"This is beyond humanity", cried a woman from Rwanda. "I fled for my life from Rwanda, now this Friday here in Glasgow they are coming to evict me and deport me."
Demonstrators rallied outside the Glasgow City Council Chambers in George Square last night, 9th November, to denounce the Council's new policy of evicting refugees who have been refused asylum. Protestors erected tents in the Square to illustrate the reality of the State's inhuman policies.
Asif, a refugee from Afghanistan, spoke on behalf of the Glasgow Refugee Action Group. "The Glasgow City Council are making millions of pounds from their contract with the Home Office to take refugees. Now they are throwing the refugees out on the street....We appreciate the support of ordinary people in Scotland. This is not the end of our struggle but the beginning."
Around 150-200 people rallied in Glasgow's George Square on a cold night to show solidarity with the threatened asylum seekers. Glasgow Campaign to Welcome Refugees revealed the harsh situation:
"As the Scottish winter begins to bite, Glasgow City Council has, on the instruction of the Home Office, begun a programme of evictions of asylum seekers from their homes. Around 180 households who have been refused asylum have received notices and once evicted they will have no access to any public housing or council homelessness services, and no entitlement to any form of state support whatsoever...."
"Refugee charities estimate that, following the initial evictions, Glasgow asylum seekers will be evicted at a rate of up to ten every week.....More than 20 asylum applicants have been evicted in recent weeks. Refused housing or state benefits by the Home Office's National Asylum Support Service, they have depended on the support of people within their local communities, refugee groups and the asylum rights movement."
"From detention in centres like Dungavel, to deportation and, now, deliberately enforced destitution, this Labour government has created an asylum regime even more draconian than those of its Tory predecessors."
Asif of the Glasgow Refugee Action Group recounted his experience at a recent meeting he addressed. "I asked how many of the audience had relatives living overseas, for example in Australia or North America. About half those present put their hands up. For centuries Scots have emigrated abroad to seek a better life. There is nothing wrong with that. Why shouldn't people be able to come here to do the same?"
One demonstrator told Indymedia: "Businesses move resources and investment freely around the world to maximise their profits. But ordinary people face restrictions and repression. State frontiers are artificial and are used to control people. Surely the planet should belong to us all, and we should be free to travel and live where we want, with no borders?"
Another argued "Now we all need to discuss, together with the asylum seekers themselves, what we can do practically to stop the refugees being evicted and deported. For example in France the "Sans Papiers" and supporters are defying deportations and have squatted public buildings. Words are not enough, it's time for direct action!"
Other speakers at the rally in George Square included a representative from the EIS teachers union, the Scottish Socialist Party councillor from Pollok, and member of Parliament John McAllion. The rally was to be followed by a public meeting in nearby Strathclyde Students union.
The speaker from Glasgow Campaign to Welcome Refugees pointed out that similar demos are taking place round Britain. Women seeking asylum who have been made destitute and homeless under the government's asylum laws joined the Global Women's Strike Community Anti-War picket outside the UK Parliament on 6th November. Over 20 women fleeing rape and other torture joined regular picket-goers, and several spoke movingly about their experiences. The Picket supported the "Sleep Out in Solidarity" being held the following day by the Liverpool Committee Against Destitution to protest against Section 55 and other measures which are making people destitute.
(Info - Liverpool Committee Against Destitution : firstname.lastname@example.org The Crossroads Coalition for Justice for Asylum Seekers - Tel: 0207-482 2496, Fax: 020-7209 4761)
- Glasgow Campaign to Welcome Refugees have launched an appeal for donations of toys and other presents for refugee children and teenagers. To help or to arrange delivery or uplift of presents, phone 07870 286 632
Contact Glasgow Campaign to Welcome Refugees
- Upcoming national anti racist and anti fascist St Andrews Day demo, Glasgow Sat 29th Nov. Meet 10.30am in Blythswood Square, march off at 11am. More info STUC 0141 337 8100
Reports on the public meeting at Strathclyde Studenst Union which followed the George Square demo, additional reporting on the George Square speakers and activity, and related news would be very welcome - our Indy Scotland cub reporter missed some of the speakers, and naturally "everyone is a journalist".