Belfast: Five Hundred-Strong 'Respect Refugees' Parade Calls For Action On Racist Attacks
The parade, comprising hundreds of activists from Amnesty International UK's national conference currently being held at Queen's University, as well as local ethnic minority and refugee groups and trades unionists, saw multi-coloured 'Respect Refugees' banners, giant refugee puppets, a 10-piece Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights's samba band and whistle-blowing paraders bringing colour and sound to the city centre.
Amnesty International organised the event in response to increasing reports of racist attacks in Northern Ireland, as well as in the rest of the UK. The gathering of human rights activists also expressed their concern at increasingly draconian asylum policies across the UK, with growing numbers of asylum-seekers being detained and others threatened with a withdrawal of financial support.
An asylum-seeker from Uganda, Robert Kingi, who had sought asylum in Northern Ireland after his family had been killed by security forces, addressed an open-air rally outside the Whitla Hall at Queen's University. He spoke movingly of his further distress at suffering racist attacks in Belfast during his time in the city.
Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:
'Today's parade has seen hundreds of people in the streets of Belfast unified behind a strong 'Respect Refugees' message during a time of mounting concern at racist attacks against often vulnerable asylum-seekers and refugees.
We need to see proper political leadership on this issue. Our fear is that a constant diet of negative asylum stories is emboldening a tiny minority into committing violent racist crimes.'