Socialist Worker

More media lies on refugees

Issue No. 1690

Stand up against the scapegoating

More media lies on refugees

"FURY AS 'Refugee' Beasts Rape Girl". That was the Sun headline last week. It was the latest example of the media's lies designed to whip up hatred against refugees fleeing persecution.

"Journalist" Nick Parker wrote, "Police appealed for calm last night after a young woman was raped by three suspected asylum seekers." Yet there is not a shred of evidence to back up this claim. Even the police distanced themselves from the idea that refugees were automatically guilty, saying, "We cannot make any assumptions about the race or status of the men" allegedly responsible for the rape.

Sun scribe Parker said that a young woman had been raped in Hastings, that the assault had taken place "just a few yards from a batch of hotels used to house refugees", and that the town had become "swamped" with refugees from Kosovo, Romania and Albania.

The report said the victim had said her attackers spoke in "broken English". Yet the Sun produced not one jot of evidence that refugees may have been involved. It did not even bother, for instance, to tell its readers that Hastings, as well as having a small refugee presence, is a popular destination for European students who come to learn English in the town's language schools.

The fact that the Sun was lying did not stop others following its scapegoating. The "respectable" Daily Telegraph repeated the same lie on its front page under the headline "Gang Rape By Asylum Seekers". And, disgracefully, the Labour leader of Hastings council, Richard Stevens, joined in the scapegoating, demanding that asylum seekers should be shipped out of the area.

The press, and politicians who go along with them, are also lying when they talk of refugees being "pampered" and kept in luxury. Have any of those who spout this rubbish tried keeping themselves and a small child on �36.54 a week?

That is what a lone parent refugee and their child get. It is just �5.22 a day between them. From this week refugees will not even get that in cash, but instead will be put on a degrading "voucher" system.

The vouchers are worth even less than the miserable amount those on benefits like Income Support have to scrape by on. Refugees will get just 70 percent of "normal" benefits. That means a refugee family of two adults and two children has to try to manage on �90.80 a week, worse even than the "normal" benefit level of �129.70 a week.

Adult refugees are allowed just �10 in cash per week. All aid agencies say the measures will result in more asylum seekers being forced to beg. These are the real facts which the press refuse to print as they continue to lie to whip up hatred.

Everyone should reject the media lies and should stand up against the scapegoating of refugees.


'Demonising boosts racists'

THE WITCH-hunt against refugees is giving every hardened racist and Nazi confidence. The Nazi National Front, sniffing a chance to spread race hatred on the back of the Sun's lies, has announced plans to march in Hastings. There are now also all sorts of filthy "joke" letters circulating in workplaces, saying, for example, "Hijack an airliner and win a council house." And in a horrific case British black Olympic athlete Ashia Hansen has been forced into hiding in Birmingham after her white boyfriend suffered a racist attack.

Chris Cotter lost four pints of blood when he was stabbed by Nazis on Tuesday of last week. Police say Cotter's attackers were trying to scalp him. The couple have suffered a nine month hate campaign because of their mixed relationship. Cotter has received numerous threats telling him to "stick to his own kind".

Cotter's attackers told him, "We warned you not to mix with niggers." The morning after the attack Ashia Hansen received a note warning, "You were lucky last night. We won't make the same mistake again."

The Nazis have made the West Midlands a target. Both the National Front and the British National Party plan to stand candidates in the local elections. The BNP recently leafleted the Sandwell area and the NF is threatening to hold a march through Worcester on Saturday 22 April.

Cliff McGowan, whose brother Errol and nephew Jason were both found hanged after being targeted by racists, told Socialist Worker, "We have been trying to tell the authorities that racist and Nazi groups are operating. "The attack on Ashia Hansen and her boyfriend shows that these racists are capable of anything. The demonising of refugees that is going on is adding to the temperature. It is encouraging the racists to go about their murderous business."


Straw snatches toys

ANY PARENT would be outraged if told their children should be deprived of toys. Yet that is what the New Labour government is telling refugee parents. Home secretary Jack Straw has decreed that toys are not "essential living" items and that no provision should be made for child refugees. That would be bad enough for any child or parent.

It is even more the case for child refugees. Alison Harvey from the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture says, "These children have suffered so many fragmentations and dislocations in their lives, including exile and bereavement. "More than any other children they need play to help them develop and grow. The idea that they will go to school and then come home and stare at blank walls is awful."


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News
Sat 1 Apr 2000, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1690
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