It comes as a shock to many of us that in 2017 slavery can be prevalent. According to Amnesty International, more than 20,000 migrants, refugees and asylum seekers unlawfully held in detention centres are facing brutal treatments of beatings, torture and rape. For the thousands trying to escape to Europe by sea, they face being intercepted by the Libyan coastguard and brought back to detention – and the EU is funding this!
Modern slavery is a crime and a violation of fundamental human rights. It’s disguised in various forms, such as slavery, servitude, forced and compulsory labour and human trafficking, all of which have in common the deprivation of a person’s liberty by another in order to exploit them for personal or commercial gain.
Kanndiss Riley, Diversity Matters’ social media co-ordinator, was amongst the National Anti-Slavery Protest in London led by African Lives Matters and other activism groups on the 9th December, and shares her experience marching in solidary to end the enslavement and selling of black Africans in Libya.
“I left my home in Margate in the early hours of Saturday morning believing I was going to experience the beginning of change, to join the march against the monstrosity of what’s happening in Libya.
Prior to traveling I’d been on the train to Margate with some friends, they had asked me why I was going and at the time I said because I wanted to see what would happen for myself, see who I’d meet and speak to and be part of a course.
On Saturday morning I stood standing by the tube entrance at Hyde Park Corner watching packs after packs of people emerge from the tube to higher ground. I felt differently, excited at the anticipation that I’d learn something new that would dramatically change my perspective. I wanted to get going and join “my people” as I was overwhelmed by this feeling of inclusion and united purpose. Also, nervous because I didn’t want there to be any trouble.
As I stood by the tube station, I wasn’t sure whether all of these black people had come for the march or Winter Wonderland. Once the time hit 11:50 I decided to walk down to the meeting point at Belgrave Square, on route I bumped into people I saw at the train station; families, young couples and older Rastafarian group who were directing people along the streets.
With my new group and my whatsapp Group separated, the march started and I moved with crowd. To those on the street minding their own business we were a nuisance; stopping cars from getting on their way, canting several different songs, waving banners and playing music. However, from within the swarm we had a purpose to bring awareness of what has (allegedly) been going on for 12 years, and the impact slavery is having on mankind.
After marching a full circle around the Libyan embassy, the mass congregated outside the embassy in Knightsbridge we chanted “my body is not for sale slavery must end”, we sang and we listened to the spokesmen and women. The crowd grew larger as more joined and the march moved on the Buckingham palace and then on to Parliament Square.
I feel the purpose to raise awareness was successful. I met people there and after who asked me about the march and I’m sure they went on to tell others. The overwhelming question of what more we can do is out there, and I feel many people want to and are working hard to think of solutions but in my opinion undoubtedly we have to work as a collective to understand the root course of this and why it has flourished into the gross outcome.” Kanndiss Riley @KanndissRiley
For any skeptics who stayed away from the protest, African Lives Matters reassures that protests definitely work; “it gets the word out and sends a strong warning to the criminals”
Some of the demands the protestors are are aiming to achieve include:
1. Demanding the closing of the remaining 24 reported inhuman detention centers. Reportedly, IOM has influenced the closing of 6 out of the original 30 detention centers reported.
2. Putting pressure and responsibility on African presidents, including AU, ECOWAS to organize rescue mission to withdraw our brothers/sisters who are detained and bring them home.
3. United African leaders voices along with the UN need to condemn the slave trade and murders of any of their citizens, and request that Libya makes it a law to prosecute anyone caught or found guilty of the selling of humans or murders of innocent immigrants.
Support Amnesty International UK‘s appeal to call on European leaders to protect migrants and refugees from horrific human rights abuses. CLICK HERE
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