Freedom for migrants! Justice for refugees! Report of march in Newcastle 12 September 2015

On 12 September 2015 supporters of Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! joined hundreds of people on the ‘Newcastle Welcomes Refugees’ march. This was part of a national day of action in response to the on-going crisis faced by refugees and migrants across Europe.

FRFI supported the demands of migrants in Calais to open the borders and to grant safe and legal passage to Britain, and called for an end to deportations and the closure of all immigration prisons. A leaflet with the text below was distributed:

No immigration controls: Open the borders NOW! 

European imperialist states are directly responsible for destabilising an entire region to the point that millions have been forced to flee – including invasions and occupations of Afghanistan since 2001 and Iraq since 2003, the bombing campaign and regime change in Libya in 2011, and funding and arming terrorist forces in Syria since at least 2011. This humanitarian crisis is NOT an inevitable result of the sheer number of people moving – those entering Europe via the Mediterranean and the Balkans this year are estimated to total 340,000, only 0.068% of Europe’s population – a tiny increase who could be easily accommodated. The crisis is the result of deliberate policies, an attempt to restrict migration from outside Europe except where migrants’ labour is specifically needed. The efforts that are being made to gather material aid are laudable, but no amount of charity will end the crisis.

What is needed in Calais and elsewhere is to open the border, to end deportations, to shut down the immigration prisons and allow everybody to work.

This follows the calls made by hundreds of refugees in Calais who have been demonstrating on a daily basis, in some cases marching for three hours from ‘the jungle’ where they are staying to the entrance to the Euro Tunnel, only to be met by riot police and CS gas, yet time after time they come back. We need to follow their example and build a movement strong enough to tear down the racist immigration controls that are forcing people to risk their lives in precarious border crossings, or keeping them trapped in squalor, unable to move on and rebuild their lives. Today in Britain the border is everywhere: many ethnic minority businesses are raided on a regular basis, immigration checks operate in every bank and GP surgery, and many people in our communities live in fear of detention and deportation. Thousands are destitute and exploited, denied the right to legal work.  

OPPOSE ALL IMMIGRATION CONTROLS! BUILD THE FIGHT BACK!                  

Following the march an FRFI supporter attended an open meeting called by Newcastle City Council to plan Newcastle's response to the 'Syrian refugee crisis'. The council has promised to house ten Syrian families – a drop in the ocean relative to the numbers forced to flee their homes. The FRFI supporter challenged council leader Nick Forbes on what would be done to ensure these families are welcomed into the community, citing the experience of families housed under the government's asylum dispersal programme in previously boarded-up houses, many of whom were isolated and subject to racist abuse. Forbes stated that the council will be making provisions to ensure there is adequate support for the families and to get local residents on board. The supporter also called on Forbes to commit to make a statement opposing immigration raids on work places, given he has designated Newcastle a 'city of sanctuary'. Forbes said that he would discuss this with deputy leader of the council Joyce Mccarthy, and that he wanted everyone to have access to decent work and services. FRFI will be following these promises up.

 

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