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migrants demoDear PM Tony Blair,

Re: Your ‘British Values’ are alien to our Human Values

Sir, this is an open letter to you, and I’d prefer that you respond to me openly, and act upon it in the short time that you have left. I know it is long, but there is no short way of putting it.  The Home Secretary and the Minister of State for Immigration both have my contacts, or you can reply on my email below.  Mr Prime Minister, we are all puzzled by exactly what it is that you mean by ‘British Values’ - tolerance and fair play? I am a Human Rights Activist from Kenya, an asylum seeker, and an ex-detainee of immigration detention, having been detained by your Government for 8½ months here in the United Kingdom.

Sir, thousands of detainees, ex-detainees and immigrants are my friends, and we are victims and survivors of your intolerance, unfairness and injustice, just to say the least.  I am one of your thousands of targets for your ‘Tipping the Balance’ scheme and your War Against Immigrants - which specifically focuses on asylum seekers like myself as easy targets; also including forced immigrants and the undocumented workers; and the ‘overstayers’, so I write to you not just for myself, hoping that I do not suffer yet more reprisals, for challenging your ‘British Values’ rhetoric.  We are hopeful that you will accede to our Human Values.

Sir, because of your arbitrary targets on detention and forced deportations, we have therefore been unjustly refused asylum, a right we have the freedom to seek and enjoy, and for which your government is obligated to afford us, as a signatory of the United Nations 1951 Refugee Convention; Humanitarian Protection as you are obligated by the Human Rights Act and the European Convention on Human Rights; we have been called ‘illegal’ when we have simply been exercising our freedom of movement and seeking equal rights, as free movement of capital knows no borders.  We have been called many names; a flood, a wave, a swamp, a tsunami, a drain, criminal, bogus, fraud… and ‘illegal’ asylum seekers simply does not exist in any vocabulary or logic – asylum seekers can never be illegal – No one is illegal.  Just as British citizens have and will always enjoy free movement and immigration to all the countries we originate from. (Tens of thousands migrate permanently to our countries each year). You have failed us! You have failed our Human Values!

Sir, if I can remind you, in your scheme you stated that ‘the number of refused asylum seekers removed each month should exceed the number of new asylum applicants who, it is predicted, will not be granted leave to remain in the UK, as a result of their asylum application’.  In all fairness, what are the chances that a deserving asylum seeker will be granted protection when it is predicted that s/he won’t be, in this immigration controls system that we consider as racist, fascist and imperialistic? The legal process has been a sham, only serving as due process! You have also targeted undocumented workers and dismissed us as ‘illegal’, but how can a person be illegal?  How does an illegal person look like? Are they from another planet? 

Sir, you have also called our work illegal, yet we teach and care for your children; care for your incontinent, demented or disabled elderly; the learning disabled, the disabled and the mentally ill; we treat and nurse the sick; we cater for and add cultural diversity; we drive the buses, trains, coaches, trucks and vans; we work in your factories and stack your supermarket shelves; we clean your offices and your streets; we guard your businesses and your homes; we construct your houses and buildings; we pick your harvest as we work tirelessly in seasons, and in jobs that your citizens wouldn’t do - like picking cockles. We are exploited by our employers for being illegal workers and earn below minimum wage. We are also consumers. All at your convenience! Our children play with your children. We even start families with your sons and daughters, although now we need to pay for and seek your Government’s permission to marry them, which you often refuse. We attend your higher institutions and pay higher fees. We even support your football teams!

Sir, you know who we are and where to find us. You know we are harmless and you are more of a threat to us than we are to you and the British Public, although you do not admit this in public. You like it that way because fear keeps it as it is. With all that, you still find many ways to socially exclude us, use your full force and power, and then blame us for not integrating in British society. We do not complain a lot, we cannot, not without being accused of not adopting ‘the British way of life’ and being told where to go! Does that make all these important roles that we play in your society - our new British society - with our illegal work that we do, and the taxes and National Insurance contributions that we make and that you keep collecting from us illegal? Do the profits that we generate for your businesses, which strengthens and grows your economy giving you more power; the social contributions we make in this society, and without which Britain wouldn’t be ‘Great’ as it is know, illegal?  Can we have our illegal money back, all the tax contributions we have made to build this society?  Do you know what would happen when we all boycott all work and consumption because it is illegal and we are unappreciated immigrants demanding to be recognised? That day is surely coming, and we will be united!  Our Human Values versus your ‘British values’ – which would you choose?

migrants demo

Sir, after you dismiss and reject us, you also detain us at random, and keep us in any of your ten-or-so racist, fascist concentration camps built exclusively for us immigrants (and you continue to build more, offer the British public shares under a ‘buy to let’ scheme, providing a steady guaranteed dividend to the investor, from the ‘rental income’ with no apparent shortage of prisoners (so they can also benefit from our misery) – the Guardian), and you move us around these centres of barbarism randomly for us to loose contact with legal reps and family.  You still continue to deny liberty to thousands of us innocent immigrants every year.  You separate us from our families despite there being no prospect of removal. During the time that you arbitrarily keep us in detention, you deny us any legal rights, forcing us to read Human Rights, Immigration and Asylum law simply to defend our right to seek asylum. You call us criminals for breaching your borders.  Our hearts bleed and our tears flow. Then we recollect, and in solidarity, we find strength again. We are your slaves!  We are prisoners of your politics.  We are your Political Prisoners! Release Political Prisoners!

Sir, your privately run, profit-making concentration camp guards mentally torture us, they abuse and threaten us while we fight for our rights, keeping us in isolation to make it difficult for us to defend our rights.  You pay the private companies £1,230 a week to profit from our misery (you make free legal representation to fight for our freedom less than this amount), and enriched them with tens of millions of your tax payers money to lock us up and abuse us - yet you accuse us for your failures - lying to your gullible population that we are the cause of all their problems, your failures.

Sir, the escorts you send to force us to go back to our countries assault us with impunity. When they manage to take as, they enjoy the perks of your funds, and stay for the night at the posh hotels, a free break for a job well done - for our rendition! How much are we, ‘illegals’ ‘stealing’ from the British coffers? Who are the beneficiaries? Does the taxpayer know what it is costing them to torment us, or is it just the illegal taxes that you have collected from our illegal work? Does this superiority complex help the power balance to remain as it is or grow stronger by dividing us, seeing each other as enemies and forgetting who the real enemy is? I would spend that money for free higher education or abolition of Council Tax if was in charge, or reopen the hospital wards that have been closed. Does the tax payer care, or is the price worth it as the convenient target for those who wish to expound racist or xenophobic views?

Sir, in your concentration camps, we are bullied, mentally tortured, racially abused, threatened and intimidated, removed from association and put in isolation to try and weaken our spirits, but the Dedan Kimathi, the Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, the Mau Mau, the Mandela, the Ghandi, the Che Guevara, and other freedom fighters’blood run in our veins, and their spirits walk shoulder to shoulder with us - and their struggle becomes our struggle. We struggle until we come out of the clutches of your racist concentration and termination camps, but some of us don’t make it. You mercilessly send us back to the situation that forced us to flee.  You are ruthless! You have mentally terminated our minds by locking us up indefinitely, immediately we seek your Government’s protection, without any automatic or independent review of our detention – just like Camp X-Ray Detention Centre - Guantanamo Bay (also managed by your business friends, the profit-makers of our misery), to try and deter others like us from coming to your country.  To us, you are a recurring nightmare! You sometimes capture and release as like a kitten playing with a mouse, or tag as like animals! And for some of us, we can not take it any more; you drive us to madness and death. Sad, mad death!

Sir, you protect suspected terrorists better than you protect us, as you can only detain them for 28 days maximum - and an independent judge makes that decision, yet your racist administrators review their own decision to continue to detain us with no limit.  When we have complained, you have ‘fined’ your accomplices – the private companies - for millions of pounds for ‘contractual failures’, recycled your money to torment us more, but not paid us a single penny for our loss and despair. You destroy our minds, our hopes, our dreams and our futures. Total Destruction! You continue to deny us justice. We continue to fight for reparations. We fight! We fight! We hope! We Pray!

Sir, when your soldiers are captured and released, they are heroes who should sell their ‘stories’ to the highest bidders. Our stories - offered for free - are of no human interest to your media. Not ‘free’media, only Indy media!  Are we illegal immigrants are not humans? We are not primitive savages, nor the scroungers, but you treat us as the undeserving, and the lowest of the low. When we have protested in your fascist prisons for freedom and against your conditions, you have dismissed us as ‘making deliberate attempts at sabotage in order to frustrate our deportation’, but of course we are protesting about how you criminalise us and imprison us in conditions similar to maximum security prisons – indefinitely for prolonged periods of months and even years - for exercising our freedom of movement, for crossing borders. You have bribed and corrupted our Governments to take as back, attaching your conditions to accept us back to your illegal loans, and then you hire private jets or use your military planes to deport us. You refuse to apologise for your fore-fathers role in slavery, colonisation and internment of whole communities, and deny your role in this neo-slavery and neo-colonialism exploitation. This global apartheid! It is all ‘fair play’ to you.  It is your ‘British Values’, sir.

Sir, for those of us that you have locked up to meet your arbitrary deportations targets, our brothers, sisters, parents and children, you have destroyed us; destroyed our minds while we have been in the community by denying us of any basic rights; you have criminalised us by declaring us illegal; you have driven us to slit our own throats and wrists or starve ourselves to brain damage - just to name some of our methods; you have driven us to your lunatic asylums; sent others into the abyss where they have taken their own lives. You have destroyed the minds of innocent asylum seekers and undocumented migrants. Forced by circumstances beyond our control - but in yours - we seek a life outside our home countries. Prevented by your laws from entering legally and from working; denied a fair hearing by the asylum system; excluded from health and safety protection at work; kept from health social care and welfare; homeless and destitute, vilified by the media and therefore dehumanised in the popular imagination, our hopes of another life are finally extinguished, then you finish us by detaining us and forcibly removing us back to life-threatening situations, and I would be ashamed if I was you! It’s your ‘British Values’, Mr Prime Minister!

Sir, you have wittingly or otherwise promoted intolerance, xenophobia, racism and bigotry, and masquerade it as ‘British Values’ - fair play you call it!  You have placed yourself as the ‘policeman of the world’ and ‘champion of human rights' and looked the other way if it doesn’t benefit you. With your power, you have abused the rights of the immigrants in the UK – you are no different from Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe, whom you despise. You have lied about us, failed to protect us when we have been attacked and vilified by the racist media; you have taken over their xenophobic agenda and used it to abuse us more; you have pitted us against the British public by claiming that we are a threat to their children, health and social welfare, jobs, schools, families, their ‘way of life’ and for ‘stealing’ their benefits.  The old ‘divide and rule’ tactic has worked so far.  The racists and xenophobes are having a field day.  The ignorant and gullible have believed your propaganda; the cowards have been complicit in being silent when you attack us, and supported your draconian, barbaric and racist immigration and asylum laws (you have had 4 major Acts since you came to power) and policies by helping you to implement them, but the brave, our comrades, our heroes, they have defended and protected us, and continue to fight alongside us in our struggles. 

Sir, your Administration is as corrupt as - if not worse than - the ones that we left when we were forced by our circumstances to flee or migrate, and now your ‘British Values’ are a threat our Human Values.  You do it in your laws, your international trade policies, the G8, through your multi-corporations, the treaties and agreements you enter into that affect us globally. You do not treat us with humanity, respect, dignity or compassion, and you are a bad example to your children, the British people, and the world, and ‘Britishness’ does not really exist. We are here because you have destroyed our countries. But we remain peaceful when you are unjust! It’s our Human Values!

Sir, when you have pretended to care about our countries in the global south, and the political and economical problems that you and your fellow G8 club members are responsible for - the global apartheid that you promote; when you have pretended to support to make poverty history, you have done nothing significant, then you kick us out; forced migrants working under difficult conditions; exploited without any workers rights because you criminalise immigrant workers - who are doing more than you to end poverty in their countries through the remittances that they send back to their families.  You have continued to rape and steal from our countries with your imperialist, white supremacists systems, for the benefit of your people – this global apartheid.  As your fore-fathers detained and murdered our forefathers, so do you detain us and drive us to the abyss.  As you oppress us, you smile on our faces and stab us behind our backs. A breed of disconnected elitists leaders and policy makers, infused with racism, imperialism and capitalism as if it is genetic to the lot.  When you were seeking election, we were seeking asylum. You saw a vote winner. Rejected! Dejected! Denied! Detained! Damned! Deported! Lunatic Asylum! Imprisoned! Tortured! Death Squads! Shoot to Kill! Dissidents! Despots! Protection Rackets! Mungiki! Rogue Police! Death! Cover-up!

Sir, with all due respect, as a leader obsessed with your legacy, we are part of your legacy that you have dehumanised and criminalised - the immigrants, used, abused and vilified us, you have called us thieves and a threat to your society, locked us up in your concentration camps, and destroyed our minds. We are your legacy that would rather gain freedom or die trying.  We are living examples that your ‘British Values’ are at best just empty rhetoric, and at worst a total failure and that anyone with any kind of morals who is not racist or xenophobic should proscribe to vehemently.  I speak for the silent majority, and the silent will stand and march the streets, sign the petitions to condemn and stamp out this gross denial of justice! We are human. Ask us, and we will teach you what real Human Values are, as opposed to your ‘British Values’, whatever you mean by that.

Sir, we come from many nations. From Australia to Zimbabwe, from Poland to Brazil, we come from all continents. We are for No Borders, One Nation, No one Is Illegal, No Race, No Class, Freedom of Movement & the Right to Stay for All, Equal Rights for All, including Economic, Political and Social Rights. We demand Papers For All not just some ‘deserving’ few.  We demand that you Stop Militarising the Borders and that you Stop the War on Immigrants; that you Stop Imperialism and Fascism! And we come in PEACE! We are not Strangers, but we are Citizens of the World. We hope that you sort us out this small matter of urgency before you leave office, legalise the ‘illegals’, and adopt our Human Values – equality, not ‘fair play’; acceptance, not ‘tolerance’.

Thank you for your kind attention, sir, and thanks to the Freedom of Expression.

George Mwangi

The writer is as an asylum seeker and ex-detainee of immigration detention, a Human Rights Activist campaigning on Immigration and Asylum Rights, focusing on issue of Detention of Immigrants, and calling for the ABOLITION OF ALL IMMIGRATION DETENTION PRISONS AND CONCENTRATION CAMPS for the purposes of immigration controls, in the interest of EQUALITY, JUSTICE, PEACE, MENTAL HEALTH AND FREEDOM FOR ALL. He was short-listed for the Liberty & Justice 2006 Human Rights Award for fighting for his own asylum case while detained, and for helping and empowering others in doing the same. He continues to do the same. 

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