We went to show our solidarity for 50 refugees & asylum-seekers that were being moved against their wishes from Bristol to Cardiff today, some of which we have worked alongside and given bikes to here at the project. Many of those being moved had very short notice, in some cases barely a week and many of them have been based here in Bristol for a substantial amount of time - some for 9 or more years. There is no explanation given as to why this has taken place.
This is a shockingly disrespectful way to treat people who are here lawfully and who are doing their best to try and live with dignity in a situation that is already fraught with uncertainty and limitation. Despite not having the chance to work and support themselves as they would prefer to do, these 50 people are learning English at college here and trying to become integrated and to feel part of the community as best they can. But how can we expect people to integrate and to feel settled if this is the way they are treated?
Despite the large crowd of protestors at the demonstration today, the coach finally managed to leave at lunchtime, albeit with a lot of police assistance. After the coach had finally managed to depart, I politely asked a couple of policemen present if they were proud of what they had just helped to facilitate and both replied that they were 'just doing their job'. Simple as that, apparently. Even when various people attempted to explain to them what was taking place they were totally uninterested in the cause and completely non-questioning of their actions - not that i expected anything else.
The Bristol Bike Project originally started because of our desire to help refugees & asylum-seekers gain more independence and to hopefully make their lives a little bit more manageable here in Bristol and we are appalled at the way this group of people has been treated today.