1995 | Issue
WAKE UP! WAKE UP! THE
WORLD IS UNDER ATTACK!
involved in some direct action recently and spotted a couple of
'friendly' faces ? Wondered why they are wearing police uniforms,
know your name, can't do enough to help you and seem to make it
to more actions than the most dedicated activist?
Welcome to Inspector Barry Norman (left) and Sergeant Andy Brittan
(right) - the public face of the recently formed police 'Forward
Intelligence Team' ('FIT')-The 12 strong team has been set up to
gather information on "potential troublemakers". They
operate in uniform and are seeking to build a "rapport with
[key] street activists so that people likely to provoke disorder
can be identified early in an event".
and Brittan first came into the open when they arrested, a Reclaim the Streets (RTS) activist. The team said they wanted to start a "dialogue" with
RTS, as they "actually agreed with what they were trying to achieve, but
didn't want those nasty anarchists coming along and spoiling it for
everyone". If RTS gave them information in advance of where the parties
were likely to occur, the police would obviously not try and stop them, but
would merely be there to make sure they run smoothly......
Norman and Brittan have taken to following
RTS activists around. "They kept on coming up to RTS people at Critical
Mass actions, filming us and trying to find out who we are, what we're up to.
"One bloke wouldn't give his name, so they followed us all back to a pub.
Someone went outside to check the bikes were safe, to find the police trying to
break off the D-locks! They explained that we weren't allowed to leave our
bikes there so we moved them to an authorised lock up spot. When we left the
pub later, however, we found that one bike was missing, belonging to the person
whose name the police were trying to get earlier! To get the insurance he had
to go down to the local police station, report the offence and give his name
and address. Bingo - the police have got his details." Since then
Inspector Norman and Sergeant Brittan have spent most of their time turning up
on actions and chatting to activists. They were last spotted at Whatley Quarry
chatting people up.
are the Earth First!, anti-roads and Reclaim the Streets homework brigade.
Their role on actions is to collect information, identify "key"
activists, start informal dialogue, and to try and control and diffuse the
situation. It's really important that people know who they are, and don't talk
people are here to attempt to break up direct action groups. If we get to Know
who they are and how they work it makes their job all the more difficult.
team are obviously trying to build up files on people. They're going to be
around for a while yet so it's important people get to know them. But it's also
important people don't get paranoid."
Brown, chief executive of British Gas got a 75 % pay rise - he's now struggling
on a mere £475,000 a year. Despite the fact that British Gas made profits of
£1.23 billion last year all Christmas parties have been cancelled to save
early October 50 hospital cleaners were sacked by Pall Mall (profits of £7 M)
for refusing to sign a new contract, which would have cut wages by £35 a week.
Join the daily picket lines outside Hillingdon hospital.
late October 45 workers were sacked from JJ Fast Food Distribution for joining
a union. They were working 60-70 hours a week for between £130-£240 without
sick or holiday pay as well as having to pay parking fines and any damage to
trucks etc. out of their own pockets! Join the picket lines Mill Mead Rd behind
Tottenham Hale 6 am daily - and boycott Jenny's Burger Bars.
Docks and Harbour Company despite making a tidy £35 million last year want a 7
day week, 3 shift day with no union recognition for dockers in Liverpool.
Random sackings led to 500 being given the boot as they refused to cross picket
dole offices are on strike over low wages and performance related pay, workers
will also get sacked if they don't hassle enough people off the dole! Don't
worry, its all getting much worse if the JobSeekers Allowance goes ahead. Young
people who refuse to work for low wages will lose all benefits. While Michael
Portillo has said £60 a week is enough to live on, he gets £67 000 a year, £42
000 as office allowance and travel expenses. How does he manage?!
trials from April in Hull and Maidstone. The long-term unemployed will have to
either work for their dole or get cut off. The Low Pay Unit announcing its
yearly Scrooge at Christmas Award said that the judges this year were faced
with an exceptionally difficult task. "Since the abolition of Britain's
legal minimum wage system in 1993, competition for the award has become
intense." So this year the award goes jointly to:
private residential home in Corby: Mrs. A, a care assistant, was on duty 112
hours a week. A letter from her employer states: "I would like you to work
as follows: Monday to Sunday inclusive 5 pm to 9 am. Salary will be paid
monthly in arrears at the rate of £150 per week. The lady was off work through
stress and exhaustion for a few days and received no sick pay. A children's
clothing manufacturer in Lancashire, Starlite Garments:
women making children's clothes were required to work 42.5 hours a week (9am
till 6 pm with half an hour lunch break) for £25 a week (59p an hour) When
challenged the employer stated that the rate was really £57 a week (£1.34. an
hour) but the women worked too slowly for that. AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR?
for action - photocopy! distribute! contribute!
ASYLUM SEEKERS – THE NEW ‘ENEMY WITHIN’
Criminal Justice Act (CJA) became law last year the government thought they
could get away with attacking fundamental human rights by saying they were
targetting 'undesirable' groups like travellers, hunt sabs and road protesters
- the government's 'enemy within'. They ended up uniting an enormous range of
groups and people in opposition to this attack on our rights.
year the government has a new target - asylum seekers fleeing to Britain from
persecution and war. Just like with the CJA, attacks on basic rights are
dressed up as being necessary to deal with a 'marginal' group of lying,
this time they're not just taking away people's rights. They want to starve
families. They want to make thousands of refugees homeless and destitute. They
want to force people escaping barbarous regimes to go back to the countries
they nave fled. They want to kill people.
think they can get away this because the 'opposition' in parliament is no such
thing and they don't believe anyone else will stand up to them.
just like with the CJA, we will prove them wrong by fighting them every inch of
are publishing this special feature, an interview with someone working with
refugee communities in east London, to let people know about the government's
plans for asylum seekers - and what we can do to oppose them.
laws are the government bringing in to attack asylum seekers?
are two major changes taking place. Firstly the abolition of the right to benefits
for asylum seekers, which were to come into affect on January 8th, but have
been temporarily postponed. Then there's the Asylum and Immigration Bill
planned for later in the year.
Lilley, the social security minister, announced the social security changes at
the Conference Party conference this year to great applause. The changes mean
that the majority of asylum seekers in Britain - people fleeing persecution,
torture, war and conflict in various parts of the world - will be denied any
social security benefits, like Income Support and Housing Benefit, when they
come to apply for asylum.
estimated that 13,000 people will be affected by these changes right away.
These are people who have applied for asylum in the UK since October as well as
several thousand people who have received negative decisions before that and
are waiting on appeals. Out of these 13,000 people it's estimated there will be
between 1,500 and 3,000 children.
who apply for asylum at their port of entry - that's about one in five asylum
seekers - will still be entitled to benefits until their cases come up but the
majority will have no entitlement to any benefits. However people seldom apply
for asylum at their port of entry because they have a massive and well-founded fear
that they're not going to be believed by immigration officials and that they'll
get sent right back. People have landed at Heathrow or Gatwick after dangerous,
exhausting and sometimes terrifying escapes from persecution and tend to find
their feet for a few days before applying 'in country'.
benefit cuts go ahead these people will have no right to benefits while they
pursue their claim. Alongside this, anyone who has applied for asylum since
11th October 1995 and has been getting benefits will have their benefits
stopped immediately if they have their asylum claim refused. The government
says you still have a right to appeal - but how are you meant to pursue an
appeal that might take months if you're homeless and destitute?
average length of time it takes for an initial decision on an asylum claim is
18 months. If you get a negative decision and appeal against it it can take
many more months, sometimes over a year, to be heard.
do asylum seekers come from?
seekers come to Britain from many places in the world where there is
persecution, conflict and torture. Amnesty say torture is carried out in 96
countries throughout the world at the present time.
are people seeking asylum from Angola where one of the longest running and most
devastating wars in the world is still going on. People are coming from the
brutal dictatorship that runs Sudan and from Kenya, where President Moi is
desperately clinging to power by imprisoning, torturing and murdering democracy
activists. Some come to Britain from Algeria where militias and the army are
killing hundreds of people. In the last two years the largest number of asylum
seekers have been from Nigeria where in 1992 the military government of General
Abacha refused to accept the results of a general election and has been
imprisoning and killing democracy activists ever since, particularly Ogoni
activists protesting against the complete destruction of their homeland in the
search for oil.
talk to refugees you hear so many stories about the real reasons people seek
asylum. They are desperate for protection from the abuses they've suffered. I
know one mother from Ethiopia who lives in east London with a seven year old
son who fled when her husband was 'disappeared' by the Ethiopian government.
She has already had a refusal on her initial asylum
because the Home Office didn't believe that her claim to be in fear of
persecution was genuine! This is absolutely typical. Her son has quite serious
medical and educational needs and this woman is frantic as she waits for her
appeal because so few people are being granted asylum and it's very difficult
for people to be believed that their fear of persecution is genuine. If she
loses her appeal in the New Year she'll be returned to Ethiopia.
have been through the most frightening experiences and many have lost their
parents. Every year at least 400 unaccompanied refugee children apply for
asylum in the UK. Sometimes they enter after their parents have paid to have
them escape conscription into militias and armies. Many of these children are
acutely vulnernable and rarely getting the support they desperately need to
rebuild their lives. The immigration laws often prevent them from being reunited
with surviving relatives.
world is increasingly closing its doors to people from poorer countries'
hear so many horrifying stories. I know of some Zairean children who saw
government soldiers kill members of their families and are severely traumatised
by their experiences. They need help, not attacks from a racist government. I
knew one 11 year old unaccompanied Zairean boy who could remember Zairean
soldiers coming to his house, taking his father away (that was the last time he
saw his father), raping his aunt and his mother fleeing. He still hasn't
received a decision on his asylum claim so his position is very insecure. If
the Home Office makes a decision which doesn't recognise his fear of
persecution then his benefits will be stopped and he will face deportation.
He's been waiting for that decision for four years.
a Ugandan man who has been waiting for eight years between putting in an
application for asylum and getting a decision. Not knowing what's going to
happen to you creates an enormous sense of fear and uncertainty.
government say they are bringing in these laws to deal with a flood of bogus
asylum seekers entering the country. How true is this?
government says that the majority of asylum seekers are bogus and it's completely
untrue. Even the small proportion of people who are recognised as genuine
refugees will have to starve and become homeless while their claims are
decided, an average wait of 18 months. Only a tiny number of asylum seekers are
being recognised as refugees. Last year only 825 were granted refugee status.
worth remembering that Britain has the lowest proportion of refugees per head
of population of any developed country. The argument used by Michael Howard for
the Asylum Bill is a circular one. Since 1993 the government has granted asylum
much more rarely, resulting in three quarters of all asylum applications now
being refused. They then use the fact that they refuse all these applications
to 'prove' that the majority of applications are bogus!
reality is that the standard of proof that refugees have to provide about their
persecution is so high that it's almost impossible to prove you're a genuine
asylum seeker. For instance 99% of asylum applications from Nigeria are being
refused despite the well documented abuses of human rights in that country.
majority of refugees in the world are cared for in the poor countries of the
world who don't always have the means to give the support that refugees need.
Over a million people who fled from Rwanda are now in Zaire, Uganda and
Tanzania. Millions of Afghani refugees have been cared for in Pakistan. Less
than 10% of the world's 27 million recognised refugees are cared for in the
rich world, less than 6% in western Europe. But even this tiny number is going
to be reduced even further. Why are they doing it? You just have to look at the
racism of the government and the way they use the issue of asylum seekers to
create the impression in people's minds that we are being 'swamped' by asylum
seekers when it's simply not true.
rich world is increasingly closing its doors to people from poorer countries.
It makes no difference whether you come to join family members, to improve your
life or fleeing for your life. The rich countries, without any real public
debate or discussion, are working to bury the international legislation, like
the 1951 United Nations Convention on the Status of Refugees, which protect
refugees. The rich countries want to make the concept of asylum a thing of the
government said last week that it was delaying the benefit cuts so they can be
debated in parliament. What does this mean?
changes to social security changes have been put off because some MPs said that
to put the changes through without a debate in parliament would have been
"an abuse of parliament". Nothing about the abuse of people's rights,
they're only concerned about the abuse of MPs' rights! So a concession was made
to discuss the changes in parliament before they're brought in. The changes have
not been withdrawn.
does the Asylum Bill fit in with the benefit cuts?
benefits off refugees goes hand in hand with the Asylum Bill. For example the
Asylum Bill contains measures for declaring some countries as 'safe countries'
- the so-called 'white list'. People coming from these countries will be deemed
to have an unfounded claim and will find it enormously difficult to prove their
case. Alongside this, the government is planning to bring in a speeded-up
procedure for asylum seekers from some other countries, in effect a parallel
white list. Countries like Nigeria and Algeria have been left off the white
list but have been put on the list for speeded-up procedure. People from these
countries will have a matter of days to prove that their fear of persecution is
seekers have to provide documentary proof of their fear of persecution,
something that is all but impossible except for a tiny minority of them. How
can you prove you were threatened with death or tortured within a few days?
Even when people bring documentary evidence with them they are regularly
disbelieved. People with bruising and scarring consistent with torture are
often completely disbelieved. This year around 40,000 people will seek asylum
in Britain - most of these will be refused and the applicants deported back to
persecution and torture.
way these laws will be beaten is through direct action that makes them
there much opposition to the benefit cuts and the Asylum Bill?
government enacted the 1993 Asylum and Immigration Act, which made it easier
for asylum seekers to be detained, with very little opposition from the Labour
Party. The same thing's happening again. Jack Straw, the shadow Home Secretary,
has stated that no one could put a wafer between Labour and Conservative
policies on immigration, which says it all really.
is very good at creating a mist around what they do on lots of issues like
education, health and immigration where they say they are opposing the
government but actually don't. Jack Straw says Labour wants a consensus with
the government on immigration because he's afraid that Labour will be seen as
being 'soft' on immigration and asylum seekers. No one should imagine that
Labour will oppose racist immigration laws - when they were in government they
forced Indian and Pakistani women to undergo virginity tests on arrival in
Britain in order to get into the country!
opposition that has been built so far has been built in communities directly
affected by the changes. Last week in Hackney there was a 2,500 strong march
against the benefit withdrawals and over 90% of the people there were Turkish
and Kurdish workers whose families and friends will be directly affected by the
new legislation. There wasn't a single Labour Party banner, a single left-wing
banner and only one union banner from the local National Union of Teachers.
People from McLibel turned up and people from local community centres. The
Refugee Council and churches in communities where refugees are being threatened
are starting to open premises as shelters for refugees who will be made
homeless and destitute. There are some positive, grassroots community
only way these attacks are going to be defeated is through direct action. The
only real opposition to this government over the last two to three years has
been the direct action of people standing up for themselves and each other, not
direct action needed to defeat the attacks on asylum seekers has to involve
picketing and occupying places in opposition to the attacks, letting people
know what's really going on. But it also needs to give support to the thousands
who are going to be in desperate need - people without food to eat or anywhere
to live. The experiences of the anti-roads movement and the fight against the
CJA are going to be essential in organising the opposition that's needed. How
do you organise squats? How do you organise to keep people going? The
anti-roads campaigns have made sure that activists have been fed - asylum
seekers are going to need to squat and they are going to need people to help
them. What will be successful is people doing things for themselves. Even a
group of six or seven people getting together to support a family can make a
panic amongst professionals working in local government and education and
housing about the effects of these changes because their services won't begin
to be able to meet the needs of the people affected. Social Services have a
legal obligation to care for children but not the parents. Pressure has to put
on local authorities not to evict families into destitution.
make sure that the people affected by these new racist laws do not become
destitute, do not starve and are not forced to live on the streets. There's a
lot we can do. We can inform ourselves about what's happening, get in touch
with refugee groups and start to help out. People need to be collecting money,
collecting clothes, cracking squats, networking... If we allow asylum seekers -
one of the most vulnerable people in British society - to be picked off and
attacked like this who's going to be next? We cannot afford to leave the
campaign to defend asylum seekers to be run by opposition politicians - they
will pretend to oppose the new laws, just like they promised to oppose the CJA,
but actually do nothing. The only way these laws will be beaten is through
direct action that makes them unworkable - and by giving practical support to
those affected. The politicians are giving lots of speeches but local
authorities will be cooperating with the new laws while they talk about
opposing them. We can't allow that to happen.
January - Torchlight procession to Downing Street, meet St Martin's in the
Field, Trafalgar Square, 6pm
13th January - Rally at Bloomsbury Baptist Church, 1.30pm
24th February - National demonstration against the Asylum Bill, Embankment to
Trafalgar Square, 11am
UP, STITCH UP
Luton, a collection of people have got the authorities running scared. Police
operations have been launched against them. The local press have run smear
campaigns. MPs and freemasons have tried everything in their power to eradicate
them. Michael Howard has refused to conduct an enquiry into the situation.
These people however have refused to stop committing their heinous crimes. In
an unprecedented attempt to destroy the momentum behind their success, the
police have now charged one of the alleged ringleaders with ABH and murder.
what vile shape do their activities take? What is this hot bed of evil
terrorism which has attracted such attention from the forces of law and order?
they like animals, for one and they like showing little children round their
farm. They like building loving, supportive, creative environments in which
people can come into. And they like to dance. They like to gather others to
dance on the earth, to perform the oldest act of celebration known to humanity.
These activities may not seem to warrant the extreme reaction they have
incurred, but there is an explanation. You see, these people don't want to be
paid for what they do. Money, to them, is no great god, no substitute for
personal power. Their acts are performed only for their own intrinsic value.
These people are an example to anyone who refuses to accept capitalism.
These people are freedom fighters. These people are Exodus.
blatant framing of Biggs, a leading member of Exodus, is the latest incident in
a campaign of police harassment which has continued since Exodus began in 1992.
The authorities are so afraid of the "massive but passive" resistance
which has met every attempt to eradicate the collective, that they are reduced
to fitting Biggs up on a murder charge. That a death occurred recently is not in
dispute. That this death was a tragic accident is accepted by the friends and
family of the person involved, by local people and by the pathologists who have
investigated it. On the 2 days following the incident, the local papers
reported "no suspicious circumstances" and "no foul play".
So why is Biggs currently bailed to Devon "for his own safety"?
events of that night are clearly recorded. The person in question had been
drinking in a local pub, and had got involved in a fracas outside, which Biggs
and others were asked to break up. The person involved then ran down the road
(alone, as verified by a CCTV camera in Dunstable Main Street) and into a park.
A good distance into the park, he tried to climb a fence, but fell onto a metal
spike and injured his head. He crawled a short way, but was later found dead
from a combination of hypothermia and head wounds.
recorded an accidental death.
On hearing of the death the next morning, Biggs
went straight to the local police to make a statement. He then went about his
usual business in Luton for the next two weeks. Bedfordshire Police, however,
saw an opportunity to turn public opinion against the collective and to remove
one of the perceived ringleaders more or less permanently. The subsequent arrest
and charging of Biggs hangs on two points. One is the statement of a female
witness which appears to have mysteriously changed after the coroners' report
was seen. The other is a statement from the Desk Sergeant of Dunstable Police
Station, who claims to have overheard Biggs bragging about the murder to
another person in the cop shop. Biggs was only there on Tuesday. The other
person was only there on Thursday.
The police look like they are on their way
to repeating a situation whereby they're tying themselves up in knots with
their own evidence. You don't have to be a SchNEWS reader to be aware that the
police consistently fabricate evidence against 'undesirables'. Biggs is not a
wage slave. He is black. He has multiple facial piercings. These alone are seen
by many as reasons to deprive him of his liberty. But the sheer tenacity of the
campaign to lock him up speaks volumes about the real reasons behind it. You
see, Biggs has refused, time after time, to be silenced or intimidated. The
collective as a whole have stood up to the authorities. They've called every
bluff, challenged every lie and continued to enjoy the relative freedom of
their lifestyle - a lifestyle which epitomises almost everything the CJA seeks
to destroy. It is for this audacity that they are being persecuted - for
proving to others that there is an alternative.
Despite the continuing
harassment, Exodus have consistently pulled off coups of their own. The local
newspapers are heavily subsidised by Whitbread, who weren't too happy when their
pubs emptied on the nights of Exodus' dances. They ran full page spreads in the
run up to Biggs' drug trial, anticipating him being jailed. When this failed to
happen, Exodus arranged a meeting with the editor, accusing him of slander and
masonic connections. He resigned 3 weeks later.
enquiry? Exodus are determined it will go ahead. All donations received at
their dances, instead of building and repairing the people's sound system, are
currently being channelled into a 'justice fund' (we like it!). Where others
see insurmountable obstacles, Exodus see only challenges which can and will be
met. Biggs, meanwhile, is still exiled in Devon. Requests to be bailed closer
to his people have been denied. Faced with the prospect of spending the festive
season alone, he is planning to hand himself in for voluntary imprisonment in
Luton, thus denying the police the opportunity to fabricate bail-jumping
charges or to claim that his safety would be at risk. His convictions remain
unshakable. As he says, "the words of Bob Marley continue to inspire us.
Get up, stand up, stand up for your rights!"
If you want to know more
about Exodus read the excellent SQUALL £2.30 from PO Box 8959, London N12 5HW
Issues 0-50 plus 60 pages of cartoons. Only £3.99 p&p
free! Chqs payable to Justice? (SchNEWS) from address on the
back. Also available from London bookshops.
SCHNEWS IN BRIEF
It seems even vicars are getting in on the
direct action tip. During the last confrontation with bailiffs
trying to evict people from Holtsfield a vicar d-locked
himself onto one of the bungalows! The bailiffs could come back
anytime, so get on the action phone line to help the residents
protect their homes described as "a unique part of the nations
built legacy." Or write and hassle Barclays Banks to stop the
financial support of the property company that want to pull down the
houses and build new executive types 01792 234027
*** The McLibel
Trial entered legal history last week as the longest libel trial
in British legal history. Independent sources suggest that its cost
McDonalds £5 million so far and may not finish till at least April
96. McRipOff must be rueing the day they issued the writ. As Elton
John once uttered: "Sorry seems to the hardest word" 0171
*** Are you one of
the many SchNEWS readers currently living in one of Her Majesty's
penal institutions? If so you can get free books and other
publications from the Terry O'Halloran Memorial Fund. Just
write to them at BCM Box 5960, London WC1N 3XX.
Quinn was killed in Hammersmith Police station in 1990 and
Malcolm Kennedy was charged with his murder. Kennedy says he saw
police officers assault Quinn. Pickets in support of Kennedy:
Hammersmith Police Station 8th January and 5th February. Contact
Colin Roach Centre, Tel: 0181 533 7111
*** The Yukon
Territorial Government are organising their 4th annual wolf
kill. 132 wolves have been slaughtered and a recent survey shows
that only 38 wolves are left alive. Demo Jan 9th outside Canada
House London. Contact 01373 473 711
While 820 000
properties are empty in Britain, Brighton with the highest
percentage of homelessness clamps down on squatters. The result...
After being evicted from the Nunnery by the Poor Servants of the
Mother of God, Seamus Mannion said: "I have been homeless for 8
years and I was hoping this would give me a chance to get back on my
feet. I will have to go and sleep rough now. I really think the Nuns
are being unchristian. It is getting very cold and it's coming up to
Last week, aged 43,
he died of bronchial pneumonia after having spent the last few weeks
From all of us at
the Nunnery, farewell 'Sweet Village Prince', we remember you as a
kind gentleman of the Emerald Isle with a liking for the demon drink
(and bovril). The Funeral Service will be at 9 am on 29th December
SchNEWS warns all readers not to attend any illegal gatherings or
take part in any criminal activities. Always stay within the law. In
fact please just sit in, watch tv and go on endless Xmas shopping
sprees filling your house and lives with endless consumer crap....
you will then feel content. Honest.
SchNEWS free! Just send 1st class stamps (eg 20 for 20 issues) or
donations (payable to Justice?). Mark 'Original' if you plan to
copy: SchNEWS c/o on-the-fiddle PO Box 2600 Brighton East Sussex
BN2 2DX. Tel: (01273) 685913.
HAPPY SchNEW YEAR
SchNEWS is Free to Prisoners
- just send us your address
Next SchNEWS 5th