Protesters fill Parliament Square to oppose Donald Trump, defend migrants and support environmental rights

21 Feb 2017   lucyejwoods

Last night a reported 7,000 protesters crowded Parliament Square to oppose US president Donald Trump visiting the UK.

The ‘Anti-Trump Defend Migrants’ rally focused on opposing anti-migrant policy, racism and islamophobia.

The rally was held in conjunction with MPs debating a US state visit in the Houses of Parliament.

Speakers and attendees expressed support for the rights of various marginalised groups, and environmental rights, using spoken word, music, costumes, badges and placards.

Queen Mary student and protester, Thahmuna Begum says she was attending because “We are standing up against racism and fascism.”

“Theresa May does not represent us. She should have spoken against Trump and his racism.”

Trump is currently attempting to push through an executive order banning travel from seven majority-Muslim countries. Deportations have already begun in the US as part of Trump’s aggressive stance against illegal immigration.

“Leaders of the free world should not be silent. We have to speak out now,” said Begum.

Lead organiser for activist group One Day Without Us, Matt Carr says a huge increase in immigration is expected over the next 30 to 40 years – due to climate change refugees.

“Racism and climate change are linked. When we talk about climate change refugees we are usually not talking about Caucasians. Racism is a constant factor.”

“It is essential that environmentalists – all of us – dealing with climate change recognise the connections.”

Carr said that climate change is “used to justify punitive anti-migration” policy, as there “is a difference in how ordinary people worry about climate change and immigration, and how national security does.”

Carr explained further that “through the narrow lens of national security, climate change migration will see more drones, police and even the army [manning borders].”

“There are policy level questions on how governments should respond. We want to see a world which is friendly and welcoming to refugees.”

Friends of the Earth spokesperson Asad Rehman said “climate change is like the proverbial iceberg hitting the Titanic: rich industrial countries are on the top deck sipping champagne, while poor, black and brown people are not able to escape.”

Climate change movements “have to join with women’s rights and refugees – we already have climate change refugees,” said Rehman.

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas also spoke at the rally, calling Trump a climate change denier, a bully, a racist and a misogynist who “scorns human and environmental rights.”

As well as anti-migrant policy, Trump has threatened to get rid of the US Environmental Protection Agency, to reverse Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, to backtrack on the Paris climate change agreement, and to cut funds for climate change research.

“Trump is building a future where people feel scared and unsafe,” said Lucas, “we have to build bridges, not walls.”

The government responded with the statement: “HM Government believes the President of the United States should be extended the full courtesy of a State Visit. We look forward to welcoming President Trump once dates and arrangements are finalised.”


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