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Queers without Borders at Harmondsworth detention centre last saturday

pinkarnival | 23.02.2005 01:43 | Anti-racism | Migration | Social Struggles

A group of Queers Without Borders , and friends protested in support of detainees and against the border regime at the Harmondsworth and Colnbrook Detention and Deportaions Centres, Saturday 19th of Feb. Here is one participant's report

By the Colnsbrook Fence
By the Colnsbrook Fence

Having caught the tube down to Heathrow and then the U3 bus to Harmondsworth, a group of around a dozen Queers without Borders and their friends, including supporters from Rhythms of Resistance ( landed to make their protests heard at the Harmondsworth Detention and Deportation Centres.

Harmondsworth Detention centre is managed/owned by United Kingdom Detentions services (UKDS is a subsidiary of SODEXO) and has a capacity to hold 551 male detainees. There have been numerous reports of abuse and beating of detainees in this facility. There was a riot in Harmondsworth in July 2004. when detainees rebelled.,2763,1268701,00.html

Colnbrook is Britain's newest removal centre and is managed/owned by Premier Detention Services (PDS is a subsidiary of Serco). And has a capacity to hold 326 male detainees. It has a 24-bed unit for fast deportations. Women are also detained in this unit.

In Britain today over 1,800 people, mainly asylum seekers are locked up in detention camps and prisons in Britain, without trial and without time limit and with no automatic right to bail.

People are being deported to countries where they are in great danger. Often they lose their asylum claim because they do not get a fair hearing, or adequate legal representation, or because the fast track system leaves them little chance of their cases being properly heard. The deportation of people who are HIV positive to countries where they have no access to the drugs that can keep them alive is also common. The government has publicly stated its intention to raise the number of detentions and deportations in the run up to the British election and detention capacity is being expanded around the UK With the Home Office announcing plans to restrict visas for economic migrants over the next 5 years, a widening number of people are at risk of detention

Queers without Borders is a network of queer activists of all sexualities to undertake and support actions against the border regime.

In a society which always attempts to strengthen the position of institutionalised power by making someone 'other' (whether this be by race/sexuality/gender or any other means) we refuse to accept this present condition of nations and borders, of a containment of people behind false boundaries that only serve to profit those who hold power.

As queers our understanding of borders is clear: we reject the borders imposed between sexualities, between genders, between our abilities to live as we wish and the strictures imposed by the state that attempt prevent us defining of our own ways of living.

The demonstation on Saturday 19th February had been called by feedom of movement and we liked that.

We didn't like the sheep pen, which the police had kindly provided protestors at the front entrance of the carpark at some distance from centre's building.
We felt that from there we would not be able to communicate our support for the detainees.
So following our perverse inclinations, we decided to come at things from behind and get up a bit closer.

We unfurled our pink and black banners to the samba rhythms of Xango and Oxun, and occupied the space that runs between the 20-foot high fences of Harmondsworth detention centre the Colnbrook Deportation centre buildings. We processed slowly past the high fences and barred windows.

In front of us the crowd of around 50 protesters b at the front of the carpark spilled out of the sheep pen, waving and chanting "No Borders No Nations, Stop Deportations!" the police quickly formed a line between them and the carpark

The police seemed quite startled by our appearance outside the designated protest zone. But as we seemed to be slowly coming out from the restricted zone, their main response was to anxiously usher us forward toward the crowd stood on the other side of the coppers at the front. We slowly advanced until we merged with the crowd.

Ignoring the police requests that they get back in the sheep pen, people listened to the speakers. See report:
Banners saying' No One Is Illegal', 'End Global Apartheid' were displayed to motorists who honked their horns.

After the speakers and songs we played along the public footpath that goes down the side of the Colnsbrook centre. We could see detainees waving at us through the bars as we played samba reggae in the field by the fence. A woman played on a violin a beautiful joyful tune.

And then we left before 2pm so's not to give the security the excuse to denied the detainee visitors access

Harmondsworth, Campsfield and the other detention centres are living embodiment of the brutal expansion of the border regime in Britain. "The people inside are teachers, nurses, office-workers... ordinary people who have not even been charged with any crime. Their imprisonment is purely to "send a clear message" (as the politicians like to put it) to the poorer and blacker members of the world’s population that Britain is a tough place "

We all must act to end this shame; to do nothing is to be complicit with the inhuman regime. Support campaigns against deportation and detention,

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  1. Rhythms in the Field — p
  2. Queers Without Borders Banner — p