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I’ve collected some more encouraging links since last weekend’s ‘Some faith in humanity restored‘ post. The latest one just this morning, when I saw a Facebook friend had shared this link, which itself is a compilation of stories about the solidarity between people, with the simple caption: ‘The future’.
‘Ordinary citizens across Europe are stepping in to help refugees where their governments have failed’, the article headline reads, and boy, have they failed. Except maybe the German one, who is currently accepting Syrian refugees without forcing them out via the Dublin Regulation. All the others seem eons behind. Some still hope they will eventually catch up though:
Here’s a photo posted by a friend from the BH Protest Files, taken in Toronto:
Next Saturday (12th September), solidarity demos are announced in London, Dover (which is where refugees from Calais touch ground) and Sarajevo, the last one by another friend from the Protest Files.
Speaking of Calais, that Facebook group I mentioned last time now has more than 21,000 members and is a complete flurry of activity. London24 and the Guardian have published guides and tips on how you can help, and then there’s this sweet video about people from Portsmouth taking direct action. :)
CalAid volunteers collected tents and sleeping bags after Redding Festival to take to Calais:
And here’s another lovely video from Germany: citizens welcoming refugees in Munich.
From Denmark, there are a few stories to share. About five minutes after I had published my last post, a friend wrote on Facebook how she had been moved to tears at a collection point for aid to the Greek island of Lesbos. There had been collection points all over the country, and the turn-out had been overwhelming. Apart from diapers, clothes and sleeping bags, around 200,000 DKK (nearly £18,000 / $30,000 / €27,000) were collected, in just two days, from what I can tell. They’re still sorting and packing some of the donations.
After a refugee centre in Denmark was vandalised last week—a mini van set on fire and a swastika and the words ‘first warning’ and ‘DNSB’ (acronym for a nazi movement) painted on the walls—a couple of thousand citizens showed up at a solidarity demo. Among them a number of vicars in clerical clothing, as they didn’t just want to attend as individuals, but also give the church a voice in the matter.
There’s a short video clip of the event here (Danish website). Around the 1:00 minute mark, my friend Bodil Hindsholm Hansen (herself a vicar) says: ‘It’s overwhelming. So many people. (…) To express solidarity with the refugees that a minority is against. And those people are cowards, they come in the middle of the night, while we come in broad daylight to show that we want to welcome refugees.’ Earlier in the video (0:29), 7-year old Eddy Buck explains that ‘we are here to celebrate that they’ve come’. More photos here.
Another way of handling xenophobic hate was this action by Signe Vedel Pedersen and my co-admin of the (now defunct) Facebook group for Pearls, Marianne Paçarada (oh, the fun we had). A mother and son in Marianne’s town had received nasty hate mail including two rotten bananas (???) saying ‘I f*cking hate muslims. F*ck the both of you. Go home.’ As a response, people came together to send the small family a card with the opposite message. Marianne then handwrote over 1,000 names in the card that read ‘…we are happy that you are here and we want to protect you’.
Marianne wrote that the mother had been extremely moved by the gesture and was going to save the card to always be able to take it out and take comfort in it should anything similar happen to her and her son again.
The same group (including some new people) also sent a similar card to the asylum centre that had been vandalised.
So, yeah. The future is to self-organise. Whether the dinosaurs in our parliaments catch up or not.
I hope that cheers up your weekend a bit. I will now be off to my local shops to ask for cardboard to make a sign for next week’s demo. And this is what I’ll be putting on it.