protests against the roll-out of the ID card scheme & database

Against the imposition of ID cards on Non-EU students and marriage visa holders.

This is not the first time foreign nationals or migrants have been used as guinea pigs to test a law or technology. Examples include the Asylum Registration Cards (ARC), which is a similar card that asylum seekers have been required to carry since 2002. Once migrants have been used as a 'road test' for the widely opposed ID scheme, the government will start on the rest of us. From 2010 on, the government predicts that one million cards will be handed out every year.

For more background information on how this 'drip drip' approach to imposing biometric ID cards relates to migration management and the Home Office’s points system read:

http://www.corporatewatch.org.uk/?lid=3147
http://nobordersmanchester.blogspot.com/2008/11/defy-id-cards-no-one-is-...

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27th November 2008
This evening approximately 13 activists from No Borders North East handed out 200 anti-ID card leaflets to shoppers in Central Newcastle. Banners and placards were also held, and a very positive response was given from the public.

Tuesday saw the introduction of Identity Cards for non-EU citizens. No Borders views this as yet another attempt to victimize an often voiceless group, and so has orchestrated a series of protests this week throughout the country.

http://www.noborders.org.uk

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This morning, during the peak rush hour time of 7.30 - 9.00 am, 4 activists from No Borders North East performed an anti-i.d card banner drop from a bridge over one of the city's busiest inner motorways. The largest banner read "No To ID Cards, Freedom For All!" and was accompanied by a smaller No Borders banner.

The reaction from the drivers below was overwhelmingly positive, with many honking horns, waving and giving thumbs up.

Today sees the start of the ID card scheme, with non-EU citizens applying for, or renewing visas for study or marriage, being made to carry a card and have their details put on the Government's database. Immigration law already gives the Home Office powers it would like to exert over everybody. Under a cloud of anti-immigration hysteria the government is increasing it’s social control and attempting to usher in unprecedented powers of surveillance over the whole population.

The police came along while we were doing it, but didnt seem to have any problem with it. Interestingly however, they said that an anarchist symbol can be deemed offensive and thus removable under a public order act (?!). We told them that our No Borders banner with a large anarchist symbol wasn't in fact anarchist related, and they believed us for some reason.... ;)
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Yorkshire Activists blockade Sheffield Border Agency Centre

1.12.2008
At 8am this morning a group of Yorkshire activists blockaded the Sheffield Border Agency Interrogation Centre at Vulcan House using bicycle locks and superglue to attach themselves to both entrances. The group are there in response to the introduction of compulsory ID cards for non-EU people on student or marriage visas. They are displaying two banners, one reads “My identity is not your property” and the other “Nothing to hide? Everything to fear! Defy ID!”

Some applicants have been turned away by the Border Agency staff but many were supportive of the actions the group has taken. Speaking to a blockader, one applicant said that by introducing compulsory ID cards, the government have shown that “they just want to control people”. Border Agency staff have called the police to remove the protesters but at the time of sending (10:30am) the protesters are still in place.

An activist from Bradford (who is currently superglued to two others in front of the main entrance) said “The government are trying to introduce ID cards through the back door, targeting some of the most vulnerable people in the country.” A Sheffield activist added “If we want to save the people of Great Britain from ID cards, we must act now!”

Government legislation has meant that, since 25^th November, foreign spouses and non-EU students who apply for, or renew, visas will be forced to attend an interrogation and be issued with an ID card that will hold their name, photograph, nationality and immigration status, along with a biometric chip that will hold their fingerprints and digital image. The details will be held indefinitely on the UK Identity Service database. Delays meant that the Sheffield Border Agency Centre only began interrogations from today (1^st December).

Update - 11 activists were arrested (significantly more than were thought to be locked on) after holding the blockade for more than three hours. All released with with verbal cautions.

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Identity Cards Protest, Lunar House, Croydon

26.11.2008
On the corner of George Street in Croydon, London, a November sun was warming the shoppers and office workers on their lunch breaks, but a few hundred metres north on Wellesley Road a biting Siberian wind seared the demonstrators outside Lunar House. It seemed appropriate that such a freezing blast should surround the UK headquarters of the Border and Immigration Agency and indeed be generated by its twenty stories of the grim early 1970s office complex. After all its raison d’être is to give would-be immigrants and asylum seeks an extremely cold reception.

Its bleak anonymity is also a warning of things to come for all of us in a Brave New Britain of state surveillance and control whose infrastructure is increasingly with us through security cameras, the interception mobile phone signals and electronic communications and the planned introduction of universal ID cards.

The picket, called by London NoBorders http://london.noborders.org.uk and NO2ID http://www.no2id.net/, marked the start of Biometric ID cards, which are being issued from today, 25 November 2008, to all non-EU students and spouses applying for, or renewing visas for study or marriage. The cards will have a photograph with name, date of birth, nationality, immigration status and biometric details, including fingerprints and digital facial image will be stored on a chip on the card as well as being held indefinitely on the UK Identity Service database.

Soon all foreign nationals in the UK will be required to have these cards, which will be rolled out to other groups including students who want a student loan by 2010. And from 2011 you will need to get one – and have your details on that database - if you want to renew or get a passport.

What worries many of us is not just the use to which our own government and security services might make of such data – linking to face recognition software working on images from security cameras and mobile phone data would enable our every move to be tracked – but the certainty that it will get into other hands – such as those of our US friends in the CIA, as well as criminal and commercial organisations who will have their own ideas about how such all-pervasive data might be used.

Among those at today’s demonstration was David Mery http://gizmonaut.net/bits/suspect.html a man who has achieved a small personal victory against the juggernaut database state.

Mery was stopped by police entering Southwark tube station on 28 July for being "calm on arrival, almost too calm" and having a largish rucksack and a strong French accent. It was three weeks after the London bombing – and - perhaps luckily for him, six days after the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes. This time at least the police didn’t shoot first and ask questions later, but his treatment in the months and years following the event can most favourably be described as Kafkaesque. He finally (or at least probably) succeeded in having both his fingerprints and DNA record removed from the police databases, but it took over two years of fighting. His blog http://gizmonaut.net/ and articles are essential reading for anyone who wonders why civil liberties are important.

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Leeds NO2ID have burnt a mock ID card in protest at the introduction of the ID card scheme for foreign nationals

Video - video/quicktime 13M

Around 20 activists braved the freezing temperatures and rain to gather in Leeds last night on the eve of the introduction of ID cards for foreign nationals.

The protest was made my burning a mock ID card in public.

The Protest passed off peacefully without the presence of West Yorkshire Police.

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Liverpool anti-ID picket: No One Is Illegal

20 students and No Borders/anti-ID campaigners from Manchester made their way to Liverpool on 25th November, the day that the government introduced ID cards for non-EU nationals living in the UK. There they joined a group of 30 Merseyside activists outside Reliance House to protest at the introduction of compulsory ID cards for international students and non-EU spouses on that day.

Reliance House is where interviewing, photographing and fingerprinting will take place from 4th December before being issued with a biometric ID card. It is also Liverpool’s reporting centre where those seeking asylum have to ‘sign in’ on a regular basis while their claims are being processed. If their claims fail they can be held, without prior notice, in the immigration detention facility in the same building for up to 7 days.

It is thus imperative to make the connection between ID cards and the assault on the rights of non-EU nationals wanting to live, work and study in the UK. People from Manchester No Borders had brought along placards and banners proclaiming that “no one is illegal”. Where the state reinforces the division between legal and ‘illegal’ people our solidarity must extend to those most affected by the scheme.

Some mention in the news:
http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/liverpool-news/local-news/2008/11/25/prot...
http://www.theherald.co.uk/politics/news/display.var.2470740.0.Protests_...
http://www.liverpooldailypost.co.uk/liverpool-news/regional-news/2008/11...

(During the picket of Reliance House, some first contact was made with individual No Border activists from Liverpool, Merseyside and North Wales. If you are from this region and want to get active in a No Borders group, please email us, so we can get you in touch)

manchesternoborders@riseup.net
http://www.manchesternoborders.org.uk

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Over 60 people attended our protest against the introduction of Biometric ID Cards for non-EU students and spouses on Tuesday. The demonstration was held for a couple of hours at midday outside the Cardiff office of the UK Border Agency at 31-33 Newport Road. People the government is forcing to carry ID cards will have to attend this centre for interrogation, photographing and fingerprinting.

We displayed banners, held placards, waved giant mock ID cards and distributed 600 copies of this leaflet - the reaction from passers by was completely supportive. Many people used their lunchbreak to join the protest for a short while before returning to work or study. This protest was part of a nationwide day of action outside UKBA centres by No Borders Network who, along with Defy ID, NO2ID and other groups, held protests in Croydon, Liverpool, Glasgow, Solihull, and Newcastle. Though many of these protests around the country got into local newspapers, Welsh media coverage has been minimal.

This protest appears to be just the start of resistance to ID Cards, the British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) has threatened industrial action if the government goes ahead with it’s plan to impose ID cards on airport workers next year. Tens of thousands of people have signed up to NO2ID’s pledge not to register for a card, even if that means going to prison. No Borders South Wales will be protesting outside the Border agency again, on Wednesday 10th December when the Cardiff office will start to register people, join us if you can.

“These new ID cards are not only a repressive measure against non-EU students and spouses, they are the first shot in an attack against everyone’s liberty. In targeting a largely voiceless migrant group, who have the least chance to complain and the most to lose, the government is following a familiar path of repressive regimes throughout history. Immigration law already gives the Home Office powers it would like to exert over everybody. By resisting the repression of migrants, we defend the freedom of everyone!“

For links to leaflet, video and other stuff, see http://noborderswales.wordpress.com/2008/11/26/cardiff-protest-against-i...
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Solihull protest against the imposition of biometric ID cards on migrants

26.11.2008
Yesterday Noborders Birmingham protested against the imposition of biometric ID cards at the UK Border Agency Office in Solihull. They were met by a puzzling disproportionate police response at Dominion Court, 41 Station Road, Solihull - around 12 police officers, including 3 police vans and an evidence gatherer. This may have something to do with the policing of a previous protest around the corner at Sandford House, the home office reporting centre, where hundreds of Congolese demonstrators facing mass deportation occupied the main road http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/regions/birmingham/2007/04/368076.html

A banner proclaiming 'Freedom of Movement for All' was held by the entrance of the UK Borders Agency Office. The police offered to 'facilitate' our protest by a seemingly polite offer to arrange for a metal barrier to hang our banner from. However, we realised that the six foot high hedge in front of the building would make our protest invisible to almost everyone, so instead we hung our banner by the main road and distributed around 600 leaflets to some very interested members of the public.

Following a concerned report from a dedicated community police officer earlier in the day, two equally committed council workers from the environmental and health department at Solihull Council turned up in their lunch hour to ensure that the literature being distributed was of a political, rather than commercial, nature and thus would not run afoul of local bye-laws on littering/flyering (no one seemed quite sure). This follows several other incidents known to us in central Birmingham where council officials have attempted to apply similar bye-laws (with accompanying threats of fines and court appearances) to dissuade people from handing out political literature. It has been noted before that the parliamentary legislation which serves as the basis of these bye-laws specifically exempted materials of a political nature. The council workers also showed some interest in the banner, raising concern over the manner of its attachment to some local shrubs and something else about private property, but in the end they seemed to decide that neither the public nor the shrubs were at any risk (potential, real, or otherwise) and returned to what remained of their lunch hour.

Two students from Pakistan informed us that they had to book an appointment to begin the biometric ID card process and they couldn't return home until this had been completed. They claimed today they were told by staff that they would be required to give blood samples and have iris scans for their biometric cards so if they committed any 'crimes' in the UK they could be identified immediately. It appears that the private company contracted to the tune of £5.6 billion, and entrusted with sensitive biometric data, are already doing their best to impress upon applicants that ID cards will be effective at 'fighting crime'. Liberty, the civil liberties and human rights organisation, have already expressed concern about the Government’s ability to safeguard individual’s intimate details on the National Identity Register after Government departments last year lost 30 million pieces of personal data, including those of 25 million child benefit claimants. 'We have ID cards in our country but they aren't biometric' said one of the students. 'It feels very discriminatory that we are being targeted first. Why aren't they processing UK nationals first?' The international students also pointed out that this was costing them a great deal of money. Not only did they have to pay exorbitant fees for their courses but on top of that they have to pay £300 for their visas and now they have to pay for their biometric ID cards and they are only permitted to work 20 hours a week. They also added that these measures would serve to put overseas students off studying here citing Australia as a more welcoming alternative.

The use of foreign nationals as guinea pigs for the more widespread introduction of ID cards is a strategy to run a testbed for the technology on people without a voice. It has become apparent that the government is likely to pick off certain sections of the community in Britain one at a time. This divide and rule strategy has been used throughout history, most notably by the Nazi regime in Germany.

When the British government came for the migrants,
I remained silent;
I was not a migrant.

When they came for the airline workers,
I remained silent;
I was not an airline worker.

When they came for the convicts,
I did not speak out;
I was not a convict.

When they came for the health workers,
I did not speak out;
I was not a health worker.

When they came for the students,
I did not speak out;
I was not a student.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

noborders-brum @ riseup.net

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http://glasgowanarchists.wordpress.com/

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Also in the news:

ID 'reading' machines on Canada and Mexico borders
'Smart' CCTV in Portsmouth