Refugees Welcome

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.


7 thoughts on “Refugees Welcome”

    1. Yes, that – a No Bombing Zone in northern Syria, enforceable by the US special forces sent there – may be the best hope, if it is still feasible. One trouble is that there isn’t much of Syria north of Aleppo (the largest city), where the main conflict now is. Another is that the Al Jazeera article dates from November 2015, so the “moment” it suggested seizing may have passed.

      1. I first heard about safe zones from Trump a couple weeks ago so I assume it’s still feasible.

        By the way, ever since my astronomy teacher, Bob Hurst, required his students to buy the Astronomical Calendar in 1979, I had no idea what you looked like for the past 37 years until I saw your punting picture!

        Then I got to see Tilly in this post. You make a good looking couple.

  1. Oh yeah? Why not have taken in Omar Mateen, Tashfeen Malik, Syed Rizwan Farook, and most lately, Almed Khan Rohami before they spewed their bullets and bombs here in America? I’d like to think it so nice to embrace everyone in need, but how can one tell who’s “safe” or not? I get a little nervous when it hits closer to home. You take’em, I’ll leave’em.

  2. I was also at the Refugees Welcome Here march. One woman I met works with an organisation that provides housing for refugees who are awaiting the outcome of their asylum applications. Her two lodgers from Uganda and Somalia were with her. The Somali had been waiting for seven years and was still in limbo. His sister had been granted the right to remain almost immediately after they’d arrived in the UK.

  3. The humane reaction of ordinary people to the devastation carried out in the Middle East is in quite remarkable contrast to the cynical calculations of the ruling class. The unfathomable tragedies imposed on an entire people take a back seat to–or, more precisely, does not even register–the militarized looting of centuries old civilizations. Oil, power, wealth, privilege and economic/political domination are the remaining life forces of a crisis-ridden Old Order.

    No to Fortress Europe! No to xenophobia! For human solidarity! For the economic and political unity of Europe on a socialist basis!

  4. Guy, your commitment to human rights and tireless efforts to stand up for them is highly commendable. The flood of refugees coming out of Libya, Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan is a deplorable situation. How did we get to this point? Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., the son of the Senator, Attorney General and presidential candidate in 1968, used documents published by Wikileaks to put together the story of how our government deliberately decided to foment unrest and incite an uprising in Syria against the Assad regime because Assad had rejected a plan to allow a “western” pipeline through Syria in 2009.

    Whether it’s “Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Condoleeza” or “Obama/Hillary/Rice/Power”, American voters don’t get a real choice in foreign policy. It’s death/destruction/misery/refugees rained down on anyone who gets in the way of our corporate/financial elite.

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