ONE year on from the Kenmure Street protest in which Glasgow stood up to a raid by immigration officials, our friends in the east who protested in similar circumstances in Edinburgh’s Nicolson Square have made it absolutely clear: refugees ARE welcome here.

The Home Office must take note – here in Scotland we’re all fae Kenmure Street now.

As with the Poll Tax, as with dawn raids and the Glasgow Girls, when unjust laws are passed and Jock Tamson’s bairns are placed at risk, people in Scotland become ungovernable. The Scottish Government has already withheld consent in a legal consent for Home Secretary Priti Patel’s abominable Nationality and Borders Bill. As has the Welsh Parliament.

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But on Kenmure Street on May 13 last year and in Nicolson Square on Thursday night, something else was at work, and revealed by the creativity and confidence of the resistance of the people.

In Kenmure Street the spontaneous chant, “These are our neighbours, let them go”, led to the release of those who had been detained. The action was led by activists from home-grown movements, who have thought hard about how to counter violence with love. In Nicolson Square, a new chant rose up, directed at the immigration enforcement officers: “Who do you serve?”

It’s worth taking stock, not just of the long trajectory from the Poll Tax, or further back to Govan, or Mary Barbour’s rent strikes, but of the speed of the learning with Kenmure Street.

The National: One of two men are released from the back of an Immigration Enforcement van accompanied by Mohammad Asif, director of the Afghan Human Rights Foundation, in Kenmure Street, Glasgow which is surrounded by protesters. Picture date: Thursday May 13, 2021.

In April 2021, a friend of ours at Maryhill Integration Network experienced a dawn raid, where more than eight immigration officers came along to detain a family. This was an extreme shock for everyone as the practice of dawn raids should not be implemented.

Our friend was taken to hospital as he had experienced a medical issue and was left alone there. As the communities re-organised to raise awareness about what had happened, we all underscored the need to end the practice of dawn raids for good.

It is a traumatising experience, a practice which is inhumane and condemned by many.

Around three weeks later, the dawn raid on Kenmure Street took place. As the van was about to leave, everyone came together to stop it happening. “Someone” lay in front of the van – “van man”. People started to gather and with resistance from across the city, after 8 hours of solidarity, our friends were free!

Then on Thursday, the day of the Scottish council elections, an immigration raid was attempted in Nicolson Square. It happened when people with refugee status were casting their vote in local elections for the first time.

Within a short space of time, hundreds of people gathered to protest in solidarity with their neighbours. It’s clear from Kenmure Street to Nicolson Square that the movement is now organised. We’ve watched, we’ve listened, we are ready and responding whilst continuing to learn. We are street wise and canny.

With the Nationality and Borders Bill passed at Westminster last month, we are witnessing some of the most divisive and inhumane proposals on immigration.

The key aspects of the anti-refugee bill include creating offshore asylum processing centres, criminalising people when they arrive in the UK by boat, taking citizenship from people without notice, restricting family reunification, and creating a two-tier refugee system.

At the end of next week, on Friday and Saturday, a Festival of Resistance is taking place on Kenmure Street to remember the solidarity which took place – a solidarity which is now needed more than ever as the Nationality and the Borders Bill has been passed.

Through the Festival of Resistance we celebrate our difference, so that we can continue campaigning for a fair, just and humane immigration system based on human rights. To say it loud, and to say it clear that refugees are welcome here!

There now needs to be a radical dismantling of and de-linking from this violence of the state. The most visible manifestation at present is in the Nationality and Borders Act, which has received royal assent. An unlawful law has been passed. In Scotland, the prohibition of noisy protests does not remove our right to protest and so civil disobedience remains.

We have much to learn from those who have protested against the abomination that are the weapons of mass destruction at the Faslane nuclear base when weapons which violate international law were placed in our land. We need the chants and the songs, the flowers, the candles, the cheers, and the absolute clarity of practical common sense.

On Thursday evening, Refugeewee, a community-based charity set up to help welcome refugees to Glasgow in true weegie style, happened to be on the scene in Nicolson Square. The Scottish Community and Activist Legal Project (SCALP) is now well established, and were quickly on the scene. It takes a village to support such action and Scotland has shown it is fully equipped.

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Meanwhile, in The Guardian, Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union challenged the UK Government to go to court to find out if the abomination that is the Rwanda deal, condemned by UNHCR as illegal, can be justified.

Civil servants are now asking themselves the question, “Who do I serve?”, and concluding that it may no longer be the regime that is replacing a legally constituted government, now that the government has passed an unlawful law.

So, buckle up. Have a wee pack with you if you live in areas likely to be affected by these raids on our peace, security, and neighbourliness.

Write your lawyer’s name on your arm and have it in your favourites in your phone and get ready to call out to SCALP. Carry water; maybe some energy snacks; a battery charger and cable and learn some songs and chants that will sustain us all in the struggle. Never do this alone.

Write to your MPs and the Lords; join a group planning peaceful protests. Donate thoughtfully, (including to SCALP) if you can. Sing These are Neighbours like your life depends on it (by Chris Hutchings) and Welcome Home by Joyous Choir of MIN. Because the life of your neighbourhoods does, now.

Not everyone can be under a van, not everyone can lead a union, but everyone can ask themselves the question: Who do I serve? We are all from Kenmure Street now.

Pinar Aksu is Unesco RILA PhD scholarship award holder at University of Glasgow

Alison Phipps is Professor and Unesco Chair for Refugee Integration through Languages and the Arts, University of Glasgow