THE Kenmure Street Festival of Resistance was held on the Southside of Glasgow on Friday and yesterday.

The festival was created to celebrate the remarkable events of May 13 2021, when hundreds upon hundreds of concerned citizens freed Sumit

Sehdev and Lakhvir Singh (Sikh men of Indian origin) from the UK Home Office “Immigration Enforcement” van in which they had been detained.

The festival began on Friday, with a poignant silent vigil. This was not only to mark the very moment when exactly one year before, Sehdev and Singh were freed, but also to commemorate the many asylum seekers who have sadly perished – in the sea, in haulage containers and in other, terrible circumstances – as they pursued their dream of a life free from oppression.

READ MORE: Home Office take note: here in Scotland we’re all fae Kenmure Street now

Yesterday, in the Southside sunshine, the celebrations of resistance and defiance got under way in Maxwell Square on Kenmure Street.

There was free food and live music from the likes of Scottish combo Brass Aye.

Organisers of the festival were delighted by the huge turnout.

The National: Lakhvir Singh, who was freed from an immigration van last year, attended the event with his father Valdev. Photographs: Colin MearnsLakhvir Singh, who was freed from an immigration van last year, attended the event with his father Valdev. Photographs: Colin Mearns

Notably broad in both age range and ethnicity, the crowds that thronged the square were an impressive representation of the diversity of the local Southside community and of the city of Glasgow more widely.

That diversity was also expressed in the campaign stalls lined up in the square and along Kenmure Street – including Stand Up to Racism, the Scottish Refugee Council, Freedom from Torture, Refugees for Justice, the United Yemeni Community in Scotland and public sector trade union Unison.

From the speakers’ stage flew the distinctive flag of the Roma community and a banner in support of Black Lives Matter.

Speakers at the festival included co-leader of the Greens Patrick Harvie MSP and Labour MSP Paul Sweeney. SNP MP Alison Thewliss also addressed the crowd, quoting the late MSP Bashir Ahmad, she said: “It doesn’t matter where you’ve come from, it is where we are going together.”

Thewliss said Scotland wanted “no part” in the UK Tory government’s “hostile environment” policies towards migrants and refugees, and called for immigration policy to be brought under the control of the Scottish parliament.

Human rights lawyer Aamer Anwar – who was involved in the Kenmure Street events last year – condemned the double standards of the Conservative government at Westminster when it comes to the conflicts that create refugees.

The National: Pollokshields Festival of Resistance. Food stall on kenmure street....Photograph by Colin Mearns.14 May 2022.

He contrasted the Johnson administration’s professed support for Ukrainian refugees with its position on Israel’s actions in Palestine.

Referring to recent events in the West Bank – in relation to the killing of the Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh – Anwar condemned “a Tory government that keeps its mouth shut when Palestinians are being openly murdered on the streets and funeral corteges are being attacked by Israeli forces.”

The lawyer is representing the family of Sheku Bayoh – the young Scots-Sierra Leonean who died in police custody in Fife in 2015 – during the public inquiry into his death. He called upon anti-racists in Scotland to consider Bayoh as “Scotland’s George Floyd”, and to join the campaign to secure justice for him.