Blog Archive

Saturday, 1 February 2020

Mass deportation flight to Jamaica on the 30th anniversary of the release from prison of Nelson Mandela


Mass deportation flight to Jamaica on the 30th anniversary of the release from prison of Nelson Mandela
 

Written by: Zita Holbourne and Lee Jasper.

Designed by Lee Jasper


 

Boris Johnson's government has organised another charter flight mass deportation to
Jamaica, one year after the last one. Like a dog returning to the scene of its own vomit, the Tories appear habitually addicted to racist immigration policy. This is the second such charter flight since the Windrush scandal was widely exposed, as targeting Caribbean descent communities. This new mass deportation is expected to take place on 11th February, which coincidentally, is the 30th anniversary of the release of Nelson Mandela from Victor Vester prison.

We have received confirmation from several people now that they have been issued with a definite removal notice. Up to 50 people could be deported on this flight, people who will be torn apart from families including their young children, who have lived most of their lives in the UK and those still going through a deportation appeals process.

Artwork by Zita Holbourne 


Over the past week, there has been an escalation in people being detained whilst attending their regular signing in sessions at Reporting Centres around the country with Immigration Officers then transferring detainees to removal centres.

These are all people who are fearfully complying with Home Office requirements, and are now subjected to forcible detention. The government's cynical rounding up of vulnerable people, seen as nothing more than disposable garbage to be taken out, is shameful and unacceptable.

The British High Commissioner to Jamaica has alleged, that all those booked on the flight have criminal records and are not related to Windrush. But we know that it includes people who are appealing against Home Office decisions. Last year, people who were originally booked on a flight to Jamaica, successfully legally challenged their deportation leading to them being removed from the flight.

A whole year has passed only for them to be targeted again. All of the cases we have been made aware of involve individuals who have families here in the UK including children and, in some cases, even grandchildren. Most are people who
have spent the majority of their lives in the UK and who are to be deported to what will be a strange country as far as their lived experience is concerned.


Poster by artist Zita Holbourne 



Some will have been criminalised by virtue of their immigration status and deportation
creates a double, or rather triple punishment when you account for the periods they were detained.A British born person would not be sentenced for a crime, serve their time, be rehabilitated only to be denied access to essential services such as health care, detained in inhumane
facilities, to find their life even worse than when serving time in prison, only then be
deported to a strange country, separated from loved ones, left destitute and alone.

We believe that as there is clearly no guarantee of fairness and justice there should be no deportations and that the government must stop racially targeting Caribbean communities and their families.
Given the ongoing Windrush Scandal and the government's failure to adequately
compensate victims (with the vast majority receiving no compensation to date) we can have no faith that these detainees have been treated fairly and within the law.

Our communities have suffered enough over recent years because of the scandal, which is on top of racism and injustice amplified by austerity. It is not acceptable for the government to return to the discredited policy of creating a racially hostile environment for black people.

Artwork by Zita Holbourne 


The British High Commissioner to Jamaica may claim that those targeted on this charter flight have no link to the Windrush generation but the reality is that if it were not for the legacy of colonialism, their families would not have come to the UK in order to work hard and help the post-war recovery in the 1950s and 60s and they in turn would not have come to the UK to join their close family members.

Some of those targeted for these deportations included people who have served in the British armed forces, British when it suited the government but now deemed both undesirable and illegal. Having valiantly served Queen and country in active service, they are now cast aside with some suffering injuries and post-traumatic stress.

We have called an emergency protest to oppose the flight and wider injustice of the
government's hostile environment including the failure to make compensation accessible to all the families impacted by the brutality of the Windrush scandal.

Copyright BARAC UK: Windursh Day of Action, June 2019, Westminster  Bridge 


The protest will commence at 6 pm on Thursday 6th February opposite Downing Street. It is called by BARAC UK and BAME Lawyers for Justice which is an umbrella body for a group of Black and Asian race equality activists, lawyers and Windrush justice groups, all are welcome to join us. The action is also supported by the Society of Black Lawyers, Blaksox and Momentum Black Caucus.

Whilst the British government have a lot to answer for, we cannot forget or let off the hook those complicit with the process of deporting people on charter flights, the airlines, security companies, pilots, etc. but also governments of countries such as Jamaica, who allow these flights to land and who are paid to accept the wholesale illegal deportation of people without consideration of their circumstances and the inhumanity of their treatment.

That's why we are supporting and encourage people to join the emergency demo called by Movement for Justice at 12 noon on Monday 3rd February outside the Jamaican High Commission calling on the Jamaican Government to follow the lead of the Nigerian government and refuse to allow the plane to land.

Durham Miners Gala, 2019


We are also supporting Windrush activist, Patrick Vernon's petition; The Windrush
Compensation Scheme, demanding the application of the principles of restorative justice and fairness to the victims of the Windrush scandal, repairing the harm done by this government's hostile environment policy and its impacts on African and Caribbean communities and others from the Commonwealth. The petition demands the Home Secretary adopt a 10-point plan to write the wrongs of the Windrush Scandal. MPs have the opportunity to make amendments to the Windrush Compensation Bill at the Second
Reading of the bill in February.

We can have no confidence in this government's commitment to treat people fairly and call upon all good people to support our struggle for justice and oppose state racism.

We would also ask that you sign, share and promote the following petitions;

https://www.change.org/p/stop-all-charter-flight-mass-deportations-to-jamaica-other-commonwealth-countries


https://www.change.org/p/prime-minister-conduct-an-independent-public-inquiry-into-the-windrush-scandal

https://www.change.org/p/british-airways-stop-helping-the-home-office-deport-people

https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/restorative-compensation-scheme-for-windrush-scandal


If you want to get in touch please
contact bamelawyersforjustice@gmail.com or baracuk@gmail.com

Artwork by Zita Holbourne 

Monday, 27 January 2020

HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL DAY; 27TH OF JANUARY




Holocaust Memorial Day is marked on 27th of January each year to remember the Holocaust and other genocides.

This year it marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and also the 25th anniversary of the genocide in Bosnia. 

This year's theme is Stand Together.

It is important that we never forget the Holocaust and other genocides including the Maafa which saw the enslavement and murder of African people. At a time when racist and fascist ideas grow and slip into the mainstream in an attempt to normalise them it is essential for us to Stand Together. They must never go unchallenged as our inaction allows them to grow. Hatred breeds hatred so we should speak out with love and act with kindness to challenge, educate and strive for peace and equality,  when we all stand together against hatred we are stronger and empower others to stand up with us. 

Zita Holbourne,  National Chair BARAC UK 





Monday, 9 December 2019

Activist, Campaigner, Artist and Writer, Zita Holbourne wins prestigious lifetime achievement award in recognition of her work as an Equality Champion.

IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

BARAC UK PRESS RELEASE



Activist, Campaigner, Artist and Writer, Zita Holbourne wins prestigious lifetime achievement award in recognition of her work as an Equality Champion.

BARAC UK urges voters to vote Labour in the general election in order to advance equality and tackle discrimination.


Zita Holbourne, Co-founder and National Chair of BARAC UK received a Lifetime Achievement Award for her role as Equality Champion. 

The Award was made by the Legacy Gala and Awards, at a ceremony held at the Royal Lancaster London Hotel in Bayswater on Saturday 7th December.

Now in their fourth year, The Life Time Legacy Awards are made to individuals nominated by their peers, because they have used their career not just for personal progression, but have also sacrificed much, in order to prepare the ground for others to follow.

Zita was given the award for Equality Champion in recognition of her work over decades as a trade union representative,  community activist and human rights campaigner, working tirelessly  not just in the UK but globally to challenge discrimination and advance equality. 

Other winners on the night included footballer Andy Cole, Lord Simon Woolley and actor Rudolph Walker. 



On winning the award Zita said:

"Equality is at the heart of all I do, be it as a trade union or community  activist, human rights campaigner, visual artist, author or poet, I strive to achieve, improve and advance equality. 

Receiving this award is a great honour for me and very special in that it recognises the importance of equality in our lifetime as well as for future generations. At a time when equality gains have been stripped away, over ten years of austerity, impacting adversely on equality grounds and bringing deepening discrimination and injustice, we all need to challenge discrimination when we witness it, as our silence empowers those who hold discriminatory views.  Equality cannot just be about defending any gains we have made, but working together, to achieve true equality so everyone can live with dignity, respect and peace and pursue their dreams and aspirations free from the barriers created by discrimination.

Over the past decade we have witnessed deepening discrimination towards black and minority ethnic people, women, disabled people, LGBT plus people, younger and older people as well as migrant communities. It is essential that we reverse this discrimination but also that we keep  advancing  equality and tackle discrimination robustly. It's incumbent on all of us to call it out and take action.

The horrific treatment, still impacting to this very day, of the Windrush generation and their multi-generational families is a stain on the history of UK politics, full justice must be served.

Likewise the scapegoating of migrant communities, cuts to essential services, discrimination  in the labour market and discriminatory barriers to progression must all be challenged.

We can and must all work together in order to make equality a reality."  

Hector Wesley, PCS National Executive Committee member and BARAC UK National Officer said;

"I'm delighted that Zita has received this award which is well deserved recognition for her decades long commitment to promoting equality and fighting injustice.

That this award has been made by leaders within the black community gives it added value.

Recipients of lifetime achievement awards are often nearing the end of their careers.  That's definitely not the case here. I know that Zita will continue her contribution nationally and internationally."




Zita is community and trade union activist, human rights campaigner, performance poet, author, writer, visual artist, curator, designer and  vocalist.

She campaigns for equality, freedom, justice and human rights through arts and activism.

Zita is the Co-founder and National Chair  of Black Activists Rising Against Cuts which campaigns against the adverse disproportionate impact of cuts on black /BAME workers, service users and communities and deepening related injustice and racism.

 She is a founding member of BAME Lawyers for Justice and BME Lawyers for Grenfell. She has campaigned against Windrush and related deportations for decades  and for refugee and migrant rights on a global level. She coordinates regular humanitarian aid distributions to refugees.

Zita is National Vice President of the Public and Commercial Services Union where she chairs the union's National Equality Committee. She is Joint National Chair of Artists Union England. 

She is elected to the Trades Union Congress Race Relations and  the Women's Committees and is also active in the trade union movement on a European and international level.

Zita's work in the arts and on equality has Bern recognised by the United Nations and she is a member of the UNESCO Coalition of Artists for the General History of Africa.

Zita is the author of Striving for Equality Freedom and Justice and featured in  the award winning book, Here We Stand; Women Changing the World. She is a  contributor to numerous books, as a writer and illustrator including New Daughters of Africa, an International anthology launched in 2019.

She is the winner of the UK National Diversity Awards Postive Role Model for Race amongst other awards.

Zita is an award winning performance  and published poet. She has performed internationally, including at Glastonbury, in the UK Parliament and at Nelson Mandela's official UK memorial service.

She is the founder and curator of the Roots Culture Identity art exhibition/collective providing a platform for predominantly young , black (BAME)  and migrant artists.

She has led and won many campaigns for justice and equality and built equality structures and initiatives in the UK and globally. She has advised the European Commission on  tackling discrimination and improving equality and for decades  she has successfully represented on and challenged discrimination at work and in wider society.

BARAC UK, urges voters in this week's  general election to vote for the Labour Party, as the party that has historically  and that will if elected, implement, progressive equality policies and  a focused strategy and stand alone department  for equality.



ENDS

Friday, 9 August 2019

Joint Statement by NLAC Network & BARAC UK







Joint Statement by BARAC UK  and NLAC Network


                                                                                                      We welcome work by Newham Council to green the borough and as part of this work to look at environmental factors contributing to climate change and in taking action to reduce carbon emissions which contribute to global warming. This includes the use of vehicles such as cars. 

However we were horrified  to read in a public consultation  document  published on the Newham Council website, a narrative which we consider to be racist in tone and content. 

As quoted below, the statement by Newham Council suggests that the diversity of the borough poses a weakness and a problem, in addition to a strength and that the use of cars by black, Asian or migrant communities in the borough is an issue and problem relating to cultural behaviours, effectively othering a huge proportion of the population within the borough. 

They say but do not specify that some 'minority communities' in the borough have cars not for practical reasons that the general population may have cars such as getting to work, getting to schools and carers, transporting goods, for work purposes , for example needing a vehicle for your job, disability, as a reasonable adjustment, to cut down on high public transport costs for commuting and many other reasons,  but as a symbol of status. We are not living in the 1920s, having a car is common in Western countries for many and varied reasons and is a part of every day living. 

It goes on to describe how a 'specialist approach' is required. Again this is othering and labelling, who ever their words are targeting,  as a problem that has to be tackled rather than approaching matters by seeking to raise awareness of carbon emissions from driving vehicles amongst the whole population of Newham.

The statement then says the Director of Equality for Transport for London will be involved in targeting places of worship and faith leaders. This is of concern on a number of levels including; 

1. They are not just targeting and labelling people on grounds of race but on grounds of religion also.
2. They are bringing in someone who should be leading on achieving and promoting equality to target people on grounds of their race and religion and not even one religion but anybody of faith who is in their view a 'minority'. 

As it happens if you were add up all those they might deem to be 'minorities' they make up the majority of the borough's population.

They say they will 'systematically unpick car ownership and it being a symbol of success'.

There is no reference to data or evidence, setting out how they have reached this conclusion, no break down by race or ethnic group of who owns cars, with the reasons for owning them or how /why they drive cars. 

To target, demonise and label unspecified ethnic groups who live in the borough is disgusting. If indeed there is found to be a disproportionate use of cars by any particular group then the reasons for this should be thoroughly explored and considered rather than publishing insulting,  negative comments portraying the diverse communities of Newham as uneducated, unaware,  superficial, ignorant, uncaring and irresponsible. Also implying that there are 'good' and 'bad' citizens in the borough when it comes to the environment, divided by race and religion is inappropriate and irresponsible.

Such language and tone  along with the singling out of some, only seeks to divide communities. This kind of othering creates the climate for racism and hate crime to thrive.

It is ironic given  that those most effected  by the impacts of climate change are from the global South, areas of the world where the people or their families historically  that  the council are now  labelling as the worst perpetrators contributing to climate change, are likely to have migrated from. As a result they may still  have family in those countries directly impacted by floods, drought, cyclones, hurricanes etc. The people that the council are now targeting may include some people who came to the UK as refugees,  who were forced to flee the combined impacts of climate change, conflict and poverty. Therefore the so called 'minorities' they refer to may be people who have lived experience and as a result awareness of the importance of addressing climate change and already be involved in campaigning against climate change and promoting a green agenda .

We request that Newham Council withdraw this wording and reconsider their approach, acting in an inclusive way , if they are serious about trying to tackle environmental issues in the borough they need to support, encourage and include people in that work, drawing on the expertise, knowledge  and lived experiences of all its citizens without pointing the figure and othering and labelling any particular group. 

Extract of the Newham Council consultation document:

"Newham also has its own particular challenges in achieving this aim. The diverse nature of 
our Borough population, while being one of our strengths, also presents some cultural issues 
about status, betterment and the motor car being seen as a universal symbol of success 
amongst some of our minority communities, which will require a specialist approach to 
address. We have devised a specific approach to engage with these communities with TfL’s 
Equality Director’s help, with initial focus on places of worship and faith leaders in order to 
systematically unpick this perceived relationship between car ownership and use and it 
being a symbol of success, over time. 



(The document has now been removed from the Newham Council website 

Friday, 21 June 2019

Press Release: National Windrush Day of Action



Windrush Day Press Release.
Friday, June 21, 2019
Event Windrush Day: Seven Windrush Justice actions in
seven cities across England and Wales.
Black Groups call for a formal UN investigation into the UK
Windrush Scandal.
London: No 10 Downing Street Protest for 11am followed by
Westminster Bridge, Windrush Justice Banner
Drop. (10m x 5m at around 12 noon)
 #WindrushDayOfAction
BAME Lawyers for Justice has organized unprecedented action
in support of demands for justice for the victims of the Windrush
scandal.
On June 22nd will see seven actions taking place in seven cities’,
simultaneously across the England and Wales. These are London. Liverpool.
Birmingham, Nottingham, Derby, Leeds and Manchester
Symbolic actions will be taking place in each of these cities.

2
In London a demonstration will be held outside 10 Downing Street at 11am on
Saturday June 2019, followed by a 10 x 5 meter banner drop, across
Westminster Bridge around 12 noon – 12.15 pm
Today the Black communities of Britain both celebrate their unique
contribution to the making of modern Britain, our cultures of resistance and
rebellion, by demonstrating our opposition to one of the most hostile, racially
targeted British immigration regimes ever seen in modern British history.
Lee Jasper National Co-Coordinator for the WDA
This Governmental immigration regime is the most virulently racially hostile
immigration regime in modern British history, Today’s Windrush celebration is
marred by the fact that tens o thousands of black people remain affected.
Despite the apologies of Government, black people continue to be wrongly
denied rightful citizenship by a Home Office that is incapable of seeing past
peoples color . British black people, and the wider community remain
outraged. Whilst Brexit has dominated the political and news agenda, the
victims of Windrush have been forgotten.
We intend to place these matters at the highest level; we call for a formal UN
investigation into the Windrush scandal and the rancid racism that makes
Britain one of the most overtly racist nations in the world, in terms of
immigration policies.
Make no mistake British immigration policy is in reality a covert policy of
forced repatriation, the most coveted policy of the extreme racist right wing for
decades.
Today, Black British citizens now face a routine, implicitly racist administrative
culture that operates on the basis of automatic presumption of disbelief,
regardless of objective evidence available.
This institutionally racist culture is shared across the administration of
Government, including immigration, police, judges and schools officials,
Routinely disbelieved, routinely facing discrimination, that is the Black British
experience. The credibility of Black British citizenship can be summed up in
one sentence, “You’re a liar we don’t believe you.”


Pastor Clive Foster Is Senior Pastor from the Pilgrim Church which has
been supporting hundreds of people since the scandal broke said;
“ As part of the National Windrush Day of Action organised by BAME Lawyers
for Justice, Nottingham will be joining other cities across the UK standing in
solidarity with the victims and families of the Windrush Scandal. All are invited
to meet in the city centre at the Brian Clough statue to hear passionate
speeches from campaigners, activists and diverse Windrush supporters.


3
As with other cities there will be the unfurling of the Nottinghamshire
Windrush Day of Action banner to highlight the on-going plight of people still
seeking justice as a result of the governments hostile environment
policy. Along with speeches the event will also include contributions from
local poets, gospel singing and drumming as part of the day.
‘It’s great to mark the first official Windrush Day in the UK with Nottingham
joining a coordinated effort to stand up for the rights and justice of the
Windrush Generation - today is a telling reminder that injustice anywhere is a
threat to justice everywhere and we need to continue ensure that the dignity
and worth of British citizens is preserved’.
The meeting will take place on Saturday 22nd June at 1.00pm at the Brian
Clough statue, speakers corner city centre – all welcome”
.
Kingsley Abrahams General Secretary of Momentum Black Caucus
stated:
“ This reprehensible Tory Government should be dragged to the International
Human Rights implementing the most egregious acts of state endorsed
racism, resulting in the most profound of racist human rights violations that
we've seen in a generation. We fully support this national day of action and I
determine
to support the campaign for justice and restitution for Windrush victims and
their families.”
Cllr Anna Rothery of Liverpool City Council and Mayoral Lead for
Equalities stated:
“We in Liverpool we will be supporting the Windrush Day Of Action and in
addition to action on the 22nd, there will also be Windrush events running from
the 26th screening black flowers reclaiming white spaces, Betrayal the
Charles Wotton story & Small Island on the 27t
June.
There will be a community day for youth and elders with various speakers,
stalls spoken word with Levi Tafari, Akala, and the African Heritage Company
will be looking at a sense of self a sense of place a project looking at the
managed decline of black community organisations such as the Charles
Wooton education Centre, MIAU Merseyside immigration advisory unit, L8
Law Centre, Access to Law and African studies and how the lack of resources
impact on our youths consciousness.
28th a commissioned play looking at the insanity of the” hostile environment”
exploring the story of a Jamaican nurse who has been nominated for a life
time achievement award at the same time as receiving deportation papers!
Followed by a panel discussion with Sir Geoff Palmer Glasgow University
amongst other guests
This gives a platform to unpick the Windrush debacle and utilise our black
creative talents to send a clear message, all of these activities will be curated 4
and captured in a Windrush Legacy book which will be of the official record of
part of Liverpool’s fight for Windrush Justice.
Zita Holbourne, National Chair BARAC UK, National Vice President
PCS Union, Joint National Chair, Artists Union England commentated…
“The treatment of the Windrush generation, their multi generation families and
people from other Commonwealth countries is an absolute disgrace. The
pain, misery, distress , discrimination and injustice experienced and let's be
clear still happening is inhumane.
The government simply celebrating the achievements of the Windrush
generation on 22nd June without addressing the injustice and properly
compensating people is simply wrong. We have organised a day of action to
send a clear message to the government, that we are here, we will not be
silent and we will continue to fight for our rights
Prof Cecile Yvonne Wright of Derby East Midlands stated,
"We in Derby are fully in support of the Windrush Day of action and we will
work day and night to ensure that the victims of Windrush scandal received
the justice, reparation and compensation they deserve."
Contacts;
National and London
Zita Holbourne Tel 07711861660
Lee Jasper Tel 07984181797
Kingsley Abrahams Tel 07932 447763
Regions:
Anthony Brown Tel 07392399040 (Manchester)
Claude Hendrickson Tel 07831 480196 (Leeds)
Cllr Anna Rothery Tel 07841 652168 (Liverpool)
Phil Murphy Tel 07866 531494 (Birmingham)
Prof Cecil Wright Tel 07504 510710 (Derby)
Pastor Clive Foster Tel 07881656399 (Nottingham)
Editors Info:
BAME Lawyer 4 Justice is a national coalitional of lawyers and campaigning
group challenging Windrush injustices and the Government immigration
“hostile environment” policy
We is an umbrella platform comprising of Society of Black Lawyers, BARAC
UK, Blaksox, Windrush Action & a number of Windrush campaign groups from
across the UK.


5
We campaign in response to the unfolding Windrush scandal calling for all
deportations, including charter flights to the Caribbean, to be stopped.
We held an online windows debate and two national conferences, one in
London and one in Nottingham in 2018. These community consultation events
have called for a Windrush Day of Action
We organised and made countless representations to the Home Office on this
issue, all ignored and have recently launched a petition calling for the
cessation of all deportation charter flights, and now signed by 12000 people.
We held a Windrush Parliamentary Round Table, chaired by Diane Abbott MP
in June 2019 that was a huge success and was massively over subscribed



Thursday, 20 June 2019

National Windrush Day of Action 22nd of June

National Windrush Day of Action 

22nd June 2019

Called by BAME Lawyers for Justice







The National Windrush Day of Action takes place on Windrush Day, 22nd June.

It has been organised by BAME Lawyers for Justice which is made up of BARAC UK and an umbrella of other race equality and Windrush justice groups.

7 cities are officially taking part:

London
Manchester
Nottingham
Derby
Liverpool
Birmingham
Leeds

But more are taking place unofficially.  If you cannot get to any of the participating  cities we invite you to do a photocard opportunity  in solidarity and post to our social media.
@Barack @bamefor @windrushdayjune on Twitter.

BARAC UK,  BAME Lawyers for Justice, National Windrush Day of Action on Facebook.
#WindrushDayofAction
#endhostileenvironment
#windrushjustice
#windrushscandal

In London we will be assembling 11am opposite Downing Street and marching to Westminster Bridge  for a mass banner drop over the bridge.

Here is further info plus flyers for the events this Saturday. We welcome your participation and think it is crucial given the gross injustice, discrimination and misery that people of the Windrush generation and their multi-generation families as well as people from other commonwealth  / former commonwealth countries are experiencing  because of the hostile environment, that we protest on 22nd June and send a strong message to the government.

We recognise that some people will wish to celebrate on the day and if that is the case we encourage you to #demonstratethencelebrate. For others the idea of celebrations in the midst of such injustice and inhumanity is insulting at this given time.

Zita Holbourne,  National Chair, BARAC UK



















Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Marking United Nations World Day for Social Justice with a Windrush Day of Action

National Windrush Day of Action on 23rd February 2019


Co-ordinated by BAME Lawyers for Justice 


Today is United Nations World Day of Social Justice and we have chosen 23rd February as the closest Saturday to build for Justice for the Windrush Generation.

Below are details of events in London, Nottingham & Liverpool.