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Campaigners for more humane treatment of refugees by the government protested against the Home Office’s deportation flights on the Stade.

Refugee support actions on the Stade and Rock-a-Nore beach

Britain’s treatment of refugees has been to the fore in the town this week, with a demonstration against deportation flights on Thursday and the Lighthouse Project, a show of solidarity with refugees crossing the Channel, due to be held on Rock-a-Nore beach on Saturday evening. Nick Terdre reports.

The Stade Open Space was the venue for the protest against the Home Office’s resumption of deportation flights on Thursday, International Human Rights Day. Hastings Rally against Racism and the Refugee Buddy Project for Hastings, Rother and Wealden, which organised the event, expressed concern that the Home Office had scheduled a flight to Jamaica on 2 December, the day the second national lockdown ended, followed by others on 8th, 9th and 10th.

Jack Kennedy of Hastings Rally against Racism criticised the Tory Party’s “lack of morality and compassion.”

“The Tory party have yet again shown their complete lack of morality and compassion, and have used the Dublin Regulation to deport yet more refugees,” Jack Kennedy of Hastings Rally against Racism told the gathering of around 20.

The EU’s Dublin Regulation determines which EU member state is responsible for assessing an application for asylum, normally the first one entered by the applicant.

“The hostile environment that the government has created is not supported by us here at Hastings Rally Against Racism, and with The Buddy Project we have held two rallies to demonstrate our support to both refugees and the Windrush generation, and our stern opposition to the government’s actions,” said Kennedy.

He called out Home Secretary Priti Patel for criticising “leftists” and “do-gooding” celebrities who spoke out against the ministry’s actions.

“As long as the Tories insist on racism and hate fueling their party, we will continue to vocally and publicly oppose them at every turn,” he said.

Beacon of hope

The Lighthouse Project on Saturday 12 December aims to show solidarity with  refugees making the dangerous crossing from France in small boats. At 6pm  participants will form a line on the beach at Rock-a-Nore and shine torches out to sea.

The lighthouse will be formed on the beach close to the harbour arm. The beam will be maintained for 35 minutes, the approximate time it takes a ferry to cross the Channel.

Part of larger artwork by Theo Gorst.

According to Rosa Torr, who developed the idea along with Jane Grimshaw and Polly Gifford, co-chairs of the Hastings Community of Sanctuary, they will become a “Human Lighthouse to send a light out for those who might need it that are making the treacherous journey across the channel to seek lawful asylum.”

“The Lighthouse is about safety and compassion, and making sure people get here alive, people shouldn’t die getting across,” she told HOT. As a performance maker, she regularly finds herself engaging with socio-political issues, but aims to do so in a non polarising way.

Some 75 have signed up for the event on the Lighthouse Facebook page, and another 20 have responded by email, Torr said. All are welcome but be advised to bring your own torch, be dressed for the weather and observe social distancing!

Torr also plans to film the event and has discussed putting it on the website of leading local venues, as well as the sites of local refugee support groups.

Over 5,000 refugees have crossed the Channel this year. While most have arrived safely, there have been fatalities, most notably an Iranian family of five who drowned off the coast of France in October, for whom a vigil was held on the Stade Open Space.

See Lighthouse trailer here.

The Lighthouse will form on Rock-a-Nore beach close to the harbour arm.


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Posted 13:01 Friday, Dec 11, 2020 In: Campaigns

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