Last weekend, on Saturday 29th October, Right to Remain crew attended These Walls Must Fall end-of-year network gathering in Liverpool. The RtR Communications Assistant, Sundus Abdi, was on hand to report on the event…
These Walls Must Fall Campaigners travelled from all over the UK to the heart of the city, at the Quaker Meeting House, to celebrate achievements, share their struggles and build up excitement for the next year of campaigning and organising.
The day began with coffee, snacks and chit-chat between campaigners and organisers. As campaigners flooded into the meeting room, messages of long-time-no-sees and congratulations echoed in the room. Some had not seen each other since the last network gathering in Sheffield so they cherished reconnecting with each other.
But first, the tour bus. An open top sightseeing tour bus took the group on a tour of Liverpool’s most historical and monumental sites. The bus tour idea came from the Campaigners who organised the gathering to welcome the rest of Campaigners to their home: many had not visited Liverpool before and even those living in Liverpool were eager to learn more about their hometown. The tour guide pointed out many important buildings and areas that make up Liverpool’s cultural fabric, including where members of The Beatles first met, the Chinese Arch made of gold gifted by Shanghai and the intricately designed churches.
Back at the Quaker Meeting House, These Walls Must Fall campaigners showcased their collective resolve, wins and power. One speaker after another, they celebrated the achievements of the These Walls Must Fall campaigners, many of whom had a difficult past few years: the challenges of the pandemic, fighting court cases, solicitors and the gruelling asylum seeking process. There was much pride in their voices, because they were fighting for not only their own rights but also for the rights of people in similar situations. As one campaigner aptly put it, “There is power in numbers.”
“When I see people come together like the way they did today, I know now that I’ve got brothers and sisters from another mother who can help and support me whatsoever”.Manono, Liverpool campaigner
Another campaigner happily shared how the Right to Remain Toolkit helped her in her journey of seeking asylum, how her fellow These Walls Must Fall campaigners were always there for her and how she recently was granted asylum. We were elated to hear her application was successful, and even more delighted when we found that the Toolkit aided her through this process: that made Right to Remain team feel very proud indeed.
“It gives me hope, we are all here from different countries, religions, creed, culture, but here we are all one – like a family.”Wilson Mukerjee, Liverpool campaigner
One of the long-running campaigns of These Walls Must Fall is Abolish Reporting. In the past, migrants were required to ‘check-in’ at the Home Office’s reporting centre, travelling for hours without financial support. During reporting, migrants were at risk of being detained, removed or interviewed without warning. After Campaigners’ protests, meetings and advocacy supported by our allies, the Home Office has switched this to telephone reporting for the majority of people, which is thought to be less invasive than physical reporting. Though reporting is not abolished altogether and we have a lot more to do, this is one step towards the eradication of migrant surveillance.
Amidst all the celebrations, the gathering was also an occasion to revisit These Walls Must Fall’s core values and ethos and desire for a different world that is full of dignity, love and respect. We still are working towards ending the Hostile Environment because we still feel oppressed. We are continuing to campaign to abolish detention, and we see this as becoming even more critical – especially following the recent news regarding Manston migrant *processing* centre.
Home made food – an interesting mix including traditional West African food and jollof rice – was then served with smiles, laughter and more hugs. In true These Walls Must Fall fashion, there was also music and dance.
Manono, a TWMF campaigner from Liverpool, said: “When I see people come together like the way they did today, I know now that I’ve got brothers and sisters from another mother who can help and support me whatsoever”.
Wilson, another TWMF campaigner, put it in a similar way: “It gives me hope, we are all here from different countries, religions, creed, culture, but here we are all one – like a family.”
These Walls Must Fall community of campaigners and organisers are working tirelessly and gracefully to restore dignity in migrants. The Liverpool gathering showed how we care for each other so that we can fight more in the future. This community of radical solidarity is our weapon against the Hostile Environment that is so precious to us and is needed more than ever.