On Saturday 21 March, many thousands marched in London, Glasgow, Cardiff, and around the world on international anti-racism day.
In London, around 10,000 joined the stand up to racism event. Right to Remain organised a large, colourful migrants rights bloc for the march from the BBC to Trafalgar Square, along some of central London’s busiest streets.
It was great to meet with old friends and make new ones, and we’d like to thank everyone who came along on the day. Sorry if we didn’t manage to hook up with everyone who came, but it was so busy and our section so lively – which is a good thing!
Many thanks are also due to our team of volunteers who worked on the preparation and on the day – Alexa, Zoe, Ben, Clare, Diletta, Will, Matthew, and Francis, Panyika, Jess and Kuka from our Management Committee. And thanks to the “rag taggle samba troop from four London bands” for keeping us bouncy!
We are approaching a general election, which brings a predictable increase in propaganda from those in politics and the media who seek to incite, exploit and profit from xenophobia and racism. On this day, and in the build up, we took to the streets and to social media to reject this politics of divide and rule. It doesn’t have to be this way. In unity is strength.
Last year, only six MPs voted against the Immigration Act, described by John McDonnell MP as “the most racist piece of legislation this country has seen since the 1960s … aimed at setting up a regime of harassment for migrants“. This is what we are up against, and this makes it abundantly clear that one day of standing together against racism is not enough.
On our migrants rights bloc, we were celebrating our solidarity, with the slogan – migration is beautiful, migration is a human right. But we were also demonstrating our anger at the ongoing attacks on the human rights of people without the right to remain, in particular those who are locked up in immigration detention centres.
Right now, in most of these prison-like centres, people are protesting, demanding freedom and justice. The protests and hunger strikes come in the wake of Parliament’s first ever inquiry into immigration detention, and undercover filming which revealed some of the shocking aspects of life in detention. The inquiry’s report clearly gives MPs the evidence of what we have long known and argued, that the detention system is a disgrace. If they implement the recommendations, it would drastically cut the length of time people spend in detention, reduce the numbers of people detained, and greatly improve conditions. Or they could do the decent thing, and get rid of this shameful practice altogether.
So, once again, thank you to everyone who joined us on March 21. And thank you to everyone who is working every day for human rights, against racism and xenophobia, for freedom of movement and the right to remain.
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