Amidst renewed attacks by the Government on migrants and the immigration system, migrant groups and community organisations in over 20 locations across the country took action this weekend under the banner of ‘Solidarity Knows No Borders’.
Migrant-led organisations joined hands (figuratively, of course) with community associations, anti-racist groups, healthcare and social workers, renters’ unions, students, environmentalists, campaign groups and more, calling for an end to Hostile Environment immigration policies, and demanding a radically different alternative based on collective principles of justice, dignity and welcome.
For decades, migrant communities have been subject to an increasingly restrictive, punitive and racist system—accelerated by recent ‘Hostile Environment’ policies, which embed immigration controls across society, including into education, housing, healthcare and beyond.
Multiple actions – both online and in-person – took place demanding an end to the Hostile Environment in Abergavenny, Brighton, Bristol, Cambridge, Coventry, Dover, Folkestone, Hastings, Halifax, Hull, Liverpool, Central London, London Bridge, Twickenham, Manchester, Oxford, Sheffield, Waltham Forest and Wellingborough.
Groups held socially-distanced protests outside Home Office buildings, detention centres and city centres, staged banner-drops and creative direct actions (including at Twickenham Rugby Stadium, at Manchester Airport, and on Hastings beach).
Across the country this weekend, groups also put up posters in solidarity with the #JusticeForSimba campaign, which demands justice for Simba Mujakachi who was charged over £100,000 for his life-saving NHS treatment because of his immigration status. People put up posters demanding an end to the Hostile Environment in different places across the country, and other groups held protests in support of his demands – including in Manchester, Brighton, and Sheffield (which Simba and his partner Melissa joined).
This Monday 12th October was the tenth anniversary of the death of Jimmy Mubenga, who suffocated whilst being held down by G4S guards on a British Airways deportation flight. On Monday, several groups – including in London, Oxford Sheffield, and online in Liverpool, held socially-distanced candle-lit vigils to remember him and all those whose lives have been destroyed by the barbarity of British immigration policies.
Zrinka Bralo, CEO of Migrants Organise, said:
“This weekend of action, organised by migrant community groups, is only the start. Around the country more people are joining the movement to demand an end to the racism of the immigration system, and for a move towards a framework of basic rights, some of which are now set out in the FIRM Charter document. Realising these rights—the hopes and dreams of so many of our members—will only happen if we, together, build a mass movement able to bring it about. Now is the time for us to do this!”
Loraine Masiya Mponela, Chairperson of Coventry Asylum and Refugee Action Group (CARAG) said:
“I have seen my friends die unnecessarily as a result of Hostile Environment policies. It could’ve been me. At CARAG, we are taking action not only to raise awareness about these injustices but also to see an end to them. We believe that people affected by a problem are best placed to find the solutions. Our common cause is our lived experience of the UK immigration system. That is why we need to build a migrant-led movement for justice now.”
We will be posting a series of blogs about the weekend of action here, so keep yours eyes peeled.
Make sure you sign the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) Charter to join the migrant-led movement for justice, based on common respect for basic rights, and on the principles of justice, dignity, and welcome.
If you’re interested in finding out more about the FIRM Charter, and being part of the movement for migrant justice, then get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. You can also check out our organisers’ Solidarity Knows No Borders toolkit here.