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British Government Guilty of Racist Mass Murder – OPEN THE BORDERS NOW! The Borders Bill must be stopped or made unworkable by mass resistance.

MFJ Statement on deaths of refugees in the Channel on Wednesday 24 November 20221

The refugees who died in the Channel on 24/11/21, whose true number may never been known, were victims of a politically motivated crime against humanity committed by the British government. Movement for Justice declares that Boris Johnson’s government is guilty of racist mass murder. 

The policies and actions of this government made yesterday’s tragedy inevitable, sooner or later. Its actions have made the deaths of many smaller groups of cross-Channel refugees inevitable over the last three years. The government actually instigated a policy of pushbacks at sea whereby big Border Force boats are to physically block small refugee boats and force them out of UK waters, action so life-threateningly dangerous that even their own officials are afraid to carry it out. 

Of course, they were ready with their prepared responses to Wednesday’s deaths. With solemn faces, they put the blame on ‘people smugglers’ and France. Most of the media has followed that line. 

What hypocrisy! People smugglers are only in business thanks to the racist policies of Britain and other European governments. They are the offspring of Fortress Britain and Fortress Europe. As for France – the refugees were trying to seek asylum in Britain; that was their right, and they died because the UK government used every means possible to deny them that right.

Defeat the Borders Bill – Defeat the Far Right Government

These deaths came as the Government is pushing a new Nationality & Borders Bill through Parliament. This Bill takes the racist, anti-immigrant, anti-refugee Hostile Environment policies of previous governments to new depths of barbarism. It will tear up established rights and safeguards, including the United Nations Refugee Convention. Without doubt it will lead to the deaths of many more refugees and immigrants, in Britain and trying to get here. 

Johnson heads a far right government that sees this Borders Bill as the most important public, political element in a raft of repressive anti-democratic laws. It isn’t just another immigration bill, it is a move towards a more dictatorial form of government – and in reality towards fascism.

That makes the response of most liberal and charity groups to the deaths in the Channel thoroughly alarming. They are calling on this government to establish ‘safe legal routes’ for asylum seekers. The founder of the well-known refugee rights charity, Care for Calais, is even saying that the Home Office should set up a ‘screening centre’ in Calais to decide which potential asylum seekers could go on to pursue their claim in Britain.

Defend asylum rights, no to ‘safe legal routes’

Movement for Justice strongly opposes such proposals. ‘Safe legal routes’ is code for no-route at all. It effectively means ‘off-shoring’ the asylum process – a betrayal. The power to decide who can arrive would be used invisibly and entirely at the will of the political elite. There would be no opportunity for a challenge. Refugees only have a realistic chance of asserting their rights if they are in Britain, with a wider public that believes in the right of sanctuary. 

The government is truly afraid of the presence of determined, bold refugees in Britain, because these are people who took the initiative to get free rather than waste away in despair, as happens to generations of refugees who are stuck in the limbo of United Nations refugee camps. They have the most to contribute and teach the anti-racist communities and the poor and oppressed in Britain. 

That is why the government is so eager to off-shore the asylum process to concentration camps, where officials have dictatorial control to privately pick and choose who they deem ‘worthy’ of asylum, leaving the rest to languish for years in unseen squalor (and perhaps desperately hoping to get a place in one of the UN camp lotteries).

There would be no difference if this policy was operated by a Labour government. Any Labour leadership that implemented ‘safe legal routes’ would be a leadership committed to maintaining the same racist anti-immigrant system. Labour governments have in fact shared responsibility for this system since the 1960s. 

Labour’s current shadow Home Secretary has been attacking the government, not for its racism and cruelty, but for failing to stop large numbers of refugees crossing the Channel. He proposed to work with other governments to prevent refugees getting anywhere near the Channel. Many black, Asian and anti-racist Labour Party members are unhappy with the leadership. They must openly challenge those racist policies, not only in words and conference motions, but by joining the active resistance to make the Borders Bill unworkable.

Open the Borders of Britain and  Europe

Movement for Justice asserts that the only fair and progressive alternative to the persecution of cross-Channel refugees, and the government’s attempts to consolidate a Far Right racist base, is to Open the Borders

Opening the Borders is what hundreds of thousands of men, women and children are actually doing around the world because they have no alternative. It’s what refugees are doing in the Channel, the Mediterranean, the deserts of north Africa and on the southern borders of the USA. It will continue and grow because mass migration is a global rebellion against an increasingly unequal and unjust world. It is a rebellion against tyranny, poverty, racism, imperialist wars and global heating.

Open the Borders is not an abstract  demand on the British government; it is a Call to Action for a movement of immigrants, refugees, black, Asian & Muslim communities, and youth. It means building that movement on both sides of the Channel and across Europe, to counter and resist the activities of the Home Office, stop deportations, create real safe routes and build & defend real asylum communities. We must pull down the walls of Fortress Britian and Fortress Europe.

Building that movement is how we can best honour those who have sought freedom and justice and died in the Channel and around the world

Picture credits: Peter Marshall (mylondondiary.co.uk)
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FOR A NEW BRITAIN, EQUAL, OPEN & INTEGRATED, THE ONLY ROAD TO PROGRESS

Shut Down Napier barracks’s rally, 22 May 2021

Defeat the Borders Bill – Don’t cooperate with racist laws – Build Action now to make the Bill unworkable

Justice for cross-Channel refugees – Justice for Nabil Abdulmajid – Drop the charges now


• Stop criminalising refugees – Seeking Asylum is Not a Crime
• Stop arresting & prosecuting refugees who steered cross-Channel boats – drop the charges, quash the convictions, free the prisoners – Seeking Asylum is Not a Crime
• No “pushbacks” in the Channel – seeking asylum is not a crime
• End the policy of deporting immigrants & refugees with criminal convictions
• Shut down detention centres, detention hotels & detention camps
• Build homes for all – refugees, citizens, immigrants – expand social housing
• Papers for all! Amnesty now!
Organise community defence against immigration raids – Home Office out of our communities, workplaces, schools, universities and NHS
Open the borders of Britain and Europe

The battle for our future
The Movement for Justice by any means necessary (MFJ) is
fighting for a New Britain that will be a nation of equality, integration
and progress. Britain is already an increasingly multiracial,
multi-national society. It is part of a world whose different
peoples are increasingly connected. It can only develop as
a truly democratic country if all of us who live here now and
who come here in the future have full and equal rights
. We must
have those rights without any discrimination, wherever we
have come from or however long we have lived here. Britain
must become a country with Open Borders. It must be a society
where we have those rights as the people we are – whatever
our culture or religion, whatever the colour of our skins or the
colour of our passports, whatever our gender or sexuality.
The British government is moving rapidly in the exact opposite
direction. It is establishing authoritarian rule based on
racism. Its new Nationality and Borders Bill is a major part of
that plan. Its policies are one long attack on democracy, on
justice, on human rights, civil rights, immigrant rights and
workers’ rights. It is attacking the lives of the poor and oppressed.
It is taking away our right to protest against those attacks.
It is introducing measures that will prevent many poor
people and black and Asian people from voting (just like Donald
Trump’s Republican Party in the USA). It is using its majority
in Parliament to tear up constraints on government power.
This government’s policies are driven by privilege – and by
desperation. It is defending the privileges of the richest and
most powerful capitalists. It is desperate because the system
that makes them rich and powerful is in a deep historic crisis.
Over several decades the ruling class shut down a huge part of
its industries, or moved them abroad. That was part of its attack
on the working class in Britain. Now the declining economy
is dominated by financial speculators and Brexit is
making the decline worse.

Britain in crisis
We are witnessing the dying pains of British imperialism.
This so-called ‘great power’ can’t protect the health and safety
of its people. Its response to the Covid-19 pandemic is to tell
people to get used to ‘living with Covid,’ so that capitalist businesses
can keep making a profit. This former ‘world power’ is
increasingly isolated and scorned. This government and its
Brexit policy have increased the likelihood that we will see the
break-up of the ‘United Kingdom’ – destroying the state that
the English ruling classes put together by centuries of conquest
and bribery. This government is incompetent, corrupt and reckless; those failings reflect a political system in terminal decline.
Racism and the rights of immigrants and refugees are the
decisive issue in the battle between two alternative futures –
the New Britain MFJ is fighting for, or the crushing, racist future
that this government is taking us to.
History has made racism the decisive issue because the
peoples of the world are increasingly interconnected and increasingly
unequal. The only hope for millions of people is to
move. And the British government and its supporters make racism
the central issue by blaming immigrants and refugees for
the consequences of their own policies: the cuts and privatisation
in the public services, low pay and insecure jobs, food
poverty, housing shortages etc. They make racism the central
issue when they promote the false idea that human rights for
immigrants and refugees, and for black and Asian people, are
taking something away from white people.

Cross-Channel refugees and the government’s Borders Bill
Racism and hostility to immigrants were the driving force
in the campaign that led to the UK leaving the European Union
(Brexit). Those policies brought Boris Johnson’s government to
power with a majority of MPs, but on the votes of a minority of
the people. Its new anti-immigrant law (the Nationality and
Borders Bill) is the most brutal, oppressive and unjust immigration
law that any British government has ever produced. The
aim of this law is to stir up racism and nationalism by treating
asylum seekers as criminals. Its immediate target is the most
recent generation of refugees – those who have risked
everything in the bold attempt to cross the Channel in small
boats, because they hoped to build a new life in Britain, in freedom
and safety. The government is using attacks on those
refugees to slash the rights of ALL immigrants and asylum
seekers.
Johnson’s main advantage is not the strength of racism in
British society. That is often exaggerated by politicians and
journalists. His main strength is the wretched weakness of the
‘opposition’ parties and the organisations that believe change
can only come from the rich and powerful and their political
system.
Now more than ever, we must build independent ACTION
by the oppressed and exploited in order to defeat the government’s
racist policies and win progressive change in British society.
That action has to be led and initiated by those who are
under direct racist attack from the government. It must be principally
led by refugees and immigrants
.

Mass migration is a rebellion against global inequality
The rich and powerful regard free movement as their exclusive
privilege: free movement for themselves and their
money & investments. They deny the right of free movement to
the poor and oppressed – the people who they exploit, impoverish
and dispossess. There is a global labour market for bosses
looking for cheap labour, but not for people looking for work,
safety and freedom. Mass migration is a rebellion against that
injustice.

In an increasingly unequal world the free movement of
people is the most basic human right. It is fundamental to
workers’ rights, women’s rights, LGBT rights, the right of
asylum and the right to life itself. The ruling classes use their
border controls, detention centres and anti-immigration laws
to deny us the right of free movement. However, those same
imperialist ruling classes are forcing millions of people to
move: people are moving to escape the poverty caused by imperialist
exploitation, the tyranny of dictators and elites who
are backed by the imperialists, the endless wars caused by the
imperialists and their rivalries, and the climate crisis (global
heating) that imperialist corporations have created by their
drive for profit.
Refugees are opening borders by any means necessary because
they need to solve crushing material problems in their
lives. MFJ demands Open the Borders of Britain & Europe, because
that is what hundreds of thousands of people are doing.
The alternative to Open Borders is a world of barbarism and
tyranny. The ruling classes condemn millions of people to
death, drowning, torture and starvation, and they know what
they are doing. That is barbarism.
MFJ welcomes the refugees who risk everything when they
cross the Channel. We welcome them as new members and allies
in the fight for equality, justice & immigrant rights. Those
who we welcome, Boris Johnson’s government fears, because
their bold action is a direct challenge to its racist ideology of
‘taking back control of our borders’.

The Government’s racist build-up to the Borders Bill
Since spring 2020, Home Secretary Priti Patel has used the
arrival of cross-Channel refugees to build racist support for the
policy of criminalising asylum seekers. The attack on people
who have crossed the Channel shows clearly that anti-immigrant
policies are not about numbers. The number of people
immigrating to Britain or claiming asylum here is falling, despite
the 26000+ who have (at the time of writing) crossed the
Channel in the last two years.
The Home Office has used dubious legal grounds to prosecute
many cross-Channel refugees. The government’s UK
Border Force arrested refugees who were steering the boats,
sometimes using a photo from a drone as evidence. Then they
were charged as though they were ‘people traffickers.’ In addition,
the government ran an ugly racist campaign of mass deportations
during summer this year. Charter flights were
arranged to Vietnam, Zimbabwe, Nigeria & Ghana, and to Jamaica.
These were ‘celebrated’ in articles by Patel in the Daily
Mail
 and Daily Express – two papers with a shameful history of
promoting racism.
The Home Office is acting as though its new Borders Bill
has already become the law, but this summer festival of racism
has not been a success for the government.
The number of people who were deported on those charter
flights has been small. Only seven men were deported to Jamaica,
out of a total list of 90
. MFJ and Jamaican detainees organised
inside Colnbrook detention centre and told the real
stories of the men who Patel called dangerous criminals. The
Home Office had to take many of them off the list; one group
resisted successfully by blockading themselves in a room in the
detention centre. There were only a few people deported on
the flight to Nigeria & Ghana in July. It was the same on the
flight to Zimbabwe. A later flight to Nigeria was cancelled.
Everyone on the Home Office lists for the charter flights to
Jamaica and Vietnam had the de-humanising label ‘Foreign
National Offender’ (FNO). That means they have been convicted
of a crime and they don’t have British citizenship. All
those ‘FNOs’ had served their sentences, so deporting them was
a double punishment. Most of the Jamaicans the Home Office
tried to deport have families, partners or children in Britain.
Many came to Britain as children and don’t know anyone in Jamaica.
Most of them have suffered the racism of Britain’s police
and ‘justice’ systems. Many of them experienced racism in
education or from social services.Many of those on the charter
flight to Vietnam were victims of trafficking.
They are all likely to be in danger if they are deported. The
Home Office was prepared to sacrifice them in order to reinforce
white racist prejudices and racist stereotypes. The unjust
and racist deportation of ‘FNOs’ must stop
.

Stop the Channel “Pushbacks!”
This summer’s charter flight plan was a failure, and the Home Office also suffered set-backs in its attempts to prosecute
cross-Channel refugees. In March, the Court of Appeal quashed the conviction of an Iranian refugee who had steered one of the small boats. After a few months the Home Office had to drop the charges of 11 ongoing cases, and a month later (in July) the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) announced publicly that it would not be prosecuting any more cross-Channel refugees.
However, there are still people who steered boats serving
prison sentences for their convictions, and the Border Force is
still arresting refugees who have steered a boat; MFJ demands
all convictions are quashed, the prisoners are released and the
arrests are stopped.
The setbacks for the Home Office, especially the failure of
Patel’s charter flight plans, are victories for refugee and immigrant
rights, so they have created a crisis for the government.
The Home Secretary has been criticised by her own racist supporters.
She has responded by increasing her racist attacks on
refugees. She has announced that the UK Border Force will
start to push refugee boats back into French waters, and Boris
Johnson is supporting her. The Border Force has already started
training exercises in the Channel. Patel is following the
dangerous example of the Greek and Italian governments in
the Mediterranean. The government is prepared to defy maritime
law and the anger of the French government.
Border Force officers have insisted that every single ‘pushback’
is personally authorised by Patel – they don’t want to take
responsibility themselves. That is a clear sign of how dangerous
and legally dubious this plan is.
However, the government has decided to make a public
show of being ‘tough’ on refugees, whatever damage it causes.

Justice for Nabil Abdulmajid! Seeking asylum is not a crime –
drop the charges now

The Home Office was determined to reverse the impact of the Court of Appeal decision and the CPS announcement. During the summer it started more prosecutions of cross-Channel refugees and the CPS had to fall into line. MFJ member Nabil Abdulmajid, a cross-Channel refugee from Sudan, is a victim of that policy. He was charged on 14th June, six months after his arrest and police interview.
The attempt to criminalise Nabil is entirely political. All
four people in the boat with Nabil were Sudanese refugees like
him. Nabil was a victim of persecution in Sudan because of his
ethnicity. Like many other refugees, he was enslaved and tortured
in Libya. He travelled through Italy to France, but was deported
back to Italy under the EU’s Dublin Agreement. He was
destitute there and crossed more borders to reach Germany
and claim asylum. His claim was refused, however, and the
German authorities planned to send him back to persecution
in Sudan.
Faced with that threat Nabil made the choice to save his life
and join the people crossing the Channel to Britain. He contributed
to buying a boat and was doing his best to steer it and
keep them all safe until they were rescued. They were crossing
in the night in rough, dangerous waters. They battled for hours
in the dark to keep the boat afloat while the waves crashed
around them. By the time they were rescued they were soaking
wet and traumatised.
Months later Nabil was arrested and charged because he
was steering the boat. The decision to prosecute Nabil is an attack
on all cross-Channel refugees. It is part of the government’s
propaganda for the Borders Bill, and so it is a threat to
the right of all asylum seekers and to every immigrant without
papers. That is why MFJ says We Are All Nabil.
MFJ demands that the charges against Nabil are dropped and we have demonstrated at every stage in his case. If the charges are not dropped we will hold a mass demonstration at his trial before a jury in Canterbury
Crown Court, currently scheduled for 30th May next year (2022).

“Who would be free, themselves must strike the blow”
MFJ exists to build the independent leadership of and for the
poor and oppressed
. The method MFJ applies to this struggle
was summed up a long while ago, in a speech by an escaped
black slave, Frederick Douglass, who was the greatest leader of
the struggle against slavery in the USA. Speaking clearly and
forcibly he set out these principles for the struggle of the oppressed
and exploited:
“A man who will not fight for himself, when he has the
means of doing so, is not worth being fought for by others….
a man who does not value freedom for himself will
never value it for others.”
“The poet was true… [who] said, Who would be free, themselves
must strike the blow
.”
“The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows
that all concessions… have been born of earnest
struggle…. If there is no struggle there is no progress.”
“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did
and it never will….”
Douglass made that speech to a black audience in 1857. It
was a tense and difficult time for the black anti-slavery
struggle, just four years before the CivilWar that ended slavery
in the US. In the speech he refers directly to white leaders who
opposed slavery but looked down on black people: “We may
fight, but we must fight… under white officers…. They don’t like
any demonstrations whatever in which coloured men take a
leading part
.”
This is a tense and difficult time for refugees and immigrants
in Britain – and more generally for the black, Asian and
Muslim communities. We have too many politicians, charities
and ‘sympathisers’ who have the privilege of UK citizenship
and who don’t want refugees to ‘take a leading part.’ They want
to preserve their ‘peaceful co-existence’ with the established
political system. They don’t want refugees taking action that
might disrupt that relationship.
Refugees and immigrants, especially cross-Channel
refugees, are the front-line of the fight for human rights. They
are in a fight against the most racist and dangerous government
in the modern history of Britain. The front-line is an exposed
position. We can’t afford the luxury of peaceful coexistence
with those enemies.

Changing the balance of power
The task facing our movement is to change the balance of
power in society. We need to change the balance of power in
favour of the poor, exploited and oppressed, and we need to
weaken the power of the rich and powerful who control the
machinery of the state (detention centres, border guards, police
etc).
In practice, that means we must change the balance of
power in favour of those sections of the poor and oppressed
who are most conscious of their oppression, who are most aware
of their conflict with the state and who feel the urgent need for
change
. In today’s British society that means immigrants and
asylum seekers, and black, Asian and Muslim communities –
especially the youth of those communities. Action by those
groups
 is the necessary force that will undermine the government’s
efforts to crush them.
This has been the consistent method of MFJ’s organising in
Yarl’s Wood and other detention centres and in our struggles
for asylum rights. Similar action has also occurred ‘spontaneously’
(though resistance is never truly spontaneous).
When a Kenyan detainee died as a result of neglect in the
former Oakington detention centre, fellow detainees prevented
a cover-up by stopping the removal of his body, taking control
of the building and contacting the media. When the BBC
arrived detainees broke down the doors and went outside to
demonstrate. Oakington was shut down within months. Similar
uprisings and exposures occurred after deaths in the
former Morton Hall detention centre.
In May/June 2014 hundreds of asylum seekers in Harmondsworth and Colnbrook detention centres took part in a
series of mass protests to demand that they be taken off the notorious
Detained Fast Track (DFT) asylum process and released.
(DFT was a system that isolated asylum seekers and
rushed them through interviews and appeals in a few days or
weeks.) In the 12 months after the protests a series of court decisions
said DFT was illegal and it was stopped.
These actions and many others shifted the balance of
power in the detention centres and between the detainees and
the Home Office. Cumulatively, they led to the government’s
decision to reduce the use of detention. Seven detention
centres were shut down between 2015 and 2020. The number
of people held in the detention system is now at the lowest
level since it began.

The movement we need to build – the action we need to take
The current stage of our struggle is marked by that shift
away from using detention centres. The policy in those that remain
is for a quick turn-over of detainees and rapid deportation.
Since the arrival of cross-Channel refugees the Home
Office has moved to using hotels and camps as places to hold
asylum seekers – especially those who came in small boats.
The Home Office says the refugees are free to come and go, but
without money they are not really free. Some of the places are
too isolated for them to go anywhere.
Each hotel needs to become a centre of organisation and
resistance. Cross-Channel refugees in MFJ have already organised
successful collective struggles against restrictions and
bullying by managers who are appointed by Home Office contractors.
Some of these refugees have spoken to journalists and
got media coverage for their action. There needs to be more action
inside more detention hotels. That will undermine the authority
of the management companies and the Home Office.
The networks of contacts between refugees in different hotels
should be expanded and used to co-ordinate action.
Such action can take many forms: collective action to get
attention and treatment for people who are ill and being neglected;
calling an ambulance if management doesn’t respond;
going as a group to reception or a manager’s office to protest
over any injustice, abuse or complaint, and refusing to leave
until you get a satisfactory answer. None of this should be left
to the individual.
Refugees in hotels need to build links and support in the
communities where they are located. We need to take to the
streets with marches and rallies in local communities, especially
in integrated communities with large black, Asian and
immigrant populations. There are many detention hotels in
such neighbourhoods. We need more demonstrations and rallies
like the one MFJ organised in Lewisham with refugees from
a local hostel. We need to show the strength of our movement
and involve local communities.
We need to speak to students in schools, colleges and universities
now the new term has started. If you are in an English
class, speak to the other students about this struggle. If you are
in a student society, (for example, an anti-racist or refugee support
group, a black or Muslim students society, or a law society)
invite speakers from MFJ. We will win their active support because
the policies and actions of this government are a real
threat to the future of all young people.
The more we build these connections and unite Britain’s
different refugee ‘generations’ in action, the more we will shift
the balance of forces and be able to defend our communities
from the Home Office. The most effective way to stop deportations
is to stop immigration raids. We can build on what is happening
already in many communities and establish
community-based defence organisations everywhere, to
watch out for raids, give warnings and take collective action to
block raids and chase out Immigration Enforcement vans.
The more we build these forms of action the easier it will be
to get workers, students and teachers to enforce a policy of
non-cooperation with the Home Office.We need people refusing
to ask questions about immigration status or pass information
to the Home Office. We need that happening in every
school, college, hospital, doctors’ surgery, local council office,
university and every workplace where immigrants, with or
without papers, are employed. The more we shift the balance
of power the more inspired and confident people will be to
defy the government.

This is a struggle we can win
Most white people in Britain are not as racist as the government
needs them to be, and British society (especially in the
major cities and among the younger generation) is too integrated
for the racist plans of the Home Office to be fully effective.
From the Home Office point of view, too many white
people who know a refugee or an immigrant without papers
personally are likely to recognise their humanity. They are
likely to sympathise with them and support them against the
Home Office.
In the run-up to the Borders Bill we are seeing an example
of this. The Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI) has said
publicly that it will continue to save the life of anyone who is in
danger at sea. The RNLI is the charity that organises the lifeboat
rescue service round the coasts of the UK. The rescue
crews are all volunteers from the coastal communities, which
are mainly white. They are rescuing desperate men, women
and children who are in the cross-Channel boats; they see their
humanity and they carry on, even in the face of abuse from
anti-refugee racists. Under the Borders Bill those lifeboat crews
will be liable for prosecution
 – but they have declared they will
continue to save anyone who needs rescuing.
That is part of a wider problem for the government. British
society is now too integrated to make things easy for the Home
Office, especially in the major cities where most people live,
and among the younger generation. We recently saw that
demonstrated in Glasgow, when an integrated working class
community turned out, occupied the streets for eight hours,
and successfully stopped the deportation of two Indian Sikh
‘over-stayers.’
If refugees and immigrants take the lead we can inspire a
whole movement of such resistance. There are many people of
all races who are angry, bitter about this government’s cynical
approach to the Covid pandemic and alarmed by its racism.
They are frustrated. They need to see an organised movement
of the people who have been through the harshest struggles,
who have the greatest need to fight and have the greatest need
to win – they need to see a movement of refugee and immigrant
leaders.
This government is neither strong nor stable. It is makingup
policies as it goes along. It does not have the undivided confidence
of the ruling class. Many of the rich and powerful are
alarmed by the chaos it is creating, or they are unhappy with
the damage that Brexit has done to their trade with Europe.
If our refugee and immigrant led movement continues to
grow and wins more battles, we will inspire wider sections of
the population to join their struggles with ours. That will
change the balance of power and widen the divisions among
the rich and powerful. It will create a situation of flux in which
we can derail and defeat the racist agenda of Johnson and Patel.
We can defeat the Borders Bill in action even if it is passed
by Parliament.
That will be a big step forward in the fight for a New Britain –
equal, open and integrated
.

18 September 2021

(Revised 26 October 2021)

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PRESS RELEASE: MFJ report on the treatment of cross Channel refugees in repurposed Yarl’s Wood highlights lack of access to legal advice and failure to identify victims of trafficking and torture

First insight into new regime in Yarl’s Wood detention centre since its conversion into a short term holding facility for cross channel refugees. Report highlights lack of access to legal advice and failure to identify victims of trafficking and torture.

Since August 2020 there have been no more women detained in Yarl’s Wood and the Home Office confirmed that its small short term holding facility was expanded to process cross channel refugees[1].

The report we release today is the first public insight into the new regime and is the result of four weeks of discussions with 20 refugees who were detained in Yarl’s Wood during September 2020.  

Over half of those we spoke to had been victims of torture or trafficking; many had been enslaved in Libya and subject to brutal torture, forced labour and rape. They spent 5-7 days in Yarl’s Wood[2].

During this time, no one was provided with access to a solicitor; the Detention Duty Advice Scheme (DDAS) was not functioning. Some were given a list of numbers after several days but lack of phone credit and language difficulties meant it was impossible for them to secure representation.

People are moved to other accommodation with no representation, no support, and in many cases with no phones. They are dispersed to areas where charities are overstretched and where legal aid immigration solicitors either have no capacity or are few and far between. Language difficulties and lack of phone or phone credit makes it impossible for many to find the legal advice, medical help and support they need.

Home Secretary Priti Patel and the Home Office have been vocally critical of ‘last minute legal claims’ which ‘frustrate’ removals; this report reveals the truth, that people are denied legal advice at an early stage and victims of trafficking are not being identified. For these refugees a ‘last minute claim,’ when they are taken to Brook House and given notice of a flight, is the only way to stop what would be an unlawful removal.

“The UK’s stated commitment to Human Rights is being trampled on by Priti Patel, the UK Home Office and this government. They have designed a Dover to Deportation pipeline, at every stage frustrating refugees’ ability to get the legal advice, care and support they need. Yarl’s Wood is but one link in that pipeline, but it is a crucial one. Had those asylum seekers been able to access legal representation at the earliest opportunity they would not have been subject to the further torture of detention and threat of removal, which has led to so many suicide attempts in Brook House[3]. Karen Doyle (MFJ National Organiser)

Victims of trafficking and torture, people with families here, people with serious health conditions and mental health difficulties are being taken from their accommodation and thrown into Brook House IRC for removal on charter flights with just five days notice[4]. When lawyers take on these cases at short notice and help their clients to access the protections available to them in law they are branded as ‘lefty lawyers’, akin to traffickers, and vilified simply for doing their job.

“This government is pursuing a relentless and dishonest campaign to vilify refugees and those who support and represent them. It has an incited an epidemic of race hatred and attacks, like the recent attempt to murder an immigration lawyer[5] and fascists targeting places where refugees are being housed. We will fight together with refugees and immigrants to end the super-charged Hostile Environment of Boris Johnson and Priti Patel. Antonia Bright (MFJ Chair)

Yarls-Wood-report2


[1] BBC News (Look East) Report 18/08/2020: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-beds-bucks-herts-53810521

[2] 7 days is the maximum someone can be detained in a Short Term Holding Facility

[3] https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/aug/12/asylum-seeker-removal-flight-go-ahead-despite-last-minute-court-action

[4] https://corporatewatch.org/cast-away-the-uks-rushed-charter-flights-to-deport-channel-crossers/

[5] https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/oct/10/lawyers-claim-knife-attack-at-law-firm-was-inspired-by-priti-patels-rhetoric

Build Workers resistance and non co-operation with the racist Nationality & Borders Bill NOW! UNISON must allow workers to vote!

The trade unions must be prepared to lead, organise and mobilise resistance to this bill, to support their members who will be asked to participate in facilitating concentration camps, mass deportations and racist discrimination. RESIST the Nationality & Borders Bill!

The following is an appeal drafted by MFJ chair Antonia Bright, in her capacity as UNISON Black Members Officer at SOAS. Appealing against a decision to rule out of order the SOAS motion to UNISON London Regional Council to organise resistance to the most draconian and racist immigration legislation in British history, the Nationality and Borders Bill. This appeal and the motion lays down a strategy that is essential to building the resistance to this racist legislation. The trade unions must be prepared to lead, organise and mobilise resistance to this bill, to support their members who will be asked to participate in facilitating concentration camps, mass deportations and racist discrimination. Please spread the motion, pass it in your branch, in your union. If you are a member of UNISON pass it in your branch.


Appeal for SOAS Unison’s motion Black Members Against racially divisive “Nationality and Borders Bill” to be heard at Regional Council.

To the Regional Secretary.

SOAS Branch object to the ruling to deny Regional Council the opportunity to discuss and vote on our motion ‘Black Members Against racially divisive “Nationality and Borders Bill”.’ The motion urgently tackles the dangerously racially divisive piece of proposed legislation while it is at committee stage, not yet law. We appeal the ruling. We were informed that the motion would not be included on the agenda on the grounds that:

“the union cannot support activity that is beyond the law, as referred to in the fourth action point”.

The fourth action point in question calls for London Region to 

“Work with Labour Link to support those local authorities / councils that make public pledge that they will resist collaboration with the Home Office on its targeting of immigrants”.

We make the following three requests:

  1. We request that the motion be accepted on to the agenda for the Regional Council meeting now timed for the 2nd November.
  2. We request a copy of the legal advice on which this claim is asserted, and a list of which laws it is claimed would be breached by supporting locally elected councils that pledge to resist the targeting of our immigrant communities. What is the specific ‘activity that is beyond the law’, given that the immediate Bill referred to has not become law, and many local councils have made similar such pledges?
  3. We request a meeting with whomever made the decision where we can make our challenge. 

There is nothing in the motion to justify taking the extreme unilateral position of ruling it ‘out of order’. 

Firstly, the assertion that support of local authority’s resistance to Home Office activity is equal to support of ‘activity beyond the law’ is a speculation that the decision-maker has chosen to imply – it is not what the motion actually states. Loose speculation of this kind is dangerous to our unions’ democracy; it could be applied to any motion that ever seeks to resist any of the abhorrent things the government of the day may try to impose despite there being many ways to resist and challenge such things. 

In Higher Education we had resistance to “Prevent”, for example. The legally binding obligations placed on educational institutions by Prevent, did not stretch to forcing those institutions to force staff to carry out harassment of particularly Muslim students, though that was the implication. Unison HE Conference debated supporting members who refused to comply with the demands from state powers through Prevent legislation.[1] There is always scope for resisting discriminatory practices and asserting protections, which we should be using when the objective of an activity pushed by the government is the blanket discrimination or harassment of particular oppressed groups.

But unlike with Prevent, this motion is talking about a Bill that has not even passed. It is NOT law – it can’t be ‘broken’ since it’s not even clear what it is capable of legally imposing. It can however be fought, withdrawn, amended, and delayed. The ruling against discussing this motion inherently presumes that councils will have no lawful means to resist the racist and sexist outcomes of what they might be asked to do in the furtherance of the hostile environment policies. 

In fact, the Bill is already demonstrably likely to face legal challenges for years to come.[2] That challenge could conceivably come from local authorities, or dare we say, trade unions. We are not discussing settled law, it is precarious unclear immigration law which is an area where Home Office activities have been found unlawful in lots of areas including the workplace.[3]

Action point 4 anticipates that councils will be faced with choices and will be asked to do things that they have the power to refuse. It would mean Unison working through its Labour links to further the very resistance that is already underway against the anti-immigrant Hostile Environment policies. Councils including Hackney,[4] Lewisham,[5] and around 100 others have refused to assist the Home Office.[6] That is a sign of the strength of the international, integrated communities they represent and serve. 

While so many local council’s have already been resisting collaboration with the demands of the Home Office’s racist hostile policy, why are we now being told this is unsupportable? What a weak message to send a parliament as they weigh up this deplorable racist attack on refugees and Black communities, alongside major attacks on the right to protest, Judicial Review and legal aid. No wonder we have MP’s openly envisaging their path towards getting rid of the Human Right Act too. 

This is the time we need to state where we stand – as the RNLI did by stating what should be obvious: that their obligation is to rescue without discrimination; and that is not compatible with any law that tries to order them to let human beings drown in the sea. The local authorities have public sector duties too and are accountable to communities; they are in a position to challenge and to resist demands on them to breach human rights. 

If locally accountable councillors actually use what powers they have (the few powers central government have not yet destroyed), to resist measures that the Home Office may attempt to impose that would racially target and discriminate against immigrants, turn public services into a trap for the harassment of Black people and of non-citizens, lead to racial division and cause real damage to their community worse than what the hostile environment already has, clearly they should be supported and celebrated.

Regional Council is our voice. It is for us as members to raise debate, in this case to call for Unison to be clear where its support lies before our members, (which includes several serving as local councillors), are faced with the dilemma of how to uphold their obligations and ethics to help and serve our communities without discrimination, in the face of a political pressure to harass and stigmatise immigrants including refugees. 

The meaning and necessity of ‘Resistance’.

Our motion express the strength we want to convey. Discriminatory laws get repealed or changed when oppressed communities build resistance, with no guarantee of achieving justice. Universally, resistance is a means of struggle essential to fighting oppression. 

The Nationality and Borders Bill, if it passes, would not be the first time a British parliament has attempted to codify into law a set of deeply racist or bigoted ideas that opened a section of our society to legally sanctioned harassment and abuse. Look at the whole series of immigration and nationality laws that have systematically written the Black out of ‘Britishness’. Look at Section 28 that made an offence out of encouraging openness towards gay sexuality and empowered school leaders to drive out gay teachers. Had Unison been asked to declare “we support teachers and students who resist collaboration with the authorities implementing Section 28”, a motion to that effect would have shut down as ‘out of order’. What a way to prolong the misery suffered living under unjust laws. 

Without resistance to unjust laws there would be no fighting racism, segregation or apartheid, there would be no defeating anti-gay laws, or the legalised oppression of women. We fight unjust and oppressive laws, or we give way to even greater oppression. Fighting unjust laws begins with resistance, the means of which is decided by the context and what power exists.

Our motion opens a legitimate debate that must be had, about the nature of the Nationality and Borders Bill, its relation to past experiences of resistance to racism and unjust legislation, and the actions of local councils and communities currently resisting the racist hostile environment for immigrants. This is a trade union issue, recognised by the TUC statement quoted in the motion.

To block this motion by claiming that a trade union should not support resistance to a proposed law which seeks to introduce concentration camps for asylum seekers among other reprehensible measures, is offensive to the very historic struggles that the organisations of the oppressed have led and which we ‘celebrate’ in words if not in deeds. 


[1] Unison HE Conference 2012, Motion 16: “WE WON’T SPY ON OUR STUDENTS”

[2] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/oct/12/priti-patel-borders-bill-breaches-law-human-rights

[3] https://dpglaw.co.uk/high-court-declares-home-office-policy-unlawful/

[4] Hackney Gazette: “Hackney Council pledges to ‘Support not Deport’ rough sleepers”; https://news.hackney.gov.uk/hackney-council-pledges-to-support-not-deport-rough-sleepers/

[5] “London Council Rejects ‘Cruel’ New Immigration Rules”; https://www.localgov.co.uk/London-council-rejects-cruel-new-immigration-rules/51550

[6] The Independent: “More than 100 councils and charities vow to boycott Home Office policy to deport rough sleepers”; https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/councils-charities-rough-sleeping-deportation-home-office-b1898240.html

Victory to the Palestinian uprising

  • Imperialist powers out of the Middle East – Stop arming & supporting Israel and Saudi Arabia
  • Open the Borders to refugees/migrants – Defend cross-Channel refugees – Amnesty for ALL immigrants without papers 
  • Free Speech on Palestine – Stop government attack on campaigns for Palestinian rights – Stop Boris Johnson’s attacks on the right to protest
To stop racist wars abroad we must fight racism in Britain
To fight racism in Britain we must stop racist wars abroad!

The Arab population of Palestine has once more risen up in a heroic revolt against brutal military repression and ‘ethnic cleansing’ by the Israeli state and extreme nationalist forces in Israeli society. The Palestinian people have responded to these attacks on a wider front than ever before. 

Palestinians in east Jerusalem have fought back against the repression of Muslim worshippers at the Al Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan, when Israeli troops repeatedly attacked Palestinians inside the mosque. Now they are resisting Israel’s plan to evict Arab families in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood and replace them with Israeli settlers. In the occupied West Bank, Palestinian villagers are resisting renewed attacks by the illegal, land-grabbing Israeli settlers and marching in solidarity with Gaza and the struggle in east Jerusalem. In Gaza, which Israel has turned into a giant prison, they face yet another round of bombardment and killing. Within Israel’s ‘official’ borders there is an unprecedented rebellion by the Arab communities of the cities against their status as third-class citizens and the fascist-style attacks by right-wing Israeli mobs.   

Every community in Britain that is threatened by Boris Johnson’s racist, anti-immigrant and anti-working class government must support the Palestinian struggle. The victory of the Palestinian uprising will be our victory too – a victory for black, Asian, Muslim and immigrant communities, and for all the poor and oppressed – because it will be a defeat our common enemy: the imperialist ruling class of Britain.

The rulers of Britain and the USA support and defend Israel’s crimes. Israel is the chief agent of US imperialism in the Middle East. It was established on Palestinian land by the US and other western imperialist powers, and it is armed to the teeth and financed by them. Israel an oppressor nation in relation to the Arab population of the Middle East, and most immediately to the Arab population of Palestine. That role has prevented the Jewish population of Israel from being an integral part of the Middle East region with relations of equality and co-operation with its neighbours. It has compelled the subjugated Arab population to assert its identity in a struggle for Palestinian national self-determination. 

The policies & actions of the US, Britain & Israel have created a state of never-ending war and destruction in a region stretching from Libya to Afghanistan. It has forced and will continue to force millions of people across the region to move and seek refuge for themselves and their families, often enduring new dangers on the way. 

A minority of refugees make it to Europe. A smaller minority make it across the Channel to Britain, and thus to the racist hostile environment of Brexit, where government ministers and right-wing media whip up storms of anti-immigrant racism – their chief political weapon in an assault on human rights and a war against the poor. 

Movement for Justice (MFJ) believes that a victory in the fight for the rights of refugees & immigrants in Britain will be the most significant support we can provide to the Palestinian uprising. That will require mass action against the government’s growing attacks on immigrants, and the most important asset in that battle is the determination and dynamism of the men and women who fought so hard to get here. Immigrant & youth led community defence against raids, community support that allows refugees to keep out of the hands of the Home Office, and mass action to shut down isolation camps & detention centres will undermine the government’s authority. It will be the base for winning an amnesty for undocumented immigrants and Open Borders so no-one else dies trying to get asylum. 

Last year we saw the rapid growth of Black Lives Matter and Justice for George Floyd shift the balance of social power against Trump and movements against racism and injustice internationally. That should be our aim now. The more we shift the balance of forces against imperialist rulers at home the weaker their power will be internationally. 

In 2014 MFJ demonstrates outside Harmondsworth Detention Centres in solidarity with detainees and with the Palestinian people resisting the blockade

Stopping Covid19 means permanent status for everyone who doesn’t have papers

Contact your MP and get them to sign on to Claudia Webbe’s early day motion for permanent status for all undocumented immigrants. Critical to ensure everyone feels safe to get COVID19 tests and vaccinations.

Nobody should be left at risk of infection & death from Covid19 (or any other cause) because they are in Britain without immigration papers or have overstayed a visa. Nobody should face those risks because an unfair asylum system has rejected their claim or kept them waiting for a result, or for some other ‘immigration problem’ to be sorted out.

In January the Government stated that if immigrants and refugees without papers get tested for Covid19 or vaccinated against it, their details will not be shared with the Home Office and used to deport them. Undocumented people who have any experience of the Home Office and its agents are very unlikely to trust this ‘Promise’ – and they are right to be suspicious.   

The only way they will feel it’s safe to get Covid19 tests and vaccines is for the Government to give ALL undocumented immigrants a permanent right to live in the UK.

Movement for Justice (MFJ) supports the decision of a group of MPs to raise this demand in a parliamentary motion. They speak the truth about the Government’s racist anti-immigrant policies and they are clear that those policies are a danger to everyone. This is a bold move by the group of black and Asian Labour women MPs who initiated the motion, because it challenges the refusal of Keir Starmer and the rest of the present Labour leadership to campaign against the increasing racism of the Government’s policies.

We urge everyone to contact their MP and call on them to sign the motion below.  A campaign around this motion can inspire a fight by the left-wing majority of Labour Party members who Starmer is trying to silence (especially the youth and black & Asian members).

Undocumented migrants and covid-19 vaccination

Early Day Motion 1442: tabled on 03 February 2021

That this House believes that access to essential healthcare is a universal human right; regrets the continued existence of structural, institutional and systemic barriers in accessing NHS care experienced by undocumented migrants and those awaiting determination of their asylum, visa and immigration applications; considers that an effective public health response to the covid-19 crisis requires that the most vulnerable can afford to access food, healthcare, and self-isolate where necessary; understands that some of the most vulnerable people in society will not access vaccination against the virus, since to disclose their identity to the authorities would risk their arrest, detention and deportation; fears that without urgent Government intervention this will lead to further avoidable premature deaths, especially in the African, Asian and Minority Ethnic population; and therefore calls on the Home Office to grant everyone currently in the UK at this time who are undocumented migrants and those awaiting determination of their asylum, visa and immigration applications indefinite leave to remain, and to be eligible in due course to receive the covid-19 vaccination. (Emphasis added)

You don’t have to be a British citizen or voter, but give your address to show you live in their area.

To get your MP’s details go to https://members.parliament.uk/FindYourMP and type in your postcode.

You can use the message below; but it is best if you say why this issue is important to you personally.

Please let MFJ know what reply you get from your MP, email contact@movementforjustice.co.uk

Dear ……,

I am writing to urge you to add your name to Early Day Motion 1442, Undocumented migrants and covid-19 vaccination. I believe the motion is absolutely right when it points out that very many undocumented migrants won’t feel it is safe to get tested or vaccinated, whatever the risk to their health. That is why I support the motion’s call on the Home Office to grant Indefinite Leave to Remain to all undocumented migrants. I think this is a matter of basic justice and it is obviously necessary as a public health measure to protect everyone.

This issue is very important to me because……

Yours sincerely

General information. An Early Day Motion (EDM) is a kind of MPs’ petition, a way to raise an issue that isn’t being discussed in Parliament. This EDM was started by Claudia Webbe, (Leicester East MP who was part of MFJ’s Zoom Rally on Yarl’s Wood last year). It is co-sponsored by three other black & Asian women MPs in the Labour Party (Apsana Begum, Bell Ribeiro-Addy and Kim Johnson) plus John McDonnell and a Scottish National Party MP. So far it has been signed by a further 19 MPs from four parties.

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