'March against racism for UN Anti-Racism Day'

People take part in a demonstration outside the Radcliffe Camera in Oxford, to denounce the Russian

A demonstration denouncing the Russian invasion of Ukraine - Credit: PA

UN Anti-Racism Day will see international protests taking place in cities around the world under the slogan "World Against Racism & Fascism".

At a time when governments are intensifying hostile environments for refugees and migrants, when the #BlackLivesMatter movement is exposing the depths of institutional racism, and when the far right and fascist forces continue to pose a threat, the day of international demonstrations is extremely important.

Here in Britain, we have a cabinet, led by Johnson and Patel, launching an offensive, with their Nationality and Borders Bill, Policing Bill, and Higher Education Bill representing a raft of intensified racist policy attacking refugees and migrants, Gypsy Roma and traveller communities, and the #BlackLivesMatter and wider anti-racist movement. They denied institutional racism in their CRED report and attacked footballers who did #TakeTheKnee actions against racism.

Vivek Lehal, Haringey Stand-Up to Racism (HSTUR)

Vivek Lehal says some government Bills are 'racist policy' - Credit: Archant

As I write, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is sadly, but not unexpectedly, exposing two more aspects of racism. First, our government’s approach "to support British nationals and their families in Ukraine" – while stating that "people fleeing persecution should seek safety in the first safe country they reach". Once again, the British government is failing in its international obligations – just as it failed to respond appropriately to the crisis in Afghanistan. The British government should reverse its present stance and allow Ukrainians and others to seek asylum in Britain.

Second, amongst the tens of thousands fleeing the war in Ukraine are people from Africa, Asia and the Caribbean. There are shocking accounts of the racism they are experiencing in trying to get out of Ukraine. Black people seeking to leave the country have been abandoned at border crossings and have been discriminated against in their attempts to board public transport to evacuate the country. Everyone fleeing war has a right to leave and seek safety.

Now, more than ever we need to mobilise the anti-racist majority and build the mass anti-racist movement we need to challenge Johnson and Patel’s racist offensive. Join us on Saturday, March 19, 2022, 12 noon Portland Place W1B 3DA.

Vivek Lehal is secretary of Haringey Stand Up To Racism.