Eat together, fight together, remember together

Eat together, fight together, remember together


Written by: Harmit Athwal

Solidarity also means remembering. 

NasserAlShdaidaA few weekends ago, I attended an ‘Eat Together, Fight Together’[1] picnic at Burgess Park in south London organised by the London Campaign Against Police and State Violence and Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth. Campaigners and activists enjoyed the sun, good food and conversation in a gathering not fraught with political imperatives and meetings to plan: a friendly get together with like-minded people – chilled and relaxed.

I realised I had been there many years before – to attend a memorial service for Naser Al Shdaida, a Syrian asylum seeker who took his own life. The Southwark Day Centre for Asylum Seekers organised the memorial, for their client and friend Naser, whose claim had been disbelieved and ‘dignity’ ‘pushed aside’. We went in search of the memorial tree planted for Naser, in October 2006. And the olive tree still stands, having grown stronger and bigger in the tranquil Chumleigh Gardens in the park. Unfortunately the plaque commemorating Naser has fallen from the tree and disappeared.NasserAlShdaida_tree

The solidarity between individuals and groups was obvious in the ‘eat together, fight together’ event at Burgess Park and it was solidarity, too, that saw the memorial for Naser Al Shdaida planted at Burgess Park. Maybe we should join again in solidarity to ensure Naser Al Shdaida is remembered and the plaque replaced.

Related links

Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth

London Campaign Against Police and State Violence

Southwark Day Centre for Asylum Seekers

IRR News: Remembering Naser Al Shdaida

IRR research on the deaths of asylum seekers

[1] This is one of A. Sivanandan's aphorisms. A. Sivanandan is Director Emeritus of the IRR, and a list of his aphorisms can be read here.

The Institute of Race Relations is precluded from expressing a corporate view: any opinions expressed are therefore those of the authors.

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