Immigration detention centres from Scotland to northern France were targeted by anti-racist protesters as part of a day of action yesterday, Saturday.
Hundreds gathered at the Yarl's Wood centre in Bedfordshire where women and families are detained. The detainees waved banners from inside made from T-Shirts and put messages in the windows saying “Freedom” and “Fight back!”
Veronica had been detained in Yarl's Wood in March when the last demonstration their took place. Now protesting outside, she told Socialist Worker, “The protests let us know we are not alone, they give us hope and make us fight back too.”
Some 250 people joined a protest outside Scotland’s only detention centre Dungavel. They made noise with drums and other instruments. They kicked and banged the fence to make sure the people inside Dungavel knew someone was there to support them.
Former detainees spoke on the microphone from the hilltop overlooking the centre, where they could be seen and heard by the dozens of people.
A detainee sent a message by phone from inside—“One voice, one slogan, we need freedom!” This was taken up and chanted, as were slogans such as “Shut down Dungavel, no one is illegal”.
The protests were called by Movement for Justice and backed by local campaigns and other groups including Anti Raids Network and Glasgow Campaign to Welcome Refugees.
Around 80 protesters gathered outside Morton Hall detention centre in Lincolnshire. Protesters gathered outside the main gates and walked around the perimeter holding placards saying “No human is illegal” and chanted “No nations, no borders. Stop deportations!”
Voices from inside could be heard chanting “Freedom” and “We want freedom!”. Protesters made their presence known by banging pots and pans.
More than 40 protesters gathered at Campsfield detention centre in Oxfordshire. Activists from Close Campsfield and Oxford Migrant Solidarity described how contractors Mitie made a profit from making detainees lives a misery.
Around 40 people rallied with outside the Coquelles detention centre near Calais in northern France. They wanted to support migrants and refugees, and to defy a ban on the protest imposed by regional authorities under France’s ongoing state of emergency.
Police ordered the demonstration to disperse, and drove those who didn’t comply further from the detention centre into a car park. They then arrested one protester. A planned counter-demonstration by the far right only drew six people.
Other protesters targeted centres including Colnbrook and Harmondsworth near London’s airports.
All the detention centres should be shut down, the detainees freed and the migrants in Calais welcomed into Britain.
Convoy to Calais
Activists, trade unionists and Stand up to Racism (SUTR) groups across Britain are preparing for a mass solidarity convoy to Calais on Saturday 18 June.
The local TUC sponsored a small SUTR meeting in Dorchester, Dorset, on Saturday. A dozen people attended including trade unionists, newly elected Labour councillor Tia Roos, and Mark Gage who is volunteering in Calais next week.
Some 40 people attended an Stand Up to Racism organising meeting in Manchester last week, many representing trade union branches. They discussed solidarity with refugees which featured the convoy to Calais.
There was a powerful speech from the Rotherham 12 defence campaign. Ameen Hadi of Salford Unison, recently returned from Calais, argued, “This convoy is our opportunity to beat back the racists on both sides of the European Union referendum debate.”
Lord Alf Dubs, campaigning for refugee children to be allowed into Britain, is the latest to join the line up of a SUTR rally in London on Wednesday 25 May.
And across Britain trade unionists are raising the convoy in their union branches.
Mark Sage from the Unison branch in Portsmouth told Socialist Worker, “We put a motion based on the one on the SURT website to the branch committee and initially asked for £100. The branch committee accepted it unanimously, but decided to give £150 instead.”