On Monday 2nd of March 2015, there were demonstrations in over 30 towns and cities around the UK (plus Toronto) against Maximus, the US based health insurance corporation that has taken over the contract from the French IT Company Atos to administer the Work Capability Assessment on behalf of the Department Of Work And Pensions. Atos announced its exit from the contract in early 2014 following an intense period of direct action against the company by groups such as Disabled People Against the Cuts.
The day of action was timed to coincide with the first working day of the new contract, with the spotlight turned on Maximus as well as the continued use of Work Capability Assessments and the life-threatening consequences of the ongoing government attacks on the sick and disabled.
In central London, to the chorus of "David Cameron is a W*****" (YouTube) activists from DPAC hit the streets, taking direct action to block traffic and at one stage bringing traffic to a standstill on Victoria Street in the shadow of Big Ben.
The demonstrations across the UK on the streets were complemented with an online Twitter campaign using the hashtags #Maximarse and #ScrapWCA, the latter trending for a number of hours. This gave the opportunity for those unable (including through sickness and disability) to make it to demonstrations to vent their anger and frustation around the Work Capability Assessment and at a government hell-bent on targeting the sick and disabled.Read more >>
Celebrating two years of regular film screenings at OARC, East Oxford Community Centre, Oxford Indymedia presents the new independent film Secret City, on Sunday 3rd March from 7pm. For this Oxford Premier, we are pleased to be joined by film makers Lee Salter and Michael Chanan, who will be presenting the film and doing a Q&A session afterwards.
The City of London is an anomaly in UK democracy. With just 7,000 permanent residents and the lowest car ownership in the country, its own police force, its arcane system of self-government with its Lord Mayor, Livery Companies and Alderman, businesses that have the right to vote and it’s direct accountability to the Crown rather than Parliament, the City houses the one of the Globe's key financial centres and the Inns of Court, the heart of the UK’s legal system. The City is the place where banks, brokers, insurers and other money-makers enjoy their unimpeded ascendancy.
The Occupy LSX movement, which arose in 2011, once again drew public attention to the unprecedented political and financial status the City enjoys; largely unchanged since William the Conqueror's time. Secret City will take us on a tour of key City locations by an Occupy activist, Liam Taylor and delve into the history and mystery of the UK's most powerful centre.
The night will be held downstairs in the bar where Catweazel Club is normally held, so there will be refreshments on tap and in bottle for the night. Come along and watch the film and celebrate two years of screenings with Oxford Indymedia.Read more >>
Two women from Oxford are amongst a group of peace activists visiting Afghanistan this month. The delegation aim to spend time meeting and making links with ordinary Afghans, and then raise awareness back in the UK of what they discover.
"We are traveling as friends and equals of the Afghans we will be visiting, not to fix Afghanistan but to fix UK perspectives on Afghanistan" -Mary, one of the group.
Nine years ago another local peace activist, Paul, moved to Afghanistan to work with the UN, and sent a series of personal reports, providing a revealing first-hand account of life there.
UK Peace Activists Visit Afghanistan | From Cowley Road to Kabul | First days in Kabul | Kuchi Refugee Camp in the Shah's Back Yard | Oxford Man in Afghanistan
VCNVUK blog | Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers | Global Days Of Listening | RAWA
Update (20/05/12): After a month, Occupy Brookes decided to pack up. The camp's demands were almost entirely ignored by management but many people nevertheless felt it was a valuable experience, building links, raising awareness, and establishing a precedent for action that can be taken further in the future.
Since Wednesday 18th April, a group of Oxford Brookes students and supporters have been camping in front of Gipsy Lane campus to demand free education for all, and more specifically and immediately, that the University switch from fee waivers to bursaries.
The camp has now survived over two weeks of extremely wet weather, hosted various workshops and discussions, and received lots of verbal support and sympathy. A letter containing 3 basic demands was sent to the authorities early on, but there has been no substantial response from them, and the group's next steps have yet to be decided.
Anyone supportive or curious is very welcome to come visit or stay, and upcoming workshops and meetings are listed on the blog.Read more >>
Several empty buildings in Oxford have recently been opened as squatted social centres. In August an empty industrial workshop on Randolph Street was squatted. After several "Free Uni" events (sharing skills and ideas), community meals, film and info-nights the court process provided only a short delay and then eviction. The building now remains unused.
Undeterred, the social centre, known as "Plebs' College" due to the focus on free education, has re-opened on Union Street, with a multitude of weekly events. Again they are under threat of eviction from a landlord keen to demolish the place and build student flats. This space where people can gather, meet, organise and learn, as equals, free of the usual commercial or bureaucratic pressures, may be a glimpse of another society.
For hints of a more brutal future, we can look at the recent eviction of Dale Farm: an entire community made homeless, while those who resist are kicked, tasered, batoned, pressured-pointed, or beaten, and the media continue their lies.
Which path we take could depend on the actions we all take in the next few years.Read more >>
"When they put him in the room they were putting pressure on him saying he had no right to stay in this country. He was normally a very quiet person [...] but the pressure is too much for people in here."
On 2nd August, a 35 year old Indian man who was hours away from being deported hanged himself in the toilet block of Campsfield House.
Campsfield is not a house, it is a migration prison just outside Oxford where people are held arbitrarily for the "crime" of being foreign, non-white, and poor. Several hunger strikes, protests, suicides and escape attempts have taken place over the years since it first opened in November 1993.
This comes shortly after two detainees died in Colnbrook migration prison, on 2nd and 31st July. The first seems to have died of a heart attack amid reports that staff were very slow to call an ambulance. Not much has been said about the second; it is "being treated as unexplained".
Campaigners in Oxford responded by holding a vigil, while at Colnbrook a solidarity demo was held. These deaths are just the tip of an iceberg of deaths caused by borders (around 15'500 since 1993 across Europe, not counting undocumented deaths), and deaths are themselves only the most extreme part of the massive suffering imposed by this system.
Meanwhile, the Namaste project: a local initiative to match destitute asylum seekers with people willing to house them, is gradually gathering momentum.
[ Campsfield: report | press release | vigil ] [ Colnbrook: report | demo ] [ overview ]
[ Guardian: Campsfield | overview ] [ Close Campsfield Campaign | Oxford No Borders | Namaste update ]
[ List of deaths | Oxford migration articles ]
Gloucestershire's skies were darkened again by the Royal International Fairford Air Tattoo as some of the world's worst climate criminals and human rights abusers compared their best killing machines. This is an event about the glorification of everything that a civilised society should feel repelled about. Despite this, virtually every single newspaper, TV and radio show lavished it with praise. In so doing, they justified the entertainment budgets that the military industrial complex lays on at our expense.
Asylum has been high on the agenda recently as 24 Iraqi refugees went on hunger strike in Campsfield House. This was followed up with a very successful blockade of deportation coaches near Heathrow Airport [ 1 | 2 ] by No Borders.
Anti-military action has also been around recently. First, a group of Oxford-based campaigners managed to force the the British Government to admit that it was still training Bahraini officers, despite the brutality going on in that country as part of the 'Arab Spring.' This was followed by an apparently unconnected act of resistance against the military as the armed forces building in Oxford was daubed with red paint.
Fighting the cuts continued with the return of the Big Society Hospital, the launch of the Save Garsington Buses Campaign, and the continuing refusal of the City Council to listen to the public.
Education was on the agenda as activists told Grayling exactly want they thought of his plans for private universities, whilst locally based NGO - People & Planet published the Green League asking 'how green is your university?'
Climate change concerns raised their head again as the defendants from the Ratcliffe 114 (many from Oxford) launched an appeal against their convictions, and Oxford-based Campbell Road Productions announced their new film investigating the Tar Sands.
In other news, the summer also saw the fourth happening of the Oxford Radical Forum.
Don't forget to keep posting your news here on Oxford Indymedia.Read more >>
Mischief: In response to the nationalist hype, several hundred people gathered for a "Never Mind the Royal Wedding" street party on Manzil Way to create "some mischievous DIY fun". Elsewhere various other mischievous creatures were using unorthodox methods to spread radical messages.
Cuts: As youth centres closed, in spite of protests and lobbying, campaigners drew attention to the impact cuts will have on refugees, asylum seekers, and disabled people while the traditional Mayday workers' demo had an anti-cuts theme.
Campaigns: Three Christian peace activists are on trial for taking action against Aldermaston, a nuclear weapons lab near Reading. Meanwhile monthly demos in support of the migrants locked up in Campsfield "House" continue.
Misc: There was also a review of the latest OARC film screening. For other condensed local info, see the events calendar, (which now works with more programs and gadgets) and recent local blog roundup.
[ Mischief: 1 | 2 | 3 Nevermind the Royal Wedding street party | Squirrels now advocating direct action | Paint pixies plant provoking phrase expand ] [ Cuts: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 Silent protest against Witney youth centre closure | We send Cameron a giant postcard about youth cuts | Youth campaigners vow to fight on | Refugee services being cut | What the cuts mean - Jacques and Marie's story | Photos from Oxford's May Day March expand ]
[ Campaigns: 1 | 2 Peace activists to go on trial following nuclear weapons protest | Shouting through fences - a Campsfield report expand ] [ Misc: 1 | 2 | 3 Review: Whatever happened to the anti-globalisation movement | New calendar support on Oxford Indymedia | Weekly Blog Roundup: 23 May expand ]
In the face of massive cuts to Oxfordshire's public services, a group of activists and campaigners are determined to fight the Con-Dem government's austerity package and their plans to privatise services that should rightly belong to all of us.
The group has recently campaign on youth services, NHS reforms, and welfare reforms for people with disabilities.
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