Recent articles by Sundile
This author has not submitted any other articles.Recent Articles about Bristol Protests
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Outside and Inside the Council House- Dignity for Asylum Seekers
Last night I went to college green to show support to everyone at the Sleep Out, for the 'Dignity for Asylum Seekers' protest which was in time for todays motion to be heard at the council house. For todays update and more info see http://asylumseekersinbristol.blogspot.co.uk/
Here's some thoughts I had about my experience and I asked Manesh, who has been refused asylum here in Bristol, some questions.
Forcing people to become homeless and without food is abhorrent and is not the behaviour of a civil society. A commentator on the previous thread on Bristol indymedia said
'The way in which politicians treat refugees is the way they would treat everyone if they could get away with it. this would happen to everyone if they could.' Harks back to the poem 'First they came for …' doesn't it?*
The government policy creates destitution which make a prison out of everyday life, which we all play a role, at times different roles, at times both the jailer and the prisoner. To me my liberation is bound with others liberation, by taking action we start to unravel the chains and break free. Finding as many practical ways to take action in itself builds community as well as building a movement for social change.
What I felt was that this direct action, of sorts, did so many things for those that came. Many acts of solidarity wove this protest space together, people brought snacks, sandwiches, soup, some brought fire wood, tents, sleeping bags, people who came by to say 'thank you for doing this', people helped fix the tents up in the sleet, the people at the bus stop at college green saying 'good on ya', and listening to each others stories not only made a protest but is a way of reclaiming public space and finding the commons again. My main learning about this temporary zone was that if you see something that needs doing, do it, but even better, if you see something needs doing, ask someone to help you do it and by doing that I made new friends and we got loads done to make a communal home for the night.
What ever the outcome of today’s motion (read it here http://asylumseekersinbristol.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/text-of-motion-in-support-of-destitute.html) inside the walls of local government, I hope that this movement continues to grow. All our struggles are borne out of our relationship to power, we have the streets (the commons) to create a better world together, towards 'power to' and 'power with each other' rather than 'power over.'
I asked Manesh 'How has the protest been for you? Have you felt a sense of solidarity? Do you think this protest is effective?'
“As an asylum seeker I feel great we came here last nite and many people stayed till 1am, this morning people came and brought hot drinks and food, it gives me and my friends a nice felling, it helps to challenge to this unjust policy. Being here highlights the asylum seekers life and makes what is happening visible.”
“Last nite I talked to ITN about how the law is unfair and how when we are refused asylum, we are not allowed to contribute to society though work.”
“I couldn't sleep at all last night, seven of us of stayed up all night. It was surprising how many people were passing all through the night and they were shocked to hear what is happening, people are feeling sympathy”
“60 people came last night and 20 people slept out all night. It snowed. It was freezing wet, it drizzled all morning. But we have to be strong and show our solidarity, and this is like my family all together.”
I asked how can people support asylum seekers today and after?
“We don't expect people to give accommodation and food, it isn't just about that. We need more support to be part of society, we get mental health problems and get lonely. We want to contribute to society. We know everyone has there own problems and we want to be able to help. We want people to think about us and understand us.”
*Quotation from Pastor Martin Nielmoller (1892-1984) He survived internment in a Nazi concentration camp.