Sponsor asylum seekers’ project in Oldham

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Mike Luft, who has been an anti-fascist campainger for more than 50 years, will walk across the Pyrenées from La Junquera in Spain to La Coume in France – a journey of approx. 170 miles/273km – from 13 to 24 September 2010.

Mike’s walk, together with Stewart Bailey who is a Quaker, is an urgent fund-raising effort on behalf of Oldham Unity, a self-financing solidarity project which supports asylum seekers and refugees in the Oldham, Lancashire, area, providing emergency food parcels and accommodation to those who do not qualify for any state support, to people left without anything.

Mike, a former construction electrician, later library technician, and for his whole adult life an active communist and trade unionist, has always been a keen student of the Spanish Civil War and has researched the routes taken by those who crossed into the Spanish Republic to support the democratically-elected Republican Government against Franco fascism and also the routes taken by the Spanish refugees and anti-fascist fighters after Franco’s Hitler and Mussolini-aided victory.

As a result, he decided to retrace the routes taken on the terrible journey from Spain to France in 1939.

Commemorative plaque in Castell San Ferran
Commemorative plaque in Castell San Ferran

The route taken by Mike and Stewart will include:

  • La Vajol a border crossing used by the refugees
  • Las Illas the site of a memorial to the International Brigades (IB)
  • Valmanya a mining village destroyed, like Oradour and Lidice were, by the SS as a savage reprisal because it was a centre of fierce anti-fascist resistance organised by the FTP and Spanish Republicans.The partisan group there was named after Henri Barbusse. Its leader was Julien Panchot who was tortured most horribly and murdered by the SS in August 1944. He had fought in Spain with the IB and was a unifier and inspiration of the partisan network.
  • La Coume now an international welcome centre for children and adolescents. Set up, thanks to a Quaker member of the famous Clarke’s shoe company, as a refuge for Jewish children who were refugees from fascist persecution it was initially run by a German anti-fascist called Pitt Kruger and continued as a haven for children fleeing fascism up to Pinochet’s murderous coup in Chile.

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5 Responses to “Sponsor asylum seekers’ project in Oldham”

  1. Absolute Observer Says:

    Although not directly on topic, here is a new report that is relevant to its message.

    Under the a rather silly story with a banner headline about “Zionists and Wikepedia” across the top of the page, this story managed to gain a couple of inches. Despite the priorities of the Guardian, it is a truly worrying item, and says a lot about contemporary Europe.
    If any one who knows which body is co-ordinating opposition to this forced “repatriation” (i.e. a HR body, a ECHR body, etc.) could they post some details.

    • Raphael Says:

      Absolute Observer. I don’t think there is really a coordinated response but all HR, anti-racist organizations, the parti socialiste, the Greens (Europe Ecologie), the unions, etc, are reacting strongly against the racism and populism of this government which is attacking some of the founding principles of the French Republic. There are opinion pieces in all major French newspapers, etc. It is indeed truly appalling. There will be a national demo in Paris early September against the “security” policies of Sarkozy. What the Guardian does not mention is that unfortunately discriminations against Roma in Romania are very severe – which only makes worse the forced repatriation. The article is also wrong to talk about “foreign Roma deemed to be living in France illegally”. They have the right to be in France as EU citizens and in fact many of those who have been “sent home” will simply come back in the next few weeks, a fact well known by all commentators.


    • Sarah AB Says:

      I thought this was almost more worrying.


      “France has urged European leaders to force Romania to stem the flow of Roma gypsies leaving the country, suggesting that they could block Romania’s entry to the Schengen border-free zone if the government in Bucharest fails to do so. “

  2. Absolute Observer Says:

    Thanks for this.

  3. Noted in passing « Poumista Says:

    […] Garzon’s suspension and the remembering of the Spanish civil war. // Engage reports on Mike Luft’s walk across the Pyrenees for refugees, re-walking the route of the refugees from Franco. // George Orwell defines the borders of art […]

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