On Monday people will gather at the UK Border Agency's Glasgow offices to protest against an ugly government advertising campaign. (See also, Welcome to Britain: 'Go Home or Face Arrest')
The Liberal Democrat peer, Lord (Tony) Greaves, has set down a question in the House of Lords about posters displayed in the UK Border Agency offices in Glasgow with the text “Is life here hard? Going home is simple” and the stickers on the seats with the text “Ask about going home". Greaves asks:
"Who has published them, at what level was their display authorised, whether and which Ministers approved them, and whether it is intended to extend their use to other UKBA offices and other places?"
The material displayed at Broad Street is indeed shocking, as you can see from the picture below.
Giant posters depict a destitute refugee sleeping rough and the headline: "Is life here hard? Going home is simple".
There's an airplane and the line: "The plane can take you home. We can book the tickets."
Even the chair you sit down upon bears advice: "Ask about going home", reinforcing the hostile message to asylum seekers who report there every day or once a week.
The Home Office claims, "These posters are designed to ensure people know that we can provide sensitive advice and assistance to help them return home with dignity."
In a letter to The Scotsman, senior Kirk minister the Rev Dr Iain Whyte wrote:
“To bully vulnerable people by this poster campaign is an appalling violation of human rights. To do so in an area which is closed to the public is an insidious, covert act.”
Dr Whyte called on the Scottish Government to make “strong representations” to the Home Office to have the posters removed.
The race between politicians to the bottom on immigration and asylum has reached a new low.
"Go Home" is a well-known racist taunt that has been used for decades in this country by fascists and racists against those of us from immigrant communities. That a government agency should decide to take up the same racist and xenophobic refrain while "processing" would-be refugees to this country, is shameful and deeply offensive.
If there were a parallel campaign telling patients in Accident and Emergency departments not to turn up for treatment you can imagine the public outcry. The "Go Home" poster campaign exposes the Border Agency's attitude and gives us a small idea of what refugees in this country go through when they seek asylum.
Claiming refuge is a human right. The reality is that refugees coming into the UK are caught up in the incompetent bureaucratic mess that is the British asylum system - a system that in November 2012 failed to deal with its asylum backlog, and left more than 100,000 items of post relating to asylum cases unopened.
The asylum seekers concerned have been left in limbo for an average of 7 years.
Positive Action in Housing believes that the government's "Go Home"
poster campaign is nothing more than a racist and xenophobic "Hate
Campaign" designed to harass and wear down those from refugee communities
and undermine the excellent anti-racist work already being done in Scotland.
Almost weekly the government produces some new way of playing the race card, designed to show them as being tougher and nastier on immigration and asylum than any other party. They are winding up to potentially the nastiest election campaign we have seen for a long time if not ever.
On Monday 9th September, from 4.30pm to 6.30pm, we're gathering at the Border Agency's offices on Brand Street, Govan, to protest. I'll be speaking, along with Margaret Woods of the Glasgow Campaign to Welcome Refugees, MPs, MSPs, Councillors and faith group leaders.
We have a proud record of standing up against racism in Glasgow and we will not let this latest outrage pass.
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