Sunday, September 23, 2007

Two Arrested During No Borders March

Taken from UK Indymedia:

No Border campaigners march to Gatwick despite heavy policing

22 September, 2007

For the first time in its 11-year history, Tinsley House immigration detention centre at Gatwick Airport today saw a lively, though short rally in the afternoon. As part of the Gatwick No Border Camp, about 500 people from across the UK marched from Crawley, West Sussex, to Gatwick in a 'transnational day of action against immigration prisons'. They were protesting in particular against a new detention centre that is being built at Gatwick Airport, which is due to open in 2008.

Armed with many banners, placards and leaflets conveying the message that immigration detention is inhumane, they demanded the closure of all immigration prisons and the abolition of the borders that cause all this suffering.

Penned in tiny, designated area along the airport's fence, protesters listened to a number of speeches from ex-detainees and messages of support and defiance. Phone calls from detainees inside Tinsley were then passed on to the crowed via a megaphone. One of the detainees, who has been in the UK for 12 years and had refugee status but is due to be deported after committing a criminal offence and serving his sentence, said: "Why should I be punished twice? I've made a mistake and I've paid for it. Why do I have to pay twice?"

Another detainee, who has been in detention for about 3.5 months and is facing deportation to Angola soon, talked about his suffering in detention and missing his family. He has been in the country for 11 years and has a British wife and three children.

During the rally, the gates were closed to detainees' visitors. Conscious of this, demonstrators sought to make the rally as short as possible in order not to prolong any further disruption to visiting. After the rally, two protesters visited one of those who had communicated with protesters and they were told that detainees were very happy and found the solidarity from people outside bars empowering.

Protest organisers said the policing of the march was "unnecessarily heavy." Two people were arrested under Section 50 of the Police Reform Act 2002 (refusing to give name and address) after being accused by police of acting in an anti-social manner. One of them, who was arrested in Crawley town centre before the march had even started, allegedly threw a rude word at a police officer. The other, who is an independent video-maker, was filming the police and allegedly 'caused distress' to a policeman who himself was filming protesters.

That last line really sums up the nature of the police force in this country. A policeman was 'distressed' because someone was filming him while he was filming the protesters?? Orwellian barely seems to cover it.