Sunday 30 November 2014

We must fight against racism and fascism and demand justice and humanity for all oppressed peoples.

The St Andrew’s Day Rally on 29th November praised  Aberdeen’s courageous actions 30 years ago when it gave the freedom of the City to Nelson Mandela. However, speaker after speaker warned that there is no room for complacency in the North East  -  racism and the far right are still with us and we must all challenge them wherever they raise their ugly heads.

Politicians, trade unionists and community activists had earlier marched along Union Street from St Nicholas Churchyard, led by the upbeat rhythms of the Guarana Drummers, and fuelled by a commitment to fight for social justice and humanity and against racism and fascism not only in the North East but across the world. Christmas shoppers once again stopped to watch the colourful display of banners and flags.

Kate Ramsden
After a minute’s silence in memory of all those who had lost their lives in the Clutha tragedy a year ago, Kate Ramsden, Vice President of the ATUC kicked off the Rally at the Castlegate, reminding those gathered that no matter what side of the independence debate we were on, we were all there because we have a passion for social justice and equality.

“That’s why it is so good to see you all out here today to give the message that we stand together with all those suffering injustice in this country and across the world; that we will fight racism and apartheid wherever we see it, that we will demand justice and humanity for all oppressed peoples; and we will not be silenced.”
In a passionate speech, Amanda, from Aberdeen Anti Fascist Alliance warned that the BNP and the National Front are alive and well in the North East.

“Apartheid and racism are not historical events. Parts of society not just across the world, but also here at home see race as a reason for oppression.”
She called for local politicians to refuse to share a platform with far right candidates in the forthcoming election, to deny them any legitimacy within the political system.

Stuart Fairweather
Stuart Fairweather and Mike Arnott from Dundee TUC were welcomed to the March and Rally, and Stuart addressed the Rally to call for solidarity against racism and fascism and in support of working people.

"We all need to continue the struggle against racism in our workplaces, in our communities and ideologically. We need to stand against the Tory plans to limit people's right to migrate and to contribute to society. Our public services, our industry and culture are greater for our diversity."
Barney  Crockett
Barney Crockett, part of the City’s ruling Labour Group, told those gathered of his pride in the City not just for giving the freedom of the City to Nelson Mandela but for  its proud history of international work across many years and as far back as the Spanish Civil War.

“And we must also remember that nowadays, one in eight people in Aberdeen came from abroad in the last 10 years and we must embrace our cultural diversity.”
Ally Coutts
Ally Coutts from Scottish Palestinian Solidarity Campaign and Jonathan Russell from CND reminded us of the battles we still face for the future of humanity across the world and the complicity of our UK government and UK banks and businesses in perpetuating oppression.

Ally said, "On this the UN Day of Solidarity with Palestine, we must do all we can to take forward the fight for freedom and justice for the Palestinian people."

Jonathan Russell
Jonathan reminded us that the Eastern Europeans coming into our country bring more resources in than they take out. “We must challenge the political rush to punish immigrants,” he said.

Myshelle Haywood
RIC’s Myshelle Haywood spoke of her own experience as an immigrant from the USA and slammed the “Life in the UK” test, which, “basically institutionalises someone’s warped idea about what minority ethnic people are like.”
“Well I say that people are people. What unites us is our humanity and our desire to have decent happy lives.

“Racism flourishes when we ignore it,” she warned. “When we talk about it and look at it,  it loses its power and appeal. It’s exposed for what it truly is, hateful and pointless.... Our future is no place for racism.”

Richard Baker
Christian Allard
This was echoed by Christian Allard, SNP MSP and by Richard Baker, Labour MSP. Christian told  the Rally that there were over 300 racist incidents in Aberdeen last year, and we all need to take action to challenge this.
Richard responded to the call from the AAFA and pledged that there would be no platform for racist parties in Aberdeen.

Dame Anne Begg
Dame Anne Begg paid tribute to Aberdeen’s proud record in fighting fascism and standing against apartheid and vowed that the fight would go on. She also condemned the “disgrace that slavery still exists in this country and this day and age” and warned that the North East would not be immune to this. This was another battle to be fought for the humanity and dignity of all people.
Maggie Chapman

Maggie Chapman, the Rector of Aberdeen University and co-convener of the Scottish Greens added her voice to the battle against racism and fascism in all its forms, here in the North east and across the world.

The Rally ended with a poem read by Tommy Campbell of UNITE, and written by Ralph Windle,  for his  father and for the dedication of the International Brigade Memorial.London, South Bank, 1985

Tommy Campbell
These are the arms of those who touched a sky
From which no time shall darken out their sun;
And quicken, with the blood of those who died,

These living hands for battles yet unwon.

Here speaks, at last, Jarama of their knowing
All freedoms ebbed where Ebro held its line;
Till ‘Hold Madrid’ rang out upon their going,
‘No Spanish orphan dies, who is not mine!’

These do not die, who were in love with living,
Enough to lose it for some others’ gain;
Who gave the world, but did not count the giving,
Its unforgotten images of Spain.

We grasp these hands no tyrant can ignore,
Of quiet men of peace when roused to war!