If you came here looking for thousand 4 £1000, thank you. You can find it here: thousand41000.org
You can also find our new all singing, all dancing website here: brightonmigrantsolidarity.wordpress.com/
December 1st, 2015 — General
If you came here looking for thousand 4 £1000, thank you. You can find it here: thousand41000.org
September 16th, 2015 — General
July 22nd, 2015 — General
June 13th, 2015 — Film Screenings
June 5th, 2015 — General
What We Have Been up to:
May brought an arts festival to Brighton. It also brought two small-scale (not particularly successful) BMS events. We tried to highlight the ongoing horrors in the Med (see: watchthemed for more information). We launched a spectacularly unsuccessful campaign against lifeguards on Brighton beach. The simple thought was that such a crap idea would help folk realise that Theresa May’s ‘let them drown’ policy was stupid and abhorrent. We spelt it out on the back of the flyer:
The flyers were handed out at SolFed’s May Day picnic and on Brighton beach (along with some free bean burgers). Unfortunately, the flyers proved confusing (and nobody wanted a bean burger).
We are doing our best to agitate for Ferries Not Frontex, and will hopefully find new and improved ways of putting the message out there. Suggestions for better strategies are most welcome.
Meanwhile you might want to consider donating to this project: lepotcommun.fr.
The organisation “La Terre pour Tous” are trying to raise the money to hire a boat to take a short trip in the Mediterranean around the Tunisian coast to highlight the ongoing injustice of the EU’s border policies.
Some Bad News
Our brand spanking new government is doing its best to make clear that they have no time for immigrants and will do all that they can to waste much money and resources as possible on making life miserable for those that have the temerity to seek a different life here. Here are a couple of their proposed policies:
Making working without the necessary documentation a crime, thus criminalising acting to avoid destitution. More details here:
Bringing the border everywhere and turning all of us into border guards:
Massive data collection and sharing when it comes to migration status just to make sure that vulnerable people have no protection from the law, access to housing or health care:
Your favourite Home Secretary is very clear that the right policy when it comes to refugees is to make sure that they do not come here. Let poor people look after the very poor:
The Guardian report on May’s response to the EU’s latest refugee plan
Meanwhile the EU has decided to launch military action against people smugglers, knowing full well that is going to kill migrants and has no clear objective:
statewatch.org’s copy of the EU draft plan
Here is a good analysis of the policy:
Some Good News (Events):
Film Screening: Mare Chiuso + The Ex-Ghurkas in Aldershot
Monday 22 June, 7-9pm, The Cowley Club, London Road.
We failed to show “Mare Chiuso” last month (problems with getting hold of both the film and its subtitles). We should receive it at some point this month. We are showing it on the 22nd along with Fran Freeman’s short documentary capturing Aldershot through the eyes of the retired Ghurkas now living there.
Barbeque for NoBorders
We are also planning a fundraising barbecue to have some fun and get some much-needed cash to those struggling against Fortress Europe.
Other Dates for your Diary:
Surround Yarls Wood
Saturday 6 June, 2-5pm, Yarls Wood Detention Centre
The excellent Movement for Justice are organising their biggest anti-detention centre protest yet. There are coaches from Euston at 9.30. Be there.
details and call for cash
Sussex Defend The NHS Stall
Saturday 6 June, 11-2 pm, War Memorial, Old Steine
Find out about the NHS sell off and what you can do to stop it.
End Austerity Now, Demonstration
Saturday 6 June, 2pm, Victoria Gardens
If you can’t get to Yarls Wood but want to upset the status quo, join the People’s Assembly at their protest against austerity. There is enough for all if we are all in it together.
Sussex Defend The NHS Organising Meeting
Tuesday 9 June, 7-9pm Small Hall, Dorset Gardens Methodist Hall
Organise to defend the NHS
Sanctuary on Sea launch
Saturday 14 June, 5-8 pm, Brighthelm Centre
The launch of the sanctuary on sea project, a project aiming to make Brighton and Hove the city of Sanctuary for refugees. The event will premiere the documentary “Tasting my Future” a film documenting local refugee women, their stories and their hopes. The organisers also promise food and music.
End Austerity, National Demonstration
Saturday 20 June, 12 midday, Bank of England, Threadneedle Street, London
The big one. Fight back against the economically illiterate, politically nasty, misery inducing austerity. Train from Brighton via eventbrite.
Saturday 13 June-Sunday 23 June, Dover-the Hawth Theatre, Crawley.
A pilgrimage in solidarity with refugees from Dover to Crawley. The idea is to highlight the enormous history of movement by walking an ancient route whilst a pretty impressive cast of writers tell the tales of contemporary migrants. The pilgrimage ends at the Hawth Theatre Crawley where the tales will be told. Geoffrey Chaucer eat your heart out.
Sussex Defend The NHS Open Forum, 4:1 campaign. NHS staffing levels
Thursday 25 June, Venue and Time, tbc
Find out about the reality of ‘NHS staff shortages’, pay and conditions in the NHS and what can be done to change things.
May 6th, 2015 — General
This year alone, at least 1800 people have died trying to cross the Mediterranean. This is a humanitarian catastrophe, and the EU must take its responsibility and make search and rescue operations a priority.
There is no evidence for the ridiculous idea that rescue operations provide a ‘pull factor’ for people to attempt the crossing. On the contrary, in the first three months after the Italian search and rescue operation Mare Nostrum was discontinued, the flow of migrants increased by 160%.
Even after the disaster in April that claimed at least 800 lives, the EU has protecting borders as its main objective in the Mediterranean, not saving lives. Amnesty International described the EU’s response the the disaster as “woefully inadequate and shameful”.
During the last 20 years, the EU has spent vast quantities of money on securing its land borders and it has become virtually impossible to seek asylum in embassies. This has led to more people choosing dangerous sea routes, and the southern border of Europe has become the deadliest in the world. But if you are fleeing violence and destitution, you will take your chances with the sea.
Cracking down on the smugglers will not solve this problem. People board these boats voluntarily, out of desperation, and will continue to try to do so – if there is no way back, you have to go forward. If there were legal routes into Europe, there would be no business for the smugglers.
Trapping people on the threshold of Europe is not a solution. Building walls against migrants denies refugees their right to seek protection. Our policies are creating a death trap for innocent people.
More info here watchthemed.net
May 5th, 2015 — General
What We Have Been up to:
We have not been very good at keeping people up-to-date with our activities, but that does not mean we have not been doing them. Here is a brief rundown, in no particular order, of some of the fun things you might have missed out on:
A fundraiser for the Kurdish Red Crescent.
In conjunction with our friends at the Sussex Kurdish Association we put on a little food and party night at the Cowley club to raise cash for the displaced people of Kobane. Massive thanks to Moma Swift, Sam Berkson, Chris Parkinson, Bunty Looping and Fiddlesparks for performing. £140 was generously put up in solidarity with those struggling to build an autonomous region in northern Syria. Not only are the Kurds having to fight the Islamic State, they are also struggling to bring about an autonomously organised society. See this article for more info:
Do send more information about the situation to firstname.lastname@example.org. Unsurprisingly, the radical, anarchist side of the struggle in the Middle East is not much reported over here.
Most months we show a film highlighting some aspect of migration in the border regime. The most recent was the excellent, if devastating, ‘The Land Between’. This film by David Fedele documents the bottleneck and suffering created by the fence around Spain’s enclave in Morocco. Fortunately, the film is available to be viewed online here:
If you want to better understand the true meaning of “Fortress Europe”, brace yourself and watch it.
The situation in Calais is as dire as ever. There has been a concerted effort to move the stateless people trapped in Calais out of town. There has been a concerted effort to make their life difficult at the new site. The displaced people and their supporters continue to resist. Have a look at this website for more info:
Much the same could be said about the situation at the Spanish border with Morocco. The details have a look at this website:
We put on tasty vegan roasts, collected donations at our screenings and ran a jumble sale to raise cash to support the resistance. So far, about £300 has been split between the two groups.
Healthcare and Immigration
In a frightening attack on both migrants and on the principle of a healthcare system free at the point of access, the UK government massively expanded charging for NHS services by massively restricting the category of UK resident. To make things worse they have brought the UK border into the NHS. NHS staff will now be expected to check on immigration status and share their findings with the Home Office. These changes need all-out resistance if we are going to protect some of the most vulnerable people in the country, and if we are going to protect the principal that healthcare is a right that should be freely available to all according to their need and not according to their ability to pay.
Some of our members have been working with Docs Not Cops, Sussex Save the NHS, Brighton SolFed and Doctors of the World, to raise awareness of the scary, but poorly documented, changes and to start to organise resistance to them.
More info here:
Protest and Activism
Growing unrest among the captives of the detention estate was sparked into protest and hunger strikes by Corporate Watch’s, Stand-off Films’ and Channel 4’s investigations into this dark corner of the UK.
From Corporate Watch:
From Stand-off films
Harmondsworth Hunger Strike 9 March 2015 – vimeo.com/121766147
Response to the March Harmondsworth hunger strike. vimeo.com/121978747
From Harmondsworth IRC: the silence and noise around the hunger strike vimeo.com/122324903
From Channel 4:
We have not been as on it as we should have been with this one, but there have been some great actions – not least the hunger strikes by the detainees themselves. My personal favourite was the blockading of a transport of Afghani deportees. The protesters locked themselves onto the bus and bought valuable time to challenge successfully the legality of the deportation.
A few of us did go to the latest installment of Movement for Justice’s ‘surround Harmondsworth’ protest, www.facebook.com/movementforjustice. We had a lot of fun making noise and causing trouble.
The protests are making headway, as the campaign to close Campfield pointed out, all of the following has occurred in the space of a few weeks:
1. An all-party parliamentary inquiry published a report on The Use of Immigration Detention and recommended a 28 day time limit to detention, proper judicial oversight of individual decisions to detain people, less use of detention, and more use of non-punitive community based alternatives to detention (3 March)
2. The biggest-ever wave of protest by immigration detainees in the UK began and spread to 8 of 11 detention centres in the UK (9 March)
3. The government withdrew its application to double the size of Campsfield immigration detention centre near Oxford from 256 to 566 places. (12 March)
4. The Labour Party has said that in power it would end the indefinite detention of asylum seekers and migrants. (26 March)
5. The government has announced that it will close Haslar immigration detention centre near Portsmouth (26 March)
6. The government has announced that it intends not to detain more asylum seekers and migrants in future, the first time any government has made such a commitment. (26 March)
I sense a change a coming.
As well as protests against the detention estate, action in support of individuals continues on a case-by-case basis. We have raised some money towards people’s legal expenses and some of us have been taking action to support Apata Aderonke Adejumoke battle with the (not your) Home Office. More details here:
a petition in support of Aderonke with info about her campaign and case, causes.com
The situation in the Med is terrible. There is no possibility of a safe passage to Europe for people fleeing conflict in Africa or the Middle East. Unsurprisingly, many people from all over those regions choose to risk death at sea for the chance of a decent life. 3000 people have drowned in the last few weeks. The responsibility for their deaths lies squarely with the architects of fortress Europe. One of our members helped Amnesty arrange this action:
There will be more.
Brighton SolFed, Mayday Mayday
Everybody’s favourite anarchist trade union, celebrates the workers struggle
1st May, Mayday
2nd May, Syndicalism in Brighton, Cowley Club, 4-6 pm
3rd May, May the 1st, history and anarchism + a roast, Cowley Club, 1-6 pm
4th May, Demonstration and picnic, meet at the Old Steine, 12 noon.
People’s Assembly, Anti-Austerity Drama
Saturday, 2nd of May, 1-2.30 pm
The People’s Assembly will be performing at locations all over the centre of Brighton. They will be getting the message out that austerity is bad, privatising the NHS is bad, there is a housing crisis and it can all be different.
Sussex Defend the NHS Organising Meeting
Tuesday 12th May, 7 pm, the Brighthelm Centre
Help organise the resistance to the privatisation of the NHS.
Brighton Migrant Solidarity Monthly Film-Screening, The Med
Monday 25th May, 7-9pm
A film, possibly Il Mare di Mezzo, detailing the horrors inflicted on you by our immigration policies if you need to enter Europe across the Med without papers.
Sussex Defend the NHS open forum, the NHS and 3rd sector.
Thursday 28th May, the time and place to be confirmed
An open forum to discuss and understand more about the situation with the NHS and the not-for-profit sector.
Confused? Questions? Suggestions? Want to join us?
April 15th, 2015 — General
April 9th, 2015 — General
This film documents the beating by guards at the Verne IRC of a man who had just attempted suicide. Words fail me. <iframe src=”https://player.vimeo.com/video/122270700″ width=”500″ height=”281″ frameborder=”0″></iframe> <p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/122270700″>"He did not die. So the officers started beating him up": 6 March 2015, IRC the Verne</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user31460077″>Standoff Films</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>
March 31st, 2015 — General
The biggest eviction of migrants in Calais to date is expected in early April. Here is a brief history of the situation.
1999: The number of migrants in Calais increases. A “residential and humanitarian home” in a hangar away from the city is opened in the municipality of Sangatte. This hangar accommodates up to 2000 people.
2002: Closure of the Sangatte center by Nicolas Sarkozy, Minister of the Interior, to supposedly resolve the issue of the presence of migrants in Calais. 13 years later, they are still there.
Since late 2002: Migrants have had no place in Calais where they have a right to be. They build their own camps, which are routinely evicted and destroyed. They are stopped by the police regularly, and police violence is a daily occurrence.
Where to live? Survival solutions and self-building
Upon the closure of Sangatte, migrants found their own places to live, which have often been extremely precarious: bunkers, construction pipes, under bridges, abandoned buildings, vacant lots, etc. When these spaces have not been evicted rapidly, collective life has built up and people have adjusted their living spaces to meet their social and spiritual needs, beyond mere survival. It is this self-organisation which is destroyed during the evictions and prevent people developing their own solutions and their autonomy.
2003: Treaty of Le Touquet, which lays out control measures on the UK-French border, including British controls in French ports.
2009: A strong increase that year in the number of migrants, mainly from Afghanistan. Most squats and camps are evicted and destroyed in September and October, with huge media coverage (see “closing the Calais Jungle” 22.09.09, Eric Besson, Minister of Immigration and National Identity). The UK and France sign a new agreement on the sharing of port security costs, border control and policing.
Until autumn 2013: There is a gradual increase in the number of migrants in Calais, reflecting the increased number of people crossing the Mediterranean (200,000 refugees arrived in Italy in 2014, and there have been up to 3000 in Calais since this time).
The authorities’ response to this increase:
- The continuation of police harassment and eviction of squats and camps continues as normal, with no real plan of action or willingness to find other solutions;
- The evicton of three camps located near the centre of Calais takes place on May 28th, 2014. Part of those living there go to the outskirts of Calais, where the authorities tell them that the only solution is to find somewhere to squat. Others occupy the place used for distribution of meals in protest, near the city centre. The place for the distribution of meals and three squats in the city are evicted on July 2nd in a particularly violent way (600 arrests, 200 placed in detention). Most migrants are on the outskirts in existing settlements. No Borders and migrant support organisations open a large squat in the city centre on the 12th of July.
- The authorities decide to combine a number of services for refugees away from the city, beyond the highway (Jules Ferry’s camp) and deposit the refugees in an old landfill site.
2014: Deadliest year on the border
With at least 17 people dying on both sides of the UK / French border, 2014 is the deadliest year since the closure of Sangatte. Because of increased security, crossing becomes more dangerous, competiton over crossing places increases and tensions between migrant communities are exacerbated.
Police violence: a daily reality
Police harassment is an important aspect of the policy to discourage migrants to stay close to the border. There have been a number of reports over the years about this, including:
- 2008 : Report of the National Coordination for Asylum, “The Law of The Jungle”;
- 2012: The french Defender of Rights decision on police harassment in Calais.
- 2015: Human Rights Watch report on police violence in Calais.
September 2014: Announcement by the Mayor and the Government of the opening of a day center for migrants, to concentrate already existing services in one place. Unofficially, the authorities inform migrant support organisations that a migrant camp will be tolerated around the area of the day centre. A new Franco-British agreement is made, providing for the creation of a common fund for the security of the port and the strengthening of joint enforcement policy at a European level.
January 2015: Meal distributions to migrants in the city centre is outlawed, coinciding with the beginning of a meal distribution at the Jules Ferry camp.
March 2015: An ultimatum from the authorities to migrants is served. They are given until March 31st to move “voluntarily” to the former landfill site near the camp Jules Ferry, otherwise they will be evicted by the police.
An unwelcome centre
The Jules Ferry centre is more about isolating people from Calais rather than welcoming them:
- It is a place combining already existing services, where there is no designated place to sit down, to rest, for conviviality or activities
- It is far from the centre of Calais
- There is no accommodation for men
- One meal a day is provided when there are no shops nearby
- Its capacity is limited to 1000 people
The new slum
The land where the authorities impose the settlement of migrants:
- Is in itself uninhabitable; an old landfill site with potentially toxic contents / wetland;
- Has no infrastructure: no lights, water, toilets, etc;
- Is near the smugglers zone of influence (risks of extortion and violence), and at risk from conflicts with hunters who currently use the site, as well as tensions with local residents;
- Is away from Calais centre, and so from the rest of the population and the services offered by associations, shops, administrative services (OFI, post office, sub-prefecture…), etc;
- Has not been the subject of any formal written agreement from the Government allowing migrants to camp there. They can be removed at the discretion of the authorities at any time.
Women displaced again
A women’s house was opened in 2013 by No Borders near the city centre. After 8 months the Government decided that it was to be taken over by an association (Solid’R). The women were moved in July 2014 to a cabin away from the city. They were moved again on March 26th 2015 to the Jules Ferry day centre, another cabin, away from the city, in an area where they are most vulnerable when going in and out.
First half of April 2015: Period of eviction of squats and camps. People begin to move to the site near the Jules Ferry Centre. This is not voluntary, but because people move themselves, appears as such. A visit of the interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve is announced.
April 11, 2015: Complete opening of Jules Ferry’s camp, about 6 km far from the city centre.
From Sangatte to Jules Ferry
13 years after the closure of Sangatte, the authorities are trying to again group migrants away from the city. This creation is done by the destruction of existing living spaces and a worsening of police pressure. If services are grouped as it was in Sangatte, but there is no hangar to shelter people, it is actually replaced by a piece of land where camping is “tolerated”. This approach of isolating and concentrating people is presented by the government as a humanitarian solution.