Hundreds of people demonstrated in downtown Manchester, Saturday, in support of Eritrean refugees in Libya.
The demonstration began in Piccadilly Gardens on Saturday noon, before crowds marched across Manchester to St Peter's Square by 2pm. Outside the central library, the crowd chanted: “We need justice. Stop killing our people" and urged governments in Britain, Europe and the United States to step in and help, according to the Manchester Evening News.
The demonstrators waved flags and banners saying "stop the killing of refugees" and calling for their evacuation from Libya, chanting "Refugees' Lives Matter" and "Our brothers and sisters are being killed."
“It went really well, we would have liked a few other people and communities to join us as well, but you have to start somewhere,” said Elita Araya, 25, one of the protest organisers.
"People are dying, they are being tortured and trafficked," he added. They don't live in the best conditions, so we have to do something about it.”
The demonstration was one of several organized across the UK in recent weeks after the recent events in Libya.
Security campaign in Gargaresh
According to the Associated Press, the demonstration came on the heels of a "large-scale crackdown on migrants" by Libyan authorities in the Gargaresh area, which has seen the arrest of more than 5,000 people.
The Associated Press also reported that the detainees were subjected to torture, sexual assault and other abuses, and were kept in overcrowded conditions.
On Friday, October 7, the United Nations migration agency said that “six refugees were shot dead by guards outside a detention center in Tripoli,” while the Libyan Interior Ministry warned that “only one person has died.”
One of the protesters speaking at the Manchester event was Loam Bahta, 19, who said that the hardship faced by the refugees had affected her family, as well as many other attendees.
"This has been happening for decades and decades," she added. People make perilous journeys to Libya, they are trafficked there, and then they are killed, tortured and raped.” She continued, “We are protesting because this has affected us as a society, we have families and friends who were killed there and we are just trying to be a voice for them.”
She continued: “People die every day. Children as young as 15 take dangerous journeys across the Sahara Desert to Libya, are trafficked, and nobody says anything about it.” “My father had to make a perilous journey,” she said. I lost my uncles who tried to make this trip.” She concluded, “It is very heartbreaking, because some of them are really young, and some of them are pregnant mothers. Families are separated and that is why it is so painful.”