Glasgow Home Office protest: Extinction Rebellion block the front entrance on Brand Street
An Extinction Rebellion protest has blocked the front entrance to the Home Office building in Glasgow.
The group, along with Glasgow Calls Out Polluters, claim the protest is against the Nationality and Borders Bill passing through the House Of Commons.
The activists locked themselves to each other and to the property’s gates from about 7am on Monday.
The protesters, from XR Scotland and XR Glasgow, are calling on the UK Government “to end its hostile environment policy towards migrants”.
The activists have blocked access by locking themselves to each other and the gates with messages on equipment and banners stating 'Refugees Welcome', 'End the Hostile Environment' and 'Climate Justice = Migrant Justice'.
A spokesperson for XR Scotland said: “The Nationality and Borders Bill must be stopped.
“It’s beyond cruel to criminalise people seeking asylum.
“It’s state-sanctioned murder to grant immunity to border force staff if refugees die after being pushed back into French waters.”
One protester said: "The UK's heartless hostile environment policy routinely denies migrants their human rights, preventing access to employment, healthcare, housing and other basic services.”
XR claim the demonstration has been organised in response to Home Secretary Priti Patel’s Nationality and Borders Bill passing through the House Of Commons.
The demonstration comes after multiple equalities organisations rallied together in a mass protest against the Bill on Sunday in London outside 10 Downing Street.
Pictures at the scene in Glasgow on Monday show the protesters taking action in solidarity with those in London with messages banners saying “Refugees Welcome”, “End the Hostile Environment” and “Climate Justice = Migrant Justice”.
Stuart, a 23 year-old support worker told The Scotsman: “We are protesting against the Nationality and Border’s Bill which is passed through the House of Commons which will criminalise asylum seekers for taking routes to the UK. There are no current legal and safe routes for people. They have been made aware by human rights groups that this will endanger lives, but they are still pushing it through.”
Speaking on the motivations for the protest, Stuart, who arrived at 7am to protest added: “The Bill passed parliament this week, and a fortnight ago we saw the deadliest crossing on record so we thought we had to take action. We are hoping to draw attention to the actions of the Home Office. It is Home Office negligence that is also responsible for deaths of asylum seekers here in Glasgow.
"We hope we will inspire more direct action from those able to do so. We obviously saw incredible spontaneous action earlier this year with Kenmure Street, but for those of us that are able to feel we need to step things up as this Bill is ready to go through today.”
Asked about what motivated him to take part in the protest on Brand Street he added: "If you consider the situation for those forced to take these perilous journeys across the English Channel, in small dinghies in risk of drowning, sometimes with their children, for me being out in the cold in Glasgow strapped to a tube isn’t that extreme.
A 67-year-old retired social worker who took part in the protest said: “The UK’s heartless hostile environment policy routinely denies migrants their human rights, preventing access to employment, healthcare, housing and other basic services.
“The world’s richest 10% are responsible for half of global emissions compared with the poorest half emitting only 10%, yet it will be the communities least responsible that are forced to flee their homes on a scale never seen before as the climate crisis escalates.
“The hostile environment must end, there can be no climate justice without migrant justice.”
Ministers in Scotland and Wales jointly condemned measures in the UK Government’s Nationality and Borders Bill as “barbaric” last week – as well as warning the legislation may need approval from the parliaments in Edinburgh and Cardiff.
Scottish Social Justice Secretary Shona Robison and her Welsh counterpart Jane Hutt wrote a joint letter to Ms Patel to demand the UK reconsiders its “hostile environment strategy” and develops “sufficient safe and legal routes” for asylum seekers.
In response to the protest, a UK Government spokesperson said: “As part of our New Plan for Immigration, we are establishing safe and legal routes to enable the most vulnerable people to start a new life in safety in the UK.
“People should not make life-threatening journeys to the UK and should claim asylum in the first safe country they reach. We are changing the law so those who facilitate dangerous crossings can face life behind bars.”