YESTERDAY: On Sunday 6th November, dozens of British Jews formed the Jewish Bloc of the Shut Manston Protest outside the Manston Migration Centre in Kent. The protest, organised by SOAS Detainee Support, drew hundreds of people to the site from across the UK.
The bloc was coordinated by different Jewish grassroots groups and organisers including human rights NGO René Cassin and Diaspora Alliance.
Despite the torrential rain and holding signs including “Jews Against Immigration Detention”, “No Human is Illegal” and “You Shall not Oppress the Stranger”, British Jews took part in the demonstration – which included speeches by local and national activists against the Government’s treatment of refugees and migrants. Chants included “Tear Down Fences, Open the Borders” and “Free them all.”
At one point, the organisers spoke directly to those trapped inside in languages ranging from Farsi to Albanian, and asked the crowds to throw paper planes containing messages of solidarity. Speakers also called on the need to hold the Government to account for the wider policies and rhetoric that led to the conditions in Manston. Detainees inside the Detention Centre waved at the protestors from their windows.
Jewish Bloc activist and LJY Netzer Movement Worker Joe Shotton said:
I came to Manston today because I am appalled by the lack of compassion and empathy shown to migrants and refugees by this Government. As Jewish people, as human beings, it is crucial to be here and let the people trapped inside this detention centre know that we will not let the Government render them invisible.
Diaspora Alliance UK Director, Emily Hilton said:
“The racism on display in the Commons and press over the last two weeks cannot go unchallenged. Diaspora Alliance is committed to building a world where everyone is free to live in dignity. We will continue to organise ourselves and our Jewish siblings to show up, bear witness and take action in solidarity against the inhumane treatment of refugees and migrants. We are grateful for the leadership of SOAS Detainee Support for organising this protest and look forward to joining for future demonstrations.
René Cassin Campaigns Manager Esther Raffell said:
As Jewish human rights campaigners, we are speakers by experience when it comes to asylum and immigration detention. We are no strangers to a hostile environment, being dehumanised, categorised as enemy aliens, detained and excluded time and time again. For this reason we show up as Jews and as fellow human beings for our fellow siblings detained at Manston, as a reminder of the dangers of indignity and the necessity of a compassionate and supportive system for migrants and refugees.
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