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The Colloquium in Carshalton Park

Sutton for Peace and Justice brings you

The Colloquium in Carshalton Park

Throughout the day of the Environmental Fair on Bank Holiday Monday 28 August at Carshalton Park, Sutton for Peace and Justice will be hosting a series of informal and open discussions on a range of peace and justice issues:

11.30 Sutton 4 Sanctuary – Refugees welcome here
Helping refugees find a welcome and establish a new home in Sutton, including the Community Sponsorship Scheme.

12.15 Inequality is not inevitable
Inequality is bad for everyone and austerity is making it worse – but there is an alternative.

13.00 Climate Change – threat to peace & justice
Action on climate change is essential – now more than ever.

13.45 The plight of Palestinians today
How the rights of ‘the non-jewish communities of Palestine’ are ‘prejudiced’ 100 years after Balfour.

14.30 In defence of the Human Rights Act
The Human Rights Act protects us all and needs our support.

15.15 Stop nuclear proliferation – scrap Trident
Remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki –Trident should be scrapped.

16.00 Sutton 4 Sanctuary – Refugees welcome here
Helping refugees find a welcome and establish a new home in Sutton, including the Community Sponsorship Scheme.

All at the Sutton for Peace and Justice stall J04–J05.

Come along and hear about these important issues, have your say and join the debate.

Colloquium – an informal gathering for the exchange of views, from latin ‘to talk together’; a seminar usually led by a different academic or expert speaker at each meeting.

 

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Refugee & Migrant Network Sutton AGM

Refugee and Migrant Network Sutton (RMNS) are holding their Annual General Meeting
on Wednesday October 19th 12.00 midday, Trinity Hall, Trinity Church Sutton  SM1 1DZ.

The meeting will feature keynote speaker Shabibi Shah, author of Where do I belong? and Innocent Deception. In 1982 she fled across the mountains of Afghanistan with her three children arriving as a refugee in Croydon and has worked tirelessly for human rights.

RSVP:  olwenstewart@hotmail.com  or olwen@rmns.org.uk

The Colloquium in Carshalton Park

Throughout the day of the Environmental Fair, Sutton for Peace and Justice will be hosting a series of informal and open discussions on a range of peace and justice issues at the Sutton for Peace and Justice stall, M12 & M13:

11.00    The challenge of Climate Change: Action on climate change is essential for peace and justice across the world.

12.00      Equality – best for all: How a more equal society would be beneficial to rich and poor alike.

13.00     Sutton for Sanctuary: Campaigning to make Sutton a community that welcomes and supports refugees and migrants.

14.00     The plight of the Palestinians: Living with occupation, illegal settlements and house demolitions.

15.00     Equality – best for all: How a more equal society would be beneficial to rich and poor alike.

16.00     Sutton for Sanctuary: Campaigning to make Sutton a community that welcomes and supports refugees and migrants.

Please come along and find out more, have your say and join the debate.

Colloquium – an informal gathering for the exchange of views, from the latin ‘to talk together’;  a seminar usually led by a different academic or expert speaker at each meeting.

My Nazi Legacy film screening 24 June

Sutton for Peace and Justice invite you to a screening of  ‘My Nazi Legacy – What our fathers did’ in Sutton on 24 June.

A disturbing and thought-provoking documentary film. Eminent human rights lawyer Philippe Sands accompanies the sons of two Nazi war criminals as they travel through Europe to confront the past sins of their fathers.

MyNaziLegacy image

Sands interviews Niklas Frank and Horst von Wächter, the sons of Hans Frank and Otto Wächter, respectively (among their other grim distinctions) the Nazi governor of occupied Poland and Nazi governor of Galicia in Ukraine. Whilst one has come to terms with what his father did, the other is still in denial.

Every member of Philippe Sands’ family living in an area of Ukraine were slaughtered in 1941  when it was under the control of two Nazi officials.

And this is not just of historical interest – these are live issues. The film visits Nazi-nostalgists and paramilitaries in Ukraine who hail Horst von Wächter as the son of a hero .

As Phillipe Sands says: ‘Their fathers may be long dead, but the underlying issues that gave rise to these horrors in the first place are all still there’.

  • ‘Outstanding documentary about history and guilt’. The Guardian.
  • ‘A welcome attempt to confront the Nazi era with a steady eye.’  The Telegraph.

Friday June 24th, 7.30pm, doors open at 7.00.

At Sutton Quaker Meeting Hall, Cedar Road, Sutton, SM2 5DA.

There is no entry charge, donations will be taken on the night. Please reserve your place by email to sutton4peace@yahoo.co.uk or by text message to 07740 594496.

Towards a Borough of Sanctuary meeting report

Towards a Borough of Sanctuary, 27 May 2016. Meeting convened by Sutton for Peace & Justice in association with Refugee and Migrant Network Sutton to launch the Sutton 4 Sanctuary campaign. Reporting by Tessa Cornell of Sutton for Peace and Justice.

The first speaker was Katie Barringer of the Refugee Support Network.

Katie said that terms like refugee, asylum seeker and migrant are often used interchangeably and in confusing ways in the media. The first two have a legal definition, and of the recently publicised 333,000 migrants entering the UK last year, just 25,771 were asylum seekers.

There are multiple and overlapping reasons why people seek asylum – such as persecution due to a person’s race, religion, nationality, political beliefs and social group – but success in achieving refugee status can be dependent on country of origin. Of those from Syria, 87% of asylum claims were successful but of those from Pakistan just 22% have been granted (the average for all countries is 41%). However, 38% of appeals are ultimately successful, revealing that initial decisions are not accurate.

Those claiming asylum are dispersed around the country, to areas where the costs of supporting then are lower – so few end up in London and the south east. Once a claim is successful and a person has refugee status, they tend to move to an area where they have more in common with the local community and can get support. Their rights are similar to those of a British citizen in terms of work and education; but they need to ‘reclaim’ after five years and this can make settling down and making long-term decisions difficult.

Asylum seekers face many issues – language and cultural barriers, mental health issues due to trauma suffered in their own country and on the journey to the UK, poverty, lack of contact with established communities, previous skills and experience not being recognised, stress at the pace of their claim, inability to work coupled with very low benefits, the risk of exploitation, and so on.

Katie explained that the Refugee Support Network works with children who have arrived without families, generally boys aged 13-18. Education is the focus of their work, as those using the service have said it is that which provides them with hope. They are always in need of volunteers to act as mentors.

Katie was followed by Lucy Minyo of the Refugee & Migrant Network Sutton (RMNS).

Lucy outlined the work of this local group and described how they help clients with issues such as accessing health and education services, applications for benefits and immigration status renewals. They offer advice and advocate on behalf of people as well as organising drop in sessions and language classes, seeing many hardworking, resilient people every day.

Although few of those seeking asylum are initially placed in this area (currently just 11 are registered in Sutton) there will be unaccompanied children and those whose claims have been processed who relocate. We also don’t know where Syrian refugees will be housed. RMNS see around 400 people a year.

Next up, Antaneeta Ragini Jeyakumar described her experiences as a recent refugee to the UK, with the help of interpreter Evangeline Rajini Kantharatnan.

Antaneeta explained that she arrived in the UK in 2014 having fled war in Sri Lanka. She, along with her family, were initially sent to a hotel and then to Newcastle, where she knew no-one and there was no familiar community to support her. When her visa decision was received she decided to come to London where there was an established Tamil community. At first she was unsure of where to go or what she could do, but then found out about RMNS. Since that RMNS has been a great source of support, giving her help with housing issues and benefits claims, and as a result she has grown in confidence.

The last speaker was Mike McLoughlin of Sutton for Peace and Justice.

Mike highlighted some facts about the current situation for refugees around the world. There are currently 2 million refugees in the Lebanon, which is the size of Cornwall, but there have been objections to the UK taking 20,000 from Syria. Malta has taken 3 refugees for every 1000 of the population, Sweden has taken 3.1, but the UK has 1.6 per 10,000. Our economy is 78 times larger than Jordan, but they have taken 600,000 refugees.

In response to concerns raised by those who would like to reduce immigration it is worth noting that immigrants are more likely to work in the NHS than to use its services; crime rates are lower than among the native population; and with an aging population we need young immigrants; and the lack of affordable homes is a failing of successive governments. Asylum seekers are not allowed to work until their claims have been processed.

Mike then gave an outline of how Sutton could become a ‘Borough if Sanctuary’. City of Sanctuary is a national charitable body that seeks to nurture a grassroots movement that builds bridges between different organisations and between local people and refugees. To qualify as a ‘City of Sanctuary’ we must demonstrate that we have support and engagement from the wider population, and then seek the support of the local council as well.

Mike Cooper, Chair of Sutton for Peace & Justice, led a question and answer session and a general discussion of the issues and what we could do locally to help support refugees and asylum seekers and get Sutton recognised as a ‘Borough of Sanctuary’.

It was noted that there are a number of other groups around the country working to the same aim, the closest being Camden, Brighton, Chichester, and Medway, and the Sutton campaign will keep in touch with all of these.

Examples of practical ways that local people can support refugees and asylum seekers included: volunteering with local support organisations, mentoring, engaging them in local groups and empowering the through, for example sport and drama. It was also suggested that local groups could raise funds to pay for asylum seeker families to be enabled to live locally.

It was emphasised that the campaign should seek to change attitudes, dispel myths around those seeking asylum, and celebrate the contribution that can be made to the country. Hostility to refugees can be damaging and hurtful, especially for those arriving at a young age, and families can be left isolated.

The campaign would reach out to and link up with local individuals and groups, to raise awareness of the issues and share what they are doing; it should specifically seek to engage schools.

It was reported that the campaign was setting up a website and mailing lists for individuals and ‘supporter organisations’, that would be used to keep people informed about the campaign and action they can take, and to share what local groups are doing and the services they provide.

Find out more about Sutton 4 Sanctuary here.

My Nazi Legacy

Sutton for Peace and Justice invite you to a screening of  ‘My Nazi Legacy – What our fathers did’.

Friday June 24th, 7.30–9.00pm, doors open at 7.00, at Sutton Quaker Meeting Hall, Cedar Road, Sutton, SM2 5DA.

A poignant and thought-provoking documentary film, scripted by Philippe Sands, examining the long shadow of Nazi atrocities, friendship and inherited guilt.

Eminent human rights lawyer Philippe Sands takes two men, each of whom are the children of very high-ranking Nazi officials, on an emotional journey through Europe, examining the past and the sins of their fathers.  Every member of Philippe Sands’ family living in an area of Ukraine under their control were slaughtered in 1941.

The two men approach the Nazi past of their fathers from totally different perspectives.  Whilst one has come to terms with what his father did, the other is still in denial – wriggling, squirming, trying to claim that his father was not personally guilty.

Director – David Evans.  Screenwriter – Philippe Sands.
With Philippe Sands, Niklas Frank, Horst von Wächter.
UK 2015.

  • ‘Outstanding documentary about history and guilt from author and human rights lawyer Philippe Sands’. The Guardian.
  • ‘A welcome attempt to confront the Nazi era with a steady eye.’  The Telegraph.
  • ‘Three men bound by the terrible crimes of the Nazis have forged an incredible bond between them that is explored in a moving new film’.  DailyMail.
  • ‘Their fathers may be long dead, but the underlying issues that gave rise to these horrors in the first place are all still there’.  Philippe Sands.

There is no advance entry charge, donations will be taken on the night.
Please reserve your place by email to sutton4peace@yahoo.co.uk
or by text message to 07740 594496.

Your chance to see this important film in Sutton

G4S AGM backsliding

Stop G4S campaigners from a variety of organisations joined local activists from Sutton for Peace and Justice to protest outside the G4S AGM held at the Holiday Inn in Sutton on 26 May.  They wanted to send a clear message to the G4S executives and shareholders that G4S could not continue to profit from war, instability, occupation and exploitation.

However, in the AGM G4S verbally recommitted to doing business in Israel. This was a surprise as just a few months ago G4S announced in its Annual Report that it would sell off its Israeli branch G4S Israel and G4S youth services in the UK and US. This announcement came after several years of campaigning, and significant campaign victories this year as three UN agencies stated that they had not renewed contracts with the company.

In the past, in order to shake off protests and avoid scrutiny, G4S has made verbal and written promises not to renew certain contracts dealing with Israeli checkpoints, police stations and the Israeli prisons. The company failed to keep its own deadlines over the past years. But, G4S  stated on the morning of the AGM that the ‘contracts in question’ (including contracts for equipment and services to Israeli prisons, a West Bank police station, and checkpoints) are due to expire by the end of 2017 and will not be renewed.

However, inside the AGM (where no recording devices are allowed) G4S executives were more candid about their intentions. When asked if G4S would be ending its 25 year contract for an Israeli police academy as a part of its sale of G4S Israel. Executive director Ashley Almanza said that G4S “will only conclude the sale of G4S Israel if we receive satisfactory terms and G4S ‘will continue to operate in Israel even if we sell off G4S Israel”. When pressed on the matter of continued G4S business with the illegal Israeli settlements and Apartheid Wall, Almanza dodged the question, stating that ‘G4S, like the UK government, opposes anti-Israel boycotts.’

A few days before the AGM, G4S released a statement rejecting comments by the BDS (Boycotts, Divestments and Sanctions) movement and anti-Israel pressure groups claiming that their actions have caused the G4S group to sell G4S Israel.

At the same time the UK and Israeli governments have stepped up their attack on the BDS movement. In the UK, this has mainly been through government statements and proposals designed specifically to silence BDS activities. In the USA, some states like Illinois passed laws to allow for blacklisting of companies that appear to be taking BDS action. Given that a wide range of US groups have gone public on their joining the Stop G4S campaign, the timing of such statements is no coincidence.

Inside the meeting, it became clear that G4S abuses all over the world are still a pressing issue for many. Of 20 questions allowed from the floor, all but two touched on G4S abuses. There were questions on G4S abuses in Palestine and the scandal exposed at a youth detention facility in Medway (Kent) in January 2016, where G4S staff assaulted young inmates. Another issue brought up was that of negligence in detention centres run by G4S, particularly in HMP Altcourse, where levels of self-harm and suicide are high. In addition there was the scandal of the G4S ‘red doors’ where the doors of asylum-seekers were painted red, stigmatising them and making them targets for violence. The G4S executives were furious when it was suggested from the floor that there is a common thread running through all G4S work: profiting from violence and abuse.

Perhaps G4S will follow through on its promise to sell off its business in Israel, while insisting that it is not doing so as a result of the campaign against G4S. Or maybe G4S will continue to do business in Israel in less obvious ways. Regardless, it is clear that G4S cannot be trusted, and that the campaigns against the company must continue.

(Report by Mike McLoughin with information from  War on Want)