I began to understand that the world I lived in was really fundamentally unfair. I began to understand that this country was rich because we were poor and I also began to understand that we were here because they were there and I really believed in that.
.... I just couldn’t get answers from the theoreticians within the Socialist Workers...i.e. IS. I wanted a socialist world because I felt that’s our only future and I understood by socialism....things different to my white colleagues. And some of those things were that...could we build socialism in one country? For me, the ideas of socialism means that somebody didn’t have to leave their mothers and go thousands of miles away, to have electricity, to have water, to go to school near where you lived and for all of you to have work, but we had all that in England, with struggle. I was thinking back home in my village and I said no, my concept would be to get what we’ve got here and it didn’t make sense, to say no, it has to be global...
In 1976 the National Front decided to hold a meeting in a school in the heart of where we lived,
And the march, the big anti-fascist march led by sort of the leaders of that time ended in the city centre now we lived in Manningham, or lots of us lived in Manningham, we marched to Manningham...broke through police lines,
That was my first recollection of a riot in Bradford basically, you know, where police cars were turned over, paint was thrown at them, and being chased by police on horseback, you know, and that was basically because they’d allowed the National Front, I think it was Martin Webster at the time, that came to Bradford to hold a meeting in a school in Manningham. You know, so that was, I suppose, the first real campaign that I can recollect of any kind which was about defending our homes and our community basically, because that’s where most of us lived. I lived on Lumb Lane.
It was there that we really started thinking that we’ve got to get our own house in order, we can’t have this, we can’t leave our future in the hands of people like - what we hated were community leaders or the Labour Party types who would take control of our future. We can fight and we can win them and we were very confident that we had lots and lots of people with us and I think that that would have been the seeds of where the Asian Youth Movements began to be formed.
GURDEEP SINGH CHAGGAR
I remember his death. I remember the shock in the community. Yeah, it was a very vivid personal experience for me. We went to the Dominion Centre, which was a big cinema in those days, and his body was laid out there and we all went to look at it. Marched passed it and the community was very united in its grief and people were feeling very angry. Young people particularly were. Yeah, that was a, you know, that was a turning point I think in my memory and for a lot of people in Southall as well. I know…
SOUTHALL YOUTH MOVEMENT FORMED
In terms of the Afro-Caribbean youth, ... the link with the Afro-Caribbeans er, was very close, and they were part of the Southall Youth Movement, although later on another organisation was kind of set up called People’s Unite, led by them, but throughout, the thing was kind of totally mixed.
INDIAN PROGRESSIVE YOUTH ASSOCIATION (IPYA) FORMED IN BRADFORD
It was almost a magnet pulling us all together, right, cos we were all coming from our, -well with our own experiences, but we were all coming together because we cared, right, because we were, in a way, a generation, right, who was expected to go in and do all the jobs where our parents had left off – but we were a generation that was saying no, we’re not going to be doing that, right, life has a lot more to offer to us, right, than working in the foundries and the mills, and driving the buses and cleaning hospitals.
There were also Communist organizers within the Indian Workers Association who set out to organize the workers and part of the process involved organizing the youth wing. So as a tactical point, you know lots of friends joined the Indian Progressive Youth Assn, I think it was called at that time. And then there was this contradiction that we weren’t Indians.
.... What we hoped to achieve by the formation of the AYM was very simple really, we wanted to be able to defend ourselves, we wanted to be able to unite our families that is many of us were divided by the immigration laws.
IPYA IS RENAMED
ASIAN YOUTH MOVEMENT, BRADFORD
There were big debates...we should integrate and we said no. There’s nothing to integrate into, the British culture that we loved and adored was the culture of those who were fighting against British capitalism, British colonialism and there were many of those, it’s not like today
BRICK LANE 1978
MURDER OF ALTAB ALI
We had some form of youth organization developed already in Brick Lane,
this was round about whenever the “Rock Against Racism” concert was
.... we found out that the fascists had planned, they were coming down the M1, they were going to come down the M1, they were mobilizing across London and they were going to attack Brick Lane. .... It was really terrible because it was also the day, same day as they organized this rock against racism concert.
.... on Brick Lane we were worried that in case we were overtaken by the fascists, we thought we’d give ‘em as good as we got, so what we had were youths at different points of Brick Lane constantly keeping in contact with a hub of a telephone. I was in the hub answering the phone or coordinating on a chart where people were.
.... we had runners as well, somebody would run physically and said, they are not at the top, they are coming down at the bottom,
.... you know we kept them off the streets. And the terrible thing was there were hundreds of people dancing to racism. And it did a terrible disservice to the struggle against racism but it was a harbinger of what was yet to come because they did that over and over again.
ASIAN YOUTH MOVEMENT, MANCHESTER FORMED
I think we all probably felt that we did need something similar to Bradford Asian Youth Movement, you know, first of all there were so many deportations going on, ... mostly the people that were actually involved in doing anything within the Asian community were mostly older Asian community workers, but lot of it was the religious leaders, you know,. ... There was nothing for the young people.
Within the AYM we had, you know, Hindu members, Christian members, Sikh members, Muslim members, we had Gujeratis, we had Punjabis, we had Sri Lankans, you know. For us that was the important bit, the important bit for us was to keep hold of our sense of being humans.
One of the Mosques which is near Longsight was attacked by KKK type of attack and hooded people came up and smashed windows and so on, the interesting thing is in that particular incident was we gave a call for a meeting at the Mosque and the call for all the people to turn up, so of course the majority of the people who turned up were Muslims, but others also, especially the contingent from the Asian Youth Movement (Manchester) came in to support Muslims. I was chairing that meeting, there were a number of speakers, and of course you had other sections within the Muslim community like Jamat-e-Islami, Muslim Brotherhood who objected when I introduced one of the speakers by name who was a Sikh, and they said, you know, you can’t have Sikh speakers in the Mosque, and of course it was like oh ho, should we have non-Muslims coming in, I had to intervene at that time and had a passionate plea that racists do not see whether you’re Muslim, Sikh or Hindu, they’re going to beat you up or kill you, and then I went for a vote on the basis of what I had said and everybody ‘Yeah, yeah, let him speak, let him speak!’
ASIAN YOUTH MOVEMENT, SHEFFIELD FORMED
Basically, it was at that point in time the ... government, I guess started to discriminate or decided to put a different fee structure for overseas students to home students, it was almost 3 or 4 times the amount of… I could feel the direct pressure in terms of…my god…how am I going to pay all that additional money? So basically, organizations grew up. Sheffield was one of the first universities to go into occupation, we occupied the administration building, just to voice the protest,....
... And in 78 or 79, a couple of friends of mine who were involved….I didn’t know them then but they became friends… who were involved in some of the work here in London…came up …there’s a guy called Pal Luthra, this was in 1979 and he came up and he started talking about racism…started talking about …those kind of issues with me and we formed a Black Consciousness Group (laugh) up in the University. And we produced ….produced newsletters and slowly started having workshops on understanding racism and so on and so forth…and became quite a big voice in the University itself …We then realised that this, in the confines of the University just didn’t get us anywhere. You know…er…..it was at that point in time that I started to going out to the local Pakistani community,
MATLOOB HUSSAYN ALI KHAN
I remember coming across Raj a few times, and Mukhtar who came up in 1982. I never met them but they were more involved in the Bradford Support Group, people like Sultan in 81 and 80...so when these meetings happened, there were youth workers...’cos I was a youth worker in 82, I was a volunteer from 1979, I was a voluntary youth worker ... I was working in engineering, doing this as unpaid work. At the same time, I was working in SCAR.
I think SCAR was a more oriented towards the trade union movement .....I think they were a paper organization...you can affiliate and I think they didn’t do much...it wasn’t a....combative organization, that’s what the AYM was... .. and I left Scar --- once I got involved in AYM.
I was at the Polytechnic and I was studying Fine Art, and what happened was that, … it was in late winter, and I was walking through the corridors and I saw a poster about the Bradford Twelve, and it caught my eye. I stood there and looked at it. I was brought to tears. It said ‘Until these Twelve are free we will all forever will be imprisoned’. I took the poster off and rolled it up and decided that I was going to do whatever I could to support these twelve.
.... I think it was that, it was, you know, I realised that what I’d experienced in terms of the racist abuse and racism, the insecurities I experienced, a sense of not belonging, that was shared by a whole group of individuals, and it was not unique to me, as a people’s, as a community, and suddenly that inspired me and I found a collective support and strength in that.
.... We formed Sheffield Bradford Twelve Support Group. As we were doing that, as we were focussing round the Bradford Twelve, we organised a public meeting,
...... And then seeing my brothers, who were there, I mean chairing the meeting, stewarding the meeting, you know, suddenly we were taking control of our own lives, our destinies, and then when the attack took place on the restaurant I think that made us realise that we needed to have a permanent organisation.
..... the restaurant workers and the owner defended themselves and the racists went away, came back much more organised and smashed the windows, and a fight took place. They grabbed the till, quite a few of the restaurant workers got beaten up and when the police came, lo and behold it was the restaurant workers who were arrested, and subsequent meetings took place, and as a result of that the AYM was born and we campaigned for the release and for justice for Ahmed Khan.
ASIAN YOUTH IN BIRMINGHAM
BEGIN TO ORGANISE
Our slogans defined us, you know. When we started with such simple slogans as, “Here to stay. Here to fight”. We meant that. Our parents may have entertained some myth of going back to the pind, but we didn’t.
I mean the thing is when you are that age you don’t really, you really don’t understand real politics. You know? I mean there’s always some councillors here and there, I mean they talked about the Labour Party. But eventually we did realize that the Labour Party’s the same on deportation and immigration bills...