Friday, 19 June 2009

GREEN MEP HAILS VICTORY IN MILESTONE SOAS CAMPAIGN - MEP backs call for urgent action for two women still detained

NEWS RELEASE
From the Office of Jean Lambert MEP
London’s Green Party Member of the European Parliament
18 June 2009

GREEN MEP HAILS VICTORY IN MILESTONE SOAS CAMPAIGN
- MEP backs call for urgent action for two women still detained

Jean Lambert, London’s Green Party MEP, has welcomed news of the successful
end to the occupation of SOAS by students and activists in support of
cleaning staff arrested last week.

Students and activists occupied the School of Oriental and African Studies
in Bloomsbury after a dawn raid by immigration officers last Friday [12
June], when nine cleaning staff were arrested and six removed from the UK.
The circumstances of the raid were highly controversial. [1]

On Monday [15 June] students occupied the Principal’s office in the
university and they were threatened with a court injunction the following
day. However, after several rounds of negotiation, they called an end to the
occupation yesterday [Wednesday] after securing agreement to their demands
from SOAS management.

Jean Lambert MEP, along with the London Federation of Green Parties, has
been actively supporting this campaign since news of the raid emerged on
Friday. [2] Today, she said:

“This is brilliant news. Just days ago we were appalled at the disgraceful
behaviour of immigration officers in the corridors of SOAS. These students
and activists took a dedicated and principled stand in those same corridors,
and within a week they have won a victory which stands as a significant
milestone in the campaigns for the London Living Wage and the amnesty for
irregular migrants. This victory comes as a study out this week found that
an earned amnesty for migrants would bring £3 billion to the UK economy. We
know the humanitarian arguments for an amnesty; let’s hope this economic
aspect will further strengthen the case. [3]”

SOAS management have agreed to five key demands from campaigners, including
a commitment to write to the Home Secretary requesting exceptional leave to
remain those still being detained and for those forced into hiding, and
calling for the immediate return of those who were removed from the UK. The
Governing Body will review the outsourcing of cleaning services at the
university, and there will be an open discussion of last Friday’s events
with all those involved. [4]

Two of the cleaners arrested on Friday, Marina Silva, who has claimed
asylum, and Rosa de Perez, are still being held in Yarl’s Wood detention
centre, and Marina faces imminent removal. She is 63 and in poor health.
Campaigners are urging people to write immediately to Alan Johnson, the Home
Secretary, on their behalf. [5]

Jean continued:

“I join the campaigners in urging people to continue to their efforts in
support of Marina Silva and Rosa de Perez, and to write to the Home
Secretary to ensure these hard-working, poorly paid and vulnerable women are
allowed to continue their lives in the UK.

“We must also ensure that the management of SOAS honour the agreement, but I
am heartened to hear that campaigners are confident that these events
reached a constructive conclusion. It’s a sound achievement, and a positive
step forward.”

SOAS Unison has organised a public meeting to celebrate and discuss future
campaigning tomorrow, Friday 19 June at 6pm in the SOAS Junior Common Room.
On Saturday, the Campaign Against Immigration Controls at SOAS will meet to
discuss how to build the wider campaign for migrant workers, from 2pm to 5pm
in room G50. [6]

ENDS

Notes to Editors

Jean Lambert is one of eight MEPs representing London and one of two UK
Green representatives in the European Parliament. Jean was first elected in
the 1999 European elections and was re-elected in 2004 and 2009.

[1] See http://www.jeanlambertmep.org.uk/news_detail.php?id=477 for more
details of the raid on Friday.

[2] See http://www.jeanlambertmep.org.uk/news_detail.php?id=479.

[3] The report, Economic impact on the London and the UK economy of an
earned regularisation of irregular migrants to the UK, was commissioned by
the Mayor of London and carried out by the London School of Economics. For
the full report, see
http://www.london.gov.uk/mayor/economic_unit/docs/irregular-migrants-report.
pdf.

[4] The full list of demands and a summary of the agreement between
campaigners and SOAS management can be found at
http://freesoascleaners.blogspot.com/2009/06/joint-statement-from-soas-and-s
tudents.html.

[5] For a template letter to the Home Secretary, visit
http://freesoascleaners.blogspot.com/2009/06/send-this-letter-to-home-office
-now.html.

[6] For details of these meetings and news and updates on the campaign,
visit http://freesoascleaners.blogspot.com/.

For more information please contact:

Rosie Lavan, London Media Assistant
Phone: 07760 220424
Email: media-assistant@jeanlambertmep.org.uk
Web: www.jeanlambertmep.org.uk

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