* WHAT NEXT FOR YARLS WOOD DEMONSTRATION? *
This is where I need your help. Please read.
About #YarlsWood – I have heard two long-term RIL members discuss in private how they don’t really want to do YW that much as ‘the only thing that will shift it now is an uprising, and it’s not happening’. You will notice we used to do many demos at detention centres a year, when it was deemed priority struggle, but not anymore. You will notice MFJ under RIL self-appointed leadership jumped from one area to another almost every month this year, seeking the ‘dynamic fight’ and ‘vanguard’ recruits (antifascism, Grenfell, police brutality demos, Labour students, etc) – while they accuse other groups of being opportunistic it’s hard to see how RIL’s leadership is anything but. There seem to be few MFJ contacts inside at the moment, which is also why postcards etc, to the detainees can’t be delivered easily, as one RIL member disclosed on facebook.
The speeches at Yarls Wood demos in 2016 were not as controlled as they became in 2017, since RWL intervention from USA in March (on who RWL and RIL are please see the first post on this blog). RIL members have made negative comments about how asylum seekers didn’t deliver the political message, instead sang songs, prayed, talked about their faith, etc. Now to speak at YW you have to run your speech through RIL, possibly have parts of it rewritten, to match the ‘political message’. Who speaks is at the moment tightly controlled by RIL during the demonstration, with leeway allowed only towards the end. Watch the videos and you will notice, if you were not there. Listen to the speeches, especially from RIL, you will hear the leaflet sentences repeated a lot in various wording.
However, RIL is aware YW demos is the best publicity for MFJ, and as they said ‘best way to recruit students and raise money for us’ – as coaches mostly pay for themselves, this is how the group makes most money for self. They spend hundreds on t-shirts with own logo, tens on taxis (and possibly take-aways) for RIL members, hundreds of pounds on landline calls to the USA to ‘discuss strategy’ (in the age of free Skype), several thousand pounds on two conferences where RIL and RWL pamphlets are read out to the crowds as ‘political training’ – with anecdotal stories as only political input from migrants present, with RIL and RWL led panels telling conference attendees how to do the work. I you attended any of the conferences you will know what I’m talking about.
There is barely any financial support of asylum seekers or migrants and there is no financial accountability or transparency. RIL keeps strict control on the finances and on all information about them. Also, one of the migrant RIL members when not ‘fully RIL’ yet, was even donating to the group a substantial amount per month, while not having a permanent job. I have seen the accounts. It is grim.
* WHAT NEXT FOR YARLS WOOD DEMONSTRATION? *
This is where I need your help.
I wholeheartedly believe in the powerful, truly migrant-led demonstrations at detention centres that support the detainees inside and former detainees with their communities outside. I do not wish for Yarls Wood demonstration to be stopped because of my disclosure, and I know many groups have withheld their support or put their engagement with Yarls Wood on hold. I am entirely grateful for them taking the disclosure of abuse seriously and disengaging with MFJ ran by RIL.
This is my proposal. Return Yarls Wood demonstration to the community and a truly collective, migrants-at-the-forefront and actually-decision-making leadership.
I know several migrant groups and groups engaged with migrants rights have been discussing demonstrating at Yarls Wood independently of MFJ because of what has transpired. Would you consider all coming together and basically organising the demonstration collectively?
The facebook event for Yarls Wood will be gladly passed on by the admins to a Shut Down Yarls Wood Collective 2017 of sorts, and donations can be ensured to actually go to migrant support rather than a deceptive trotskyist group setting up exploitative fronts.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or simply start talking with each other about this and organising, like some people already have. I wish for nothing but for the fight for migrants rights and against racism to actually win. I wish for nothing but for people in Yarls Wood and other detention centres to be supported in ways that empower them, and for detention centres to be shut down immediately and the detainees released.
Let’s make this Yarls Wood a redemption of the mistreatment of migrants at MFJ/RIL. No ‘political’ controlling over what is said and who speaks, no recruiting, no fronting, no fundraising a cult. Just real, actual, tangible, powerful solidarity and collective fight for justice that shifts history.
Let’s reclaim Yarls Wood demonstrations for all our communities.