50,000 March In London To Welcome Refugees

Article @ Morning Star, published 13 September 2015

Over 50,000 people marched through the streets of London yesterday in an unprecedented show of solidarity with refugees and migrants across the world.

Many of those on the Solidarity with Refugees march from Hyde Park to Parliament were already euphoric before the march kicked off, as they heard the news of Jeremy Corbyn’s victory in the Labour leadership elections.

Mr Corbyn himself attended the demonstration and spoke at the final rally — his first engagement as Labour leader.

The crowds went wild as the Islington North MP took the stage and said he stood there “because we are all humans, we all have a sense of decency, and humanity and reaching out to others.

“I am shocked at the way that so many and so much of our media for so long endlessly described desperate people in desperate situations as ‘the problem.’

“Those desperate people in desperate situations are victims of war, they are victims of environmental degradation, they are victims of poverty, they are victims of human rights abuses, all over the world.”

Like many of those present, he spoke of the responsibility of countries like Britain towards those seeking asylum.

Mr Corbyn went on to criticise the delayed action of governments across Europe, saying: “Suddenly a lot of politicians have rediscovered their principles of humanity.

“They’ve rediscovered that you don’t need to walk in fear of the far right and the racists, there is actually a popular uprising in favour of decency and humanity in our society.”

His words were echoed by a series of Labour Party politicians, campaigners and celebrities who took the stage to slam David Cameron’s meagre allowance for 20,000 refugees into Britain over the next five years.

The crowds that spread for over half a mile from Parliament joined iconic singer Billy Bragg in his rendition of the Red Flag and There is Power in a Union.

Marie Morian, who came to the demonstration to celebrate her birthday with two of her friends, said: “We wanted to be here just to say we welcome refugees.

“And wanted David Cameron to know that we are completely against what he’s doing and we wanted it to change and let people in.”

Word on the street

Elsa Chyrum

“I came to this country as a refugee and refugees are drowning in the Mediterranean. The EU and Britain have some responsibility to deal with the root cause of the problem rather the symptoms and they have to accommodate for those symptoms which are the refugees.

“It is inhuman to just allow children to drown in the Mediterranean when they can bring them here legally. I am from Eritrea — it’s the second-highest refugee producer country.

“Today is quite inspiring and I am proud of the British people here.”

Tahir Zaman

“I am here because migration doesn’t kill people — our politicians do, so do our laws. I volunteered to steward because I have been working in refugee issues for the past 10 years, working in the Iraq refugee crisis, working in the Syrian refugee crisis now.

“What we are seeing today is a direct outcome of what we’ve seen in 2003. What we need to understand the what we see now, this movement of people, is lead by the people themselves. Politicians now are reacting to it.

“Every death is on us, we are morally responsible for what happens to migrants when they take these dangerous journeys. My presence here is out of moral responsibility and out of solidarity to migrants as they take these dangerous journeys.”