One of the highlights of last Saturday’s People’s Assembly demonstration was to hear our friend Otis Bolamu address the rally.
He thanked all those who had campaigned against his deportation, and urged continuing action to support others facing a similar fate.
He also called for Theresa May to go.
After three weeks in detention Otis, an asylum seeker from Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), has been released and is back in Swansea.
Just before Christmas Otis was seized from his bed and taken to Brook House detention centre at Gatwick. He was told he would be deported on Christmas Day.
He faced being forcibly sent back to DRC, where his life would be at risk.
Swansea Stand Up To Racism organised an immediate protest and continuing campaign.
It won widespread support from ordinary people, trade unionists, MPs and Welsh Assembly Members.
We were relieved when Otis was told on Christmas Eve that he would not be deported the next day.
But that didn’t mean that Otis was released. He spent another 18 days in detention.
We kept up the campaign, keeping his story in the public eye and getting more public and political support. Otis’ case was raised in the Welsh Assembly and gained support from our local council.
People from all over the country signed a petition and sent him messages of support.
We are so pleased that Otis has now been released from detention.
But we know that we will need to continue to campaign until he gets his leave to remain and can settle safely here in Swansea.
Solidarity after picket fracas
Around 200 people joined the RMT rail union picket lines in Manchester on Saturday, a week after pickets were harassed by far right supporters.
The solidarity event in response, organised by Stand Up To Racism Manchester, involved delegations from Momentum and trade unions.
Fear over schools’ race data
The government has removed parents’ right to retract information on their children’s nationality and country of birth submitted to the schools census.
This comes amid the threat of new anti-migrant laws and as Brexit throws the immigration status of three million European residents into doubt.
Officials from the Department for Education (DfE) collected the data on six million schoolchildren, before it was halted last June in the face of outrage and opposition.
Campaigners said it was an attempt to turn schools into internal border checkpoints.
Confusion over the policy had already led some schools to instruct only pupils who were not “white British” to bring in identity documents, spreading alarm that it was encouraging racism and a culture of institutional hostility to migrants.
Now ministers have confirmed that they will continue to store the data already collected.
And parents can no longer ask schools to enter “refused,” which instructs the DfE to delete their children’s data.