RAPAR's Community Development Lead and actor Maddie Wakeling is in court tomorrow (Monday September 9th) for campaigning against climate change.
Maddie, 22, was one of 16 people arrested on charges of obstructing a main road into Bristol city centre on July 17th as part of an Extinction Rebellion protest to publicise the climate crisis.
The environmentalists deny wilfully obstructing the highway . Although they agree they obstructed the road, they are all pleading Not Guilty because their actions were justified by the climate emergency. Maddie told the initial Bristol court hearing in July: "We have the right to act according to our consciences."
She took an active part in the successful four day Northern Rebellion closure of Deansgate last weekend and was at Manchester's Civil Justice Court to support anti fracking protesters.
Maddie works with RAPAR's Casework and Campaigns sections and, at the Northern Rebellion, she spoke about the growing number of "climate refugees" being driven out of their homes by catastrophic weather changes and the activities of multinational corporations.
In her role as RAPAR's Community Development Lead, Maddie co-ordinates RAPAR's Drama Group who recently performed their play "Through the Walls: An Incredible Weekfor the Banks" at HOME Manchester and The Met, Bury, during Refugee Week. They will be performing it again during Black History Month in October.
Maddie's acting work has included a part in Out of Kilter Theatre's "Small Histories", which toured North West venues recently. Last month, she and a friend took their KahloTheatre production "Life Between Yes And No" to the Edinburgh Fringe where it received a number of excellent reviews.
For more information, please contact:
Dr Rhetta Moran 07776264646
Kath Grant 07758386208
The Frack-Free Three - Katrina Lawrie, Christopher Wilson, and Lee Walsh, protestors from the Frack-Free Lancashire campaign - were back in court for sentencing on Tuesday in a case centred round the right to protest.
All three had locked themselves together in July to delay access to the fracking site in Lancashire run by the company Cuadrilla. Ms Lawrie had also stepped out into the road to stop a lorry in August and, because of the wet roads, the lorry allegedly had to swerve into the path of oncoming traffic. No-one was hurt in the incident.
At a previous hearing, the campaigners had admitted breaching an order related to protests outside the site. They had been found not guilty of any criminal offences so today’s hearing was only about the breach of civil law.
The three were supported outside the court by comrades from a wide variety of environmental and community groups. Yesterday (Monday), people from the nearby Extinction Rebellion occupation in Deansgate marched to the court led by a samba band. A spokesperson said: “We made a democratic decision yesterday to start our march with a show of solidarity with the anti-frackers because they too are fighting big companies that make money without regard to the damage they are doing to our planet.”
A RAPAR spokesperson said fracking was destroying homes and communities around the world and will cause widespread disruption and displacement of people if it is allowed to continue.
“The number of ‘environmental refugees’ is rapidly increasing due to the activities of large companies and multinationals. RAPAR backs all activists protesting against companies like Cuadrilla. We also support the right to protest without the threat of arrest and imprisonment.”
In court, Adam Wagner, on behalf of Ms Lawrie and Mr Walsh, told the judge, Mr JHH Pelling, that his clients had been protesting against the controversial practice of fracking which contributes to global warming. He compared the protests with others, such as Peterloo and the campaign for women’s suffrage.
The latest earthquake at the Cuadrilla fracking site is said to have shaken houses five miles away.
Mr Wagner said all forms of peaceful protest are protected under the European Convention on Human Rights. The case involved a large company using its substantial financial resources to prevent protests by seeking an injunction. Fear of such wide ranging orders could have a “chilling effect” on the right to protest.
Tom Roscoe, for Cuadrilla, spoke of the need to protect his client’s right to access the site. He saw no need for protestors to be walking on the carriageway when there is a footway alongside but the judge pointed out that the court could not insist that people use the pavement.
The judge ruled in favour of some variations to the court order so the new order will allow protestors to walk in the road for the purpose of protest, but not when it is deliberately being done to delay the Cuadrilla lorries.
He sentenced all three to four weeks imprisonment, suspended for two years, on condition that they comply with the amended order. Ms Lawrie also received a two month suspended sentence for the separate incident in August.
The protestors were ordered to pay costs. These were later estimated as approximately £70k. The three people do not have the money to pay but anti fracking campaigners said afterwards that the possibility of protestors having costs awarded against them may well deter homeowners and people with other assets from taking part in future peaceful protests.
RAPAR members from Southern Cameroon, Zimbabwe, Democratc Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone are taking part in Extinction Rebellion's climate crisis events in Deansgate, Manchester, today and over the weekend.
The crisis is leading to a huge increase in the numbers of displaced people who have been forced to leave their homes and are now being termed "Climate Refugees".
RAPAR will be taking part in the Connecting Global Movements for Social Justice session at 4pm on Deansgate today.
Currently, this climate emergency and ongoing refugee crisis is set to worsen: the shape of Bangladesh is rapidly changing; the Maldives will submerge if seas levels rise 1.5m; Kiribati and Tuvalu are likely to lose islands. Around 21.8 million people are being displaced annually by weather related disaster: 41 people every minute since 2008 (UNHCR). These people - and countless more – are becoming dubbed Climate Refugees who fall outside of current legislation, being unable to prove persecution and therefore ineligible to claim asylum under the Geneva Convention.
The term Climate Refugee may be new but the crisis is not. The Global North’s pattern of mass consumption, manufactured by Capitalism and the colonial mindset of exploitation and oppression, have created this moment of ecological collapse and rapid climate change where hundreds of thousands of people are compelled to leave their homes for inhumane refugee camps, mostly on their borders, and dehumanising asylum systems around the world.
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
The DRC has some of the richest mineral deposits in the world, and multinational companies exploit these resources for commodities, like the Coltan in every single mobile phone. These same companies also finance and arm Militia’s, creating intense insecurity – over 1,150 women are raped every day and 4.5 million people have been displaced – and continuously undermining the DRC peoples’ efforts to realise democratic government. Mass media silence about the massacres and violations in DRC is inextricably linked to the interests of those multinational companies who extract DRC’s natural resources.
With teachers paid as little as $30 a month, the people here live in poverty. People work in the mines for very, very little and in incredibly dangerous conditions. The electricity is so rarely working, because of the government’s failings, that the people are forced to chop down their forests for fire wood. Leaders here have large shares in the mining companies (such as Rio Tinto). The Government, led by Zanu PF, siphons off huge amounts of money (enough to pay the current Zimbabwean humanitarian aid appeal).
French North Cameroon, independent since 1960, and British South Cameroon, independent since 1961, decided to run the country together as a Federal System, but France appointed a President, Amadou Ahijo who changed it to a centralised system, making the national, legal and educational language French – despite South Cameroon having English as their main shared language. The country is still using the French CFA which means the money spent in Cameroon pays tax in France. In 2016, the President declared war on the South Cameroon. Since then thousands of people have been displaced, homes burned to the ground, people killed and whole villages lost – a direct and ongoing result of Europe's colonisation of Africa.
It’s now been a year of Ebola on the border of DRC and Rwanda, the second largest Ebola epidemic on record. Since 1st August 2018, more than 1,900 lives have been lost, with 2,900 people infected. On average, 81 cases of Ebola have been reported each week for the past six weeks. When the Ebola outbreak happened in Sierra Leone in 2004, companies such as Golden Petroleum were (and still are) buying up land to grow palm oil, forcing people off their land, leaving them without the means to grow food, and rendering them reliant on bush meat. There was a tangible correlation between the location of the palm oil plantations and the peaks of the Ebola outbreaks. This same pattern is currently reflected in the DRC: the people being driven off their land by multi-national industries who manufacture western consumption patterns, are themselves being forced to eat bush meat and endure the consequences of systematic negligence and indifference.
Together, we will change this world and make a future, Together.
Written by RAPAR members: Vitalis Mbua (Secretary General SCNC), Noah Zvinavashe (Organisational Secretary MDC Manchester Branch), Barly Koyangabwa (Deputy Representative APERECO North West), Maddie Wakeling (Community Development Lead, RAPAR)
RAPAR's lead caseworker Dan Isaac has been running a series of casework co- learning sessions examining all aspects of the asylum and immigration system.
Twenty people completed the course and have continued to volunteer for casework, enabling RAPAR to take on more cases. There has also been a significant improvement in the depth and quality of evidence based development of cases - and this has made it easier for our members to find legal aid lawyers to take on their cases and, hopefully, ensure their safety.
Dan says: "The popularity of the course was such that a range of people are clamouring for more opportunities to undertake RAPAR's Casework Co-learning and we are keen to secure further funds to repeat the course and to develop it as a model that is offered externally for other organisations."
The popular sessions were attended by RAPAR members who have been working on their own asylum cases and by our volunteer casework team.
RAPAR would like to thank the cosmetic firm LUSH for the funding which covered the co-learning sessions and also enabled a film to be made of the 'Moot Court' which ended the course.
The participants enjoyed displaying the knowledge they had acquired during the course at the final Moot Court session - a "mock" court with RAPAR members and volunteers playing the parts of appellant, judges, immigration lawyers and Home Office representatives.
Many thanks to Sandra Chapman for the filming of 'Moot Court'.
You can watch the film here.
Indefinite detention of man from deportation flight to Jamaica must end.
Manchester DJ Owen Haisley has been detained at Harmondsworth immigration removal centre for 28 days. It is nearly three weeks since his deportation to Jamaica was halted following the intervention of his MP and overwhelming public support – but he still remains at real risk of removal.
More than 100,000 people signed a petition calling for the 45 year old father of three to be released. Owen, a popular musician and community worker, has lived in the UK for more than four decades, arriving in this country when he was only four years old.
Owen's friend and campaigner Mike Burgess said that, on Thursday 7th February, a Pre-Action Protocol letter (PAP) was filed with the Home Office by Owen's solicitor.
The Home Office has not yet responded despite the efforts of both the solicitor and Manchester Central Labour MP Lucy Powell. The Conservative MP for Macclesfield, David Rutley, has written to Home Secretary Sajid Javid on behalf of Owen's young children, who have been left traumatised by this ordeal, and he has asked the Home Office to update Owen's family about the case.
Mike added: “Despite over 100,000 people signing a petition to stop Owen's deportation, plus cross party political support for his release, we are still entirely in the dark regarding Owen's future in the UK, due to a complete lack of communication from the Home Office. Owen remains detained indefinitely at Harmondsworth IRC - and our fight for justice continues.”
Speaking from Harmondsworth, Owen said he had been left in “a complete no-man's land”. Thanking his supporters, he said: ”It has been extremely difficult as I have been unable to update my kids on when they will next see me in person – something which I know has greatly affected their well-being.”
Tracey Udale, mother of Owen's children, described the children's devastation over the horrific ordeal their father had been through during the last 12 months - he was detained for five months, then released before being detained again.
Tracey added: “This week is half term for the kids and Owen was due to take the boys to see their grandmother in London. They are obviously very upset they are not able to do that. We are all desperate for news and pray that the Home Office will release Owen so he is able to return to Manchester to continue being the amazing dad that he is.”
Lucy Powell MP said that Owen's case was deeply troubling and went to the heart of the Government's “hostile environment” policy.
“I object to Owen being labelled as a 'foreign national'. Britain is his home, he has lived here for over 40 years and since he was four years old. He has never been to Jamaica since and has no family there. He has British children here, who need a dad. Since the moment I found out about Owen's detention and threatened deportation, I have been fighting for his right to remain.”
She said she had been chasing Ministers on a daily basis and would continue to fight for a positive outcome and Owen's release..
Owen's campaign is being supported by Manchester based human rights organisation RAPAR. Spokesperson Dr Rhetta Moran said that the hostile environment which had led to the violation of Owen's rights was now “fuelling the fires of racism” - 20 years after the investigation into the death of Stephen Lawrence and the calls for an end to institutional racism.
The atmosphere created by the hostile environment had produced the racist graffiti attack on an African family in Salford last week and Tommy Robinson's far right demonstration against media workers at the BBC at Media City tomorrow (Saturday).
But the response to Owen's petition, the outpouring of support for the family subjected to racist graffiti, and trade unionists' counter protest in solidarity with media workers “offers a vision for a 'peaceful and welcoming' future environment where racism and fascism are consigned to the dust bin of history.”
For more information please contact
Mike Burgess email@example.com(for Owen and Tracey)
Dr Rhetta Moran, RAPAR 07776264646
Kath Grant, RAPAR Press Officer 07758386208
RAPAR will be supporting a protest in solidarity with the RMT rail union after their picket line at Manchester Victoria train station was targeted by members of the far right who also racially abused an Asian train guard.
The protest is supported by Manchester Trades Union Council and will be held this Saturday 12th January between 8.00am and 9.30am.
Find more information about the event here.
RMT members are currently on strike every Saturday in a dispute with Northern Rail in which the union is campaigning to 'Keep The Guard On The Train'.
RAPAR member who was on the plane stopped by the Stansted protesters shocked by their conviction under anti terror laws
Rally at 5.30pm-6.30pm
St Peter's Square,
December 18th 2018
Manchester-based human rights organisation RAPAR will be at the city centre rally today (December 18th) to show support for the 15 peaceful protesters convicted under anti terror laws after they stopped a Home Office charter flight taking people seeking asylum in the UK to Africa.
A RAPAR member was on the plane protesters prevented taking off at Stansted Airport in March 2017. He was one of 60 refugees who were on the charter flight bound for Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone – he informed the escort officers that he did not come from any of those countries but was told that the country he was being sent to was near to his home country and that he could “get a bus”.
Our member, whose case had not been resolved, was one of the unlucky people on the flight which eventually left Stansted the following day. But the courageous action of the protesters prevented 11 people seeking asylum from being removed from the UK. The delay meant that those 11 people were able to access their lawyers and their removal was stopped.
RAPAR's member, who wishes to remain anonymous, said he was very shocked by the conviction at Chelmsford Crown Court which could see the 15 protesters facing life imprisonment.
Today is International Migrants' Day and there will be rallies throughout the UK and Ireland to protest about the conviction of the Stansted protesters. In Manchester, there will be a demonstration from 5.30pm-6.30pm in St Peter's Square and RAPAR urges everyone to attend.
The charges facing the Stansted 15 were unjust. Commenting on the use of anti terror laws against the Stansted 15, former Guantanamo Bay detainee Moazzam Begg (who was released without charge) said: “Despite being imprisoned under terrorism laws by both Britain and America, I have no convictions. The Stansted 15 on the other hand are convicted terrorists in Britain today.
“One day, as a nation, Britain will look back and ask itself 'What have we become?' Sadly, that day is not today.”
Dr Rhetta Moran, of RAPAR, said it was “intensely ironic” that all the refugee people on the Stansted 15 plane were being removed to one of three former British colonies – Ghana, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.
“As our refugee members often remark: 'We are here because You were there',” she said.
Dr Moran added: “This conviction is the latest attempt to criminalise public protest that RAPAR first detected - and successfully resisted - in 2010 in Bolton.
“Then, the State sought to prosecute anti-fascists for exposing and stopping the English Defence League from running amok in Bolton.
“Now, their use of anti-terror laws to criminalise young British citizens who take peaceful, direct, solidarity action with Refugees is the latest in a long line of backward and cynical moves on the part of the prevailing politico-legal elite.
“It demonstrates an abject failure to confront the fact that young British people are deeply and increasingly concerned about what the British State is doing in the name of its people.
“It is not the Protesters or the Refugees who are the dangerous ones here.”
RAPAR's Annual General Meeting took place on 30th October in the Friends Meeting House and was chaired by Barly Koyangbwa.
Nestor came safely out of Dallas Court Home Office Reporting Centre today. He has to report again next month.
Many thanks to Manchester Quakers, Manchester City of Sanctuary and other friends and supporters who came to Dallas Court to stand shoulder to shoulder with Nestor. Nestor is under threat of detention and removal from the UK despite the fact that he has lived in Manchester for 12 years. His case has been described as being caught up in a "whirlpool" of Home Office bureaucracy. Read more about Nestor's campaign here Thank you to everyone who has signed the petition and left supportive comments. They are greatly appreciated.
You can follow updates on Nestor's campaign and find out how you can help by visiting his campaign page.
LGBTIQ refugee conference calls for end to sexual abuse, sexual exploitation of LGBTIQ refugees and high standard of proof sexuality policy
Rhetta Moran from RAPAR attended the African Rainbow Family's annual conference in Manchester on August 11th.
Read their press release calling for an end to sexual exploitation of LGBTIQ refugees and an end to the Home Office's policy of demanding a high standard of proof of sexuality.
Manchester will host again, the second LGBTIQ people seeking asylum and refugee conference today [11th August], shining the light on the extent of active and subtle sexual and domestic abuse, sexual exploitation, modern day slavery and trafficking that exists in the LGBTIQ people seeking asylum's community in the UK. Mostly perpetrated by people who owe them duty of care.
The conference will, following the #METOO movement, feature LGBTIQ refugee speakers telling their personal experiences of abuse, exploring how the hostile environment which seeks to deport as many people as possible in order to meet Home Office's set targets, such as in the Windrush Generation; has reinforced a high standard of proof sexuality policy in the Home Office leading to many LGBTIQs being refused asylum and highlighting the plight still faced by LGBTIQ people seeking asylum today.
In many countries, particularly in Africa, homosexuality remains illegal and violent attacks on LGBTIQ people are common. Many are forced to flee, some to the UK, after being publicly ‘outed’.
Gay people seeking asylum coming to the UK face significant barriers. The Home Office culture of disbelief has meant that it refuses to accept that any LGBTIQ seeking asylum are homosexual unless they provide ‘proof of sexuality’. This position is an extremely toxic shift towards high number of deportation following the ruling in 2010 which prohibits the Home Office from deporting LGBTIQ people seeking asylum on the grounds that they could ‘be discreet’ about their sexuality in their home country to avoid harm.
We know that the Home Office has and continues to illegally and forcibly deport many LGBTIQ people seeking asylum through its brutal charter flight methods.
'Experimental' data released by the Home Office in November 2017 for LGBT+ asylum cases (01/07/15 - 31/03/17) shows that over two third of 3,535 asylum applications made partly as LGBT+ were rejected.
2,379 clear LGBT+ claims were rejected, with only 838 approved.
The conference is being organised by African Rainbow Family (ARF), a charitable group that supports LGBTIQ people of African heritage and wider BAME in the UK. ARF works with the growing African LGBTIQ people seeking asylum and refugee communities including wider BAME who face harassment, hate crimes and discrimination.
It will see a call on the Home Office to abandon its ‘high standard of proof sexuality policy, which ARF says is demeaning, humiliating, dehumanising, cruel and a driver of the culture of sexual abuse and sexual exploitation in their community.
Speakers will include:
Aderonke Apata, Founder of the ARF and a long-term campaigner on LGBTIQ asylum, who is also speaking at the conference, said:
"We are starting a cultural revolution which forms a platform to inspire LGBTIQ people seeking asylum to come forward, tell their experiences of sexual abuse and sexual exploitation and let their voices to be heard in order for us to see consequences in terms of their perpetrators who owe them a duty of care to be brought to justice.
"The Home Office's high standard of proof policy drives a culture of sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, domestic abuse, modern day slavery and all forms of emotional, psychological and mental problems in the LGBTIQ people seeking asylum's community
"I ask that the Home Office drops their high standard of proof in sexuality policy as well as the wider asylum applications."