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Roza Salih – A New Scot

Written by on 23rd June 2020

A week ago, we interviewed Roza Salih, a New Scot who came to Scotland with her family from Kurdistan 19 years ago. As a teenager she became famous as one of the ‘Glasgow Girls’ who protested on behalf of their friend’s family who were taken away in a dawn raid for forced repatriation. The local community in Drumchapel rallied around the girls and eventually they won their fight with the Home Office. Roza continued her activism whilst at university and on into her life now as assistant to one of Glasgow’s MPs.

You can listen to her here:

What we talked to Roza about

  • the successful Glasgow Girls’ campaign against dawn raids and forcible repatriation of asylum seekers
  • we asked Roza about any experience she had of racism when she was at school and later. Yes she has, and she did when in school though some  people have since come to her and apologised for what they said.
  • Compared to 19 years ago, have things improved? Is there less racism, and a more accepting attitude to new Scots? Roza says she does not face racism now but other people do in Scotland. People contact her to ask for advice. She signposts people to get help.
  • What does she think can be done in Scotland to counter the institutionalised racism that we know still exists, Eg in police, schools. What are next steps? Integration and recruitment. She tells her community that yes they are Kurdish, but they are part of Scotland and they need to integrate, including into the institutions because we need people from ethnic background there. 
  • Roza went to Strathclyd University and helped set up scholarships for asylum seekers to enter higher education. That access helps people be less isolated and they can then give back to the community with their skills. There are restrictions around help with fees for asylum seekers who want to enter higher education. And yet having access to university and college course would be so helpful all round. She thinks Scot Gov needs to change aspects of those restrictions.
  • We have seen events in George Sq where a hostile environment is being stirred up by far right groups. They attacked a peaceful demonstration by asylum seekers and we saw vicious scenes that many Scots were ashamed of. What does she think? She has never seem anything like that before in Glasgow. The asylum seekers were peacefully making a protest about the accommodation that they were transferred to by Home Office.
  • Roza thinks that the Home Office needs to rethink the conditions which are imposed on asylum seekers. UK is only country in Europe which still has detention. But also by giving them rights to work so that they can improve their lives.
  • Overall she thinks Scotland is fairer, more inclusive, more welcoming….. which all reasons she is for independence.
  • She works to support the right of people in Kurdistan. And talked of similarites with Scotland : good fighters, beautiful mountains, love of their land, and love of dancing! 
  • Roza has other campaigns in mind! Watch this space.
  • What does future hold for her? She wants to stand for election at some point. She wants to encourage and empower people, she wants them to share their stories about being welcomed into society. Light will overcome darkness.