On 8 April this year our television screens showed pictures of the dramatic arrests of 12 students – one British and 11 Pakistani – as alleged ‘terrorists’. Suspects were held spread-eagled on the ground by anti-terrorism officers on campus in Liverpool. We heard Gordon Brown assert that the police had foiled a ‘very big’ terrorist plot, while ‘Whitehall sources’ claimed terrorists were exploiting ‘lax’ student regulations (despite biometric visas and rigorous checks) to come to Britain.
All the suspects were released without charge two weeks later after a thorough investigation found no evidence. But ten Pakistani students remain in detention, in category A conditions, held by the UK Border Agency for deportation as a ‘threat to national security’. An urgent application to release the students on bail was heard on 12 May but was refused pending a full bail hearing in July – too late for them to sit their exams.
Despite rulings from the House of Lords and the European Court of Human Rights denouncing detention on the basis of secret evidence, the men remain in the dark as to the reasons for their detention and proposed deportation. One of them, Tariq Ur Rehman, returned to Pakistan on 11 June, disillusioned and disheartened about the prospects of making a future in the UK. The British government agreed to withdraw the deportation decision against him but declined to intervene to seek assurances from the Pakistani government that he would not be ill-treated. Pakistan’s intelligence services have a fearsome reputation for torturing terror suspects.
People from across the country who were angered by the treatment of the men met in Manchester in early May to set up the Justice for the North West Ten campaign (J4NW10). This held an immediate protest vigil outside Strangeways prison, and has since organised public meetings, letters, protests and other activities in Islamabad, Manchester, Birmingham, Sheffield and London to draw public attention to the treatment of the men.
On 28 May, the University and College Union (UCU) conference overwhelmingly voted to support the campaign and to demand the immediate release of the students to allow them to continue their education without the threat of deportation. An early day motion (EDM 1453) has been signed by 20-plus MPs, and a letter has been signed by over 70 academics calling on the vice-chancellors of two of the institutions attended by the students to ensure they receive course materials and take their exams in prison. A packed public meeting at SOAS in London on 2 July heard a recording of the brother and father of two of the students speaking by phone from Pakistan of the hopes they carried with them to this country, and the disillusion and anger over their arrests.
The timing of the men’s arrest and detention is interesting, to say the least. The UK Border Agency (UKBA) is currently seeking to bully university and college staff to spy on students through the introduction of a points-based system that changes the way foreign students are allowed into the UK. In future, universities and colleges wishing to enrol non-EU students will have to register as sponsors, and to do this they must give an undertaking to the UKBA to report students who miss lectures. Failure to monitor students who subsequently abscond or breach conditions can lead to withdrawal of the institution’s sponsorship licence. The J4NW10 campaign is part of a wider campaign to keep immigration control out of education.
join the campaign
If you are an academic (or know an academic), please write or send an email to the vice chancellors of two of the institutions at which the students were studying:
Ask your MP to support the campaign: Mohammad Sarwar, an MP of Pakistani origin, has submitted an early day motion (EDM) demanding the students’ immediate release so that they can continue their studies
Ask your organisation to support the campaign’s demands. Send messages of support to email@example.com
Hilary Wainwright argues against reclaiming populism for the left and for a leadership that supports people’s capacity for self-government
It may seem as though these apps are working for us, but we are also working for the apps, writes Kurt Iveson
It's over 100 years ago that domestic workers began to organise to demand the same rights as other workers. Yet with LSE cleaners on strike this week, historian Laura Schwartz asks: how much has really changed?
Omar Barghouti asks whether Donald Trump, in his recent break with America’s long-standing support for the two-state solution, has unwittingly revived the debate about the plausibility, indeed the necessity, of a single, democratic state in historic Palestine?
Glenn Greenwald was interviewed by Amandla Thomas-Johnson over the phone from Brazil. Here is what he had to say on the War on Terror, Trump, and the 'special relationship'
In 1972 David Widgery wrote about the bitter intensity of love in capitalism
Andrew Dolan on how the left must match the anti-establishment rhetoric of the right, but with a different politics
Emma Snaith speaks with directors Emer Mary Morris and Nina Scott about the power of theatre to encourage community resistance to estate demolitions.
In the first of a series of interviews with migrants' rights and racial justice activists from the US, Marienna Pope-Weidemann speaks to Peter Pedemonti, co-founder and director of the New Sanctuary Movement in Philadelphia
Photos from The World Transformed festival in Liverpool, by David Walters
Red Pepper’s race section: open editorial meeting 19 April
On April 19th, we’ll be holding the second of Red Pepper’s Race Section Open Editorial Meetings.
Changing our attitude to Climate Change
Paul Allen of the Centre for Alternative Technology spells out what we need to do to break through the inaction over climate change
Introducing Trump’s Inner Circle
Donald Trump’s key allies are as alarming as the man himself
Secrets and spies of Scotland Yard
A new Espionage Act threatens whistleblowers and journalists, writes Sarah Kavanagh
#AndABlackWomanAtThat – part II: a discussion of power and privilege
In the second article of a three-part series, Sheri Carr reflects on the silencing of black women and the flaws in safe spaces
How progressive is the ‘progressive alliance’?
We need an anti-austerity alliance, not a vaguely progressive alliance, argues Michael Calderbank
The YPJ: Fighting Isis on the frontline
Rahila Gupta talks to Kimmie Taylor about life on the frontline in Rojava
Joint statement on George Osborne’s appointment to the Evening Standard
'We have come together to denounce this brazen conflict of interest and to champion the growing need for independent, truthful and representative media'
Paul O’Connell and Michael Calderbank consider the conditions that led to the Brexit vote, and how the left in Britain should respond
On the right side of history: an interview with Mijente
Marienna Pope-Weidemann speaks to Reyna Wences, co-founder of Mijente, a radical Latinx and Chincanx organising network
Disrupting the City of London Corporation elections
The City of London Corporation is one of the most secretive and least understood institutions in the world, writes Luke Walter
#AndABlackWomanAtThat: a discussion of power and privilege
In the first article of a three-part series, Sheri Carr reflects on the oppression of her early life and how we must fight it, even in our own movement
Corbyn understands the needs of our communities
Ian Hodson reflects on the Copeland by-election and explains why Corbyn has the full support of The Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union
Red Pepper’s race section: open editorial meeting 15 March
On 15 March, we’ll be holding the first of Red Pepper’s Race Section open editorial meetings.
Social Workers Without Borders
Jenny Nelson speaks to Lauren Wroe about a group combining activism and social work with refugees
Growing up married
Laura Nicholson interviews Dr Eylem Atakav about her new film, Growing Up Married, which tells the stories of Turkey’s child brides
The Migrant Connections Festival: solidarity needs meaningful relationships
On March 4 & 5 Bethnal Green will host a migrant-led festival fostering community and solidarity for people of all backgrounds, writes Sohail Jannesari
Reclaiming Holloway Homes
The government is closing old, inner-city jails. Rebecca Roberts looks at what happens next
Intensification of state violence in the Kurdish provinces of Turkey
Oppression increases in the run up to Turkey’s constitutional referendum, writes Mehmet Ugur from Academics for Peace
Pass the domestic violence bill
Emma Snaith reports on the significance of the new anti-domestic violence bill
Report from the second Citizen’s Assembly of Podemos
Sol Trumbo Vila says the mandate from the Podemos Assembly is to go forwards in unity and with humility
Protect our public lands
Last summer Indigenous people travelled thousands of miles around the USA to tell their stories and build a movement. Julie Maldonado reports
From the frontlines
Red Pepper’s new race editor, Ashish Ghadiali, introduces a new space for black and minority progressive voices
How can we make the left sexy?
Jenny Nelson reports on a session at The World Transformed
In pictures: designing for change
Sana Iqbal, the designer behind the identity of The World Transformed festival and the accompanying cover of Red Pepper, talks about the importance of good design
Angry about the #MuslimBan? Here are 5 things to do
As well as protesting against Trump we have a lot of work to get on with here in the UK. Here's a list started by Platform
Who owns our land?
Guy Shrubsole gives some tips for finding out
Don’t delay – ditch coal
Take action this month with the Coal Action Network. By Anne Harris
Utopia: Work less play more
A shorter working week would benefit everyone, writes Madeleine Ellis-Petersen
Mum’s Colombian mine protest comes to London
Anne Harris reports on one woman’s fight against a multinational coal giant