Document:In a British Deportation Prison
With Farid and others in a British prison
No bomb that ever bursts shatters the crystal spirit
I wear as a badge of honor my deportation from a country of liars and cut throats.
- Big Bill Haywood, IWW leader and revolutionary, 1920
The filthy fiction calling itself the Crown of England finally vomited me from its midst this week, only five days before I was to speak of its crimes at the annual Against Child Abuse Rally in London's Trafalgar Square. I am proud to have shared a British prison with many freedom fighters over time, including my own ancestor Peter Annett; but also alongside nameless men and women who are caught today in the claws of the police state called Britain.
Here is what happened
The room is small, unventilated, and foul-smelling, and crammed with ten of us. I am the only white person there.
A Malaysian mother with her four year old daughter sits in one corner, sobbing uncontrollably. Incarcerated for half a day, she's one of the luckier ones; a young Turkish man called Farid has languished in here for nearly three days, isolated from his four children. Farid has lived in England for eleven years, doing sweat jobs and loyally paying his taxes, but tomorrow he'll be deported over a technicality in his work visa.
- There is no appeal allowed.
- His children will not accompany him.
This is the Immigration Prison in Stansted airport, outside London. The date is the early hours of May 30, 2011. The net fell on me suddenly the night before, as I made my way through the border control desk after disembarking from the Netherlands.
A banal little twit in a uniform scanned my passport through his computer, and looked shocked as he peered through thick lenses at the screen. He scuttled off to speak to his supervisor, who I watched through the glass window of his office as he looked at his own computer, nodded his head and said something to the twit.
Triumphantly - I guess he got extra points for bagging a suspected enemy of the state - Twit boy returned and informed me with a whine of condescension that my giving public lectures was "unusual" for a tourist, that I was "suspect", and would therefore be barred from entering England.
"What exactly am I suspected of doing?" I asked the guy.
"But first you are to come this way" he motioned, ignoring my question like I hadn't said anything, and we walked to a tiny holding cell.
The Twit left me alone in there for a half hour, I guess to make me sweat, but when he returned I was calmly whistling an Irish melody that seemed to annoy him to no end.
"I bet you find your job difficult", I ventured to the Twit as he fiddled with his papers.
"No, actually one meets very fascinating people in this line of work," he replied, attempting a smile.
"People like you, then?" I said, but I don't think he got my joke.
The Twit refused to give me his name when I asked, nor could I know the name of his supervisor. He also wasn't wearing a badge number, although later he made a gaff when he donned another coat and I saw his number: 6676.
"You'll be in here tonight, until we can send you back from whence you came," Twit informed me, gesturing to a white door. He knocked, and a stern young guy answered who wore a vest labeled Reliance - the private company that profits off incarcerating people all over England.
Despair gazed back at me from the sad eyes of my fellow prisoners who lay or sat around the room. A TV was blaring mindless crap at them so I walked over and shut it off. The young Turkish guy, Farid, looked surprised.
After my obligatory finger printing and photographing - I asked the Reliance guy if I could have a copy of the picture, since I looked pretty good, but he refused. I was locked into the sparse room with everyone, and told not to speak to any of them since that was against the rules. I just smiled.
Most of the detainees didn't want to talk. It was nearly midnight by then, and like anyone, they had adapted to their incarceration and were mired in themselves. But Farid was too filled with grief about being robbed of his children to settle into apathy.
"I will never see them again. They will be put with other families and then anything can happen to them. My youngest son is only a baby."
I remembered reading the day before how 586 children placed in the foster care system in England had somehow disappeared over the past year. Local child welfare officials had given no explanation concerning their fate. Farid taught me some Turkish words that night, starting with "I love you" - it sounded like "sselly sev yurum". He laughed for the first time when he commented how the phrase might come in handy if I ever came to his country, but not if I said it to a man.
"That's not what I hear" I replied, and he laughed even harder.
We held back the demons together during those slow and weary hours, as the others tried to sleep, and didn't, and the Malaysian woman sang to her daughter while the Reliance thugs stared at us through a thick pane of glass.
It ended for me at 6 am, when I was taken to a plane that would fly me back to Eindhoven. I said goodbye to Farid and wished him luck. He took my hand and said "Allah", pressing his other hand against his chest, and then pointing to my heart. I recalled then the last words in George Orwell's book Homage to Catalonia, in which he describes briefly meeting an Italian militia man who like Orwell was fighting Franco and his fascists during the Spanish civil war. They couldn't speak one another's language, but they shook hands and departed in different directions for the front lines, and Orwell never saw the Italian man again. In memory to this unknown stranger who had briefly taken his hand in comradeship, and who had probably died, Orwell wrote a poem to him that concluded:
But the look I saw in your eyes
no power can disinherit.
No bomb that ever burst
shatters the crystal spirit.
The night after my deportation, I stood in a crowd of singing and laughing revellers in a Dublin pub, tasting my freedom like a soothing ale, and thinking of where Farid might be. I never felt unfree in jail; nor did anything there or in his own agony stop Farid from laughing.
As someone commented to me today, the more they repress us, the sharper and stronger we get. I feel inwardly clarified after the ordeal, and from the sounds of things, what happened to me is simply boomeranging back on the British government and its obvious and quite clumsy attempts to stop our Tribunal this fall.
So be of good cheer, and let that hope propel your body and your life to continue to accompany your words. But never forget Farid, and his children ... and that which is trying to jail all of us.
Watch Kevin's award-winning documentary film UNREPENTANT on his website www.hiddenfromhistory.org "True religion undefiled is this: To make restitution of the earth which has been taken and held from the common people by the power of Conquests, and so set the oppressed free by placing all land in common." - Gerrard Winstanley, 1650 "We will bring to light the hidden works of darkness and drive falsity to the bottomless pit. For all doctrines founded in fraud or nursed by fear shall be confounded by Truth." - Kevin's ancestor Peter Annett, writing in The Free Inquirer, October 17, 1761, just before being imprisoned by the English crown for "blasphemous libel" "I gave Kevin Annett his Indian name, Eagle Strong Voice, in 2004 when I adopted him into our Anishinabe Nation. He carries that name proudly because he is doing the job he was sent to do, to tell his people of their wrongs. He speaks strongly and with truth. He speaks for our stolen and murdered children. I ask everyone to listen to him and welcome him." Chief Louis Daniels - Whispers Wind Elder, Turtle Clan, Anishinabe Nation, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Thanks to Eagle Watch