One day to go…. and bad news for Talk Together

Today (Wednesday – the team is having a late night!) was an exciting and frustrating day for Talk Together.

First the frustrations. We learnt today that the students travelling from Western Sahara to Oxford were prevented from leaving Morocco. They have decided to stay at Agadir airport in protest, and there are reports of them embarking on a hunger strike.

The Saharawi students earlier said they were followed by what they believe were the Moroccan secret police on their way to the British embassy to collect their visas. As a result, two of the original group had previously pulled out, after what they have reported as threats of arrest and provocation by the authorities. The remainder of the group were stopped at the airport.

As if this were not frustrating enough, the group of students from Morocco has also been unable to travel.  According to the Moroccan embassy in London, the group of seven students suddenly all had family problems which prevented them from travelling to Oxford. Amnesty International is looking into both incidents.

Needless to say the course will still go ahead with students who are able to attend, including young people from the UK, Norway, the Philippines and the refugee camps in Tindouf.

And this is the exciting part.

Many of this UK and Norway group arrived today, and began to settle into their temporary home at St Edward’s School. The Talk Together team were delighted to see the students they’d got to know through application forms and video diaries, in person. It was a sunny day and the young people sat outside, dodging flying ants and discussing the difficulties their peers are facing.

There was mixture of disbelief and anger. “Travelling on a British passport, I have never been stopped”, said one. Others said they felt nervous, that the authorities were intervening. Another admitted feeling excitement that they were involved in something that could make a difference.

As they sat around getting to know each other, and discussing the developments, the Talk Together team was preparing to be interviewed by the BBC World Service. In a pre-recorded segment that will go out on ‘The World Today’ in the morning, Talk Together’s team were expecting to talk about the travel problems, as well as the wider aims of the project.

We watch and wait to see what tomorrow holds….

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