Socialist Worker

Anti-racists stage day of action in solidarity with refugees

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2723

Activists in Winrush Square, south London, stand in solidarity with refugees

Activists in Winrush Square, south London, stand in solidarity with refugees (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Anti-racists joined rallies to say “refugees welcome” in towns and cities across Britain on Saturday.

The national day of action, organised by Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) and Care4Calais, came a month after Abdulfatah Hamdallah drowned in the English Channel.

The Sudanese refugee, who was trying to make it to safety in Britain, died because of the Tories’ racist border regime.

Tia has volunteered with Care4Calais, helping around 600 refugees trapped at Britain's border in northern France. At the 40-strong rally outside Finsbury Park mosque in Islington, north London, she urged people to “fight the hostile environment”.

“I have just returned from Calais after seven months,” she said.“After seven months when I thought the situation that was already terrible couldn’t get any worse, I have just found out that it can.

“We’re now in a situation where refugees are arriving in Britain to be beaten up on our beaches and bullied in our hotels.”

She added, “It may be difficult to come and volunteer in Calais at the moment. However, as much as that is a vital part of the work we do, there is a much more important part that volunteers can play.

Lesvos refugees who escaped a fire now face appalling conditions
Lesvos refugees who escaped a fire now face appalling conditions
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“That is to fight the hostile environment and tell the truthful portrayals of the people who are trying to come here and seek safety.”

An SUTR and Care4Calais billboard van saying, “Refugees Welcome,” and, “Black Lives Matter”, toured London.

After setting off from Downing Street, it headed to Windrush Square in Brixton, south London. Bell Ribeiro Addy, the local Labour MP for Streatham, slammed the Tories who “continue to refuse to listen”.

“You can see what a country is like by how it treats its most vulnerable people,” she said.

“And even though the government doesn’t really want to treat the vulnerable in that way, the fact that you are out here today shows what kind of society you want.

“There are people like you up and down the country.”

Meanwhile, around 30 people joined a rally organised by Nottingham SUTR and the Refugee Forum.

The crowd heard statements from Labour MP Nadia Whittome and local firefighter Brendan Woodhouse. He volunteers with the Sea Watch ship rescuing refugees trying to make the hazardous crossing across the Mediterranean Sea.

Around 40 joined the local refugee solidarity rally in Bearwood, near Birmingham. Jay, a local anti-racist activist, reports, “We signed a card for refugees at a local hotel facing scapegoating for Covid-19.

“And were able to put a couple of asylum seekers in touch with the local support group.”

SUTR and Care4Calais Rallies also took place in Sheffield, Chesterfield, Bristol, Glasgow and Lancaster.

The day of action was an important stand against the Tories' and right wing press’s scapegoating—and showed that it’s still possible to protest during coronavirus.


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