That was the simplest and commonest version of the placards held up by the folk marching through London yesterday from Hyde Park to Parliament Square.
Another version looked like a welcome doormat. The chant version was: “Say it loud, say it clear, Refugees are welcome here!” A speaker at the final rally tried to get a singing version going; I could think of a better tune.
Another version was on the placards that we were given when we arrived, placardless, to join the large Amnesty International contingent.
Mine was headed “Cornwall Stands With Refugees” and Tilly’s “Hull Stands With Refugees,” and underneath were signatures from Amnesty members and supporters in the county of Cornwall and the even more distant northern city of Hull. You may be able to see that about sixty people had signed in Hull, which must have a strong Amnesty group. These and other groups had sent their sheets of signatures to the Amnesty UK headquarters for this use. It was a beautiful way of showing that even more people were present in spirit than could be present in person.
There were as usual other signs and other contingents, such as Tamils from Sri Lanka, and there were the green-white-black flags of Syria.
An articulate young engineer from Homs gave me a twenty-minute walking answer to my question about what should happen in Syria. As far as I could understand, she said that it is not, like Libya, divided into tribes; its many religious divisions cut across the political camps – Assad’s regime is not all Alawi – and there is no reason why they should not in the end vote democratically and live peacefully in their own districts.
Are refugees welcome? Do the lucky residents of America or Britain or Germany or Australia, or the less lucky residents of Greece or Bangladesh or Ethiopia, approve of having refugees imposed on them? Some do, some don’t. They have a choice. The refugees themselves do not.
People have to try to get out of Syria. You would. In Aleppo, government and Russian planes bomb hospitals, then “double-tap”: return, when rescue workers arrive, to bomb again.