Up to 600 anti-racists protested outside the Royal Courts of Justice in central London on Monday against the Tories’ Rwanda deportations plan. It was part of a day of action called by Stand Up To Racism (SUTR), the TUC union federation and the Care4Calais charity.
Care4Calais and the PCS union had brought a case against the Home Office, challenging its policy to send refugees to Rwanda in east Africa.
Outside the court, protesters chanted, “Say it loud, say it clear. Refugees are welcome here,” and, “No borders, no nations. Stop deportations.”
Care4Calais founder Clare Mosley told Socialist Worker, “All the people that have turned out today are an inspiration. They are standing up to racism. Ordinary people—school teachers, shop assistants, retired people—have taken a stand.”
Clare told the rally, “This government is not a soft touch. We’ve learnt during this court case how dangerous Rwanda will be.” She said that the Tories’ murderous attempts to stop refugees crossing the English Channel have only made the route more deadly.
“More people than ever have crossed the Channel in the last few weeks,” Clare said. “People have told us they won’t stop coming.” She added the only solution is safe and legal routes, saying, “That’s what will really put smugglers out of business.”
The case is set to go ahead for the rest of this week, with extra days in October. Meanwhile, the Tories have issued more notices for deportations.
Protester Scarlett works with refugees in south London and for a charity in Athens, Greece. “It’s disgusting what’s happening here,” she told Socialist Worker. “I work with unaccompanied children who have scars all over their bodies, and no parents or family. Yet people think they’re faking it.
“They forget they’re talking about human beings who have suffered immensely and then suffer more when they get here. Showing we’re the many and they’re the few today is so important. I hope this visibility will cut through to the truth and reality.”
Protester Alice slammed the plans as “torturous”. “This country is built on migrant and refugees’ skills,” she Socialist Worker. “But bigoted propaganda is encouraging lies and hatred that fuels division.
“That’s why we need to come together as a collective. There’s so much to fight against from the cost of living to the climate crisis. And these things affect and breed racism too—it’s all part of the same battle.”
A range of MPs, trade unionists and activists addressed the crowd. Paula Peters from Disabled People Against Cuts said, “I have a message to Liz Truss. You need to give all asylum seekers and refugees leave to remain. And we say no to their new anti-refugee laws. There needs to be decent mental health funding for every asylum seeker, refugee and person in this country.”
A handful of fascists and far right bigots attempted to heckle the rally. But anti-racists stood firm and shouted, “Refugees are welcome here.” Bus and taxi drivers honked in support of the anti-racist protest. One bus driver shouted, “We are with you.” The day of action was backed by unions including PCS, Unison, Unite, NEU, GMB, CWU, FBU, NASUWT, Aslef, UCU and Bfawu.
Ameen Hadi, Unison union’s north west black members’ committee chair, told Socialist Worker, “We’re here because it’s important to show solidarity with refugees. Not just because they have the right to seek asylum, but because black workers are facing more racism and unity against all racism means we won’t be defeated.”
Ameen said it’s important a range of unions supported the day of action because “they offer a place to bring workers together”. “We need to defeat the Tories and bosses on so many fronts—and we need to be united to do that,” he said.
SUTR co-convenor Weyman Bennett told Socialist Worker, “This has been a fantastic day of unity in opposition to Liz Truss and the Tory government. They use racism towards refugees to get more votes.
“Everyone here has said they refuse to be divided and will march, strike and stand in solidarity. This is how workers show real resistance—and exposes the idea that racism is inevitable.”
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