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This morning, activists from Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants burned £ 35k of fake bank notes printed with the face of home secretary Theresa May in protest over a new law coming into force today that will force thousands of non-EU migrants, who earn less than £35k a year, to leave the UK. The activists dressed in black clothes and pink veils ceremonially burned the money as part of what they called a “symbolic exorcism of the Home Office’s fixation on money and disregard for the suffering it inflicts on ordinary people”.
The new law means that people from outside the EU who are in the UK on a work visa and have been in the country for more than six years will be deported. The Home Office estimates this will cost taxpayers between £181 million and £575 million. The law has been criticised by both Labour and the Liberal Democrats and the NUT have condemned the law for hitting many of their members worsening the recruitment crisis in schools. Only last month Teresa May was heavily criticised for having illegally deporting up to 50,000 students.
The average salary in the UK has been estimated at £25,600 by the Office of National Statistics. But if you exclude the top 10 % of earners, the average is about £12,800. In contrast, Theresa May takes home more than £145k a year.
Sam Bjorn from Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants said: “With this new law, the Home Office clearly shows that they value money over ordinary people. We’re outraged that people who’ve been running essential services will face deportation.”
Alex Williams from Lesbians and Gays Support the migrants said: “The government is creating a divided society where something as essential as the freedom of movement and the right to work is dictated by the size of your paycheque. We have come a long way in terms on stopping discrimination against people based on sexuality – why should we now discriminate based on how much money people take home each month?”
“Refugees welcome” has been projected in giant letters across the iconic white cliffs of Dover, just before an alliance of racist far-right groups are due to hold anti-migration protests in the town of Dover. The projection was undertaken as a collaboration between campaign organisation Global Justice Now and guerrilla projectionists Feral X.
© Jess Hurd/Global Justice Now
We spoke to Amir living with his wife Maryam and their three-month-old child Rosie, nicknamed ‘The Jungle Baby’, in a tiny caravan donated by a UK aid charity, on the southern side of the refugee camp in Calais known at the Jungle, the side due for eviction.
They had been in the camp seven months. They had fled Iran and tried to reach the UK, but after Amir suffered illnesses that led to time in hospital and Maryam becoming heavily pregnant they became stranded.
Amir was Muslim and Maryam a Christian. When asked what religion Rosie would be, Amir gestured up and down with his hand, cutting Rosie down the middle from head to toe, “She will be half and half,” he laughed.
When Rosie was born at the local hospital, Amir claimed the French authorities forced him to register for asylum in France, saying if he did not they would take his baby away and give her to another family.
“They said they would not let me take my baby back to the Jungle,” Amir said.
Amir claimed the authorities said his family would be helped and given a small room if he registered. Amir said the room was tiny, far too small for the three of them, but at least it was not the Jungle.
“We finished the asylum process, did the finger prints, then the government told us to go back and live in the Jungle,” Amir said.
Rosie was also hospitalised for 40 days, suffering Whooping Cough and had only recently recovered. Amir said without the help of the English volunteers in the camp, Rosie would have surely died.
We asked Maryam what they needed and she replied, “warm clothes for Rosie”.
With the eviction looming Amir said was unsure what they would do.
“As refugees where are we supposed to go?” he asked.
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Around 60 trade unionists, of them 30 UK teachers give up their half term holiday to teach refugees in the Calais Jungle. The school, Ecole Laïque du Chemin des Dunes has been built by volunteers in the makeshift camp and is under imminent threat of demolition by French authorities. Calais, France.
Images available to license from www.reportdigital.co.uk
© Jess Hurd/reportdigital.co.uk
Street clashes in Dover as anti-fascists mobilise against National Front anti-refugee protest. Kent.
© Jess Hurd/reportdigital.co.uk
Very pleased to be asked to open this event with my commissioned “Review of the Year” – 2015 in photos.
SATURDAY 19th DECEMBER A SEASONAL NIGHT OUT AGAINST AUSTERITY WITH BRIDGET CHRISTIE
A Philosophy Football Seasonal Night Out Against Austerity In association with the RMT, supported by the Fire Brigades Union and in partnershp with the People’s Assembly and New Weather Institute. An evening of comedy, ideas, live music and poetry to revisit the meaning of Dickens’s Scrooge in the cause of an economics for the many not the few.
A headlining stand-up set of razor-sharp wit from Bridget Christie preceded by an in-conversation with Guardian columnist Zoe Williams. Plus sparkling spoken word from poet Salena Godden. And closing the show Thee Faction playing anthems to dance, or march to and in hot musical pursuit South Coast Ska legends The Meow Meows. If that lot doesn’t get you laughing and dancing all we can say is, bah humbug!
We’re not short of ideas either. Opened by the renowned writer on inequality Danny Dorling an international discussion on austerity and its discontents with Marina Prentoulis of Syriza joined by NUS Vice-President Shelly Asquith one of the leading activists in the Corbyn4Leader 2015 campaign.
If thats not enough we have commissioned new work specially for the night inspired by the message of The Christmas Carol from poet Matt Abbott and musician Nia plus David Boyle reading an account of the meaning of Scrooge from his book How To Be English. Opening the show photographer Jess Hurd presents her visual review of the year. Throughout the night filling the dancefloor the Melstars Music soundsystem.
Doors open 6pm, show starts 7pm at the superb Rich Mix Arts Venue in East London.