Another day and another set of haunting images reach our screens and front pages of refugees and migrants fighting for their lives across Europe.
The world watches in horror at the rising number of those who don’t make it to safety. The tragedy of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi, his older brother Galip and their mother Rihan – drowned – as they attempt to find sanctuary should be a wake-up call for coordinated action across the European Union to end the crisis. But not for our government.
Every day of the crisis brings more shame to the Tories, as they reveal their utter heartlessness and contempt for innocent people’s lives. They truly are the nasty party.
How could the response to victims of war, persecution and destitution be so callous and cruel? David Cameron’s dehumanising remarks about ‘swarms of migrants’ and Philip Hammond’s deeply offensive description of ‘marauding African migrants’ show a government that is bigoted and out of touch.
But across Europe, people have shown that despite the wholly inadequate responses of our governments, we the people will show solidarity and compassion for our fellow sisters and brothers. It is heartening to know that many thousands have taken action, have donated food and medical supplies, opened their homes and welcomed those that have made perilous journeys.
And the reality is that many people recognise the role the many European governments have played in creating the crisis in the first place. Britain especially has played an incredibly destructive role in countries across African, Asia, and the Middle-East; with military intervention in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya; as well as flooding the regions with weapons that are now being used by terrorist organisations. Britain has sewed instability and chaos across many countries, and as always, it is civilians and innocent people who suffer.
As NHS hospitals are told to only fill ‘essential vacancies’ due to financial shortages, and we go in to the new school term with a significant shortage of teachers – it’s incredible that Theresa May seems to be able to dig deep for millions for security fences and sniffer dogs, yet her government is incapable of funding public services. At the end of the day it’s about priorities. If we ended the wars, scrapped Trident nuclear weapons, we would actually be able to fund our public services and could work to alleviate the refugee crisis that Britain has helped stoke.
That’s why we need to both create an international movement of solidarity with the refugees, and build a mass social movement in opposition to austerity, racism and war. We must take on our own government’s harmful policies and get the Tories out as soon as we can.
I’ll be marching against austerity outside Tory Party conference next month, and attending the People’s Assembly National Week of Action on the 3rd to 7th of October, because I want a future of hope and opportunity for everyone – not one of division and despair. But you know what? I’ll also be marching against the brutal inhumane politics of people like David Cameron – who displays zero compassion, even as dead toddlers wash up on European shores. I’ll be marching for a Britain and a Europe that always says: refugees are welcome here.
By Aaron Kiely
People’s Assembly Against Austerity & Stand Up To Racism