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Organising against migration controls and working to break down the barriers that divide us
Updated: 2 hours 29 min ago

How to Have A Racist Conversation About Immigration

Thu, 13/11/2014 - 15:15

Paul Collier’s summarises his book Exodus: How Migration is Changing Our World in his article ‘How to have a sensible conversation about migration’, New Statesman, 21 November, 2013. This is a belated response to it.

The use of the word ”sensible” in any article about immigration rings alarm bells these days. Sirens are further sounded as Collier follows it with a complaint that we haven’t been allowed to have a “serious discussion” about immigration since – wait for it… Enoch Powell’s “Rivers of blood speech” – which he later partially endorses.

Frankly, I can’t be bothered to look at all the “ten blocks”  -with which he elucidates his immigration policy in the NS article – so we shall have to make do with examining a couple that will show that his claim to authority is at best, over stated.

Collier is a serious political scientist who – he claims – is bravely confronting a social science taboo – talking “honestly”(Ding! Ding!) about immigration. Further, his “liberal” friends will be appalled at him for doing so – and to be fair he is probably risking a decline in dinner party invites in Hampstead. Whatsmore in a world where the chairman of Migration Watch gets a peerage he is really sticking his neck out.

Having set up this straw man of a open border consensus he starts building his argument.

In Block 3, Collier outlines one of the unwelcome truths about migrants is their propensity to “cluster” and “not be absorbed” into the “general population”.

The clustering tendencies according to Collier of (im)migrant diasporas – slows absorption. This is bad and is made worse both by larger (uncontrolled) migration – and further excacerabted by multicultural as opposed to assimilative policy (Yes, this article is quite like playing racist-immigration-discourse bingo!). Absorption or assimilation seem to be similar, though one also seems to actas  the cause of the other.

By “absorbing” I take Collier to mean to be evenly distributed socially, economically and geographically evenly across and into the receiving state – not to be a a noticeable blip in any statistical analysis of the Census. Perhaps they are two different aspects of the same thing – with assimilation being the socio-cultural aspect. In any case, Assimilation/Absorption normally means conforming to the dominant (if not majority) culture.

For instance, within the US context this means Anglo-Saxon culture despite many other major populations including those of First Nation and African origin. Top-down assimilation has negative consequences, mainly as one culture is promoted at the cost of less dominant ones. However, I would argue that a more egalitarian assimilative process is possible, but I won’t argue for it here.

To delve slightly deeper into Collier’s mind set, I think we need to look carefully at the language that he deploys. An apposite example is provided within his full length book – Exodus: How Migration is Changing our World. It seems the more culturally different the migrant community are from their hosts, the more problematic their presence within the host society. They bring with them undesirable qualities from their countries/cultures:

“Uncomfortable as it may be . . . migrants bring their culture with them..For example…unsurprisingly, Nigerian immigrants to other societies tend to be untrusting and opportunistic.”1

This quote is telling in a number of ways. It reveals one of Collier’s arguments to be based on questionable assumptions about national character – though to be sure he’s careful to make it societal not racial. They bring not their inferior genes but their inferior governance with them. Collier previous works tells us how it’s the global souths’ corruption that is the source of its economic woes. It also assumes a rather rose tinted view of the population of the receiving country; If only we didn’t leave our borders open, we could still leave our doors unlocked without concern.

There is a further implicit assumption is seemingly being made about the “indigenous” population of receiving countries: That we are all happily assimilated into a otherwise contented general population; there are no other alienated groups within these societies. Ever widening gaps in income levels (for instance in the UK) suggests something rather different2.

Collier goes on to detail how migrants damage their hosts well being:

“Yet diversity also potentially jeopardises co-operation and generosity. Co-operation rests on co-ordination games that support both the provision of public goods and myriad socially enforced conventions. Generosity rests on a widespread sense of mutual regard that supports welfare systems. Both public goods and welfare systems benefit the indigenous poor, which means they are the group most at risk of loss.”

Collier seems to conflate two separate issues here.

1) True, there is some social science research – which suggests that “trust” or “solidarity” is lower in areas of higher diversity (not higher immigration) areas. Though the study by Robert Puttnam’s that Collier bases this assertion on finds that diversity is good for us in the long run and “…an extraordinary achievement of human civilization is our ability to redraw social lines in ways that transcend ancestry.”3 Further, Collier doesn’t acknowledge the results of other studies which don’t support Puttnam’s thesis linking diversity and lack of social capital. For instance, Gesthuizen et al (2004) suggest there is a positive relationship between social capital and diversity within the European context.4

2) Welfare cuts or rationing are carried out by governments not newly arrived migrants. Myths of “benefit tourism” are just that – myths used to justify reduction and withdrawal of social security and are part of a larger narrative which paints most recipients (not just migrants) of welfare as undeserving5.

As for the weakening of social solidarity due to the influx of migrants, its noticeable in articles of this kind that internal migration of rich people into previously economically deprived areas (Gentrification) are not considered despite substantial evidence of it’s impact on homelessness, and displacement.6

Paul Collier’s blocks are not a firm foundation for future migration policy, but rather a crumbing edifice which merely reflect the the unworkable and injust status quo.


1Quoted in “Let the People Go -The problem with strict migration controls”. viewed 11/10.14


3E Pluribus Unum : Diversity and Community in the Twenty-first Century The 2006 Johan Skytte Prize Lecture

Robert D. Putnam* pp161

4 Ethnic Diversity and Social Capital in Europe: Tests of Putnam’s Thesis in European Countries

Maurice Gesthuizen,* Tom van der Meer & Peer Scheepers

5The Dangerous Politics of Immigration Control, Chapter

6: Rowland Atkinson (2004) The evidence on the impact of gentrification: new lessons for the urban renaissance?, International Journal of Housing Policy, 4:1, 107-131

Bristol No Borders is back!

Tue, 22/07/2014 - 14:50

Yes, after a two year pause, there is a all new Bristol No Borders group. We meet weekly on Fridays at Kebele at 7pm.

Are you a “Modern Slave”?

Thu, 10/04/2014 - 12:55

As the “Modern Slavery” Bill is made into law, some of you may be left wondering whether you are a slave or not. Here is a simple guide for the perplexed.

We can all agree that slavery is bad, right? Real bad. We thought we had done with all that ages ago but apparently there is this thing called ‘Modern Slavery’. Unlike slavery in the past – for instance the triangular trade – it isn’t sanctioned by the British State, or British Corporations – it’s illegal – or if its not – it’s about to be. Teresa May says so.


So, what is ‘Modern Slavery’? Well, for a start ‘Modern’ here simply means contemporary. Nothing to do with ‘Modernism’ – this seemed to cause some confusion amongst some intellectuals at a Conference: “Slaveries Old and New: The Meaning of Freedom” that I attended recently -which this piece is largely based on. Guys, the British Government isn’t about to legislate retrospectively on the period 1870-1945.

‘Slavery’ is more tricky then you may think to define – especially if you are looking for a definition which can accomodate slaveries’ both old and new. I would suspect that most people when you mention the word ‘slavery’ think of the plantation of the Caribbean and the Americas, the often fatal and mass transportation of Africans to those places – and perhaps ancient slavery in Greece and Rome. This doesn’t sound too much like Modern Slavery. Trafficking of People – a oft used example of Modern Slavery happens in secret, perhaps with a handful of people being transported at once -either against their will (sometimes) or at least with some kind of deception involved. Brickmaking, or working on cocoa plantations are perhaps quarrying (especially as a child) are more tasks we associate with slave-like conditions. Some of this work is done to pay off a debt -so is unpaid – but is still servicing a debt nonetheless (perhaps has more in common with the coolie labour system that replaced slavery on abolition?) This still isn’t Chattel Slavery. The debts will (at least theoretically) be paid off. The classic example being women who were promised ‘good’ jobs being lured into sex work. They are not subsequently sold on the open market as African slaves were. That’s not too say that it’s not pernicious.

One of the key features missing from contemporarily configured slavery is legal ownership of one person by another. In most forms of ‘old’ slavery – Greek, Roman, Saxon down to the triangular trade – one person was another persons (legal) property to do with as they wished (chattel slavery). This was enshrined in law. Such ownership is of course, anathema today and if it exists at all  it is outside of the law – it is all ready criminal – so we may ask what is the purpose of the new legislation?

So what do people mean when they say ‘Modern Day Slavery’?

So are there any common features between slavery modern and old? There does seem to be two key features. Coercion and poor working conditions. That that the labour is not entered into voluntarily ( that there is no legal contract). Labour is not given freely, and it is unpaid. There are a couple of features here. One that unfree labour is intrinsically bad (or even “Evil” – as it says on many anti-slavery posters) and that the non-contractual element of the relationship allows unjust labour relations and unacceptable working conditions to flourish. or to put is another way, the labour relations are so that one party dominates another.

So, are we to conclude that all labour that is coercive and has poor working conditions counts as slavery? I think we concede then we are not saying that Modern Day Slavery isn’t really like Old Slavery. What we are talking about is a variety of work which is coerced. But this is question begging – who is coerced, by whom,  within what context?

It seems while some types of forced or coerced Labour are labelled “Modern Day Slavery”, others are mysteriously missing. The table above probably gives us some clues as to why.

This TedX Talk on Modern Day Slavery was shown as a example of the main stream narrative on the matter at the British Academy conference. Its heroic white rescuer (Photographer Lisa Kristine) presented some undoubtedly appalling (and even undoubtedly slave conditions). But her illustration of ‘emancipation’ merely replaced the hideous, gruelling, unpaid labour with hideous, poorly paid, gruelling, labour at a stone quarry in Uttah Pradesh and was therefore somewhat underwhelming. In her own words :

“…now that they do the same back-breaking work but they do it for themselves and they get paid and they do it in freedom”.


Strip Search

Fri, 28/03/2014 - 11:33

In Imogen Tyler’s book Revolting Subjects there is a chapter entitled Naked Protest and the Feminist Commons. It begins with detailing a protest at Yarls Wood Immigration prison after a mother and her baby were going to be deported:

“…a pregnant woman was forcibly restrained, separated from her six-year old son and placed I solitary confinement. The following day the Yarls Wood mothers staged a second protest in a corridor outside a staff office demanding to know what had happened to the women who had been removed. During this gathering several of the mothers proceeded to remove their clothes, some baring their breasts and others stripping to expose their genitals.”

What struck me about this naked protest – and especially its physical context within the prison estate was firstly the vulnerability that as they initially stripped off they must have initially felt, but also a sense that they were actually only repeating what they were forced to do at various points by immigration and other authorities- strip naked- but this time they were asserting control.

Indeed, Mercy Guobadia one of the protesters said:

“I took my clothes off because they treat us like animals.”

Being strip searched is both a everyday and extraordinary part of being incarcerated. Whether that is in a detention centre, prison, police station or port of entry being forced to strip in front of hostile strangers is a humiliating and degrading experience.

It is no accident that one of the first things you will be forced to do on entering prison is to strip naked. This is part of the “Reception” process. Your powerlessness is underscored from the outset; the power relation between you and the prison guards is made crystal clear, as you shiver masking your gentials with your hands as they make sarcastic comments about your body. Its institutional-ritualised abuse with a mission to oppress and dehumanise that is repeated thousands of times across the detention estate(s) and police stations.

In the opening scene of In Darkness (2011) a group of naked Jewish women are being chased through the woods by some Nazi Soldiers. The fact that they have no clothes on, adds to the sense that they are not considered human by their pursuers. Slaves were often sold naked in public, emphasising their status as property not people.

The strip-search can be perhaps be rendered as metaphor for the invasiveness of the state in general, the era of near total surveillance we are entering- the x-raying of all our lives. This should not be allowed to take us away from the fact that strip search is a legimitised tool of violence by the state against the individual, against our very sense of self. It should be seen in the context of other tools of alienation from the self; the prison uniform, the denial of choice in everyday matters such as when you sleep, eat or wash or what you wear. The claims of the rehabilitative effect of prison, must be set against the overall destructive nature of the prison experience, especially to those who endure it at a young age.

Recent figures show that the Metropolitan Police have stripped-searched 4,500 10-16 year olds in the last 5 years. My own research has found that the local police force to me – Avon & Somerset Police – have stripped-searched some 877 11-19 year olds over the same period (and 5207 of all ages). The difference between the population sizes of the areas covered by The Metropolitan Police and Avon & Somerset means that the rate per head are similar for young people.

Being strip searched while young makes its impact greater, as you are likely to be more vulnerable at this age. However this process is going to be a ordeal for anyone:

(e) If necessary to assist the search, the detainee may be required to
hold their arms in the air or to stand with their legs apart and bend
forward so a visual examination may be made of the genital and anal areas
provided no physical contact is made with any body orifice;

It is no surprise to find that young black men are disproportionately effected by this practice. Almost 30% of males strip searched between the ages of 12-19 self identified as BME origin. This compares with a general BME population over the Avon and Somerset area of 6.5%

This reminds us of the more publicised targeting of Black people with Stop and Search powers, as well as back to those women in Yarls Wood whose skin colour is masked by their immigration (non) status.

When Did It All Go Wrong?- The Antecedents of Today’s Punitive Immigration Policy

Sun, 09/02/2014 - 14:24

The Antecedents of Today’s Punitive Immigration Policy

As we await yet another further prohibitive immigration act, theorists often look to the past to explain how we arrived here. Competing dates, normally relating to a Act of Parliament or series of legislative acts when it all started to go wrong are held up to be the ‘turning point’. But just when was that?

The 1999 Immigration & Asylum Act would be perhaps the most recent starting point we could look at. This is significant, as it was the first time Asylum Seekers (formally commonly known as Refugees) became ineligible for welfare benefits that UK citizens were able to claim. A seperate and inferior system of social security was set-up. Money was replaced with vouchers and Housing Benefit was replaced with no choice accommodation (provided by private contractors). The right to work for Asylum seekers had already been restricted by the Asylum and Immigration Act 1996. Together, these restrictions effectively ghettoised this part of the population. So, maybe we should start here? Indeed, outside of Parliament the 1990′s were the time when the phrase ‘Asylum Seeker’  was often qualified with ‘bogus’ or ‘illegal’ by many tabloid editors. Incarceration of asylum seekers and other migrants started to become the norm rather than the exception. Securitization of immigration policy across the richer nationals grew at this point, especially post 9-11.

Imogen Tyler in Social Abjection and Resistance in Neoliberal Britain: Revolting Subjects (2013) locates the beginning of the real slide to the 1981 Nationality Act (though  she also acknowledges it’s forebears). This also seems a reasonable starting point as Tyler says it contains for the first time the power for the British state to revoke someones citizenship “…if it is conducive to the public good” – as long as they had dual nationality.  This power lay pretty much dormant until Teresa May became Home Secretary, stripping a unprecedented 20 people of citizenship in 2013, two of these these lost their lives in drone strikes – presumably their new non-citizenship being the go-ahead for the murders. Even those without dual nationality will be vulnerable to these powers under the 2014 Immigration Bill.

For Tyler, the most damaging part of 1981 Act was to “remove the entitlements to citizenship from British nationals in the Commonwealth…”. Residency was no longer a right to those born in the former colonies, unless you could trace your ancestors back to ‘Mother England’- a  de facto colour bar as Tyler notes. She convincingly concludes: “The passage of this act…was thus a significant event in the history of British race relations…when, through citizenship racism was implicitly incorporated within the judicial body of the state…”. Certainly, I can bear witness to the significance of this as many Jamaican nationals are forced to spend years reporting to my local border post despite strong family ties to the UK – waiting ‘regularisation’ that may never come. The abolition of birth right citizenship (Jus Soli) adds weight to Tylers’ case – the fact that you can be born here and grow up without the right to remain. This of course was also the age of the new radical Conservative government, a set of racialised riots and the neo-jingoism of the Falklands conflict.

The Independence of former British colonies, and the restrictive legislative reaction to the possible influx of former subjects – with the : Commonwealth Immigrants Act 1962 which restricting subjects from those countries the right to residence in the UK could also perhaps be put forward? Those without a sense of irony may suggest it was the decline of the British Empire which is at the root cause of our harsh immigration policy. Until 1948 we were all British Subjects. However, the British Nationality Act 1948 only replaced subjecthood with citizenship -so no one seems to be trying to locate it there.

British Nationality and Status of Aliens Act 1914 according to some historians is where immigration restrictions start.

With the increase of the minority ethnic population in Britain from the turn of the century, popular concerns about interracial relationships grew.  ‘Aliens’ – that is, foreign-born residentshad to carry a registration card. British women across the Empire who married such men automatically lost their British nationality. However, while the onus to carry ID cards for ‘aliens’ seems to foreshadow similar conditions for asylum seekers today, the first  20th century racialised restrictions came in the Aliens Act 1905.

For the first time introduced immigration controls and registration. It was passed in the context of anti-Semitic/immigration agitation by the British Brothers League and Jewish emigration fleeing the poverty and persecution of the Pale of Settlement on the Russian/Polish border. The Act was also had a economic or social class element to it: paupers or criminals  were prohibited from entering the country and could be deported if they slipped through. This cartoon from Punch seems to underline the paradigm shift:







The law apparently had little practical effect, but it is significant in two ways. First of all it anticipates the way that right-wing lobbying effects immigration on the 20th & early 21st Centuries. Also, its main aim to stop “paupers” and “criminals” from entering the country forms a continuum with much earlier legislation.

Controlling the movement of the poor has always been a preoccupation of the British State – and before that the English Crown. Bridget Anderson in Us and Them:  The Dangerous  Politics of Immigration Controls(2013) makes a case for a start date of 1349. This was the date when the Statute of Ordinance (later to become 1351 Statute of Labourers) was made into law. In a country ravished by the Black Death an acute labour shortage appeared. This meant that serfs once tied to estates, fled their tied labour conditions often for better conditions in towns which where they had no feudal obligations.  The statute aimed to keep wages down to pre-plague levels. It also attempted to enforce labour contracts by the threat of imprisonment.  Lastly, anyone found “idle” would be forced into (unpaid) service. Most relevantly the 1388 Statute of Cambridge forbid a “servant or labourer” leaving their parish, unless they had a “letter patent” – a medieval forerunner of a passport.  Idleness or “vagrancy” became the threat of the Elizabethan ‘Golden Age’. The prosperity of the state did not mean any generosity towards those “masterless men” who appeared under -employed and therefore a threat.  ”Great national searches” were carried out looking for these in which a staggering 13,000 people were rounded up and punished. Those who  are apparently idle today are also  punished. Those who choose to live in rent free accommodation (squatting) have recently seen their way of living outlawed and imprisoned  (Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012).  Anderson gives us a compelling narrative which stretches from  up to to Poor Law legislation in the early 19th century and the institution of the work house.

This a partial and parochial account of how we got where we are today. The impact of technologies of control from the Birth Registry to the iris scanner are not mentioned. Neither are developments outside the British State examined, and perhaps most importantly the intersecting histories of  capitalism and colonialism.

Where do you think it all went wrong?


Review: The Social, Political and Historical Contours of Deportation

Fri, 29/11/2013 - 13:13


 The Social, Political and Historical Contours of Deportation

 Bridget Anderson, Matthew J. Gibney & Emmanuel Paoletti  (Editors) .


This slim, but wide ranging collection of essays on the theme of deportation, as the editors state in the introduction, examines the effects of deportation not just on those expelled from one state to another, but also the effects that the process of deportation has on those public bodies who are involved with it. Unfortunately, due to cost and the fact that this book won’t be borrowable outside academic libraries, practitioners in the field often won’t have the benefits of the insights contained within, so with this in mind I will attempt a critical explication from activist’s point of view, that at least in theory is more accessible.

One piece that captures a ongoing wider debate of what point resistance to the system turns into collaboration with it is “Negotiations Deportations: Ethnography of the Legal Challenge”. In this piece, Nicolas Fischer does not enter the debate  head on but instead provides a analysis of the peculiar way that legal challenges are mounted to deportation orders within French detention centres (Centre de Retention) he in particularly focuses on one charity’s part in the process.

The French detention-deportation system differs from the UK’s in many ways. First of all, the maximum length of detention is 32 days, compared with the unlimited time that migrants can be held in the UK. The detention centres themselves, though subject to national standards are administered at the local level. Most importantly, and what is the focus of this essay, is that there are organisations who advocate for the prisoners, embedded within the centres themselves., These groups are often outspoken critics of many of the decisions made both in the case of individual cases at  the policy level as well.

The main charity, Cimades  had been involved with the detention centres since they came into ‘regularised’ existence in 1984. Cimades, though had been active in refugee camps since the organisation’s formation in 1939. As well as working within refugees camps during the occupation, they assisted Jewish people escape the Nazis.

However, I would argue that we should see Cimades as both as a critic and a collaborator of the system.

Cimades workers thought of  “each legal action taken against an allegedly abusive deportation order was commonly presented as a “fight” against state officials, ending up in a “defeat” or “victory”[1].  A seemingly oppositional stance to the system then? Fischer sees though that the opposition runs alongside tacit support for  the system, encapsulated by this quote from a Cimades lawyer directed towards a  inmate with a ‘weak case’:

“I am sorry, but you have to understand that there is the law and a civil service to enforce it. We at Cimades disagree with that law, but all the same, I have to do something that is compatible with it if I want to help…”[2]

In all the interviews that the lawyers had with the detainees, they ran through a check list of the most obvious legal reason to stop the deportation, for example; Were they seeking political asylum? Did they have family who were resident in France? At the end of one legal advice interview, the detainee suggested that he may physically resist his deportation. The lawyer agreed that he could do that, though also warned him that could lead to prosecution. Here for me is the ‘activist’s dilemma’: Once you enter the system, the advice and assistance that you can offer is prescribed by the system you are fighting. Is your participation  a  fig-leaf which  is necessary for its existence? Certainly, there appear to be clear cases where NGO’s have chosen to administrate with elements of the deportation system e.g.  “The  Voluntary Returns Scheme” or “Pre-Departure Family Accommodation” where the line has clearly been crossed.

However, the question this essay raises is whether even the pragmatic engagement with the Deportation Judicial framework e.g. appeals, judicial reviews,  even while it makes the apparatus less efficient in terms of speed and number of deportations, makes the system seem more acceptable.

The other option  fighting on a purely oppositional  and confrontational basis has also profound problems.  Normally poorly resourced, any response to issues on the ground is often piecemeal and erratic. When you do become effective you will be liable to prosecution, state violence and imprisonment . The “protest method” often seems tokenistic and ineffective, even to those (or especially so in fact) to those committed to it. Of course, there are examples of good practice, for example in France where Calais Migrant Solidarity have managed (more or less) to maintain a constant presence and oppositional stance to state repression.

In Muslims, Mormons and U.S Deportation and Exclusion Policies, Deirdre M. Moloney writes about a early example of  what we would call Islamophobia;  How some Muslims were effectively excluded from entering the United States due to their “un-American” way of life. This was not because they were thought of as potential terrorists at the time, but on the pretext of their (purported) practice of polygamy, or even their mere refusal to condemn it outright.   This chapter shows how immigration officials used the official view of polygamy as a threat to the well being of the nation to exclude non-Christians from entering the country.

We see how a particular (negative) attribute – polygamy – was erroneously attached to all, in the same way that Bolshevism was used against Jewish emigrants at the beginning of the 20th century, as ‘fundamentalism’ is used today to exclude Muslims.

In 1883, a group of Mormons migrated from Switzerland to the United .States. At first, officials tried to exclude them based on their poverty, as ever, seen as a legimate reason to punish by the state. However, despite concerns that the Mormons were “being imported to the United States to strengthen the ranks of polygamists”[3] no specific legislation existed at that point to exclude them on that basis. By 1891, that had changed, with a new immigration law which included the provision to refusal entry solely based on polygamy.

Polygamy became the ‘catch all’ which also stopped entry from the Muslim[4] Ottoman and then Turkic Empire. In fact, all Muslims were excluded on this basis, even though it was unlikely that many actually practiced polygamy. This caused a battle between Trade on one hand, and Immigration Officials on the other. The former, who were eager to allow migrants from the Ottoman empire permission to enter, as had been agreed as part of a  bilateral economic agreement, and on the other hand immigration officials who appeared to want exclude them at all costs as a cultural (or deviant) threat. Even though it was evident that they most were unlikely to engage in polygamy, merely refusing to condemn what their religion allowed was sufficient grounds for exclusion. Moloney draws an obvious comparison with the way that 13,000 Arab and Middle Eastern men were deported post 9/11 despite no connection with ‘terrorist’ organisations.

Moving on to contemporary Islamophobia, Michela Sembron in Between Routine Police Checks and ‘Residual Practices of Expulsion Power’: The Impacts of the Anti-Terrorism Law on Phone Centres and the Resistance of Owners. An Italian Ethnography in the ‘Emergency Season’ examines one element of the indiscriminate backlash post-9/11 against Muslims was felt all over the world. In Italy, one of the terrorists who planned a attack in 2005 was arrested in a ‘Phone Centre’ in Rome.  This so called, Emergency Legislation was introduced to monitor and regulate and in effect persecute the owners and users of such centres.

Phone and Internet centres (shops as they are referred to in the UK) are a hub for new migrants. So, when the various branches of Italian Polizia failed to detect any terrorist activity, they quickly realised that it may instead a good place to search for unregulated migrants. The powers of surveillance, licensing and search provided by the emergency terrorist legislation was soon fully applied to the harassment of migrants.

One customer’s practical experience of the legislation is described:

“I saw five policemen entering into the phone centre. They immediately asked everyone to stop what they were doing, including the owner and every single customer…Even people who were there just to accompany were stopped. Children too! Everyone was then asked for their ID and residence permit…No one was allowed in or out of the shop [for an hour].”[5]


This illustrates how an everyday activity, in this case communicating with your relatives, or trying to sort out a bureaucratic task can become a risky activity if you are part of the target population of such powers. This is also evident in the ‘triangulation’ of  criminal stop and search, immigration and specific terrorist powers in the UK which effectively allow the state to stop anyone who  looks a ‘bit foreign’ without just cause. ‘Racial’ profiling is given a new legitimacy, being of the wrong skin colour; in the wrong place are again grounds for suspicion.

Of course, as is the case in London the application of these powers were not uncontested. Shop owners evaded the surveillance aspects, and refused to check their customer’s papers on the States behalf and use remote handsets to allow people to make calls without being on the premises.

The most fascinating and troublesome chapter for me was “Deportation and the Failure of Foreigner Control in the Weimar Republic”. We are treated to an in depth and widely sourced survey of attitudes and reaction of migration in the years following the First World War and the Russian Revolution. It gives a great insight into the debate about immigration in Germany in the run up to the World War II. What’s most striking is despite a gap of almost a 100 years how similar the anti-(im)migrant rhetoric and propaganda is  – along with a reluctance from even those who were sympathetic to those fleeing persecution and poverty was an unwillingness to publicly challenge it,  leaving a debate skewed towards intolerance and suspicion that we are familiar with today. While national Interior Minister Rudolf Oeser described  in 1923 the immigration in contemporary tabloid language as a: “…flooding of the Reich’s territory with foreigners”[6] the socialists and social democrats didn’t counter with positive arguments for immigration, though they did resist pressure for mass deportation and internment of “Ostjuden” (Eastern Jews).

It hardly needs pointing out that the Weimar republic was the creaky, if relatively benevolent forerunner to the Third Reich. At some point in this essay, its apparent failure to control immigration is seemingly and dubiously implicated by the author in its collapse, and by that logic with the rise of fascism.

              “They [Nationalists] also used stereotypes about Eastern Europeans to describe those immigrants , contributing to a dangerous and reinforcing process, in which the failures to control immigration were projected onto Eastern European Jews while anti-Semitic stereotypes imbued immigration policy with an increased threat. The Weimar state was caught in a devastating spiral: lacking an aura of authority, its critics constantly hammered at its incapacity to control immigration. In yet another dangerous cycle, critics of Germany’s lax borders assumed qualities about Jews to affirm the dangers of immigration, while at the same time, the dangers of migrants were easily translated as problems posed by all Jews. Told from this perspective, the failure to pursue policies like deportation contributed to the state’s weak sense of legitimacy(my italics).”[7]

Though Sammarinto also identifies the problem was caused by the failure and unwillingness by the liberal establishment to challenge the anti-Semitic/anti-immigrant rhetoric – more echoes of the present.  Throughout the article there seems to be a sense that Weimar Germany’s (and Prussia’s) ineffective immigration controls are implicated in the following political crises, and therefore rise of The Third Reich. It should be said that her analysis is nuanced;. She also says herself that the figure of immigrant was commonly stereotyped as the ‘Bolshevik Jew’, even though perhaps less than 15% of German migrants were Jewish and one supposes if they were fleeing communist Russia, even less would be Bolshevik. Though even suggesting it was the popular misconception of immigration and perceived (as well as actual) lack of controls contributed to the rise of Hitler is still to me misstating the case. Let us imagine a Weimar Germany with effective immigration controls. As we see today in Greece, punitive and harsh migration controls do nothing to assuage the extreme right, rather they feed it’s rhetoric by confirming it and exaggerating the scale of the problem, distracting from the root causes of the economic crisis. It’s not hard to imagine a ‘effective’ deportation/border regime in 1920′s Germany similarly feeding the anti-Semitism of the era.  I also wonder if the author’s tagging of the word ‘immigration” with ‘illegal is appropriate within the historical context, if not actually anachronistic.

“The European Parliament and the Returns Directive:The End of Radical Contestation;The start of Consensual Constraints” tells the sad story of how the European Parliament (EP) once a champion of a human tights approach to immigration, and a voice of constraint and opposition to the European Council’s more authoritarian tendencies became it’s collaborator in the post 9/11 world.  Ironically, it was the EP’s new power to legislate that it became less oppositional. The essay uses the example of the “Returns Directive” which aimed  to “harmonise national conditions [within the Schengen area] dealing with the voluntary or compulsory return of irregular well as stipulations to issue removal directions…”[8] The author notes that in four out of the six main issues a more punitive approach was adopted. This included a 5 year ban from the EU for those forcibly removed and migrants can be detained for up to 18 months (even this unfortunately compares favorably with no time limit set by the UK).

The result of this “harmonisation”  – the desperate impetus to reach an agreement – appears that the  harsher approach of the more Conservative/Right-wing elements with the EU seems to have prevailed;   ‘a race to the bottom’ then. Ariadna Servent’s conclusion is realistically downbeat; that the securitisation of the EP’s approach to (im)migration is set to further push aside any concern for human rights for the foreseeable future.

For those of us  working at the grassroots level who see decisions made in Brussels and Westminster as     remote as they are inhuman “Studying Migration Governance from the Bottom-Up” by Matthew GravelleAntje Ellermann and Catherine Dauvergne is a intriguing first stab at quantifying the impact that  local and sub-national organisations have in the implementation of  nationally decided immigration policy. They look at both “deportation” specifically and “immigration policy “in general. They compare four countries, through the study of newspaper articles. Each of the countries varies in terms of “state strength” or centralisation of power, with Australia at one end (similar to the UK’s constitution) and the US at the other end, with many powers delegated to the State level.

What’s unsurprising is that local intervention and contestation is much more common across all four countries within the specific  “deportation” field than with “immigration policy” in general. This  reflects the daily struggle of opposing deportations involving many local actors every day of the week, from the church, community groups and local council. These are decisions that are made about people we know. What’s more, we are painfully aware that opposing immigration policies we don’t like hasn’t had much impact, whereas with individual cases we do.

The local-national interaction is a interesting one for campaigners. Not least in the light of opinion polls that consistently show a hostility to immigration in the abstract: “…vast majorities view im migration as harmful to Britain, few claim that their own neighbourhood is having problems due to migrants”[9] I wonder if it would be possible to propose restrictive, penalising legislation if it was controlled at the local level?

This local/national division is also mentioned in Arjen Leekes and Dennis Broeders contribution: Deportable and Not so Deportable: Formal and Informal Functions of Administrative Immigration Detention”. They write that the impacts of Dutch government restrictive immigration policy: homeless and pauperized “unauthorised  migrants” began to organise accommodation themselves, alongside the piecemeal services offered by the bizarre but now familiar mix of left-organisations, NGO’s and churches.

However, their focus is actually on how the massive increase of immigration detention, and it’s “informal” or secondary functions”[10]. The study is wholly focused in the Netherlands, but it’s main contention  that since “the number of expulsions turns out to be relatively independent of the number of migrants detained” it must fulfill other functions – can be probably applied throughout Europe. For instance, the relationship between detention and expulsion in the UK seems to have a weak correlation as well.[11] Given the expense and political controversies of detention, some other purpose must be being served. The authors suggestion are threefold: (1) deterring illegal residence (2) controlling pauperism and (3) symbolically asserting State control[12].

Migration is often portrayed in reactionary discourse as ‘out of control’.  So: “The increase in immigration detention communicates the message that the State is still in control over the geographical (and social) borders that [some] citizens want maintaining.[13] It also punishes by “denouncing”[14] unauthorised migration. Incarcerating people, with, or without a criminal trial is obviously a way saying that they are a transgressor of one type of another.

‘Controlling pauperism’ is perhaps the least obvious function of immigration detention. However, Leerkes and Broeders describe a cycle where a sub-group of unauthorised migrants  enter and exit the detention estate on a  regular basis. They receive no welfare payments, and will never be regularised and for a variety of reasons fall through NGO safety net as well. These are the “undeportable- deportable”. Those who have picked up (normally minor) criminal records who even those who normally advocate for migrants prefer to ignore as their criminality disqualifies them from the status of the ‘deserving migrant’.

There is even a phrase for the release of such migrants: klinikeren “cobbling[15]”; onto the stoney Dutch streets. Detention “..may also be used a form of ‘relief of last  resort’”[16] for this group of migrants. For instance, the authors find that local police use detention to end “public disorder disturbances that are associated with immigrant pauperism”[17].  Immigration staff said that more “undesirable aliens”[18] are imprisoned during public events like the queen’s birthday – a familiar tale of social cleansing which seems to be an integral part of every  Olympics, World Cup and political summit.  Even more surprisingly, and distressingly, some migrants are so impoverished and traumatised by life on the streets, that they ‘self-admit’. One respondent they interviewed said he plead guilty to offences he didn’t commit “to recover in detention from life on the streets.”[19]

They conclude that while migration is increasing a de facto criminal offence,  one of the reasons why it hasn’t been incorporated fully into criminal law is for the reason of proportionality. In the Netherlands, migrants can be held for up to 18 months for “mere illegal residence”[20], this would “contrast  strongly with the major crimes leading to such a lengthy [criminal] sentence”[21] .  With no determined maximum length of detention in the UK  results with some held as long as 8 years[22]. This can only be compared with sentences passed for offences as serious as manslaughter and armed robbery.

The final chapter “From Migrant Destitution to Self-Organization into Transitory National Communities” by Clara Lecadet gives a insight how those marginalised by immigration controls and deportation keep their identity and their dignity. The description of the organisation of this multi-national and multi-ethnic community in Mali will no doubt have resonances with those who have worked in another migrant-transit involuntary stopping points, for instance Calais.

The abandoned village of Tinzwaten, Mali maybe almost 5000 km from Calais, but the organisation of the six ruined (and repaired) houses into micro-nations e.g. Nigerian, Cameroonian, Gambian has     obvious similarity with the “Pashto Jungle”, or the various “Africa House” squats in Calais.  Their living arrangements in Northern Mali are harsh and after having been unceremoniously dumped in the desert by the Algerian army, they must be both exhausted and desperate. However, once in Tinzwaten, (unlike in Calais) the expelled migrants appear to be left to their own devices. No CS gassing, continual arrests beatings, confiscation of belongings that migrants suffer in “liberal” France., they procure food and cook, uninterrupted by a raid by the riot police. However, it should be said they have already passed through the Morocco’s abusive EU-funded refugee regime. You imagine that it must be a place of recovery as much as transit point.

Lecadet mentions that the migrants “use the term ‘ghetto’”[23] to describe the shelters they use. She mentions that this “recalls the ghettos of apartheid”[24] or “suburban areas of large American cities”[25]-   Indeed, but what about  the original ghettos of European Jews?

As with all communities, there are rules. In the Liberian ghetto, there is an enforced communism with a

obligation to “share their funds in order to pay for food and for the journeys of other members of the group through the desert”[26]. However, it is a authoritarian communism: “Obey, obey and obey”[27] is the watchword and a hierarchy with military ranks is adhered to.

In these descriptions, Lecadet avoids any easy sentimentalism, vividly portraying how both the positive and negative aspects of a culture are transferred and adapted to these micro-state(s) of limbo.

Taken together, these essays give a snapshot of deportation practices across both time and place. Volumes like this can be important because practitioners who work in the field barely have time to deal with what’s been thrown up by the latest bout of legislation, cuts and media scaremongering, let alone what happened in the past or in other countries coincides, or differs with what is happening in their immediate vicinity. This is a shame, as debates elsewhere or even in the past as this book clearly  demonstrates have lessons for the present.













[4]The Ottoman empire was in fact multifaith.


[6] pp28

[7] pp41


[9] Viewed on 20/09/2013


[11]  View on 21/09/13



[14] Pp96








[22]  Viewed on 21/09/2013


[24] Pp146

[25] Pp146



Total Policing comes to Bristol

Fri, 27/09/2013 - 13:32

Avon & Somerset Police have been left looking for a justification for doubling the use of ‘Stop and Search’ powers since 2007, which was was reported by the BBC this week. I wonder how they explain the 67% increase in the use of electronic surveillance requests since 2007? The requests made under Part 1, Chapter 2 of the Regulatory Investigatory Powers Act 2000(RIPA) “…relate to requests of acquisition of communications data to assist with all manner of police enquiries and is not necessarily associated with surveillance of mobile and other phones.” That’s alright then.

While ‘Stop & Search’ powers are not generally thought of a surveillance tool, given the fact that only 10% of searches result in arrest, it;s use as a form of ‘hands on’ surveillance seems to be the best justification they can muster. Putting these pieces of information together we can see the use of increased surveillance via the internet by National (effectively transnational) organisations like the NSA is mirrored by our local police service.


Sue Mountstevens, our not very enthusiastically elected police commissioner stood on a ‘drone platform’ for election, its unclear whether any UAV’s have been bought or deployed. FOI requests on this subject have been refused.

Unarmed Police?
As was my request for use of CS gas,as apparently no regulation exists that compels forces to centrally record its use, beyond the individual copper’s notebook. However, tasers are a different matter as they are rightly classed as a firearm. Since their introduction by Avon & Somerset in 2010 they have been “deployed” 654 times (This figure was correct on 15/04/13).

Interestingly in the relatively short time of their use there was a peak in use in 2011 of 272 deployments, this could be explained by the riots that year but surely not as use of tasers in that situation would amount to randomly firing into a crowd?

People Hunting Season is Open in Calais

Mon, 16/09/2013 - 09:19


From Calais Migrant Solidarity:

So far the month of September has seen:

Eviction of the Beer House squat where around one-hundred Africans and
twenty Syrians had been living for the last year.
Three immediate evictions of the big squats where those people had been
seeking shelter in the nights following the eviction.
Complete destruction of the Sudanese jungle with around twenty arrests.
Police and city workers destroyed all the tents they could find, while
taking the blankets and personal things to the to city dump. There they
were mixed together with what rotting materials were left inside the Beer
House. Everything would have been immediately destroyed if it weren’t for
people going to the dump to take them back that day.
Tents have been destroyed by the police in the Afghan jungle during their
frequent morning raids.
An illegal eviction of a new squat that would have been able to house
everyone during the cold winter months based upon falsified testimonies.

We are now only halfway through the month and police have promised another
planned closure/destruction of a large sleeping space for the next two
weeks, most likely forcing another one-hundred people on to the streets.
This will be in addition to the spontaneous evictions that occur as people
moved-on continue to try and find shelter in the city. As more people have
to take to the street, police controls and harrassment are increasing as

As the temperature drops again and the rains come there have also been a
series of attacks by Police on the garage rented by Calais Migrant
Solidarity, from where we distribute the blankets, tents, and clothes that
we have. Today, eight Police Nationale appeared at the garage as CMS were
distributing clothes and violently pushed those out-front away from the
garage, smacking people across the face and kicking them from behind. This
was before taking out their pepper spray and spraying everything inside,
making the clothes and blankets inside impossible to use. This is the
latest attack; however, last week the garage had already been peppered
sprayed, and in the mean time the locks on the garage door have been
forced and broken with people’s things going missing from inside.

People desperately need:

-Sleeping Bags
-Tents (make sure poles are included)
-Waterproof Clothes
-money to buy food as they are living off of the one meal a day provided

and most importantly people who are able to support them and defend their

A State Monopoly on Racism?

Thu, 08/08/2013 - 12:44

I’m sure not the only one to query the consistency of Cameron criticizing that Ukip MEP for his “bongo bongo land” comment on the one hand, while defending the Home Office racist van camapign & transport hub checks.

However, there are those who claim not be racist (but think that Britain is “full -up”) and it seems that Cameron is articulating a position of those who do prefer to keep their racism discreet & carried out by the State, so they can keep their a clean conscience and have a good nights sleep.

On Racist Vans etc

Fri, 02/08/2013 - 11:21

While the Home Office’s #racistvan campaign has attracted the negative comment it deserves, for those of us who have been paying attention to the way (im)migration politics is going it somewhat less shocking.

Dawn Raids, Forced deportations, mass immigration checks at tube stations, a massive increase of incarceration of migrants, often for years. The Racist Van is just a logical extension of all that.

Control and Resistance Mon July 15th

Wed, 19/06/2013 - 23:34

The New Consensus: It’s okay to be Racist, It’s fine to hate the Poor

Mon, 25/03/2013 - 10:35

As we are told that Job centre Staff get Easter eggs as rewards for sanctioning claimants, we are reminded of the “grant monkey” that was placed on UKBA staffs’ desk as a humilation if they gave a asylum seeker leave to remain. Remember folks, that was during Labour’s mythical  “open door” immigration policy, which they must repenteth of every day.

Somehow Ukip have become the xenophobic policy pace setter, which the rest of the parties try to breathlessly catch up with. It’s easy to blame the Lib Dems and The Labour Party.

Mind you, that’s because it is their fault. Suddenly, the out of context, exaggarated and exceptional “Criminal Immigrants in Mansions on Housing Benefit funded Cannabis Factory”  type Daily Mail stories have become policy primers for all three parties, and apparently We, “the public” are swallowing it.

The facts. Don’t bother with the facts. Just keep lying and believing the lies.





EXCLUSIVE!! We reveal the luxury housing being built just for foreigners

Sun, 24/03/2013 - 15:38

As David Cameron has said the allocation of public housing is a scandal. However, we can reveal that as well as council and housing association property being occupied by undeserving foreigners, some are allocated exclusive apartments at the cost of £120 per day to the tax payer*. Whether they like it or not. Residents at these designer apartments are treated to three meals a day, uniformed servants, and are handed highly sort after jobs -  earning up to 90p an hour. Many are then treated to a all expenses paid trip to a destination definitely not of their choice.

In fact, contrary to the tabloid-UKIP pleasing policy announcement made today, the expansion of UKBA’s detention estate is the only form of housing being built for foreign nationals. However,  the scarcity of affordable housing is something that the right has often  made the most of. Not only do they sell it off, they then profit politically from it’s scarcity.

However, with the rise of Ukip and the economic depression the kind of racist narrative that was once only winked at by the mainstream political parties is now part of a regular spiteful and normally xenophoboic weekend press release to feed the reactionary media.  When Steve Garner wrote in 2009:

“Housing is a basic right and is surrounded in emotive discourse about belonging and entitlement. It is therefore easy to manipulate politically. As a dwindling resource, social housing has become a flagship issue for the BNP.”

He probably hadn’t considered that 4 short years later the British PM would be making it a “flagship issue” for the governing party, with it’s coalition partners and opposition parties helping create a anti-immigrant consensus, rather than providing an alternative explanation.

The essay  “Home Truths: The White Working Class and the Racialization of Social Housing” from which the above quote comes from  tells the depressing story of how both new immigrants and a “undeserving” indigenous under class are blamed by the working class which was once given affordable housing as a right but which is now denied to them.

However, as Steve Garner explains it isn’t a “black and white issue”:

“The boundaries between ‘us’ and ‘them’are not always drawn in the same place. “I’m not racist”, begins another of our Bristol interviewees whose opening phrase is a familiar one. “I’m not racist … but I am prejudiced. I am prejudiced, but I’m not only prejudiced against people that are black. I’m prejudiced against people who are on the dole who don’t do nothing, and still get it all”.

The concern with”queue jumping” newcomers, or undeserving  is perhaps is understandable. They can be seen taking what is percieved to be “theirs”.  What is more mysterious to me is how those who create the conditions for the queue to form get away without being blamed. Of course, there is the biased media, the spineless labour party but perhaps as relevant is the “allocators” of this increasingly scarce resource are invisible to those who want it, so remote and untouchable that a more tangible and targettable neighbour, or near neighbour. What Steve Garner call the “Proximity Effect.”

His conclusion at least leaves a space for hope:

“Were a space to be created in which the white British working class, migrants and BME people could tell each other their stories of being refused housing, being obliged to live in sub-standard conditions (while paying a premium), and of asylum-seekers placed en masse in motels and in unwanted properties on estates (or even in detention centres!), our white respondents would probably find much more in common with these groups than they imagine. Feeling that you have less and less control over your life is not the monopoly of Britain’s white working class.”











On Injunctions, Civil Actions & Free Publicity.

Wed, 20/02/2013 - 23:48

As we sneaked around preparing for the Heathrow Climate Camp in 2007, we could hardly believe our luck when the British Aviation Authority took out a injunction so wide ranging and absurd that it prohibited the entire membership of RSPB and the National Trust from travelling on the Piccadilly Line. It failed in it’s stated aim to prevent the camp.

You can’t buy that kind of publicity, or at least we can’t afford to. That’s why news that EDF are suing “No Dash for Gas” activists for a cool £5 million can only be good news and a boost for their campaign. (That is not to dismiss the extreme personal pressure that those named on the civil action will be under).

There are many other campaigns which have benefited from these heavy handed legal tactics. The most infamous is the McLibel case, but a lesser known one which I was drawn to by the very action designed to stifle it was the “Smash EDO” anti arms campaign based in Brighton.

Timothy Lawson-Cruttenden -Injunction specialist & unintentional Pro Bono awareness raiser for campaigners.

Until the injunction, pursued by the amusingly incompetent legal firm Lawson Cruttenden & Co in 2005, it was a persistent but small local campaign. The injunction, which basically prohibited any kind of protest, legal or otherwise from happening became a civil liberties  ’cause célèbre’, ignited a couple of mass days of action which came close to riots, and inspired a group of people, during the bombardment of Palestine in 2009 to literally “Smash EDO”, putting the factory out of use for a while and causing £200,000 worth of damages.

Not only that, but the injunction itself collapsed in court, costing EDO MBM in legal costs of between £1 m & £1.5m – more than an entire year’s profit.

But, then, why do corporations continue to engage in such costly litigation, when it only can boost the campaigns against them? Fear and paranoia that such actions will catch on, and put them out of business seems to be the answer. This analysis seems to be supported by recent revelations that another energy firm – E.ON – had been lobbying Ministers for harsh sentencing for direct action(s) taken against them.

While the personal cost to those who have taken on these behemoths in the past has been great – including interference in personal lives by undercover police, as well as the more manageable but still disruptive civil and legal actions, if the old adage that you should “do what your enemy least wants you to do” is true then, “Dash for Gas” seem to be on the right lines.

‘Vile liars and truth distorters’

Thu, 01/11/2012 - 10:31

Truth, trust and the asylum system

by Melanie Griffiths

“Asylum seekers and refused refugees are some of the most
mistrusted persons in British society, and are commonly
assumed to be manipulating the immigration system. The
majority of the some 300 asylum applicants I spoke to
during research on identification requirements, were at
some point accused by the UK Border Agency (UKBA)
of providing untrue information about who they were and
what had happened to them, or requesting asylum when
they had no valid claim under the Refugee Convention.
Such accusations are crucial, given that the notoriously
difficult decision of whether to grant refugee status is
often bound up in assessments of the applicant’s honesty
or ‘credibility’”

For the full Open Access Journal Article click this:


Greek Hunger Strikers – Update

Tue, 01/03/2011 - 09:26

Tuesday, March 1 at 12.00 (Parliament), multi-voiced solidarity with the righteous struggle of the 300 immigrant hunger strikers
Φεβρουαρίου 27, 2011

*The period of tolerance of the Government has expired*

36 days of hunger strike. 36 days fight to the bitter end until the final
vindication of the 300 immigrant workers. 36 days of solidarity with 300 of
our fellowmen (as also with so many ‘others’ unseen) who put their lives on
an irreversible path for a meaningful life, for the right to dignity and
dreams. 36 days of smearing, corruption, criminalizing the only choice for
all those who do not accept the humiliation of their existence and the
evacuation of the vision for a just society: The choice of struggle and
solidarity with those who resist and reject the logic of terror and the
doctrine of ‘all against all’.

36 days, however, of State insensitivity. 36 days unfolding before our eyes,
frame by frame the scenario of an incompetent and degenerate Government
(hence prone to both oppressive measures and ‘royal decrees’) – who confront
the 300 hunger strikers, as well as the total immigrant population, as a
‘necessary evil’ to strengthen the Greek economy, as well as being
disposable in terms of life and their natural rights. 36 days of ridicule
and bookie-treatment of people who exhaust the limits of their natural, but
not ethical, strength, claiming the obvious: The right to have a face.

After 36 days of hunger strike, the Government, through the Mass Media and
without having bothered to speak to the hunger strikers, chooses a forked
tongue, the collapse of the 300 immigrant workers’ health, and proposing a
vague ‘regulation’ of the 300 with ‘State tolerance ‘, whereas they could
very well give a proper solution within the existing institutional

On our part, we would like to convey to the Government that for years
*it*has been under the established tolerance of immigrants as of us
all, and
that our tolerance deadline has expired.

On Tuesday, March 1 at 12.00 noon in Syntagma (Parliament) we call upon all
collective bodies that have expressed their solidarity with this just
struggle to unite their voices.

– For the vindication of the 300 immigrants on hunger

– For the vindication of each and every immigrant

– For the vindication of all of us

– For the vindication of life itself.

Solidarity Initiative for the 300 hunger strikers

Tags: press conference, δελτίο τύπου, πρωτοβουλία αλληλεγγύης Αθήνα, συνέντευξη τύπου

Filed under: Uncategorized

Greek Hunger Strikers On The Edge…Act Now !

Wed, 23/02/2011 - 12:54

Medical report

22nd February 2011

The hunger strikers have been refusing to eat for 29 days now. All of them are suffering considerable loss of body mass and

the signs of fatigue and advanced exhaustion are apparent.

Four people have been hospitalized for having lost consciousness.

The majority show symptoms of frequently recurring postural hypotension, muscle pain, hypoglycemia,

difficulty with moving, while some of them already have palpitations and cardiac dysrhythmia.

As doctors we are obliged to note that the hunger strikers are entering a phase where the continuation of fasting

may cause irreversible damage to their health.

The Medical Health Team

Emergency Press Release

22nd February 2011

Today another 4 people were sent to hospital, raising the number of fainting episodes to 7.

Today is the 29th day of the hunger strike.

28-year-old Radwan fainted with a fall.


Send letters, fax and emails of protest to the Greek ministries of interior, of citizen protection and of health and to your local Greek embassy and consulate!
Help spread the word to media, and send press releases to your local, regional, national and european media. Here you find the press release we sent out…lease
Send copies of your press release and solidarity declarations to:

Pass this message on in your networks and urge other people to act, too!

Below you find a sample fax/emailing greek and english language that you can send to the relevant authorities – also listed below. Please do note that it is always better if you compose a text on your own. It doesn’t need to be long! If you do so, please post your letter as a comment on, so that we can collect our voices.

Please act and help spread the this – solidarity is the proverbial weapon these days. The hunger strikers are asking for your support!!!


fax numbers:
Ministry of Interior, fax: 0030 2103665089,
Ministry of Citizen Protection, fax: 0030 2103387708
Ministry of Labour, fax: 2105249805, 0030 2103213688

Filed under: Uncategorized

Greek Migrant Hunger Strike Enters Day 30

Mon, 21/02/2011 - 11:11

+++ As hunger strike of 300 approaches day 30, strikers are in dire
need of transnational support! +++ It is time to ACT NOW! +++ Fax,
E-Mail and phone the Greek authorities and demand immediate
legalisation NOW +++

Here you find a sample fax/email that you can send to the relevant
authorities. Please do note that it is always better if you compose a
text on your own. It doesn’t need to be long! If you do so, please
post your letter as a comment below, so that we can collect our


fax numbers:

MInistry of Interior, fax: 0030 2103665089,
Ministry of Citizen Protection, fax: 0030 2103387708
Ministry of Labour, fax: 2105249805, 0030 2103213688


Greek Emabssy/Consulate in [insert the consulate next to you!!]

Ministry of Citizen Protection of the Hellenic Republic
Ministry of Interior, Decentralisation and E-Government of the Hellenic Republic
Ministry of Health of the Hellenic Republic

Hunger strike of 300 migrants in Athens and Thessaloníki: Legalisation Now!


Greek Emabssy/Consulate in [insert the consulate next to you!!]
Ministry of Citizen Protection of the Hellenic Republic
Ministry of Interior, Decentralisation and E-Government of the Hellenic Republic
Ministry of Health of the Hellenic Republic

Hunger strike of 300 migrants in Athens and Thessaloníki: Legalisation Now!

xx of February 2011

Ladies and Gentlemen,

we are writing to you on the occasion of the hunger strike of 300
migrants which is currently taking place in Athens and Thessaloníki.
We have followed the situation of refugees and migrants in Greece. We
are not surprised that – again – migrants feel compelled to choose
such a strong measure to campaign for their rights: putting their
lives at risk. We express our solidarity with their cause.

With this letter, we want to urge you to fulfil the demands of the
hunger striking migrants, i.e. the unconditional legalisation of all
migrants in Greece, before it is too late. We are acutely aware that
the hunger strike is approaching its 30th day, and already, many
hunger strikers had to be hospitalised. Their health and indeed their
lives are at risk here, and it is the responsibility of the Greek
government to resolve the situation immediately by decreeing a
legalisation. In our understanding, this constitutes the only
permanent and viable solution to the despicable situation of refugees
and migrants in Greece, a political issue various Greek governments
have struggled with unsuccessfully.

By following the migrants’ demands, the Greek government can send
powerful political signals. A legalisation would be the strongest
communication to the other EU member states that the current system of
delegating responsibility to the fringes of Europe cannot continue and
needs a courageous solution. A legalisation would also finally end the
years of uncertainty migrants have been facing in Greece and attribute
them their rights as part of the society that they have long earned by
their labour in the Greek economy and the life they have led in
Greece. A legalisation would also send a clear political message that
it is necessary to deal with the new and (be)coming citizens in a
fair, respectful and dignified way and that xenophobia and racism are
damnable attitudes that better belong to the past.

The European answer of bordering and exclusion has no future, it only
creates pain and violations of rights.

Filed under: Uncategorized

Demo, revolt, fire and escape at Brussels detention centre yesterday

Mon, 21/02/2011 - 11:09

The group “Voices Without Borders” organised a solidarity action this afternoon at the 127 bis detention centre in Steenockerzeel, Brussels this afternoon starting at 16.30 on Sunday. The action was a show of solidarity with prisoners in the immigration prison who have been on hunger strike for more than ten days after an 18 year old Egyption migrant was tied up and beaten by guards.

The demonstrators arrived at the centre with music, shouts and banners, including one showing a telephone number which prisoners could call to relay testimonies and messages. The lively demo was met with lots of interaction from the people inside shouting and banging on windows, clearly in a resistant mood. People inside and out shouted messages of solidarity and defiance to each other whilst a line of riot cops looked on. Whilst demonstrators banged on the outer line of five meter steel fences prisoners inside began to throw objects out of the windows.

After some time a fire broke out in one cell and people were led out of the wing into the courtyard near the fences close to the demonstration while the fire began to rage. Guards began pushing prisoners on the fire escape.

One prisoner managed to climb the fences out of the centre to freedom, where he then disappeared into mid air. Others occupied the rooftop.

As more police arrived to “pacify” the revolt, activists showed solidarity, staying close to the centre in support.

The roads were blocked with police surrounding the centre and cordoning off traffic in the nearby village of Steenockerzeel. The train station has also been closed down. As of late evening, TV crews from the Belgian networks were still in the area. Recent reports say that one wing has been destroyed, with prisoners moved to other dention centres.

Solidarité avec les revoltés. In solidarity with the fighting spirit of the immigration prisoners of Steenockerzeel, locked up for no crime in the “Capital of Europe”. No borders, No nations.

See the main steam media video of today’s events here:
NOTE — images from capitalist media, too late to blur faces.

brussels indymedia:

articles in capitalist press with more images:

arnaud borderer
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