Central London is awash with protestors calling on the UK government to be more forceful in holding US President Donald Trump, who is on his second visit to the country, to account on his human rights record.
The divisive president, who landed at Stansted Airport yesterday (June 3), met with outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May in Downing Street while crowds amassed in Trafalgar Square before marching down to Parliament.
Thus far the Republican leader has also met with The Queen and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, among other royals. However, he snubbed an invitation to hold talks with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Human rights groups have decried the American leader for issues including separating child migrants from their families, his decision to ban transgender people from the military as well as his decision to pull out of the Paris Climate deal.
Those who spoke to RightInfo felt there is much more the UK government could be doing to hold President Trump to account on human rights – but added that there is more it must do to get its own house in order as well.
President Trump: ‘His Policies Are Oppressing Minorities Across The World’
Carman Barrera, of Latin American Women’s Aid. Image Credit: Rights Info
“Its a real surprise he has been given a red carpet welcome,” Carmen Barrera, of charity Latin American Women’s Aid (LAWA), told RightsInfo.
But she added that the UK’s own human rights record is chequered, with UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston issuing his scathing report on the government’s failure to acknowledge the seriousness of poverty just last month.
LAWA, based in London, runs the only two refuges in Europe operated by and for Latin American women and children fleeing gender-based violence. It was original set up to help Latin American women who came to the UK as political refugees. In September last year, President Trump’s administration reduced its acceptance of refugees from an average of 70,000 per year to 45,000.
“I’m here to stand up against Trump, his policies are not only oppressing his own people but minorities across the world,” she added.
‘The Government Should Be A Critical Friend’ Of President Trump
Bern O’Donoghue. Image Credit: Aaron Walawalkar / RightsInfo
Performance artist Bern O’Donoghue, covered in orange make-up in a nod to US President, told RightsInfo that UK should be a “critical friend” to Trump.
“It is obviously difficult with the issues around Brexit for them to feel brave, but I think that is the only way out of our current situation,” she said.
“To do what we think is right in terms of British values and setting a standard for compassion, empathy and good social policy.”
However, the socially engaged performance artist – who works mostly around migration – felt that government has also lagged behind its human rights obligations, citing its slowness to reunite families in accordance with the Dubs Amendment.
This amendment, put forward by Labour Peer Lord Alf Dubs amid the Syria refugee crisis, committed the government to “make arrangements to relocate to the UK and support a specified number of unaccompanied refugee children from other countries in Europe”.
However, Ms O’Donoghue said: “There are a lot of people in Calais living in destitution that should be here.”
She told us that the UK should be a "critical friend" by standing up against pejorative language used by him and other world leaders in accordance with British values. pic.twitter.com/B4ODG2tdeZ
— RightsInfo (@rights_info) June 4, 2019
Fatma Ali, of the International Human Rights Observatory, said that the rise of Donald Trump offers a stark example of what could happen in the UK.
“The people we elect as our representatives say a lot about us as a people,” she said. “With Brexit and the emergence of certain parties like UKIP, there is a lot that we can learn from that not to have a repeat of what is happening across the pond.”
Protestor Sandy Clark also called for the UK to “be much more forceful” in promoting human rights in its relations with the United States.
He said: “They’ve still got problems with Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. His human rights record in Palestine is deplorable.”
— RightsInfo (@rights_info) June 4, 2019