'It took my voice away' - on being a migrant in the EU referendum
It is fantastic to see how many of you have made their way here today to support 'Scotland in Europe.' I am speaking to you as a migrant and as a Scottish Green.
As a migrant, the last weeks were depressing: I did not have a vote in the referendum. That alone triggered a feeling of exclusion. On top of that, both official campaigns identified migration as a problem rather than as a given - a thing that happens for so many different reasons. It took my voice away. Although I know that I am less recognizable as a migrant by the colour of my skin or my accent, it kept me away from campaigning in the streets. I did my bit behind the scenes and the screen. But I felt, it wouldn't be good if I told the people in the streets what I thought would be right. I have a number of friends from all over Europe, who share this creeping feeling of insecurity.
This is the message I have as a migrant voice here to all of those, who can identify with this feeling of exclusion: Let us raise our voices! Get involved! Let us take ownership and play our part in the debate. We all have a right to be here! I firmly believe: everybody should have a right to stay, where they choose to live. And we all should contribute to shape the debate that is lying ahead of us.
We can contribute in two ways: We can get involved here to create the Scotland we want to see. And we can contribute to the task of keeping 'Scotland in Europe.' We, so many of us, have roots in different countries. Let us turn this into a valuable asset. Let us be Scotland's ambassadors in our home countries. Telling our friends and families abroad about the reasons why Scotland wants to be part of Europe, about the political situation we find ourselves in. Ask them to support us and talk to their friends, to their politicians, to the media. Being an international lawyer, I know that where there is a political will, there is a legal way. Let us all contribute to create this political will and to support our claim: Scotland in Europe!
But there is another task ahead of us: We all need to fight for a peaceful and democratic Europe that is no breeding ground for racism and xenophobia. The referendum result has put wind in the sails of the far right all over Europe. But why did the far right and right wing populist movements gain ground in the first place? Austerity caused destruction and left many people behind. A neoliberal agenda has dominated Europe's politics for too long. Now more than ever: we need to unite as voices on the left, as progressive, Green and Socialist voices, in all our diversity and all across the continent and beyond.
We don't just need to fight for Scotland in Europe. But for a Europe of solidarity, not one of exclusion! For a Europe of peace and democracy, free from racism and xenophobia!
- Anni Pues