Archive | August, 2011

Svilengrad (noborders Bulgaria)

28 Aug

Svilengrad is a small town in the border region where alot of inward and outward migration takes place but without much active opposition to the nationalistic Bulgarian state attitude on migration and miltarisation of the borders. On Friday (26th August) hundreds of people from the No Borders camp organised actions in the town to demonstrate against Frontex who have a regional office in the town centre, to commemorate that hundreds of people have died trying to arrive in the region without official status and to discuss migration issues with people who live in the area.

Info displays in Svilengrad

Street displays A large world map was presented in different locations along the main street and people invited to draw onto it with pens their histories of migration. People who lived in the area often initially responded that they’d lived in the town all their lives, but it turned out to be more indirect than that. People from the No Borders camp got going discussions about why people move and why States try to stop people from free movement. There were lots of positive conversations and people taking part.

Demonstration outside the Border Agency, Svilengrad. Picture from http://a3yo.noblogs.org/

Demonstration against Frontex (more info about Frontex here). Hundreds of people gave out flyers with information about a detention centre recently built in the region and walked to the office of the Border Agency, who carry out joint operations with Frontex. Shoes were laid and candles lit to symbolically draw attention to the inhumane cruelty of Frontex’ s work. These actions made the front page of a local newspaper,with a photo and caption: “hundreds of young people from EU countries demonstrated yesterday for rights for migrants and refugees”. It ignored the political angle of border control systems and just went for a humanitarian focus, but is pretty good for a generally very very nationalistic country. Another newspaper reported that the young demonstrators broke windows, attacked people and were naked, which was definitely not true, but shows how much reporters can twist things! The possibility of suing the newspaper is being investigated by people at the Camp.

Photos at http://bulgaria.indymedia.org/article/38011

Dale Farm Solidarity

19 Aug

The Dale Farm estate is a former scrapyard bought by Traveller families and has existed since the 1970s. Basildon Council has targeting half the community for destruction, and has failed to provide alternative sites for families to move to. Families have been given until midnight on August 31st 2011 to abandon their homes or have them bulldozed. Basildon have voted to spend a third of its budget — £8 million demolishing the estate and turning people out onto the road. The policing of what could be a three-week operation has an additional price tag of £10 million, of which £6 million is being provided by the Home Office.

There will be activity weekends at Dale Farm, every Saturday until the opening of Camp Constant,  a mass gathering of national and international supporters of the Dale Farm community  on the Saturday, 27th, 11 am which is the final weekend before Travellers have been told they must abandon their homes or face the bulldozers. Residents of Dale Farm have invited supporters down for a long weekend of skill sharing and cultural celebration. Join them for:

* Training for legal observers and human rights monitors
* Practical eviction resistance workshops
* Acoustic music on Saturday night
* Media training, including photography, film making, reportage
* Traveller history & celebration

From September 1st onwards, a constant presence at Dale Farm is needed in case of eviction. You can sign up to spend a night at Dale Farm: https://smsalerts.tachanka.org/dalefarm/

Demonstrate on Saturday Sept 10 against the £18 million eviction of 90 Traveller families from their homes and Eric Pickles’s Localism bill, which removes the requirement of local council’s to provide alternative sites.

Dale Farm Solidarity has called a demonstration starting at 1pm on Saturday Sept 10th. Meet at Wickford Train Station, 30 minutes by train from London Liverpool Street Station. The march will then proceed to Dale Farm and Camp Constant, a base for human rights monitors and those who will engage in civil disobedience to stop the bulldozing.

For more information, updates, and to check the dates of activity days see: http://dalefarm.wordpress.com/activity and https://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_124229427082

No Border Camp Bulgaria 2011

19 Aug

Following the eastward expansion of the EU, countries like Bulgaria and Romania are progressively cracking down on those that try to cross their borders and rampantly working against freedom of movement.

The Bulgarian government’s current target date for joining the Schengen zone is 2012. To be able to join, Bulgaria would have to increase restrictions on people migrating, as well as increase the militarization of the border. Already, detention centres are being built. Following the participation of Bulgarian border police in FRONTEX operations along the Greek-Turkish border, there is talk of extending the agency’s operations to the border between Bulgaria and Turkey. These developments, together with the deterioration of the migrants’ situation in neighboring Greece, are the two immediate reasons for organizing a No Border camp at the border between Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey this month. The NoBorder camp Bulgaria will take place between the 25th and the 29th of August, 2011.

The topics that will be addressed include: The militarization of the borders; Deterioration of freedom of movement across the Balkan borders The criminalization of the situation of migrants and refugees in Bulgaria The neo-liberal politics that support and enhance these problems How to organize in ways that will better the human, social, legal, and economic condition of migrants and refugees in Bulgaria and around Europe plus more… More info at www.noborderbulgaria.org/

Human Rights/ ‘British’ Rights

10 Aug

Governments declare to hold human rights at their core but what are the realities? Obligation to international law and the European Court of Human Rights have been avoided continuously. This undermines rights everywhere, for everyone, without borders.

It is a principle of international maritime law that all vessels answer and assist vessels and persons in distress at sea.1 ‘All vessels’ includes military vessels. Yet in March this year a boat carrying 72 people including children sent out a distress signal and ‘Despite alarms being raised with the Italian coastguard and the boat making contact with a military helicopter and a Nato warship, no rescue effort was attempted.’ 2 Father Moses Zerai one of the last people to contact the boat: “There was an abdication of responsibility which led to the deaths of over 60 people, including children,” he claimed. “That constitutes a crime, and that crime cannot go unpunished just because the victims were African migrants and not tourists on a cruise liner.” 2

This news arrives along with reports from Greece; ‘witnessed the Frontex boats effectively turning over migrant boats in the water by going towards them, turning quickly and creating the waves that turn the boats over. Then rescuing some people. Returning the boats without its oars to turkey and leaving vulnerable people in the water including pregnant women. ’ 3 Both cases go against EU and international regulation. What’s more there is something that people might hope exists beyond law, beyond regulation- not to leave others to die.

Whilst responsible vessels and governments are evading their duties in the Sea- MPs on land in the UK have ruled that prisoners will not have the right to vote. A move which the European Commission of Human Rights found was a breach of their human rights. 4 It is interesting, therefore, that Home Secretary Theresa May should declare one of the fundamental and universal ‘core ‘British’ values’ to be ‘Human Rights’ 5, and the UK government’s revised anti-terrorism strategy should define “Extremism is vocal or active opposition to fundamental ‘British’ values’’6. 

By their own words and actions the governments define themselves as extremist and as illegal. By failing to answer to distress signals or rescue vulnerable people from the water they have acted illegally. By voicing opposition to self-described fundamental ‘British’ value of human rights they have acted ‘extremist’.

Perhaps trying to avoid this obvious hypocrisy, the government has set up a commission to research creating a ‘UK’ bill of rights 7, different from the Universal declaration of human rights.  How will it be different? It will not be universal in probably more ways than one.The opening UDHR article stated:  ‘All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights’. 8 From the actions of governments, the companies they fund and certain politicians – It’s questionable that they have read this article.

These actions undermine the rights of everybody. BUT they are the actions of certain law makers and enforcers. They are the laws of law enforcers and law makers.

If you know that you do not need a law for you to answer someone in distress. If you believe all humans ARE born free and equal, whether or not it is a human right- then there is hope for the rights of all of us.

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1(Article 98 of UNCLOS)

SOLAS regulation V/7

Reference: http://www.imo.org/OurWork/Safety/Navigation/Pages/PlacesOfRefuge.aspx


2guardian report http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/may/08/nato-ship-libyan-migrants

3(Ann Singleton) / (http://www.radio4all.net/files/radiokebele@riseup.net/4178-1-ann_singleton.ogg)

 

4 http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/apr/12/prisoners-vote-government-loses-appeal

 

5 http://news.bbc.co.uk/democracylive/hi/house_of_commons/newsid_9506000/9506818.stm (address to parliment 07-06-11)

 

6 http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/counter-terrorism/prevent/prevent-strategy/prevent-strategy-review?view=Binary

 

7(http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14426001)

7. http://www.justice.gov.uk/about/cbr/index.htm

 

8 http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/