25 October 2003
THE RIGHT wing press seized on a judge's ruling last week against a refugee family from Lithuania living in Southwark, south London. The family were appealing for adequate housing. The Daily Express called the case "asylum rip-off number one" and its front page screamed "Proof Britain is a soft touch". But the story will be familiar to ordinary people across Britain desperate to be rehoused.
04 October 2003
TONY BLAIR got his standing ovation on Tuesday at the Labour Party conference. But that won't be enough to deal with the disgust and disquiet millions of Labour voters feel at what his government has done at home, and abroad. The disquiet even found some reflection in other parts of Labour's conference. And Blair's invocation of Margaret Thatcher's "I'm not for turning" speech, and his threat of even harsher treatment for refugees, will fuel the anger against him.
20 September 2003
ISRAFIL SHIRI poured petrol over himself and set himself alight in the offices of Refugee Action in Salford three weeks ago. After five days in agony, with 70 percent burns, he died in Manchester's Wythenshawe Hospital (see last week's Socialist Worker). What could possibly drive a man to such a terrible act?
13 September 2003
OVER 2,000 people joined the biggest, and angriest, demonstration yet last Saturday against the Dungavel refugee detention centre in Lanarkshire (right). Scotland's "asylum prison" has been the subject of protests since it opened two years ago. Saturday's demo began with furious demonstrators banging on the huge metal barrier around the centre chanting, "Shut it down!"
30 August 2003
THE DEFENCE campaign for the Yarls Wood refugees who were put on trial after the fire has produced cards to raise funds. These attractive, bright cards are emblazoned with the words "Peace, justice, compassion" and the scales of justice.
23 August 2003
The trial of 13 men accused of burning down the Yarls Wood detention centre ended last Friday with Group 4 being condemned by all
23 August 2003
THE SUN fell to new lows with another sickening campaign against refugees this week. Monday's poster front page ranted "Halt The Asylum Tide Now", labelling asylum as "Britain's biggest crisis". The Sun used a loaded online poll to claim over 80 percent of the population agree with its witch-hunt. But the poll only measured how well the Sun spreads its filthy racist message to its readers.
16 August 2003
THE PHOTOGRAPH on this page is of 16 year old Alhassan Kamara. He is an asylum seeker from war-torn Sierra Leone, West Africa. He did not want his full face photographed for fear of being singled out in the future. Known by his friends and family as "Alaska", this young man escaped a brutal civil war.
09 August 2003
THE JURY was still out in the trial against the Yarls Wood refugees as Socialist Worker went to press on Tuesday. The five defendants left at the end of the three-month trial faced prison terms if found guilty. They were charged after the fire that swept through Yarls Wood centre in Bedfordshire on 14 February last year.
26 July 2003
THE TRIAL of the men charged after last year's fire at the Yarls Wood refugee detention centre has already exposed the myth that refugees have an easy life in Britain. Yarls Wood was Labour's flagship centre, built to hold 900 men, women and children. But it was destroyed by a fire last year. In a document presented at the trial, a custody officer claimed he and his colleagues were ordered to lock the refugees in as the fire swept through the building.
19 July 2003
REFUGEES WHO hoped to find peace and justice in Britain have been grilled by prosecution lawyers in the Yarls Wood trial taking place at Harrow Crown Court. Yarls Wood is New Labour's refugee detention centre in Bedfordshire. After a fire destroyed most of the centre on 14 February last year the refugees were arrested and faced charges including violent disorder. They could be sent to prison.
05 July 2003
PRESSURE FROM local campaigners in Lewisham, South London, has won Tham Sarki, an asylum seeker from wartorn Nepal, a temporary reprieve from deportation. Over 750 letters were written to David Blunkett in support of the Lewisham College student.
28 June 2003
OVER 80 people joined a "free the refugees" rally at Haslar immigration removals centre in Gosport last Sunday. The rally was organised by Portsmouth Committee to Defend Asylum Seekers and supported by campaigners from Southampton, Oxford, Yarls Wood and the No Borders group in Brighton.
21 June 2003
OVER 170 people packed into St Alfege school hall in Whitstable in Kent to hear George Galloway speak on Wednesday of last week. He received warm applause after describing the witch-hunt against him by Blair and the Daily Telegraph. Other speakers included Lindsey German from the Stop the War Coalition and Aram, an Iraqi refugee.
21 June 2003
OVER 300 people marched in Manchester last Saturday to mark the opening of Refugee Week. They demanded the end of the war on asylum seekers and an end to their destitution. Zeesham Mirza, ten years old and originally from Pakistan, told the rally, "On Wednesday we will be out of our house, there will be no social or anything. My dad is not allowed to work. We have nothing."
14 June 2003
THERE ARE many hundreds of people who could help solve the chronic staff shortages and long waiting lists in the NHS. They are not being used because the press and politicians treat them with hatred and suspicion. They are refugee doctors. The waste of doctors' talent, skills and energy is just one example of how the skills and willingness to work of all refugees is thrown away by government policy.
31 May 2003
ANYONE WHO believes that the government's assault on asylum seekers leaves the most desperate "legitimate" refugees untouched, should look at Abas Amini's face. The Home Office is appealing against a decision to give him asylum in Britain. He is so desperate he has sewn up his own eyes, mouth and ears in protest.
17 May 2003
"THERE ARE schools, but there's no equipment in them. The shops are open, but there is nothing on the shelves. Afghanistan is a lawless country."
12 April 2003
THE OPEN statement condemning racist hysteria in the media about asylum seekers received a massive boost this week when more than 140 delegates to the National Union of Journalists annual conference backed it unanimously.
05 April 2003
LAST YEAR some 15,000 people from Iraq fled to Britain and applied for asylum. At last count, only 700 had received refugee status. In early March the Home Office deported to Spain an Iraqi family that had come to this country in 1999.