Calais asylum seekers call for solidarity from the UK

Article published: Wednesday, September 30th 2015

Stand Up To Racism Manchester is sending a delegation to the next trip to Calais organised by National Stand Up To Racism, scheduled for 17 October.

The delegation will be delivering aid, and much needed funds to delegation centres Secours Catholique and L’Auberge du Migrants to help relieve poor living standards and show Manchester’s Solidarity with Calais’ asylum seekers.

SUTR launch march in manchester

Mohamed Al Halengy, a former Sudanese refugee, and now leading member of Manchester based human rights organisation RAPAR, has already committed to the 17 October delegation to Calais following a call for solidarity from the Calais refugees themselves.

In 2001, one of RAPAR’s founding members, Abdullah Rahmatullah – who was himself a refugee – reached Britain from Afghanistan on a lorry via Calais.

Mr Al Halengy said: “Now we are seeing hundreds and thousands of people like Abdullah, fleeing from everything and everyone they know and love. Their countries are in turmoil because of destructive forces that have been mobilised to protect the interests of the one per cent. The push factors that create refugees and economic migrants are essentially the same.”

Manchester’s Stand Up To Racism group was set up in August this year and provides a forum for all those working to oppose different aspects of racism in Manchester. Among its key constitutional aims and ethics is saying no to denying asylum seekers refugee status, no to the scapegoating of immigrants, no to islamophobia, no to structural racism in all forms, and yes to diversity.

At a packed meeting at the Methodist Central Building on Oldham Street, a group of overwhelmingly young participants discussed the coordination of its future anti-racist work to expose the treatment of refugees here and in Calais.

Ameen Hadi, Convener of Manchester Stand Up to Racism, and Treasurer of Salford Unison, has also already committed to the 17 October Calais delegation. He said: “This is an immense humanitarian crisis and all the Tories can offer is insult, fences and extra security. If even a fraction of that effort was put to supporting these human beings they would not be dying in leaky boats, suffocating in vans and being treated like criminals at Calais.”

The series of high profile activities in the run up to, during, and beyond the forthcoming Conservative Party Conference being held at Manchester Central Convention Complex from 4 to 7 October, has received pledged Trade Union Congress (TUC) support.

TUC’s National Equality Officer, Wilf Sullivan, fully backs the formation of the Manchester Stand Up To Racism Group and in specific reference to the refugee crisis, explained: “The outrageous disregard for human life shown by European Governments – including our own – in the face of refugees fleeing from war and disaster in the Middle East and Eastern Africa demonstrates more than ever why we need to stand up to racism.”

His comments have been amplified by the chair of the Hideaway Youth Project, one of the oldest resources for young people that stands at the heart of Manchester’s Moss Side.

Manchester University lecturer Zahra Alijah observes: “In history, that judges us. How do we want to be judged when we look back on the great displacement of human beings since the Second World War? How do we want to be judged when we mourn the loss of so many innocent children, women and men drowned or suffocated because they wanted to live free of torture and conflict? When we struggle to live on an ever more meagre pension and pay for health care because there are not enough people of working age in this country, what will we think?”

On 4 October, Manchester’s Anti-Racist Bloc National Demonstration against austerity will take place outside Manchester Central Convention Complex, followed on 6 October by a demonstration to signal immediate rejection of Home Secretary Teresa May’s asylum seeker policy decisions.

The delegation itself on 17 October will be taking the Eurotunnel to Calais via Folkstone at 10.50am.

People can donate money, food, or other practical items such as waterproof clothing, tinned food, winter bedding, tents and sleeping bags, to see the asylum seekers through the cold winter.

Cash donations can be made via the Stand Up to Racism website


Daniel Isaac

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