Tatchell arrested in Holocaust Day asylum protest
Protest at Michael Howard�s asylum quota plan to block refugees
January 31, 2005
London — �Never Again, today means not closing our doors to refugees fleeing
persecution. Don�t let Michael Howard dishonour the victims of the
Holocaust with his quotas for asylum seekers. Never Again means Never
Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell shouted these words as 1,000
guests left the Holocaust Memorial Day commemoration in Westminster
Hall at the Houses of Parliament today, 27 January 2005.
He was promptly arrested, dragged from the Hall, wrestled to the
ground, handcuffed and eventually detained in the Sargeant-At-Arms
office, on charges of �Contempt of Parliament� and under �Section 4 of
the Public Order Act 1986.�
�I did not disrupt the service. I waited until the commemoration was
over, and until after the Queen and Prime Minister had departed,� said
�I pleaded with the departing audience that Michael Howard�s proposal
for a quota of 15,000 asylum seekers a year would mean genuine
refugees from genocides in the Congo, Darfur and West Papua being
refused asylum in the UK.
�The Holocaust Memorial Day service commemorated the victims of
Nazism. Several speakers warned against future genocides. It was
entirely in keeping with the spirit of Holocaust Memorial Day to
remind people of our collective responsibility to take in refugees
fleeing contemporary torture and mass murder.
�It is hypocritical to remember the Jewish victims of the 1930s, while
ignoring Tory plans to deny asylum to people fleeing persecution
�Michael Howard�s threat to refugee rights needs to be exposed and
�The best way to commemorate victims of the Holocaust is to give
refuge to people fleeing modern-day genocides.
�My protest was merely putting into effect the Statement of Commitment
on page 11 of the official Holocaust Memorial Day programme: the
pledge to �fight these evils� of �genocide, anti-Semitism, racism,
xenophobia and discrimination,�� said Mr Tatchell.
Mr Tatchell attended Holocaust Memorial Day as an officially invited
He was detained for two hours in the Sargeant-At-Arms office in the
Houses of Parliament, before being released at 5.45pm.
The protest was witnessed by Mr Tatchell�s OutRage! colleague, Brett
Lock (0775 28 28 169 or 0770 843 5917) and by the editor of the Pink
Paper, Tris Reid-Smith (07966 279 488). Neither man was aware Mr
Tatchell planned to stage a protest. – Issued by Outrage!
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