"Go Home" campaign sparks outrage in Scotland


The UK Home Office has followed up its recent “racist van” initiative in London’s multicultural boroughs with a Go Home campaign targeting migrants at immigration reporting centres in Glasgow and London.

“Is life here hard? Going home is simple.”

go home posterThe reporting centre waiting rooms have had their chairs and walls plastered with stickers and posters aimed at persuading migrants to leave the UK or face homelessness and destitution. One poster, showing a person sleeping rough on the streets, reads: “Is life here hard? Going home is simple.”

In Scotland, the response has been swift and angry, with condemnation in the media, from church leaders, in a motion in the Parliament, and a protest demonstration planned for this evening at the Glasgow reporting centre, called by the Glasgow Campaign to Welcome Refugees – facebook event here.

The Herald reports that scores of  survivors of torture living in the city have sought help from charity Freedom From Torture. Norma McKinnon, FFT manager says

 “It is hampering their ability to cope with problems they are already facing. They are fleeing ­countries where they have been tortured. Nothing about these posters treats people with dignity or humanity.”

Ms McKinnon said patients had resorted to looking at the floor to avoid the posters, only to see the same words written on the floor. “These people are already suffering from flashbacks and post-traumatic stress disorder. The thought of return is so overwhelming that these posters are really frightening.”

The local branch of charity Migrant Voice reports members feeling intimidated, depressed, stressed, angry.

“I was sad and depressed to see these posters. It stressed me – especially the homeless person poster. Often the Home Office makes us homeless but we go and sign and cooperate. This is too much” said one member.

“The posters made me feel intimidated and a bit angry. There were footsteps on the floor, on the chairs, a destitute person on the wall and airplanes on the ceiling all telling us to Go Home! I have gone to that office for years and I wish I could ‘go home’ but I can’t nor can most of the people that go to sign. We wish we could – we can’t. This is hard”

Remzije Sherifi a refugee and community leader said:

“It is painful, devastating and heartbreaking to have these images used and know people already vulnerable will have to face these posters when they are already stressed. It is intimidating. Refugees want to go home desperately but cannot. They run away to be alive, and fears of sending them is home killing them slowly…”

This campaign of threats and harassment can be seen as part of the Home Office’s policy of migration control through the creation of a “hostile environment” for unwanted migrants  (even targeting people suspected of being migrants because of their skin colour).

In Glasgow, the threats of destitution coincide with moves by the private landlord for asylum seekers – Orchard and Shipman, working for Serco – stepping up it’s policy of evicting refused refugees, including changing their locks while they are out. The Glasgow Destitution Network runs a night shelter in a city-centre church which is full every night.

It would appear that the Home Office is unconcerned by accusations that their London van campaign was “deeply offensive and divisive” and, in the view of human rights organisation Liberty, in breach of the Equality Act and therefore against the law.

What you can do

If you are in Glasgow, join the protest today at Brand Street, Ibrox, from 4:30.

If you are in Scotland, ask your MSP to support the motion in Parliament. You can find your MSP’s contact details here, and you can check here to see if they have already supported the motion.

If you are not in Scotland, contact your MP to ask them to intervene against the hostile environment. The vans, the posters, the community raids are offensive and divisive policies based in racism and xenophobia and should be stopped now. You can find your MP’s contact details here.


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