Friday, October 12, 2007

STAR joins Parliament Square Darfur Rally

On October 4th STAR’s Chief Executive Katherine Blaker joined a number of other high profile speakers in Parliament Square, to call on the Home Office to stop sending Darfuri victims of ethnic cleansing back to Khartoum.

A speaker at the rally

The event was coordinated by Aegis Students, in response to an appeal by the Home Office against a ruling by the Court of Appeal in a test case involving three Darfuris. A win for the Home Office, due to be heard by the House of Lords on the 4th October, could open the way for hundreds of Darfuri asylum seekers to be sent back to Sudan, despite evidence that they will be tortured upon their return.

After assembling to protest with banners, placards and enthusiastic chanting as the Lords entered the House, the demonstrators gathered to hear speakers. The widespread support for the Darfuri cause was illustrated by the range and variety of those who addressed the crowd.

Hatem Mohammed Hussein, a survivor from Darfur, spoke movingly of his experiences and desire to find safety in Britain. Under the blue skies of Parliament square, with the statue of King George V towering over the crowd, his descriptions of terror and brutality for which Darfur has unfortunately become infamous, seemed very far away.

Protestors with their placards

Liberal Democrat MP Simon Hughes and John Bercow MP, President of the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Prevention of Genocide made it clear that the Darfur campaign had firm support within the House of Commons. Donna Covey from the Refugee Council, and Katherine Blaker from STAR pledged the support of their organisations and applauded the bravery of those Darfuris, who despite their own difficulties and the danger of deportation, had come out to demonstrate.

The theme of learning from history ran through many of the speeches, in particular that of Dr Martin Stern, a survivor of the Holocaust, and the son of a failed asylum seeker who later died in Buchenwald following his deportation from Britain back to Holland. Dr Stern pointed out that after each of the terrible genocides of the 20th century, countries (including Britain) have sworn to prevent such atrocities from reoccurring. He called on the House of Lords to learn from history and take a stand.

Useful Links (please note STAR cannot be responsible for the content of external website):

The Aegis Students

BBC News quick guide to Darfur

Posted by STAR team on 12/10/2007 at 01:51 PM