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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 October 2007, 18:54 GMT 19:54 UK
Chinatown protest at police raid
Chinatown, central London
About 60 raids on illegal workers are taking place in London weekly
Chinatown's businesses have held a strike in protest at the recent raid on illegal workers.

A total of 49 people were detained when immigration staff and police stormed West End premises on 11 October.

The London Chinatown Chinese Association (LCCA) said it "strongly condemned" the Border and Immigration Agency's (BIA) operation.

"Years of hard work and dedication have been undone by the incident," the LCCA said in a statement.

'Terrorist situation'

Jabez Lam, chief protest organiser, said: "On the day of the raid the police came into Chinatown as if there was a war or a terrorist situation.

"More than 100 police in bulletproof vests with police vans went into restaurants and cornered everyone, arresting people with handcuffs and pushing them onto vans.

"The way it happened was completely unnecessary."

One restaurateur, called Fai, told BBC London: "We want to stand up. I'm the second-generation of Chinese here, my son will be the third. We're not going away.

"We want to work with the government, with the immigration people, but don't treat us like dogs."

Mr Lam said there had been attempts to find the 49 detained. He said 16 were traced to Dover on Saturday, but by Sunday had been dispersed around the country.

Tony Snow of the Borders and Immigration Agency (BIA) said those detained were being interviewed and processed. Seven had already been deported.

Chinese, Malaysian and Singaporean nationals were arrested in the raid and documents relating to illegal employment seized.

'Illegal profits'

The operation, carried out by the BIA, was part of a wider strategy to clamp down on illegal workers.

"This is not about focusing upon one particular community or nationality," said a BIA spokesman.

"Illegal working hurts good business, undercuts legal workers, creates illegal profits and puts those employed at risk."

The three-hour stoppage started at 1430 BST to coincide with a visit by Rolf Toolin, of the BIA, to the Chinatown Community Centre.

The Home Office's envoy's meeting is said to have ended positively, with both sides vowing to cooperate more closely in the future.



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Members of the Chinese community stage a protest



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