Tatchell Arrested in Holocaust Memorial Day Asylum Protest
Protest at Michael Howard's asylum quota to block refugees.
London - 27 January 2005
"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 Again."
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 Mr Tatchell.
"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 today.
"Michael Howard's threat to refugee rights needs to be exposed and defeated.
"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 guest.
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, and by the editor of the Pink Paper, Tris Reid-Smith. Neither man was aware Mr Tatchell planned to stage a protest.
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