TASTING FREEDOM (50 minutes/1994/Director: Ken Fero)
'Tasting Freedom' documents the struggles of asylum seekers in Britain for recognition of their basic human rights and investigates abuses on asylum seekers in detention centres and prisons. The documentary gives a startling account of how people who have come to Britain to find freedom are instead persecuted. The film contains unprecedented interviews with detainees who speak about the abuses they have suffered under Britain's immigration laws and documents deaths in detention centres and prisons including that of Zairian asylum seeker Omasase Lumumba who was killed by prison officers in Pentonville in 1991.
The documentary closely follows the struggles of the detainees including hunger strikes, revolts and uprisings. They give first hand accounts of how they organised themselves during these protests and the measures used by the immigration service to suppress them. Despite being ignored by the media and isolated from the outside world the film documents the courage and determination of people prepared to stand up for their rights even at the cost of their own lives.
"a damning investigation" - The Independent
"an important programme" - Time Out
Directors Postscript January 2012: Since the making of this film we have seen two changes of Government in the UK, Zaire is now the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Middle East is in ever increasing turmoil with national movements for freedom on one hand and the escalation of imperialism with direct military intervention on the other, as a result refugees are being created. One thing has remained the same with every UK government - the detention, as well as the deaths, of asylum seekers. Against all that, the resistance against abuses continue - mass hunger strikes and protests have taken place at Campsfield House recently and other detention centers. We would urge you to support these protests when they occur to bring an end to the torture and oppression that refugees are subjected to in the UK which, as 'Tasting Freedom' highlights, is what they are trying to escape from.
Postscript November 2021: This week 27 people drowned in the English Channel as they attempted to seek entry to the UK. The dead included a pregnant woman and children. They have been mostly identified as coming from the Middle-East including Iraq. These are victims of the UK's brutal and restrictive policy of asylum which forces people into desperate measures. These are victims of the UK's Imperialist policies - what happened to the promise of freedom and liberty that was used to justify an invasion of Iraq that destabilised the country? They are also now victims of a vicious media and racist political establishment that seek to blame them for their own deaths and use this horror to stoke fear and loathing of refugees and migrants to further dehumanise and criminalise them. The only hope is for the people of the UK to offer solidarity and resistance to refugees and migrants and stand up against an establishment that rules by fear and division. Unity is strength.