The march from Kenmure Street to Glasgow’s Home Office shows solidarity with the city’s asylum seekers and refugees.
On Thursday morning grassroots immigrant support groups congregated on Kenmure Street, where crowds prevented an immigration raid earlier in the year, marching to the Home Office in protest of the UK’s racist immigration system.
1,000 activists turned up from around the world to show solidarity with Glasgow’s asylum seekers and refugees. Groups such as Extinction Rebellion, Migrants Organisation For Rights and Empowerment (MORE) No Evictions Network Glasgow and Pollokshields and Shawlands Anti-raids Group were among those protesting. With no reported arrests, the “Climate Justice = Migrant Justice” March remained a peaceful demonstration, as crowds sang: “Rise up for the refugees; rise up so we can all be free.”
Leading the congregation was social justice activist Yvonne Blake of MORE, who discussed the impact of the government’s hostile environment policy during her speech on Kenmure Street. She stated: “The purpose of this policy, as enacted by Theresa May, is to ensure that the place is so hostile, that people fleeing persecution would rather stay in the persecution. Theresa May wanted to make it so impossible for us that we would rather stay in the sea and drown. This policy gives the Home Office the right to treat us in the most inhumane fashion.”
When discussing solidarity with the people of Glasgow, Blake added: “Think of those in Glasgow who do not have access to a bank account, they only survive on the goodwill of people. There are only two sides, you are either with us or against us. Are you on the people’s side or the oppressors’ side?”
“Are you on the people’s side or the oppressors’ side?”Yvonne Blake, MORE
When demonstrators arrived at the Glasgow Quay, Blake gave a speech on the hardships suffered by asylum seekers and families displaced from their homes into hotels during the Covid pandemic: “When we talk about migrant justice and migrants rights we are talking about these issues as they are lived experiences. Whilst in these hotels, the financial subsidies asylum seekers were entitled to were stripped. The narratives being peddled that we come here and take your jobs, we are extracting from your economy is the same type of narrative Scotland peddled during the slave trade. They professed themselves as abolitionists yet benefitted enormously from the slave trade, much like they are benefitting and commodifying us now. You cannot speak about climate justice unless you speak about these issues.”
Blake had also been a keynote speaker at Saturday’s Climate Justice March for the Global Day of Action, as she discussed the neo-colonial attitudes of world leaders: “The climate crisis is forcing millions of people off their ancestral lands by destroying agricultural land, driving drought, disease and extreme weather. The UK has a vast historical responsibility for driving this crisis yet instead of enabling people to escape its effects it is militarising borders and further criminalising migrants. If we want climate justice we must end detention, stop deportations, end the hostile environment, and create a world where migrants can live in dignity.”