Thousands of people were set to march in central London on Saturday in solidarity with refugees.
It marks a year since the demonstrations that followed the death of Syrian Kurdish refugee Aylan Kurdi. Thousands more have died since, yet the government is hardening its repression.
It announced last week plans to build a new 13-foot wall in Calais. It has still failed to implement the Dubs Amendment to the Immigration Act, which would bring more child refugees to Britain. Hundreds of children are among the growing population of the Calais “jungle”.
Volunteers helping them were among the protesters at a Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) demonstration outside the French embassy in London last Wednesday.
Daniela told Socialist Worker, “The situation in Calais is atrocious. There’s tear gas everywhere—especially in the area where families stay.
“Things are getting really tense as people don’t have enough food or enough space.”
Zoe added, “The media make out like it’s filthy migrants being aggressive and coming to steal ‘our’ jobs and resources. But it’s nothing like that.” The repression doesn’t stop for refugees and migrants who reach Britain.
There is a fight on to close the detention centres where people who have committed no crime are jailed indefinitely simply because of their immigration status.
Around 300 people rallied in the rain outside Yarl’s Wood in Bedfordshire last Saturday, the latest in a series of protests organised there by Movement for Justice.
It followed the announcement that the Dungavel detention centre in Scotland is to close next year, replaced by facilities at Glasgow airport.
Dungavel has been a focus of sustained protest by the Glasgow Campaign to Welcome Refugees, the Scottish TUC and others. Its closure should give a boost to the broader fight against the brutal immigration enforcement system.
Lord Alf Dubs is set to join the SUTR conference on Saturday 8 October to build the campaign to bring child refugees to Britain. Many of those in Calais have relatives in Britain but are being trapped in danger and squalor rather than being allowed to join them.
SUTR co-convenor Weyman Bennett said, “By winter there shouldn’t be a single child still there.”
He argued, “There is a simple solution. The camp at Calais could be closed down tomorrow—if we let those people come here.
“They say there’s no money, but they found money for the wall.”
'My experience shows why all detention centres need to close'
I was detained with my family in Dungavel and then Yarl’s Wood when I was just 14. The conditions are basically like a prison.
Except for meal times and certain times where you can go in the yard, you are stuck in one room.
I didn’t know anything about the detention system then, but as the one in my family who spoke most English I found myself having to translate with the lawyers and others.
When I saw the news that Dungavel was closing I was excited. It’s amazing that after years of campaigning the only detention centre in Scotland is going.
But the thing that’s replacing it could mean people are deported faster. And there are still nine detention centres in England and one in Northern Ireland. They all need to close.
With Theresa May as prime minister that’s not going to be easy—this system was her work when she was home secretary.
We’ll have to keep fighting and have lots of protests.
We did that in Scotland and we need to see more of it in England and elsewhere.