Archive for March, 2009

IOM – Complicit in Murder?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on Tuesday, 17 March, 2009 by bristolnoborders

From Today’s Independent:

Sent back by Britain. Executed in Darfur

Failed asylum-seeker followed home from airport and shot by Sudan security officials

By Robert Verkaik, Law Editor

A failed asylum-seeker who returned to Darfur under a government repatriation scheme has been murdered by Sudanese security officers after they followed him home from the airport in Khartoum, The Independent has learnt.

Adam Osman Mohammed, 32, was gunned down in his home in front of his wife and four-year-old son just days after arriving in his village in south Darfur.

The case is to be used by asylum campaigners to counter Home Office attempts to lift the ban on the removal and deportation to Sudan of failed asylum-seekers. Next month, government lawyers are expected to go to court to argue that it is safe to return as many as 3,000 people to Khartoum.

But lawyers for the campaigners will tell the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal that people who are returned to Sudan face imprisonment, torture and death. Mr Mohammed, a non-Arab Darfuri, came to Britain in 2005 seeking sanctuary from persecution in Sudan, where he said his life was in danger. The village where he was a farmer had been raided twice by the Janjaweed, the ethnic Arab militia, forcing him and his wife and child to flee their home.

His family in Britain told The Independent that Mr Mohammed witnessed many villagers being killed and became separated from his wife during a second attack on the village a few weeks later. He escaped to Chad before making his way to the UK in 2005.

But last year his appeal for asylum was finally turned down and he was told that he faced deportation. In August last year he was flown to Khartoum under the Home Office’s assisted voluntary return programme, in which refugees are paid to go back to their country of origin. He stayed in Khartoum for a few months and then, when he believed it was safe, he travelled to Darfur to be reunited with his family.

Bristol No Borders Writes : “Voluntary Return?”

Its clear no one in their right mind would return to Sudan voluntarily – unless yo had all means of financial support withdrawn an were forbidden to work – which is exactly what happenened to Adam Osman Mohammed –  and pretty much everyone else on the “Voluntary Return” programme.
The programmme is run  by the IOM – thats the International Organisation for Migration. But don’t be fooled by the name.
The IOM claims to assist migrants. Last year, it used Bristol Refugee Week to try sell a positive image of itself to refugees and asylum seekers and to the groups they work with. Our protests seem to have put them off returning this year. In reality their primary function is to help rich western governments meet their deportation targets, regardless of the very real dangers facing returning asylum seekers.

The IOM is currently targeting asylum seekers from Iraq, Zimbabwe and now Sudan stepping in with their ‘voluntary return programme’ at the point where the UK government withdraws even minimum financial support. Faced with the alternative of destitution, no access to healthcare and homelessness, several thousand Iraqis have already returned through VARRP, despite the IOM’s representative in Iraq admitting that “the situation for those returning is grim… many returnees are unemployed while only a fraction have received any form of humanitarian assistance other than some food rations.”

The IOM makes sure that it takes no responsibility for the returnees welfare after they arrive home. All participants in the scheme are asked to sign a waiver reading: “the IOM has no responsibility for me and my dependents once I return [to e.g. Iraqi territory] and I hereby release IOM from any liability in this respect.

Anyone participating in the Voluntary Assisted Return and Reintegration Programme (VARRP) is prohibited from returning to the UK for a minimum of five years. Those who pay their own airfare home and receive no assistance from the IOM are eligible to reapply in 12 months.

No Borders Camp, Lesvos, Greece

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on Sunday, 15 March, 2009 by bristolnoborders

“We would like to invite you to join us in August (25-31), to share with us the experience of what is going on at the borders, to discuss the problems, to coordinate our actions to fight…”

In the last few years the island of Lesvos has represented one of the main entrance gate for thousands of refugees and migrants seeking to reach Europe. Packed in tiny plastic boats they try to cross the sea border between Turkey and Greece but some of them can’t make it. More than 1.100 migrants and refugees have lost their lives that way in Aegean sea the last 20 years.

The Hellenic Coast Guard, following the european and greek policies of “prevention of entrance” violates the rights of the refugees and put their lives in danger. At the same time, though, its activities are supported by Frontex, whose first boat started operating on the island in July 2008. Recently Frontex’s officials started interviewing / investigating refugees and migrants in Pagani (Lesvos).
Pagani (5 kilometres outside Mitilini, the capital of the island) is where the detention centre is located, to which refugees and migrants are sent, as soon as they set foot on Lesvos. And where they are detained for weeks and months. It is a prison in which fundamental human rights are not respected. Besides, the building is not suitable to host human beings, since it lacks the basic infrastructure for that purpose. Moreover, the refugees are not given any possibility to communicate, are not informed about their rights and are not allowed access to fresh air.
Once registered in the Eurodac system, refugees are set free with an administrative deportation order requiring them to leave the country within a month. Some of them who lodge an asylum application end up in a bureaucratic chaos, go through state violence (there were two victims at the Athens Aliens Department in the last few months) and in the end only a 0,60% of the applications is accepted.
Those who decide to stay in Greece and find a job have to endure several constraints, hard working times, inhuman conditions and all this in exchange of an humiliating pay. Given their precarious situation they are not given the right of association in order to acquire better working conditions. An example of this is the recent assassination attempt (with vitriol) of a foreign woman – a trade representative – in Athens.
Those who try to set forth their journey, in order to reach (usually via Italy) other European countries, flock to the western ports, like Patra’s, where the Coast Guard’s repressive activities are an everyday phenomenon. And very often refugees are found dead inside the trucks with which they try to leave the country. And those who manage to continue their journey, if caught, are sent back to Greece in application of the Regulation Dublin II.
From the Schengen Agreement to the Dublin Regulation, from the European Pact on Immigration and Asylum to the so called “Directive of Shame”, from Frontex to the IOM, from the detention centres to the practices of expulsion and deterrence, from the borders to the capitals, Europe is clearly dealing with the phenomenon of immigration with measures of repression and border control.
Here in Lesvos the building of the “Fortress Europe” is clearly visible. That’s why we would like to invite you to join us in August (25-31), to share with us the experience of what is going on at the borders, to discuss the problems, to coordinate our actions, to fight:


Coordination of No Border Lesvos 2009

Demand the release of Hicham Yezza!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on Wednesday, 11 March, 2009 by bristolnoborders

By Paul Feldman from “A World to Win”

Hicham Yezza’s real “crime” was to help a student with his research into Al Qaeda and then to campaign against his arbitrary arrest and detention by the police, called in by his employers, Nottingham University. A nine-month jail sentence he is now serving for immigration “irregularities” is nothing less than the state’s revenge for failing to sustain the original ludicrous terrorism arrest.

Hicham was arrested and held last May for a period of six days, alongside student Rizwaan Sabir. Hicham had downloaded an Al Qaeda training manual from the US government’s website. It was material for Sabir’s MA dissertation, which didn’t prevent university authorities assuming the worst and calling in the police.

Sabir’s home was raided and he was deeply distressed by events. In the end, no charges could be made and the pair were released. But with egg all over their faces, the police tried to justify their actions and held Hicham, an Algerian national, on immigration charges pending fast-track deportation. This failed following a strong campaign and legal challenges and Hicham, who edits the magazine Ceasefire, spoke out at conferences about the attacks on human rights in Britain.

Not giving up, immigration authorities then charged Hicham with “securing avoidance of enforcement action by deceptive means”. This, don’t forget, was someone employed by the university, a PhD student and a well-known figure on campus. As his lawyer Caroline Bradley, said: “He did not in any way try to hide his identity and, if he had done things properly, he would have been granted in all likelihood the right to stay in this country.” Although we are talking technicalities here, the judge threw the book at Hicham and he is now in prison.

Hicham’s jailing expresses not only how the spurious “war on terror” sweeps up innocent victims on a daily basis – Binyam Mohamed’s “rendition” and torture is just one example – but how this dovetails with New Labour’s racist and inhuman immigration/deportation policies. These are deployed to court the support of right-wing newspapers like the Daily Mail and Daily Express – and to provide business for the private sector.

Since 1993 there has been a 10-fold increase in detention centre places. From a total of 10 immigration detention centres in the UK, seven are managed by private firms. They are beset with welfare problems, social unrest and high rates of suicide. Plans for an 800-place centre near Bullingdon prison in Oxfordshire will make it the largest detention centre of its kind in Europe.

Every year, 2,000 children are detained in contravention of commitments made in Parliament. In a recent case, a court was told that a one-year-old baby and an eight-year-old child from the Democratic Republic of Congo were deeply traumatised after immigration officers twice raided their West Midlands home. They were taken to Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre in Bedfordshire and held for 57 days. Two months later, the family home was raided for a second time leading to a further three-day unlawful detention at the same centre. The court awarded the former detainees £150,000 in damages.

With even Tory Mayor of London Boris Johnson calling for an “earned” amnesty for migrants without papers – up to 75% of the estimated 725,000 total live in the capital – New Labour’s cynical use of the immigration card is even more despicable. As unemployment mounts and the far-right BNP challenges New Labour for votes, the press hysteria is bound to intensify.

That’s why A World to Win demands the release of Hicham Yezza, who is a political prisoner, and supports the employment and human rights of ALL workers in Britain, with or without papers.

You can write to Hicham at:
Hicham Yezza XP9266 06.12.1977
Tattenhoe Street
Milton Keynes

Dale Farm: Persecuted, evicted, fighting back!

Posted in Dale Farm with tags , , , on Sunday, 8 March, 2009 by bristolnoborders

We want to live in harmony, but we’ ll defend our homes and our human rights if necessary.”
– Richard Sheridan, Dale Farm spokesperson

Over 10 million gypsies, travellers and Roma live in Europe. In every country they have faced centuries of persecution for wishing to maintain their own culture. Over a quarter of a million were murdered in Nazi concentration camps. This persecution continues to the present day. Butchered in Romanian villages, ethnically-cleansed from Kosovo and more recently murdered in Hungary and fire-bombed by Italian thugs, Europe’s 12 million Roma are compelled to make common cause. And on the frontline of this growing conflict stands the bastion of Dale Farm.

The ongoing attempts by Basildon council to evict over 100 traveller families from the Dale Farm site in Crays Hill in Essex has become Britains starkest example of persecution of travellers in the UK. They have followed every suggestion, guidance and legal process that that the state have provided in order to ensure safe and secure homes for themselves and their families. Despite this they continue to face racism and harassment from the both the local council, local residents and the media – all of whom have played a part in stoking the same prejudice and hatred that has allowed the persecution of travelling communities to remain unchallenged for decades. This time the residents of Dale Farm are fighting back. In a way they have no choice – with nowhere else to go an eviction will push families back into a life of insecurity and marginalisation.

It is still unclear when the planned eviction, for which Basildon have earmarked £3million, will finally take place. Dale Farm residents are hoping to appeal to the House of Lords to overturn the Appeal Court finding, and in the meantime Basildon have to deal with over one hundred homelessness applications – one of the few obligations put on them by the Court of Appeal. They have promised that residents will be given 28 days notice of eviction – but whether this can be relied on is unclear. Recent council meetings on the issue have been held behind closed doors and Basildon council have refused to release their plans for the eviction.

Should their final appeal to the House Of Lords fail Dale Farm residents face an army of bailiffs and bulldozers. But this isn’t their last chance. Over the last 4 years the Dale Farm Residents Association have been reaching out to groups outside their own community, using the example of their struggle to highlight the wider problem of traveller repression. The call has been made for all those who refuse to accept the ignorance, intolerance and misinformation peddled by the media and the press to stand with them in solidarity. With support from local communities, churches and activists Dale Farm residents are preparing to resist the biggest traveller eviction in British history. Should they win this could represent a landmark victory – one that calls time on the isolation and repression of this until now marginalised community.

Previous traveller evictions have involved armies of bailiffs, bulldozers and wreckers. Yet Dale Farm have decided enough is enough and are calling for support in resisting. Bristol No Borders, along with many other groups, has agreed to stand with Dale Farm should the eviction finally take place. If you would like to join us please email to get updates and transport down to Dale Farm.

Picket Trinity Rd Police Station

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on Sunday, 8 March, 2009 by bristolnoborders

Next Picket Tues 17th March 10.00-11.00am


Trinity Rd Cop Shop

Because instead of signing at the immigration office, Those resident in    Bristol without secure immigration status, are forced to sign at Trinity Rd   Police Station. They do this weekly, fortnightly or monthly. Sometimes whole   families have to attend. However, some of the migrants never come out after   signing. This is beause immigration enforcement officers are hiding behind   the  desk at Trinity Rd , initially to detain those whose presence has been   suddenly declared illegal in the UK. They are then either taken to a  detention   centre, for later removal, or in some cases, taken straight to the airport to face   an uncertain future, possibly to a country where they are in danger.

On a number of occasions, people have accompanied those who are in danger   of removal to the police station. We think that a large number people greatly   reduces the risk that this will happen, as probably neither Avon and Somerset   Police nor the British Immigration Agency want to provoke a public order   situation in the middle of an area with a relatively high migrant population.

However, by our regular presence outside the Police Station we simply   want to  show our solidarity with all who are forced to sign their – we   want to tell them  they can fight deportation if they want to stay.

No Border Camp Calais

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on Friday, 6 March, 2009 by bristolnoborders

At the end of January, two No Borders activists from South Wales joined with others from Bristol, Brighton, London, Leeds and Newcastle to visit Calais and Lille in north-east France to begin organising for the No Border camp that is planned to happen in the region of Calais in late June this year.

Why Calais?

In 2002 an agreement between UK and French governments meant that the Red Cross running Sangatte centre in Calais was shut down. Sangatte had provided shelter for up to 2000 people and since its closure the situation for migrants in the Calais region has reached crisis point. Migrants including large groups from Afghanistan, Eritrea Iraq, Sudan and Palestine gather in Calais before attempting to cross the channel in search of a better life in the UK. Some migrants cross clinging on to the underside of lorries, some attempt to walk the length of the channel tunnel, with considerable risk to their lives. (There is a recent video from france24)

Whilst in Calais, we met with two local humanitarian groups who distribute free food to migrants. There is no state support available to migrants in Calais and it is against the law to help so called ‘illegal’ migrants here, so these volunteers risk arrest daily by simply feeding people. In the wind and rain on a piece of wasteland near the port, we witnessed the Catholic group La Belle Etoile giving packages of bread from a small van to hundreds of queueing migrants.

The same day we visited the kitchens of the SALAM Association, where volunteers prepare hot food for around 500-600 migrants each night, every night and serve from a van behind a warehouse close to the port. That evening, we were shocked by the number of migrants we saw, most were men, at the food distribution point and felt that what we were witnessing in Calais was a humanitarian crisis. Speaking to some of the migrants we learnt how up to 1000 people without status are living in woods near to the ferry port, this being known as ‘the jungle’, all waiting for a chance to travel to the UK in whatever way they can. They told us how police regularly destroy or burn their temporary structures and put tear gas in their tents. They told us how they have been caught by police before and driven to isolated places miles from Calais and left there.

Many of the men we spoke with were from Afghanistan. One had worked for the British Army as a translator and has had to flee his village as the Taliban have threatened him for being a ‘traitor’. Others had family with status in the UK that they were trying to reach. Another Afghani man told us how this wasn’t a choice to be in Calais as there “is no choice” for them; they have not chosen to have to leave their countries but have been forced to.

And the state repression of migrants in Calais looks set to get worse. At the end of January this year during a visit to Calais, the French immigration minister Eric Besson stated that he wants to see an ‘exclusion zone’ for migrants in the region.

no-borders-camp2Activists from both the UK and France have been working together to plan for a no border protest camp in Calais at the end of June this year. There is an organising meeting on Saturday 7th and Sunday 8th March in Calais to discuss the political and practical aspects of the camp and its mobilisation. The meeting is open to any individuals or groups who act in solidarity with migrants and their struggle for freedom of movement. No Borders South Wales ( as are Bristol No Borders) will be taking part in the process, if your interested in attending the No Border Camp please get in touch.

Response to ISM call out from Bristol No Borders

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on Friday, 6 March, 2009 by bristolnoborders

Bristol No Border acknowledges the call to action received from ISM Gaza following the indefinate closure of the Rafah borders in February 2009.

Bristol No Borders condems the closure of the borders at Rafah which prevents the movement of people, food, aid and other essential supplies and which serves to imprison and repress the population of Gaza. These closures are a stark example of what all borders are set up to acheive – the control and repression of populations and the artificial division of people.

No Borders acts in solidarity with all those who are fighting to break the siege and stop the border control in Gaza. We call for collective action and practical solidarity with the people of Gaza. No Borders rejects all forms of nationalism and state based ‘solutions’. Ethnicity does not grant “rights” to lands, which require the state to enforce them. People, however, have a right to ensure their human needs are met, and should be able to live where they choose, freely.

Controls such as checkpoints, walls, barriers and borders, which exist throughout the occupied territories, are denying the fundemental right of freedom of movement to the Palestinian people and causing immense
suffering to the population caged inside them.

We call for the immediate removal of all such barriers and demand the right to freedom of movement for all people. Bristol No Borders is committed to taking direct action action against companies based in our
locality that are directly profiting from this system of control and oppression. We urge other groups to take similar action.

In solidarity
Bristol No Borders