We made this zine to share information and our analyses of the deaths of the Essex 39. We hope it can serve as a resource, an archive of our activity and an invitation to others to join us in resisting borders and state violence.
More information about the campaign:
We are part of a wider group of people who came together after the deaths of the Essex 39 in October last year. The Essex 39 were 39 Vietnamese people who died in the back of a refrigerated lorry trying to get into the UK. We held a vigil outside the Home Office the day after their bodies had been identified, originally as Chinese and later Vietnamese. We continued to meet and talk about how best to move forward from the vigil, and the one thing that was clear to us as a group from the beginning was that whatever our next steps would be, we needed to re-centre borders and state violence as the cause of these deaths - rather than individualised criminal justice solutions and the demonising of migrants, which continue to dominate mainstream discourse around the deaths.
Our goal is to work towards a world without borders through practical solidarity, and we’ve been doing that in a few ways:
Firstly, we’ve been fundraising for the families of the Essex 39, thanks to a group of people in Vietnam who are in close contact with the families. They’ve already contributed to repatriation (which the UK and Vietnamese governments refused to pay for), and the rest of the money raised is towards funeral costs, burdens caused by debt, and living costs for a few months while they grieve. We have a few people in our community to thank for their help in fundraising: Mina who designed our merchandise, the screen print collective at DIY Space in Bermondsey who taught us to screen-print, helped us make the merch and have let us use their space several times, and Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants (LGSM) and our friends at Eastern Margins who have given us more opportunities to fundraise in London’s queer and east/southeast asian communities. All the money we raise in merchandise (zines, posters, tshirts) will be going to the GoFundMe campaign.
Secondly, we have been using our language skills and connections with other migrant solidarity groups to pool and translate resources for East and SE Asian communities impacted by the hostile environment. So far, because of our skills as a group, this has been into Chinese and Vietnamese, but we’d really like to extend this to other languages. If anyone has translation skills or has resources in English that they think should be available in other languages, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Thirdly, we’ve been thinking about how to keep the memory of the Essex 39 and other victims of border violence alive. We want to build links with other groups, movements and individuals to move towards a world where these horrific and avoidable deaths don’t happen. We’re going to think about what this looks like, but on International Migrants Day, for example, we participated in a multi-city banner drop with Unis Resist Border Controls. We hung a banner that read: “BORDERS KILL, REMEMBER THE ESSEX 39” from Westminster bridge, and our event 'Remember and Resist: Borders, Solidarity and the Essex 39' that took place on 29th February is also part of making this happen. We want to keep talking about these issues.