Archive for migrants

Freedom – but not for all

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on Thursday, 17 June, 2010 by bristolnoborders

> By Frances Webber

17 June 2010, 5:00pm

The government’s much vaunted freedom agenda entrenches a two-tier system of rights, with migrants and other unpopular minorities largely excluded.

On 25 May 2010, the Queen’s speech promised: ‘Legislation will be brought forward to restore freedoms and civil liberties, through the abolition of Identity Cards and repeal of unnecessary laws.’ The following day, 26 May 2010, the Identity Documents Bill was introduced into parliament. Its provisions cancel the UK national identity card and the identification card for EEA nationals, and abolish the National Identity Register (NIR). Nick Clegg, introducing the Bill, described the ID card scheme as ‘wasteful, bureaucratic and intrusive’ and claimed the Bill was a major step towards dismantling the ‘surveillance state’.

But non-EU citizens, who are required to hold biometric identity cards, are untouched by these proposals: the Bill does not include them, and the National Biometric Identity Service (NBIS), a scheme set up in 2009 under a £265 million contract with IBM, appears to be going ahead, according to the Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association (ILPA). Because the NBIS is non-statutory, it contains none of the safeguards of the NIR – and UK Border Agency has and uses vast powers of information-gathering on foreign nationals. There is no indication from the new government that these powers will be abandoned or curtailed.

In opposition, the Lib Dems’ so-called Freedom Bill, published for the Convention on Modern Liberty in January 2009, contained a large number of proposals to restore and enhance civil liberties, including halving the period of detention without charge of terrorist suspects from twenty-eight to fourteen days, repealing the Prevention of Terrorism Act (which imposes draconian control orders on suspected terrorists), restoring the freedom to demonstrate outside parliament and restricting the length of time criminal suspects’ fingerprints can be retained by police – and many other measures. But there was no proposal to abolish fingerprinting of asylum seekers and certain migrants, and other clauses restricting police powers contained exceptions for immigration.

By 20 May 2010, when the coalition agreement, with its commitment to restore civil liberties was published, even these proposals had been diluted, softened or simply disappeared. The Lib Dems’ proposals in relation to counter-terrorism had been replaced by a commitment to introduce ‘safeguards against the misuse of anti-terrorism legislation’. The proposal to restrict police retention of fingerprints had gone, replaced by a commitment to ‘outlaw the finger-printing of children at school without parental permission’. And the coalition’s commitment to restore the right to peaceful protest did not refer to Parliament Square – and as Conor Gearty pointed out (London Review of Books 10 June 2010), was accompanied by the noise of police evicting non-violent protesters from the square. CCTV cameras are not to be dismantled but will instead be regulated.

These particular dilutions are significant. Among the resident population it is disproportionately black people whose fingerprints are taken (and retained) by police, while recently, many of those who engage in peaceful protest are Muslim, a hugely disproportionate number of those stopped and searched under terrorism laws are black, and all (or virtually all) of those arrested or subjected to control orders under the Prevention of Terrorism Act are Muslim. And in May 2010 it was revealed that Muslim areas of Birmingham have comprehensive CCTV coverage, paid for by the Prevent programme (but sold to residents purely as an anti-crime initiative).

The Freedom or Great Repeal Bill has not yet been published. But when it is, black, Muslim and migrant communities will be watching to see whether they are included in deputy prime minister Nick Clegg’s, promise, in his 19 May 2010 speech, of ‘sweeping legislation to restore the hard-won liberties that have been taken one by one from the British people’. So far, the signs are not good.

Cafe & Film Night – 21st February

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on Friday, 19 February, 2010 by bristolnoborders

Bristol No Borders takes its turn in hosting the Sunday vegan cafe at Kebele social centre (14 Robertson Rd, Easton BS5 6JY)

As well as a delicious vegan meal and an opportunity to hang out socially, we’ll be film screening….

From about 6pm – set vegan meal, for a requested donation of 2 quid. All proceeds to cover costs of meal and pay the bills at Kebele social centre.

From 7.45pm – film screening of “Unveiled” (Fremde Haut)

In her feature film Unveiled (Fremde Haut /2005), currently banned in Iran, Angelina Maccarone tells the story of an asylum seeker in Germany without any of the usual clichés. It describes the fate of a young lesbian from Iran who has managed to flee to Germany after her love affair with a married woman is discovered. In Germany she takes on the identity of an Iranian man, who was also trying to escape, and falls in love while working in the Swabian backwoods of southern Germany.

It is not just a personal drama, but also a glimpse of the reality for asylum-seekers in Germany – reception centres, never-ending interviews and transition camps.

No Borders Global Round Up: Haiti, Calais, Italy, Switzerland, London…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on Friday, 22 January, 2010 by bristolnoborders

As the dubious motives of the U.S. led aid effort in Haiti are revealed, it’s become clear that the issue of “security” and “migration management” are much higher up the agenda than any humanitarian motive. : the U.S. has stated it will accept no Haitian refugees, and a Naval Blockade, including an Air Craft Carrier has been set up to stop fleeing Haitian’s reaching the coast of Florida, where , just in case any do make it immigration authorities have cleared space in a 600-bed detention center in Miami, and the naval base at Guantanamo Bay is also being prepared to hold those who try to flee. Some may say that since the U.S. has been continuing meddling in Haiti’s affairs  for most of the 20th and 21st Centuries-  including Coups’ and support of dictators –  it should bear some extra responsibility for what happens next. It  may turn out that it does – buit in the guise of  a U.S. military-corporate invasion on the scale  not seen since Iraq. See “>Seamus Milne’s analysis for a  broader overview of the situation.

Meanwhile in
Calais: “On January 19th tents were distributed to migrants because the cold weather plan was suspended and the BCMO gymnasium closed. migrants launched a movement protest on the morning of the closure by burning a few blankets and banners, so the evening after the distribution of tents they decided to sleep next to BCMO. half an hour later fifty uniformed police riot made a line outside the camp, saying that if migrants do not leave they would destroy everything .After negotiation they agreed that migrants could leave with tents in the direction of the old jungle and they would not stop anyone and destroy any tents … migrants and activists were going to install the new camp escorted by the Police who showed us the place where they would not intervene… Yet they arrested 6 people at 2 am and came back at 7am” An urgent appeal has been issued for anyone who can to  to Calais to try to stop the authorities worst behaviour. More at:

In Rosarno, Italy at least 37 we’re  wounded,in a migrant revolt, including 18 police officers.

In one of the “worst-ever incidents” of racial unrest in Italy, the violence broke out on Thursday evening after white youths in a car fired air rifles at a group of immigrants returning from working on farms.

“Two immigrants were slightly injured by the gunfire. ‘Those guys were firing at us as if it was a fairground,’ a Moroccan identified as Kamal told La Repubblica newspaper. ‘They were laughing, I was screaming, other cars were passing by but nobody stopped.’

In Zurich, police raided and demolished an autonomously run school where undocumented migrants held language classes. The raid came as the Swiss government admitted that its harsh treatment of undocumented asylum- seekers has partly failed, and following an announcement that it is again planning a revision of federal asylum law. Several police officers, half of them in riot gear, stormed the Autonomous School Zurich (ASZ) Thursday. After chasing away the squatters and holding off protesting supporters with pepper spray, officers started confiscating teaching materials and technical utilities. The police partly demolished the single-storey building and removed its windows, leaving it uninhabitable. The ASZ had started operating at the Allenmoos School on Zurich’s outskirts last April, when activists squatted the empty building. The autonomous school operated according to do-it-yourself principles. Anyone could take, or offer, courses for free. As a result, a broad variety of training ranging from open-source computer courses to classes in solar energy fundamentals was available.

London: On Saturday 23rd January there will be two demonstrations called by London No Borders  in London. One will be at St. Pancras, where the UK (e-)border agency put up their controls in the middle of London. The second one will be at Piccadilly Circus where, while commuters, tourists and clubbers stare at the never-ending stream of commercials at ground level, they themselves are under constant observation by security and police in their cosy CCTV headquarters below ground.

Bristol No Borders Winter Do! – Food and Films

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on Saturday, 5 December, 2009 by bristolnoborders

As the days get shorter and the wind gets stronger ……..

Bristol No Borders takes its turn in hosting the Sunday vegan cafe at Kebele social centre

Sunday 6th November @ Kebele, 14 Robertson Rd, Easton BS5 6JY

As well as a delicious vegan roast dinner, something to wash it down with, and an opportunity to hang out socially, we’ll be film screening….

From about 6pm – set vegan meal, for a requested donation of 2 quid. All proceeds to cover costs of meal and pay the bills at kebele social centre.

From 7.30pm – “In This World” (2002) – Pashtu/Farsi with English subtitles.

This intimate, yet hard-hitting, response to mainstream UK immigration debates follows two Afghan teenagers as they escape from the Shamshatoo refugee camp in Pakistan, along the smugglers’ route known as The Silk Road.

Travelling through Iran, Turkey, Italy, and France, Jamal and his cousin Enayatullah embark on a desperate journey to freedom. Short on money, lacking proper papers, and forced to travel in trucks, lorries, and shipping containers.

Shot on digital video, “In This World” is styled as a fictional documentary, using voiceover narration and real characters and locations (including the infamous Sangatte camp). The predominantly improvised script creates a powerful piece of guerrilla filmmaking, with two engrossing performances from the non-professional leads.

Pecos Insurrection: How a private prison pushed immigrant inmates to the brink

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on Wednesday, 21 October, 2009 by bristolnoborders

Prison Riot
Last Dec. 12, on the outskirts of Pecos, Texas, the immigrants doing time in the world’s largest privately run prison decided to turn the tables on their captors. It was the Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe, an important religious holiday in Latin America. But the inmates were in no mood for celebration.
The Pecos Insurrection How a private prison pushed immigrant inmates to the brink
By Forrest Wilder for The Texas Observer

Last Dec. 12, on the outskirts of Pecos, Texas, the immigrants doing time in the world’s largest privately run prison decided to turn the tables on their captors. It was the Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe, an important religious holiday in Latin America. But the inmates were in no mood for celebration.

The motin, as the overwhelmingly Spanish-speaking inmates called their uprising, began in the Reeves County Detention Center’s Special Housing Unit (SHU), better known as solitary confinement, with two men—a Honduran and a Mexican—using the wires in an electrical outlet to set a mattress on fire.

They broke out the windows of their cell, and when prison guards tried to extinguish the fire by sticking a fire hose through a port in the door, the two broke the sink off the wall and held it up as a shield. One brandished, but didn’t use, a “shiv,” a crude jailhouse knife. Meanwhile, the two men yelled for other inmates to join in the uprising. Soon, at 12:45 p.m., a lockdown order went out across the prison. Staff tried to hustle prisoners on their way to lunch or the recreation center back to their cells. Inmates in one of the housing areas refused, and they forced the guards to release friends from their cells. “Open the doors or we will take your keys,” the prisoners demanded, according to an FBI account. “We’ll see who has control in a bit,” one inmate told a guard.

The prison’s emergency-response team deployed an arsenal including rubber bullets, pepper spray, expulsion grenades and bean-bag guns. To little avail. The insurrection quickly spread to the other housing areas. The rioters assembled in the outdoor recreation yard armed with rocks, concrete, and steel poles as well as horseshoes, hammers and box cutters they had pilfered from the recreation building. Many of them, aware of the prison’s extensive surveillance system, hid their faces with T-shirts, hats and bandanas. Some wore sunglasses.

Two prison employees were taken hostage. (Neither was harmed.) With more than 1,200 inmates milling around outside and hordes of law enforcement officials, the prison must have looked like a war zone.

It was not mere anarchy, though.

By midafternoon, members of the FBI, Texas Rangers, DPS and the Odessa Police Department arrived at the prison. As the crisis negotiators quickly found out, the riot had not been prompted by gang infighting, racial tensions or a spontaneous outburst of violence. The men incarcerated at the Pecos prison are considered “low-security”; most are serving relatively short sentences for immigration violations or drug offenses. All are set to be deported at the end of their sentences.

Leaders of the rebellion were demanding a meeting with the Mexican Consulate, the FBI and the warden to discuss a number of grievances that they said GEO Group, the prison company that manages the 3,700-bed facility, had refused to address.

The evening of the uprising, the inmates sent a delegation of seven men—a Venezuelan, a Cuban, a Nigerian, and four Mexicans—to meet with the authorities.

They explained that the uprising had erupted from widespread dissatisfaction with almost every aspect of the prison: inedible food, a dearth of legal resources, the use of solitary confinement to punish people who complained about their medical treatment, overcrowding and, above all, poor health care.

The delegates pointed to a string of deaths (according to public records, five men died in Reeves between August 2008 and March 2009, including two suicides) they attributed to the prison’s inattention to medical needs. The riot had been sparked by the death of Jesus Manuel Galindo, an epileptic, who had been carried out of the prison’s Special Housing Unit in a body bag that same day. “Suspect(s) are talking about the guy being out of the shoe [SHU],” the Odessa Police Department report said. “Someone should have been there with him. Special housing was not the place for [him].”

The authorities jotted down the concerns and promised to take them seriously.

Twenty-four hours after it began, the uprising was over. More than $1 million worth of damage had been done to the prison. Less than two months later, on Jan. 31, the prison would be under inmate control again—and this time the rioting would last for five days and end with one building destroyed and some $20 million in damage.

To critics of GEO and other for-profit prison companies, the two huge riots in as many months—rare, especially in low-security prisons—were the logical consequence of the largest experiment in prison privatization to date.

Lesvos No Border Camp : Detention Centre Roof Occupation

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on Monday, 31 August, 2009 by bristolnoborders


This morning at 10 o’clock, ten noborder activists from Austria, Sweden, Spain, France, Czech Republik, Portugal, the Netherlands and Germany occupied the roof of the refugee jail in Pagani. With this action, we are increasing the pressure to finally get Pagani closed.

The activists state:

“During the noborder camp, we were able to witness the brutal consequences of the European border regime here in Lesvos. A ship employed by the European border agency Frontex is hunting refugee boats, the Greek coast guard and the Navy do the dirty work. Human lifes don’t count.
Those who manage to come to the island alive are sent to the refugee jail in Pagani: permanently more than full, the jail in Pagani reminds us of conditions we rather know from Libya or Marocco. We are outraged about this blatant bleach of Greek and international law.”

The activists demand the closure of Pagani, papers for everybody and the abolition of Frontex and the Dublin-II treaty.

Updates: activists are down from the roof and arrested, were brought to the police station. More Updates:


Help us close down Pagani – Support people in Lesvos
If you have been following our actions of the last days, you are aware about the immediate necessity to close down the detention centre of Pagani here in Lesvos. Now we call all on everybody out there, wherever you are, to take action. It is quick and easy, and you can really help to make a change: you just need to send a fax or an email.

More information here:

activists from lesvos noborder camp

Calais info and film night – 20th August

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on Wednesday, 12 August, 2009 by bristolnoborders

Info sharing night on the situation of migrants
and resistance to the border regime in Calais.
20th August at 19.30 at the Emporium, 37 Stokes Croft, Bristol.

In Calais, France just 20 miles from this island, around 1500 people live in makeshift refugee camps known as “the jungle”, they are there because of the UK border regime.

“The jungles” and squats around Calais are self organised communities that have existed since the closure of Sangatte, the official refugee camp, in 2002.

The residents of these camps face brutal daily gas and baton attacks by the police. At the request of the UK Border Agency, the French government has pledged to destroy “the jungle” by Christmas.

People from Bristol “with papers” went to the No Border solidarity camp in June and have been involved in ongoing monitoring and drawing attention to the humanitarian crisis that has been created in Calais. Solidarity demonstrations and direct actions have taken place in both Bristol, Calais and elsewhere.

Bristol NoBorders is working closely with both humanitarian and political groups and invites you to help create an effective transnational resistance.

You are invited to a film and experience sharing night
20th August at 19.30 at the Emporium, 37 Stokes Croft, Bristol.