Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2085

Watford fans show their support for Al Bangura (Pic: Watford FC and Alan Cozzi)

Watford fans show their support for Al Bangura (Pic: Watford FC and Alan Cozzi)

A great result against the odds for Al Bangura

It was announced last week that the 19 year old Watford footballer, Al Bangura, was to be finally granted permission to stay in Britain.

This followed a decision by the home office to give him a work permit.

Bangura arrived here four years ago after he was trafficked from Sierra Leone.

After being the victim of a sexual attack he sought refuge in Britain as an unaccompanied minor.

The original tribunal rejected his appeal to stay in the country, before the about turn on Monday of last week.

You have to ask yourself how this fine, upstanding family-oriented person who was in regular employment as a professional footballer – and who also worked tirelessly in Watford football club’s community schemes – was initially treated so badly by the immigration services.

He would have faced possible death in Sierra Leone if sent back.

It appears that the combined efforts of Watford football club, the manager and Claire Ward MP – added to the backing of high profile people like Elton John – were instrumental in reversing the decision, and allowing Bangura to continue to make a life in Britain with his partner and young son.

Watford fans were also instrumental in the campaign. Fans set up petitions and took direct actions at football matches, including chanting their support and holding up placards highlighting the case.

It does however raise the question of how many other equally deserving cases have failed through a lack of ability to organise petitions, mobilise resources, get employer representation and gain political and media support.

The immigration minister Liam Byrne said in the Times that “the public want us to prevent illegal immigration by attacking its causes”.

I think this is flawed for two reasons.

Firstly it’s not clear what he means by “causes”. To me, the root cause of immigration is poverty, oppression, genocide and lack of human rights.

On all points the present government’s record is more rhetoric than action – unless oil revenues are involved.

Secondly it seems to continue the trend of politicians mixing asylum and immigration issues together.

Let us celebrate Al Bangura’s victory against the odds – hopefully it will offer some hope to others.

Rod Stone, Eastcote, Middlesex

Thank you from China

We are very grateful for the massive support from Hong Kong and international civil society, following the attack on Huang Qingnan last year (» The fight for labour rights in China’s cities, 15 December).

Many groups have expressed their concern to the Chinese and Shenzhen municipal governments, as well as spreading the news though their networks.

We have also received a lot of support in donations. This encouraging result is a concrete example of workers’ solidarity between North and South.

Huang Qingnan is recovering after a skin-grafting operation and will hopefully be discharged from hospital before Chinese New Year. He is still suffering from muscular dystrophy and will need physiotherapy for at least 18 months.

The Dagongzhe Centre that he runs, which provides legal advice to workers, has now reopened for Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

The government has not yet responded to the concerns raised by the Centre and international groups, but the Shenzhen Federation of Trade Unions has visited Huang and the Centre to show their concern and support.

However they refused to condemn the violent attack against workers and the Centre as they are worried their statement would be interpreted as the government’s position.

There is still no progress on the detection of Huang’s attackers and no suspects have been arrested or questioned.

The next stage of activities will mainly be initiated by workers in mainland China to achieve formal communication channels with the government.

We hope that you can keep your eye on this and continuously mobilise your networks to write to the Chinese and Shenzhen municipal governments.

Thanks again for your concern and support!

In solidarity

Worker Empowerment,
Labour Action in China,
Students and Scholars against Corporate Misbehavior,
Asia Monitor Recourse Centre,
Globalisation Monitor

Clinton and Obama not credible for poor

As a US citizen – currently living in Scotland – I must disagree with Georgia Haste’s support for the Democrats (» Letters, 19 January).

There is a desperate need for dramatic change in the US – which neither “credible” Democratic candidate offers to meet. Neither Hillary Clinton nor Barack Obama offers a solution to poverty, racism and lack of healthcare.

Neither candidate offers a timetable for withdrawal of US forces from Iraq and Afghanistan or the closure of Guantanamo Bay. Both have received hundreds of thousands of dollars from big business.

On the fringes of the Democratic Party there are campaigners for social change, such as congessman Dennis Kucinich, who is standing for the presidential nomination on a solidly anti-war platform.

However, the leadership of the Democratic Party has repeatedly sidelined such candidates.

Until progressive forces work to build a real left alternative, the Democrats’ leadership will continue to take their votes for granted.

We must also support the right of people to vote – particularly in poor and black communities, where electronic voting machines and poorly trained poll workers excluded thousands of potential voters in the 2000 and 2004 elections.

Esther Sassaman, Glasgow

Misinterpretation of Afghan history?

Jonathan Neale’s piece on Afghanistan (» Charlie Wilson’s war in Afghanistan and ours, 19 January) was shocking. In it he admits to having supported what he refers to as the resistance against Soviet occupation in the 1980s.

How could anyone purporting to be a socialist support a US-funded insurgency against a government that enjoyed popular support? Women especially prospered under the Communist regime in Afghanistan.

By the late 1980s half of all university students in Afghanistan were women, and women made up 40 percent of the country’s doctors, 70 percent of its teachers, and 30 percent of its civil servants.

The Soviet Union did not invade Afghanistan – they were not occupiers. They intervened at the request of the then Afghan government.

This was a struggle between the forces of human progress and barbarism. Unfortunately, in Afghanistan, the forces of barbarism won.

Jonathan Neale applies a pre-conceived conclusion to his investigation of the facts, rather than extrapolating his conclusion from that investigation.

John Wight, Edinburgh

A ‘suicidal’ energy policy

Do Windscale, Three Mile Island and Chernobyl mean nothing to this government? The plan to let private companies loose on a new generation of nuclear power stations needs a mass campaign to stop it.

Nuclear power would be too risky a proposition even for a socialist society.

Under a capitalist system which puts profit before safety, it’s downright suicidal.

Phil Webster, Lancashire

We will reject racist hysteria

The Bishop of Rochester’s diatribe about “Muslim-only no go areas” is a load of scaremongering tripe.

Predictably enough the right wing press has lapped it all up. But the public is savvy enough to take all this with a pinch of salt.

Fears that the bishop’s words may increase violent racist attacks is going a bit too far. A few racist thugs may go looking for these “no go” areas to cause trouble, but they won’t find them as they probably don’t exist.

Daniel Factor, East London

Stop landfill sites in Naples

Demonstrators in Naples recently hung out a banner reading, “Get it over with quick – shoot us now.”

People were protesting against the reopening of landfill sites, around which leukemia and liver cancer rates have doubled or trebled.

The appointment by Romano Prodi’s centre left government of Gianni De Gennaro as “Rubbish Tsar” could transform the irony into reality.

De Gennaro was national police chief during the G8 protests in Genoa in 2001, and is currently on trial for perverting the course of justice concerning a police cover-up.

Chillingly, he has been promised he can use the army to remove protesters from in front of disused landfill sites.

Maria Scuderi, Milan

Real reason for price rises

Great to see Socialist Worker helping counter Gordon Brown’s lies regarding inflation and public sector pay (» Why Brown wants to hold down wages, 19 January). Another useful argument was made on Radio4’s Today Programme last week.

Private companies set the price of their products by marking up the cost of production by the profit margin. So wage rises could boost price inflation by increasing overall production costs.

But in the public sector the overall budget is set by the government in advance, with a share of it going on wages. The “price” of goods and services in the public sector doesn’t depend on what proportion goes on wages.

Jenna Sinclair, Manchester

Letting Britain off the hook?

Ken Olende’s article on the history of Kenya (» Brutal legacy of colonial rule in Kenya, 12 January) was good but it let the British rulers off the hook a little.

Kenya in the 1950s saw mass imprisonment and torture perpetrated by the British.

The “fenced off villages” referred to in the article were Kikuyu concentration camps, and they had unbelievable similarity to the Nazi prisons – the colonialists preferred the Kikuyu to die doing hard labour than in gas chambers.

I would recommend people read Caroline Elkins’ book “Britain’s Gulag” as it illustrates the brutality used by the British during this period.

James Haywood, South east London

Request for technical help

I run a website, » It has hundreds of MP3 files of speeches from socialists, but especially speeches from the Socialist Workers Party event Marxism.

I need help with the PHP web design. Would you be prepared to volunteer to help? If so please contact me at

Mark Swindells, Manchester

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Article information

Tue 22 Jan 2008, 19:02 GMT
Issue No. 2085
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