A crowd gathers for a group photo.

Bristol Defends Refugee Rights Against Patel’s Borders Bill

Whilst the unusual sight of a half-submerged lorry puzzled visitors to the harbourside today, a more familiar sight was waiting across the water in the form of a demonstration for refugee rights. 

Part of a nation-wide week of action called by national coalition Together With Refugees, Bristol-based refugee rights groups organised the demo today (October 21) against Priti Patel’s Nationality and Borders Bill. 

Jo Benefield, one of the demo organisers, said to TBA: ‘We’ve come together because we want to make the public aware of the Bill that is going through Parliament.’

‘We need to make people aware of what’s happening in their name so that they will oppose it.’

Groups including Bristol Refugee Rights, Bristol Defend the Asylum Seekers Campaign and Bristol City of Sanctuary were represented in the crowd, which at its height stood at 30 people. 

A crowd stands around a woman listening to her as she speaks. Some people are holding a banner reading "Stop the anti-refugee Bill"
Demonstrators listen to a speech from organiser Jo. Image: James Ward.

From midday, demonstrators engaged with passers-by to hand out flyers about the Bill, and to encourage people to read and sign the public statement, published by Bristol City of Sanctuary in opposition to the Bill, which was available via a QR code on posters.

The statement has already been signed by Mayor Marvin Rees, all four Bristol MPs, and Bristol’s Green, Labour and Lib Dem councillor groups. 

The Bill would make illegal any attempt to arrive into the UK via “irregular means,” which includes sailing across the Channel. It would also open the possibility for offshore detention centres. A group of leading barristers have said that the Bill represents ‘the biggest legal assault on international refugee law ever seen in the UK’

In their statement, Bristol City of Sanctuary argue that, under the 1951 Geneva Convention, ‘people fleeing persecution may have to use irregular means in order to escape and to claim asylum in another country, and there is no legal way to travel to the UK for the specific purpose of seeking asylum. 

‘Moreover, there is no requirement under international law that asylum must be sought in the first safe country that the person encounters.’

Demo organiser Jo said that the British public were being fed misinformation by politicians like Patel, who ‘keeps banging on about “illegal refugees” and “illegal routes”. There’s no such thing.’

‘We’re changing the view that’s being put over by Priti Patel, trying to set the record straight, counter all those distortions and to say this is what’s being done in your name, and you need to speak up about it.’

The demo concluded by 1pm. 

two woman from the demo in conversation with two men.
Demonstrators chat with passers-by. Image: James Ward.
A man holds a placard saying "Elite Tories are Corrupt & Fascist"
A demonstrator holds a placard bearing a less-than-subtle message to the government. Image: James Ward.
A placard has an image of Paddington Bear with the message "Migration is not a Crime"
A placard from todays demo. Image: James Ward.

4 comments

  1. Many refugees are fleeing wars. Wars started by the UK and USA. Wars that last for years even decades.

    This article provides the link. The connection between the wilful targeting of civilians. Innocent women, children and men by Western armed forces.
    Murdered without charge let alone convictions.

    Assange was the whistle blower that brought evidence of these murders to the attention of us in the West.
    Displaced people, who like us, just want to live their lives in peace.
    People being turned into refugees by the British and American military complex.
    Wars that are now raging in many countries around the globe.

    While the most obvious thing is to put a stop to these wars and atrocities, in the meantime we MUST help those in dire need.
    Follow the link below.
    This is both a good and important news report. The final image says it all.
    Get active, stay active.
    https://covertactionmagazine.com/2021/05/04/the-drone-revolution-comes-to-england/#

    Like

  2. This is a hugely important show trial for all publishers, journalists and activists across the UK, so please pass this information on.

    The following is a good time-line ( although it omits Kieran Starmer’s role) explaining why war criminals want Assange silenced.

    Also the fact that one of the judges is married to an arms dealer !

    https://covertactionmagazine.com/2020/09/07/julian-assange-show-trial-resumes-why-the-u-s-government-wants-him-silenced/

    Like

  3. Many refugees are in Bristol and all over the UK as a result of illegal wars started by Britain and America.
    One publisher and journalist who uncovered evidence of atrocities committed against humanity is Julian Assange.
    Please watch the piece of film then act !
    Start by spreading this message far and wide. The British Government are locking up and torturing political prisoners.

    Like

  4. Promoting QR codes ?
    Encouraging the ownership of SMARTPHONES !
    You really need to take a good hard look at your values and lifestyle choices.
    (IMHO)

    Like

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