- Created: Friday, 03 August 2018 15:16
- Written by Dominic Mulgrew
The private multinational provider of public services SERCO has announced plans to evict up to three hundred ‘failed’ asylum seekers in Glasgow from the week beginning 30 July. They are currently contracted by the Home Office to provide housing for around 5,000 asylum seekers in Glasgow. SERCO’s eviction plans were announced to a range of charities on Friday 27 July and publicly exposed on 30 July prompting two subsequent days of protest attended by hundreds of people outraged at the issuing of these ‘lock change’ notices. The RCG supported both the protests on Buchanan Street on 31 July, called by an individual Facebook user, and provided chants and a megaphone for the protests, called by Living Rent and the Unity Centre, the following day outside the SERCO Building and the Home Office’s Border and immigration centre on Brand Street. So far around six lock change notices are known to have been issued.
Others who are facing eviction at the hands of SERCO have taken to direct action. On Wednesday morning two middle-aged Afghan refugees Rahman Shah and Mirwais Ahmadzai began a hunger and thirst strike outside the Home Office on Brand Street in Glasgow demanding their cases are looked at again and their eviction orders overturned. Their applications for refugee status have been turned down by the UK Home Office who claim that Afghanistan is a safe place to return to yet according to the UK Governments own foreign travel advice (as of 2 August) all districts in Afghanistan are unsafe for foreigners as well as Afghan NGOs and civilians:
‘The security situation throughout Afghanistan remains uncertain, and could change rapidly…. Large parts of the east, south east and south of the country are affected by conflict. Other areas have seen steady improvements in security, but are still prone to terrorist attacks and a high crime rate... Road travel is dangerous…public transport is dangerous.’ (https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/afghanistan/safety-and-security).
On 2 August RCG/FRFI comrades stood with others to defend the hunger strike camp from any racist attacks and intimidation from the passing crowds going to the Rangers game. We were unable to speak to the hungers strikers who were sleeping but spoke to Mohammad Asif, the chair of the Scottish Afghan Society, who are supporting the two men around the clock. Mr Asif told FRFI;
‘We are here to protest about the inhuman treatment of the Home office towards our two Afghan asylum seekers on hunger strike. They are badly treated by the system because Britain is the country which bombs Afghanistan over the last 17 or 18 years. Afghanistan is not safe. Afghanistan is still at war. There is a lot of issues of security and stability and the simple answer to fewer refugees in Britain is – don’t bomb their countries…Asylum seekers hardly get anything, its £35 a week for a single man. We’re here to support these two Afghans because the system is unfair and its unjust. We are quite thankful to the Scottish people for their hospitality and we got thousands of messages of support yesterday and today and we’re not going anywhere until some type of settlement has been reached’.
The crimes of imperialism around the world cannot be separated from the movement of peoples seeking refuge in the heartlands of imperialism. The state and street racism which immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees, face when they arrive in Britain cannot be separated from the imperialism which this racism reflects and defends. British imperialism has and never will have a progressive role to play in the world. It must be smashed. The racism which it expresses must be exposed, opposed and smashed. The British immigration system, designed as it isto defend the international division of labour between the working class within imperialist countries from the more exploited working class in dependent and oppressed countries, is inherently racist.
British imperialism continues to perpetuate and fuel conflicts and misery in regions where people are fleeing from. In July the British Government almost doubled the number of troops it had in Afghanistan to 1,100 soldiers at the request of US imperialism to deal with a Taliban resurgence in a NATO led training mission of Afghan forces. According to the 2017 report of ‘Trends in International Arms Transfers’, British arm exports between 2013 - 2017 were 37% higher than for the same period between 2008-2012. The majority of these were destined for the Middle East and North Africa. The use of secretive open arms export licences used by British companies increased by 22% over this period. Britain’s three main arms clients were Saudi Arabia (49% of all sales), Oman (14%) and Indonesia (9.9%).
- Since 2013 British arm sales to Saudi Arabia, waging a brutal war on Yemen’s desperate population, have included around 100 British-made Storm Shadow missiles worth £80m, 2,400 Paveway IV bombs worth £150m, and 1,000 Brimstone missiles worth £100m.
- Since 2014 Britain has sold at least £320m of arms to the racist state of Israel in its role as policeman and attack dog for imperialist interests in the Middle East.
- Since 2016 Britain has sold over £650m of weapons to Turkey in its war on the Kurdish population and repression of civil society.
- In recent years Britain has played a central role in perpetuating war and famine in African countries rich in natural resources. This includes in Sudan (see East Africa famine) and Somalia (see Somalia: Imperialists to blame for half a million famine deaths). Also see Plundering Africa: British imperialism 2016.
Across Britain RCG comrades are active in campaigns and struggles to oppose racist immigration laws and to defend the housing rights of the working class and oppressed:
Manchester and London – ‘No more charter flight deportations!’
It is clear that this SERCO decision can be defeated by the collective power of the people of Glasgow. Democracy, militancy and unity in this campaigning is the key to success. A victory here would be an urgent, necessary and significant step on the road to a fight for safe and decent housing for everyone in Glasgow. The verbal endorsement of direct action and civil disobedience by Labour MP Paul Sweeney and SNP MP Chris Stephens must be backed up by action on the ground. Everyone must work together and stand side by side with asylum seekers in their fight for a safe and decent life. The RCG calls for maximum resistance to the Home office, SERCO and any attempted evictions.
Safe and decent housing for all!
People of Glasgow - evict SERCO!
Smash Britain’s racist immigration system!
Join the protest, called and supported by a coalition of groups, this Saturday at 11am at the Home office centre on Brand Street. Facebook event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1934931253238740/
Contact Glasgow FRFI/RCG if you want to join a phone tree to resist evictions or tell us about any evictions taking place.
Glasgow FRFI number: 07826203476
Facebook: Glasgow FRFI
Update, 3 August, 13:45: Glasgow FRFI have just become aware that an arrest has been made by police earlier today as supporters of the hunger strikers gathered at the home office gates on Brand Street. Scottish police, under the political control of the SNP Scottish Government, have once again been used to defend and enforce the brutal UK home office regime on asylum seekers and those who stand with them. Glasgow FRFI calls for maximum protest at the Home office tomorrow.