Socialist Worker

A defiant protest to defend refugees in Glasgow

by Julie Sherry
Issue No. 2308

People in Glasgow showed solidarity with refugees last Saturday  (Pic: Duncan Smith)

People in Glasgow showed solidarity with refugees last Saturday (Pic: Duncan Smith)

Over 1,000 people marched in Glasgow last Saturday on a defiant demonstration opposing deportations of refugees and the return of dawn raids.

Glasgow has a strong base of resistance that defends refugees in the city. Many on the protest see the recent spate of raids as an attempt to undermine this.

In spite of relentless rain refugees, campaigners, trade unionists and MSPs came together to show solidarity.

Refugees regarded as “failed asylum seekers” are also threatened with eviction as the management of their homes is transferred to private companies. This is happening across Britain.

Ako Zada recently resisted an attempt to evict him from his Glasgow home. He’s a refugee journalist from Iraqi Kurdistan.

Ako pointed to the hypocrisy of the attacks on refugee rights. He told Socialist Worker, “I am ready to go back if this government stops selling arms to our regime.

“The government preaches human rights in other countries but they force us to live in destitution and fear.”

The protest was also in opposition to the takeover of refugee accommodation by private firms. Serco has bought the contract to take over in Glasgow. Housing charity Ypeople, which currently runs the service, is carrying out evictions in preparation for the handover.

Samuel from the Govan & Craigton Network Integration was angry. “Serco treats people like they’re animals,” he said. “There’s no need to handcuff us!”


One refugee told Socialist Worker, “My children were born here, their lives are here. I’ve lived in Glasgow for ten years. The Home Office has no justice.”

The EIS Scottish teachers’ union was well represented on the march. Glasgow City Unison, TUC branches from across Scotland, Edinburgh UCU and Unite Scottish Housing branch all brought banners.

David, a lecturer from Edinburgh, said, “Those placards that say ‘Kick out the Tories, Not Refugees’ are absolutely right—they want to divide us.”

Social work student Zoe Parrott had travelled from Birmingham with a group of Unison members “to show solidarity against companies that don’t respect human rights”.

James Fallah-Williams is a refugee involved in Manchester-based human rights organisation Rapar.

He told Socialist Worker, “We can’t sit back and watch—what’s happening in Glasgow is happening all over the country.”

Many were keen to point out the government’s role.

As Samuel put it, “The government has created a climate of fear. We need to break down the racist barriers put up by those in power.”

At the rally Margaret Woods from the Glasgow Campaign to Welcome Refugees said, “We want the detention centres closed and the deportations stopped.

“We’ll keep lobbying the council, the Scottish parliament, and the government.”

Activists are now building for a lobby of the Scottish parliament on 28 June.

The police later tried to clear the area to allow Scottish Defence League thugs into the city centre but the racists were vastly outnumbered.

Record numbers seeking refuge around the world

A record 4.3 million people were newly displaced last year. Some 15.2 million people are defined as refugees across the world, with another 26.4 million displaced inside their home countries.

Some 895,000 are in the process of seeking asylum.

The British government is failing these people. And home secretary Theresa May wants to remove refugees’ human rights and introduce emergency immigration legislation.

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Article information

Tue 19 Jun 2012, 16:56 BST
Issue No. 2308
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