Carolyn's Speech

“Thank you very much for inviting me to join you in your solidarity walk and for all of the work which are you doing, individually and collectively, to raise awareness about the plight of refugees and asylum seekers being detained across the UK.

It is utterly horrifying to see Priti Patel and the UK Government continue to escalate their bigoted and inhumane attacks on those seeking refuge and asylum with their heinous Rwanda deportation policy.

For the UK Government, this isn’t about humanity or morals, of which they have very few. It isn’t about taxpayers value for money and it certainly isn’t about providing genuine safe routes for refugees. It’s about pandering to the absolute worst elements of British society – many of whom make up the voter base of the current party of government.

In light of this, we must take solace from the heroic direct action of campaigners at Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre, blockading the road to help buy time for legal representatives who successfully got every single person off that scheduled flight to Rwanda.

We must use these victories as motivation to continue to fearlessly fill every space with our message. From our homes to our streets, our workplaces to our parliaments, we say: indefinite detention is barbaric!

The very idea that somebody in this country can be incarcerated indefinitely for committing no crime, just for crossing a border, is completely unjustifiable. Indefinite detention is a mark of shame on this country and one which we must expunge.

Here at home, we will continue to open up the doors of Wales as a Nation of Sanctuary. In light of the awful conditions that were witnessed at Penally asylum camp, we must continue to send the message to the UK Government that, regardless of a lack of devolved powers, Home Office-run detention centres are not welcome in Wales.

I would encourage everybody to write to their Member of the Senedd and ask them to commit to opposing indefinite detention and the locating of detention centres in Wales. I am confident that most of my colleagues in Welsh Labour, Plaid Cymru and the Welsh Liberal Democrats will join me in making such a commitment, if they have not already.

Given the change of leadership of my party at a UK level, it is of incredible importance that UK Labour recommits to its existing policy of ending indefinite detention, which was a part of the 2015, 2017 and 2019 general election manifestos. In that regard, I will be writing to Yvette Cooper, Shadow Home Secretary, asking for such a commitment.

I will finish with this: whilst the current draconian moves of the UK Government can be demotivating and disheartening, it has always been rare for politicians to ‘lead’ on issues of conscience. Instead, they are reactive, only acting in reaction to the overwhelming demands of society.

So we must take hope from the fact that these battles for the soul of our country have been won in the past, and they will be won in the future. And they will be won not by the politician or the government minister who signs the legislation, but by the organisation and action of people like you across this country. That is why today has been so inspirational. Going forward, we must continue to unite, as people, as communities, and as movements – because it is that unity and strength which will force the politicians to make the changes we so desperately need.

Thank you and solidarity to you all and also to those walking from Surrey to Winchester.”

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