Immigration Minister Detained

On Friday evening, 13 March, two dozen activists from Oldham and Manchester briefly occupied the constituency office of Phil Woolas, immigration minister and MP for Oldham and Saddleworth.

Read here a report on Indymedia

The mainstream media is also picking up the 'story', with such hilarious headlines as "anarchists hold minister hostage".

The Mirror
The Telegraph
The Daily Mail

Conveniently, most of them forget to actually mention why we 'detained' Phil Woolas for about 30 minutes, mirroring his policies of detaining migrants without prosecution, trial or sentence.

Read on to hear our views on immigration detention, Pennine House, and Phil Woolas.

2,500 people are currently detained in privately-owned immigration prisons in Britain. They are held for an indefinite period, but a significant number are detained for over 12 months. Never mind the debate on 42 days detention without charge for terror suspects. Here we have 30,000 people every year locked up without trial or sentence; 2,000 of them children.

Why? Because they (or their parents) were born on the wrong side of the border, in countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Zimbabwe or DR Congo that are being torn apart by atrocious wars, whose natural resources are being exploited by multi-national corporations, where human rights are a farce, where political activity is punished with torture or death.

It would be too easy to make Phil Woolas the sole responsible for this systematic imprisonment of asylum seekers. For a start there are the corporations that profit from the expansion and privatisation of the prison-industrial complex. The longer G4S, GEO or Kalyx can detain migrants, the more money they make. But the policy of immigration detention is also carried by a dominent nationalist ideology that is carried by all political parties.

As the recession leads to unemployment, forced evictions and community tension, Phil Woolas’s response has been nationalist too, reiterating the British jobs for British workers slogan. Migrants are not to blame for the recession, which has been caused by an economic system of exploitation, facilitated by the current and past political elite, and of which migrants are the first and most vulnarable victims.

We are now at a point in time where it becomes obvious that a response to an international crisis has to be international solidarity and cooperation. While the political elites conveniently blame immigrants for the recession, we take inspiration from the Greek insurgency after the shooting of Alexis, from protests that forced out the Icelandic government, from the student and workers struggles in France and Italy, all of which stood in solidarity with the migrant communities that had come under attack from their governments.

The protests against the G20 London summit at the end of this month are the first testing ground for a non-nationalist, anti-capitalist response to the crisis.

Posted byManchester No Borders at 4:12 PM