[As hundreds of millions of workers and peasants are driven by hunger, desperation, oppressive conditions and displacement to migrate in search of livable and workable conditions, governments worldwide stigmatize, harass, and force into desperate lives, all the better to divide the working class, heighten xenophobia, and exploit in slave-like conditions. In the UK, migrants, refugees, and asylum-seekers are rounded up and stuffed into detention centers–prisons, by all estimates. But the migrants have organized and waged collective protests, as prisoners do, because “where there is oppression, there is resistance.” Here is a report on the huge hunger strike in centers across Britain. — Frontlines ed.]
Harmondsworth detention center, from where up to 100 detainees were deported to Pakistan this week. | Photo: AFP
The protests began last week, and have spread across several detention centers around the country, with hundreds of refugees reported to be taking part.
Migrants across the United Kingdom continued hunger strikes Thursday in protest against the horrendous treatment of asylum seekers in detention centers.
According to asylum seeker advocacy group Detained Voices, which records stories of the experiences of refugees in detention centers, a number of refugees were sent back to their home countries Wednesday. A source, known only as “Chowdery,” told RT that detainees were calling for the cancellation of a deportation flight to Pakistan, while another said that 100 asylum seekers were due to be deported.
A coalition of community groups, human rights organisations and politicians has renewed its call for the government to tackle caste discrimination in the UK by introducing legal protection for those from traditionally lower status Asian backgrounds.
Although a section of the Equality Act 2010 could offer lower-caste Asians a legal safeguard against discrimination, it has not been activated despite repeated demands from campaigners.
Supporters of the legislation say the law is needed to prevent discrimination at work, in the classroom and in the health service. Continue reading →
Several hundred people gathered in south London on Monday evening to celebrate Margaret Thatcher‘s death with cans of beer, pints of milk and an impromptu street disco playing the soundtrack to her years in power.
Young and old descended on Brixton, a suburb which weathered two outbreaks of rioting during the Thatcher years. Many expressed jubilation that the leader they loved to hate was no more; others spoke of frustration that her legacy lived on.
To cheers of “Maggie Maggie Maggie, dead dead dead,” posters of Thatcher were held aloft as reggae basslines pounded.
Clive Barger, a 62-year-old adult education tutor, said he had turned out to mark the passing of “one of the vilest abominations of social and economic history”.
He said: “It is a moment to remember. She embodied everything that was so elitist in terms of repressing people who had nothing. She presided over a class war.” Continue reading →
The true scale of Britain’s involvement in the slave trade has been laid bare in documents revealing how the country’s wealthiest families received the modern equivalent of billions of pounds in compensation after slavery was abolished.
The previously unseen records show exactly who received what in payouts from the Government when slave ownership was abolished by Britain – much to the potential embarrassment of their descendants. Dr Nick Draper from University College London, who has studied the compensation papers, says as many as one-fifth of wealthy Victorian Britons derived all or part of their fortunes from the slave economy.
As a result, there are now wealthy families all around the UK still indirectly enjoying the proceeds of slavery where it has been passed on to them. Dr Draper said: “There was a feeding frenzy around the compensation.” A John Austin, for instance, owned 415 slaves, and got compensation of £20,511, a sum worth nearly £17m today. And there were many who received far more.
Academics from UCL, led by Dr Draper, spent three years drawing together 46,000 records of compensation given to British slave-owners into an internet database to be launched for public use on Wednesday. But he emphasised that the claims set to be unveiled were not just from rich families but included many “very ordinary men and women” and covered the entire spectrum of society.
Dr Draper added that the database’s findings may have implications for the “reparations debate”. Barbados is currently leading the way in calling for reparations from former colonial powers for the injustices suffered by slaves and their families. Continue reading →
DEMONSTRATE OUTSIDE INDIA HOUSE IN LONDON, Aldwych, WC2B 4NA.
11am to 1pm 26th January 2013
As India prepares to celebrate its 63rd Republic Day on 26 January 2013, Delhi is trying to come to terms with the recent gang rape of a young woman on a moving bus and her subsequent death. Such rapes have become rampant in the Indian cities and towns. Few months ago London Guardian commented India to be the worst country for women among the G20 nations. Indian rape laws are stringent enough; however, the executive and the judiciary are so much feudal and patriarchal that the conviction rate for rape cases in India between 2001 and 2010 was 26%. In the case of Muslim and Dalit women the rate of conviction is lmost nil as evident from the gang rape case of Bhanwari Devi in Rajasthan.
However a bigger dimension to this is that the Indian state itself has proved time and again to be the biggest perpetuator of rapes and all forms of assaults on women. State violence is institutionalised through a culture of institutional impunity to the police, the paramilitary and the army. In June 1984, hundreds of Sikh women were gang raped in the sanctity of golden temple by the Indian Army during ‘Operation Blue Star’. In the village of Kuman-Poshpura in Kashmir valley, about 100 women were mass raped by the Indian Army in a single night of 23rd Feb 1991. Hundreds of Muslim women were gang raped by security forces during the anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat in 2002, as the Chief Minister Narendra Modi just watched. The brutal gang rape and execution of 32 year old Thangjam Manorama in Manipur in July 2004 is another example of Indian Army’s ongoing repression on women in the North-East. Continue reading →
When people ask me, “what is the most important thing you learned about Bobby Sands?” I tell them one simple thing. The most important thing about Bobby Sands is not how he died on hunger strike, it is how he lived.
New York – Bıa news agency, 5 November 2012
The hunger strikes of 1980/1981, in which ten men including Bobby Sands died, are the most famous use of that political weapon. Yet hunger striking has a long history in Irish political culture. It is said that the ancient Celts practiced a form of hunger strike called Troscadh or Cealachan, where someone who had been wronged by a man of wealth fasted on his doorstep. Some historians claim that this was a death fast, which usually achieved justice because of the shame one would incur from allowing someone to die on their doorstep. Others say it was a token act that was never carried out to the death – it was simply meant to publicly shame the offender. In any case, both forms of protest have been used quite regularly as a political weapon in modern Ireland.
The history of Irish resistance to British colonialism is full of heroes who died on hunger strike. Some of the best-known include Thomas Ashe, a veteran of the 1916 “Easter Rising”, who died after he was force-fed by the British in Dublin’s Mountjoy Jail. In 1920, three men including the mayor of Cork City Terence MacSwiney died on hunger strike in England’s Brixton Prison. In October 1923 two men died when up to 8,000 IRA prisoners went on hunger strike to protest their imprisonment by the new “Irish Free State” (formed after the partition of Ireland in 1921). Three men died on hunger strike against the Irish government in the 1940s. After the IRA was reformed in the 1970s, hunger strikes became common once again. IRA man Michael Gaughan died after being force-fed in a British prison in 1974. And Frank Stagg died in a British jail after a 62-day hunger strike in 1976.
Unlike in Turkey, the Irish make no distinction between a “hunger strike” and a “death fast,” although many hunger strikes have started without the intention of anyone dying. In 1972, IRA prisoners successfully won status as political prisoners after a hunger strike in which no one died. They were then moved to Long Kesh prison camp, where they lived in dormitory-style huts and self-organized their education (including guerrilla training), work (including cooperative handicrafts production), recreation, and attempts to escape and rejoin the conflict. The prisoners used their relative freedom to raise their collective and individual consciousness about their struggle against British occupation of Ireland. They read international revolutionaries like Che Guevara and Irish socialists such as James Connolly. This was, in turn, a foundation for rebuilding the IRA on a basis that included a less hierarchical and more participative structure, with a higher emphasis on community politics as a part of armed struggle.
As the IRA rebuilt their organization in prison the British government also changed strategy. The main pillar of the new strategy was a “conveyor belt” of security operations that included widespread arrests of young Catholic males, heavy interrogation including torture, and juryless courts in which a single judge pronounced guilt often on the sole basis of verbal or written statements under interrogation. Continue reading →