Socialist Worker

Anti-racist conference ready to take on Tory scapegoating

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2726

Anti-racists at the international conference in 2019

Anti-racists at the international conference in 2019 (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Activists are gearing up for the Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) international conference scheduled for this weekend.

The two-day conference, with online workshops and plenaries, is a chance to discuss how to take forward the fight against racist scapegoating and the far right. 

Greek anti-fascists, fresh from their landmark victory over Golden Dawn, will speak at the conference. 

Thanasis Kampagiannis, a lawyer in the trial that branded the Nazi party a “criminal organisation”, is billed to speak on Saturday night. 

He will be joined by anti-racist campaigners from the US, Brazil, France and Germany.  They include Martvs Chagas of the Labour-type PT party in Brazil, where people are standing up to the far right president Jair Bolsonaro. 

Mahamadou Camara will tell of the justice campaign for his brother Gaye Camara, a black man murdered by the French police. 

At sessions on the following day, billed speakers include Labour MPs Diane Abbott, Bell Ribeiro-Addy and Kate Osamor, and NEU union joint general secretary Kevin Courtney.

Workshops include, “The fight against health inequalities,” “Decolonising the curriculum,” and “Refugees Welcome Here.”

Repression

The conference comes as the Tories ramp up repression against refugees trying to make it to safety in Britain.  The latest plan includes using nets to stop boats making it across the English Channel from France. 

Hundreds of refugees, who have fled war, dictatorship and poverty, are trapped in makeshift settlements facing daily police harassment around Calais and Dunkirk. 

Dan O’Mahoney, the Clandestine Channel Threat Commander, outlined the strategy to the right wing Daily Telegraph newspaper. He described how the nets would “safely disable the engine”, allowing British authorities to return the refugees to France. 

The plan is the latest in Home Office “blue-sky thinking”. Proposals reportedly being considered included processing asylum seekers on decommissioned oil rigs or an Atlantic island and wave machines to repel their boats.

Britain’s racist immigration system means refugees are forced to take dangerous routes. 

And those who make the perilous journey are faced with years of living with threats of detention and deportation and living in squalor.

The horror that many refugees and migrants face was revealed in a trial relating to the Essex lorry deaths last October. 

The Old Bailey court in London heard how the 39 Vietnamese migrants made desperate phone calls to family and emergency services from refrigerated van. 

One migrant, Nguyen Tho Tuan, recorded a message to his wife, child and mother. “It’s Tuan. I am sorry,” he said. “I cannot take care of you. I am sorry. I am sorry. I cannot breathe. I want to come back to my family. Have a good life.”

Anti-racists have to fight for refugees’ right to come to Britain safely—and to stay. 

Stand up to Racism International Conference - Sat 17-18 October, tickets can be found here

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