Chants of “Refugees are welcome here” rang out outside the Polish embassy in central London on Saturday as anti-racists protested in solidarity with refugees trapped at the Polish-Belarusian border.
The racist EU’s Fortress Europe border regime has blocked thousands of refugees in recent weeks, facing batons, barbed wire, troops and tear gas.
The protest of over 100 people, organised by Stand Up To Racism (SUTR), demanded Europe’s governments welcome refugees.
The Polish government has deployed 1,500 troops. Krzysia Balinska from the POMOC Polish women’s organisation slammed the country’s far right government for violence against refugees.
“We must remember solidarity,” she told the crowd. “Together we have the power to dismantle this system.”
Protesters chanted, “Brick by brick, wall by wall—Fortress Europe has to fall.”
Darrel, who heard about the protest online, says it’s a “political game” between the Belarusian and Polish governments. “They’re driven by populist reasons to not let in refugees who are suffering in the forests,” he told Socialist Worker.
“These people have suffered enough—we should let them in.”
He added that it’s important to oppose the British government “who aren’t allowing in refugees either” and “want more border controls, more militaristic borders.”
The protest came a day after the Tory government announced it would send more British troops to help the Polish government build up its border. Protesters chanted, “Troops out—refugees in.”
Lindsey German from the Stop The War Coalition, which backed the protest, said refugees had been forced to leave Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq.
She said there are “people who wouldn’t be on the border if we hadn’t invaded their countries” and called on people to oppose imperialism.
Jeremy Corbyn, former Labour leader, said, “When the history of the 21st century is written, who are going to be the heroes and who are going to be the villains?
“The villains are going to be successive governments in wealthy countries who chose—chose—to use the language of hatred and division against desperate people.”
Weyman Bennett, SUTR national co-convenor, slammed the Tory Nationality and Borders Bill that would criminalise refugees trying to make it across the English Channel to safety.
“We are in solidarity with the people at the Belarusian border—they are welcome here,” he told the crowd. “The racism coming from our government is part of the problem. Priti Patel is reinforcing what’s taking place inside Poland.”
He urged people to join the SUTR mobilisations on UN Anti-Racism Day, 19 March 2022.
Meanwhile, Patel told the Daily Telegraph newspaper that the government is planning yet more restrictions on asylum seekers.
Channel migrants held in new purpose-built reception centres will have to obey strict rules or risk losing their right to claim asylum.
The home secretary plans to model the centres on the camps for refugees being built by Greece, where migrants face routine checks on their movements along with curfews to prevent absconding.