Last Saturday afternoon in Barcelona was momentous. A third of a million people came together to protest in our streets. It was the biggest march seen in Barcelona since the Iraq War demonstrations, almost fourteen years ago.
The march has been plotted out from Barcelona’s heart to its shoreline, but even before we start moving the throng has pushed the van halfway to the sea – and it takes 2 hours before we’re able to move at all. Grandparents hoist up children, friends dance to nearby drumming, strangers chat to us and then snap selfies holding our freshly made red-and-white DiEM placards. Our DSC is part of the murmur that’s been building in the city for a long time. On this Saturday, no matter from where we’ve come in Catalonia, we’ve all been adopted as “rebel citizens” of Barcelona.
We’re here to demand an end to the deliberate stalling of the Spanish government in taking in its initial pledge of 17,000 refugees: almost two years on, only one thousand people have been allowed inside these borders.
We’re here because we know it is our right and our duty to demand accountability from a government that is shilly-shallying about a matter of life and death: it has emerged that the government has used EU funds allocated to taking in refugees for building detention centres and carrying out deportations instead.
We’re here for Shabbir, and the nameless thousands like him. There in the crowd, we’re acutely aware of our togetherness and can feel the connection stretch across our sea to those standing on other shores.
Our column echoes many others that have been moving Westward and Northward only to be met by barbed wire and military-grade fences. But from this Saturday on, our voices will not die down until our ranks unite. Until those we have given our word to are here with us.
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