Anti-racists have staged a protest outside Downing Street against proposed Tory plans to ramp up repression against refugees.
The Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) protest on Saturday came amid a series of leaked measures the Tories’ are considering to stop refugees trying to make it safely to Britain.
They include “floating walls” in the English Channel and imprisoning refugees on decommissioned offshore oil rigs in the North Sea or on a British island in the Atlantic.
The group of 40 protesters chanted, “Say it loud, say it clear—refugees are welcome here,” and, “Who made the NHS? Migrants made the NHS.”
Naima Omar from SUTR slammed the Tories for wanting “refugees to be second class citizens”. “What they want to do is actually horrific,” she told the crowd before leading off a round of chanting.
Fran is a supporter of SUTR South London from Croydon where she said, “there is a massive and terrible situation in hotels with refugees”.
She explained that they “have now been sent to army barracks” meaning that they are even away from “the friends they made in the hotels.”
The Home Office is holding a consultation over the construction of “floating walls” in the English Channel, according to a document leaked earlier this week.
An email on 17 September, obtained by the Financial Times newspaper, shows officials had approached the Maritime UK industry group.
It said they wanted a “discreet reaching out” to industry bodies to look into options such as “marine fencing and other water-based technologies” to repel boats with refugees.
Companies were invited to put forward proposals by 21 September that could “fully prevent” a refugee boat from making progress.
Maritime UK said last week it did not believe the plan was “legally possible”.
Officials considering the schemes include the Home Office’s Joint Security and Resilience Centre, the UK Border Force and Dan O’Mahoney, recently appointed Clandestine Channel Threat Commander.
One of the former Royal Marine’s deployments was in Iraq. Many of the refugees trapped in northern France are Iraqis and Kurds, fleeing from the destruction unleashed by the West’s invasion.
Another Home Office plan is to house asylum seekers on Ascension Island, 4,000 miles away in the Atlantic.
Other options include holding asylum seekers at the disused Camp Hill prison on the Isle of Wight or the Fort Blockhouse military site in Gosport in Hampshire.
It was also reported last week that asylum seekers could be held on disused ferries or decommissioned oil platforms in the North Sea.
A statement from Newham SUTR said, “The setting up of an immigration enforcement centre in Newham is an outrage.
“Enforcement centres should be closed down, not opened.
“They are places of terror for refugees and migrants and send out a message of racism and division in our communities.”
The present system is racist and violent. Any of these new measures would make it worse.
Refugees are fleeing war, poverty, dictatorship and climate change. They should be let in safely and asylum seekers should be given the right to stay.
National anti-racism conference is a chance to unite campaigners
Activists are building for SUTR's international conference in two weeks time.
This year SUTR is holding its annual conference online on the weekend of Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 October.
Speakers are set to include Labour MPs Diane Abbott and Bell Ribeiro-Addy, Mohammed Kozbar from Finsbury Park Mosque and Edie Friedman of the Jewish Council for Racial Equality.
Around 150 people joined SUTR’s Midlands regional summit last Saturday. Labour MPs Zara Sultana and Nadia Whittome and TUC union federation’s regional secretary Lee Barron were among the speakers at the online event.
The following day SUTR supporters held a regional summit in the north west of England with speakers including justice campaigner Janet Alder. Her brother, Christopher, died in police custody in Hull in 1998.