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Rally for Refugees in Hastings, December 11th

Rally for Refugees in Hastings, December 11th

A powerful expression of support for all those who seek refuge with us

On Saturday 11th December, hundreds of people attended the Rally for Refugees held on the Stade in Hastings.  Hosted by refugee support groups in the town together with Hastings Stand Up to Racism, the event reflected our growing concern for the increasingly threatened wellbeing of all those refugees who seek sanctuary with us. There was also a clear sense of the growing dismay at the unprecedented harshness of the Nationality and Borders Bill currently going through Parliament. As Simon Hester, main organiser of the rally, commented: ” The mood was angry and very determined.”

The 350-400 people there heard from many powerful speakers, including Gulwali Passarlay, who himself as a child of 11 years made the torturous journey from Afghanistan and across Europe to seek safety here – a story immortalised in his book ‘The Lightless Sky.’  You can read about the other brilliant speakers in this report  from Hastings Online Times. From their various testimony a wide and deeply informed view emerged of the many issues arising from the desperation of refugees arriving here, and the Government’s plans to make their lives as unliveable as possible.   Some of these fellow human beings are arriving our on our own beaches where our local response team offers practical help and kindness in the first minutes after they finally come ashore after so many hours at sea.

Our petition to our MP Sally-Ann Hart gained many more signatures at the Rally, the tally standing currently at over 750-  the voice of ‘ordinary’ Hastings people asking for a kinder and fairer asylum system, as articulated by the Together with Refugees national campaign of which we are members,  instead of the cruelly draconian measures proposed by the Government.

Jay Kramer, representing Hastings Community of Sanctuary, said:

“I was running the stall at the rally and was overwhelmed by the numbers of people who came forward to sign the petition to Sally Ann Hart, MP, calling on her to oppose the draconian Nationality and Borders bill. At the same time, people were signing the sheets to get involved with our campaign. Donations of clothing came in thick and fast, including warm socks, jumpers, jackets and handwarmers. One woman handed me £80 on the proviso that the money went directly to refugees rather than administration, which I assured her it would as we are all volunteers. It was very encouraging to see so many young people at the rally, and two young women who were keen to help took some leaflets and handed them out to the crowd. The rally was fantastically positive and showed that the people of Hastings really want to provide a safe place for those who are having to flee persecution in their own country and to stand up for justice for asylum seekers and refugees.”

Here is a short video report of the rally:

And the BBC News SE report:

We will continue in Hastings to welcome those fleeing persecution and conflict, and to fight for their rights to claim asylum and find sanctuary with us, as indicated in these further reflections. (and see alternative version here: page 10).