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‘End hostile environment for refugees’ five London rallies today are demanding

PUBLISHED: 07:00 19 September 2020

'Welcome refugees' Saturday rally planned at Whitechapel's Altab Ali Park. Picture: Stand Up to Racism campaign

'Welcome refugees' Saturday rally planned at Whitechapel's Altab Ali Park. Picture: Stand Up to Racism campaign

Stand Up to Racism

The government’s “hostile environment” towards asylum-seekers has come in for a scathing attack today ahead of two Saturday rallies welcoming refugees being staged in East London among 14 events across the UK.

Mayor Biggs... concerned about Mayor Biggs... concerned about "the rhetoric on refugees from this government and its ‘hostile environment’ policies". Picture: Mike Brooke

One rally in Whitechapel’s Altab Ali Park at 4pm is being supported by the mayor of Tower Hamlets against the practice of asylum-seekers being flown back out on chartered flights almost as soon as they arrive rather than listening to their pleas for refuge.

‘’I’m concerned about the rhetoric on refugees from this government and its ‘hostile environment’ policies,” John Biggs said in a statement to the East London Advertiser.

“We need a more compassionate tone to show that refugees are human beings like the rest of us. They are simply trying to do what is best for their families.”

The Whitechapel rally by Tower Hamlets Stand up to Racism campaign is one of two in east London with neighbouring Newham.

Its convenor Sheila McGregor said: “The East End has been a place of refuge for hundreds of years. It’s important to continue and affirm this tradition against the background of the ‘hostile environment’ to those fleeing for their safety.”

Three other London rallies are being staged at Finsbury Park, Brixton and Croydon, with others in Bristol, Nottingham, Derby, Halifax, Manchester, Lancaster, Newcastle, Glasgow and as far as Orkney.

Campaigner Clare Moseley said: “The government is now arranging regular charter flights in a shameful bid to send people anywhere but here, rather than simply hearing their asylum claims.”

The campaign has drawn support from political leaders of all parties. Hackney’s Cllr Susan Fajana-Thomas, who chairs Islington Refugee and Migrant forum, said: “There is a lack of safe and legal routes for people seeking refuge. It’s too simple and misguided to blame ‘people traffickers’ for those dying at sea.”

Britain was passing refugee responsibility onto other countries, say rally organisers, which “turns our face away” from the humanity crisis.


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