Posts Tagged ‘Calais camps’

UN Anti-Racism Day – London

Saturday, March 19th, 2022

March 21st was established by the United Nations as a World Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on the sixth anniversary of police opening fire and killing 69 peaceful protesters at Sharpeville, South Africa on March 21, 1960. Protests in the UK for UN Anti Racism Day take place close to the date and there will be large national marches today, 19th March in London and Glasgow and tomorrow in Cardiff. Today’s post is about events in London on March 19th 2016.

UN Anti Racism Day - London

Stand Up to Racism – Refugees Welcome march

UN Anti Racism Day - London

Thousands met at the BBC to march through London to a rally in Trafalgar Square in an event organised by Stand Up to Racism against racism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and fascism and to make it clear that refugees are welcome here.

UN Anti Racism Day - London
Lee Jasper and Zita Holbourne at the front of the Black Lives Matter bloc on the march

Prominent on the march were Black Lives Matter protesters, wearing red in support of the ‘Justice for Sarah Reed’ campaign, chanting loudly “Say Her Name, Sarah Reed” and “Black Lives Matter”. She had died aged 31 in Holloway prison where she was held waiting for psychiatric reports following an attack on her, possibly an attempted rape, by fellow patient in a psychiatric hospital for which she was arrested and charged with grievious bodily harm with intent.

An inquest decided she had killed herself when her mind was unsound, and that unacceptable delays in medical care contributed to her death. Clearly too the prison staff had failed in their duty of care. Four years earlier she had been falsely arrested for shoplifting and seriously assaulted by the arresting officer who was later convicted and dismissed from the Metropolitan police for the offence.

There were also a number of groups on the march working with refugees trapped in the camps in Calais and Dunkirk, and some of those had lines drawn across their lips to remember some of the refugees on hunger strike there who have sewn up their lips.

Although the deaths of many refugees drowned in crossing the Mediterranean have led to widespread sympathy among the British people, there has been no compassion shown by our government, who have increasingly been driven by racists and bigots who oppose Britain taking in any refugees and want to abandon the Universal Declaration of Human Rights the UK helped to draw up in 1947-8.

There were a small number of these bigots, members of the far-right group ‘Britain First’ in their para-military uniforms, who came to shout insults and make offensive gestures at the marchers as they went through Piccadilly Circus. A large ring of police kept them away from the marchers and protected them from any attack by anti-fascists.

Stand Up to Racism – Refugees Welcome march


Refugees Welcome Rally

Marcia Rigg, whose brother Sean was killed by police in Brixton in 2008

At the end of the march there was a rally in Trafalgar Square, with a long list of speakers. They included Vanessa Redgrave and Jeremy Hardy, MP Diane Abbott, MEPs Claude Moraes and Jean Lambert, journalist Journalist, writer Michael Rosen, leading trade unionists Dave Ward CWU, Christine Blower NUT, and Sally Hunt UCU, Marilyn Reed the mother of Sarah Reed, Stephanie Lightfoot-Bennett and Marcia Rigg, Maz Saleem daughter of the Mohammed Saleem who was killed in a racist attack, Talha Ahmad of the Muslim Council of Britain and a young refugee from Iraq.

Refugees Welcome Rally


Australians protest on UN Anti-Racism day

Australian human rights protesters were holding protests at embassies around the world, including the Australian High Commission in London to condemn the Australian government’s racist immigration policy and treatment of refugees.

Refugees who try to claim asylum in Australia are locked up and detained indefinitely in contradiction to international law on remote Pacific Islands including Manus and Nauru in detention camps run by Serco and will never be allowed to resettle in Australia. The Australian protesters were joined by some of those from Movement for Justice which has led protests against the UK immigration detention centres, including that at Yarl’s Wood, run like the Australian camps by Serco, where detainees, also held indefinitely, have been sexually abused and denied proper health treatment. At least one prisoner in the Australian camps has been beaten to death by the prison guards.

Australians protest on UN Anti-Racism day


DPAC’s ‘IDS Resignation Party’

Finally on 19th March I went to Parliament Square for another human rights related event, where Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) were celebrating the resignation of Iain Duncan Smith, one of the chief architects of the brutal Tory welfare policy that has caused them so much suffering, harm and deaths to disabled people.

Though they were pleased that IDS has gone, his policies remained, and his successor, Stephen Crabb, proved top be equally be bigoted and lacking compassion and any understanding of the needs of the poor and disabled.

DPAC’s ‘IDS Resignation Party’


More on all these events on My London Diary:
DPAC’s ‘IDS Resignation Party’
Australians protest on UN Anti-Racism day
Refugees Welcome Rally
Stand Up to Racism – Refugees Welcome march

For Refugee Rights and Against Trident

Sunday, February 27th, 2022

For Refugee Rights and Against Trident. I covered two marches in London on 27th February 2016, the first calling for safe passage for refugees seeking protection in Europe and following this a much larger march against government plans to waste £180 billion or more on replacing the UK’s Trident nuclear weapons.

European March for Refugee Rights

The European March for Refugee Rights was part of a day of protests in cities across Europe demanding action by governments to provide secure safe passage routes for all refugees and asylum seekers seeking protection in Europe. They want an end to deaths at borders and drownings and for refugees to be allowed to keep their possessions and be reunited with their families.

Among those taking part were people who had been to aid refugees in Lesvos and at the Calais camps and others who had volunteered with Medicins Sans Frontiers in Syria. The protest was supported by many groups including the Syria Solidarity Campaign, Solidarity with Refugees, London2Calais, Migrants’ Rights Network, SOAS Solidarity with Refugees & Displaced People Soc, Wonder Foundation, Calais Action, UK Action for Refugees, Refugee Aid Initiative, No Borders and the Greece Solidarity Campaign.

This was a short march taking place unusually inside Hyde Park, gathering at Hyde Park Corner and walking up to Speakers Corner where there was a rally. This made it possible for those taking part to join the Stop Trident Rally which was starting from Marble Arch, and going down Park Lane on its way to Trafalgar Square. Some of the marchers decided to form a block to march in front of the main Stop Trident banner and march on to Trafalgar Square.

Stop Trident march stewards tried briefly to stop them but then gave up and halted their march for around ten minutes to create a gap between the two groups.

European March for Refugee Rights


Stop Trident March

According to CND there were 60,000 people marching from Marble Arch to a mass rally in Trafalgar Square, and although their estimate may have been a little on the high side, this was definitely a very large protest, starting with a densely packed crowd on Park Lane. When the rally began in Trafalgar Square the tail of the march was still around half a mile away, and I think many gave up before reaching the rally as the streets leading to it became blocked.

Few people outside the military and arms manufacturers – probably the most powerful of all lobbies in the country can really believe the expenditure of £180 billion or more on replacing the UK’s Trident nuclear weapons is either necessary or cost-effective. The huge majority of nations in the world have no nuclear capability, and by December 2021, 59 states had ratified or acceded to the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) which entered into force on 22 January 2021.

Lindsey German, Stop the War, Kate Hudson, CND General Secretary, Nicola Sturgeon, SNP First Minister, Scotland and Green Party MP Caroline Lucas hold the Stop Trident banner

A national survey by Survation at the start of 2021 for CND showed 59% of the public supported the UK government signing up to the TPNW, including 50% of Conservative voters and 68% of Labour voters. An even higher 77% supported a ‘total ban on all nuclear weapons globally’ with majority support from young and old, in all regions of the country, from Conservative as well as Labour voters, leavers and remainers. The government remains resolutely opposed to the treaty.

This widespread opposition to nuclear weapons isn’t largely a matter of their cost but on both moral and pragmatic grounds. As CND say, using nuclear weapons would cause catastrophic global damage; these weapons of mass destruction don’t keep us safe and divert resources from essential spending on services like the NHS, schools and housing and “it is clearer than ever that real security for Britain requires addressing the risks posed by the climate emergency and pandemics on a global scale.

Stop Trident March


Stop Trident Rally

Trafalgar square was unusually packed for the long rally that followed the march, with people listening and applauding a long list of speakers, including Nicola Sturgeon, Caroline Lucas, Leanne Wood, Vanessa Redgrave, Bruce Kent, Christine Blower, Mark Serwotka and Tariq Ali, as well as many less well-known names. There were many marchers who found it impossible to get into the square.

Nicola Sturgeon First Minister Scotland

All the speakers opposed the spending of an estimated £180 billion or more on renewal of Trident which they dismissed as out of date, totally irrelevant to our defence and a complete waste of money which could be put to so much better use providing proper jobs and services.

It was a long wait, around two hours standing in the cold for the final speech by Jeremy Corbyn who had earlier in the day been speaking in Sheffield and whose train had been a little delayed. He was greeted by a tremendous response from the crowd, and gave a rousing speech to end the protest on a high note. Despite the dismissive remarks from many political commentators on the media, Corbyn is one of the most powerful political speakers of current years.

Stop Trident Rally


FlickrFacebookMy London DiaryHull PhotosLea ValleyParis

London’s Industrial HeritageLondon Photos

All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall. Contact me to buy prints or licence to reproduce.