What is TCAR?
Tyneside Community Action Against Racism (TCAR) is a network of groups and individuals committed to organise politically against all forms of racism.
The racist British state, its government, army, media, police, courts, banks, businesses and institutions all seek to divide the working class along racial lines so that it can more easily oppress us all.
Internationalism, collective action and solidarity are our greatest strengths. Together we are stronger! Together we can win! Join us in taking action today.
These are the principles of Tyneside Community Action Against Racism. They came out of a series of discussions within TCAR which involved many TCAR members and helped give us as an organisation clarity on what we are fighting for. Please read them, discuss them and share them.
1) We are against all immigration controls in Britain.
Immigration controls in Britain are fundamentally racist. British companies move freely to exploit poor countries. The British government exploits migrants' labour whilst criminalising many and blaming immigration for economic problems. We are against enforced detention, dispersal and reporting on immigration grounds.
2) We are against the persecution of people on grounds of colour, nationality, religion or political view point.
3) We are against the racist inequalities in employment and welfare.
Unequal access to jobs, education and NHS provision reflects institutionalised racism. We are against racism in housing and employment, including segregation by nationality. We are against policies which restrict access to paid work and welfare services because of immigration status, which force thousands into destitution.
4) We stand for a just and fair legal process for all.
We are against racism in the police and the legal system, and call for action against: deaths in state custody; the disproportionate imprisonment of black people; and the bias in Britain's asylum system in favour of Britain's imperialist interests.
5) We stand against Britain profiting and interfering in other countries.
We stand against British capitalism attacking and oppressing people around the world. This is justified through racism is the same system that is attacking migrants in Britain.
6) We are against the racist oppression of Muslims.
The occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and the plunder of the middle-east by British companies is being reflected within Britain in the racist oppression of Muslims. This racism aims to criminalise and attack Muslim communities to prevent them from taking effective political action in support of those being massacred by British imperialism around the world. We are against the use of anti-terror laws and immigration controls to terrorise Muslim communities and we oppose racist groups such as the English Defence League (EDL), who act as storm-troopers for British imperialism.
7) We are against censorship.
We are committed to the open and democratic participation of TCAR members and all anti-racists. Together we are stronger.
8) We support oppressed people’s right to self-defence.
Asylum seekers, migrants, black people and their supporters have the right to organise against racism in all its forms. Self defence is a right.
Below is a speech given at a public meeting on 5th October 2012 called by the friends and family of a young Somali man called Raul Ally and Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! (FRFI). The meeting was held to discuss action we could take to free Raul, who was being held in an immigration prison at the time, and the speech was given to draw on the lessons learned through the work TCAR carried out from 2006-11. It should be noted that at the time of the meeting TCAR was not formally active, but on the strength of the meeting and the number of people who want to take action TCAR is now campaigning again.
Lessons of organising campaigns from TCAR
Since 2006 Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! has been part of a network, currently dormant, called TCAR – Tyneside Community Action against Racism, formerly Tyneside Community Action for Refugees. The network had its origins in 2005 at a regional meeting of the National Coalition of Anti Deportation Campaigns where one of our members proposed taking political action against immigration laws in Britain and deportations of asylum seekers.
There are a lot of different organisations that support asylum rights; they provide valuable services such as legal help, hardship funds, food parcels and community events. TCAR was not set up to duplicate these organisations but instead to build an organisation where anti-racists could politically and collectively challenge and organise against immigration controls, detention and deportations. TCAR highlighted the racism of British imperialism, of the British government, banks, businesses and armed forces in oppressing other countries by plundering natural resources, building sweatshops, privatising services, invading and occupying countries and supporting brutal regimes, all of which create conditions of extreme levels of poverty, political persecution, rape, murder, beatings and war zones – all so the rich can get richer. British imperialism has played a major role in creating these conditions that people flee from, from Bangladesh to Somalia, and uses racism to cover up its attacks overseas. When people come here seeking safety and a better life for themselves and their families immigration controls are used to continue the racist oppression of black people started in their originating country. TCAR stated that because of this all immigration controls in an imperialist country like Britain are necessarily racist and must be opposed.
As well as not wanting to duplicate charitable work, TCAR was organised and funded independently from the grass roots. Many other refugee organisations are funded, directly or indirectly, by the government and so are put in a position where they cannot speak out against immigration controls which are put in place by the government because they would lose their funding. TCAR did not have these restrictions and so maintained its political and organisational independence.
As part of its work TCAR constantly argued for the importance of internationalism – solidarity with working class and oppressed people no matter what country they come from. Highlighting British involvement in the situations asylum seekers were fleeing from and the racist treatment they received when they arrived here. How many people in the general public know that Raul has been locked in an immigration prison for two months and that other people in his situation have been locked up for one year, three years, five years, even eight years! Despite having committed no crime? How many people in the general public know that immigration police can go to a black person’s house at 5am in the morning, break their door down and snatch a whole family – men, women and children – and lock them in a van giving them no time to get dressed or get their belongings? The government tries to do this in secret and the mass media helps with the cover up. Getting this information out to people is vital. We do this through our newspaper which has an article about Raul in this issue.
TCAR did this through leaflets, a newsletter, organising in working class communities, creating what was called ‘the pledge of resistance’ where TCAR members went door to door in their communities to find local anti-racists prepared to come out early in the morning and protest against dawn raids. On several occasions we were phoned early enough in the morning to mobilise people to oppose the dawn raid and we were successful in reaching out to our local communities and demonstrating that there is support for asylum seekers from the British working class, making links between asylum seekers and British working class residents and politicising our communities. TCAR also had regular public meetings and street stalls, had sustained protests outside North Shields Immigration Reporting Centre and on the streets of Newcastle, we had regular anti-racist marches sometimes with 200 and more people, speak-outs against racism with an open mic for all anti-racists to share their views and experiences and pickets outside and sometimes inside the Government Offices North East (which was linked to the Home Office) as part of an ongoing tactic with which we were successful in stopping the deportations of several of our members.
TCAR did not do this work on behalf of asylum seekers and would not have been successful if it had done so, asylum seekers were not seen as objects of pity and charity but as the main political fighting force confronting the racism of the British state. TCAR was a network of groups and individuals – asylum seekers, refugees with status and British people. TCAR’s internationalism and grass roots organisation put refugees at the centre, whose knowledge and collective experience of countries and struggles outside of Britain and Britain’s interest in those countries, often with firsthand accounts, was valuable to understand what was going on around the world. Also important was TCAR’s members’ connections to other communities, like ACANE and other African and Asian groups, religious congregations and other networks. This brought together a wide group of people embedded in their communities, which is necessary to successfully mobilise resistance to what the government is doing.
TCAR was an open and democratic organisation where all of its members were actively encouraged to take part in regular, weekly and monthly discussion and organising meetings and to participate in decision making and be part of real collective action. It was not like other organisations which would meet once a year to elect a committee that would then make all of the decisions until the next yearly meeting. Collective action and solidarity were TCAR’s greatest strengths. Our slogan was ‘Together we are Stronger!’, we were clear that if you came for one of us, you will take us all on. When one member was snatched, the rest of the membership would come out to protest.
Tonight we need to discuss what collective action we can take to get Raul out of Morton Hall immigration prison. Free Raul Ally Now!