On 8 April, as part of a worldwide day of action against the detention and deportation of asylum-seekers and immigrants, 250 people converged on the Harmondsworth and Colnbrook "removal centres" near Heathrow Airport. Organised by the London No Borders network among others, the demonstration had a clear message of solidarity with the incarcerated asylum-seekers: no immigration controls!
The following week also saw demonstrations in towns across the UK including London, Glasgow and Manchester.
After the 8 April demonstration, 150 detainees at Colnbrook began a hunger strike in protest at their treatment by security guards during the demo. They have been subject to repression from the centre's management, with one detainee, deemed to be the organiser of the protest, locked in an isolation cell and then removed to another centre. On 15 April, more than 150 detainees at Haslar detention centre in Portsmouth went on hunger strike in solidarity with the Colnbrook detainees, and in the last few days there has been news that hunger strikes have spread to other detention centres too.
There seems to be a growing movement of protests by detained asylum-seekers. On April 26, a letter appeared in the Guardian from a group of Algerian men held in Long Lartin prison in Worcestershire for periods as long as five years. Those who despair of ever winning freedom in the UK and have asked to go home have been denied this right; now even their right to make phone calls has been removed. When their letter appeared they had been on hunger strike for over a week.
The labour movement and the left must raise a storm of protest against New Labour's brutality!
• National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns: www.ncadc.org.uk