28 Jan 2022

Harkin: Boris and Patel should be in the dock at The Hague for immigration policies

Treatment of refugees fleeing to Britain no different than to that suffered by those driven out of Ireland by the Great Famine, says People Before Profit councillor

Harkin: Boris and Patel should be in the dock at The Hague for immigration policies

Cllr Harkin: "Today, we see millions of people fleeing starvation, war, crushing poverty and climate change. It's no different from what Ireland's Great Hunger refugees faced."

People Before Profit councillor, Shaun Harkin, has demanded that Prime-Minister Boris Johnson and Home Secretary, Priti Patel, be put up at the International Criminal Court in The Hague for their policies on immigration.

Cllr Harkin was speaking at the United Against Racism rally last Sunday next to the backdrop of Derry's Emigration Statues at Queen's Quay that symbolise the city's own refugees who had to flee the starvation and persecution of An Gorta Mór in the 1840s.

Drawing parallels with those that sought refuge around the world from Ireland back then, Cllr Harkin said the 27 refugees who died trying to cross the English Channel last week need not have done so.

Citing the British Government's immigration policies, Cllr Harkin said Mr Johnson and Ms Patel should be held accountable at the highest level for creating a culture in Britain that demonised migrants and asylum seekers.

He said: “It's fitting we are gathered by the Great Hunger statues. One million people died across Ireland through starvation and disease.

“They didn't need to die but did because the British government decided profits for a tiny handful of very wealthy people was more important than saving hundreds of thousands of lives.

“More than one million people fled Ireland in a short number of years. They traveled by whatever means they could in complete desperation and were not welcomed with open arms wherever they arrived.

“They were described as 'famine Irish' who were 'swarming' across seas bringing backwardness, disease and poverty.

"Today, we see millions of people fleeing starvation, war, crushing poverty and climate change. It's no different from what Ireland's Great Hunger refugees faced.

“People from Iraq and Afghanistan are almost always included among those fleeing and among those drowning.

“Both countries were brought to ruin by US and British government disastrous wars and occupations that succeeded in killing hundreds of thousands of innocent people and stuffing billions in blood profits into the bank account of arms manufacturers.

“In 2015 the toddler Alan Kurdi washed up on Greek beach. The world responded with grief, with outrage and demanded action. Nothing has changed.

“Boris Johnson and Priti Patel should be going to the International Criminal Court for their racist immigration policies, for their efforts to demonise migrants and asylum seekers, for their role in the death of innocent people at sea, in trucks, in freezing camps.”

Cllr Harkin's ire was also directed at the European Union who he accused as being equally culpable as Mr Johnson and Ms Patel.

He added: “We're told over and over how progressive EU bureaucrats are. It's a myth.

“Twenty seven people died in the English channel last week but nearly 2000 people have died in the Mediterranean Sea this year already.

“Nearly 40,000 have drowned in the Mediterranean Sea since 2014. This is the direct result of racist EU immigration policies.

“EU bosses are spending tens of billions to strengthen Fortress Europe with surveillance, patrols and 1000 kilometres of border walls.

“Nothing has changed because the British government and EU bureaucrats prioritise upholding racist borders and the wealth of a handful of billionaires over taking real humanitarian action.

“The British government and EU elites will never put humanity before billionaires, powerful corporations and war profiteers.

“James Connolly, a migrant himself, opposed a border in Ireland but also opposed borders across Europe. He continues to speak for a vision directly opposed to that of elites and billionaires:

“The day will come, and perhaps like a bolt from the blue, when the frontiers will not be sufficient to prevent the handclasp of friendship between the peoples.

“But that day will come only when the kings and kaisers, queens and czars, financiers and capitalists who now oppress humanity will be hurled from their place and power.

“And the emancipated workers of the earth, no longer the blind instruments of rich men’s greed will found a new society, a new civilisation, whose corner stone will be labour, whose inspiring principle will be justice, whose limits humanity alone can bound.

“If we want to end English Channel and Mediterranean Sea drowning tragedies this is what we need to aspire to do.”

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