Bristols' First Asylum Seekers March for Dignity
Despite the changing weather 250 asylum seekers and their supporters bravely marched through central Bristol last weekend to speak out about the myths, truths and suffering of people seeking asylum in the UK. It is the first time that Bristol’s asylum seeking community has called for and organised a march of this scale.
They marched from Easton, where many asylum seekers live, cheering outside the Bristol Refugee Rights Centre on Stapleton Road to celebrate the one place of safety and welcome asylum seekers are guaranteed in Bristol.
The march continued to Trinity Road Police station, where many asylum seekers have to sign each week, stopping to speak out against frequent and arbitrary detention and deportation of asylum seekers. “Seeking Asylum is no crime”, the crowd chanted.
Yasai, a Gambian woman said “I have to sign here and each time I do I can't sleep for nights before because I am so scared that they will detain and deport me. I came to find safety and here they treat us like this. It is wrong”
The marchers continued down Old Market calling for an end to deportation, detention and destitution. They stopped outside the former Refugee Action office and Immigration Advisory Service building and spoke of devastating impacts of recent coalition cuts and asked the question“ How do we access justice when there is no funding for a fair trial?”
The marchers walked onwards through a bustling Broadmead surprising shoppers by chanting “Seeking asylum is not a crime, we are human like you” Omid from Iran said “It was amazing when we arrived at Broadmead. Many people didn't know anything about our problems before. We passed on our message that we have many problems and that we need solutions. In my country we are not free to demonstrate like this, I am happy to have the chance to talk about my situation here”
The event was brought to a close in Queen Square with passionate words from Caroline Beatty, from Bristol Refugee Rights said “Today is a landmark event for asylum seekers in Bristol. It is the first time that asylum seekers have come out on the street with determination to be heard and to stand up with dignity and tell the world how it really is.”
Refugee Council UK info sheet on myths about asylum: Click Here