People Before Profit were relieved by the news that Amjad, the Kurdish man who had been on hunger strike for a shocking 36 days in Globe House direct provision centre in Sligo has ended his hunger strike after getting assurances he will be allowed to apply for asylum in Ireland. The man had been issued with a deportation order to the UK from which he would be deported back to Iran. He said; he would prefer to die of starvation in Ireland than be deported back to Iran to face execution.
The fact that this man was forced to such lengths to access basic human rights is a terrible indictment of the Irish asylum process and the direct provision system. The un-transparent nature of the system allowed him to suffer for a grueling 28 days without food before news broke in the media thanks to the hard work of local activists and reporter Claire Ronan from Ocean FM. People Before Profit Sligo called a protest outside Globe House on Thursday last and a number of grassroots actions followed. As support for campaign grew locally and nationally it seemed to force the authorities to act.
Hopefully Amjad now has a swift recovery to full health and is successful in his fight to live a life of peace in Ireland. However, this ordeal has shone a light on the horrors and dangers of the direct provision system. It is a bureaucratic and politically non-transparent, commercially profit driven, inhumane and institutionally racist asylum system. The un-transparent nature of the system put a mans life in significant danger. It’s isolationist nature more broadly works to keep asylum seekers separate from society so they do not develop roots in communities as people with roots are much harder to deport. Their friends and, crucially, their workmates and their children’s schools etc. are likely to defend them.
The inhumanity of the system leaves many in limbo, often for 10 years or more waiting for their case to be resolved. Living in cramped conditions with 4-5 to a room. Residents of DPC are not allowed to cook their own food and are forced to live on an allowance of €19.10 per week. A figure that has not changed since DP was brought in as a temporary measure in 1999. Asylum seekers are not allowed access third level education and children – heartbreakingly - are not allowed bring their schoolmates and friends home to visit for play or parties etc.
Direct Provision – A business for profit
Currently there are 35 DPS accommodation centres in Ireland. The state contracts out the ‘business’ of running the DPS centres to private companies. All except seven of these centres are owned and run by private companies. The entire DPS is a multi-million euro industry. For instance, Mosney Holidays, has been paid more than €100 million by the state. Owned and registered by an Isle of Man parent company. Mosney made a €4,050 political donation to Fianna Fail in 2009. Aramark had a turnover of €223 million in 2013. So there are private and political interests keeping the system in place.
This is an inhumane system that profiteers of the misery of thousands of people. The people living in the system are seeing their own potential wasted and as a society we are collectively losing out on the positive contribution that their unique skills and ideas could bring. Asylum seekers should be allowed to work, cook their own food, access education and live in decent accommodation.
This campaign has shown us further evidence that direct action can make a difference. There is an open meeting in the ****VENUE CHANGE NOW: Sligo City Hotel, Thursday 24th Nov at 8pm to discuss organising a grassroots campaign calling for the end of direct provision. Memet Uludag from United Against Racism who are at the forefront of the national campaign to end direct provision will be a guest speaker on the night. All are welcome.