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March and rally for migrants and refugees rights, 7th May

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Jason Cortez
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Apr 6 2007 21:57
March and rally for migrants and refugees rights, 7th May

MARCH AND RALLY FOR MIGRANTS' & REFUGEES' RIGHTS

7TH MAY BANK HOLIDAY

ASSEMBLE 11AM OUTSIDE WESTMINSTER CATHEDRAL NEAR VICTORIA STATION

Co-ordination meeting Sunday 22nd April 6pm at Transport House, 128 Theobalds Road, nr Holborn tube station in central London

On the 7th of October 2006 a coalition of migrant groups, trade unions and social justice activists marched in London demanding equal rights for all. We were joining many others across Europe and Africa in an international effort to co-ordinate struggles and put forward a collective call for the regularisation of all migrants in the EU.

Since then other initiatives have appeared with related aims of improving the legal situation of migrants in this country. Religious groups and civil organisations have called for a National Day of Action and Celebration of Justice for Migrants on May 7th.

We call on those who took to the streets in October to come out again and in bigger numbers to march in a diverse gathering that will also see the participation of trade unions such as the TGWU.

However, we believe it is important to ensure that the fight for equal rights for all deals with the many aspects of the oppressive migration regime besides legal status. That is why we will march for:

Regularisation for all migrants. No one is illegal.
The closure of all detention centres in Europe and everywhere, because migrating is not a crime.
An end to all deportations and to the externalisation process which turns countries on the edges of the European Union (and beyond) into holding camps.
Full labour rights for all workers, independently of their migration status. Stop the pitching of workers against each other.

Social justice and security of livelihood for all - including the end of the government's policy of enforced destitution of asylum seekers.

Official recognition of rape as torture and persecution. The current failure to do so results in the detention, enforced destitution and deportation of scores of female asylum seekers.

We encourage all those attending to bring their own placards and leaflets, reflecting the ways in which the priorities of their own organisations relate to the regularisation debate, using common slogans including but not limited to "papers for all", "no one is illegal" and "regularisation for all migrants", and advertising the planning day below.

A WAR ON MIGRANTS?

Global numbers of migrants keep increasing, fuelled by wars, environmental destruction, gender inequality, and poverty thanks to banks and institutions based in places like London. However only a very small proportion of all migrants make it to the UK, most remaining near their countries. Iran, Jordan and Kenya all have huge refugee populations thanks to wars. Also, as global warming increases so does the number of refugees. Britain may be directly responsible for only 2% of global warming gases, but UK-based companies account for over 12% of the planetary total. This means that the arrows in news bulletins of stock fluctuations also point at the displacement of those whose land has become either too hot to sustain them or is sinking under the rising seas. But connecting cause and effect is not a popular sport nowadays. Only two years ago politicians and artists tried to Make Poverty History, but today they cannot see that is precisely that poverty that makes many migrants arrive at these shores. Of course, the majority of the UK press does not help by portraying migrants as lazy dangerous criminals who come here to get a council flat and free NHS surgery. They know that most migrants are actually hard working people who provide vital services, but fear and loathing sell newspapers. These in turn help to sell biometric ID cards, first for foreigners then for everyone.

In this context we witness the continued oppression of asylum seekers through the immigration system, best illustrated by the scandal of the deportations of Darfuris to Sudan to face torture-- by the same government that claims the situation there has reached bottom level. Darfuris thus join the ranks of Iraqis, Zimbabweans and Congolese who are sent back despite the blatant dangers they face. Asylum seekers are made destitute if they refuse to return to these dangers voluntarily and even before this enforced destitution they are forced to live in slum housing under an apartheid system of benefits and healthcare, surviving on incomes less than 60% of benefit levels. The message is clear: you may as well change your name, disappear from your stable housing and work for exploitative wages. Then we will call you illegal.

RESISTANCE IS NOT FUTILE

It would be easy to despair and think that the world has just gone too mad for turning, but at the same time we see that resistance is growing. The Unity campaign in Glasgow has proved a tough local nut to crack for the Home Office Gestapo unit and it organises thousands of migrants. The Justice for Cleaners campaign of the TGWU has won some important victories in battles pitching migrant workers against some of the richest banks in the City of London. Only recently general secretaries of five major unions stopped the deportation of a migrant activist through joint pressure on the government.

We see this march as part of a process of convergence and mobilisation that will carry on fighting for regularisation in the UK and Europe, coupled with union and social rights, and an end to deportations. This march is not an end in itself, but another step for migrants, their communities and other groups and organisations to come together to make demands, support each other, and intervene in the political debate. Be part of this process by attending a

Ideas and planning day for Regularisation
Saturday May 19th 11-4
South Bank University (venue tbc)