Last Thursday human rights campaigners, union members, migrant rights groups, political representatives and other members of the public met in Manchester to campaign against immigration detention.These Walls Must Fall campaign aims to highlight that residents of Greater Manchester are being taken from local communities, locked up in far-off detention centres with no time limit, no idea of when they might be released. Unlocking Detention tour). Yet against these steep odds, the challenges and victories that have come to resist the hostile immigration system, have often come from local communities. Those in attendance then had the opportunity to have their questions about detention answered by Michael from Freed Voices – an experts-by-experience group that between them have lost 20 years to immigration detention. As well as answering questions like ‘how long you can be detained?’ (indefinitely!), Michael neatly illustrated how detention is not (just) an immigration issue, but a civil one – it effects us all, by taking people from our communities, and wasting money that could be spent on other social goods. Hostile Environment’ – which is seeing homes, banks, schools and hospitals all turn into border posts. Julie noted:
“If we look back at our family history, somewhere along the line we would discover we had been people who needed to be somewhere else; we needed to flee, we needed to move.”(You can watch a short clip of Julie’s speech here) Mariam Yusuf, campaigner with These Walls Must Fall and Women Asylum Seekers Together, spoke of the hardship that detention has caused for the women she organises with; and that women she knows are being ‘broken’ by the system. The recurring nature of detention she described is reflected nationally – the majority of people who are detained are then released, their detention having served no purpose.
- working with local MPs and councillors
- putting pressure on Tories as the last major party to yet have committed to a 28 day time limit for detention
- Getting motions passed in trade unions, councils,
- Writing letters to local papers
- Speak with people in our local communities about detention
- Get famous people to speak out against detention
- Creative actions, like building a wall through Manchester city centre!