Blog Archive

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Stop Helping the Home Office to Deport People







I started a petition on Monday night calling on British Airways to stop working with the Home Office, deporting people. Last week it was revealed by The Guardian that Virgin has declared it is no longer collaborating with the government to deport people.  I am quoted in the article.

In just 36 hours since launching this petition in has gained 27000 signatures. People are quite rightly outraged by the treatment of Windrush generation people and their families who have made their lives in the UK, working & contributing taxes for decades,after raising children & grandchildren.

I also have a related petition focused on the Home Office. If you read the updates you will see that the Home Office have failed to comply with 2 separate Freedom of Information requests and I have had to report them to the Information Commissioners Office.




Please sign here

Petition text;



Virgin Airlines have announced that they will no longer work with the Home Office to deport immigrants from the UK amidst concerns the Home Office is wrongfully removing members of the Windrush generation and LGBT asylum seekers.

People deemed as illegal immigrants are detained and removed using these flights - sometimes this whole process happens in as little as 2 weeks. This leaves very little time to get legal support and to appeal the Home Office’s decision. As a result people who actually have the right to be in the UK, are at risk of being deported - and disgracefully they have been.
Last month, the Home Secretary admitted that at least 63 people were wrongly deported from the UK who were part of the Windrush generation.These are people who were invited and immigrated to the UK legally, built their lives and made their homes here and then were forced to leave.  
The decision by Virgin to stop participating in this is a big step in helping to save people facing such injustice. I hope that if other airlines follow Virgin’s example, it could encourage the Home Office to make the system better and fairer.
That’s why I’m calling on the UK’s largest airline, British Airways (BA) and other airlines, to commit to not helping to deport people too.

Three major US airlines - American Airlines, United and Frontier - asked the federal government to stop using their flights to transport migrant children who have been separated from their families before Donald Trump signed an executive order to end separations. I want to see UK airlines taking as strong a stance, and standing up for what is right.

As the National Chair of BARAC UK - Black Activists Rising Against Cuts - we work regularly with  people who are targeted by the Home Office including those from the Windrush generation and so I see the damage it causes to their lives and the communities they are part of when they are torn away. The tide is turning. Corporations are learning that it is important to listen to the public and recognise the role they play.

Please sign my petition.

Zita Holbourne
National Chair;  BARAC UK 


Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Press Release; BMElawyers4Justice Launch; Windrush 11 point plan

London, 1st May 2018: BMELawyers4Justice (formerly BMELawyers4Grenfell), an organisation comprised of some of the UK’s leading BME legal specialists, community justice groups and the wider community, are in the process of challenging this Government’s immigration and deportation policies affecting those who either entered or whose parents/grandparents entered the UK as Commonwealth citizens under the express invitation of the UK government.  

The ‘Windrush Scandal’, is not isolated to Windrush.  The same issues affect many others, both from the Commonwealth and those born overseas. Despite having been told that they were part of the Empire, these migrants were met with a wave of prejudice and sometimes outright hostility, something they had not been prepared for.

It has now emerged that many have been deported and others still face being threatened with deportation under new immigration rules whereby people are being ordered to prove they have the right to be in the UK to rent property, work or access services and benefits, despite living and working here for decades, some over 50 years.

We are only now told that the government failed to keep detailed records of Windrush arrivals, and landing cards recording their arrival dates were destroyed in 2010, months after Theresa May became Home Secretary.  In May 2012, Theresa May said the new measures were designed to create a "hostile environment" for people who were in the UK illegally.  That hostile environment has led to numerous deportations, including Windrush migrants settled in this country for decades being deported ‘in error’ and others being refused re-entry to the UK. 

Whilst we welcome the resignation of Home Secretary Amber Rudd this is not enough.

We propose an 11-Point Plan for reparations of the human rights abuse suffered by the Windrush and Commonwealth generation and their descendants:

1. The immediate resignation of Prime Minister Theresa May as the chief architects of policies designed to create a hostile, unfair and racist environment.

2. An independent Ombudsman be appointed to investigate and establish how many people have been wrongly detained or deported and order the immediate return of those unlawfully deported and award full compensation for all those that have suffered loss, financial or otherwise, (injury to feelings of the highest tier under the Vento guidelines) for those who faced deportation, lost employment housing or access to NHS and other basic services;

3. The immediate grant of full UK citizenship of all those Commonwealth citizens in the UK before 1973 & their descendants;

4. All those affected by the 2014 Act to be protected from deportation or administrative removal as so called “foreign criminals”;

5. An immediate end to the adoption of immigration targets for removals or deportations;

6. A halt to the practice of paying Commonwealth Governments for those deported or removed under any circumstances;

7. An impact assessment by the Children’s Commissioner on the effect on the children affected by these policies;

8. A guarantee that the current rights of Commonwealth citizens will not be rendered unlawful or more precarious in any post Brexit immigration policy being formulated by the Home Office;

9. A full review and report to be laid before Parliament within 6 months on the implementation of the above legislative and policy changes by the Immigration Ombudsman;

10. Home Office removals and deportations to be subject to an annual independent audit to ensure the policies ad practices conform to a culture shift to ensure a compassionate and humane approach in line with the letter and spirit of Article 8 ECHR.

11.The Home Secretary shall have the power to revoke British Citizenship removed forthwith.

D. Peter Herbert OBE, co-founder of BMELawyers4Justice and Chair of the Society of Black Lawyers, said: “The newly appointed Home Secretary will need to urgently address the fact that his department is institutionally racist and has over 50% of its decisions overturned on appeal.” 


Ismet Rawat, co-founder of BMELawyers4Justice and President of the Association of Muslim Lawyers. She added “Those of us working in the criminal justice system at the time of the Macperson Report were hopeful that it marked a turning point for this country as a whole.  Sadly, despite the phenomenal work undertaken and its 70 recommendations, it was soon left on the shelf.”


Zita Holbourne, National Chair & Co-founder BARAC UK said: “That the government would authorise a flight to Jamaica in the midst of the Windrush Scandal beggars belief. There has to be protection for not just those of the Windrush generation but their families also." 


Lee Jasper of Black Sox saidThe Government knowingly pursued a strategy of state endorsed racism. The PM’s dogged refusal to take full political responsibility is further evidence of the utter and total contempt, this Government holds black people in the UK, today.  Now the focus must be on removing Theresa May as Prime Minister, who knowingly allowed British black citizens to be arbitrarily arrested detained and deported.


For further information please contact:
D Peter Herbert O.B.E – Society of Black Lawyers – 07973 794 946
Ismet Rawat – Association of Muslim Lawyers – 07852 146 056
Zita Holbourne – Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC) – 07711 861 660
Lee Jasper – 07984 181797

ENDS 
Notes to Editors 

About BMELawyers4Justice
BMELawyers4Grenfell is an umbrella group comprising of leading British BME lawyer andcommunity justice groups – Society of Black Lawyers, Association of Muslim Lawyers, Blaksox, Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC) UK Society of Asian Lawyers, Operation Black Vote (OBV) who have been working, severally and jointly, for over 40 years in the pursuit of justice in our communities. We are joined and supported by BME lawyers and community groups and volunteers.

Monday, 12 March 2018

BARAC Interview with Rokhsana Fiaz, standing to be the first black (BAME) and Muslim female directly elected mayor



Interview with Cllr Rokhsana Fiaz who is standing to be Newham's Labour mayoral candidate.

If elected it will be a historical event as she will be the first directly elected black (BAME) Muslim woman local authority mayor. She was interviewed by National Chair of BARAC UK Zita Holbourne, filmed by BARAC Women's Officer Donna Guthrie. In the interview she sets out her main priorities and thoughts including on social housing and supporting young people, opposing cuts, privatisation and Academisation of schools, climate change, the environment, standing up to racism and what International Women's Day means to her. 



Interview with Cllr Rokhsana Fiaz

International Women's Day; Celebrating, Reflecting and Challenging


On International Women's Day BARAC UK kept the focus on intersectionality and as well as celebrating our achievements, looked at the struggles we still face. Read perspectives and thoughts here from three BARAC Women,  Donna Guthrie, Colette Williams and Zita Holbourne:

Read a feature written for the Morning Star  by National Chair of BARAC UK, here:

International Women's Day is for All Women




Zita was also interviewed by the think tank Class  and by African print fashion company Grass-Fields:


Watch Celebrating International Women's Day here


Read Interview with Grass - Fields here








Donna Guthrie, BARAC Women's Officer organised an event celebrating the stories of black women campaigners; here is her IWD 18 message:


As BARAC UK Women's Officer I would like to send International Women's Day greetings to Sisters wherever you are and hope that our fight for equality, freedom, justice and peace is successful and that our great contributions are recognised and valued.
I spent International Women's Day campaigning with strikers and students at UCL and toured the numerous picket lines to highlight the gender pay gap and bring international women's day greetings. We led a march to UUK offices and i encouraged striking women to speak from the crowd. Followed by fantastic feminist teach out.
I ended my day hosting an IWD celebration evening in my Labour party ward with speakers from the local Avenue Parents' Group anti Academisation campaign and BARAC National chair Zita Holbourne. The evening was so enjoyable and members raised £46 in the raffle and badges sold to donate to BARAC's humanitarian aid for refugees.




Colette Williams our Manchester and North West lead convenor and chair wrote a moving  and powerful article for  Jam Session magazine:

Read: Still I Struggle here








Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Call out for black (BME) artists to participate in the Roots Culture Identity touring art exhibition




The Roots Culture Identity art exhibition is hosted by the TUC Race Relations Committee and is the concept of activist, poet, artist and curator of the exhibition Zita Holbourne, who is elected to the TUC Race Relations Committee & a national executive member of Artists Union England.

This is a call out for black artists (we use black in the political sense to include black and minority ethnic people) and particularly young black artists to submit art to exhibit in the Roots Culture Identity art exhibition at Trades Union Congress HQ, Congress House, in London in April from 7th to 29th April . This kick starts our year and the aim is to get other opportunities for you during the year. We will also be exhibiting at the Bernie Grant Centre in Tottenham from May to June and the General Federation of Trade Unions have agreed to host us at their hotel near Leicester,

The theme of the TUC conference is 50 years on from the Race Relations Act 1968 looking back but also at how far we have come or not, where we are today in terms of racism and race equality in relations to employment and the labour market. You are free to interpret the theme in which ever way you wish.


You are invited to submit 3 pieces of art (which don't have to be on the theme if you don't have any yet, but to show examples of your art) as JPEGs attached to an email itogether with a couple of paras about you and your work as an artist and why you would like to participate by 10th of March sent to Zita; zitabaracuk@gmail.com.


Facebook event:    https://www.facebook.com/events/120529532106219/

Background:

The exhibition, hosted by the TUC Race Relations Committee, celebrates its seventh anniversary this year and was established to meet one of the TUC Stephen Lawrence Task Group objectives, to use the Marble Hall at the TUC to showcase the artistic talents of young black creatives. The exhibition aims to provide an opportunity for black and minority ethnic and migrant artists who are marginalised and face discrimination in the arts and culture sector as well as the disproportionate and multiple impact of austerity. 

The exhibition in full is available for hire or a smaller pop-up exhibition can be arranged for short term events. In addition to the TUC the exhibition has been hosted by a wide range of organisations and events including unions such as PCS, GMB, CWU, NEU and NASUWT as well as the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and a range of events including a major conference on Climate Displacement. It will also be hosted in 2018 by GFTU, Slater and Gordon Solicitors offices  and the Bernie Grant Centre with more opportunities to be confirmed.


Venue in April

Address: The Marble Hall, TUC HQ, Congress House, Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3LS

Contact Zita Holbourne zitabaracuk@gmail.com or Wilf Sullivan wsullivan@tuc.org.uk




Report on February Calais Solidarity and Humanitarian Aid distributiion

https://www.gofundme.com/BARACHumanitarian



Dear Friends 

We went to Calais on Saturday and with your donations we were able to purchase and fill our van with urgently needed provisions for the Refugee Community Kitchen including milk, disposable cups, olive oil, sugar, sea salt and cling film, other refreshments and snacks, plus a large supply of toiletries, hundreds of emergency blankets, hats, scarves, gloves & socks, clothes and other essential rials. 



Conditions were harsh, very cold and a strong police presence. There were a handful of portable toilets in two places, with the only access to water via a portable device brought for set periods by a local Calais based homeless shelter. 




Police are still taking away any tents or blankets that people who are refugees access and waking them up in the night to confiscate the items. People are sleeping in the open air on muddy uneven ground, with trees as their only shelter.

Most of the people we met were from Ethiopia, Eritrea and Afghanistan and aged between 18 and 24.

If it were not for the Refugee Community Kitchen they would have no hot meals. The kitchen is currently supplying 2000 meals per day. Following a legal challenge by the local authority, the kitchen had to move out of it's space temporarily but is back in place now, bigger and very well organised. 




Earlier this month we highlighted the plight of thousands of people displaced by climate change, conflict, poverty and persecution who find themselves stuck in France at the annual Lush Summit in London as part of their human rights programme.

We continue to campaign for refugee and migrant rights and highlight the links between displacement, migration, refugees and climate change.

We, as always, appreciate your support and solidarity and would be grateful if you could share this update and our fundraiser with your networks.









Donate here

Best Wishes 

Zita 

Zita Holbourne
Co-founder & National Chair BARAC UK

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Solidarity with refugees: please support our humanitarian aid efforts in 2018


We are returning to France this month to take solidarity, essential supplies and food.
When we visited at the end of 2017 it was bitterly cold, people raised with us concerns about police brutality, lack of shelter and insufficient food.
As you will know one of the organisations we work with in France is the Refugee Community Kitchen, bringing them food supplies. They do brilliant work in supplying two hot meals per day to people but ongoing support is needed to provide adequate meals for people, it is especially important for people to get hot meals during the colder weather and because people are living and sleeping outside in the open air without shelter.
We would be grateful if you were to share this message with your networks and any donations you can give are gratefully received. With £1 we can purchase thermal gloves or a warm scarf or hat. The supply we took last time were well received and much needed.
Other ways you can support us this month or through the year are for your organisation to sponsor our transport and travel to go to France or you can drop off supplies for us to take at our base at PCS union HQ in Clapham Junction, London. Things that are needed are hats, scarves, gloves, small to medium mens warm clothing, catering size supplies of food (check with us first as we usually have a list of what's needed most urgently), sleeping bags and foil blankets, mobile phones and sim cards, wind up torches, size 7 and 8 sturdy walking shoes, coats and toiletries including black hair products and skin care.
Thanks for your support and solidarity. Below are more details of how you can help.
Best Wishes
Zita
Zita Holbourne
National Chair, BARAC UK



DONATION APPEAL  
SUPPORT BARAC UK HUMANITARIAN AID AND  
SOLIDARITY WORK WITH REFUGEES IN FRANCE   
"To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity." - Nelson Mandela   
 
BARAC has been coordinating regular monthly aid convoys to Calais since summer 2015 to support people who are refugees stuck in limbo in horrific conditions in Calais and in Dunkerque. In addition to the regular distribution of food, toiletries, clothes, camping equipment and other essential items including addressing cultural and religious needs, we have carried out solidarity and fact-finding visits.  
There are four key ways to help support our humanitarian aid and solidarity work with refugees in France:  
  1. Donate to the BARAC UK Humanitarian Appeal by visiting the GoFundMe page here: https://www.gofundme.com/nvbvy8qcAlternatively send a cheque made payable to ‘BARAC UK’ with the form below to: Zita Holbourne, BARAC National Chair, PCS National Vice President,  PCS HQ, 160 Falcon Road, London, SW112LN.   
  2. Drop off essential items to our distribution point at PCS HQ. Please address items (see list of items needed below) to: Zita Holbourne, PCS NEC, C/O Harvey Jacob (for Calais), PCS HQ, 160 Falcon Road, London, SW11 2LN.   
  3. Sponsor transport & travel. For details on how you can sponsor a future humanitarian visit please contact Zita Holbourne, BARAC Co Chair by email:Barac.info@gmail.com  
  4. Join the BARAC convoy by bringing a vehicle.  To coordinate efforts and include your own vehicle on a future humanitarian visit please contact Zita Holbourne, BARAC Co-Chair by email: Barac.info@gmail.com  

Items needed include:   

Clothes: Mainly men’s but also women’s and children’s.  Small and medium size boxer shorts/ underwear, gloves, scarves, hats, waterproof coats, socks  and shoes (waterproof and size 7 or 8 men’s),  hoodies, jogging bottoms, fleeces.

Camping equipment:  Warm blankets, emergency blankets, sleeping bags, tarpaulin, ground mats, tent pegs, tents, camping stoves and gas cylinders, cooking pots, utensils, torches.
Toiletries: Sanitary towels, wipes, tooth brushes, toothpaste, anti-bacterial hand gel, shower gel, shampoo (including for African hair), razors, skin cream,  coconut oil, body butters including cocoa and shea, African hair products, halal toiletries.
Food in bulk supply:  Extra virgin olive oil, basmati rice, sea salt, fresh chillies, black pepper, fresh and powdered spices, coconut milk, vinegars, mustard, tahini, harissa, sumac, honey, dried fruit and nuts, dates, golden syrup, sugar, fresh garlic and ginger, fresh vegetables and fruit, tinned fish, long life mil, filter coffee, pulses and beans.
Mobile phones and sim cards. Washing up sponges / liquid, cleaning products, catering kitchen towel and cling film, large bin bags.

DONATION FORM   

To donate please complete and return this form together with a cheque or alternatively pay directly into our account bank account.  
  • I wish to give a donation towards BARAC’s humanitarian aid and solidarity work with refugees’ in  
France;  
    £250    £100      £50         £35         £25        £10       Other £ .….….….….….  
  • I enclose a cheque for a total of        £ ..........                   Payable to BARAC UK Or  
  • I have paid the following amount          £………..           into the BARAC Bank Account: BARAC UK Bank details:  Barclays Bank    Sort Code: 20 67 90     Account No:  53317803  
 
Signature:                                                                                     Date:   
Name of Organisation (if applicable)   
Contact Name:                                                                      Position:  
Address:   
 
Tel no.:                                                                                      Email:   
Please return this donation form (and cheque) to:  
BARAC UK  
C/O Zita Holbourne, National Co-Chair BARAC UK  
PCS HQ, 160 Falcon Road, London,   
SW11 2LN  
Alternatively email to: barac.info@gmail.com  Thank you for your support   Web:www.blackactivistsrisingagainstcuts.blogspot.com   Twitter:  @baracuk       Facebook:  BARAC UK