Black History Month - The struggle never stops
Most of us ethnic minorities will know by now that October is Black History Month the one month in the year set aside to celebrate our contribution to our communities and Britain as a whole. Going back to the war effort when Britain was still an empire and we were her subjects, fighting for Queen and Country.
How ironic is it that UKBA\The British Government chooses Black History Month of all months to deport or want to deport 88 year old Lydia Werrit, (Lydia Werrit like myself is mixed race). Her husband fought for Britain during WW2, which only goes to shows that Britain is morally bankrupt or suffers terrible amnesia when it suits her. Remember the battle of the Gurkhas for immigration recognition, why does Lydia Werrit deserve any less.
Read full commentary by Nellie de jongh
India: Repeal Armed Forces Special Powers Act
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India should override the objections of the army and keep his 2004 promise to repeal the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), Human Rights Watch said today. The Indian defense establishment has opposed even minor amendments to the law, despite the findings of independent bodies in India and abroad that the law has resulted in numerous serious human rights violations over many years, Human Rights Watch said.
The law violates IndiaÕs obligations under international human rights law, including the rights to life, to be protected from arbitrary arrest, and to be free from torture and other ill-treatment, Human Rights Watch said. The provisions protecting soldiers from prosecution deny victims of abuses the right to a remedy because it forbids prosecution of soldiers without approval from the central government, which is rarely granted.
Human Rights Watch, 19/10/11
Iran: UN human rights expert concerned over judicial abuses
The United Nations independent expert on the situation of human rights in Iran today voiced concern over alleged violations in the country's judicial system, citing practices such as torture, cruel or degrading treatment of detainees, and the imposition of the death penalty without proper safeguards.
Presenting his report to the General Assembly's third committee, which deals with social, humanitarian and cultural affairs, Ahmed Shaheed, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, also identified denial of access to legal counsel and medical treatment, and widespread use of secret and public executions, as other issues of concern.
There were also reports of In some cases, elements of Iran's penal code and legal practices amount to contravention of those international laws it acceded to.capital punishment in juvenile cases, and the use of the death penalty for cases that do not meet the level of serious crimes by international standards, he said.
UN News Service, 19/10/11
Let's end the myths of Britain's imperial past
Britain's empire was established, and maintained for more than two centuries, through bloodshed, violence, brutality, conquest and war. Not a year went by without large numbers of its inhabitants being obliged to suffer for their involuntary participation in the colonial experience. Slavery, famine, prison, battle, murder, extermination Ð these were their various fates.
Richard Gott, guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 19 October 2011
Government confirms, no work for those seeking asylum
The Minister for Immigration (Damian Green): The Government have decided not to opt in to the European Commission's amended proposals for asylum procedures and reception conditions directives.
The Government have grave concerns about the way in which the provisions in the amended reception conditions directive would allow asylum seekers to work after six months if a decision at first instance has not been reached and would place stringent restrictions on member states' ability to detain asylum seekers in exceptional circumstances. These restrictions are unnecessary in a system such as ours where detainees have the right to apply to the courts for release on bail, or to bring a legal challenge against their detention.
House of Commons / 13 Oct 2011 : Column 45WS
UK Border Agency explains need to hold families in some cases
The UK Border Agency today reiterated the need to hold families for short periods at UK ports and airports in small numbers of cases in order to act in the interests of vulnerable children and protect the border.
On occasions, families will sometimes need to wait for short periods in safe, secure accommodation on site while enquiries are made to establish whether they should be admitted to the UK or, if they have no right to enter the country, until the time of the next available return flight.
UKBA, Monday, 17 Oct 2011
2nd attempt to remove Shamiso Kofi
Shamiso Kofi is a national of Zimbabwe. Seven years a resident of the UK, originally in Newcastle and was settled in Stevenage at the time of her capture by UKBA. She is currently detained in Yarl's Wood IRC and due to be forcibly removed from the UK on Virgin Atlantic flight VS 671 at 21:00 hrs on Thursday 20th October and then onwards to Zimbabwe by Kenyan Airways flight KQ700.
The UK Border Authority has already unsuccessfully attempted to forcibly remove Shamiso on 4th October on a Kenyan Airways flight. The experience was very traumatic and Shamiso is still in pain. She says she went through hell and feels like dying at the thought of another attempt to forcibly deport her.
It is puzzling that she is booked on a Virgin Atlantic flight given that the boss of that airline, Richard Branson has in recent reports in the media confirmed his involvement in 2007 in a plan to persuade Mugabe to step down from power as Zimbabwe's leader. Mr Branson must be aware that Zimbabwe is not a safe place to return nationals who have participated in activism against the human rights abuses in that country.
Shamiso is a regular supporter of the Zimbabwe Vigil which has been protesting outside tne Zimbabwe Embassy in London every Saturday since October 2002 against human rights abuse and for democracy in Zimbabwe. Shamiso is particularly noticeable at the Vigil because of her strong lead in the singing and dancing. This means that she features prominently in many of the photos of the Vigil and is therefore more at risk of being noticed by the authorities in Zimbabwe if returned.
The vigil is running the following petition on her behalf:
"To UKBA / Home Office: We, the undersigned, are worried about the proposed deportation of one of our regular supporters, Shamiso Kofi (also known as Caroline Shamiso Tagarira). She is one of our most passionate dancers and singers and is very noticeable at the Vigil because of this. There are many photos of the Vigil on the internet and in some of them Shamiso features prominently. We think there are serious concerns about her safety if she is returned to Zimbabwe because it is very likely she could be recognized and brutally treated. We appeal the UKBA / Home Office to halt this deportation on the grounds that Shamiso's safety is not certain if she is returned to Zimbabwe."
The Zimbabwean regime is known worldwide for denial of human rights and the arbitrary persecution of anyone who does not actively support President Mugabe. UK policy has in the past recognised that to seek asylum in UK is enough to endanger a Zimbabwean; returns have restarted but there is no evidence that the situation has become safer. No one knows what has happened to people who have been deported in the last few months.
Zimbabwe is a failed state, the 4th worst in the world: A failed state has little or no governance, endemic corruption, profiteering by ruling elites, very poor human rights, the government cannot/will not protect the population from others or itself, massive internal conflict, forced internal/external displacement, institutionalised political exclusion of significant numbers of the population, progressive deterioration of welfare infrastructure (hospitals, clinics, doctors, nurses) not adequate to meet health, needs, progressive economic decline of the country as a whole as measured by per capita income, debt, severe child mortality rates, poverty levels.
What you can do to help
Email/Fax/Phone, Richard Branson / Virgin Atlantic Airways. Urge him not to carry out the forced removal of Shamiso who is to be forcibly removed from the UK on Virgin Atlantic flight VS 671 at 21:00 hrs on Thursday 20th October and then onwards to Zimbabwe by Kenyan Airways flight KQ700
Model letter Shamiso Kofi VAA.doc attached - you can copy/amend/compose your own.
Put as much pressure on this airline as you can, to make them consider if it's worth the damage to their reputation to continue as one of UKBA's deportation airlines.
Write: Richard Branson, Virgin Atlantic Customer Relations, PO Box 747, Dunstable LU6 9AH
Phone Head Office: 0844 811 0000
Fax: 0844 209 8708
2) Email/Faxing Theresa May, Home Secretary
Ask her to exercise her discretionary powers to stay the removal and release Shamiso Kofi from detention and to grant Khethiwe protection in the UK.
Model letter attached, Shamiso Kofi TM.doc or alternatively write your own one.
Rt. Hon Theresa May, MP
Secretary of State for the Home Office,
2 Marsham St, London SW1 4DF
Fax: 020 7035 4745
"CIT - Treat Official" <CITTO@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk>
3) Email/Fax Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister: Ask him to intervene with the Home Secretary Theresa May to stop the forced removal of Shamiso Kofi. due to be forcibly removed from the UK on Kenyan Airways flight KQ 101 at 20:00 hrs on Thursday 29th September, for onward transit on KQ 700 to Zimbzbwe.
Model letter Shamiso Kofi NC.doc attached. You can copy, amend or write your own version..
Nick Clegg - Deputy Prime Minister's Office
Cabinet Office, 70 Whitehall, London SW1A 2AS
Correspondence Section: Tel: 020 7276 0527, Fax: 020 7276 0514
Please let the Campaign know of any actions taken:
Zimbabwe Vigil Co-ordinator
Shamiso Kofi has not been deported
Thank you very much for your concern about Shamiso and for helping to campaign against her deportation to Zimbabwe. I am delighted to let you know that the second attempt to deport Shamiso Thursday 20th October did not go ahead and she was not taken to the airport. I have spoken to Shamiso and her solicitor. Her solicitor says deportation order has been stopped and he is now working on getting her out of detention.
Regards, Rose Benton
Zimbabwe Vigil Co-ordinator / firstname.lastname@example.org
CAR: Civilians bear the brunt of decades of violence and abuses
Local and foreign armed groups in the Central African Republic (CAR) are still killing, abducting, torturing and raping civilians, as well as burning houses and looting property, Amnesty International said in a report released today.
'Action needed to end decades of abuse' describes how CAR's population has been terrorized for decades by armed groups who have been able to operate with virtual impunity. Despite peace agreements and a fledgling Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration process, armed conflict continues to ravage the country resulting in civilian deaths and mass internal displacement.
CAR covers an enormous territory and most of it is a black hole in terms of human rights. At least 14 armed groups are currently operating in the country yet the government has consistently shown itself to be incapable or unwilling to take action to protect its citizens. Grave human rights violations, including possible war crimes and crimes against humanity, are committed with appalling frequency but the justice vacuum that exists in CAR means there's no end in sight."
Amnesty International, 20/10/11
"Family Friendly" Government Turns Nasty on Certain Families
The cumulative effect of the Government's family migration proposals will be to create a harder, longer and more precarious route for securing both entry to, and settlement in the UK for familial purposes. This will have profound consequences for those involved in bi-national and transnational relationships – at the same time it is striking that there is scant evidence to suggest that such proposals will further the Government's stated objectives of facilitating integration, reducing abuse of the system, and protecting public services.
In our view these proposals are likely to be positively counter-productive from the point of view of facilitation of integration. Their effect will simply be to deepen the divide between EEA nationals and non-EEA nationals in terms of the enjoyment of familial rights of reunion and residence (and indeed British nationals and EEA nationals given that British nationals will enjoy inferior entitlements to their European counter-parts). They are also likely to reinforce stratification along lines of race, gender and class.
Furthermore, the splitting up of families that can be expected to arise from these measures is likely to generate psychological distress and dependency, and the delay in accessing the welfare state will simply result in the grouping of migrants with other co-nationals in order to cope with the more demanding environment they find themselves in. As research shows, the ultimate effect of these measures will be to significantly constrain migrant choices. This is in turn is likely to have a negative impact on their ability to integrate fully into social, economic and political spheres of life in the UK.
Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, 18/01/11
Asylum claims up by 17% in early 2011, says UNHCR
The number of people seeking asylum in industrialised countries has risen by 17% so far this year, the UN's refugee agency says. But the jump in applications does not appear to be a result of the uprisings which have hit many parts of the Arab world, said the UNHCR. Most applications came from countries that have historically produced asylum seekers, such as Afghanistan and China.
BBC News, 18 October 2011
Burma: Army Committing Abuses in Kachin State
– Burma's armed forces have committed serious abuses against ethnic Kachin civilians in renewed fighting in Kachin State, Human Rights Watch said today. Since hostilities began over five months ago against the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), Burmese armed forces have been responsible for killings and attacks on civilians, using forced labor, and pillaging villages, which has resulted in the displacement of an estimated 30,000 Kachin civilians.
Human Rights Watch, October 18th 2011
Australian police study Sri Lanka 'war crimes' dossier
Police in Australia are examining a so-called "war crimes" dossier of information that claims to confirm Sri Lankan forces bombed and shelled civilians during the country's civil war.
Just days ahead of a meeting in Perth of heads of Commonwealth nations, activists claim information gathered from witnesses now living in Australia provides sufficient evidence for the authorities to act against those responsible for what took place two years ago. And activists have called on the Australian authorities to make use of laws that allow the police to charge people with war crimes for offences committed outside of the country.
Andrew Buncombe, Independent,Tuesday, 18 October 2011
Malawi: Human Rights
Tom Greatrex: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on the human rights situation in Malawi following the death of Robert Chasowa.
Mr Bellingham: I am deeply concerned about the human rights situation in Malawi. The death of Robert Chasowa, a student activist, comes after a string of arson attacks and death threats against prominent civil society figures and other Malawians who have criticised the behaviour of their President.
House of Commons / 17 Oct 2011 : Column 629W
There is no dignity in eating crumbs!
Sometimes I believe we have been so conditioned to believe that we must always be grateful for whatever crumbs come our way, as though we are lesser beings, there is no dignity in eating crumbs
Battle for Refugee status . . . . Eleven Years Nine Months and counting until I am in my grave or deported.
By Nellie de jongh
Myself, Nellie de jongh and my daughters got our settlement or Indefinite Leave to Remain at the start of this week after eleven years and nine months of battling all sorts of abuse and inhumane treatment.
Like I said to friends who say to me, we must have a get together and celebrate, celebrate what exactly is my question? years of abuse by the state and those who did simply because they could. I say the same thing I said when we got our refugee status, there is nothing to celebrate if anything it makes my blood boil.
Some will think Nellie aught to be grateful there are lots of people worse off than she is. I can understand that reasoning totally and I do feel for all those in the various stages of their struggle in this unjust system. Those mothers being physically and verbally abused in front of their traumatised children as they are being forced on the planes, those languishing in detention centres for years and months, the Afghani man who was forced to leave his family behind and severely beaten up by the private multinational security guards for daring to peacefully protest his removal, those who stood up in defence of him, fellow countrymen who are languishing in solitary confinement, who are now being criminalized for property damage.
Those that have chosen to end their lives in detention or in the community rather than be removed to face torture and death in their home countries because in the end it did not mater how and by whose hand they died. They choose to end their torture on this side of the border instead. Some like Manuel Bravo, so that their children might have a chance for life here in the UK. Those who have exhausted all legal avenues and can not be removed from the UK living in destitution not allowed to work and de facto not allowed to live. These are the abuses that leave me heavy hearted and aching inside.
I do not begrudge anyone celebrating; everyone does it for his or her own reasons, besides I like a good party myself. I am just not in a celebrating mood, besides the battle is not over its never going to be over, the next step is to earn British Citizenship which they give with one hand and the other hand will be ever ready to strip you of that citizenship. You have to watch your step for the rest of your life because one foot out of line and we will be like the majority of those in detention who have been deemed foreign criminals. We settled refugees, will always be second class citizens and will remain so until we are in our graves, that is if they don't deport us first.
Earning British Citizenship do I want to? It is only a license costing over £800.00 and as I have said before it can be taken away at any time . But my main grievance here is taking the Life in the UK test and to be asked questions on British History. British history my version or theirs? the British Empire or the "Brutish" Empire. I can speak for hours on the Brutish Empire as a former colonial subject and *"Britain's Foreign Bastard Child". And if you don't think Brutish is appropriate you must read the **The Butcher's Apron. A short history of Britain's bloody Colonialism.
Britain gave us Mugabe and I will not thank them for it as now my children and I live in exile. This is my second exile, I was internally displaced at age ten during the Liberation Struggle which didn't bring us liberation but persecution from Mugabe who had learnt well from his British masters how to subjugate a nation.
Eleven years and nine months of continuous struggle, being moved from pillar to post, always of the mercy of UKBA and its minion. Well yes the main struggle is over and now I can join 2.57 million people looking for work.
I firmly believe we have been conditioned to believe that we must always be grateful for whatever crumbs come our way as though we are lesser beings, there is no dignity in eating crumbs. This crumb I will eat gladly even though it will give me indigestion.
My last words on this, we settled refugees and by default second class citizens, must campaign for equality with all British Citizens, crumbs are not enough.
Settled or unsettled we all have to join the general struggle against all that is wrong in our society, bad working conditions, bad pay, bad pensions, very bad care for the elderly and vulnerable members of society, bad legislation both criminal and immigration.
Most importantly fight for the 'Right to Work' for each and everyone of us that lives in the UK, with or without papers.
Nellie de jongh
*"Britain's Foreign Bastard Child"
**The Butcher's Apron
Other articles by Nellie de jongh can be found here . . . .
Hundreds of children 'detained' at British airports
Hundreds of children are being detained at ports and airports by the UK Border Agency, the BBC has learned. Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show 697 under 18s were detained between May and August at the Port of Dover and at airports including Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted. The documents, seen by the BBC, show that of those detained, more than a quarter were travelling alone. The BBC's home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw says the findings suggest several thousand children have been detained across the UK.
The Children's Society, which obtained the data, said it was "horrified" and called the numbers "excessive".
The Home Office said children were detained for no more than 24 hours. This was while immigration checks were carried out, it said.
The Chief Inspector of Prisons, Nick Hardwick, has expressed concerns about the practice and the Independent Monitoring Board recently described some detention facilities at Heathrow as "degrading".
BBC News, 17th October 2011