On International Migrants Day, December 18, 2023, a vigil was held in Liverpool at the headquarters of Bibby Marine, to mark the sad loss of life onboard the Bibby Stockholm immigration detention barge. We gathered in the city centre, followed by a silent march to Bibby HQ and then on to the Home Office Reporting Centre.
Local These Walls Must Fall campaigners joined hands with Merseyside Solidarity Knows No Borders to organise this vigil to commemorate the life of a brother, Leonard Farriku, a tragic loss under harsh circumstances.
Together, we strive for a world where everyone has the right to live where they choose, and the fundamental right to life. In honour of those affected, we organised a solemn vigil at the offices of Bibby, fostering solidarity and advocating for a more compassionate and inclusive global community.Maggy Moyo, Organiser, Right to Remain
The vigil began in the city centre at lunchtime. We wondered if anyone would come to join us, amidst the rain, but more people arrived, the crowd grew in numbers. Nina’s energetic presence and the arrival of passionate supporters set a resilient tone. Some passers-by attempted to dismiss the cause, and it was sad to hear disparaging remarks about immigrants as we were marking the death of a young man. However, these voices were quickly silenced by others chanting messages of solidarity.
Local Councillor, Alan Gibbons, Liverpool Community Independent, read a statement of support:
Our group of councillors, the Liverpool Community Independents, supports today’s vigil for Leonard Farruku, who died on the Bibby Stockholm. Corralling people into what amounts to prison ships is inhumane and will contribute to more tragedies like Leonard’s. Without hope, people succumb to despair. The established parties share one assumption, that immigration is a problem. We dispute that. The furore over small boats labels people as ‘illegal.’ No human being is illegal. We are talking about some people risking everything to cross the Channel, fleeing war, oppression and want. They want what everyone wants, a safe, secure home and the ability to contribute to society.
This is a country and a city that has been built on immigration. We all share the same hopes, dreams and aspirations. Where there are problems in this country, it is not to do with migration; it is to do with poverty caused by cuts and austerity. This is one of the richest countries in the world. Migration made it this way. Migrants and refugees are welcome here.Councillor Alan Gibbons
Silent march to Bibby Marine
This was not our first visit to Bibby Marine. Twice before we have visited, to ask the company to reconsider their contract with the Home Office. We have warned Bibby of the suffering they would be inflicting upon people, and the consequences that this will have on mental health. They have refused to listen, and now a young man has died on their prison ship.
We peacefully marched to Bibby’s Barge with the intention of submitting a collective statement expressing our concerns about the facility and the well-being of its residents. Unfortunately, our representative was denied access, and security exhibited aggression despite our respectful approach. However, we remained undeterred, laying flowers for our brother to honour his memory and affirming our belief in the importance of respect, love, and dignity for every individual.
Manono, local These Walls Must Fall campaigner, addressed the crowd, speaking from direct experience of detention.
Bibby’s barge is just like a detention centre, and that is why it should be shut down. Some of us have had that experience and let me break it down for you. Detention triggers the mental of detainees and there is no care on release, you keep living with it. The guards lack empathy. People harm themselves, but they are used to it, it’s just another day for them nothing new. A policy that disadvantages human liberty like this is unjustifiable. And it is a terrible waste of taxpayers money. I am a migrant and a human being. I am not asking for a lot, only that we should treated with dignity, equality and fairness. Shut Bibby’s prison ship now!Manono, These Walls Must Fall campaigner
Safe passage and sanctuary for all
A statement from Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants was read out:
“Today, we come together to remember the life lost onboard the Bibby prison ship. The UK has a duty to protect people seeking safety, and support them to start new lives, free from persecution and abuse. Instead it oppresses them. From the announcement of plans to use this boat to accommodate 500 refugees, consistent concerns and warnings were raised as to the boat being unsuitable, oppressive and dangerous. Such concerns were repeatedly ignored and dismissed in favour of supposed political gain, over human life.
People escaping horrific violence and conflict face abandonment at sea, abuse and intimidation from European border forces and the continued violation of their human rights. This increasingly harsh border regime has led to the deaths of many migrants, including refugees, in the UK and across Europe. At this time of remembrance and reflection, we remember the life lost at Bibby Stockholm but also all those who have died trying to reach safety or at the hands of the State. We must not let any more people die at the cost of our borders. We call for safe passage and sanctuary for everyoneLesbians and Gays Support the Migrants
Onwards to the Home Office
Our final destination was the regional headquarters of Home Office, where people are forced to report each month, with every appointment carrying the risk of being taken to detention. Our visit was a symbolic stand against policies that push people to mental health breakdowns. The prevailing hostility and unnecessary measures need to be replaced with justice and humane treatment. People need support, not reporting and detention centres.
Our commitment remains steadfast
The impact of these reporting conditions was highlighted when we met a young man, anxiously waiting for his sister, who had gone for reporting. He was visibly distressed, concerned that she might be detained. He waited outside, and we stood with him for support. To our relief, she emerged, and there was a wave of joy and applause. Their emotional reunion underscored the mental strain caused by Home Office situations, highlighting the issues we discussed earlier.
Our commitment remains steadfast – we will not falter, we will not tire; the fight continues for the dignity and humanity of all.
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