He had written to the Home Office several times to check on the
progress of his application with no reply so he asked his solicitor
to investigate. The Home Office told him they thought Beto had left
the country as they had no address for him unsurprising,
as he had no address. Ten months later Beto finally got an answer:
he had to return to Angola. They didnt believe what
I had told them, they said there was now a ceasefire in Angola and
they told me everything was alright in my country. He took
his case to appeal but was turned down again, this time because
he had not registered in DR Congo after slipping across the border
and because he had no proof that his life would be in danger if
he returned. Proof? He pointed out that if someone wanted to kill
you they wouldnt necessarily write to tell you first. Just
days before his second appeal was due, hostilities broke out in
Angola again and Beto was finally granted leave to stay. If hed
returned to Angola, I would be dead, he said. Since
being granted asylum hes learned English and studied IT. He
now helps out at the Refugee Council one-stop centre in Brixton
as an interpreter and gives advice to others facing the same situation.
Mohamed Nasri from Afghanistan: Mohamed Nazris mother
sold the family home in Kabul for £5,600 in 2001 and gave
every penny to an agent to smuggle her teenage son to England. Her
husband, a famous politician, had been imprisoned by the Taliban
for supporting a more democratic party and she feared the same fate
for him. He made the long journey overland in vans and buses before
arriving somewhere in Europe where he was sealed with
nine others into a hidden compartment in a lorry carrying car engines.
After twelve hours in the cramped airless chamber, he remembers
he didnt even care if he had made it to the UK. When the doors
were finally opened, he just wanted to be able to breathe. I
remember thinking, Im going to die in five minutes inside
this lorry. There was no oxygen left. I was shouting to open
the doors and when they did, I was laughing. I didnt care
that there was a police officer there, I had another life."
Now working as a liaison officer for a project which links Afghan
asylum seekers and Salford NHS, the 22 year old says many people
have a similar tale. I miss my family, I have four brothers
and three sisters and I want to go home, but not until I feel free
in Afghanistan. He has enrolled in college to study social
work from September and hopes to apply for citizenship when his
'leave to remain' visa expires.
Y.K.L from the Ivory Coast: The rebels came into our
house and took my brother. When my mother tried to protect him they
killed her with a knife. They cut her throat and told us to drink
her blood. They put knives to our throats and forced us. Then they
took my brother away. The men threatened to cut my clitoris if I
wouldnt stop resisting. Then they raped me. One of them took
his belt and started beating me on my face. Y.K.L still has
two scars along her cheekbone from the blows. She also has scars
on her wrist and down her legs from cigarette burns. Y.K.L was then
taken, with other civilians, to the rebels camp. She was held
prisoner for four days in a small makeshift prison where she was
frequently raped and watched other women suffer the same violation.
One night she and a number of other girls managed to escape.
I went straight to my fathers police station. When
I went inside I found the bodies of the policemen lying on the floor,
most of them had no heads. I recognized my fathers body by
his clothes. She ran away and was trafficked to France to
stay with a colleague of her fathers, but his family was not
prepared to take in an illegal immigrant for more than a couple
of days. Y.K.L went to England. She arrived in Dover in November
2002 and asked for asylum.
Her application was rejected but she is unlikely to be deported,
Y.K.L is now in limbo because the Ivory Coast is not designated
a safe country by the Home Office. Without the right
to work or any entitlement to welfare payments, little English and
an incomplete education, her condition is desperate.
She is not alone. An estimated 25,000 asylum seekers have exhausted
their legal possibilities and are now wandering the streets of Britains
cities trying to survive from day to day.
* 2nd April European Day of Actions for Migrant Rights www.noborder.org
* Zoe Neirizi is an Iranian refugee who gets refugees to use film
to express their experiences www.blackswanfilms.co.uk
CRAP ARREST OF THE WEEK
For being creative...
A Detroit artist has been sent down for a month for painting
a mural on the side of his studio! Edward Stross, who suffers from
Multiple Sclerosis, replicated Michaelangelos Creation
of Man on the side of his studio building, to the outrage
of the local powers that be. Philistines all! The American Council
for Civil Liberties are filing a motion to free the 43 year-old.
You can see his mural at www.aclumich.org/attachments/gonzowall.jpg
The name Microsoft is, for most people, synonymous with ideas
of monopoly position, corporate bullying and crap bug-ridden software.
Over the years, Microsoft has used every avenue of legal leverage
their well-paid lawyers can think of to protect their position and
snuff out any development that could threaten it. This includes
the Open Source Movement, in which software developers
have been attempting to develop free (improved) alternatives to
proprietary software whilst retaining similar functionality and
compatibility (SchNEWS can recommend OpenOffice.org
for a suite of excellent programs to replace MS Office).
All this has upset companies like Microsoft, because the developers
do not have to steal any legally protected copyrighted code to do
it but can design their code to achieve the same results
a little like expressing the same basic idea in English but using
different words / sentence structure to do it. So, how to stop people
thinking that they can write their own programmes and then, even
worse, give them away without consumers having to pay big business?
The newest form of attack is patent law. Unlike copyrighting, which
protects a specific instance of an idea, patents allows someone
to control the idea itself (and for something like 20 years!), suppressing
anyone from doing anything derived from the same basic idea. The
absurdity of this, especially in a pure-thought based activity like
computing, is obvious. If patents had been allowed at the inception
of the software industry, some big Microsoft-type company could
have come in and said, er, programmes to manipulate text,
some for numbers, pictures, audio, some to sort out data transfer
from one computer to another.. and that wouldve been
it practically no programme could have ever been developed
without paying them for the gracious use of their idea.
This, however crazy it seems, is now what is, in essence, being
proposed. Worse still, for such a crucial piece of legislation affecting
creative freedoms of all, and a plethora of small independent developers
in Europe and the UK particularly, there was a scandalous recent
attempt by the EU Commission to bring it in through the back-door.
In December 2004, the bill was attached to an obscure
fisheries bill, as an A-list item to be carried without
discussion or vote. It was thankfully spotted at the last moment
by an alert Polish eurocrat (Poland has a growing sector of small
software houses) and derailed
for a while. The matter was
referred back to EU parliament who demanded that the EU commission
reconsider the matter; they refused and re-tabled the same directive
as an A-list item for a ministers meeting a couple
of weeks ago. Denmark requested a postponement, rejected by current
presidency-holder Luxembourg on institutional grounds.
The directive now goes back to the parliament where only a majority
of MEPs can stop this disastrous bill becoming EU law.
For more, and to find out how to lobby your local MEP, see www.briefhistory.com/footnotes
- Want to get involved in action against the G8? Festival of
Dissent April 6-10th Lanarkshire, Scotland www.dissent.org.uk
- Around 20 citizen weapons-inspectors demonstrated outside Brightons
EDO arms dealers on Monday. Over-the-top cops placed a one
hour restriction under section 14 of the Public Order Act, demanding
that people disperse because they were intimidating
and might compel EDO staff to cease work. Three people
were nicked and held for 12 hours.
20 to 1 on the Derby
The Derbyshire cops said it was their biggest police operation
since the Miners Strike twenty years ago, and it was their advice
following intelligence reports, that made environment
minister Margaret Beckett insist that full security measures be
So, police from as far afield as Brighton and Durham were bussed
in to protect 30 environment and development ministers discussing
stuff in the lead up to the G8 in Scotland. They met for just two
hours before being taken in police convoys to Chatsworth House 10
miles away for dinner! 2,000 police sealed off the area with a five-mile
ring of steel fencing and specially laid metal road capable of carrying
fully laden riot vans on 24-hour patrol. The operation, costing
at least £2m, included the closure of Breadsall village primary
school for two days. One SchNEWS reader described the policing as
phenomenal: lines of riot police outside the station at 10am
in riot gear including Darth Vader style leg wear. All this
for about 100 protestors - which works out at around £20,000-a-head.
As one demonstrator said Seems it would make more sense to
simply give us all a few grand to stay away. Id have stayed
away for less than half of what it cost to police me!
A demonstration march planned by groups including Friends of the
Earth was banned by the home secretary, while a Critical Mass bike
ride ended with 12 arrests.
So did they get their intelligence wrong? Or was this
just a helpful training session and evidence-gathering exercise
to help the cops plan for when the G8 meeting proper takes place
* See the pictures at http://tashcamuk.fotopages.com/?entry=384246
Big Bad Wolfowitz
Who needs to have experience of banking to run the worlds
biggest bank? Not Paul Wolfowitz, who, it is rumoured, can barely
use a cash-point card. Bushs nomination for the top job at
the World Bank is not only worrying because Wolfowitz was a former
professor from the National War College, where he developed his
concept of do-able wars. Nor is it because he cant
add up he said the Iraq war would cost $30bn, not the likely
Wolfie was introduced to Bush by George Schultz, former Secretary
of State to Ronald Reagan, and now director of Betchel, the corporation
which charged Bolivian workers, earning an average $40 a month,
half their wages for access to water. Guess who forced a desperately
poor Bolivian government to flog its water system to a multinational?
You guessed it - The World Bank. With Vice President Dick Cheneys
close connections to Halliburton, the main contractor reconstructing
Iraq, SchNEWS wonders whether a Wolfowitz-led World Bank will be
bunging Halliburton a few backhanders too. After all, its
all mates together and Iraqs sure to want to borrow some money.
But maybe all the talk about a hawkish approach is wildly
off the mark. After all, Wolfie told the New York Times in 2003
that he thought all foreigners should stop interfering in
the internal affairs of Iraq. Those who want to come and help are
welcome. Those who come to interfere and destroy are not.
Banner Theatre is a community theatre company wholl be celebrating
their 30th anniversary next month. Banner has produced plays on
everything from Private Finance Initiatives to the Miners
Strike and stuff about refugees. 0845 458 1909 www.bannertheatre.co.uk
Be A Darling
This week the government announced the biggest rail deal in Europe,
awarding GNER a £1.3bn contract to run the East Coast Mainline
for the next ten years. Transport Secretary Alastair Darling was
acting as a PR exec for privatization and GNER, saying how wonderful
they were and how GNER had made a profit and so were contributing
money to the government. But he failed to mention that GNER want
to scrap vast swathes of regional services, essential to people
in rural areas without cars. These less-used lines also link in
with the main lines, so cutting them means less passengers on the
main lines. Doh!
In fact GNER is one of the very few train operating companies that
makes money from running trains; most companies run at a loss, so
the taxpayer foots the bill in subsidies so that the private companies
can er, make a profit. £2m a week is paid by the government
into the pocket of shareholders. Thats right readers, despite
crap services and running the lines at a loss, last year profits
from rail for National Express were up by 74%, Go Ahead up by 64%
and FirstGroup up by 55%.
The biggest winners are the Roscos (Rolling Stock Companies), which
are little better than loan sharks. They actually own the trains
and carriages and lease them to the train companies at extortionate
prices. These companies have made over £2bn in profit since
the Tories decided to sell off the railways in 1996. Last year Angel
Trains who are owned by the Royal Bank of Scotland made £86.3m
and HSBC Rail made £75.3m. These parasitical middlemen lease
old trains at extortionate levels which led the chief executive
of GNER to comment: In any other industry, as an asset gets
older the people leasing it would pay less.
What our Darling Transport Secretary also failed to mention was
that one of the biggest success stories was the publicly owned South
Eastern Trains (SET), who since taking over from those jokers Connex
in November 2003 have improved punctuality, safety, cleanliness
and customer satisfaction - and theyve recruited more staff
yet need less subsidy than Connex did. Neo-Labour arent too
pleased about this and have pressurized the Strategic Rail Authority,
who run SET, not to publicize these successes for fears that it
will increase calls to bring the railway system back into public
hands even further. In the year before privatization British Rails
Network South East made a surplus of £71m - in 2003-04 the
privatized companies needed a subsidy of £360m. The evidence
is clearly there that publicly owned rail services are better than
privatized ones, so why is the government putting the franchise
for SET up for sale to private companies? Perhaps Alistair Darling
has an eye on his long term career prospects and thinks hed
like to work for GNER as their PR manager - hes getting enough
practice at the moment. Or maybe hes just stupid.
SchNEWSs hot gadget to get The TV-B-Gone - a palm-sized
remote-control device that shuts off nearby TVs! Join 10,000 Jammers
in over 275 cities around the world who plan a seven-day rebellion
against TV (week of April 25). All you have to do is roam around
targeting idiot-boxes in shops, airports, bars, classrooms, etc.
and remind people that TV pollutes our mental environment and distracts
us from reality. Better still, if you organize a JammerGroup, the
makers will even you send you a TV-B-Gone for free! Check details
SchNEWS warns all readers to switch off yer television sets
and go out and do something less boring instead. Honest!
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