A range of speakers including refugees from Iran, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and trade unionists spoke passionately about the issues facing refugees in the UK and worldwide. Clear links were made with government policies and business practices and the plethora of people being forced to claim asylum. Anger was also voiced at the governments policy of enforced destitution for ‘failed’ asylum seekers, over 1000 of whom are destitute in Birmingham, and the cynical indifference which forces many people into the illegal economy where they face exploitation.
Protestors made the best of the glorious Birmingham sunshine, singing, dancing and distributing leaflets exposing the media and government myths around asylum. Particular disdain was voiced towards the major political parties, who are currently engaged in an electoral race to the bottom of the barrel in terms of asylum policy and scapegoating refugees. As numerous placards of subverted Tory election billboard adverts exclaimed, ‘it IS racist to impose limits on immigration!’ and people in Brum were definitely thinking what we were thinking.
In the face of an ever-increasing tide of poison around the asylum issue, the reaction of passers-by was largely positive, with a generous collection made for anti-racist campaigns and agencies working to support destitute asylum seekers. Even though one member of the ‘master race’ did see fit to tell the protestors to “fuck off back to where you came from” - from a safe distance obviously - it was met with laughs and confused looks from the diversity of Brums population.
Journalists from two local radio stations turned up not to interview refugees and protestors about the real issues they were protesting about, but asked “is it going to be a peaceful protest?”
Local police and Bullring™ security looked on bemused and one lucky police officer received a ‘refugees are welcome here!’ sticker on his back much to the delight of a six year old girl.
Photos and audio reports to follow…
no one is illegal singing
audio to follow