It is estimated that during Colston’s involvement with the Royal African Company, it transported around 84,000 African men, women and children, who were branded with the company’s initials on their chest. Around 19,300 of these people died on their journey to the Caribbean and the rest of the Americas.
Designed to maximise profit and hold as many enslaved people as possible, the boats were hotbeds for dysentery, dehydration and scurvy.
The Independent- Edward Colston: Who was the Bristol slave trader and why was his statue pulled down?
RAPAR considers that any attempt to criminalise the people who removed his statue would be deeply misplaced and shortsighted, only piling insult on top of the injury that communities around the world are expressing at this time in the name of #blacklivesmatter.
"Recent events around the world and here in the UK have placed systemic and institutional injustice in plain sight.
RAPAR has stood against all forms of exploitation, discrimination and oppression for 20 years and we give our full and unconditional support to Black Lives Matter.”
Watch this short video about Black Lives Matter from one of our RAPAR Leaders, Alimamy Bangura:
ITV published short sharp research findings last week revealing the nature and extent of racism and racist discrimination in the NHS and posing some questions about how that relates to the deaths among front line workers. We asked the Professor of General Practice at the University of Manchester, Professor Aneez Esmail, who is also a hands on GP and who heads up our campaign for the Registration of Medical Professionals in the UK for his immediate reaction to the research findings:
“The findings from the ITN survey concur with my own experience and understanding of why BAME staff in the NHS seem to be differentially impacted by the effects of Covid-19. As a practising GP I have numerous examples of colleagues who have approached me about their concerns regarding the lack of support by management and being forced to work in risky situations.
The NHS is a microcosm of society more generally and research is increasingly showing that BAME people are adversely affected by Covid-19 because they are over-represented in low paying jobs where they have less power and agency to manage their working conditions. Inevitably they are pushed into front lines roles more often than their white colleagues and are therefore more exposed to the risks of contracting the disease. There is no gene for being an ethnic minority and when an enquiry will be finally held I will not be surprised to find that proportionally more BAME died - whether they worked in the NHS or in roles in the social care sector - because of their working conditions and their lack of agency within these organisations."
On the social care side of this same equation, a RAPAR member composed this account about their friend who works in a dementia care home.
Mr B (he does not want to be named even though he is happy to share his experience)
works 12 hour shifts in a private dementia care home and he is feeling exhausted. He is experiencing racism from some of his white colleagues and managers: some of his colleagues are off sick or on leave and there are very few carers left to look after the 100 patients, some of whom are infected with Coronavirus. Some white staff refuse to serve those patients because they are scared they might get the virus and management send him to do the job: he has been with a few of them when they took their last breath. This affected him so much that he started writing about it, and he is thinking of leaving the job after Corona is over. His wife is in high risk groups, only recently recovering from cancer but Mr B's manager won't allow him to reduce his working hours . He said wearing masks for 12 hours makes him sick. He is a healthy man but I can see he is getting unwell mentally. The most shocking thing is, after working for almost 10 years in this job, he receives the minimum wage of £8.50 an hour and has never had a bonus or pay rise.
Obviously workers who are organised in the Trade Union movement have a critical reach out role here. Most recently the General Secretary of TSSA, Manuel Cortes signed our Open Letter in the wake of the death of frontline Transport Worker Belly Mujinga. Manuel explains: "The hallmark of a civilised society is how well it looks after its weak and vulnerable. No one who lives within our shores should be left destitute or without access to comprehensive healthcare. That's why I support this campaign."
And another of our signatories to the Open Letter calling for Status Now, MASI, sent this latest update from the Republic of Ireland:
‘It has been an uphill battle between ourselves as people living in direct provision and the Department of Justice. As of last Wednesday, we saw a sudden rise of people infected with Covid19 to 149. This is attributed to the fact that people cannot observe social distancing due to overcrowded living arrangements: direct provision residents share bedrooms, bathrooms and dining rooms.
We wrote to all leaders of all political parties in Ireland to raise this issue at Government level. It was encouraging then to see time allowed at the Dáil for the Deputies to pose questions directly to both Minister Charlie Flanagan and Minister David Stanton. This has never happened before in the Irish State; that the Parliament would discuss the issues about Direct Provision so passionately and, this time, residents felt well represented.
The following day we heard the two Leaders of the ruling parties admitting that they would like to focus on ending the direct provision system and creating a system whereby people have their own front doors and cook their own meals. The positive thing here is that they are acknowledging that this system is wrong and needs to end. What needs to clear is how it will end, in line with what people seeking asylum want:
1. Amend HAP criteria to include people seeking asylum so that people can move out of Direct Provision and live in the community.
2. Lift restrictions on the right to work for people seeking asylum and allow everyone in Direct Provision, and people seeking asylum not in Direct Provision, to work legally.
3. Extend access to Jobseekers Allowance to people seeking asylum, and extend child benefit to every child in the State, irrespective of immigration status. This is money that is currently paid to the operators of Direct Provision Centres who make millions annually.
4. Grant permission to remain to all non-EU/EEA nationals irrespective of current immigration status: there is no reason to import labour when there are thousands of undocumented people in the country who are very happy to contribute.
And, finally, North of the English border, the Scottish Government is offering an(other) example of how progressive they can be as, today, the make the call that ‘all migrants should be granted Leave to Remain (LTR)’. Yes indeed...
...If anyone can explain to RAPAR why, at their daily briefings, the British Government still do not have a signer who communicates information to deaf people using sign language to interpret, please email admin(at)rapar.org.uk. We are wondering if the reason is the same or perhaps similar to the one that accounts for why our Open Letter calling for Status Now #healthandsafetyforall has yet to be acknowledged, let alone acted upon. You though, can sign it here.
RAPAR will be supporting a protest in solidarity with the RMT rail union after their picket line at Manchester Victoria train station was targeted by members of the far right who also racially abused an Asian train guard.
The protest is supported by Manchester Trades Union Council and will be held this Saturday 12th January between 8.00am and 9.30am.
Find more information about the event here.
RMT members are currently on strike every Saturday in a dispute with Northern Rail in which the union is campaigning to 'Keep The Guard On The Train'.
Video by Mark Krantz for Stand Up To Racism
Yesterday, demonstrations were held in cities up and down the country in protest against Donald Trump's visit to the UK.
At the Manchester rally, RAPAR's Rhetta Moran spoke out against Trump and his policies.
Moran highlighted the systematic abuse faced by migrants in the UK.
THE METRO - Rebecca Yeo: "Before he was murdered, here is what a disabled asylum seeker had to say about Britain’s ‘hostile environment’" >>>
THE GUARDIAN - Steven Morris : "Memorial to murdered refugees unveiled in Bristol " >>>
Human rights campaigners in Bristol pay tribute to Kamil Ahmad who was brutally murdered after suffering racist abuse.
Ahmad was one of the participants of the Disability Mural that brought to light the struggles faced by disabled asylum seekers, amongst them, RAPAR members Manjeet Kaur and Mary Adenugba.
Now the mural will grace the walls of Bristol City Hall in remembrance of both Kamil Ahmad and Bijan Ebrahimi who were both murdered in brutal racist attacks.
“By putting the artwork on the walls of City Hall I hope it sends a message that their lives mattered.” - Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bistol
Both the case of Ahmad and Ebrahimi showed that though both had been the victims of serious racist abuse, deep systematic failings and institutional racism meant that the authorities failed to protect both Kamil and Bijan resulting in their murders.
Learn about the Bristol Disability Mural here >>>
"Former refugee Farheen Raja got the biggest cheer at the Stand Up To Racism Summit in Manchester."
RAPAR member, Farheen, who has just recently won her right to remain in the UK spoke out against racism and Trump's policy of family separation in the USA.
Hello there, I am Farheen Raja the Mancunian. originally from Pakistan. Here today representing the human rights organisation RAPAR where I have been a member for 10 years.
Three weeks ago , after fighting for my very survival in this country for those 10 years, I secured 5 years leave to remain - the government said I can live here for the next five years.
Today we all are gathered here against racism which is continuously spreading everywhere around the world specially against Migrants.
I had tears of rage when I heard about Trump's recent action in separating children from their parents. That happened in USA But unfortunately the same thing has been happening here in Britain. Trump does these brutal acts openly whereas In Britain they do it undercover.
The Government treat Migrants worse than Criminals. They treat them like they have no right to be on earth! for Migrants they have a life but they are in an open prison, faceless dying slowly slowly & this is completely unacceptable! If you don't feel that pain, that hate, that hurt, imagine being in a situation where you live but die everyday. There's nothing in this world more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscious stupidity.
And but I’m glad that we have here this incredible opportunity where we have been taught that it does not matter where you're from, it does not matter your color. your race or your religion. it's about the content of your character. it's about your values. we should do something that unites people rather than that divides us.
I'm here speaking behalf of so many young people who are suffering. Their rights have been taken away from them. it's their life but they have no rights in their own lives. Moreover, it's very easy for us to say that we live in multicultural society and so called everyone has equal opportunities but no. A poor migrant is a migrant that's how the government discriminate people & show the innocents that they are inferior.
Listen everyone, it's not just enough to make legislation and lean back against racism, we have to fight against racism everyday, in practice. We have to tackle and expose the racists until we secure peace. Until then, this struggle won’t stop.
We all must continue to do things that help people who are surviving racism everyday to fight together foster in comprehensive ways and that is only possible by achieving economic equality, education and creating understanding that we do not need to fear differences but to embrace them to teach the people here to love each other and have empathy. We should celebrate diversity instead to ignore it.
This only comes when you and I engage with people at both a social and community level. It will only come when u and I raise a voice with young people who put their faith in you. Remember we could save generations and generations because how we act teaches our new generation our lessons. It's time to stand up with all those innocents in the river in which they cried we need to take a ladder and build up a bridge to climb out and away from that river of tears.
Finally no matter where we are from, no matter we are Asian black or white We are all here - this is our home we have to save it.
We are all one.
Farheen finished her address with one of her poems written during her time in the asylum system.
See the full video below.