Socialist Worker

Protests as refugees in Calais face new attack - all out for 19 March demos

by Dave Sewell
Issue No. 2492

French courts were deciding whether to bulldoze the temporary homes of around 3,000 refugees in Calais as Socialist Worker went to press.

Up to 7,000 people are trapped in the hellish conditions of the Calais “jungle” because the British government refuses to open the border.

The clearance would destroy around half the tents and most of the facilities that refugees have built to help them to survive.

Mohamed, an Afghan refugee in Calais, told Socialist Worker, “We don’t know what’s going to happen. People have nowhere to go. Where are our human rights?”

The Tories have pressured France to get rid of the refugees in Calais to stop them getting to Britain.

French authorities are trying to force refugees into official prison-like camps and renounce any hope of claiming asylum in Britain.

But Mohamed said, “People don’t want to go to the shelters because they want to go to Britain.

“Under the Geneva Convention people should be able to go to whatever country they want.

Dignity

“Many of them have got relatives and family in Britain. And people are looking for respect and dignity that they believe they cannot find in France.”

The plight of refugees has polarised Europe. There have been waves of mass support.

Trade unionists went to Calais last week.

Actor Jude Law performed alongside refugees there, promoting a statement signed by over 100,000 people calling for child refugees to be let into Britain.

Stand Up to Racism protesters rallied outside Downing Street on Monday night.

But there has also been racism and reaction—everyone from far right thugs to top Tory ministers are determined to keep refugees out.

That’s why activists are building mass anti-racist demonstrations to say “refugees welcome” on Saturday 19 March in London, Cardiff and Glasgow.

More than 20 mobilising rallies and meetings have been organised across Britain.

In Glasgow the deputy lord provost Baillie, Gerald Leonard, spoke at an organising meeting on Monday and the EIS union donated £500 towards costs.

Around 150 people attended a fundraiser in Shipley, West Yorkshire, on Friday of last week.

A punk gig was held in support of refugees and to promote the demo in Bradford, and 100 people attended a meeting in Aberdeen.

In Manchester, anti-racist actitivist Nahella Ashraf told Socialist Worker, “We’re putting on coaches for the London march. Some of the mosques are looking at organising a coach and local meetings.”


Demonstrators defended migrant rights during a protest in Peckham, south London, last Saturday

Demonstrators defended migrant rights during a protest in Peckham, south London, last Saturday (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Peckham marchers defend migrants’ rights

Around 500 people marched in Peckham, south London, last Saturday in a “Community Pride” march against deportations.

It was called by Movement for Justice, and Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants.

Ghanaian Asylum seeker Stephen Agyemang was one of the organisers of the march.

He told Socialist Worker, “The British government is racist.

“They’re scapegoating immigrants and want people to blame them for the problems in the NHS and housing.

“When you go for your Home Office screening interview, they try and put the fear in you.

“The whole thing is set up to make migrants feel afraid.

“On the streets you often hear that Britain is full—but we have to take more migrants.

“Everyone has a right to life.”

Student Naima said, “It’s disgusting the way the government is scapegoating migrants—we should welcome more refugees.

“The 19 March demo can help unite people and give people who don’t have a voice a voice.”

Tomáš Tengely-Evans


Anti-racist action in Australia gets results for baby Asha

Mass protests have stopped a one year old Nepalese girl being taken to an offshore refugee prison on the remote island of Nauru.

Medical workers at the Lady Cilento children’s hospital in Brisbane—where she was treated for serious burns—refused to hand her over to the authorities.

Thousands marched in support.

The baby, known by the pseudonym Asha, became a symbol for 267 people in Australia who faced being returned to the notorious prison camp.

Many still could be. Asha faces “community detention” in Australia, and her parents could still end up back in Nauru.

But the government’s historic climbdown could lead to more challenges of Australia’s brutal asylum system.

It “essentially concedes that Nauru is completely unsuitable for any human being,” argued Shen Narayanasamy of activist group Getup.

Pro-refugee protests make a difference.


Detained man is found dead

Moroccan asylum seeker Amir Siman-Tov was found dead in his cell at Colnbrook detention centre in Harmondsworth near Heathrow airport last Wednesday.

He had been on suicide watch since his arrival in Colnbrook several weeks earlier.

It follows a damning report on detention centres by former prisons ombudsman Stephan Shaw.

Demonstration—shut down Yarl’s Wood detention centre, Sat 12 Mar, 1.30pm, Yarl’s Wood Immigration Centre, Milton Ernest, Bedfordshire, MK44 1FD. Called by Movement for Justice. Go to Movement for Justice By Any Means Necessary on Facebook

Tragic killing of Rochdale Imam

Imam Jalal Uddin was murdered near his mosque in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, on Thursday of last week. Police have not ruled out racism as a motive.

The Times newspaper was slammed for a headline on the attack that referred to Rochdale as a “sex grooming town”.

A financial appeal has raised thousands for funeral costs and his family.

The killing follows the racist murder of Mohammed Saleem in Birmingham in 2013, and the killing of Mushin Ahmed in Rotherham last year.

Both were attacked while walking to or from prayers at mosques.


Attacks soar in Germany

A racist mob surrounded a coachload of refugees in the German state of Saxony last week. Police dragged one refugee off the bus.

Days later crowds cheered as a refugee hostel burned down in a suspected arson attack.

The racist AfD party is expected to make a breakthrough in looming regional elections.

State TV in Germany has said there were 924 attacks on refugee hostels last year. That’s more than four times as many as in 2014.

The figure included 76 incidents where refugee hostels were burnt down—compared with six in 2014.


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