[noborders-brum] (no subject)

Shiar shiar at riseup.net
Sat Jun 17 08:30:45 UTC 2006


I would like to propose the following feature. There will also be another
one in 2 weeks' time, after the events and actions have actually taken


Title: Celebrating Sanctuary?! What Sanctuary?!

Author: Birmingham NoBorders

At a time when <a
deportations</a> are at their highest rate ever and corporate-run <a
href=”http://www.nolager.org/more/display.php?id=6”>detention centres</a>
are packed with thousands of people, whose only crime was to seek refuge
in this country; when <a href=”/en/2006/02/333413.html”>dawn raids</a> and
the <a href=”/en/2006/05/341547.html”>weekly reporting</a> are constant
nightmares for many asylum seekers; when the government is introducing
increasingly more restrictive and racist <a
controls</a> every day (asylum quotas, immigration point system etc.);
comes <a href=”http://www.refugeeweek.org.uk/Introduction.htm”>Refugee
Week</a> (19-25 June) to “promote understanding and to celebrate the
cultural contributions of refugees.”</p>
While the “nationwide festival” is, indeed, an opportunity for refugees
and immigrants to make their voices heard, faced with all the <a
href=”http://www.ncadc.org.uk/newszine71/unhcr.html”>“asylum madness”</a>
of mainstream media, there are many reasons to assume that the event is
essentially a cheap public-relations exercise, both for the government and
for some of the organisations and corporations involved. The events appear
to be designed to deliberately hide the real issues surrounding asylum and
immigration. Serious political content is systematically suppressed.
Besides the Home Office, some events -for example, Birmingham's <a
href=”http://www.celebrating-sanctuary.org.uk”>Celebrating Sanctuary</a>-
are partly funded by such dodgy asylum profiteers as the <a
href=”/en/regions/birmingham/2005/06/314246.html”>Angel Group</a>.
Furthermore, the way in which things are organised mirrors much of
Labour's discredited <a
policies</a> in terms of dividing refugees along ethnic lines.</p>

The 20th of June marks the <a
Refugee Day</a>, which was created in 2000 by a special United Nations
General Assembly Resolution. The day had previously been commemorated as
African Refugee Day in a number of African countries. In the UK, World
Refugee Day is celebrated as the start of <a
href=”http://www.refugeeweek.org.uk/Introduction.htm”>Refugee Week</a>, a
“nationwide festival” designed to “promote understanding and to celebrate
the cultural contributions of refugees.”</p>
Refugee Week was first held in 1998. It was created, according to their
website, “in response to the increasingly negative perceptions of refugees
and asylum seekers held by the general public in Britain.”</p>
Refugee Week is a UK-wide <a
href=”http://www.refugeeweek.org.uk/Events/calendar.htm”>programme of
arts, cultural and educational events</a>. This year, it will take place
from 19th to 25th June. Unlike previous years, there is no specific theme
for Refugee Week 2006. Instead, the events will be organised around the
idea that Refugee Week is a “space of encounters between different
communities” and “an opportunity to use more creative ways to address
relevant issues and attract new audiences.” In 2005, there were over 450
small and large events, ranging from big music festivals and art
exhibitions to film screenings, conferences, school activities, sports and
community events.</p>
Refugee Week is a multi-agency project, with representatives from the
partner agencies forming the “Steering and Operation Groups”. The partner
agencies currently include: Amnesty International UK, British Red Cross,
International Rescue Committee UK, Oxfam, Refugee Action, Refugee Council,
Save the Children Fund UK, Scottish Refugee Council, STAR (Student Action
for Refugees), UNHCR and Welsh Refugee Council.</p>
Apart from the partner agencies, the project is also funded by: Arts
Council England, Comic Relief, Department for International Development,
the Home Office, Association of London Governments, Greater London
Authority and by a great number of other funding bodies.
Birmingham's contribution to the festival is called <a
href=”http://www.celebrating-sanctuary.org.uk”>Celebrating Sanctuary</a>.
Celebrating Sanctuary Birmingham is a registered charity working with
refugees and asylum seekers. Typically, their main activities include a
Schools Day (16th June this year), a free festival and open-air concert
(17th June).</p>
Besides the Home Office, the organisation is partly funded by the <a
href=”http://www.theangelgroup.com/”>Angel Group</a>, which has been
providing “core funding” since 2001. Last year, the Home Office carried
out an investigation into  claims that the London-based company charged
both the Home Office and Leeds City Council for the same properties.
Company records, internal emails and testimony from former Angel employees
also showed the company was paid for accommodation that was “unfit for
habitation” or for which it had no keys. Records further suggested Angel
claimed discounts on council tax to which it was not entitled to in Leeds
and Newcastle upon Tyne. The Asylum Profiteer Group, with more than 50
subsidiaries, is 100% owned by 48-year-old Julia Davey. In 2003, she paid
herself a salary of £458,000 as well as collecting nearly £1m in dividends
[see <a href=”/en/regions/birmingham/2005/06/314246.html”>Birmingham
Indymedia's article</a> and <a
Guardian's report</a> on Angel].</p>
Many grassroots groups throughout the country are organising events and
actions, during and around the Week, to bring these issues to the fore. In
Birmingham, there will be a <a
href=”/en/regions/birmingham/2006/06/342885.html”>candlelit vigil</a> on
20th June, organised by Birmingham Anti-Racist Campaign (ARC), to remember
those who took their own life in detention, followed by a <a
href=”/en/regions/birmingham/2005/06/314230.html”>Refugee Sleep-out</a>
and guerrilla screenings in Pigeon Park (St. Phillip's Cathedral).
Birmingham NoBorders is also organising a day of events on 30th June,
starting with the <a
href=”/en/regions/birmingham/2006/05/341525.html”>monthly ARC-NoBorders
picket</a> at the immigration reporting centre in Solihulll and ending
with screenings and a fundraising gig at the Spotted Dog pub in


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