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Year 2001 No. 148, August 29, 2001 ARCHIVE HOME SEARCH SUBSCRIBE

No to the Humiliating Voucher System! No to Immigration "Snatch Squads"! Defend the Rights of All!

Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :

No to the Humiliating Voucher System! No to Immigration "Snatch Squads"! Defend the Rights of All!

State Treatment of Asylum Seekers is Attack on Rights of All

Militant Demonstration in Glasgow in Defence of Rights

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No to the Humiliating Voucher System! No to Immigration "Snatch Squads"! Defend the Rights of All!

According to Home Office ministers, they have been unable to find an "acceptable alternative" to the humiliating voucher system for refugees. It is said that to replace the scheme with cash benefits would create a "pull factor" for thousands more immigrants. Although this is justly disputed by such organisations as "Asylum Aid", the central issue is that immigrants are being degraded, discriminated against, and treated inhumanly. This is the only logic of such a reactionary argument for keeping the voucher system.

Furthermore, under the Asylum and Immigration Act, police and immigration officials "Snatch Squads" are to be stepped up, for example in the London borough of Newham, to deport "illegal immigrants". This is adding insult to injury.

While Tory and Labour parties are on the one hand attempting to distance themselves from parties such as the BNP, the government itself is implementing a programme which is essentially no different. The government, for example, is organising the "repatriation" of refugees after they are forced to try to "balance which is the worst horror", according to the Charity Refugee Action, which is helping to run the Home Office scheme. The Charity says that the choice is between forced to move to "sink estates" under Labour’s dispersal scheme or life-threatening situations in their home country.

According to spokeswoman Sally Price, "The proportion has increased enormously of those wanting to go back for the wrong reasons. Dispersal has been used as a deterrent - if you do come, we are going to make it as difficult as possible for you." Around 100 refugees a month go home under the little-known voluntary repatriation scheme: they receive a one-way air ticket and a resettlement grant of up to several hundred pounds.

All these racist practices and attacks on immigrants by the government must be ended. It must not be up to the ruling party and immigration officials to make arbitrary, racist and degrading decisions on immigration and asylum. All people in action in defence of rights must strengthen their unity, on the basis of the principle that an injury to one is an injury to all. WDIE expresses its abhorrence at the racism and racist criteria implemented by the state and its solidarity with all those active in defence of civil and human rights.

Article Index


State Treatment of Asylum Seekers is Attack on Rights of All

Having "reviewed" the voucher scheme for asylum seekers, the government has concluded that it will stay in place. This comes after the state-inspired racist attacks on refugees seeking asylum, which have taken place in Glasgow and other places. The decision not to abolish the degrading voucher scheme has taken place also not more than a few days since Home Secretary David Blunkett and Immigration Minister Lord Rooker issued a call for compulsory English lessons for refugees.

What emerges is a picture of racism and racist criteria being applied by the state as regards immigrants in Britain or who are seeking to enter the country. What also emerges is a conscious attempt by the government and the capitalist media to whip up a climate where such criteria are considered acceptable and immigrants are targeted as being the problem in society. However, the difficulties that the state is having in stirring up diversions and make them stick, in attempting to make racist policies and parties based on them acceptable and respectable, and such demonstrations as in Glasgow last weekend against the state-organised racism, are all testimony to the determination of the broad masses of the people that a society based on a hierarchy of rights is not acceptable.

According to the government, the asylum seekers have no rights. They should be thankful that Britain treats them as even second-class human beings. The government promotes the racist assumption that they are to be viewed with suspicion, because it is they who will undermine the fabric of society. In treating refugees who seek asylum as having no rights, the government is declaring that it does not and will not recognise the rights of any and all sections of society. Any duty of care by the state is viewed by the government as a privilege to be won by accepting the values of neo-liberalism and the "Third Way". This is why the government acts towards the unemployed and the vulnerable in the same way as towards "asylum-seekers", branding them as scroungers and making claims on society rather than carrying out their "duties". It is these same "Third Way" values and policies which are the ones which are wrecking the fabric of society.

As the anti-social offensive is escalated, so does the government attempt to step up its division and discrimination against the people on the basis of language, culture, race, religion, and other bases. At the same time, it has become extremely evident that immigration policy is being designed to fit the needs of the capitalists and the financial oligarchy, singling out some nationalities for discrimination while others are considered to be suitable for "legal immigration" where they have certain skills which meet the need of businesses to compete successfully in the globalised market.

It is extremely important that the working class takes a stand against the racism and racist criteria of the government, as part of building the Workers’ Opposition to the "Third Way" programme of New Labour in order to stop it being implemented. As is being appreciated, the neo-liberal agenda includes both privatisation and attacks on the rights of all, as well as being consistent with the government’s reactionary foreign policy of aggression against "rogue" states.

End the War against Asylum Seekers and Immigrants!

An Injury to One Is an Injury to All!

Article Index

Militant Demonstration in Glasgow in Defence of Rights

Several hundred local people and refugees in Glasgow marched on August 25 through the streets together in a show of unity and in defence of rights following recent state-inspired violence.

Around 600 people from Sighthill in Glasgow took part in the militant demonstration, which led from the estate to George Square in the city centre.

The demonstration called for immediate action to improve the lives for both refugees and existing residents. They described the demonstration as a show of solidarity over the issue of immigration. It followed the killing earlier this month of a 22-year-old Turkish Kurd refugee Firsat Dag. The marchers were joined by a number of Scottish actors, including David Hayman and Peter Mullan.

Mohammed Asif, a spokesman for Sighthill’s 1,500 asylum seekers, said: "I think today’s march gives a very clear message to the authorities that the asylum seekers and residents of Sighthill are as one." Earlier, the marchers had placed floral tributes for Firsat Dag and for others on the estate at the cenotaph in front of the city’s council headquarters.

Banners read: "Sighthill United. Against Poverty, Against Racism, Asylum Seekers Welcome".

The demonstrators demanded Glasgow City Council put in place a plan of action to improve facilities and the quality of life in Sighthill.

Margaret Thompson, a residents’ spokeswoman, said: "We want to tell Glasgow City Council that we want to be listened to from now on. We will not take what they decide to give us, we will tell them what we want."

Tommy Sheridan, leader of the Scottish Socialist Party called on the government to scrap the asylum seekers voucher system. The actor Peter Mullan said before the march: "Like all Glaswegians we feel the people of Sighthill have been completely misrepresented." David Hayman said: "I am ashamed by what has happened at Sighthill but I am delighted at this show of solidarity today. The loss of life should never have happened and we should do anything in our power to alleviate the system which makes refugees suffer in this way."

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