Here is a message from an inmate at HMP Manchester currently imprisoned for working illegally.
"I am currently serving a 6 month sentence ... for work in illegally,
although it might be against the law but working is the only option I
have to stay alive ... and also to escape the death which I face in
my own country ... I am very happy to know that there are people who
are ready to listen to the cry of the less priveledge ...who will do
any kind of work (except crimes) to stay alive. I was formerly a
student of Open University before I was arrested and jail, I was
studying Health and Social Care with the hope that when I finished I
will be able to help the society and ever since I got to the UK and I
start working I have being pay my tax, I have not commit any crime
before, even till the day I was arrested I was paying my school fees.
Please help me I am helpless and a dead man if I return to my
Marching through the streets to the sound of the samba on a sunny, busy Saturday afternoon ensured high visibility - lots of leaflets were handed out explaining what was going on. Very little abuse from passers by. Police kept low profile. We got a feel of how different parts of Manchester's 'system' detained, impoverished, dehumanised and then deported asylum seekers - this should definitely be developed for future events. We re-occupied the city for a few hours and made sure lots of people knew that there lots of us out there who don't have a problem with immigration and believe in a far greater relaxation of border controls towards their eventual abolition.
During the final rally at Peace Gardens, we managed to obtain a live link-up via mobile phone with a Congolese asylum seeker detained at Colnbrook detention centre for over a year who spoke of his growing desperation to get out - he said 'he is thinking very seriously about taking his own life'. This was a brave speech - those who have spoken out like during previous demonstrations have been put in isolation inside the detention centres and punished.
There are now plans for a national day of action at detention centres across the UK during June's Refugee Week.
Well done Manchester!
Next stop: Leeds 6 May - City of Shame tour. Watch this space.
Photos and rest of report: http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2006/04/338438.html
for Tyneside Community Action for Refugees