Labour's new attacks on asylum seekers!
Not content with following in the previous
government's footsteps, 'New Labour' has introduced new measures
making it more difficult for anyone to seek asylum in Britain.
On Monday 27 October, 1997, the government
announced it was 'tightening up' asylum procedures to increase the
dictatorial power of immigration officers at sea and airports. In an
answer to a 'planted' question from a Labour MP, Home Secretary Jack
Straw said he would "... speed up the decision-making processes in
abusive asylum cases.... the time allowed for people with abusive
claims to make further representations after interview will be cut
from the existing 28 days to five working days. The new procedure
will have national application at all ports with immediate
Who decides what is an 'abusive' claim? The
immigration service of course! Asylum seekers, without friends,
contacts or lawyers, will face intimidating 'trial' by immigration
officers who have the arbitrary power to decide that they are
'abusive'. Cutting the time for 'further representations' to 5
working days will make it almost impossible to make contacts and put
together a case. Immigration officers to decide that more
applications are 'abusive' because there will be less chance of their
decisions being overturned. Asylum seekers are to be denied the basic
right to put their case forward.
Straw used the racist witch-hunt against the
Czech and Slovak gypsies to justify this change and show himself
tougher than the Tories. The questioner, Dr. Ladyman MP, one of those
especially revolting Labour members who will do any dirty work to get
into the government's good books, asked Straw if he would "...
confirm that the problems in east Kent are almost entirely a
consequence of the previous administration's failure to put in place
fair (!) and effective asylum controls and immigration controls? I
thank him for the efforts he has already made to reduce significantly
the number of unfounded asylum seekers." Straw started his answer by
talking about the "Flow of unfounded asylum seekers at Dover".
The gypsies, of course have been denied the
chance to demonstrate the foundation of their claims, and Straw, of
course, forgets to mention the 18 gypsies who have died in racist
attacks in Slovakia and the Czech republic in the last two years!
Under Straw asylum seekers are 'bogus' almost by definition.
Labour's immigration minister, Mike O'Brien
said the government was going to take a tough stand on 'economic
refugees' and 'bogus asylum seekers'. We must launch a militant
campaign of action against this government's racist immigration and
SUPPORT THE CAMPSFIELD 13! DROP THE CHARGES
At the same time that they are denying asylum rights, the government is taking draconian measures against 13 asylum seekers involved in the protests at Campsfield in August. The Campsfield protest came after a series of protests and hunger strikes at different detention centres and prisons. The authorities response had been to transfer those involved to other prisons with harsher conditions. This sparked the Campsfield protest.
Immigration minister O'Brien (who is the new Ann Widdicombe, just as Jack Straw is the new Michael Howard) threatened that they would be prosecuted. The government is trying to terrorise asylum seekers who are fighting back against the brutal, racist treatment they receive at the hands of the authorities in this country. 13 of the Campsfield protesters have been committed for trial on charges of violent assembly, which will almost certainly lead to their deportation if convicted.
It is essential that every anti-racist and
every activist in the labour movement comes to their defence and
demands that the charges against them are dropped immediately and
that they are freed from detention.
Updated (4/2/1998) from the November 1997
Movement for Justie magazine