Resist hate, restore rights and dignity of refugees

January 31, 2017
Carla Montemayor

On January 30th, thousands gathered in Downing Street and across the UK in response to the ban on refugees and migrants in the US. Migrants Organise CEO Zrinka Bralo spoke at the emergency demo. Here is what she had to say:

I stand before you today with all kinds of mixed emotions, but two are rather overwhelming.  I am scared and I am ashamed.

I am scared because I have experienced the hate that destroys lives in the war I had to flee from, and seeing some of the same language and some of the same acts of hate scares me.

And I am ashamed of what my government is doing – or, rather, not doing – to stand up to hate.

I am scared, because it looks like hate is winning at the moment. And, as I said, I know how bad it can get when hate is winning. My hometown of Sarajevo was besieged and destroyed in the name of hate and whipped up fear of “the other”.

The world stood by as we were slaughtered and women were raped.  Then we stood by as Syrian cities were bombed and children drowned on our shores, and as we build walls around our privilege.

There are all these new words emerging to repackage what is happening.

But dressing it up does not change it – it’s still the same old hate that we know from our history – based on propaganda and lies – fabricated by fascists for the sake of “divide and rule”, and a deflection from the real causes of the economic, political, environmental, moral and humanitarian crises we are experiencing.

I am scared because last year I stood here and spoke about 55 million refugees in the world and there are 65 million of them now.

I am ashamed that a rich country such as ours is making a fuss over a few hundred children form Calais, while our Prime minster rushes over to hold hands with the US President who makes unfunny jokes about our special relationship, as the ink is drying on executive orders banning Muslims from entering the US.

Why? Why was all this necessary? Who feels safer as a result of all of this?

And, what are the things we are not talking about: where are your tax returns Mr. President? Where are the millions for the NHS?

I am scared and ashamed that, as we protest here today, people are freezing in Greece and Serbia behind barbed wires put up by European governments.

Last week there was a headline in the papers about how the police was warned to prepare for a new wave of hate attacks when Article 50 is triggered.

I don’t know what comes next. I cannot stand here and tell you that it will be OK. But what I do know, and what I can tell you, is that we will RESIST. This cannot become our new normal. Never!

We will use all democratic means at our disposal to resist hate as we have done so many times in our shared history. And we will do it with intelligence, compassion, hope, kindness, and with love.  Because nothing pisses the haters off more than acts of kindness. And love.

We are here tonight to show our support for one another. And we are going to be there for each other tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day. We will protect each other on the street, and on public transport, and in the workplace, and in school, and on Facebook – in everything that we do – until we restore our values of dignity and respect for all, everywhere.

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