Amnesty International has reported its grave concern that families returning to Syria are being imprisoned, and that children are being tortured in custody.
Yet, last year Amina Ibrahim, and her two daughters Eva, 16, and Lorin Sulaiman, 15, lost their appeal for asylum in Britain, despite the girls’ elder sister and brother-in-law being allowed to live as refugees in Birmingham. They are Kurdish. Their father and brother have “disappeared” since being arrested in Syria.
A popular and intelligent girl, becoming fluent in English in the two years since she arrived, Lorin had been elected to be a representative of the school council at Mayfield school in Portsmouth.
Her fellow students have been campaigning since last November, when the family was snatched at their home in the middle of the night by the immigration squad. They were then incarcerated at Gatwick airport, to be put on the next flight to Syria.
Some 3,500 people signed their petition, and the family were released on bail. They are now awaiting the verdict of a ministerial review.
A 150 strong march in support of the family recently was led by young people determinedly carrying the banner they made at school. Students greeted the march with a great cheer and waved bold and colourful home-made placards. There were speeches from Eleanor Scott, the council’s leader on education, and also speakers representing the Green Party and Respect. The real stars were the school students, including Lorin herself, who spoke eloquently.
The family would appreciate you sending a letter, demanding that they should be allowed to stay, to: Des Browne, Minister for Immigration, Home Office, 50 Queen Anne’s Gate, London SW1H 9AT or fax 020 7273 2043.
Please include the reference numbers Re. Amina Ibrahim and her daughters Eva and Lorin Sulaiman, HO Ref: J1080623, J1080623/2 and J1080623/3.
Siön Reynolds Portsmouth
For enquirIes and messages of support, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Authorities targeting the young
In November 2004 two young Afghan refugees Amin Buratee and Abrahim Rahimi were snatched in a dawn raid by immigration officials and detained in Dover immigration removal centre. They were to be deported to Afghanistan. As Shia Muslims and members of the Hazara tribe whose family were involved with the earlier Communist government they faced danger.
A passionate and effective campaign was launched by Amin’s fellow students at Canterbury high school.
The campaign received support from every section of the community, including Labour councillors. Amin and Abrahim were freed and their deportations deferred. They remain vulnerable, as do other young refugees.
We are receiving desperate calls from young people raided and detained. Many have mental health issues due to torture and bereavement and ill treatment in Britain.
Kent Campaign to Defend Asylum Seekers is organizing a conference, Coming of Age, Young Refugees Facing Deportation, on Saturday 26 February at the University of Kent to raise the campaign’s profile.
Kate Adams Kent Campaign to Defend Asylum Seekers
Brothers in arms
For nearly 40 years, since 1968, my brother, Peter, and I, have been locked in combat over reform versus revolution. He, Labour, or rather Old Labour. Me, SWP. His job as a parliamentary correspondent for the Sun didn’t exactly add balm to our arguments! So may I congratulate him at least on one thing he got right.
According to a new book, My Trade by Andrew Marr, BBC TV’s political editor, Peter shook up the journalists’establishment at the House of Commons, the day Sir Oswald Mosley, the former British fascist leader, died.
These journalists belonged to the lobby, an elite club, that eased access to the great and the good.
Marr writes that with the announcement of Mosley’s death, “Peter Rose, who is Jewish, bought a bottle of champagne in the press gallery to celebrate.”
He was immediately hauled before the lobby’s disciplinary committee and told that he had breached etiquette. Nice one Peter. The next one’s on me.
John Rose East London
WSF union success
THE FIFTH World Social Forum (WSF) returned to Brazil in January. The WSF has grown in size. This year we saw over 5,700 organisations and 150,000 people taking part in seminars, strategy meetings and workshops.
The CWU postal and telecoms workers’ union had four delegates representing all sections of the union. As delegates we went to many seminars and strategy meetings on privatisation, globalisation and outsourcing — all the meetings organised by trade unions.
The networks and contacts that are made at the WSF are invaluable for our future work to change the priorities of governments, as well as sharing experiences and debating how to take thet movement forward. The spirit of protest and resistance inspired all at the WSF to unite to change the world.
Jane Loftus CWU national executive delegate
ASBOs are not the solution for racism
IN REPLY to Asra Fareed (Socialist Worker, 5 February) no one in their right mind would ignore the plight of any person or family being terrorised by racists.
Yet ASBOs are not the solution to racism in our society. Racism has traditionally been used to divide workers for the benefit of our bosses and rulers. We only have to look at the hysteria drummed up by the gutter press and politicians around asylum and Islam to justify the “war on terror” and the smashing of our civil liberties.
Although it may appear that ASBOs are there to protect our communities, they are, like racism, one more weapon in the arsenal of the ruling class to divide and criminalise us.
There are laws already in existence that could deal with an individual hellbent on persecuting minority groups in society. Worryingly, ASBOs can be used to short circuit the legal system and deny the accused the right to a fair trial by jury.
ASBOs will be used increasingly to protect the property rights and profits of the corporations. They are already being used to stop protests against animal experimentation and the arms trade. They will be further used to stop any political dissent. New Labour is following in the same footsteps as successive US governments. The result will be more prisons full with thousands of young working class people.
Gary Duke Salford
I didn’t like the view of Stirling
I began to read with interest Stirling Howieson’s article (Socialist Worker, 22 January) about modern architecture but I became confused as to what his point was. After describing an “eerily quiet” Dallas at noon on a Saturday he ask us to contrast Dallas with “the hustle and bustle of street life in Paris, Barcelona and Rome”. I fail to see how Dallas is a suitable comparison to these cities. It is is hardly a tourist getaway.
Howieson then asserts that, while British city centres may be “filled with shoppers during the day, at night they are ghost towns”. They are not. Go into any British city centre at night and you will see hordes of “binge drinkers”. These can be safely assumed to be the masses of alienated workers, who give up almost half of their lives to work in meaningless jobs, after which they need to feel “free”, cue binge drinking.
Why is Dallas a ghost town? Well, I would guess that, while Howieson was walking, everyone else was in their four wheel drives.
Howieson claims that the “city is a place of power”, which is promoting what the capitalists want — for us to be living five minutes away from work.
Belinda Webb North London
Labour MP’s race shame
THE CALL by Labour MP for Birmingham Sparkbrook & Small Heath Roger Godsiff’s for an end to all immigration is an indication of the depths he is prepared to go in the run-up to an election in which he is facing a real challenge.
It is a mark of his desperation and opportunism that he has chosen to play the race card. It is shameful for a Labour MP to whip up prejudice in this way.
His comments are all the more remarkable considering that in recent years with all the issues faced by his constituents — the majority of whom are from ethnic minority backgrounds — he has been conspicuously absent from public debate.
Salma Yaqoob Respect parliamentary candidate for Sparkbrook & Small Heath
Block against the system
I recently returned from a trip to Portugal, where campaigning is underway for the general election next weekend, 20 February.
The Left Block is growing in strength with a radical, anti-capitalist programme of opposition to the war and private health care, and support for refugees and migrants.
The Left Block contested its first elections in 1999, and already has three MPs in the Portuguese parliament. It is forecast to win at least five in the elections.
Rattled by the growth of the Left Block, the major parties are resorting to vicious attacks.
Its success is another example of the growth of a new anti-capitalist left in Europe.
Mark Brown Glasgow
Blair is the extremist
I was outraged by the Unison union general secretary, Dave Prentis’s election address. Prentis uses a large section of a page to denounce “external, extreme groups” who are backing United Left candidate Jon Rogers in the general secretary elections.
I have been a member of Unison and its predecessor, COHSE since 1989. The biggest impediment to my job as a union rep has been the political climate fostered by an extremist external to the workers movement — Tony Blair.
A sizeable vote for Jon Rogers will send a clear message to Blair that he’s got a big fight on his hands over pensions and all his other extreme policies.
Stephen McLean Brighton
Roaring trade in factsheet
THE SOCIALIST Worker pensions factsheet has received a warm welcome in my union branch.
Some 47 copies of the factsheet were sold at the meeting of the Brent Unison union on Wednesday of last week. There were 63 people at the meeting.
The attack on the local government pension scheme was the main topic at the meeting. The meeting unanimously endorsed the call for an official national ballot on strike action to protect our pensions.
Brian Butterworth West London
Foot memory set in stone
SOCIALIST WORKER readers will be glad to hear that a memorial stone to the campaigning journalist and SWP member Paul Foot has now been placed in Highgate cemetery in north London. The stone has been placed opposite Paul’s great political hero, Karl Marx. Highgate cemetery is just 15 minutes walk from Highgate tube.
Peter David North London