On Tuesday 24 July 2018, London’s Chinatown will witness a complete shutdown of all business premises including restaurants and shops.
At 12 noon, whistles will signal the beginning of a protest led by business & community leaders together with community activists and workers. The action will last for 5 hours and will also include a peaceful demonstration to the Home Office in Westminster.
The closure is in response to the discriminatory conduct of immigration and police officers during and following a ‘fishing raid’ by immigration officers on a restaurant on Thursday 5th July 2018. Not only were staff members at the restaurant treated with unreasonable aggression and handcuffed, a deaf and mute woman who started a peaceful protest by lying on the road was manhandled and nearly run over by an immigration van. When community leaders tried to intervene peacefully to calm the situation they too were treated with contempt and threatened with arrest. Finally, after two hours, the protesting woman was taken to the hospital and the area declared a crime scene, partly to disperse members of the public who began to complain about the behaviour of police and immigration officers.
There are other serious concerns that need to be answered by the authorities: They include:
* Why did the raid take place days after a roundtable meeting instigated by immigration officials to engage with the community and to build trust & goodwill with the business & community leaders?
* Why were the community concerns raised at the meeting ignored so blatantly?
* There are serious questions about the legality of the fishing raid: we now know the immigration officers left a notice (under Section 179 of the Licensing Act) in the targeted restaurant without explaining what it meant.
* However, licensing enforcement is the responsibility of the Local Council and not of the Immigration Department. We seek urgent clarification on whether the trusted Warrant procedures will now be abandoned.
* Why did the police disregard the protesting woman’s safety and welfare, given her serious disabilities?
London’s Chinatown is a vital component of London’s economy and a major tourist and cultural attraction. Its members have the right to be treated with respect and dignity and will not tolerate aggressive or discriminatory behaviour from enforcement agencies.
Mr CT Tang OBE, Chair of the London Chinatown Chinese Association urged everyone to join the protest on Tuesday 24 July 2018 to demand justice for Chinatown. He explained, Immigration officials have been citing Section 179 of the amended Licensing Act 2003 in their recent operations in Chinatown. Many restaurants feel this new provision, by the Immigration Act 2016, is a way to bypass the “Warrant” system which has been in place for many years. Many fears that without the courts to approve the warrants, immigration operations will no longer be subject to proper checks and balances.
Mr Edmond Yeo JP, Chair of the Chinese Information & Advice Centre says, he will RETURN the Commendation Letter from the Immigration Department of the Home Office if it can be established that the Immigration van had deliberately hit the elderly woman on July 5th. Yeo was devastated by this unfortunate incident and said that the Chinese Community would be determined to get to the bottom of this unfortunate incident. He feels that the authorities must engage with the community more to ensure such like incidents would not be allowed to happen again to stoke the catalyst of emotions, negative feelings & sensitivity of the community!