I was asked by a friend recently why I am a member of the Stand up to Racism West Wales and why I attended the Rally in Aberystwyth on Saturday, May 13...

I wondered where my journey began. My journey to Aberystwyth started nearly four years ago in October 2020 when the Home Office secured a MOD barracks in Penally to house refugees in temporary accommodation, a village a couple of miles away from my home town.

When the men started arriving there my first thought, as a mother of two children in their early twenties, was how they must feel to be transported thousands of miles away from their homeland having done a more then hazardous journey, including being crammed into the backs of lorries, charged every step of the way by people traffickers to the near-death experience of crossing the channel to a country that may or may not receive them compassionately.

I began to meet some of the young men. I heard harrowing stories from Syria, Iran, Yemen, Palestine, and Guinea Bassou. One guy from El Salvador said after I told him I could not give him anything, not wanting to raise false hopes, that I could be his other mother albeit a mad one and he simply said “Mom you accepted us all for who we were, why would we not accept you”.

The men that I met had extraordinary backgrounds and extraordinary stories and I was humbled by their kindness to me. In the process I joined Stand up to Racism West Wales and gained further strength and knowledge about the inherent racism in all aspects of our society.

I met many supporters including Rhodri Francis who organised the Rally in Aberystwyth and to whom I owe a great gratitude of enlightenment.

The men did not come here to take advantage of our benefit system, our health system or job market as the mainstream press would have us believe.

They came for respect and dignity and acceptance.

Through them I learned of the appalling atrocities in Syria – “where were we when Putin did the same to Syria as he did to Ukraine?”

I learned of the abysmal life of the Kurdish in Iran and beyond, in which the British Government in 1918 had created false borders and in which a Kurdish person can be hung on a crane for a traffic offence.

I learnt that in Yeman a trained nurse could be conscripted into an army to kill his own people and also a highly respected Iman, they would have faced certain death penalties.

I learnt that in Guinea Bassou when there was a military coup d’etat my trusted friend would have faced certain death penalty, so I readily joined Stand Up To Racism West Wales on their behalf and in defiance of the British right wing Sun and Daily Mail readers who believe the headlines and haven’t got a clue about the truth.

No mother puts their child at sea of the land is safer, no one comes to this country to take advantage, they came for sanctuary and to contribute to this country.

I’m proud to be a member of Stand Up to Racism West Wales and I was proud to support Rhodri Francis in Aberystwyth and all that he does to contribute to a fairer Britain.

Racism is seen as a black white issue, it is so much more. All lives matter.

Wales is a nation of sanctuary and with that must come an intolerance to any form of racial prejudice and discrimination.

And I believe that will happen one day.

I knew that little people can make a huge difference but people coming together with one voice can be heard much more clearly.

Carolyn Cox, Tenby

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