Iraqi teenager Amyna fled her home city of Mosul after Isis took control in 2014. Now she is planning to join thousands of others marching for refugees and against racism on Saturday 19 March.
“All I want is to get my family back together,” she told Socialist Worker.
“My dad is in Turkey, where he doesn’t have a good life and they won’t let him work. Sometimes it makes me feel sick that I can’t see him.
“My brother is in Calais, he has been there since October. Britain has done a deal with the French police and that makes it very difficult to get across.
“I am in London, and my mother and younger brother are in Barnsley. It is the first time we have all been separated. It’s very bad and I cry all the time.”
Amyna had lived for a year in Turkey with her mother and youngest brother before the three of them fled to Calais. “It was a disgusting journey,” she said.
“I would never want to do it again. It took seven days. I was in the back of a lorry with no food, nowhere to go to the toilet.” After one night in the Calais “Jungle”, they were in another vehicle to cross the Channel. It was stopped by police.
Amyna made it across alone, with her mother and brother following a month later.
That was last summer, when tens of thousands of people in Britain were campaigning to support and welcome refugees. But racists want to turn them away—and so does the government.
Amyna said, “I was shocked when some awful people on the train started asking why we were here, saying the government should help British people, not us.
“And the Home Office are terrible.”
The Home Office rejected her claim for asylum and her mother’s. They are both appealing the decision.
They face real danger if they return. They fled after Isis tried to force Amyna’s brother, then aged 16, to fight with them. The government insists they can go to Iraq’s Kurdish region or the capital Baghdad.
But the war waged by the US and Britain left bitter divisions and a corrupt, repressive regime.
“If we could get a good and safe situation in Iraq we wouldn’t have left.”
Knowing that there is solidarity makes a difference.
“I found people protesting, saying refugees are welcome, and three times I have gone with them,” said Amna. “And of course, I will be there on 19 March.”
The main slogan of the 19 March protests called by Stand up to Racism is “Refugees Welcome”. But marchers will also be opposing Islamophobia, antisemitism and fascism.
In Haringey, north London, writer Gary Younge celebrated the upsurge of pro-refugee campaigns last year and argued that more protests could help take on racist scapegoating.
“It’s important to come on 19 March and that we have big crowds, because they matter. They give other people hope,” he said.
“They give hope to people who are making those journeys in Macedonia and Serbia.”
On the day before the 19 March demonstrations, European Union (EU) leaders will be hammering out the last details of a dirty deal with Turkey to keep out more refugees.
The deal is to be based on an offer made by the Turkish government at a summit on Monday.
In exchange for bribes from EU members including Britain, Turkey will allow those states to send back any refugees who leave from its shores.
It could mean the mass deportation of refugees from Europe, including more than 30,000 stranded in Greece by border closures.
EU states say that for every refugee sent back from the Greek islands they would take in a refugee from inside Turkey. But this comes with no guarantees.
The EU already has a scheme to resettle 160,000 refugees from countries such as Greece—fewer than 700 people have so far been resettled.
There was rightly outrage around the world at the Turkish government’s attack on the media last week. That same government is now being hired by the EU as its brutal border guard.
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