THE BEGINNING of International Refugee Week and the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Geneva Convention was marked with meetings and events across Britain.
In Newham, east London, more than 300 people heard Tony Benn make the opening address at a conference organised by the local council's community relations department. He condemned the government's anti asylum seeker policies, Tory and Labour politicians who played the race card during the general election, and the racism that has been whipped up.
Several workshops took up the impact of globalisation on asylum seekers, media coverage, and a host of other issues. Teresa Hayter, author of Open Borders: The Case Against Immigration Controls, led off a workshop which examined the case against all immigration controls.
The conference, including delegates from the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants and the National Union of Journalists, unanimously backed a statement condemning the government's proposed attack on the Geneva Convention. In Barnet, north London, some 150 people, mainly asylum seekers, attended a celebration of the contribution which immigrants have made to UK society.
- ALAN GIBSON