Welsh Green Dragon

Asylum seekers demonstrate against racism outside UKBA in Cardiff by tanyamercer

Asylum seekers have been demonstrating outside the UK Border Agency in Cardiff today.

They called for an independent inquiry following allegations by whistleblower Louise Perrett, who worked for the Agency last summer, that there was a culture of discrimination within the organisation.

Chris produced this radio piece on the background of the story.

Pressure mounts for independant inquiry at Cardiff UKBA Offices

Chris and I went down to the demonstration to find out more.

Reported by Tanya Mercer, produced and edited by Chris Halpin

Plaid Cymru AM Bethan Jenkins is part of the Cross Party Group for Human Rights, which is also calling for an independent inquiry into the alleged discrimination at the Agency.

She explained how people seeking asylum were easily manipulated because they couldn’t understand the system.

She also commented how the UK Border Agency expressed disapproval that Louise Perrett was invited to speak at the Cross Party Group on Human Rights meeting on the 16th of February.

But demonstrators say the only way to fight for asylum seekers rights is to continue to put pressure on organisations like the UK Border Agency. And the biggest and most important battle, they say, is changing mindsets and attitudes.

Welsh Blue Dragon to promote hope of Copenhagen resolution by Chris Halpin

It was the perfect photo call; 30 primary school children, climate change campaigners and a 30 ft long chinese style monster. Dai the blue dragon is embarking on an international journey of over 1000 miles as he heads for the Copenhagen climate change summit to represent the environmental wishes of the people of Wales.

Hopes are running high for a politically binding treaty being signed at the two-week summit which begins on the December 7. There has been much speculation concerning whether or not it will be a political fudge, but with the news that President Obama will be now be in attendance, and China seemingly on board, a deal may not be as far away as once seemed.

On a rather blustery Wednesday lunchtime, campaigners from the Stop Climate Chaos Cymru coalition presented Dai for the first time on the slate steps of the National Assembly. All this in the hope that Assembly Members would come outside to show their support and add a travel label to Dai’s torso which will carry their messages on his gruelling journey to Denmark.

Having started in Rhayader in Powys where he was created by Russell Kirk from the CARAD community group, Dai will be stopping off at ‘The Wave‘ demonstration in London on December 5, before heading over sea and land in time for the summit.

The Stop Climate Chaos Cymru coalition is made up of representatives from RSPB Cymru, WWF Cymru, Friends of the Earth, Oxfam Cymru, Christian Aid, Cafod, Sustrans and the National Federation of Women’s Institutes. They are all expecting a global deal in reducing carbon emissions that threaten our climate. In order to prevent a rise in global temperature of two degrees centigrade, developed nations must commit to at least a 40 per cent reduction of emissions by 2020. Wales has already committed itself to this target, but the Stop Climate Chaos coalition are lobbying the Welsh Assembly Government to ensure that other nations follow suit.

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To set the agenda, Julian Rosser who is chair of the Stop Climate Chaos Cymru group, voiced the coalition’s wish list for Environment Minister Jane Davidson to bear in mind on her trip to Copenhagen. The minister then countered his statement with that of her own.

Cerith Jones

Accompanying the minister to Copenhagen will be 16-year-old Cerith Rhys Jones from Cwmgors, north of Swansea. He has been the Welsh Assembly’s Climate Change Champion  since January and attends events and visits schools as a ‘green ambassador’. He told me how important it is for young people to realise that they too have a voice and can do their bit to combat climate change.

Julian Rosser

He’ll be blogging his way through the summit day by day to keep us informed on how Wales’ voice will be heard on the International Stage, which you can check out here.

When I was down at the Senedd in Cardiff Bay, I interviewed Cerith and Julian for the WGD podcast.

With everything still to play for, the next few weeks will see thousands of people descend upon London alongside Dai the dragon to show their support to act on climate change. If you want to get involved, the Co-op has agreed to organise and subsidise transport from Cardiff to ‘The Wave’ on Saturday December 5.

People can book online using a code from Oxfam or the Co-op.


When you get the booking page it asks for The Co-op or Oxfam code – the code is OXFAM_TheWave.

What do you think will happen in Copenhagen? Do you think they’ll sign a treaty and come to an international consensus for the future? 

Whatever the outcome, people in Wales are still being encouraged to do their bit. Luned Jones from Oxfam Cymru says that people shouldn’t be afraid of climate change and everyone can take small steps to minimise their carbon footprint. From changing travel habits, not using the dishwasher or tumble dryer or simply making sure the TV isn’t left on standby, we can help the environment as well as saving ourselves a penny or two. She told me that people in Wales need to realise that their lazy habits are having devastating effects on people in other parts of the world.

What will come of the Copenhagen summit remains to be seen, but there are clearly plenty of people in Wales who are passionate that the forthcoming negotiations will be a success.