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Date: Thu, 27 Feb 1997 16:57:03 +0100 (MET)
From: jborovi <jb@hol.fr>
To: Multiple recipients of <zpajol@london.monde-diplomatique.fr>
Subject: [ZPAJOL] une autre camapagne des refugies africains en Grande Bretagne

Voci un texte pour information et pour la solidarite internationale de la "
Pan-African Freedom Fighters Campaign (PAFFAC)" (Campagne des combattants
Pan-africains" de Grande Bretagne. qui a ete fondee en Octobre 1996 suite a
l'attaque du gouvernement britannique contre des militants refugies
politiques. Entre temps il y une premiere victoire : Affiong Southey,
militant nigerien, dont il est ausssi question dans le trexte qui suit, a
obtenu le droit d'asil politique.

"We are not economic refugees looking for a better life in Western
economies.We are all political refugees fleeing from the devastation
thatWestern economies have caused in our countries. It is your economics
thatmakes our politics that makes us refugees in your economies."
A. SIVANANDAN, Director, Institute of
RaceRelations (IRR).

The British Government is using its new "fast-track" approach to asylum
cases to attack politically active asylum seekers. People who have been
prominent opponents of western-backed dictatorships in Africa and who have
played an active role in fighting the Immigration and Asylum Act, face the
prospect of deportation in the coming months as the authorities rush their
Appeals through. . A detailed account of these issues is included in this
message under the title "DEFEND REFUGEE POLITICAL RIGHTS".

Fight now to expose the British Government's racist hypocrisy and stop the
threatened deportations.


In the wake of the Immigration and Asylum Act being passed, the British
Government is rushing through " fast-track" procedures to target leading
political activists in the refugee communities. It is trying to instil fear
into asylum seekers living in Britain and backing up the brutal,
western-backed, military dictatorships these refugees have had to escape from.

The trade union movement, students, anti-racists, the black community and
refugee organisations must support an active and vocal campaign to stop
these threats. The Asylum Act is an attempt to strengthen the people who
control wealth and power, and divide the people who are down-trodden and
exploited, in Britain and internationally.We should certainly exploit the
legal difficulties the Government has run into with the Act (the High Court
recently ruled that existing laws do not allow Local Authorities to leave
asylum seekers totally destitute), but thousands still face terrible
hardship and the threat of deportation; only a massive campaign of action
can defeat this attack.

Every deportation we stop, strengthens the fight against this racist law and
helps to build the struggle for liberation against repressive regimes in
Africa and elsewhere. The fight to defend these activists is essential to
defend the rights of every refugee, asylum seeker and immigrant threatened
by the Act. Experience has shown that united, militant campaigns can stop
these deportations

The immigration authorities have displayed their usual ignorance and
insensitivity by choosing International Human Rights Day , 10 December, for
the asylum appeals of two prominent refugee activists- Affiong Southey, a
Nigerian asylum seeker, who has been a prominent and fearless fighter in the
struggle to defeat the Asylum Bill; has worked actively on behalf of
LARDECC, the Lambeth refugee centre and is a leading member of the
International Trade Union Solidarity Campaign (ITUSC); and Alexis Ehipah, a
former deputy secretary of the Ivorian Relief Action Group (IRAG), which was
very active in the fight against the Asylum Bill.

The authorities are targeting asylum seekers who were prominent in workers'
and students struggles and the fight for democratic rights in Africa, and
have continued this struggle in exile. Most of the asylum cases IRAG is
defending (currently at least two a week), concern leading members of the
Ivory Coast students union (FESCI), like Esther Lehou, who was arrested
twice, beaten and injected with drugs to make her divulge names of people
she was working with; or Alexis Ehipah, who was a leading activist at the
University of Abidjan. Membership of FESCI is now punishable by
imprisonment, and activists are at risk from a law decreeing that organising
violence is punishable by public execution, but the British Government
considers the Ivory Coast a 'friendly' country.Esther's appeal comes up
early next year.

The appeal hearing of Guali Firmin, another FESCI activist and a well-known
anti-government musician in the Ivory Coast, falls on 9 December 1996, the
day before Affiong' and Alexis' hearings. Kwame Sampong from Ghana had his
appeal on 23 October 1996, and is currently awaiting the result. Kwame has
been a leading member of the African Liberation Support Campaign (ALISC) and
has worked to expose
British Government support for the repressive Rawling's government in Ghana.

All of these activists and many others face imprisonment, torture and death
if they return to their own countries. Even in other African countries, the
conditions of Western-backed military repression means that they would face
imprisonment and further deportation, or be targeted by agents of their own
governments. To this day nothing has been heard of Abdul Onibiyo, who was
deported to Nigeria earlier this yesr, though he had had lived in Britain
for most of the last thirty years and was a known opponent of General
Abacha's military government.

Affiong Southey's case shows how the British Government is using the
'fast-track' approach to deal with activists- even though it was officially
forced to take Nigeria off the 'white list' of so-called 'safe countries'
because of the international outrage over the execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa and
eight of his Ogoni supporters. Affiong's asylum claim was turned down in
July 1996, but her appeal date was 'fast-tracked' to 10 December 1996,
instead of the usual time lag (still around a year). The Home Office had
accidentally included with her letter the appeal notice of another asylum
seeker whose claim had been turned down at the same time, but whose appeal
was not for another twelve months!In the event, the Home Office was granted
a deferral of Affiong's appeal.

As a former leader of the National Association of Nigerian Students, Affiong
was forced to flee from Nigeria in 1991 when she was being hounded by the
army. Many of her colleagues were imprisoned because they were active in the
movement of workers against World Bank schemes that have deepened the
poverty of ordinary people in Nigeria. In Britain, Affiong has fought to
expose the links between Britain and Abacha's military regime. She is a
founder- member of the People's Embargo for Democracy in Nigeria and the
Campaign for Independent Unionism in Nigeria.

The Pan-Afrikan Freedom Fighters' Asylum Campaign defends the rights of all
African asylum seekers to stay in Britain and organise politically in this
country for the liberation of Africa. The support of workers' and student
organisations in Britain is essential to stop these deportations and expose
the racist lies of the British Government, which is a leading player in the
imperialist system that exploits Africa and maintains its corrupt and
repressive regimes. A successful campaign will force a Labour Government to
repeal the Immigration and Asylum Act.

We are asking for practical support from trade unions, refugee
organisations, students' unions and anti-racist groups.Get in touch with
PAFFAC; send us a donation; get a motion through your organisation and raise
this issue at national level; get supporters to appeal hearings and lobby
your M.P.'s over these cases.

Send messages of support urgently and other enquiries to:-

snail mail PAFFAC c/o ARMMOP, 365,Brixton Road, London, SW9 7DB

Telephones + (0) 171 924 9033
or 0956 132143

E-Mail itusc@gn.apc.org

Sponsoring organisations so far (why not include yours, if it's not already
sponsoring?) :- African Liberation Support Campaign; African Refugees and
Migrants Monitoring Project; Banner Theatre; Black Quest for Justice
Campaign; Brixton Community Law Centre; Camden UNISON; Chimyrenga; Friends
of Move; Ghanakwambo Migrants and Community Action Group; International
Trade Union Solidarity Campaign (ITUSC); Ivorian Relief Action Group;
Kingsway College Students' Union; Law Centres Federation; Movement for
Justice; Pan-African Grassroots Education Network; People's Embargo for
Democracy in Nigeria; People's Empowerment Network of Lambeth;Save
Immigrants and Asylum Seekers; Workers International.

Les Africains sans-papiers de St Ambroise.
messages de soutien : <pajol@bok.net>
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