In less than two weeks time hundreds of neo-Nazis and racists will descend on the coastal town of Dover calling for Britain to “close the border”. It is vital that anti-fascists and anti-racists join the counter-protest.
In less than two weeks time hundreds of neo-Nazis and racists will descend on the coastal town of Dover to try and capitalise on the humanitarian crisis currently unfolding in Europe. As hundreds of thousands of migrants flee from war and instability, predominantly from Africa and the Middle East, the far-right are calling for Britain to “close the border” and stop people in grave need from seeking safety and protection. It is vital that anti-fascists and anti-racists from across the country travel to join the counter-protest being organised by the Anti-Fascist Network.
This is the third time the far-right has held a protest in Dover in the last 12 months. In September last year former British National Party (BNP) leader Nick Griffin joined a rabble of activists at a protest organised by the local branch of the neo-Nazi National Front (NF) and an English Defence League splinter group called the South East Alliance (SEA). Four months later in January they visited Dover again to call for the border to be shut, with a large anti-fascist bloc mobilising to effectively oppose them.
This time, all signs point to a significantly higher fascist and racist attendance as the far-right seek to capitalise on recent events in Calais, where migrants have been trying to reach Britain through the Eurotunnel terminal in nearby Coquelle. The National Front is mobilising members from across the country and nearly every group which has split from the EDL in recent years has said they will be attending.
Recent events from across the continent show how important it is to oppose this. While racism and violence is already deeply embedded within the European Union’s border regime, pressure from far-right political parties and street movements is having a major impact on the lives of migrants. In the Saxony region of Germany far-right activists have been attacking refugee shelters; in Northern Italy fascists from CasaPound have forced the evacuation of migrants; across the border in Calais a paramilitary group called Sauvons Calais have been attacking refugees; and on the Serbia-Hungary border, HVIM - a group associated with Jobbik - have been holding regular anti-migrant protests.
Back in the UK, on top of their protests in Dover, supporters from the Pie and Mash Squad recently targeted migrants from Calais temporarily staying in British hotels in a vicious online campaign, while other far-right activists held a small protest outside one hotel in Wigan. Members of the South East Alliance - an extreme EDL splinter group - have also been been conducting what they describe as "border patrols" where groups of racists check under parked lorries with torches at night, looking for migrants.
At the moment the far-right is fractured and weak, but initiatives like this protest give them an opportunity to regroup and consolidate. Those familiar with UK fascist history will know the NF was founded by several far-right groups merging to create an organisation which went on to mobilise thousands of racists. The far-right are aware of this history and many of the people on the Dover protest are keen to imitate it. The regular calls for ‘unity’ are calls for far-right activists to put their differences aside and create a more threatening and dangerous street movement.
Failure to effectively block the Dover protest will tell racists, fascists, and the government that we cannot or will not stand up for migrant rights and would be a signal for these groups to continue targeting migrants. A large mobilisation in Dover opposing calls to "close the border" will, on the other hand, help balance the rampant xenophobia we are seeing in the media and remind many that an alternative perspective on migration exists: one which demands borders are opened and a decent life is offered to everyone. Campaigns against Yarl's Wood detention prison, anti-raids activism and the surge in grassroots collections for Calais are other examples of resistance to the current border regime in the UK which is responsible for so much pain and suffering.
Last month anti-fascists in Liverpool completely humiliated the neo-Nazi youth group National Action (who have been banned from attending Dover by the NF). Until Liverpool they were regarded as one of the most dangerous groups on the extreme right. After getting locked in a lost luggage office they have become a national joke, being mocked on national TV and losing a huge amount of support on the far-right. If they had marched and anti-fascists hadn’t opposed them this wouldn’t be the case. We need to apply the main lesson we took from Liverpool to Dover: that mass collective action by people prepared to confront nationalism and racism in different ways can stop the far-right from marching, making themselves heard, and building popular support for their ideas.
To book a space on a coach, email [email protected] with subject: "Coaches2Dover"
To book a space, email [email protected] with subject: "Brighton2Dover"
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Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/787314641379973/