The now-notorious Bibby Stockholm – a barge intended to detain 500 refugees – is moored at its final destination in Dorset. There, it has seen protests from people opposed to its presence (for right-wing reasons), but also those opposed to the racism and persecution it represents. However, before it landed in Portland Port on Tuesday 18 July, it was in Cornwall – where protests were continuous. Now, the group behind many of the demos has reflected on the significance of its actions.
Cornwall: resisting the Bibby Stockholm
Cornwall Resists is a network of grassroots anti-fascist groups in the county. As the Canary has documented, it has been prominent in resisting both the far-right’s and the state’s racist abuse of refugees in Cornwall. More recently, it countered the far-right when racists targeted a hotel housing refugees in Newquay.
But the group was also central to resisting the Bibby Stockholm, and the racist Tory policies it represents, while it was docked in Falmouth for a refit.
As the Canary previously reported, the Home Office is planning to forcibly detain around 500 male refugees on the Bibby Stockholm. This is despite Dutch authorities’ alleged human rights abuses aboard the vessel when its government used it to detain refugees in the 2000s. The UK government’s plans have also prompted outrage from groups like Amnesty International.
So, Cornwall Resists carried out numerous actions. These included:
Overall, the multiple actions against the barge and the Tories’ policies involved around 20 groups. Actions included public meetings, mass leafleting all around Falmouth, and outreach exercises to get the wider public on board.
Sadly, it wasn’t enough to delay, or prevent, the Bibby Stockholm’s departure on Monday 17 July.
‘This is not the end of our fight’
Cornwall Resists said in a statement:
We are are gutted the Bibby Stockholm left Falmouth without opposition. We are devastated that it is now in Portland where it’ll imprison over 500 asylum seekers in accommodation the size of parking spaces. Our hearts break for every single person who has made traumatic journeys to seek sanctuary on our shores only to be met with this government’s hostile environment policies.
However, our hearts are full of rage at everyone who is complicit in racist border violence, from companies such as A&P who refitted the Bibby, to the arms companies that profit from weapons that devastate people’s homelands, causing so much death and destruction and forcing people to flee.
The Bibby may be gone, but our rage will not subside.
It may be gone, but this is not the end of our fight.
The Bibby may be gone – but we will continue our resistance.
Cornwall Resists also noted the Tories’ purchase of yet more barges to detain refugees on. It said:
If this government thinks it can bring another prison ship to be refitted in Falmouth, we will make them regret that decision. We stand ready to support anti-fascists in Portland, taking a stand against the Bibby and against the far-right. There is no unity, as some groups suggest, with racists who oppose the barge.
The Bibby is just one manifestation of the hostile environment. We stand against racists. We stand with refugees. And we stand with our anti-fascist comrades.
Cornwall: vive la révolution!
The group may not have stopped the Bibby Stockholm; however, as it noted:
Cornwall Resists is about so much more than one prison ship. We will always do whatever it takes to oppose fascists and border violence, but we also want to work in and with our community to create change. We want to build an autonomous anti-capitalist Kernow; a Kernow that is run for us, the people who live here, not second home owners and rich tourists.
We are sick of not being able to afford to live in our communities and we are sick of only being offered precarious seasonal work servicing the needs of those who treat Cornwall as a playground for the rich. And we are sick of wealthy developers profiting from our lands and devastating our beautiful landscape.
What we’re seeing in Cornwall is a flourishing, anti-fascist and anti-capitalist movement – as well as one of growing self-determination. Cornwall Resists should be proud of its actions. It will be interesting, and encouraging, to see what the group does next.
Featured image via Cornwall Resists