THE LOCAL community gathered at Eccles Cross at 4pm on December 10 for a candle light vigil to mark Human Rights Day.
The ceremony was organised by local activist, Angie Tunstall, in partnership with Amnesty International and Eccles Town Team, an initiative to encourage more visitors to the town. Mrs Tunstall said: “We wanted to do something that would make a difference. Something about peace and inclusivity in the heart of Eccles and to invite the different communities together.”
Human rights is an important issue for the town of Eccles. In 2014, Alan Henning, a local taxi driver aged 47, was captured by ISIS during their occupation of the Syrian city of Al Dana, where he was volunteering as an aid worker. A video of his beheading was released and used as propaganda by ISIS.
Rebecca Long Bailey, Labour MP for Salford and Eccles said this “horrific atrocity” shocked the community. She added: “We felt the breach in human rights very strongly here in Eccles. We came together as a town and we’ve got a really strong community here.
“We support people who are in strife and difficult situations across the world. It’s about sending out the message that we need to look after our own people in Eccles but we also want to spread hope and solidarity to those people overseas who might be suffering.”
Eccles Councillor Lisa Stone also described the importance of human rights issues closer to home. She said: “We are seeing rising rates of homelessness and people at risk of becoming homeless. There are less and less services available to support people due to the government’s austerity agenda.”
The vigil began with the candle lighting ceremony and consisted of poems, songs and speeches from members of the community who were victims of injustice in Iran and Somalia and have now settled in Eccles.
Participants also wrote messages of solidarity, which Amnesty International will deliver to those who are imprisoned all around the world. The ceremony ended with a minute of silence standing in solidarity.
By Gerard Mannion