Crowd rallies in Brighton to show solidarity with migrants

Posted On 21 Feb 2017 at 10:29 pm

A crowd rallied at the Clock Tower in Brighton to show solidarity with migrants last night (Monday 20 February).

They asked people to imagine “one day without us” – one day without the migrants who live, work and study in Britain. Locally they include doctors, dentists and nurses, carers, cabbies and cleaners.

The Brighton gathering was one of several across the country being held on UN World Justice Day as Parliament debated the proposed state visit of the American President Donald Trump.

One of those present, Jane Allen, said that she was supporting valued friends, neighbours and workers: “People from all nations get on living together for a common cause.

Run for Great Ormond Street Hospital

“My dentist is Greek. My physio is German. I am not from Brighton. I left Norfolk when I was one year old. Does that mean I should go back to Norfolk?

“I voted against Brexit because I was worried about people who might want to come to the UK.

“It never occurred to me, I never had any doubt that people who have been here for 20 years could be under threat of having to leave.

“I don’t want them to have to leave. I am here today to show how much I value them.”

Pictures by Roz Scott
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Another of those supporting the event, Jane Matthews, said: “The more people that stand up, the better. Show solidarity. If only everyone came by for 20 minutes. We’re all a bit complacent. It is very easy to ‘sofa shout’.

“I don’t know when multiculturalism became such a dirty word. Cultural diversity should be something we want to bring richness into life. It’s completely bonkers that people don’t want it.

“I challenge you to find me an indigenous Brit. Scaremongering and xenophobia is just all wrong.”

Marta Mouzo Insua spoke at the rally on behalf of the Spanish collective Marea Granate (Maroon Wave).

She said that Spanish people had precarious living and working conditions and, because of that, many young people were forced to emigrate.

“I am one of them,” she said. “We come here looking for a job. We do not come here hoping to become rich, stealing from you or taking advantage of your people and country.

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“We just want to live with dignity. In exchange, we offer a lot of things to this country.

“Our education and work experience – a lot of us have high academic education and/or a lot of work experience from our jobs. We are professionals of every sector.

“Our hands and bodies to work – most of us are young people, between 20 and 45 years old.

“And our culture – our culture to share with you and learn about your culture.

“We are the nurses and doctors that look after you. We are the engineers that design your computers or buildings. We are the waiters and waitresses who serve your drinks and we are the kitchen porters that clean your plates.”

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Dorothée Fritze-James, who came to the rally with her daughter, spoke about the impact of Brexit on her family and the dehumanising of EU citizens.

She said: “I have been here since 1979. Now I have no right to be here. I am desperate, depressed. The kids, including my grandchildren, are deeply affected. I can’t sleep.”

She said that she was lucky that she could afford an immigration lawyer to help her apply for UK citizenship.

Many can’t – and she resents the UK using EU citizens as a bargaining chip and ignoring their pleas for clarity and security.

She has had a permit for 33 years giving her indefinite leave to remain in the UK. It may not be enough.

She said: “My daughter, who was 10 months old when my ex-husband and I moved to the UK, must apply for ‘permanent residency’. This is her home here.

“She has children and is married to a UK citizen. One of her children is no longer sleeping because of the anxiety, fearing that she’ll lose her mother.

“My daughter was educated in the UK and has never lived anywhere else.”

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Special needs teacher Angie Parker is a German citizen carrying an EU passport and a Jew but has been a UK taxpayer for 30 years.

She said: “I am going back to Germany because I don’t want to be a pawn in Mrs May’s stupid game. At least Germany is a positive democracy.

“I work in education but it is not enough to stay here. I am sick and tired of being told to pack my bags.”

Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty and Councillor Leo Littman attended the rally which was organised by Left Unity.

Councillor Mac Cafferty urged people to promote directly the voice of the vulnerable and to become champions of compassion and concern.

He said: “Ignoring prejudice does not make it go away. The call is to be better than this.”

Yel Karavan, a dancer and physical performer, said that her father was an artist and that she had been travelling since the age of three.

She said: “It is beautiful when cultures learn from each other and open our minds. We all have a heart. We are all human. We are an organism and only when the organism works together, there is life.”

A petition to Parliament about the rules relating to permanent residency has been set up. It has gathered almost 28,000 signatures, including more than 450 from Brighton and Hove. To sign it, click here.

  1. Samantha Stains Reply

    “My dentist is Greek. My physio is German. I am not from Brighton. I left Norfolk when I was one year old. Does that mean I should go back to Norfolk?”

    Yes.

  2. bradly Reply

    The rights of EEA and Swiss citizens in the UK remain unchanged. The Government wants to protect their status, subject to reciprocal protection for British citizens living in other EU countries.

    Until the UK leaves the EU, EU citizens continue to enjoy their EU law rights to travel to, and live in, the UK.

    The right of permanent residence, and the requirements that need to be met to acquire it, originate from Directive 2004/38/EC (often referred to as “the Free Movement Directive”). This EU Directive sets the conditions for the acquisition of permanent residence and it applies in all EU Member States. The Directive is currently implemented in the UK through the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006. Applications for documentation that confirms permanent residence status are refused where the requirements set out in the Directive and Regulations are not met.

    The Prime Minister has been clear the Government wants to guarantee the status of EU nationals in the UK as early as we can. We have told other EU leaders that we can offer EU nationals here this certainty, as long as this is reciprocated for British citizens in other EU countries.

    Home Office

    • A. Parker Reply

      I’m confused…. Germany has started a fast track citizenship application for UK citizens (since a directive is just that)who wish to carry a German Passport but they can retain Uk passport and so have dual citizenship….this was initiated after the vote. One of our Ministers from Hesse put it this way, ” we have a working, taxpaying and established English population here. Why should we punish them?” Please take note.

    • A. Parker Reply

      Sorry I forgot- it also takes less than half an hour to fill in the form and six months of language course.

  3. mario patrick Reply

    i m from Marseille i was in berlin lately in austria as well just to say Watch out select your migrants they are not all that good Watch in france sweden in germany in austria in norway whats going on in Marseille we got many troubles with migrants terrorist murders drug prostitution with since shengen exist guns arrive with migrants i never see so many younsters been kill with machine guns since no borders i hope it wont be like that in england good luck

    • Dina Geis Reply

      Mario…
      If you go to parts of London, Birmingham and other big uk cities you will notice that “UK citizens” killing and injuring each other far outweighs the immigrant or refugee cases. Even here in the so called quiet seaside resorts homeless are getting attacked by upright UK citizens…

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