Earlier this month These Walls Must Fall campaigners spoke with members of the public at Manchester’s Partisan Collective community day. There was great back and forth with the audience, and lots of people signed up to support the campaign. Below is the text of the speech from one of the campaigners.
These Walls Must Fall is a campaign against immigration detention in Britain – the walls are the walls of detention centres. Anybody who doesn’t have leave to remain in this country can be detained. As soon as you claim asylum or you go for any kind of leave they give you a form which says that you are liable to be detained. From the first day that you come into this country and you don’t have indefinite leave to remain – you are liable to be detained.
People can be detained in Manchester when they go for signing – or anywhere, immigration officers just come to their home, or at a bus stop, or at a tram station, or at a train station – they just stop people and ask about their immigration status, and they just take them and lock them up in detention centres.
“We are doing the work because they are taking people from communities, and from their children.”
Detention centres are like jail. Because they lock people up in there, and the conditions in there are very bad. Because detention centres are not clean, and the food they provide us is really very poor, and the water in the toilets is not running like we normally have in our homes – it’s like ‘drip, drip, drip’, the water. And the heating is not proper in the rooms as well – it’s really very cold in the rooms. People can be detained for any amount of time – as long as the Home Office want. Because there is no time limit on detention in the UK.
Detention affects people mentally. Because once you’ve been in detention, and you come out of detention, you are never the same. It impacts on your health, it impacts on your mental health. After that you get nightmares, you get different sorts of things… You will never be the same, when you come out of a detention centre.
These Walls Must Fall is a campaign against immigration detention. We are doing the work because they are taking people from communities, and from their children, and from schools, colleges – so we are doing a campaign against this. Recently we did a campaign action at HOME cinema, which was really powerful. We want to give awareness to the people, because the people don’t know. When you talk to people, they really don’t know what detention is. A lot of people who I talk to, they think that detention is when you do something wrong at school! So they don’t know what detention is. People are not aware of what the government is doing with asylum seekers.
We have lots of support from the community and politicians in Manchester. We got a letter of support from Afzal Khan, who is the shadow immigration minister. And in November last year, Manchester City Council was the first council to pass a motion condemning immigration detention.
People can get involved by giving us their contact details, and when we are doing events or campaign actions they can come and join us. If you are in a community or activist group and would like to campaign with us, come and have a chat with us today. Together we can bring the walls down!