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No-one is Illegal

April 26, 2015

Peace Campers joined fellow internationalists outside the UK Border Agency Reporting Centre in Govan on Thursday, in protest against the malignant growth of the immigration detention estate and the outrage of a recent death in custody.

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Would-be Scottish tourist Pinakin Patel died on Monday 20th April inside Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre, having suffered a fatal heart attack. He had been detained alongside his wife Bhavisha on arrival in the UK from India two months ago, with the intention of visiting family friends and sightseeing in Scotland on a ten-day holiday.

UK Border Agency (UKBA) staff took exception to redundant documents the couple had packed in support of their valid passports and visitors’ visas. This excessive compliance was apparently suspicious enough to warrant two months of imprisonment without trial.

Despite displaying classic cardiac emergency symptoms, Pinakin waited fifteen minutes before being attended by medics at the Serco-managed immigration prison. Subsequently, newly-widowed Bhavisha was only released following a solidarity hunger strike by her fellow detainees.

The case demonstrates the monstrous summary power of the UKBA over those the State doesn’t choose to recognise. This power is incarnate at the Reporting Centre on Glasgow’s Brand Street, wherein civil servants determine every element of people’s lives, with sanctions including homelessness and destitution or imprisonment with no statutory limitation. The UK is perpetually in breach of international law in maintaining indefinite detention.

Faced with such holistic authority, and successive governments racing toward fascism in their demonisation of migrants and attacks on vulnerable asylum seekers, it can seem like a monolithic struggle. Yet just around the corner is the Unity Centre, for some years a bastion of the local movement for freedom of movement. Their ever-expanding repertoire includes detainee and destitution support, and it was our privilege to be there on Thursday as they welcomed someone back to Glasgow. Together, we can win.

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