By Isabel Ringrose
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Call of resistance goes out from Stand Up To Racism conference

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The Stand Up To Racism international conference came as the Tories ramp up attacks on migrants and far right forces grow in Europe
Issue 2827
Confident looking Stand Up To Racism conference participants hold up placards advertising  18/03/23 demo

Conference participants advertise the 18 March international day of anti-racist demonstrations (Picture: Guy Smallman)

Anti-racists gathered in central London and online on Saturday for Stand Up To Racism’s (SUTR) international conference. Over 900 people registered to join the conference, with some 300 in the room, to discuss the threat of racism, the far right and fascism and how to fight back.

The first session, From Black Lives Matter to Child Q and the killing of Chris Kaba—resisting institutional racism, heard from activists, MPs and justice campaigners. Weyman Bennett, SUTR national co-convenor, told the conference, “Racism comes from the top of society. I’ve never seen a government do so much damage to people’s lives in such a short time—and it’s being led by black ministers.”

Weyman stressed the importance of organising, saying, “We have power when we’re on the streets, and the picket line together.” He urged activists to begin building for the international day of marches against racism on 18 March 2023. 

Sukhdev Reel’s son Ricky was killed 25 years ago this week. She told the conference, “Racism kills. We were treated like second class citizens because we’re Asian. Justice was treated as a privilege that we had no hope of achieving. We cannot accept this. If we don’t raise our voices, we won’t get anywhere.”

The second session discussed the battle to open the borders as home secretary Suella Braverman pushes on with the Rwanda deportation plans. Julita from refugee charity Care4Calais said, “The motive of the Rwanda plan is not about reducing numbers of people who will try to come to Britain. 

“It is simply a callous assault on human rights that will be used to strengthen the hostile environment regime.” She announced a success for campaigning—the Home Office has withdrawn a notice to deport Delina, a pregnant refugee from Eritrea who had been raped, to Rwanda.

Mohammad Asif from the Afghan Human Rights Association said there was not a migrant crisis, but a racism crisis. He denounced the process that sees Western countries bomb and then repulse refugees who seek sanctuary. He said, “The colour of your skin will determine if you are welcome or not.”

A lunchtime session was also held with former international cricketer Michael Holding, who spoke about uniting to fight racism in sport.

In a session on the cost of living crisis, trade unionists discussed the need for workers to unite against the Tories’ divisive oppression. RMT union assistant general secretary Eddie Dempsey said, “There are people who peddle horrific narratives as an answer to the crisis we’re in.

“We cannot allow them to divide us at this crucial time. It means trade unions taking a fuller grip of their role and getting out on the streets to physically confront those organisations where required.

“You can’t have a united working class without tackling racism, and you can’t tackle racism without a united working class.”

Charlie Kimber, Socialist Worker editor, told the conference, “While supporting those fighting back we cannot drop the fight against oppression. As struggle rises, we need to talk more about anti-racism. 

“What we don’t need when Braverman has her dream about sending people to Rwanda, is a Labour shadow chancellor that thinks we haven’t had enough people deported. And we don’t need people who pretend fascists aren’t fascists. Successful struggle is what we really need.”

In a final session on stopping fascism, Francesco Galleri, an Italian anti-fascist from 6000 Sardines, spoke about the success of Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party. “We have to analyse how she came to power,” he said. 

“People are disillusioned and unhappy with the economy. The fascists have sought to appeal to national identity and try to divide us and it has worked well. But we need to say that common people are the majority. We have to be the ones to change all this.”

Daniele Obono, a French MP for the left wing Nupes coalition, said, “In the last five years president Emmanuel Macron has done everything possible to open the door to the far right. But it’s not just the far right that has been rising. 

“We’ve been seeing a rising working class struggle. Tomorrow there’ll be a march against the cost of living crisis. There’s a call for a general strike on Tuesday.”

Anti-racists will now take the message of the conference to the streets, picket lines and workplaces.

  • Saturday 29 October United Families and Friends annual demonstration, 12 noon Trafalgar Square in central London
  • More about the March Against Racism on 18 March 2023 here
  • Socialist Worker will have a full report of the conference later 

Protest against the Patriotic Alliance in Cardiff

Over 100 SUTR supporters in Cardiff joined a protest against the far right Patriotic Alliance on Saturday.

The group had leafleted and posted online that it would be harassing refugees and asylum seekers in a hotel on the edge of the city. It did not turn up. 

An SUTR activist reports, “The local Labour Party branch joined the SUTR protest together with a Labour councillor plus a member of the Senedd (parliament). University students came and it was a strong demonstration with a lot of support for SUTR.”

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