Festival planned to mark one year on from Kenmure Street immigration protest

Residents, charities, schools and politicians will be among those gathering to mark the anniversary of the Kenmure Street protests in Glasgow’s Southside.

A silent vigil, performances from musicians and addresses from politicians and key stake holders will all form part of a festival held to mark the moment Pollokshields residents prevented the Home Office deporting their neighbours in a dawn raid.

The festival, which is being called The Festival of Resistance, is set takes place on Friday 13th and Saturday 14th May, will mark the moment the city stood still as the two men were released from the van after 8 hours of residence.

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Key speakers will include human rights lawyer Aamer Anwar, Scottish Refugee Council Chief Executive Sabir Zazai, as well as Glasgow MP Alison Thewliss and MSPs Patrick Harvie and Paul Sweeney.

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The event has been described as “never more important” by the Scottish Refugee Council’s Chief Executive, in light of Westminster’s new policies on immigation.

The Festival is being organised with grassroot groups and charities including, Govanhill Baths Community Trust, Maryhill Integration Network, Freedom from Torture, Unity Sisters and many others.

Sabir Zazai, CEO of the Scottish Refugee Council said: “One year ago, the people of Kenmure Street told the Home Office loud and clear that their inhumane tactics are not welcome here. We cannot tolerate a society in which people seeking protection live in fear of experiencing a dawn raid in their own homes. This simply isn’t the kind of society people in Scotland want to live in.

“The Home Office is now planning to use even more brutal tactics and deport people who are only looking to rebuild their lives in safety to Rwanda. It has never been more important that we stand together as a community, as a society and as a country to these disgraceful plans, in the spirit of Kenmure Street.”

Fatima Uygun, manager of Govanhill Baths Community Trust said: “First and foremost we want to really underline that no one is illegal. Refugees and asylum seekers deserve to be treated with dignity and the opportunity to achieve their full potential.

“Even though Glasgow is one of the largest refugee dispersal centres in the UK, the voices of people - especially women - going through this process are largely unheard, silenced by a lack of resources, support, and a real fear of being subject to hostile and racist measures - like dawn raids - from the UK Government.”

The festival marks a year since the Home Office launched a raid on an address on Kenmure Street on 13th May 2021, and detained two men on alleged immigration violations. However, residents on Kenmure Street blocked the van from leaving eventually leading to a protest that saw the two men released.

Other activities during the festival will include tree-planting, storytelling, children’s art activities and making banners of welcome. It will also coincide with the launch of a new educational resource for teachers, ‘No Radio Silence’, a short film and e-book designed to initiate conversations around New Scots issues.