Surround Harmondsworth #3

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Date(s) - 09/08/2014
1:00 pm

Harmondsworth Detention Centre


09:08:14 @ 1pm
Harmondsworth Detention Centre, Colnbrook By-Pass, West Drayton, Mdx, UB7 0HB (bus 350 from Heathrow T5& 81 from Hounslow West, both Piccadilly line)
Speakers inc: John McDonnell MP, Current & Ex-Detainee’s

Supported by: Unity Centre Glasgow, NUS Black Students Campaign, Birkbeck Black Students Committee, SOAS Detainee Support Group, Leeds No Borders Leeds, London Guantanamo, NUS Black Students Campaign, Bristol Defend Asylum Seekers, London Black Revolutionaries (msg us to add your support)

Build the independent, integrated civil & immigrant rights movement to END detention, END Fast Track, WIN the reversal of the burden of proof in asylum cases, END the Scapegoating of immigrants & WIN full citizenship rights for all.

High Court judge rules detained Fast Track unlawful AND A Public Parliamentary Inquiry into immigration detention has been announced; this is a huge victory for the movement, what we do now can determine the outcome – OUR HARMONDSWORTH DEMONSTRATION IS MORE IMPORTANT NOW THAN EVER!

We have created the opportunities now before us. Earlier this month two parliamentary groups announced a public inquiry into immigration detention, led by Brent MP Sarah Teather, the former Lib. Dem minster who came out against Cameron’s policy of ‘hostile environment’ for immigrants and voted against the new Immigration Bill; the inquiry has already begun taking evidence. A few days after that announcement, a High Court judge ruled that Detained Fast Track (which sets up asylum seekers to fail) is unlawful. These are huge victories for the struggles inside and outside detention. This is the time to expand our movement and increase the level of our struggle. The parliamentary inquiry can & must be a catalyst to end detention, and the High Court ruling can & must raise the confidence, aspirations and organisation of everyone in detention and their friends and supporters outside.

Because of the movement that has been built, and the growing social power of the black, Asian and immigrant communities that most detainees are intimately connected with, many politicians and senior judges know they must take some action. That is why we have won these victories. But our victories carry significant dangers that we must confront.

A minority of those politicians have repeatedly and publicly stood up against immigrant-bashing and racist hostility, which they know is a fatal path for Britain; some have called for a complete end to immigration detention or the closure of particular detention centres, like Yarl’s Wood.

Many more lament the abuses in detention when they are publicised but are much more concerned to save the system than to save those oppressed by it. They will be looking for superficial reforms like just changing the private companies that run detention, or just having female guards in women’s detention centres, or ending detention for just a few groups, not for all immigrants. The inquiry represents both outlooks.

However, all these politicians share the wrong belief that only governments and the rich and powerful can make real changes. Left to themselves they will engage in manoeuvres and settle for limited proposals: at the first hearing the panel’s questions focussed on how much to limit detention; only former Yarl’s Wood detainee Maimuna Jawo of MFJ declared that no-one at all should be in detention.

Without a movement that is based on and led by detainees, immigrants and black and Asian communities, even limited proposals will be largely ignored by the Government – whoever wins the next election. Our tasks are to mobilise and demonstrate that we have the social power to win, isolate the politicians who view the inquiry as an exercise in ‘letting off steam’ in order to save the present system, and win those politicians who believe immigration detention should be ended to ally with us in demanding and fighting for its complete abolition.

We do not accept cover up, obfuscation, diversion or denial – we will be heard! MFJ calls on the inquiry to commit to fully public sessions were current and ex detainees (including deportees) can testify with a promise of complete protection from reprisals, discrimination or prejudice regarding their case. We call on the inquiry to hold sessions in detention centres in the form of mass meetings, without the presence of guards, where all detainees can speak freely. We assert the only possible just conclusion is that all immigration removal centres be shut down and the system of detaining immigrants and asylum seekers be abolished. We demand the burden of proof in asylum cases be reversed – it is currently a burden that presumes all asylum seekers are guilty of lying until proven innocent; the burden should be on the Home Office. This simple change will change the experience and outcome of all asylum cases.

If we are to win these things we must be more visible, louder than ever before. That is why our demonstration at Harmondsworth detention centre on Saturday 9th August is so crucial. A victory is within our grasp but to win it we must escalate our actions, our demonstrations, our protests. Join us on the 9th, mobilise your community, your church, your mosque, your school, your drop in centre to come out and demonstrate – let people know how close we are to victory and how their action now can make all the difference. MFJ is also calling for a national immigrant rights march in the autumn, get in touch to add your support. We’ll demonstrate to each other & to the powers that be, that we have the social power to end this cynical, racist system.

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