‘It only takes one passenger to refuse to be seated to stop a deportation happening. Stand up against deportations.’ Campaigns like this are taking place in Australia, Britain and other European countries. Protesters in the Netherlands favour more extreme methods – such as sitting on top of the plane to stop it taking off (see picture). Generally, passengers are urged to inquire about deportation policy when booking tickets and to boycott lines that help deport. Some lines, such as Virgin, have an anti-deportation policy. Lobbying of airline personnel – from baggage handlers to pilots – can also work. Deportees have even foiled deporting authorities – and caused no small degree of embarrassment – by stripping naked as a desperate last measure. A combination of direct action, local campaigns for specific individuals or families and more conventional legal appeal processes mean that thousands of deportations are prevented each year.
Links and contacts:
Australia: xborder on www.antimedianet/xborder/ ;
Refugee Action Collective:
Tel:(0)3 9659 3505
Britain: National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns. Tel: (0161) 740 5197.
Canada: Le Comité d'action des sans-statut. Tel: (514) 996-2597
Photo: Clive Shirley / Panos Pictures
Escaping persecution or poverty is itself a dangerous business for refugees. They may encounter considerable risks - from the elements, from violence at the hands of border patrols or anti-immigration vigilantes or abandonment by people smugglers. Thousands die each year. On the Mexican-US border alone, about 2,000 undocumented immigrants have died from drowning, dehydration, accidents or attacks since 1995 - and the number of fatalities is increasing every year. In a bid to save lives, water tanks have been erected by the Sanctuary Movement in Arizona, on both sides of the border with Sonora, Mexico. The tanks are placed near the desert tracks where, in summer, temperatures routinely exceed 100 degrees Farenheit (40 degrees Celsius). Local churches have played a prominent role in the Sanctuary Movement for many years; the Catholic diocese spans the border.
Links and contacts:
Aotearoa/NZ: Refugees as Survivors (RAS) Centres Auckland.
Tel: (09) 270 0870,
Fax: (09) 270 056.
Australia: The Professional Alliance for the Health of Asylum Seekers and their Children; www.racp.edu.au/hpu/policy/
Tel: (02) 9256 9600.
Britain: Committee to Defend Asylum Seekers. Tel: 07941 566183.
Canada: Canadian Friends Service Committee. Tel: (416) 920-5213
US: Sanctuary Movement
Artwork: Deborah Kelly
Using art and media, refugees and activists are challenging hostile and inaccurate portrayals of refugees with eye-opening events and representations. Australian tactical media activists, in an unauthorized public artwork, projected a 15 meter eighteenth century galleon with the words BOAT PEOPLE on to the Sydney Opera House to underline the message that (bar Aboriginal people) 'We are all boat people'. In Europe, movements like the francophone Sans Papiers or The Voice in Germany are refugee-run and control expression of their own issues. In Britain PhotoVoice gives refugee groups training in journalism and documentary photography. Their work includes working with Bhutanese youngsters living in refugee camps in the Eastern lowlands of Nepal as well as unaccompanied teenage refugees in East London. The aim is to shift the media bias, train potential refugee journalists and to syndicate their work. Some journalists are also working within the mainstream media to raise awareness and combat scapegoating. PressWise is a media ethics charity which has posted a worldwide, country by country, code of journalistic ethics. Meanwhile refugees from Exiled Writers Ink are using the Internet to disseminate their work.
Links and contacts:
Tactical Media Artists
Exiled Writers Ink at www.exiledwriters.co.uk
PressWise: Refugees, asylum seekers and the Mass Media Project at www.ramproject.org.uk
There are hundreds. Good starting points are:
Aotearoa: Refugee Council of New Zealand,
147 Great North Rd, Grey Lynn, Auckland New Zealand.
Tel: (09) 376 9680
Human Rights Foundation Aotearoa New Zealand,
PO Box 106343, Downtown Auckland
Australia: Refugee Council of Australia,
PO Box 946, Glebe, 2037, NSW.
Aslyum Seeker Resource Centre,
207 & 211 Nicholson Street Footscray,
Melbourne, Victoria, 3011.
Tel: (03) 9689 5075.
Britain: The Refugee Council,
3 Bondway, London SW8 1SJ.
Tel: (020) 7820 3000
Fax: (020) 7582 9929.
Canada:Canadian Council for Refugees,
6839 Drolet 302, Montréal, Québec, H2S 2T1
Tel: (514) 277-7223
Fax: (514) 277-1447.
Ireland: Irish Refugee Council,
40 Lower Dominick St, Dublin 1.
Tel: (353) 1 8730042
Fax: (353) 1 8730088
US: National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights,
310-8th Street, Ste. 303 Oakland, CA 94607
Tel: (510) 465 1984
Fax: (510) 465 1885
International: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees,
CP 2500, CH-1211, Geneva 2.
Tel: +41 (22) 739 7367
US Committee for Refugeees,
11717 Massachusetts Avenue,
NW Suite 200, Washington DC 20036-2003.
Tel: +1 (800) 307 4712.
1 Easton Street, London WC1X ODWl.
Tel: +44 (020) 7814 6200