In the latest in the series, we hear from Management Committee member Pinar Aksu about why she became involved with Right to Remain.
People move for different reasons. Some for safety, some from persecution. When you think about it, we haven’t always had borders, people were moving freely without a visa, passports and labels. People have welcomed one another, with culture, food and kindness. It was later on that labels – asylum seeker, refugee, destitute – were imposed on people. I never knew what a detention centre was until I personally experienced one.
I remember when I was looking for a placement for my Community Development degree at the age of 18. I came across NCADC (Right to Remain’s predecessor) and had a meeting with Michael Collins, coordinator at Right to Remain, to talk about what I could be doing. This led to another meeting to meet Alison Phipps, a member of the management committee. That’s how the journey started. I was welcomed and given an opportunity to learn and gain knowledge through experience.
Since then I have been working and campaigning for the rights of people seeking safety, to welcome everyone and to show how unjust the current system is. I had to be involved in campaigning, as I could not stay silent when people were and are being detained, when people are not being treated based on human rights and when people are suffering from the current immigration system. I am part of Right to Remain management committee as I cannot stay in silence while all of these are happening.
With the 2015 Humanitarian Crises people across the Europe started fearing one another. The right-wing leaders are using racist and divisive language when talking about people moving and people seeking safety. All governments and those who provide platform for hatred should be ashamed as it is forgotten how our ancestors travelled to get to where we are now. It is concerning when you don’t have leaders trying to make positive changes to the immigration system. And that is when campaigning, building a movement, showing solidarity and working with the people is used as a way of making change.
Asylum seekers are being housed by Serco, and other private companies, in horrible conditions. People are being detained without a time limit- indefinitely, those who flee from persecution are being locked. Racists are feeling comfortable to spread their hatred. People are being given wrong information, the best lines are ‘they are coming over here to take our jobs and houses’ – note: asylum seekers can’t work. And this is when we say enough is enough.
This is when we unite to make changes. As seen in recent outrage towards the eviction decision by Serco in Glasgow towards asylum seekers – different campaigning groups united to challenge this and continue to make changes. To campaign, to raise awareness and to say we will not stay in silence anymore. Through my work with Maryhill Integration Network, we were able to use the toolkit created by Right to Remain to see how the asylum system looks like. It was extremely beneficial for everyone, especially those who did not have much knowledge about how the system works. Having an online tool which is translated to different languages is a creative method to raise awareness and to inform people. Right to Remain touched and changed many lives including mine with support and knowledge.
Whatever you do, never stay in silence, get involved, run a workshop, raise awareness and challenge to change this unjust system! Check out Right to Remain website to raise awareness and learn about the system – a great tool for all.
Pinar Aksu is a voluntary member of the Management Committee at Right to Remain. She has years of experience at Community Development work and as a campaigner, currently working as a Development Officer with Maryhill Integration Network to welcome people in Glasgow. Pinar also uses theatre as a tool to raise awareness working with World Spirit Theatre and Active Inquiry. Pinar is also the Youth Ambassador for International Detention Coalition: Global Campaign to End Child Detention.