About 100 Congolese collected near Manchester University Student Union, and at twelve, with supporters from Respect, the Socialist Party, No Borders, and a number of individuals, the Congolese led off a very African-style demonstration. They danced and sang their way along Oxford Street, sitting down in the road at intervals in a symbolic 'die in.' The first die-in was outside the BBC building, in protest at its failure to give any coverage to the war in Congo. It was only done for a few minutes at a time, not long enough to faze the attending police; coppers do tend to get worried if demonstrators don't keep moving. But the Greater Manchester police confined themselves to doing the only thing they're really required for on demos: directing the traffic so the protestors can pass.
The protest drew curious and bemused stares from the hundreds of city centre shoppers. It was a pity that only No Borders seemed to have brought any leaflets to give out. Since the war in Congo gets no media coverage, leaflets would have been useful to inform people of the reasons for the protest.
It ended at the Peace Gardens behind the town hall, with a number of speakers, in French and English, about deportation issues. They made links between the situation of the Congolese and other struggles against deportation and abuse by Border Agency personel. One speaker asked the audience to remember the women in Yarlswood, who are still on hunger strike. Such links need to be made if anti deportation struggles are to be ultimately successful.