Campaigning For Social Justice At Manchester Central Library

By Kerry Patterson | 28 April 2005
Shows a black and white photograph of a group of young Asians marching through the streets of Bolton carrying banners.

Marchers from the Asian Youth Organisation in Bolton.

Kerry Patterson went along to Manchester Central Library to take in this powerful display.

Come What May is an exhibition of material charting the rise of Asian Youth Movements in 1970s and 1980s Britain. It is on display at Manchester’s Central Library until May 11 2005.

The exhibition showcases material from the newly established Tandana-Glowworm archive, which launches on May 1 and documents the involvement of Asian youths in the struggle for social justice.

A range of primary material from the archive is displayed, including photographs, newspapers, leaflets, banners and posters produced by social justice movements across Britain.

Shows a photograph of a banner depicting a young Asian man being restrained by two policemen accompanied by the slogan ZAFAR Defence Campaign.

A banner made by an Asian Youth Organisation in Sheffield.

One particularly interesting item is a drum given to an Asian Youth Movement (AYM) delegation by members of the Republican movement on a visit to Belfast. The drum, decorated with protest slogans, was frequently used on marches. Indeed, the title of the exhibition is taken from a popular slogan of the movement, which was often used on marches; ‘Come What May, We Are Here to Stay.’

Also on display are items related to the trial of the Bradford Twelve, including handwritten notes taken by Tariq Mehmood Ali, who defended himself at the trial.

Come What May highlights the role of AYMs in campaigning against immigration laws, which divided families. It includes the story of Anwar Ditta, a British-born mother living in Rochdale, whose three children were refused entry into the country from Pakistan as the Home Office denied they were hers.

Anwar’s case was the focus of much publicity at the time and she was the subject of a World in Action programme on national television. She eventually won her case in March 1981 after the children were proved to be hers.

Shows a black and white photograph of marchers carrying a banner which reads BRING ANWARS CHILDREN HOME.

Marchers register their support for Anwar Ditta.

The story of Leeds woman Jaswinder Kaur was also a high-profile case at the time. Jaswinder suffered domestic violence before leaving her husband and being threatened with deportation from Britain. She later won the right to stay in the country.

Issues such as the right to Halal meat in schools and the Miners and Aire Valley Yarn strikes are included in the exhibition through newspaper cuttings and photographs. It is also shown how AYMs supported international as well as local and national struggles, such as the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa.

Come What May provides a thought provoking glimpse into the not so distant past and reveals the important role played by AYMs in the fight for social justice.

The Tandana-Glowworm archive will be launched in May 1, and will be available for all to explore at: www.tandana.org.

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