Saturday, June 14, 2008
Ever think about Resistance?
French Resistance Poster
"Anna Marly will sing her songs of the Resistance"
In Europe the idea of the French Resistance to the Vichy government during World War II is very much alive. Walking around Paris you see many street signs that give the name of a hero (or heroine); the next line in smaller letters says "mort pour la France" -(died for France)
The United States doesn't say much about heroes - except an occasional story about the Alamo. In terms of resistance to oppression or inequality, we haven't been doing much for about 40 years. France took resistance seriously, and remembers what it's people did.
We Americans are not very resisting people, at least not since the 1960s. We have so many worries, gas is so expensive, we have little time - who has a moment to think about resistance - and the mistreatment of undocumented people, our over populated prisons, the high Latino school drop out rate - the U.S. government's denial of global warming, and those poor guys fighting a very violent make-believe war in Iraq?
Resistance is an important word. It is not about violence. It is about stopping something bad. Roget's Thesaurus gives us a few words that help describe resistance - defense, protection, guard, ward; shielding, propugnation, preservation, guardianship. area defense, site defense, self-defense and self-preservation. Maybe its time for us to begin thinking resistance.
...when the Home Office [immigration] began coming to the estate at 5am to remove them, Donnachie and the rest of the residents looked on in horror. "It was like watching the Gestapo - men with armour, going in to flats with battering rams. I've never seen people living in fear like it,"
- The Guardian
click here for video by Stevenson and Grant
Land of no return
By Rachel Stevenson and Harriet Grant
The Guardian - London, Friday June 13 2008
All across the country, communities are organising themselves to stop their friends and neighbours from being deported. From lobbying the Home Office to foiling dawn raids, the resistance will stop at nothing to keep failed asylum seekers safe in Britain.
'We had our own little code to warn them it was a dawn raid and to get out. There's more than one way of getting out of the flats - there's two staircases and two lifts, so you could play games if you knew how. If we were a thorn in their flesh, then good."
Sixty-seven-year-old Jean Donnachie flashes a mischievous smile as she describes the tactics she and her neighbours used every day to thwart immigration officers trying to arrest asylum seekers on her estate in Glasgow. A grandmother and former cashier who has lived on the Kingsway for 20 years, she makes an unlikely resistance fighter. But when she talks about how the estate took on the Home Office, there is a gleam of defiance in her eyes...
The estate became home for hundreds of families escaping persecution and torture in places such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Algeria, Uganda and Congo. Most had their request for asylum in the UK turned down, and when the Home Office began coming to the estate at 5am to remove them, Donnachie and the rest of the residents looked on in horror. "It was like watching the Gestapo - men with armour, going in to flats with battering rams. I've never seen people living in fear like it," says Donnachie. "I saw a man jump from two storeys up when they came for him and his family. I stood there and I cried, and I said to myself, 'I am not going to stand by and watch this happen again.'"
She got together with her friend Noreen and organised the residents into daily dawn patrols, looking out for immigration vans. When the vans arrived, a phone system would swing in to action, warning asylum seekers to escape.
The whole estate pitched in, gathering in large crowds in the early-morning dark to jeer at immigration officials as they entered the tower blocks. On more than one occasion, the vans left the estate empty - the people they had come for had got out in time and were hidden by the crowd. The estate kept this up for two years until forced removals stopped.
But what happened on the Kingsway is not unique. Over the past few years there has been a growing resistance to the government's attempts to deport failed asylum seekers. From Manchester, from Sheffield, from Belfast, from Bristol, the Home Office is being bombarded with requests from British people all over the country asking for asylum seekers to be given another chance.
for complete Guardian article click here