Jul 07 2020

GLASGOW KILLING RAISES MAJOR QUESTIONS ABOUT TREATMENT OF ASYLUM SEEKERS

E&L is posting this article by Mike Picken (Socialist Resistance, SSP and Renfrewshire RIC) about the issues raised by the stabbing of six people and the police killing of the attacker, Badreddin Abadlla Adan,  in the Park Inn Hotel, which is being used to house asylum seekers.

 

 

GLASGOW KILLING RAISES MAJOR QUESTIONS ABOUT TREATMENT OF ASYLUM SEEKERS

In a major event in Scotland, one person was killed by armed police in a Glasgow hotel used to accommodate asylum seekers. The call ‘not to politicise’ the incident from SNP and Labour politicians is completely misplaced.

As the dramatic events unfolded on the afternoon of Friday 26 June, the BBC first reported that three people had been killed in a knife stabbing incident. This turned out to be untrue: six people including a police officer were seriously injured and hospitalised, while the apparent perpetrator was shot in a rapid and large armed police response in Glasgow city centre.

Interviews with eye-witnesses seemed to indicate that while all the 100 residents of the hotel were asylum seekers, there were also hotel staff on duty who may have been victims.  Motivation for the knife attack and details of the victims other than the police officer are not yet confirmed at the time of writing, though Sky News is reporting that the perpetrator was an asylum seeker about whom mental health concerns had already been reported.

But while everyone will wish the victims a speedy recovery, the events raise important political questions about the use of the hotel and the treatment of asylum seekers by the UK government and its private contractors.

Glasgow’s Hotel Asylum Seekers

The incident happened at the Park Inn Hotel, one of six in Glasgow used by a large outsourcing private company, the Mears Group plc, on behalf of the UK government Home Office. They Mears agreed a ten-year long contract with the UK Home Office in 2019 worth over one billion pounds to provide accommodation for asylum seekers.

At the beginning of the UK’s lockdown, the Mears Group had relocated nearly 400 Glasgow asylum seekers who had been living in the city as part of a longstanding Home Office ‘dispersal’ policy.  This policy dates back 20 years to the Blair Labour government and moves asylum seekers who usually arrive in south east England to other locations across the UK, such as Glasgow, described by a Tory minister in 2015 as “areas where there is a greater supply of suitable and cheaper accommodation”.

With only a few minutes’ notice to pack their belongings, the hundreds of asylum seekers living in a wide range of properties across Glasgow were rounded up in April and moved into six major city hotels empty during the lockdown.  Positive Action in Housing (PAiH) [1], a Glasgow-based charity working to support asylum seekers, raised concerns in May with both the UK Home Office and the Scottish Government [2] over the treatment of the asylum seekers by the Mears Group.

They particularly highlighted that relocating hundreds of people in vans carrying three or four people at a time appeared to breach completely the Scottish Government’s then imposition of a total lockdown and the strong message to “Stay Home”; that people should only move if absolutely essential for medical or other reasons. PAiH argue that it was completely unnecessary to move the asylum seekers. The previous landlords accommodating the asylum seekers were simply told that they would no longer be paid in circumstances in which it was clearly almost impossible for them to get new tenants.

PAiH Director, Robina Qureshi, raised numerous complaints about the treatment of asylum seekers in the hotels including the lack of social distancing during meal times, the inability to open windows, the danger of air conditioning circulating the Coronavirus and other infections, and particularly the withdrawal of the weekly payment of £35.50 – meaning that residents were unable to purchase , toiletries, fruit and other necessities. Including mobile phone credit to stay in touch with family and representatives

The situation escalated when a Syrian asylum seeker, 30 year old Adnan Olbeh, was tragically found dead in one of the hotels prompting local press coverage.

Robina Qureshi explained the treatment of the Glasgow Hotel asylum seekers to the public:

“The “hotel asylum seekers” are very isolated. It’s true they are treated as less than human, a number, one of many. Many people, men and women are suffering from severe mental health conditions.”

and in a letter to the First Minister she went on to say

“Levels of depression are increasing. Many people are survivors of trauma and torture and suffering mental health problems because of the length of time they have been in the asylum system. People are growing increasingly desperate.”

PAiH were also concerned about the welfare of hotel workers and transmission of the virus:

“Hotel employees may also be subjected to an increased viral load in the workplace and then must go back out into the general community for a variety of essential purposes.”

 

 

By Wednesday 17 June, so desperate was the situation that a demonstration was called to protest about the conditions of Glasgow Hotel asylum seekers in nearby George Square, outside the Glasgow City Chambers, offices of the SNP-led Glasgow City Council.  However, that demonstration also coincided with a gathering of far-right “loyalist” activists who claimed to be “defending statues” in the Square and opposing the Black Lives Matter movement.

The far-right attacked the asylum seeker protest demonstration in scenes the First Minister described as “appalling”. The police largely stood by, though eventually arresting around six people believed to be far-right thugs.  But the Scottish Police Federation issued an awful statement saying that both sides were to blame and that the police were caught in the middle between “statue attackers” and “statue defenders”.  An emergency demonstration was called in George Square on Saturday 20th June to protest the attack on the asylum seekers demonstration, but SNP politicians called on people to stay away [3].

 

SNP calls “not to politicise” wrong

In response to the killing and stabbing incidents SNP politicians such as Susan Aitken, leader of Glasgow City Council, told the BBC:

“I would absolutely urge anyone not to politicise this, not to use this to divide the city.” 

While Aitken obviously has genuine concerns about the far-right mobilising on Glasgow streets, this is the completely wrong approach, but one shared with the Scottish Labour Party whose spokespersons issued similar responses.

Important political questions need to be asked now about the UK Government/Home Office of Priti Patel and Mears Group policy of relocating the Glasgow asylum seekers to empty hotels during the middle of a pandemic.  This also means questioning why the SNP at Holyrood and Glasgow City Council apparently did nothing about the “powder keg” situation.

Even a retired former senior police officer told Sky News in an interview on the morning after the incident that “we have got to question” the putting of hundreds of asylum seekers from stressed backgrounds, “packed” into such an environment.  Robina Qureshi of PAiH highlighted in a radio interview for the BBC that there were no proper risk assessment procedures for the asylum seekers and that it was the “cheap” accommodation that was the motivation, not their welfare.

The UK Government’s privatisation of accommodation for asylum seekers through organisations like the Mears Group also needs to be challenged.  Its predecessor in Glasgow, SERCO, also attracted massive criticism and then they moved on to a lucrative contract for the UK government’s currently privatised and failing contract-tracing service for coronavirus.  While Mears claims to be a “social” landlord and outsourcing organisation, it is also a public limited company, trading shares on the stock market and making a profit for its shareholders.  One of the directors of Mears is a former Chief Operating Officer of the massive profit-making insurance concern, Lloyds Register, and a leading light in the privatised water industry in England.  Such people do not have the interests of asylum seekers at heart, only the pursuit of profit.  As the official opposition in the Westminster UK Parliament, the Labour Party have an important responsibility to challenge the Tory government on the issue of private firms running public services.

Rather than calling for the situation not to be “politicised”, SNP and Labour politicians should be looking to face down the far right actions by mobilising public demonstrations of support for asylum seekers, seriously challenge the Tory UK government’s “hostile environment” over immigration, and question the role of private companies in running public services for profit rather than public good.

27 June 2020

 NOTES

[1] Positive Action in Housing [PAiH] http://www.paih.org/ “is an independent, anti-racist homelessness and human rights charity (SC027577) dedicated to supporting women, children and men from refugee and migrant backgrounds to rebuild their lives. We believe in a society where everyone has the right to live safe and dignified lives, free from poverty, homelessness or inequality.” (PAiH website).

In May 2020 it issued three important statements detailing the Glasgow Hotel Asylum Seekers issues:

  1. a) Letter to the UK Home Secretary Priti Patel, 11thMay 2020: https://www.paih.org/letter-to-the-home-secretary-about-the-death-of-syrian-refugee-adnan-olbeh-in-glasgow/
  2. b) Letter to the Scottish First Minister, 13thMay 2020 https://www.paih.org/letter-to-the-first-minister-about-glasgows-hotel-asylum-seekers/
  3. c) Protest statement about press coverage of the death of a Glasgow Hotel Asylum Seeker 11thMay 2020 https://www.paih.org/statement-about-mr-adnan-olbeh-syrian-refugee-who-died-in-glasgow/

[2] Under the UK’s complex devolution arrangements, the UK Government of the Conservative Party, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel are responsible for immigration and borders policy/control including asylum seekers, while the Scottish Government of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon of the social democratic/nationalist Scottish National Party (SNP) are responsible for policing, housing, health and other local services and has overseen dealing with the pandemic and lockdown.  The two governments disagree about policies on a wide range of issues including immigration and asylum but have generally tried to minimise such differences during the pandemic crisis.

[3] See: https://socialistresistance.org/glasgow-anti-racists-defiant-against-far-right-attacks/20250

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Comment by Mike Picken

Statement by the Glasgow No Evictions Campaign:

The No Evictions Network is extremely concerned to hear reports from MORE – Migrants Organising for Rights & Empowerment that after the events of yesterday, residents of the Park Inn hotel were left distressed, some waiting in the street for hours with little communication about their fate until late last night. Due to their financial support having been stopped by the Home Office, they were unable to purchase even a bottle of water, and are completely reliant on receiving support from others.

This meant in the hours following the incident, people who were shocked and traumatised by the events, were left without basic needs such as shoes, adequate food or medicine. Over and above practical needs, many of those being accommodated in these hotels have experienced past trauma, so it is absolutely imperative that they are given proper treatment and support for their wellbeing.

Prior to this incident, they have had their financial and social autonomy stripped from them in a series of Home Office decisions and systemically unjust hostile environment policies. This means access to healthcare, privacy and social support is extremely difficult. We believe that the Home Office, now more than ever, needs to treat people in the asylum system like human beings – beginning with reinstating and raising financial support immediately along with moving people to safe, secure housing.

We, and other NGOs are doing everything we can to help, however this should not have to fall on volunteer-led advocacy groups. Ultimately, the duty of care must lie with those responsible for their care.

https://twitter.com/no_evictions/status/1276870399616323584

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This article was first posted at:-

https://socialistresistance.org/glasgow-killing-raises-major-questions-about-treatment-of-asylum-seekers/ 20295

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also see:-

  1. ITALIAN DOCK WORKERS SHOW SOLIDARITY WITH MIGRANTS

 

http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2019/07/22/italian-dock-workers-show-solidarity-with-migrants/

 

  1. INDICTMENT SUBMITTED TO THE PERMANENT PEOPLES’ TRIBUNAL

SESSION ON THE VIOLATIONS WITH IMPUNITY OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS OF MIGRANT AND REFUGEE PEOPLES (2017-2019)

“HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT ON TRIAL” LONDON HEARING
3-4 November 2018

 

http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2019/04/06/indictment-on-violations-with-impunity-of-the-human-righrs-of-migrants-and-refugee-peoples/

 

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Jul 02 2020

In memory of Neil Davidson: The West – No Better Than All the Rest

 Allan Armstrong was reading  How the West Came to Rule – The geopolitical origins of capitalism, by How the West Came to Rule – The geopolitical origins of capitalism by Alexander Anievas and Kerem Nisancioglum, as he learned of the tragic death of Neil Davidson. This book was influenced by Neil’s work on Uneven and Combined Development at a world scale.

Allan has engaged in several debates with Neil about how Socialists can address Scottish history. He decided to write a review of Anievas and Nisancioglum’s book, and look at  aspects of British and Scottish history, through the lens they provide.

Allan  sent this review to Conter. He thought that the second  issue of the magazine would be well served if it had a number of articles  in Neil’s memory. However, the Covid-19 crisis has delayed this issue.

 

THE WEST – NO BETTER THAN ALL THE REST

 

Challenging Eurocentric views of the world

I was reading How the West Came to Rule (HtWctR) when I learned of the death of Neil Davidson. Neil is acknowledged by the book’s authors, Alexander Anievas and Kerem Nisancioglu, as one of their inspirers.[1] HtWctR places the Uneven and Combined Development Theory (UCDT) at the centre of its analysis, referencing Neil in doing so.[2] Neil had been making a major contribution to reviving and applying this theory to global history. This led to the conference entitled ‘Uneven and Combined Development for the 21st Century’ held in Glasgow between the 5-7th September 2019. Anievas addressed this conference, albeit on another topic than HtWctR.[3] Although this conference placed historical development in Scotland under the UCDT spotlight, its contributors also examined historical developments over a far wider arena. HtWctR addresses these developments at the global level and represents the most ambitious attempt I have read to utilise UCDT both historically and geographically, whilst also drawing upon other theories. Continue reading “In memory of Neil Davidson: The West – No Better Than All the Rest”

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Jul 02 2020

STORMONT PUSHES BACK AGAINST ABORTION REGULATIONS

This article, first posted by Socialist Democracy (Ireland), examines a socially reactionary role of Stormont  over women’s abortion rights. 

STORMONT PUSHES BACK AGAINST ABORTION REGULATIONS

 

On the 2nd June  Stormont Assembly passed a DUP motion calling for the rejection of abortion law enacted at Westminster. A Sinn Fein amendment which solely dealt with abortions in cases of severe disability was defeated. While the vote has no effect on the laws the DUP claimed that it would send a message to Westminster that the regulations are not supported by Stormont. Continue reading “STORMONT PUSHES BACK AGAINST ABORTION REGULATIONS”

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Jun 27 2020

ON LOOTING AND STATUE TOPPLING

These  two short pieces have been taken from the Scottish Left Forum

ON LOOTING AND STATUE TOPPLING

 

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The initial US BLM protests were accompanied by looting and statue toppling. This amounted to oppositional ‘shock and awe’ tactics. These which were mainly responsible for breaking through the usual media silence and downplaying of constitutional protests. These actions provided a signal for a massive wave of international solidarity.

 

Allan Armstrong

 

Society (or rather more accurately the ruling group in any society) puts up statutes in public places as an honour and as a symbol of what type of people are to be admired. As society changes those who are honoured by the society change and is contested. At one point in history statues of Hitler were erected in Germany and then at another point they are taken down. Same with Stalin. The removal of such statues is not an attempt to erase history but to make plain the type of people society honours or rejects. In the US south statues of confederate figures were erected as a symbol of white supremacy and the growth of the power of the KKK. They are now being removed because people can see them for what they are- a symbol of racial oppression. In Britain those who made a fortune in the slave trade are no longer considered figures of human excellence and their statues are being toppled. Good. maybe put them in a museum rather than under water. But their removal is a sign of society moving on and rejecting the barbarities of the past. Imagine children growing up in a city where statues of Hitler were on public display? how would that make Jewish kids feel? indeed how would that make any decent human being feel? For black kids, statues of slave traders are not acceptable. Indeed, we should teach all children that such figures are an example of a shameful and terrible past and should be removed to a museum. We should erect statues of those who rebelled against the slave trade and fought for human freedom. Any society which honours slave traders is a deeply sick society.

 

Sandy McBurney

 

 

 

 

 

also see:-

  1. RACISM – CALLING A DIFFERENT TONE

http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2020/06/25/racism-calling-a-different-tone/

  1. GEORGE FLOYD DEMONSTRATIONS IN IRELAND
  2. SUPPRESSION OF BLM SOLIDARITY PROTES

http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2020/06/16/the-george-floyd-demonstrations-in-ireland/

4. RACISM, CAPITALISM AND CLASS STRUGGLE

http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2020/06/11/racism-capitalism-and-class-struggle/

 

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Jun 25 2020

RACISM – CALLING A DIFFERENT TONE

The Emancipation & Liberation Editorial Board (EB) is posting this article by Will Stratford of the Platypus Affiliated Society (PAS) in the USA about the Left’s response to the BLM protests. PAS is a Left propagandist think-tank. The  EB is taking up Stratford’s challenge to the Left to publish his arguments. We invite others to respond.

 

RACISM – CALLING A DIFFERENT TONE

 

 

What if racism is not the biggest problem with our society today? I can tell you this much: it is not exactly a cool party trick to bring up the question with my friends, who are mostly Democrat-voting progressives. When I ask them, they look at me like I just gave a sieg heil to Hitler. I have to remind them: I am asking from the left, not the right. Continue reading “RACISM – CALLING A DIFFERENT TONE”

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Jun 16 2020

THE GEORGE FLOYD DEMONSTRATIONS IN IRELAND

These two articles from Socialist Democracy (Ireland) look at the response in Ireland (south and north) to the killing of George Floyd and then the response of the  PSNI and the Garda to these demonstrations. The first article argues for the power of solidarity in the face of shared exploitation and oppression rather the  ‘allyship’ based on intersectional identity. Both  highlight the role of the Garda and PSNI in attempting to suppress the demonstrations. The first article also points  to the role of  Garda in suppressing the Debenham workers in Dublin (1).  The second article highlights the response of the Stormont government, falling back on the PSNI’s RUC past to enforce the harshest state response in the UK to these demonstrations.

 

1. GEORGE FLOYD DEMONSTRATIONS IN IRELAND

 

Black Lives Matter demonstration in Belfast

 

The Black Lives Matter demonstrations across Ireland have shown a massive upwelling of support for the protestors in the US. They show the immense power of spontaneous human solidarity. This is not “allyship” based on modern identity ideologies, but a concrete solidarity that sees racism and oppression in the Irish State and the British colonial enclave and is not afraid to say so. Initial demonstrations took place spontaneously across the island, with the main demonstrations in Dublin and Belfast. They were followed by more structured demonstrations on Saturday 6th June in Dublin, Galway, Belfast, Derry and many other centres. Although all were pressured by the police, with a number being cancelled and a Newry demonstration dispersed, turnout was in the thousands at the main demonstrations with black protestors joined by large numbers of white, mostly young, activists. Continue reading “THE GEORGE FLOYD DEMONSTRATIONS IN IRELAND”

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Jun 11 2020

RACISM, CAPITALISM AND CLASS STRUGGLE

Thus article, written by Josefina L. Martinez, in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd, was first posted by Left Voice in the USA.

 

RACISM, CAPITALISM AND CLASS STRUGGLE

 

The anti-racist uprising in the United States over the brutal murder of George Floyd reopens a strategic question: How do we link the struggle against racism with the struggle against capitalist exploitation? This article draws the counterpoint between the theories of intersectionality and Marxism. Continue reading “RACISM, CAPITALISM AND CLASS STRUGGLE”

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Jun 11 2020

FANTASY FOOTBALL – THE IRISH LEFT AND FORMING A ‘LEFT GOVERNMENT’

This article, originally posted by Socialist Democracy (Ireland) looks at the attempts by People before Profit and RISE to form a ‘Left government’ in Ireland with Sinn Fein. 

 

FANTASY FOOTBALL – THE IRISH LEFT AND FORMING A ‘LEFT GOVERNMENT’

 

Time for Unity – with whom and for what?

 

Recently People before Profit reopened talks with Sinn Fein about building an alternative left government in opposition to the attempts by Fianna Fail and Fine Gael to construct a parliamentary majority. Continue reading “FANTASY FOOTBALL – THE IRISH LEFT AND FORMING A ‘LEFT GOVERNMENT’”

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Jun 08 2020

BREXIT HASN’T GONE AWAY – THE VIEW FROM IRELAND

This article first posted by Socialist Democracy (Ireland)  highlights the continuing relevance of Brexit to the British ruling class national populist strategy to attack the working class, and to continued inability of the the British Labour leadership now under Sir Keith Starmer to counter this.

 

The only alternative to Brexit – a Trump dictated trade deal

 

BREXIT HASN’T GONE AWAY – A pandemic of repression is on its way

After months of silence Brexit has returned to the headlines. It’s sudden reappearance runs alongside a realisation that nothing has been done, and that a deadline of June 30th is rapidly approaching without any progress. The signs are that a slow motion car crash is taking place and that Britain is falling out of the European Union without any agreement. Continue reading “BREXIT HASN’T GONE AWAY – THE VIEW FROM IRELAND”

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Jun 07 2020

JOE BIDEN – RACIST AND SEXIST

We are posting these two articles which challenge those following Bernie Sanders in giving their support to Joe Biden as the Democratic presidential candidate. The first article, by Daniel Lazare, takes up Biden’s appalling record of racism; the second by Tatiana Cozazarelli, his record of sexism.

1. THE BIDEN DISASTER – Daniel Lazare (https://daniellazare.com/about/)

2. JOE BIDEN AND THE FARCE OF LIBERAL FEMINISM – Tatiana Cozzarelli (Left Voice)

 

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Pointing to a racist and sexist Joe Biden

 

1. THE BIDEN DISASTER

Another week, another disaster. As Joe Biden’s “You ain’t black” comment goes racing across the internet (see below), there has been a tendency to write it off as yet another verbal gaffe by a politician famous for letting his mouth rip before his brain is fully engaged. But it is not. In reality, the remark is a Freudian slip that pulls back the covers on the dismal relationship between the Democratic Party and the black Americans they supposedly champion. Continue reading “JOE BIDEN – RACIST AND SEXIST”

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