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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Jan 23 2020

THE CREATIVE ECONOMY? – TOWARDS A CULTURE OF POSSIBILITY

Emancipation & Liberation has viewed cultural creativity as a significant arena in which to challenge the alienation associated with the the exploitation and oppression found under capitalism. We are reposting an article by Mairi McFadyen, first posted on bella caledonia, which provides evidence from the rural areas of Scotland.

 

THE CREATIVE ECONOMY? – TOWARDS A CULTURE OF POSSIBILITY

Cultural engagement on the banks of the River Nith in Dumfries

 

This month I have been on a journey from Shetland to Dumfries reflecting on creativity, community and cultural commons. In the last of the summer sun I sailed north across the whale road to a conference organised by the Centre for Rural Creativity, University of the Highlands and Islands, in partnership with Shetland Arts at the Mareel. Invoking the old Norn dialect word for where the shore meets the sea, the event was called Shoormal – an invitation to explore issues of creative practice, collaboration and the ‘shifting sands in the creative economy’. Continue reading “THE CREATIVE ECONOMY? – TOWARDS A CULTURE OF POSSIBILITY”

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Sep 11 2018

EDINBURGH OCTOBER 6th – A RALLYING CALL FOR THE LEFT

Allan Armstrong puts the case for building a Scottish-wide Left contingent on the ‘All Under One Banner’ march in Edinburgh on October 6th

 

EDINBURGH OCTOBER 6th – A RALLYING CALL FOR THE LEFT

 

35,000 in Glasgow, 10,000 in Inverness, 13,000 in Dumfries and 16,000 in Dundee – ‘All Under One Banner ‘ clearly represents something significant in Scottish politics. However it requires an examination of a wider politics going back to 2014 to appreciate the nature of this phenomenon.

A thwarted democratic revolution

If we look at the Indy Ref1 campaign we can see that it represented a democratic revolution, with 85% actually voting, following a registration drive which drew in 97% of the potential electorate. This was something unprecedented in UK politics. Continue reading “EDINBURGH OCTOBER 6th – A RALLYING CALL FOR THE LEFT”

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Sep 25 2017

SOLIDARITY WITH THE PEOPLE OF CATALUNYA

 

NATIONAL RALLY on the day of the Referendum

SUNDAY 1 OCTOBER 1PM

SPANISH CONSULATE, 

63, NORTH CASTLE STREET, EDINBURGH EH2 3LJ

 

BRING BANNERS/FLAGS

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The ongoing shift to the Right in European politics is highlighted by the attempt by  Rajoy’s right wing Popular Party Spanish government to stop the Catalonian independence referendum through resort to repressive measures, including the mobilisation of the Civil Guard, a tactic regularly used by Franco. MSPs from the SNP, Labour, Lib-Dems and Greens  have all signed a letter condemning the actions of the Spanish state. The significant absence of any Tory MSP signatures shows that in the party’s post-Brexit move further to the Right, they are measuring up the possibilities of resorting to such measures in the future, in the event of another Scottish independence referendum. 

Below we are posting two articles. The first is written by written by Chris Bambery of Counterfire, and a supporter of RISE, assessing the current situation in Catalunya. The second is written by Sean Bell for Common Space. Continue reading “SOLIDARITY WITH THE PEOPLE OF CATALUNYA”

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Jun 08 2017

LEFT UNITY AND THE GENERAL ELECTION  

We are posting this position paper from Steve Freeman (Republican Socialist Alliance and Campaign for a European Socialist Republican Party) first posted on the Left Unity blog. 

SCOTLAND AND THE TORY BREXIT ELECTION

The general election is an opportunity for the working class in Scotland to build a stronger and more militant opposition to Tory Brexit and all anti-working class austerity policies whether from Tory or SNP governments. It is an opportunity to organise a stronger democratic movement against the Union, including preparing for a referendum on self determination, seeking closer unity with the anti-Unionist workers in England and more broadly with the European working class.

Left Unity will not stand candidates in the 2017 general election in Scotland. We will support any RISE or Scottish Socialist Party candidates whose policies are close to our own. Left Unity is clear in its commitment to socialism and will use the election to advance the following policies aimed to strengthen the working class internationally – opposition to austerity, imperialist wars, Trident, NATO, TTIP; anti-Unionism and support for the right to self determination, republican democracy, migrant rights and Pan European socialist organisation. Continue reading “LEFT UNITY AND THE GENERAL ELECTION  “

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May 25 2017

RIC-EDINBURGH STATEMENT ON THE JUNE 8TH GENERAL ELECTION

The Radical Independence Campaign- Edinburgh has produced the following statement in response to forthcoming Westminster General Election.

 

 

Theresa May’s forthcoming general election is not a normal election. It is being called in defiance of the Tories’ own 2011 Fixed Term Parliament Act. It bears a strong resemblance to a presidential-style plebiscite. But in the absence of actual presidential powers, such as those now wielded by Trump in the USA, May still wants to be able to override Westminster, Holyrood, Cardiff Bay and Stormont altogether. Continue reading “RIC-EDINBURGH STATEMENT ON THE JUNE 8TH GENERAL ELECTION”

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Jul 18 2016

THE UK AFTER CHILCOT

Steve Freeman of the Republican Socialist Alliance, Left Unity and RISE gives his assessment of the state of the UK after the Chilcot Report.

THE UK AFTER CHILCOT

Pointing two fingers at the guilty

Pointing two fingers at the guilty

 

The UK is a conservative country where republicanism, the sovereign power of the people, exists in disguise. It is a love that dare not speak its name. The issue of sovereignty appears, for example, in the Labour Party in the contest between MPs and rank and file members over who can elect or remove the Labour leader or deselect local MPs. The coup against Corbyn is an attempt to overthrow the sovereignty of the members.
Continue reading “THE UK AFTER CHILCOT”

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May 02 2016

SUPPORT THE JUNIOR DOCTORS

 SUPPORT THE JUNIOR DOCTORS

NO COMPROMISES, NO BACKDOOR DEALS

DEFEND THE NHS

 

th-5

 

For months, the junior doctors of the National Health Service have stood firm in the face of an onslaught from the Conservative government in Westminster. Socialized medicine works and, indeed, it is extremely popular. With a national health service, access to medical care is free and available to all. Everyone has the right to see a doctor when sick and for periodic preventative check-ups. Yet years of underfunding have taken their toll. Doctors are overworked and stressed out. It can take several months to get an appointment to see a consultant. There are also too few nurses and support staff, so those providing care are harried and unable to give the careful attention patients need.
Continue reading “SUPPORT THE JUNIOR DOCTORS”

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Apr 18 2016

EU AND ‘INTERNATIONALISM FROM BELOW’ – SCOTLAND REMAINS, ENGLAND ABSTAINS

The RCN, like most of the rest of the Left, is having a debate on the EU referendum. This is the second contribution by Steve Freeman of the Republican Socialist Alliance. It has been posted on the RSA blog (http://www.republicansocialists.org.uk). A modified version has also been posted on the bella caledonia blog (http://bellacaledonia.org.uk/2016/04/13/scotland-remains-and-england-abstains/)

 

EU AND ‘INTERNATIONALISM FROM BELOW – SCOTLAND REMAINS AND ENGLAND ABSTAINS

 

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Introduction

The 12 March RSA meeting unanimously adopted the following:
Continue reading “EU AND ‘INTERNATIONALISM FROM BELOW’ – SCOTLAND REMAINS, ENGLAND ABSTAINS”

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Apr 12 2016

A POLITICAL COMPARISON BETWEEN THE 2012-14 SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE AND THE 2016 EU REFERENDA CAMPAIGNS

 

Allan Armstrong (RCN) has written a second piece on the forthcoming EU referendum. This is a contribution to the debate in the RCN and the wider Left. Allan has spoken on this issue at the RIC national conference (Feb. 20th), SSP National Council (28th Feb) and the Glasgow Assembly for Democracy (2nd April).

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A POLITICAL COMPARISON BETWEEN THE 2012-14 SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE  AND THE 2016 EU REFERENDA CAMPAIGNS

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a) The politics of TINA – There is no alternative

A common accusation made by ‘No’ advocates during the Scottish Independence referendum was that support for Scottish independence or the SNP, and for withdrawal from the EU or UKIP, are but mirror images of each other. They have argued that both are based on atavistic nationalism.
Continue reading “A POLITICAL COMPARISON BETWEEN THE 2012-14 SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE AND THE 2016 EU REFERENDA CAMPAIGNS”

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