Socialist Worker

Backlash halts the eviction of refugees in Glasgow—for now

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2616

Protesting outside the Home Office building in Glasgow

Protesting outside the Home Office building in Glasgow (Pic: Duncan Brown)


A wave of outrage has forced outsourcing giant Serco to back down from plans to throw 330 asylum seekers onto the streets of Glasgow.

Around 350 people protested outside the Home Office building in Glasgow last Saturday. The protest ended with a burning of the ­eviction notices.

And up to 500 people also protested in Glasgow on Tuesday last week—the day after news of the plans spread.

Serco runs the asylum seeker housing on a contract from Tory Sajid Javid’s Home Office.

It issued “lock change notices” to refugees whose asylum claims had been rejected. It said that it would now “pause all further lock-change notices” while the “law is being tested and clarified”.

Robina Qureshi is director of refugee homelessness charity Positive Action in Housing, which has been helping the 330 asylum seekers. “Glasgow is the new front line of the hostile environment,” she told Socialist Worker.

“If we don’t stand up to this, it will be a new trend with people turned out onto the streets through mass evictions”.

Serco are now waiting on the results of legal bids to stop the evictions. Govan law centre lodged papers on behalf of one of the asylum seekers at the Court of Session in Edinburgh last week.

Housing charity Shelter also lodged a case at Sheriff’s Court in Glasgow to prevent Serco from issuing lock change notices to two asylum seekers.

Battle

How Britain’s cruel asylum system deprives refugees
How Britain’s cruel asylum system deprives refugees
  Read More

Robina was clear that the battle is far from over. “Serco is buying itself time by waiting on the legal case,” she said. “Is it saying it would still be alright to turn people out if the legal cases lose?”

Parkhead Housing Association, which leases houses in Glasgow to Serco has said it would not allow the outsourcer to change fixtures and fittings on its properties.

And it said that it would seek to change Serco occupancy agreements into temporary social tenancy agreements without the tenant having to move.

Other housing associations should follow suit. As Robina said, “We need the Glasgow housing associations united in not letting Serco change locks.”

The Home Office is tendering a new asylum seeker housing contract worth £4 billion over 10 years. Robina said, “Serco and G4S have proven themselves not fit for purpose, but the public sector was effectively frozen out because of the tendering conditions.

“The bidding for it should be reviewed and investigated”.

The treatment of the 330 asylum seekers at the hands of Serco was a direct result of Britain’s racist immigration rules. Many of the refugees affected have fled from wars in Afghanistan and Syria.

Beating back the Tories’ laws and the brutal treatment of asylum seekers requires a mass movement against racism.

Thanks to Susan Clark

 


Rescuers vow to defy the racist EU

The crew of rescue ship Aquarius has said it will carry on saving refugees in the Mediterranean despite a clampdown by the European Union (EU).

The crew said it will not wait on coastguards for orders or return rescued refugees to Libya in North Africa.

Nick Romaniuk, SOS Mediterranean search and rescue coordinator, said, “When we see there is a vessel in distress, with a high likelihood of people dying, we will go and rescue them immediately as per international maritime law”.

It has rescued an estimated 29,000 people since it began operating in February 2016.

The Aquarius was stopped from docking in Italy by the country’s racist government last month. It meant that some 629 refugees—including 123 unaccompanied minors, 11 other children and seven pregnant women—were stranded at sea for more than a week.

SOS Mediterranean is equipping the ship for longer journeys in case it is stopped by Italy again.

Crisis

But the Aquarius’s new mission is likely to cause another crisis. The ship was allowed to dock in the Spanish port of Valencia last time, but the Spanish government is now trying to block the flow of refugees.

Hundreds of refugees stormed the border that separates Morocco and the Spanish-controlled territory of Ceuta in North Africa last week. It has become one of the primary choke points of the refugee crisis, with more refugees passing through it than through Italy and Greece.

The Spanish government has requested more EU money to clamp down on refugees.

This shows that it’s not just far right and racist governments in Austria, Italy and Hungary that want to clamp down harder on refugees.

They want to strengthen internal borders within the EU. The EU wants to strengthen its external borders, causing deaths of hundreds of refugees.


Woman in Denmark fined for niqab

A Muslim woman in Denmark was fined for wearing the niqab face covering on Friday of last week.

Cops charged her £120 under a new law that came into force last week.

The woman had called the police herself after someone tried to snatch the niqab off her face.

The law is part the Islamophobic agenda of the right wing Tory and Liberal coalition government.Denmark is part of a growing list of European countries to bring in a ban. It joins France, Belgium, Austria, Bulgaria and the southern German state of Bavaria.

The European Court of Human Rights upheld the Belgian ban last year, showing that laws won’t protect Muslim women from racist government policies.

Anti-racists protested against the ban in the capital Copenhagen last week.


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