Around 5,000 people marched against the auctioning of refugees as slaves in Libya in central London on Saturday.
The demonstration was militant—and mainly made up of young black and Muslim people.
Protestor Felice Cruz told Socialist Worker. “I’ve come down to show my solidarity.
“The world pretends that nothing is going on—people need to come out of their houses and onto the streets.
“The minority are the ones in power, but if we have the majority united then things can change.”
Protesters were clear about who is to blame for the crisis in Libya—David Cameron, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. They launched a bombing campaign in 2011 to try and hijack a popular revolution against their former ally dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
Lorraine told Socialist Worker. “This protest is so big because we’re at a pivotal time in world history.
“The consequences of British interventionism have been global devastation.
“British foreign policy has caused these human rights abuses. We need to hold the people responsible to account.”
The protest moved from Belgrave Square in Knightsbridge to the Libyan Embassy at Hyde Park Corner. At the square it was just over 1,000 people—by the time it reached the embassy it had grown to 5,000.
When the demonstration reached the embassy people climbed onto a wall and spoke to the crowd. People spoke out against the West’s complicity in the slave trade—and about racism in Britain.
Tory prime minister Theresa May has jumped on modern slavery to grandstand about traffickers of refugees. But May and the European Union have forced refugees to take more dangerous routes—and criminalise refugees if they manage to reach Europe.
One speaker said,“We’re not going to allow ourselves to be belittled by those who oppress us.
“There is still racism here, institutional racism.”
Lorraine’s friend said, “Given the history of how black people were enslaved we need to take the opportunity to come out on the streets when things like this happen.”
The protest marched on Downing Street and then on to Parliament Square. Felice Cruz argued that “We’re not just here to protest against the people in power.
“Yes, Cameron did it, but I’m here to say that people need to wake up.
“We need to squeeze the power until the power is so squeezed it has to change. It has happened before in history—it needs to happen again.”
One speaker outside the Libyan embassy summed up the situation. “European governments continue the oppression of Africans today,” they said. “There’s only one solution—and that’s revolution.”
The West’s bombs helped caused the refugee crisis in Libya—now its borders shut them out and condemn them to slavery and death. We need to force our rulers to open the borders and let the refugees in.