcibly removed from the UK. Today charter flights are due to take place to Albania, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Mike said he came to Gatwick today ‘to protest the Home Office policy of forced expulsion and to stop the charter flights which are due to take place this evening’.

This protest is not happening in isolation. Migrants are on hunger strike in detention centres across the country with protesters also outside Harmondsworth IRC in solidarity with those facing removal to Afghanistan at 10.30pm this evening. Recent news reports by Channel 4 have also highlighted appalling treatment of migrants within the UK’s detention estate.

Solidarity to all involved.

Statement from mass protest inside Harmondsworth immigration detention centre

8 March 2015, 7.25pm

e-mail address: detaineesriseup@riseup.net

More than 200 people detained in Harmondsworth immigration detention centre are mobilising a hunger strike from 8.00am tomorrow, following a noise demonstration inside the centre today.

They are protesting for an end to:

•        indefinite deprivation of liberty and human rights
•        the use of “Detained Fast Track” [1]
•        bias and incompetence in case-handling by the Home Office
•        unlawful forced removals
•        stressful and degrading conditions which they describe as “mental torture” and which lead many to self-harm
•        overcrowded accommodation “comparable to animal cages”
•        refusals to return those who want to go back to their countries of origin

Similar protests have taken place this week by women inside Yarl’s Wood immigration detention centre. The resistance follows this week’s release of undercover film footage of Yarl’s Wood and Harmondsworth by Channel 4 [2], and a parliamentary inquiry report into detention [3].

One protester said of the treatment by Harmondsworth staff: “It’s like we are animals. They are not giving us help or proper food. if anyone came inside and see conditions here they would see and release us.” Another said detention was “mentally torturing” them.

Protesters say staff are threatening them with prison if they do not stop protesting.

Note to editors:

1. The Detained Fast-Track system is an accelerated programme of detention in which cases are supposed to be resolved within 14 days. In July 2014 a High Court judgement ruled it had been operating illegally.

2. http://www.channel4.com/news/yarls-wood-immigration-removal-detention-centre-investigation ;
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/harmondsworth-immigrants-kept-in-cells-for-two-hours-longer-secret-filming-reveals-10086170.html?origin=internalSearch

3. https://detentioninquiry.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/immigration-detention-inquiry-report.pdf

Resisting Immigration Raids – Brainstorm of Ideas

Up to 65 people attended our public meeting on Thursday. Great to meet people already working on the same stuff and newer people alike. After a brief overview of raids and our rights, we broke up into groups and shared ideas of how we can fight them collectively. Here’s a snapshot of people’s thoughts:

Protest in the streets

Tower block alerts when raids happen, whistles blown – like in Glasgow where there were lots of raids in single blocks.

School protest when students are taken – e.g. Glasgow Girls, Save Yashika, Leonarda Dibrani case in France

Union support for workers

Twitter alerts for raids

Phone alert system for raids

Phone alert systems for local areas – markets etc. – need resistance to be local to be sustainable.

Working with more community groups, places of worship – getting messages out in different languages.

Someone to hack Home Office sites…

Posters at bus stops

‘Know your rights’ stickers

Map immigration raids

Shopkeepers – put up withdrawal of consent forms in in windows

Spread success stories

Be one step ahead of home office – where they go & try and snatch people, we need to already have been there – talked to people

Help people develop CONFIDENCE in the face of raids – as/more important than legal knowledge (law frequently abused by Immigration Enforcement anyway)

Posters saying Immigration Enforcement not welcome

Clapton FC ‘know your rights’ outreach

By The No

ultras

As you might know, Clapton Football Club, eight leagues below Premier League neighbours, West Ham United, has recently become the adopted home to a fast-growing group of fans who are disillusioned with the professional game and want to put their antiracist, anticapitalist, community-centric politics into action.

Clapton play their home games in Forest Gate, and one Saturday a few weeks ago a handful of us sought to demonstrate our support for people who live and work near our ground who are increasingly being targeted by the government’s racist anti-immigrant agenda.

The Home Office’s Operation Skybreaker – a name as naff as its aims are sinister – has already seen gangs of immigration officers engaging withbusinesses in Newham (amongst other boroughs) whose employees or customers might be undocumented.

And by engaging with we should be clear we mean harassing, intimidating, misinforming, entering without express permission, and rinsing information from people by whatever snide means they can.

These visits are basically pre-raids, and are principally about enabling the immigration enforcement to mess up more and more people’s lives.

In response to Skybreaker invasions, the ever-awesome London Black Revs already staged a well-received action at Queen Street market in nearby Upton Park, offering local people Anti Raids Network cards with information about their rights. Our plan was to try and do a our bit on our home patch.

We met at a local café for a bit of training from a Clapton-supporting member of Newham Monitoring Project before heading out in pairs with cards in English, Bengali, Punjabi, Arabic and a few other languages.

We had prepared ourselves for the possibility of shop and café owners being too busy to entertain us or unsure what to make of a bunch of (albeit friendly) football fans. After all, most of us were wearing our Clapton scarves ahead of our local derby with Barking later that day (0-0, in case you wondered).

However the response we received was not only welcoming, but in some cases revelatory.

We spoke to the owners of two adjoining convenience shops at the bottom of Upton Lane one of whom we had heard had already given Home Office Robocops their marching orders when they’d tried their charm offensive (stress on the offensive) recently.

The shopkeepers clearly knew they were allowed to ask these thugs to leave their premises if they didn’t have a warrant, but they were receptive to the idea of handing out our cards so their customers know their rights as well.

Others, though, were less aware of their rights. Another shopkeeper told us about the form the police and immigration officials made him sign, saying he gave permission for them to be in his shop (something we’d touched on in the training, and which no one is under any obligation to sign).

Another reported police demanding access to the rented-out flat upstairs in relation to an unspecified incident 15 years ago. Why? Checking for who might be living there? As the man said, God knows what they were looking for.”

There was the white shop owner who was emphatic in his view that he was treated with infinitely more respect by the uniformed bullies than most of the neighbouring businesses.

And the café owner who said he’d not only take cards, but he’d happily put a poster in his window.

And the NHS health centre staff who accepted the cards without hesitation as necessary information for local patients.

And the travel agency who invited us to sit down before telling us in detail about when their tiny shop was visited by seven or eight tooled-up immigration officers demanding to see who they employed (without warrants), advising them they risked arrest if they did not share their ID (untrue) or answer their questions (ditto).

I had to leave this visit early: the combination of the abuse they depicted and the calm, resigned way these men spoke about their treatment just floored me.

I am pretty sure I don’t just speak for myself when I say the couple of hours we spent talking to these good people made a massive impression on me. This is happening now, and it only promises to intensify as the route to political power becomes more about how the government is seen to crush those who it deems are not welcome in our communities.

As Clapton fans and, for the most part, new members of this community, we intend to offer our neighbours our solidarity.

We’ll be back doing the rounds before our Saturday home games in November, and it would be great if others came and joined us. More details on the Anti Raids blog here.

13th November: Public Meeting

Did you know…?

  • You don’t have to sign papers letting immigration officers into your home or shop.
  • During a raid, you don’t have to answer any questions about your immigration status when immigration officers or the police ask you.
  • You are legally entitled to leave if you haven’t been arrested.

Tower Hamlets is one of the London boroughs currently being targeted by ‘Operation Skybreaker’, a 5-month plan by the Home Office to stop illegal working. We believe immigration raids are racist & we can fight them if we work together.

To find out more about your legal rights & talk about what we can do to defend our communities against immigration raids and arrests, come to our public meeting on November 13th, 6-8pm at the Praxis Centre, Pott St, Bethnal Green E2 0EF.

Organised by the Anti Raids Network & Right to Remain.

Mos Maiorum: Europe-wide clampdown on migration

Major European Joint Operation against ‘illegal’ migration – 13 – 26th October

The latest European Joint Operation to intimidate, detain and deport migrants will take place this October, with Schengen member states, Frontex and Europol working together under the suitably fascistic operation name Mos Maiorum.

According to a document published by Statewatch, this operation will:

‘- apprehend irregular migrants and gather relevant information for intelligence and
investigative purposes;
- identify, prosecute and disrupt organized crime groups;
- give a clear and updated situation picture concerning the operational area, modus operandi, main trends and possible rapid changes in these aspects;
- consolidate joint measures to achieve an impact on illegal immigration (border checks and
border surveillance activities);
- carry out (based on the outcomes of the risk analysis), control along the main routes of illegal immigration followed by illegal migrant networks (within the Schengen Area and at the external borders);
- collect and analyse information related also to the so called secondary movement.’

As such, we can expect increased surveillance and arrests in these two weeks, which will also be the basis for information gathering that will lead to further operations of this nature.

The supposed aim of ‘preventing organised crime’ is merely a smokescreen. The proliferation of smuggling networks is the result of a militarised border regime.

We urge people to get the word out about Mos Maiorum and to be aware of the operation when travelling in this time.

October/November events

We are supporting a number of anti raids initiatives over the next couple of months – have a look at our listings and come along to help spread & localise the resistance to immigration raids.

On 13th November, the Anti Raids Network will host a public meeting with Right to Remain on raids in Tower Hamlets. We hope to provide a space for people to come together and share experiences, learn more about their rights, and discuss strategies for grassroots resistance to these oppressive state policies.

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Operation Skybreaker

Operation Skybreaker is a 5-month plan by the Home Office in parts of Tower Hamlets, Brent, Ealing, Newham and Greenwich to work with businesses and community groups to stop ‘illegal’ immigration. The first part is soft – they are asking businesses if they can come in and check their records, sometimes promising not to arrest people. But do not be fooled by these ‘friendly tactics’ – the second part of Operation Skybreaker will involve carrying out raids in these areas, no doubt helped in this by the information they find in stage one. They will work with HMRC and other agencies on this.

No Co-operation with Immigration Officers

  • Legally, you do not have to sign consent forms letting them come in.
  • Immigration officers often ask people’s permission to come in because they do not actually have evidence that you are committing an offence, which they need to get a warrant.
  • Refusing immigration officers entry to your home or business is not evidence of a crime.
  • Letting them in gives them access to information they could use to raid your home or business later on. For example, it could give them information they need to get a warrant.
  • Working with immigration officers only gives them more power. The only way to stop these raids is to resist together and show support & solidarity with people being targeted.

During our outreach, we have found that a lot of people have been signing consent forms. However, when we’ve told people that there is no obligation to sign, many said that they were unaware that it was voluntary, while others said “you can’t do anything to stop them – they do whatever they want”. In practice of course, it is very hard to refuse – regardless of whether this is your legal right. Only with strong and persistent collective resistance and non-cooperation do we stand a chance of really fighting back and keeping immigration officers out of our neighbourhoods.

Find out more

We are having a public meeting for people living and working in Tower Hamlets on November 13th, 6-8pm at the Praxis Centre, Pott Street, Bethnal Green, E2 0EF. You are invited to come and find out more about your rights and & discuss what we can do to stop these immigration raids.

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‘Engagement’ in Whitechapel…”We’d just like to have a little chat…”
The velvet glove...gaining consent to look at records. Pt two of Skybreaker will involve carrying out raids in the boroughs.
The velvet glove…gaining consent to look at records. Pt two of Skybreaker will involve carrying out raids in the boroughs.