Safe Passage Now – Glasgow, Edinburgh and Newcastle join European-wide protests for refugees

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On 27 February, Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! supporters helped organise protests on the streets of Glasgow, Edinburgh and Newcastle as part of a day of action which in 138 cities across Europe to demand safe passage for migrants fleeing war and oppression internationally. Europe has the deadliest borders in the world. Over 4000 lives were lost in 2015, avoidable, tragic deaths caused only due to the lack of safe legal migration routes.

In Glasgow around 60 people gathered in the heart of the city centre to stand in solidarity with those attempting the deadly journey across Europe’s militarised borders. The slogans of the protests – ‘conflict is the crisis’ / ‘movement of people is not the problem’ – sought to highlight the hidden truth of the so-called refugee crisis: that it is imperialist war and the racist response of European states to migration which is the real crisis, not the free movement of people. As one placard on the protest read: ‘Imperialism created refugees: Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya: Stop wars not people!’ One Syrian refugee spoke on the open sound system about his experiences facing soldiers, police and prison cells in the course of crossing ten borders to safety. As he told FRFI: ‘All I can say is the truth. But sometimes the truth hurts, and people don’t want to hear it.’

The protest was significant in being organised by independent activists, mainly from the Glasgow School of Art. The 27F protest was only the first action in what aims to become a growing group of people in Glasgow capable of furthering migrant solidarity and activity. Tear down the walls!

In Newcastle, supporters of Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! North East joined the Migration and Asylum Justice Forum on their safe passage protest at Grey's monument. With escalating government and media racism and lies the protest was a breath of fresh air and gained a lot of passing support from the saturday crowd. Facing down an attempt by the English Defence league to shut down the event the forum shared this message:

'Massive support today in Newcastle! Thank you to everyone who came out to stand in solidarity with migrants and refugees - and demand safe passage to Europe. We literally had hundreds of people standing with us today, signing our petition and speaking on the open mic - shows what we can do when we all stand together. Big respect to the organisers of the Europe wide day of action - we are really glad we could be part of it.

A handful of the racist English Defence League (EDL) assembled at the Monument - with a banner that said 'refugees not welcome here'. They got no support and were left isolated. We drowned them out with our chants of 'Refugees welcome here! Justice for immigrants! Freedom for refugees!'

The Conservative government continues in its class war, driving down wages and slashing the public sector whilst savage cuts budgets are passed by SNP and Labour councils across Scotland, England and Wales. 100,000 of jobs are being lost while services to the needy and vulnerable are written off. Inequality and poverty grow while the ruling class scapegoat migrants and refugees as the cause. Standing together against war, exploitation and austerity, across borders and nations, is the only way to fight back.

In Edinburgh Supporters of Fight Racism Fight Imperialism brought an anti racist message to the streets of Leith. The safe passage event was organised by the Migrants Solidarity Network of which the Revolutionary Communist Group in Edinburgh is a central member. Making the links between migration and Britain's bloody interventions in the Middle East and Africa we demanded 'Stop the bombing! Open the borders! No more blood for oil! Safe passage for all!'

At each of the events we promoted the creation of broad democratic spaces, with an open mic that was taken up by many of the groups and individuals who came out to support the day of action. In Newcastle, the Socialist Party stood with us and spoke out against the EDL, whilst in Edinburgh and Glasgow the open mic was used by the Socialist Workers Party, Scottish Socialist party, RISE, Edinburgh Coalition against Poverty, Glasgow campaign to welcome refugees, students, and others activists. In a time of escalating media racism and manipulation, open mics and the free circulation of ideas and literature are crucial in building the kind of movement needed to seriously challenge the British state and it's institutional racism.

As we have reported in FRFI,  Investigative journalist Nafeez Ahmed suggested that imperialist-led wars in the Middle East have been responsible for killing up to four million people in the last 25 years –If this figure is correct, it means that British imperialism has been involved in the deaths of 438 people every day – 18 every hour – for a quarter of a century. Imperialism is clearly not a force which can play any progressive role.

Imperialism out of the Middle East and North Africa! Scrap all Britain's immigration laws! No deportations! Shut down all the immigration prisons! Immigration is no crime!

Next organising meetings:

GLASGOW - Saturday 5 March, 3.30 – 6.30pm

Anderston Kelvingrove Parish Church, 759 Argyle Street, Glasgow

NEWCASTLE – Saturday 5 March, 4-6pm Settle Down Cafe, Thornton Street NE1 4AW

EDINBURGH- Friday 11 March 6.30pm Autonomous Centre of Edinburgh 17 West Montgomery Place, Edinburgh EH7 5HA

There were only a few of us who organised the protests over the weekend - imagine what we can achieve with more! Please join us!