Thursday, October 28, 2021

Refugees are Welcome - rally in London

A good turn out in London's Parliament Square last week (Wednesday  20th October 2021) for the Refugees Welcome rally organised by Solidarity with Refugees and others. The event highlighted opposition to the Government's anti-Refugee 'Nationality and Borders Bill' making its way through Parliament.

As highlighted by Refugee Action: 'Under the bill, only refugees arriving through extraordinarily restricted “official” routes, such as refugee resettlement, will be allowed to claim protection. All others will be deemed “inadmissible” to claim asylum and the Government will seek to deport them. If they cannot be deported, they may be allowed to claim asylum in the UK but if they receive refugee status as a result they will not be given the right to settle. Instead, they will be regularly reassessed for removal, with limited rights to family reunion and benefits'.

'"nikt nie jest nielegalny" ('No one is illegal' in Polish)

'POMOC - Polish Migrants Organise for Change'/'Solidarity knows no borders'

One clause in the anti-refugee bill seems designed to give immunity to Border Force staff who could potentially cause harm or even death in their actions, such as when 'pushing back' migrants in refugees in the Channel. Schedule 4A, part A1, paragraph J1 of the bill states:  “A relevant officer is not liable in any criminal or civil proceedings for anything done in the purported performance of functions under this part of this schedule if the court is satisfied that (a) the act was done in good faith, and (b) there were reasonable grounds for doing it.”

'Afghans beyond borders'

'Social workers without borders'

Appeals to human rights and compassion cut very little ice with the Government and its supporters, paradoxically neither do economic arguments about migration and labour shortages seem to matter to the party of business. This is a theatre of cruelty in which being seen to be harsh to migrants (as well as other folk devils such as travellers and climate protestors) is deliberately performed as a means of solidifying its reactionary political base. The continuing arrival of migrants via the Channel has shown that the Brexit fantasy of cutting off island Britain from the world and returning to some imagined 1950s theme park cannot be realised - the anti-refugee bill is an expression of this rage against reality. 

Little Amal in London

There have been other positive gatherings in the last week to welcome 'Little Amal', the puppet of a young refugee that has made its way across Europe from the Turkey/Syria border.  I went down to Deptford last Friday (22/10/21) where thousands of people, including lots of excited school kids, crowded the streets for Amal's arrival in London (see report at Transpontine).

As described by the projects Artistic Director, Amir Nizar Zuabi: “It is because the attention of the world is elsewhere right now that it is more important than ever to reignite the conversation about the refugee crisis and to change the narrative around it. Yes, refugees need food and blankets, but they also need dignity and a voice. The purpose of The Walk is to highlight the potential of the refugee, not just their dire circumstances. Little Amal is 3.5 metres tall because we want the world to grow big enough to greet her. We want her to inspire us to think big and to act bigger.”

There was a festival atmosphere in Deptford High Street. Music included the South London Samba Band and 'We do Good Disco''s Campomatic giant washing machine - yes, there was dancing to Dead or Alive (by coincidence on the day before the 5th anniversary of the death of the late lamented Pete Burns).

'Disco against fascism' badge from wedogooddisco

'Migration is not a crime' says Paddington
- bag from Migration Museum stall in Deptford

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