As protests continue across the UK over US President Donald Trump’s first working visit, it’s easy to speculate as to why. The American Leader was a divisive force even before he began his election campaign, with many pointing to a somewhat dubious record on human rights.
It’s something that’s come under increasing fire from the British public during the past few days. From his treatment of LGBT+ people to his disregard for a free press, it’s all been up for ridicule and protest – namely in the form of hundreds of thousands of placards and demonstrators.
However, for many of the people RightsInfo spoke to, it wasn’t just about the Republican politician – it was also a protest at our own Government’s human rights record.
‘It’s Not Just Him Who’s Separating Families, Our Government Is Doing The Same’
Image Credit: Jem Collins / RightsInfo
“I think what we want to do is make connections between what he’s doing out there, where he’s normalising extremist forces around the world, and make links with our own Government,” explained Rahila Gupta of Southall Black Sisters, who joined the #BringTheNoise protest in London. “It’s not just him who’s separating migrant families, our Government is doing the same.”
Indeed, the Government has come into criticism for its treatment of people at Yarl’s Wood Detention Centre, with 100 detainees taking part in a hunger strike earlier this year. Strikers listed a set of Home Office policies they believed were against their human rights, including detaining people who came to the UK as minors, detaining survivors of torture and asylum seekers, and having an indefinite limit on the amount of time in detention. Whatever your views on the issue, it clearly one which centres around our human right to family and liberty.
We need to use Trump to draw attention to our own country. We’re not superior.
“Of course Trump represents some of the worst political forces,” says Rahila. “He’s a very dangerous person to be in post for the free world, but actually, what’s going on in Britain is not that different in some ways. The so-called ‘war on terror‘ targets Muslims and, as I said, our immigration policies are equally drastic. We need to use Trump to draw attention to our own country, not just say ‘it’s over there, we are safe, we are fine and in some ways superior’. We’re not.”
‘They Should Never Have Invited Him’
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For other protesters, it was more about the act of formally inviting Donald Trump to the UK. “I don’t think the red carpet should have been rolled out,” Amy Sparrow, a 38-year-old American ex-pat tells RightsInfo. She believes it makes the Government complicit in his policies and stances on key human rights issues.
Indeed, some politicians have sought to boycott Trump, with Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland shunning his Scottish leg of the visit to instead lead Glasgow Pride. Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn was also one of the keynote speakers at the Trump protests in London.
Most people don’t want him here and the Government is just ignoring that.
What effect the protest has, if any, remains to be seen – indeed, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox has already slammed protesters as an embarrassment to themselves. However, for those on the ground across the UK it’s about sending a clear message to both the UK and US administrations.
“I think it’s important to raise my voice and give my children a chance to raise their voice,” Mary Mcbride, a protestor in London says to RightsInfo. “We’ve come down to be part of a big group to show that we don’t like him and we don’t want him here and to show the UK Government that people don’t want him here. They really should never have invited him. Most people don’t want him here and the Government is just ignoring that.”
Image Credit: Jem Collins / RightsInfo