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[ 15. Mar 2009 ]

UK: Activists detain Immigration Minister's

Phil Woolas, immigration minister

On Friday evening, 13 March 2009, activist's from Manchester No Borders briefly occupied the constituency office of Phil Woolas, immigration minister and MP for Oldham and Saddleworth.


Two dozen residents of Oldham and Manchester have occupied the constituency office of Phil Woolas, immigration minister and MP for Oldham and Saddleworth. They include migrant rights advocates and members of left-wing and anarchist groups such as Manchester No Borders, Manchester Committee to Defend Asylum Seekers, No One Is Illegal, and the Anarchist Federation. At the end of his local surgery they entered his office and are now refusing to leave.

They say they have "detained the immigration minister in a protest against immigration detention". Their demand is to abolish all immigration prisons, specifically Pennine House at Manchester airport. They occupied the office for 30 minutes.

Earlier this year Phil Woolas 'unveiled' Pennine House, a new immigration prison at Manchester airport, announcing: 'We will detect, detain and remove those who have no right to be here... This new facility will help us increase removals of those who have no right to remain in the UK.' Previously known as Manchester Detention Centre, Pennine House can now hold up to 32 detainees, for upto seven days until they are either deported or transferred to other detention centres.

But Seth Jones, one of the occupiers, said "Pennine House is just one of many shameful facilities where immigrants are held without charge, trial or sentence."

2,500 people are currently locked up in 13 British immigration prisons. Phil Woolas is seeking the expansion of the detention estate to 4,000. 30,000 people pass through one of those prisons every year, including 2,000 children. All are held for indefinite periods without trial or sentence. Mostly the only crime they have committeted is not possessing the right papers.

Campaigner Louise Thompson said "Behind such statistics are real human stories and the UK Border Agency and Phil Woolas are directly responsible for the misery inflicted on these individuals".

Previously, activists from Manchester No Borders pied Phil Woolas at a debate in Manchester and, last Tuesday, targeted council leader Richard Leese over the same issues.

They dumped 100 jumpers in front of the panellists of the event entitled 'The Right to the City' in a protest against the Pennine House prison (see report in ::

Join campaigners from No Borders, the Anarchist Federation Manchester, No One Is Illegal, the Manchester Committee to Defend Asylum Seekers, Queers Without Borders, I BIKE MCR and other groups next :: Saturday, 21th of March 2009 in calling to abolish all Immigration prisons. This demonstration will coincide with a protest at Yarl's Wood immigration prison in Bedfordshire.

Rally outside Manchester town hall 12 noon before travelling by bike and train to the new immigration prison at Manchester Airport.

For further protests see :: and ::

Article by :: Manchester No Borders, published first in ::