March with us to show solidarity with refugees on 12 September

By Ros Ereira, organiser of the Solidarity with refugees march, supported by Amnesty

I don’t know what it is that convinces leaders to stand up and do the right thing. I’ve been on marches before with many thousands of people, and they didn’t make leaders do the right thing.

But what’s really exciting right now is the groundswell of popular opinion over the last week really does already seem to be making a difference.

The public mood has shifted greatly and politicians are actually trying to keep up with that.

If I had 2 minutes with the Prime Minister…

I’d try to explain that we’re not frightened of refugees in this country. The media and politicians have been trying to tell us what to feel about refugees for some time – that we should be fearful and suspicious.

For a lot of people in this country, that isn’t how they feel. Seeing people drowning in the Mediterranean and living in makeshift refugee camps within Europe is terribly distressing – those are the things that have captured the public’s interest.

But it I think it was the horrific news of 71 people who died in a lorry by the roadside in Austria that really brought it home. And of course, the tragic image of a three-year-old boy found dead on Bodrum beach moved people quite profoundly.

This is not our tragedy

What is happening to these people should not be painted as our tragedy. It’s not us that this is difficult for. When people are dying, you try to help them – it’s really simple. You don’t build fences to keep people out.

We have coped before with huge numbers of refuges and they have wound up contributing hugely to this country, rather than taking from it.

While we’ve got people with spare rooms, empty houses, community halls, churches, mosques and synagogues – all these buildings where you can house people – surely they are better off in those places than drowning in the sea.

Why I organised this march

I spent time in Syria before the revolution so it’s really affected me to see it go up in flames. I loved the people I met and the country I saw; I made friends there that I’ve stayed in touch with ever since.

Despite all of this, I can only have the slightest imagining of what it must be like for Syrians watching it happen right in front their eyes and the Syrian diaspora here watching it happen to their country from afar.

When I saw that Theresa May would be attending an EU crisis meeting on 14th September, I hoped there would be some kind of demonstration happening ahead of it but I couldn’t find one online. I called a couple of refugee organisations to see if they were doing anything but nobody did – so my friend talked me into doing one myself.

I assumed that half a dozen friends might come and we’d stand around in the rain with placards, but I think we might have many more than that now. So far 84,000 people have said they will attend – and we’ve still got a week to go...

Join us

Date: Saturday 12 September 2015

Start: We will be gathering from 11.00am close to the stage at Achilles Way, Hyde Park, London. Amnesty staff will be there to meet you - look out for the Amnesty placards!

The rally will begin at 12.00pm. From there the march will begin to move at 1:00pm towards Parliament, with a second rally taking place there at around 2.45pm until 4pm.

Our Director, Kate Allen, will be speaking to the crowd at the second rally. The nearest tube stations are Hyde Park Corner and Marble Arch. 

Finish: The route will take us to Parliament and should finish at around 2pm and afterwards there will be more speeches and performances.

See a map of the route

What to bring: Download a #refugeeswelcome sign and print out to bring with you. We've got ones with a white or black background - or create your own. Check out the examples below.

Top tips:

  • Meet friends before entering the demonstration - it will be very busy and you might not be able to find them once the march begins.
  • With so many people in the area, you may struggle to get mobile phone reception, so arrange a meeting place in case you lose your group.
  • Make sure you know how you are getting home before you arrive as the tube stations in the area will be busy.
  • Go with the flow of the crowd and follow direction given to you by stewards and police officers.
  • Don’t bring your valuables, expensive jewellery or lots of cash. You may prefer to use a disposable camera, rather than take an expensive one.
  • Wear comfortable footwear.
  • Bring plenty of water.
  • If you see an unattended bag or package, report it immediately to the nearest police officer or steward.

Can't make it to London? Find out about other demonstrations in the UK

 

What else you can do:

About Amnesty UK Blogs
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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