The attack by a gang of over 20 thugs that left an Iranian Kurdish refugee hospitalized and two others injured has provoked revulsion among working people. It shines a spotlight on the scapegoating and restrictions facing asylum-seekers.
According to press reports, the gang confronted the three friends at a bus stop, asking where they were from before launching the vicious attack. Reker Ahmed, who came to the U.K. from Sardasht in the Kurdish region of Iran, was chased, assaulted and left for dead. He suffered a fractured eye socket, fractured spine and a blood clot on his brain. His two friends managed to escape.
Thirteen people have been charged with offenses from attempted murder to violent disorder. Police say they are looking for another five suspects.
“I visited Reker in the hospital with Faysal Sariyildiz, a Kurdish Member of Parliament from Turkey,” Zinar Demeni from the Kurdish Solidarity Campaign, told those at the protest. “It was a privilege to do so.”
“I told him that many British people in the U.K. are behind you, they support you, they condemn this attack,” Demeni told the London Times. “This put a huge smile on his face.”
There has been widespread press coverage of the attack across the country. A fundraising appeal to raise £3,500 ($4,350) for Ahmed has topped £57,000 ($70,000).
Capitalist politicians were quick to condemn the attack. Prime Minister Theresa May joined Gavin Barwell, Member of Parliament for Croydon Central, in calling the attackers “scum.”
“When something like this does happen we must do everything we can possibly do to apprehend those that were responsible,” Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said at a midweek protest here.
While the government tries to pose as a protector of asylum-seekers, they are scapegoated and kept in pariah status, helping to maintain divisions within the working class. They aren’t allowed to work, except in exceptional circumstances. Only a minority of those seeking asylum win legal refugee status, which opens the door to seek work. Even then, they have to reapply after five years to stay.
It is unclear if Ahmed’s request for asylum has been approved or whether he was only given temporary protection, because he is still under 18. Youth whose cases have been rejected will be allowed to attend college and stay with a family until they become an adult, when they can face deportation.
“Asylum-seekers don’t have the right to work,” Memekan Suthian, a Tamil from Sri Lanka with Refugee Rights, told Communist League members at the demonstration. “We must demand the government grant the right to work and end their deportations.”
“I feel passionate about this issue,” said Ilayda Tuzun, 19, a shop worker and Kurd whose parents are from Turkey, adding that this was the first demonstration she had ever participated in. “The government carries out policies against refugees and asylum-seekers here — and against people in the Middle East — always speaking about ‘we British.’ It’s no wonder that something like this happened to Reker.”
CL members carried a sign opposing London’s military involvement in the U.S.-led intervention in Iraq and, after the protest, spoke with workers in nearby Kurdish shops and restaurants.
“Those who have no papers are forced to work for sub-minimum wages,” Rebaz Mohammed, who has been involved in the fight for amnesty for those without documents for 17 years, told us. “The ones who benefit are the bosses who make huge money and we are the losers.”
Kurds’ national struggle looms over Mideast wars
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