Posts Tagged ‘Rwanda’

The Racist UK Immigration System

Tuesday, June 7th, 2022

The Racist UK Immigration System: The Home Office a couple of years ago commissioned a report following the huge publicity over the Windrush scandal after government ministers had been forced to agree to educate all Home Office employees about our colonial history and the experiences faced by black people coming to the UK.

The report, “The Historical Roots of the Windrush Scandal“, by a well-known historian the Home Office refuses to name, details how the whole history of post-war British immigration legislation since the Second World War was “designed at least in part to reduce the number of people with black or brown skin who were permitted to live and work in the UK“, reflecting the “racist ideology of the British Empire.”

For over a year politicians and others have been calling for the report to be published but the Home Office has refused. Last month it was leaked in full to The Guardian, but is still not available to the public, despite having been paid for by our taxes. Many requests for its publication from MPs including the home affairs select committee and campaigners over the past year had been turned down and a freedom of information request about it was refused.

The protest began on Bath Road in front of the Immigration Removal Centres

Some speculate that the true reason for it being kept secret was because it was in direct contradiction to last years report from the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities which had ludicrously concluded there was “no evidence to suggest that Britain was an institutionally racist place.

Others suggest the refusal to publish was that it would bring new highly discriminatory policies being introduced – such as the attacks on cross-channel migrants and the deportation of asylum seekers to Rwanda – liable to greater opposition as a development of an already clearly racist immigration system.

Colnbrook on the left, Harmondsworth at right

Back in June 2014, when the Movement for Freedom organised a protest on June 7th outside the adjoining Harmondsworth and Colnbrook detention centres on the northern boundary of London Heathrow, the thrust of the protest was against the the unjust ‘Fast Track System’ and mistreatment of detainees by private security firms inside these immigration prisons.

John McDonnell speaks outside the detention centres on Bath Road

Local MP John McDonnell who came to speak told the protest that when he first became MP for the area in 1997 the immigration detention centre was only a small building housing a dozen or so detainees rather than the two large blocks the protesters were in front of. The protesters argue that immigration detention is almost entirely unnecessary, existing only to deter immigration and harass and punish those who come here to seek asylum.

Asylum seekers wave from behind the 20ft fence, razor wire and window bars

The fast track system was set up with the deliberate aim of deporting people before they had time to put together the evidence that would enable them to properly present their case to remain. You don’t get a certificate given to you for being tortured or raped but our system treats all of them as guilty, trying to evade our immigration laws and rather than the Home Office having to prove their stories are fabricated calls on them to provide proof of threats, torture, rape and other events that forced them to flee. Legal challenges including that by Detention Action in 2015 found “rules setting the tight timescales for asylum-seekers to make appeals were unlawful and ‘ultra vires’ and that the strict time limits in and of themselves were ‘structurally unfair’.”

Although the legal judgements led to the suspension of DFT, the deportations of asylum seekers to Rwanda currently about to take place clearly represent a ratcheting up of this punitive approach and seem likely also to be successfully challenged in the courts – thought not before hundreds or thousands have been wrongfully deported.

The detention centres were built on a site which has a private road leading to a BT site at the rear. After the speeches on the public highway in front of the site, the marchers walked down this road, making a lot of noise chanting and shouting as well as with whistles and other noise-makers. Detainees came to the windows and waved thanking the protesters for their support, and some were able to communicate using mobile phones.

Mobile phone messages from inside were broadcast to protesters using a megaphone

The two detention prisons are both surrounded by 20 foot high fences, the lower half solid metal sheets and the upper half with a dense solid wire mesh, which makes photographing the windows difficult. But we could clearly see the detainees and they could seem the long banner with the message ‘Stop Racism – End Fast Track – End Detention’ which was held up, and we could make out some of the messages they had written calling for freedom.

We were able to walk completely around the Harmondsworth building (but not the higher security Colnbrook one) and when I left the march organisers were planning to return their route in the opposite direction as they had so many phone calls from those inside, but I had to leave.

Diane Abbott published an opinion piece in The Guardian on the leaked report at the end of May this year, “The truth is out: Britain’s immigration system is racist, and always has been. Now let’s fix it“. Unfortunately I think our current government is unlikely to have any interest at all in doing so. She ends her piece: “The system is calibrated for racism. It always was. We know it, and now we know that, behind closed doors, Priti Patel’s Home Office knows it. The dirty secret is no longer secret.”


FlickrFacebookMy London DiaryHull PhotosLea ValleyParis

London’s Industrial HeritageLondon Photos

All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall. Contact me to buy prints or licence to reproduce.


HP in Israel, Nurses bursaries, Hungary, Congo & Syria

Saturday, June 4th, 2022

HP in Israel, Nurses bursaries, Hungary, Congo & Syria – five protests that I photographed on
Saturday 4th June 2016.


Boycott HP against Israeli apartheid – PC World, Tottenham Court Road

HP in Israel, Nurses bursaries, Hungary, Congo & Syria

A protest outside PC World on Tottenham Court Rd was one of around 20 actions around the UK held to raise awareness of Hewlett Packard’s heavy involvement the Israeli oppression of the Palestinian people and encourage a boycott of HP.

HP in Israel, Nurses bursaries, Hungary, Congo & Syria

HP provides the biometric system used for ID cards used to control movement of Palestinians inside Israel and in the occupied Palestinian territory, technology for the Israeli military and supporting the illegal settlements.

Boycott HP against Israeli apartheid


March to save NHS student bursaries

HP in Israel, Nurses bursaries, Hungary, Congo & Syria

NHS students and supporters marched from St Thomas’s Hospital to the Department of Health in Whitehall along a route over Waterloo Bridge where there was a brief sit-down, and along the Strand to Charing Cross, where they were joined by disabled protesters who went with them to a rally in front of the Dept of Health at Richmond House on Whitehall.

HP in Israel, Nurses bursaries, Hungary, Congo & Syria
Cecilia Anim, Royal College of Nursing President

Student bursaries are essential for nursing students as they have to spend 50% of their course working in the NHS and unlike other students are unable to work part-time to support themselves. Their work as students is important in keeping the NHS running and the bursaries also allow mature entrants to the profession to train.

Our current nursing shortage is in part due to the ridiculous decision by Jeremy Hunt who ignored the nursing unions and almost everyone else in making the cut. He claimed that removing the bursary would mean that there would be up to 10,000 more training places. In fact the number accepting places on nursing courses in 2018 dropped to its lowest level for five years, 8% less than when bursaries were available. The maintenance grant was reinstated in 2020, leading to an increase in student numbers, particularly in those over 30, where the increase was around 40%.

March to save NHS student bursaries

Rally against axing NHS student bursaries

Danielle Toplady (right) supports Helen Corry as her mother makes a passionate speech in support of nurses

Rally against axing NHS student bursaries


Call for a Greater Hungary – Downing St

Hungarian nationalists marched to Downing St calling for the restoration of the pre-1920 borders of Hungary, including the Székely Land in Romania.

The right-wing Jobbik party or Movement for a Better Hungary has grown considerably in support and in 2018 became the second largest party in the National Assembly and is often accused of seeking the restoration of the borders before the 1920 Trianon Treaty. Around a quarter of ethnic Hungarians live outside of Hungary and many suffer discrimination because of their culture and language. But according to Wikipedia, “Jobbik has never suggested changing borders by force, and believes that the ultimate solution is territorial and cultural autonomy within a European Union framework of minority rights.

Call for a Greater Hungary


Congo Massacre protest – Downing St

The Patrice Lumumba Coalition protested opposite Downing St after the massacre last month of 120 people in Beni, North Kivu, Congo. They say that since 2014, 1000 people have been horrifically murdered in the region, despite the presence of a UN army and the Congolese armed forces.

They blame the massacres in Congo which have resulted in over 10 million being killed on the US-backed overthrow of the Mobutu regime and the support by the US, UK, Belgium and Canada of President Museveni in Uganda and President Kagame in Rwanda, whose proxy armies and militia groups attack the Congolese. This war is driven by multinational corporations to provide the mineral reserves of the Congo, gold, oil, tin and particularly coltan, essential for the production of smart phones, laptops and other electronic gadgets.

The UK backs the genocide with around £500m a year in support of Congo’s President Kabila, and £90m to prop up the Rwandan regime. They want those responsible for backing the genocide – including Tony Blair and the Clintons as well as African leaders to be brought to justice.

Congo Massacre protest


Syrians demand break the siege of Alwaer – Downing St

Syrians at Downing St called on the UK and international community to take urgent action to end the siege of Alwaer and 50 other besieged towns in Syria. People are without electricity, drinking water, food, fuel, and medical care and are at risk of dying from malnutrition

Alwaer, a town of more than 100,000 people, has been under siege by Syrian government forces for over 3 years and many have been killed and others are suffering disease. Assad’s forces are carrying out a systematic and deliberate policy of starvation of civilians, a war crime in grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Syrians demand break the siege of Alwaer


FlickrFacebookMy London DiaryHull PhotosLea ValleyParis

London’s Industrial HeritageLondon Photos

All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall. Contact me to buy prints or licence to reproduce.