Speaking for Ourselves

Shining a Green Light for humanity

Shining a Green Light for humanity

Salman Mirza

 Migrant Voice - Shining a Green Light for humanity

When Miep Gies met Kamil Syller

Miep Gies secretly provided food for Anne Frank and her family while they were hiding from the Nazi occupation of The Netherlands during World War Two.

Defending Jews during Germany’s antisemitic purge was unpopular and risky, yet she decided to help hide the Franks and others from 6 July 1942 to 4 August 1944.

What she would have said or done during the current crisis at the Polish-Belarus border is a matter for speculation, but when you read a quote from her about why she hid Anne Frank you get the feeling she would be much in favour of assisting refugees today:

“We did our duty as human beings: helping people in need.”

Fast forward to today and her words reflects the words of Kamil Syller, a Polish lawyer who has started a movement to welcome the thousands of people, mainly from Iraq and Syria, who are trying to get past the barbed wire on the border:

"We must remain human." 

Polish soldiers and police are blocking their entry with water cannons and teargas, leaving them unsupported in freezing temperatures.

Syller is appealing to locals living near the border to light a green lamp to signal that they will provide migrants with food and shelter. It’s working.

Within a week, more than 1,700 Facebook followers  https://www.facebook.com/matkinagranice/ have backed the movement, offering food and support despite the general hostility to the people on the move.

This hostile environment is not exclusive to that border and this moment in time. We see it here in the UK: when the government talks in negative terms about refugees and asylum seekers, social media news feeds are full of hate and lack basic humanity.

However, like the Green Light movement in Poland, many individuals and organisations in UK are creating an alternative narrative and community in both a political and practical way.

They include organisations like NACCOM, a national network of over 140 frontline organisations and charities across the UK that are working together to end destitution amongst people seeking asylum, refugees and other migrants who aren’t able to access to public funds because of their immigration status. https://naccom.org.uk/

"#iamhere UK", a Facebook group with over 3,000 members, publishes a daily “fire extinguisher" highlighting stories for people to jump in and comment on: 


Thousands of other individuals and organisations have felt compelled to organise a proper welcome for refugees, as we have seen in the unprecedented support for newly arrived Afghan and other refugees.

“I have just seen a picture of a little child in Dunkirk at the moment.  I really don't know what to say. I genuinely don't know what to say.  Presumably Priti Patel and all her supporters would like to push her back on a boat. Not in my name.  I suppose actions speak louder than words - my union [National Education Union] is organising delegations of people to volunteer in Calais and Dunkirk with Care4Calais in January.  DM me if you think you may be interested.  If you want to volunteer, but January doesn't work for you, do contact Care4Calais directly.” Simon O'Hara, Facebook

About 80 years ago Miep Gies was on the side of justice and humanity and her actions have inspired new generations of people to help others and has been quoted in successful campaigns to end child detention in the UK. So let’s leave the last words to her:

“But even an ordinary secretary or a housewife or a teenager can, within their own small ways, turn on a small light in a dark room.”

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