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Dear friends As I have previously announced, we are now “freezing” the blog. We are also making archives of the blog available for free download in various formats (see below).
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Why Legislators Should Reject the WHO?s Pandemic Treaty Sun Apr 02, 2023 07:00 | Dr David Bell and Dr Thi Thuy Van Dinh
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Refugees At Hostel on Kinsale Road Protest
racism & migration related issues |
Wednesday April 12, 2006 17:28 by Robbie Sinnott
An Eye-Witness Account Of Demo And What Led To It.
On March 29th, 2006, residents (inmates) of Kinsale Road refugee hostel in Cork, took to the streets to demand that they be treated with dignity and respect. A phone interview with Madu Innocent Chuckwunyere (eye-witness), broadcast live on Near FM's Majority World on thurs April 6th. On march 29th, 2006, residents (inmates) of Kinsale refugee hostel too to demand that they be treated with dignity and respect. Listen here (mp3 12min 128kbps) Below is a transcript of the phone interview with Madu, an eye-witness and himself a resident.
RS: …and on the line here today we’re speaking with Madu Chukwunyere, also known as Madu Innocent Chukwunyere; and Madu is speaking to us from a refugee hostelin Kinsale, Co. Cork. I suppose, Madu, we’ll begin with March 30th, that’s last Thursday: what actually happened?
Madu: Well, it was actually on the 29th, that was a Wednesday, and residents, eh, (well I call it a kind of riot), rebelled against what for a long time they’ve been calling harassement and intimidation here.
RS: Can you tell us more about the harassement and intimidation?
Madu: By Wednesday the 29th thre’s been a lot of times that residents have met together; and looked at the way they are kept here; the way the management behaves towards them; the kind of food they eat; and the policies which the management carries out at will; and by the 29th…there was a lot of frustration and people decided to do something so that there can be a change.
RS: Are there any exmples, for instance, what was the straw that broke the camel’s back?
Madu: Well, you see, a manager, once you come in here he tells you as a welcome things like; he didn’t come to bring you from your country, and whatever you see here, you just have to take; and he tells you that he has his rules and once you don’t follow his personal rules, you fall into trouble. He stands close to the chef always during eating times and even a blind man who picks up more than two loaves of bread…he takes one out of his hands: and, a lot of things: he has no respect for residents – that one is very serious – and everybody that comes in contact with him tell you, “Look, this man treats me like an animal”. And so, all these things have been making people frustrated and they had to vent their anger.
RS: Tell me about the quality of the food.
Madu: First off, the food is very terrible. For a long time now – personally I’ve visited that place just once in a while, because I know that what I would get there is not what I’ve been used to for over 34 years of my life. …What really strikes me is that you have a majority of Africans and Asians here, but yet, the chefs we have are from South America and Eastern Europe. Had they been fair, they would have had at least one of the cooks where the majority of residents come from. There are people who come in here and have been told and have applied for these jobs and they don’t get it, just, for reasons I don’t know. You knokw, you have people from Africa mostly, and Asia here. Why not give them chefs from that part of the world; they are all over the place. If you just advertise, you’d ? probably employ them; but you impose on them, people from Latin America and Eastern Europe, which of course, are the kind of people who are not here. So the food is really…what I don’t enjoy at all: and the report which we were reading, in which the Minister for Justice or whoever tried to say they have a 42-day plan here and that the food is good and things…and this is not the truth at all.
RS: So, there’s an arbitrary management in the way things are run generally – not much thought given to people’s dignity or to humanity, self respect. Now, you’ve been there since August with your wife and child (your one-year old son). How is it possible for you to keep your dignity there. What do you do during the day, for instance?
Madu: Well, honestly, one of the things that this process does to you is to take away your dignity, because you came from a place where probably you were working and doing other things, and then suddenly you are stuck somewhere: you can’t do anything. You can’t even…You just keep thinking about the process at all points in time, and so, your dignity is eroded seriously; and so there is nothing to talk about dignity.
RS: Are there cramped conditions? Do you have nothing to do during the day? Like, when you walk around the town you’ve nothing to spend…you’ve no money to spend on anything.
Madu: Well, that’s true; and you’re paid €19.10c per week. Even if you came in here with lots of cash from your country – with time it goes down and you don’t have any way out. We’re just trying to manage; just trying to see how we can eat things that we are used to and just keep body and soul together, but it’s really terrible.
RS: Now, you yourself, you’re actually qualified aren’t you – chemical engineer, is it?
Madu: Industrial chemist.
RS: Industrial chemist, sorry. So, it’s very difficult for you to keep up to speed with what’s going on in your own sphere, in your own interests.
Madu: It is really difficult. I’ve been to the library a couple of times. I was there earlier on today. I do that almost all the time. I’ve been to the university college here in Cork (UCC) and tried to see what I can do to keep myself busy; but honestly, until things are sorted out – your process is sorted out – you cannot really find anything that is tangiable or related that you can do to keep your mind at rest. Because, once this process is not dealt with, at all times you think about it, you don’t know the outcome, you’re just taking it.
As well as that, as was pointed out recently, a prison is better off than here because, at least tat the prison, you get to know when you come out; but here, you don’t know when exactly you leave and you just keep staying.
RS: and do you have to report in, sign in every night?
Madu: Yes, we sign here every day: it’s compulsory: you have to; but one of the problems; but one of the problems the residents have which they revolted against is the signing; because you find people who have been here for a long time and they’ve never signed; and nothing happened to them. You just walk up to the manager and make a complaint, and next day, you get a warning letter. So, procedures like that are not being dealt with very well…So, the signing was one of the problems that the residents had and they said “Look, if we have to sign, then at least, let the procedure be followed. If we sign, then we shouldn’t be given letters that we didn’t sign; because the manager was using those records at will. So, people that he wanted to victimise or intimidate, he’d just give them a letter sayin’ that they’d not been signing. Meanwhile, these people have been signing. In fact, there’s a gentleman who has been signing twice a day, and he got a letter telling him to ?vacate [or?] mark it, just because he called the manager the day he left and said, “Look, the food was not very good”.
RS: Right, that’s the prison officer syndrome, but what exactly happened on the 29th of March then, to activate everything? What sort of disturbances were happening down there?
Madu: Well, it was really terrible, because I for one did not expect that. For a long time I have not seen that kind of action. The residents were so annoyed that they had to cut off the way to the airport. So, some traffic hiccups were caused; and the gardaí had to be called in to bring people out of the road. They were just standing there with kids, and they pushed the buggies and whatever; just closing off the road. Some of us were of the opinion that, look, it was better in another form, but these people have been frustrated over a long time and so…People [?go back from] decades and from different countries, different psychology, different way of thinking. They’ve been trying to let people hear their different concerns and worries; but nobody was willing to ever listen to them, that’s what they felt; and so they felt the only way to get attention was to do something like that. And so, the gardaí had to come in and it was really terrible.
RS: Why, what happened when the gardaí came?
Madu: When the gardaí came, I think they over-reacted. I don’t know how to put it, but to me, I thought that probably they could have been trained to be more restrained than we civilians. And so eh, the way they did the whole thing: there was a baby that was even pushed over, and two people were arrested. Although, really, later on when we spoke with the superintendant who was in charge, eh, a good man, I must confess. And so, I think they handled it with all superior force and so…
RS: Were they violent?
Madu: No, no, no, this was very peaceful by the residents. They just had planned…
RS: Were the gardaí violent though?
Madu: Yes they were, honestly they were. They didn’t behave the [?best]. If they couldn’t be backed up properly, they could’ve been trained to use more restrained than us, but they were so violent that they just pushed people out. I saw baby was pushed out of the chair. The baby had to be ?covered on the road by another resident.
You know, I was away from the scene because I was talking to one of the reporters in your studio, so I was just watching the whole thing from an angle and it was really what…I didn’t expect that at all.
RS: Did anyone get any photographs of the incident? (or anything like that)
Madu: Yes, it has been on the papers. In the local paper here: Ecu has had several pictures and even some residents had video shots of what happened. And, recently they were played, and we looked at it and of course, you would have seen in that video how the gardaí handled the whole thing and t’was not very good.
The guards honestly, had to seize one other camera, and I think the owner has not gotten it up till now: I’m yet to find out. But these things are in evidence: there are video-clips that were taken on that day.
RS: And how did it resolve itself?…I mean, there was an aftermath.
Madu: Yes, there’s been a seies of meetings since then, and even this week we’ve had a number of them. We’re having another one this evening. There’s been two TDs coming in here. There has been a gentleman from the same party [as] the Justice Minister – Mr. Minnihan, I think so, if I can remember, and then there was another gentleman from the Green Party. And…there has been a couple of other meetings every day here to try to make things quite…back to normal. But, I think it has shown and it has underscored that, look, there were problems before. …If there had been these meetings and we were being heard regularly and other things so that there wouldn’t have been this kind of riot, eh, or rebellion that people did here.
RS: Are you receiving any support from the local community?
Madu: We are, actually we are. there are people that are really concerned and really sympathetic to what is happening hereBecause, what we’re talking about is not just eh rubbish: it’s what is on the ground and if one has an opportunity to be here and to have a look at the food we eat for example, or the way the management treats residents, you will know that these people are really pushed to the wall and this reaction is expected. You know, to every reaction there is an equal reaction…I think a lot of things have been going wrong here and this is now being addressed with all these meetings.
RS: You’re taking your case to the High Court, and you don’t really know when that’s gonna be up, do ya?
Madu: No, I don’t really know when that’ll be up. I just hope soon, because this place is not the kind of place I expected to live in. I just hope so. I’ll be seein’ my solicitor tomorrow to ask him more about the situation.
RS: How are your wife and son coping?
Madu: Yes, they’re doing fine. What can they do? We just stay together all the time and then we talk about our plight and whatever, and…it continues every day. We’ve just a kind of cycle (you know) every day: the same story every day doing the same things…stayin’ in bed. I’ve developed back-pain because I think I’ve been over-sleeping. Recently we tried to see if we can (with the co-operation of the local community) get something like a gym and let the residents to come in to do some excersises. Recently, again, we organised a pool-tournament here (I and a friend), and I think there was…people enjoyed it. And so these are the kinds of things we just do to keep body and soul together. Otherwise, it’s really tough out here.
RS: Well Madu, I can only hope that things improve and that you get outa there soon…everybody who’s in there I suppose…
Madu: Yes, of course. Everybody wants to keep the peace and I hope it remains peaceful when we live here.
Listen to the Near FM piece here (mp3 12min 128kbps)
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great stuff. any chance of seeing some photos, or for more information on the action taken?
The Irish Examiner dealt with this matter at some length at the end of March. Unlike indynews, the Examiner interviewed both residents and management.
Your interviewee (not helped by a series of leading questions from the juvenile who you sent to interview him) is economical with the truth wherever it doesn't suit. Much of the background to this (very small kerfluffel) is omitted.
Two things I will mention. 1. There was no community support present at this incident. The only persons affected were motorists on the Cork-Airport-Kinsale Road who were rightly pissed off at this tantrum by the residents of the hotel and were not shy in expressing their feelings. 2. Your intervevee has some rather politically incorrect views - bordering on racist at times - of south americans and eastern europeans.
Perhaps you could explain what the alternative to an 'amnesty' would be. Forgive me if I'm wrong but isn't there a process that an asylum seeker goes through and if his/her claim is false and they are deported then are they obliged to return to the state?
In response to 'leesider', it is worth pointing out that the Evening Echo gave over the whole front page on Saturday 1st April to the views of management, a courtesy not extended to the residents of Kinsale Road DP centre. In fact, Neither the Irish Examiner nor the Evening Echo carried any interview or opinion from residents, to the best of my knowledge. The Irish Examiner and the Irish Times did carry a statement from the director of Nasc, an immigrant and asylum seeker's support centre, but that's not quite the same as getting the views of residents there. It is also worth noting that the Reception and Integration Agency officer responsible for managing/supervising Direct Provision centres in the Cork/Kerry region is a former prison governor. The state has taken the approach of effectively criminalising asylum seekers (without formally doing so by law) and inflicting a prison-type regime on them. The entire mainstream of the media and politics is happy to go along with this, since this gives them another easily-identifiable scapegoat to get exercised about when wroth with indignation (and when in need of a populist issue to either get votes or sell papers).
The situation in the Kinsale Road centre remains unresolved. While negotiations are happening, it is hard to see the culture and attitude of the Reception and Integration Agency changing in any substantial way following this incident. There are lessons to be learned here, but when the person in ultimate charge is an uneducable upper-class bigot with media exposure issues (yes, I mean Marvellous Mickey), the odds are that these will remain unlearned. In the meantime, people will continue to suffer under the wilful paranoia and hostility which seem to be the hallmarks of the Irish asylum system.
Thanks. I called again this morning and there was a non-committal reaction to posting the photos. Unfortuneately, many in Ireland aren’t acquainted the the open-publishing facilities of www.indymedia.ie.
Leesider: The interview, as much as anything, is supposed to reflect life in a hostel from a refugee’s perspective. This is necessarilly subjective, but the residents/inmates obviously felt strongly enough to protest in the first place. Madu’s perspective would have been mitigated somewhat if I’d asked the management to join the interview, especially given the reprechment or truce that apparently has held since the protests.
I take your point on leading questions, but again, I wasn’t trying to challenge, but to get Madu to tell his story. Ideally, he could have published it on indymedia himself, where it could get peer rewviews (such as your comment). I like the motto voice for the voiceless, and listening improves understanding.
Madu wasn’t speaking specifically about the demo when he spoke about support from the local community. There may have been local/s at the protest.
There’s nothing racist about having a preference to food your used to.
The “juveile” stuff doesn’t dignify a response, but Madu contacted me on March 31st. I send myself along to present the voluntary community radio programme every Thursday.
Amnesty is not mentioned anywhere and this article isn’t about that. it’s about Madu’s experience of conditions in these holding centres. In the interview (if you’ve actually read or listened to it), Madu’s case is currently due to go before the High Court.
Here’s the link, I know you’ll be interested.
The direct provision programme asylum seekers are forced to live under is a disgrace and demoralising for a person who has to live under these conditions, and this isn't the first time asylum seekers have protested against this, one hostel in Limerick last year this paticular hostel in Foynes was closed down by health and safety then re-opened as the family run business had connections with the justice department and PD's women had to come up to mount street in Dublin because the living conditions were horrific rust and filthy washing facilities they had to boil water before they could drink it and there was no doors on bathrooms or bedrooms women and children had no privacy and they were treated to regular abuse by management and had problems with the food too.
And then to top it all off the great workers in mount street locked the doors and would not allow them to enter the building and they had no where to stay until they went to a garda station which had to allocate them accomadation for the night the following day the same thing happened they were locked out of the building the department refused to relocate them to a safer and cleaner living conditions.
Other hostels have experienced similar circumstances in Cork, Limerick, Galway and Dublin so it is not a once off thing it is great to see people taking action for themselves and I hope everything works out for the residents of the hostel.
Perhaps a look at life in an African refugee camp might put this "protest" into perspective:
(In the relative safety of Chad's refugee camps, the day usually begins around 5:00 am. Women like Jamila Numere start a daunting pursuit of life's most basic needs. Water comes from a hastily dug, shallow well.
Behind the people at the well are donkeys, prized beasts of burden. But their needs must come second. There's simply not enough water to go around. The stench of death is everywhere. One of relief worker Gillian Dunn's top priorities has been to burn thousands of animal carcasses.)
(GILLIAN DUNN: And they're running out of things that they brought from Sudan, so people are reverting to other mechanisms. They're eating berries that usually are eaten only by goats. They're selling whatever they have in the market. They're doing little, you know, small enterprise projects to get some money to buy some food. But every day it's a struggle just to find food and water.)
Pers Cap - These "protestors", the majority of them well fed and travelled and far from refugees, are a bloody disgrace and their protest is an insult to real refugees who couldnt in their wildest dreams imagine the extravagant lifestyle handed them on a plate in a foreign country.
Robbie, heard the interview on near fm. It is a good thing to give voices to the unheard.
What I took from the interview was the determination of those who designed the asylum process to down grade all posible pull factors into the country. I do not believe that the lack of respect to peoples cultural preferences (e.g. food) is a failure of the system, it is a deliberate policy to rob people of any dignity with the ultimate aim to force them out of the country or agree to drop their asylum claim and accept deportation placidly.
From the interview it seemed obvious that there was plenty of talent within the asylum group to do their own cooking, but the management for some reason (provide paid employment for the local community...perhaps) refuse to utilise free (financially) talent, this is not a natural capitalistic act. To do this, the management would be giving dignity to a worker (and by extension give other asylum seekers the freedom of choice) and allow their own employees to ensure that they stay with an unchallenging/lazy menu. All consequently bored out of their minds.
The only good thing is that the asylum process is so long that few deportations take place most often because people have succeded against the odds to put down roots in their respective communities which of course is totally contrary to the Department of justice, Equality and Law reform unstated policy which in my opinion is designed to prevent any asylum seeker (lack of finance, create the lazy asylum seeker caricature, etc) to make any social links with the wider community.
additional Hypocrisy surrounding all this is that the Irish Govt is currently funding organisations in the US to allow the illegal Irish to stay in America - I'm all for that, myself - but the Hypocrisy reeks...
Bertie funds Open Borders organisation
23 January 2006
Minister Ahern announces grant of €30,000.00 for Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform
Dermot Ahern TD, Minister for Foreign Affairs, today announced a grant of €30,000 to support the work of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform (ILIR) in the United States. The grant is a further indication of the Government's strong support for measures which would grant legal residence status to undocumented Irish living in the US.
The Free the Refugees movement in Australia were mobilising nationaly this Easter at the Villawood Detention Centre based in Sydney. Previous Easter mobilisations have been at Woomera (now closed) and Baxter Detention Centres in the South Australia desert. Nonviolent direct action at the Woomera detention centre freed a number of refugees a few years ago. The living conditions, mental illness and indefinite detention have become inter/national scandals.
In response to the mobilisation the State this week have emptied Villawood, moving refugees to a military base, state prisons and Baxter. Asbestos problems are claimed to be evident at Villawood, this only became a problem with the prospect of bringing hundreds of police into the vicinity.
Meanwhile the government past legislation yesterday in respnse to the recent arrival of West Papuans in a canoe to north Queensland. The Papuans are escaping a crackdown by the Indonesian military. New legislation states that even if refugees land on mainland Australia they will be processed offshore in Naru and other off shore sites. The grand tradition of Australian appeasment of the Indonesian military continues as does training of the elite Koppasus unit by the Australian SAS.
Look at the geographical location of this country. Its merely possible for a Nigerian to get here directly unless of course he/she climbs on the back of the Nigerian presidents plane anytime he is coming to visit Ireland on a diplomatic visit. Furthermore, the Dublin convention applies to these cases.
(1) There are no direct flights between Nigeria and Ireland.
(2) Ireland cannot be reached without either passing through Britain or another European country once they have landed in the E.U.
I trust this will be helpful to you.
It is not hypocracy for the Irish government to lobby on behalf of Irish illegals in the US.
It is perfectly fair and understandable for Irish politicians to lobby for Irish people wherever they are.
Similarily, if Nigerian politicians wish to lobby for their illegals in Ireland. That's their business.
However, in each case, Ireland and the US will decide these matters for their respective nations in accordance with what the democratically elected legislators believe is in the best interests of their own country and people.
It is quite consistent and logical, where because of the extremely different population-ratios in each case (130 into 4 Vs 4 into 280 millions), very different conclusions might be reached by the US and Irish legislators as to where the balance of the common good lies.
Don:It might be glib to say it, but two wrongs don't mae a right. We can afford better standards than war-torn Chad. Have we no self-respect?
Maxi: Apart from the political and religious push factors, Madu is here because he was taught by Irish nuns (one of whom he met in Rathmines before he was sent down to the Kinsale Road).
No matter what route others took, or reason for it, no-one deserves to be dehumanized. There is no excuse for us not affording basic dignity and human respect to anyone who comes here. As Paul says, this ain't about cost, it's about criminalising the hostel-dwellers. Yet another of our shames.
Check this link for photos & report of the start of Easter actions in Sydney against refugee detentions in Australia....
Check Sydney indymedia for further updates and reports over the Easter weekend.
So its 'lawful' to allow refugees roam around the country during their application like it was a holiday they were on?
Wasp, they are refugees not criminals.
A refugee is any person who is outside any country of such person's nationality or, in the case of a person having no nationality, is outside any country in which such person last habitually resided, and who is unable or unwilling to return to, and is unable or unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of, that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.
Thank's for the copy & paste job.....you are forgetting something important here - they are not refugees! They are asylum seekers, the reason they are not allowed to roam the country is because they tend to disappear if they are not monitored. You say they are not criminals (I’m sure most are not); we in my profession have to establish whether they are. Proper investigation is required so that all cases can be dealt within the targeted timeframe.
Jonathan, Wasp called them refugees. If they want to disappear there is absolutely nothing we can do to stop them. Putting them in an Hostel and telling them to sign with a representative of the department of Justice every morning can hardly be called monitoring. Please Jonathan we need to revise our ways of doing things. I am not saying we should bind their hands because as I said earlier they are not criminals but I am sure there are processes and procedures we can put in place to ensure that these asylum seekers do not melt into the crowd whenever their applications fail.
From now on refer you should refer to these people as Asylum seekers - they have not obtained refugee status. TBH the hostel scheme is in line with current international practice. Asylum seekers in France are put into detention camps - would you prefer this? There is no way the government will ever go back to funding Apartments for these people, the Asylum process currently costs 1million Euro per day to run, it would be far more if we went back to that scheme. We in my area of work require access to these individuals - with them being in 1 place (hostel) it is far cheaper and wastes less of our time. If they are genuine refugess they will have experienced far worse than this!
According to Dept of Justice, over 6,000 Asylum Applicants have simply disappeared into the woodwork here in recent years. Nobody seems quite sure to where.
It is an unfortunate fact too that of the almost 72,000 asylum applications lodged here in recent years, more than 80% of them were subsequently found (according to best UN practice) to be without foundation.
At least 1- Billion Euros of Irish Taxpayers monies has needlessly been squandered in the processing of unfounded Asylum claims in recent years. I think most will agree that with an average 80% asylum failure rate it can only point to a systematic and deliberate abuse of the asylum system, something which should neither be encouraged nor supported.
Most people I believe, would much prefer if that money were instead allocated to those less fortunate people in the third world who through their dire day to day poverty could simply never afford to pay human traffickers to bring them to Europe in the first place. Many of whom are children, and who go to bed every night with empty bellies.
But with such ridiculously high levels of asylum abuse, not just here, but equally across many other EU countries , can there be any wonder when Governments and their citizenry become less sympathetic and protective of their Asylum system as a consequence?
of course the money should be spent on the third world to prevent push factors of illegal migration. That of course never happens. When money is invested it often compounds the corruption structures rather than poverty relief. Even when good projects are instigated the objectives are undermined by IMF and the World bank (read american) selective liberalisation policies and the misuse of any available natural resources to benefit the elite rather than the public good.
In regards to the money invested in the asylum process I would contend that the majority goes into the pockets of a few Irish people. This ensures that the Irish asylum process benefits the Irish asylum industry rather than prioritising those in real need. See how little the "leave to remain on humanitarian grounds" is utilised.
/ they are refugees not criminals /
If you look at my comment, I never said that they were 'criminals'. However I did ask if the experience of asylum seeking should be like a holdiay experience? Also, how do we know that their cases are real? All we have are 'claims' so far.
These failed asylum seekers do not remain here in Ireland when their Asylum applications fail instead they find their way to the UK or a larger European country where it is easier for them to be illegal. If there is something I am happy for it is the fact that our system makes it impossible for them to remain here as illegals.