Circus at the Circus
London’s Piccadilly Circus is the location of the city’s most well-known corporate landmark, the big flashing illuminated advertisements you see as soon as you get up to street level. Those signs played backdrop to a very non-corporate gathering recently, a protest against restriction of migration by a group known as No Borders.
No Borders believes government laws controlling how people can travel is a violation of human rights.
There is nothing specific in the United Nations Declaration
of Human Rights that guarantees free travel between countries, probably because I doubt many politicians would want just anyone having the right to settle in their country as they pleased.
Article 13 of the Declaration states everyone has the
power to move freely within their own state and leave
their state with the option to return again.
Then comes Article 14, which states people have the
right to seek asylum from persecution in other countries.
Persecution implies facing death or torture in the country
from which you came.
If you’re not facing death or torture, you have the human right to travel within your country, and leave that country to be welcomed back again. That’s all. There is nothing in the Declaration forcing a country to take anyone in, anytime, under any circumstances. No Borders advocates would like to change this.
I’m not sure how well the protesters got their No Borders message across to the curious shoppers and tourists who normally stroll through that area, but they chose a very fitting place to make their stand, for two reasons. They stood on a monument known as the Statue of Eros, which has become a symbol of this city, and appears on the masthead of the London Evening Standard, a paper that loves to “take the piss” out of radical groups such as No Borders and the ideologically-related Occupy movement.
The second reason they chose the perfect spot was that they named the event “Occupy your Hearts”, and scheduled it for a few days after Valentine’s Day. Eros was the Roman version of the Greek god Cupid, who we all know as the god of love.
The protest seemed more like a gathering of Hare-Krishna-like New Agers than anything as serious and political as a rally against border control. There was a drum circle and a bubble machine, hula-hoopers and bizarre headgear.
The eccentricity may have taken the spotlight off the politics, but won more positive attention and less police hostility than an angry sounding kid with a bull horn and a bandanna across his face would have done. Most people seemed amused by the spectacle during their Saturday afternoon shopping, and some even stopped to join in. Freddy Mercury, however, remained stone faced nearby, not feeling the Bohemian rhapsody unfolding beneath him.