Event reports

International Workers’ Memorial Day — 28 April 2024

On 28 April each year, peo­ple in Edin­burgh, sup­port­ed by Edin­burgh Trade Union Coun­cil and Scot­tish Haz­ards, mark Inter­na­tion­al Work­ers’ Memo­r­i­al Day, by mourn­ing those who have died through work, and by con­tin­u­ing to cam­paign for healthy, safe work­ing con­di­tions around the world.

Mem­bers of Protest in Har­mo­ny joined this annu­al com­mem­o­ra­tion, which took place by the memo­r­i­al tree in Princes Street Gar­dens. The theme of this year’s event was the cli­mate cri­sis and work­ers’ health. Wreaths were laid by bereaved fam­i­lies, trade unions and oth­er organ­i­sa­tions. The event was attend­ed by Edinburgh’s deputy lord provost, Lez­ley Mar­i­on Cameron, and as a mark of respect the coun­cil flag at the city cham­bers was low­ered to half mast.

Protest in Har­mo­ny opened the mov­ing cer­e­mo­ny by singing two songs: Anoth­er World, writ­ten by song­leader Jane Lewis, and The Whole Wide World Around, a stir­ring anthem to union sol­i­dar­i­ty to the tune of a Bach chorale from the St Matthew Pas­sion. Fol­low­ing wreath-lay­ing and speech­es, the choir closed pro­ceed­ings by singing the Free­dom Come-All-Ye.

Protest in Harmony celebrates its 20th birthday — 16 March 2024

Back in Novem­ber 2003, the first ses­sion of Protest in Har­mo­ny was held in Edin­burgh. The choir was found­ed in the city by a num­ber of peo­ple who had tak­en part in the huge march in Glas­gow to demon­strate that year against the war in Iraq. They had felt that singing in the streets would be a real­ly pos­i­tive way to be active. 

And 20 years lat­er, Protest in Har­mo­ny is still active and out on the streets, because, sad­ly, protest and activism are need­ed today just as much, if not more, than in 2003. 

To cel­e­brate this two-decade mile­stone, choir mem­bers gath­ered for a day of rehears­ing, eat­ing togeth­er, and demon­strat­ing the wealth of tal­ent of indi­vid­ual mem­bers at a ceilidh. In turns mov­ing, joy­ous and emo­tion­al, the whole day showed what a strong organ­i­sa­tion it is, led by our won­der­ful choir lead­ers, Jane Lewis, Pen­ny Stone and Shereen Ben­jamin. And we round­ed off a great day by going to the pub, of course.
The choir gath­ered for our usu­al Sat­ur­day morn­ing month­ly rehearsal in Broughton St Mary’s, led by Jane, Pen­ny and Shereen. This time, though, the church was bedecked with ban­ners and memen­toes from 20 years of col­lec­tive action and song. A col­lec­tive lunch went down a storm, with deli­cious food con­tributed by all. The cen­tre­piece was a won­der­ful cake, beau­ti­ful­ly dec­o­rat­ed on the out­side and mul­ti-coloured inside!

The after­noon was a treat. John Ire­son, co-founder and for­mer chair of the choir, opened the ceilidh by pay­ing trib­ute to all the choir’s song lead­ers, includ­ing Jane Schon­veld, the choir’s first leader, who sent a mes­sage that was read out to the choir. John also acknowl­edged all those who had helped organ­ise the choir over the years, by being on its committee.
Penny & Hala20th birthday cake
John, Majk and Hilery were then our MCs for the after­noon, intro­duc­ing a num­ber of con­tri­bu­tions from choir mem­bers, by turns mov­ing, fun­ny and inspi­ra­tional. There were songs, includ­ing one quite remark­able con­tri­bu­tion by a choir mem­ber singing The World Turned Upside Down while stand­ing on his head, poet­ry, read­ings and a won­der­ful look back by for­mer chair Hilery talk­ing on what being in the choir has meant to her.

The next sec­tion of the enter­tain­ment includ­ed Pen­ny lead­ing us all in spir­it­ed ren­di­tions of El Pueblo Unido and Bam­belela, while a lit­tle lat­er Jane led us in singing Nana was a Suf­fragette, by Man­ches­ter-based song­writer Jules Gibb, and Shereen led us in Nikosi Sik­ilele and The Whole Wide World Around, based on words by William Mor­ris and music by J S Bach.

A glo­ri­ous after­noon end­ed with thanks to all and a rous­ing ren­di­tion of Free­dom Come-All-Ye. After which, it was time to head to the pub.

International Women’s Day, Friday 8 March 2024

To cel­e­brate Inter­na­tion­al Women’s Day 2024, mem­bers of Protest in Har­mo­ny joined a march organ­ised by Inter­na­tion­al Women’s Strike Edin­burgh, from the Mer­cat Cross on the High Street to the Scot­tish Parliament.
IWD march, 2024
We held high the Protest in Har­mo­ny ban­ner on the march. Speak­ers out­side the par­lia­ment includ­ed rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Women Life Free­dom, Edin­burgh Uni­ver­si­ty Jus­tice for Pales­tine Soci­ety, and the Kur­dish Com­mu­ni­ty Soci­ety, and poet Leslie Smith. We then sang two songs, led by Jane Lewis: Ros­es and Bread, and The Chil­dren are Always Ours. 

Palestine Solidarity Vigil

For many months now, mem­bers of Protest in Har­mo­ny have joined mem­bers of Edinburgh’s San Ghan­ny choir at reg­u­lar vig­ils to gath­er, grieve, sing and keep call­ing for a cease­fire in Gaza. 

The vig­ils were ini­ti­at­ed by San Ghan­ny and Pen­ny Stone and have tak­en place at Queen Eliz­a­beth House on Sib­bald Walk and out­side St Giles Cathedral.

On Fri­day 16 Feb­ru­ary, a vig­il took place at St Giles Cathe­dral. In beau­ti­ful sun­shine, we sang for an hour, led by Jane Lewis and Shereen Benjamin.
Singing for Palestine at St. Giles, 16 Feb 2024
Songs includ­ed two Pen­ny Stone songs: The Chil­dren are Always Ours/Not In My Name/Ceasefire Now, and Ros­es and Bread. We also sang Senzenina/Not In My Name/Shalom Salaam; Lay Down Your Sword and Shield; and Siya Ham­ba, with the words “We are singing for a cease­fire now”; as well as Cease­fire Now to the tune of the Queen anthem We Will Rock You.

Palestine Solidarity

On Sat­ur­day 10 Feb­ru­ary, mem­bers of Protest in Har­mo­ny joined mem­bers of the Scot­tish Pales­tine Sol­i­dar­i­ty cam­paign and many oth­ers for a demon­stra­tion at the Foot of the Mound in Edinburgh.

After mov­ing speech­es, includ­ing sev­er­al by chil­dren, Pen­ny Stone and mem­bers of PiH led the crowd in two songs. The first was a real crowd-pleas­er: the words Cease­fire Now to the tune of that great Queen anthem We Will Rock You

And then, to the tune of the well-known protest song Bel­la Ciao, we sang new words in Ara­bic, writ­ten by Hala George and Pen­ny Stone: Ghan­ni l’hurriya (Sing free­dom), Ghan­ni l’eadala (Sing jus­tice), Nah­nu meakum (we’re here with you) and Khali­ina nin­hil ihti­lal (let us end the occupation).
Singing for Palestine at the Mound

Now We Rise

On Sat­ur­day 9 Decem­ber, mem­bers of PiH joined Now We Rise: the Cop28 Glob­al Day of Action out­side the Scot­tish par­lia­ment. Organ­ised to send a strong mes­sage to deci­sion-mak­ers at a time when the UK gov­ern­ment is rolling back on cli­mate and nature poli­cies and the Scot­tish gov­ern­ment has delayed its vital new cli­mate plan, the event includ­ed speech­es from Alex Lee, of Friends of the Earth Scot­land, and Dr Juli­et Dun­stone, from the Stop Rose­bank campaign.

Despite pour­ing rain, a fair num­ber of activists stayed on after the speech­es to join our massed sing. Jane Lewis led us in No More Blah Blah, inspired by words of Gre­ta Thun­berg, and includ­ing suit­able actions. We then sang The Great Green­wash­ing Machine, music by Jane, and again based on words by Gre­ta Thun­berg. Final­ly Jane led us and the crowd in singing Somos Todes!, writ­ten by activists in Chile, Cana­da the US, Scot­land in sup­port of the com­mu­ni­ty of Putaen­do as they resist Cana­di­an min­ing com­pa­ny Los Andes Cop­per. The words “Somos la aqua — we are the water” have nev­er felt more appropriate!

Edinburgh Climate March

On 30 Sep­tem­ber, mem­bers of PiH joined oth­er pro­test­ers at a demon­stra­tion out­side the the UK Gov­ern­ment build­ing in Edin­burgh, to protest against the deci­sion to approve the Rose­bank oil­field — the biggest unde­vel­oped oil­field in the North Sea.

The demon­stra­tion was called by Edin­burgh Cli­mate Coali­tion, with a num­ber of speak­ers fierce­ly denounc­ing the UK government’s deci­sion, which grants per­mis­sion to Oslo-based Equinox and British firm Itha­ca Ener­gy to go ahead with devel­op­ing the Rose­bank oil­field off Shet­land. Despite the rain, a crowd of pro­test­ers warm­ly applaud­ed calls to stop Rosebank.

PiH, led by Jane Lewis, sang sev­er­al songs as the pro­test­ers gath­ered, includ­ing Wake Up!, Somos Todes!, The Great Green­wash­ing Machine and Leave the Oil in the Ground.

End Fossil Fuels

On Sat­ur­day 16th Sep­tem­ber we wel­comed the End Fos­sil Fuels (End Fos­sil Fuels — Edin­burgh Cli­mate March — Glob­al Jus­tice Now) demon­stra­tors at the Mound. Despite com­pet­ing noise we attempt­ed to keep singing on the march to our first stop at Queen Eliz­a­beth House. By mak­ing sure we were first to arrive at the Par­lia­ment we were able to sing to greet the demon­stra­tors as they arrived down the Roy­al Mile for the main part of the rally.

Edinburgh City of Sanctuary protest

On Wednes­day 4th Octo­ber, Protest in Har­mo­ny mem­bers joined Edin­burgh City of Sanctuary’s month­ly protest against the UK Government’s inhu­mane and unjust asy­lum pol­i­cy. We gath­ered out­side Queen Eliz­a­beth House, Westminster’s ´vis­i­ble pres­ence´ in Scot­land. We hand­ed out song sheets and were joined in our singing by fel­low pro­test­ers with fair­ly easy to pick up songs: Cit­i­zen Shan­ty, Wel­come Home, Lead with Love and Ros­es and Bread. The return of stu­dents increased num­bers and enthu­si­asm. The event takes place on the first Wednes­day of the month from 5–6pm out­side Eliz­a­beth House, EH8 8FT.
Singing at the City of Sanctuary protest on 4 Oct 2023

Vigil for Chile

After tak­ing part in Chile 50 Years On: A Con­cert of Scot­tish and Chilean Music, mem­bers of PiH joined activists, musi­cians and com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers out­side St Giles Cathe­dral, Edin­burgh, on Mon­day 11 Sep­tem­ber, to mark the 50th anniver­sary since the mil­i­tary coup in Chile that deposed the country’s demo­c­ra­t­ic gov­ern­ment and ush­ered in a bru­tal dic­ta­tor­ship under Augus­to Pinochet.

The event, at which peo­ple lit can­dles to com­mem­o­rate the thou­sands of Chilean cit­i­zens who were killed, opened with a song from activist and singer Car­los Arredondo.
PiH at the vigil for Chile, 11 Sep 2023, at St Giles' Cathedral.
Pen­ny Stone led the choir in two songs that linked to the theme of hon­our­ing all who dis­ap­peared: Think of Me and Ros­es and Bread.

Poet­ry, speech­es and a mov­ing dance were also part of the event. Shereen Ben­jamin then led the choir and the audi­ence in singing El Pueblo Unido.

Sheku Bayoh inquiry — 28 August 2023

Mem­bers of Protest in Har­mo­ny were able to join local trades unions and anti-racist cam­paign­ers to sup­port the fam­i­ly of Sheku Bay­oh at the resump­tion of the pub­lic inquiry into his death in May 2015.

Sheku Bayoh demo
Jane Lewis led us in Black Lives Mat­ter, by Arnae Bat­son, before speech­es were made. As the fam­i­ly arrived to enter the inquiry, we sang Make Good Trou­ble, based on words by the late Amer­i­can politi­cian and civ­il rights activist John Lewis, and Sheku Bay­oh by Pen­ny Stone. To close the vig­il, we sang the South African song Bam­belela — Nev­er Give Up.

Hiroshima Commemoration — Sunday, 6 August 2023

Mem­bers of PiH joined CND mem­bers on Edinburgh’s Princes Street to com­mem­o­rate the 78th anniver­sary of the drop­ping of the first nuclear bomb on the Japan­ese city of Hiroshi­ma. The event includ­ed songs and a two-minute silence to remem­ber all who were killed and all who have suf­fered since the nuclear explo­sion, as well as all those affect­ed by the bomb dropped three days lat­er on the city of Nagasaki. 

Pen­ny Stone led the choir in four songs: Down By The River­side, There’s A Fire In My Heart, Peace Salaam Shalom, and Free­dom Come-All-Ye.
PiH at the Hiroshima commemoration 6 Aug 2023, Castle St
Lynn Jamieson, chair of Scot­tish CND, made a speech with words from the may­or of Hiroshi­ma, Mat­sui Kazu­mi, who called for peace­ful repose of the vic­tims, the abo­li­tion of nuclear weapons and last­ing world peace. “Togeth­er with Nagasa­ki and like-mind­ed peo­ple around the world, we pledge to do every­thing in our pow­er to abol­ish nuclear weapons and light the way toward last­ing world peace,” he said. 

Lynn also quot­ed one of the sur­vivors of the bomb­ing — the hibakusha in Japan­ese — who was eight years old when the bomb explod­ed, and who called for the lead­ers of all coun­tries with nuclear weapons to stand in Hiroshi­ma, to feel the full weight of the count­less lives lost.

Singing and Silent Vigil to Remember Grenfell — Wednesday, 14 June 2023

Six­teen mem­bers of PiH joined anoth­er 50+ peo­ple at 5:30 p.m. on Wednes­day, 14th June 2023 to remem­ber the 72 peo­ple who died in the Gren­fell Fire in Lon­don on this day in 2017. The ral­ly and a silent vig­il mark­ing the 6th anniver­sary of the ter­ri­ble tragedy was organ­ised by the Edin­burgh Trades Coun­cil. The Trades Coun­cil pro­duced a pho­to plac­ard for each of the 72 peo­ple who lost their lives and these were on dis­play. Three speak­ers shared their cur­rent thoughts about the tragedy: a tow­er block res­i­dent from the Edin­burgh “Liv­ing Rent” organ­i­sa­tion about liv­ing in a tow­er block and think­ing about the cir­cum­stances of the Gren­fell fire; anoth­er speak­er from the Fire Brigades Union spoke about the trau­ma­tised fire fight­ers and the work of emer­gency ser­vices; the final speak­er, an EIS mem­ber and for­mer­ly from Lon­don read a mes­sage from the Jus­tice for Gren­fell group about how few answers and how lit­tle help the sur­vivors had. PiH then sang 3 songs: Step By Step; Think of Me; and Bam­belela (with a song­leaderoo step­ping up to lead us – so appre­ci­at­ed). After this, those present each took a sign with pho­to of one of the vic­tims of the fire and held it up to form a row at the front of the Mound near Princes Street. A 30 minute silence was then observed as passers-by took note of what the signs were. It was a very mov­ing event to be part of and so impor­tant to mark, remem­ber and to con­tin­ue to ask ques­tions about what hap­pened at Grenfell.
PiH commemorating Grenfell 2023 PiH commemorating Grenfell 2023

Sheku Bayoh Inquiry, 9 May 2023

Protest in Har­mo­ny was again able to join with oth­ers to sup­port the fam­i­ly of Sheku Bay­oh at the start of the next ses­sion of the legal enquiry into his death. Jane Lewis was our song­leader and we sang Black Lives Mat­ter, by Arnie Bat­son, Make Good Trou­ble with lyrics from John Lewis and Sheku Bay­oh, by Pen­ny Stone. We were espe­cial­ly pleased to be able to sing Sheku Bay­oh when the fam­i­ly were wait­ing to go into the hearing.
Sheku Bayoh demo May 2023Sheku Bayoh demo May 2023

Mayday, 6 May 2023

About 20 singers from Protest in Har­mo­ny joined about 1000 peo­ple for this year’s May Day March. We were com­pet­ing (pos­i­tive­ly!) with pipe bands, drum­mers and the chant­i­ng of many slo­gans. It was a colour­ful march from John­stone Ter­race to the Pleas­ance for the May Day ral­ly. We fin­ished by singing Free­dom Come All Ye in the Pleas­ance courtyard.
May Day march 2023

PiH sing in solidarity with asylum seekers, Erskine

Om May 21st, PiH sang in sol­i­dar­i­ty with asy­lum seek­ers cur­rent­ly liv­ing at the Muthu Hotel in Ersk­ine, as part of the ‘Big One’, with peo­ple from trade unions, the Ersk­ine com­mu­ni­ty, and var­i­ous activist groups there to resist extreme right wing pro­test­ers — Patri­ot­ic Alter­na­tive and Home­land — who have been ‘cam­paign­ing’ aka ver­bal­ly abus­ing and intim­i­dat­ing peo­ple in the hotel for weeks and weeks. It was an uplift­ing event: 400 of us — none of them showed up! Great speak­ers includ­ing some brave asy­lum seek­er hotel res­i­dents. 12 PiH peo­ple sang, from Edin­burgh and Glas­gow choirs.PiH singing for asylum seekers. Erskine, 21 May 2023.
PiH singing for asylum seekers. Erskine, 21 May 2023.

International Conscientious Objectors’ Day

On Mon­day 15 May, Protest in Har­mo­ny sang at the annu­al event to mark Inter­na­tion­al Con­sci­en­tious Objec­tors’ Day. 

We gath­ered by the Welling­ton Stat­ue in Edinburgh’s Water­loo Place to show sol­i­dar­i­ty with Con­sci­en­tious Objec­tors around the world, and those in past con­flicts. The cer­e­mo­ny focused on COs in Israel, Rus­sia and Ukraine, as well as the often-over­looked role of women COs. State­ments were read out from COs in Israel, Rus­sia and Ukraine who have brave­ly refused to take up arms. A one-minute vig­il was held to com­mem­o­rate COs today and in history.
PiH singing for International Conscientious Objectors’ Day
PiH singing for International Conscientious Objectors’ Day
The event was organ­ised by Con­science: Tax­es for Peace not War, Peace & Jus­tice (Scot­land) and Pax Christi Scot­land. Led by Jane Lewis, we sang four songs: Fire in My Heart; We Refuse; Ukrain­ian song Mno­haya Lita, which means “Many Years”; and Free­dom Come-All-Ye.

International Workers’ Memorial Day

On Fri­day 28 April, Protest in Har­mo­ny sang as part of the annu­al Edin­burgh Inter­na­tion­al Work­ers’ Memo­r­i­al Day com­mem­o­ra­tion, a day to mourn those who have died through work and to recom­mit our­selves to improv­ing work­ing con­di­tions through­out the world. We were part of 150 peo­ple who gath­ered at the Work­ers’ Memo­r­i­al Day tree in Princes Street Gar­dens. 30 wreaths/floral trib­utes were laid by bereaved fam­i­lies, trade unions and oth­er organ­i­sa­tions. Edin­burgh was one of 21 events through­out Scot­land and were joined with com­mem­o­ra­tions in over 70 oth­er coun­tries. We sang William Mor­ris, Think of Me and Ros­es and Bread. More details about IWMD at 28april.org.

Singing at IWMD 2023

IWMD 2023 wreaths

Climate Change Solidarity event

On April 27, mem­bers of PiH gath­ered out­side the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment for a sol­i­dar­i­ty event on Cli­mate Change, to link with the BIG ACTION in Lon­don the week­end before.
The start of the singing was delayed due to a piece of non-vio­lent direct action before­hand, with paint being thrown at the par­lia­ment build­ing. This was fol­lowed by a noisy clean-up oper­a­tion, which meant PiH had to move from direct­ly in front of the build­ing to some­where we could be heard! 

But spir­its were high, and the event was enlivened by the Aye Notes band and the Loch Ness mon­ster. We were led by Pen­ny for sev­er­al songs, includ­ing the Free­dom Come All Ye, and then processed up to the UK Gov­ern­ment build­ing, where ban­ners were dis­played by groups includ­ing Stitch­es for Sur­vival, Secure Scot­land, Cam­paign Against Arms Trade and Tri­dent Ploughshares.

PiH singing at the Climate Change Solidarity event

Singing at the Cli­mate Change Sol­i­dar­i­ty event

PiH singing at the Climate Change Solidarity event April 26

Singing at the Cli­mate Change Sol­i­dar­i­ty event

AGM April 2023

Here is the Chair’s Report from our Chair, Kathy Jenk­ins, and the min­utes of the AGM.

Bhopal Anniversary event in Edinburgh

Protest in Har­mo­ny joined with oth­ers to com­mem­o­rate the 38th anniver­sary of the Bhopal Gas Dis­as­ter. We gath­ered on 3 Decem­ber 2022 at the memo­r­i­al plaque in Greyfri­ars Kirk­yard. Wreaths were laid, words said in mem­o­ry and sol­i­dar­i­ty and the choir sang Anoth­er World, Bam­belela and Free­dom Come All Ye.

Refugees Are Welcome Here

Thanks all who were able to go to the Refugees Wel­come gath­er­ing on 14 June — you were great­ly appre­ci­at­ed as you will see in this tweet and wee clip of some joiny-in singing:

Cit­i­zen Shanty

(You can still see this link if you aren’t on twit­ter, but you will need to look at it on a com­put­er rather than a phone or tablet.)

AGM April 2022

Here is the annu­al report for 2022 from our Chair, Kathy Jenk­ins, and the min­utes of the AGM.

UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

PiH outside the UK government building in Edinburgh. On 22nd Jan­u­ary we marked the 1st anniver­sary of the com­ing into force of the UN Treaty on the Pro­hi­bi­tion of Nuclear Weapons by call­ing on the UK gov­ern­ment to sign the Treaty.

Bhopal Commemoration, 4 December 2021

Bhopal Commemoration, 4 December Protest in Har­mo­ny singers joined oth­ers to remem­ber and stand in sol­i­dar­i­ty with the peo­ple of Bhopal on 4 Decem­ber 2021, the day after the 37th anniver­sary of the Bhopal Gas Dis­as­ter, the world’s worst indus­tri­al dis­as­ter which killed 22.000 and left over 100.000 disabled.

Videos of two of the songs we sang can be found at Think of Me and Free­dom Come All Ye (Vimeo reg­is­tra­tion required to view).

See https://www.bhopal.net/our-demands/  for more infor­ma­tion and for the demands of the sur­vivors who con­tin­ue to cam­paign for jus­tice, good health care, and clean water.

COP 26

25 Protest in Harmony singers joined 100,000 demonstrators on 6 November for the COP26 Coalition's Global Day of Action for Climate Justice. 25 Protest in Har­mo­ny singers joined 100,000 demon­stra­tors on 6 Novem­ber for the COP26 Coali­tion’s Glob­al Day of Action for Cli­mate Justice.

Climate Fringe

Fol­low­ing an online song­writ­ing ses­sion with Scot­tish, Eng­lish, Chilean, Cana­di­an and Amer­i­can activists and musi­cians, Pen­ny Stone and fel­low activists pro­duced a won­der­ful short video: Somos Todes, a new song which they wrote to uplift the voic­es of the peo­ple of Putaendo.

Here is the link to the film: https://youtu.be/pKyCGWAXWIU

Please share it widely.

This is a col­lab­o­ra­tion high­light­ing the resis­tance by the peo­ple of Putaen­do in Chile to a Cana­di­an Cop­per min­ing com­pa­ny. It also includes the song writ­ten and sung by local 12 year old Bar­bara Tor­res Astudil­lo. The fund­ing from Cli­mate Fringe is all going to the activists in Chile for their input to the film and ongo­ing campaigning.

Protest in Har­mo­ny went on to organ­ise an inter­na­tion­al Zoom ceilidh, held on the 24th Sep­tem­ber, at which the film pre­miered. Amber and Paula, 2 Chilean activists, were able to attend the ceilidh. They shared with us their desire to have inter­na­tion­al sup­port for their cam­paign and their delight at the par­tic­i­pa­tion of over 50 peo­ple at the ceilidh. Songs were shared, sto­ries were told and we learned a new song inspired by the quote from Arund­hati Roy: ‘Anoth­er world is pos­si­ble, she is on her way….’

Friends joined from Nashville and shared a song: ‘Don’t Blow Up The Mountain’:


while some Cana­di­an activists shared a song about a salmon riv­er near Vancouver.

We are cur­rent­ly edit­ing the record­ing of the ceilidh to share with peo­ple who could not attend and are delight­ed to be able to share the Somos Todes in sol­i­dar­i­ty with the struggle.

Chair’s report 2020 and 2021

Here are the annu­al reports from our Chair, Hilery Williams, for 2020 and 2021.

Remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki, July 2020

Local groups from Edin­burgh and as far afield as Mel­rose found social­ly dis­tanced ways of com­mem­o­rat­ing the atom­ic bomb­ing of Hiroshi­ma and Nagasa­ki 75 years ago. Click the link below for more pic­tures and writeups.

Remem­ber­ing Hiroshi­ma and Nagasa­ki 2020

Some pic­tures from the Por­to­bel­lo event:

November 2019 Awayday

What does Protest in Har­mo­ny mean to you?
Here are some of the par­tic­i­pants’ respons­es (pic­to­ri­al­ly).

Favourite PiH songs
Kathy Jenk­ins has kind­ly made a list of the top 20 (turned into 21 as too many tied places!) PiH songs tak­en from the list peo­ple ticked at the Away­day, with some notes about the songs.

  • Bam­belela: source: Xhosa, South Africa. From the singing of JL Zwane Memo­r­i­al Con­gre­ga­tion, Gugule­tu, Capetown; Tran­scribed: Gor­don Munro & Mairi Munro; Arranged by: Phil Jakob
  • Bandiera Rossa: Ital­ian (Red Flag); Labour Move­ment song. Words: Car­lo Tuzzi; Music: Tra­di­tion­al, Lombardy
  • Bel­la Ciao: Ital­ian (beau­ti­ful women); Tra­di­tion­al Ital­ian protest song orig­i­nat­ing in the hard­ships of women work­ing in the pad­dy fields
  • Comin’ Home: Words & Music: Steven Clarke; Arranged by: Jane Schonveld
  • Deep Blue Sea: Words & Music: Pete Seeger and Odet­ta; thought to be a frag­ment of an old Eng­lish bal­lad or sea song
  • Down by the River­side: Trad USA, orig­i­nal­ly Gospel, civ­il rights and peace move­ment. A spir­i­tu­al that was sung by slaves in the South as a work song. It dates back to before the Amer­i­can Civ­il War
  • Free­dom Come All Ye: Hamish Hen­der­son to the tune Bloody Fields of Flan­ders; writ­ten by Hamish Hen­der­son in 1960 for the peace marchers at the Holy Loch near Glasgow.
  • Gen­tle Angry Peo­ple: Words & Music: Hol­ly Near; Arranged by: Jane Schon­veld. It began life as a cry for and from mem­bers of the glob­al LGBT com­mu­ni­ty in response to the killing of coun­cil­lor Har­vey Milk and may­or George Moscone in San Fran­cis­co in 1978.
  • I Ain’t Afraid Words & Music: Hol­ly Near; arrange­ment Shereen Benjamin
  • Joe Hill: Words: Alfred Hayes; Tune: Earl Robin­son; Arrange­ment: Jane Lewis. The sto­ry of a Swedish-Amer­i­can labor activist, song­writer, and mem­ber of the Indus­tri­al Work­ers of the World
  • Leave the Oil in the Ground: Tune: 17th cen­tu­ry melody arr. Kate Howard; orig­i­nal words: Ger­ard Win­stan­ley. new words: Jane Lewis
  • Movin’ On Song: Words & Music: Ewan Macoll – about trav­el­ling peo­ple. Arranged by: Eileen Pen­man; extra words: Eileen Penman
  • Nana was a Suf­fragette: Words & Music: Jules Gibb – the sto­ry is of her own Nana
  • One Song, One Dance: Music: Mayen­zi­we; Source: South African; Words: Cyn­thia Cock­burn (researcher, author, peace activist, singer and songwriter)
  • Peace, Salaam, Shalom: Words & Music: Pat Humphries and Sandy Opa­tow (Emma’s Rev­o­lu­tion duo) Writ­ten for a peace march in New York City fol­low­ing the 911 attacks.
  • Somos el Bar­co: Words & Music: Lorre Wyatt
  • Think of Me: The Dia­mond Choir, South Africa
  • This Land is Your Land: Tune: Woody Guthrie; Words: Woody Guthrie and Bil­ly Bragg
  • We Who Believe in Jus­tice: Tune: Ber­nice John­son Reagon — ‘Ella’s Song’; Words: Mary McCann
  • William Mor­ris: Words & Music: John Young (after William Mor­ris) William Mor­ris was a British tex­tile design­er, poet, nov­el­ist, trans­la­tor, and social­ist activist
  • Ye’ll No Sit Here: Words: Thur­so Berwick; Tune: Hey, Jock, Ma Cud­dy; from the anti-Polaris demon­stra­tions at Holy Loch, 1961

Dis­cus­sion points
These can be viewed as a sep­a­rate doc­u­ment here.

Hiroshi­ma Day
On Tues­day 6th August 2019 we joined Edin­burgh CND in organ­is­ing an event on Cas­tle Street to remem­ber and draw atten­tion to the impli­ca­tions of drop­ping the first nuclear bomb at the end of the Sec­ond World War. A num­ber of peo­ple spoke about the destruc­tion and dan­ger unleashed through the first nuclear attack, and voiced the imper­a­tive to rid the world of nuclear weapons giv­en what we know hap­pened in Hiroshi­ma. PiH sang in between the speeches.

Chair’s report
At our meet­ing in May, Hilery Williams deliv­ered the Chair’s report 2019.

Glasgow launch for PIH’s “Our Voices Resound

Six­ty peo­ple crowd­ed into Jim’s Bar in the QM Union at Glas­gow Uni­ver­si­ty on Feb­ru­ary 22  for the pre­miere of “Our Voic­es Resound” — Eileen Karmy and Mar­tin Farias’s won­der­ful film about Protest in Har­mo­ny and the pow­er and prac­tice of polit­i­cal song. The launch was spon­sored by the Alis­tair Hulett Memo­r­i­al Trust and organ­ised by the Janey Buchan Polit­i­cal Song Col­lec­tion.  It was great to see such an enthu­si­as­tic recep­tion for the film when Eileen and Mar­tin field­ed ques­tions at the end of the showing.

Eight mem­bers of the choir trav­elled through to Glas­gow to join the occa­sion and were invit­ed to sing the Free­dom Come All Ye, iden­ti­fied and filmed by Eileen and Mar­tin as our theme song, and to lead every­one in We Shall Over­come. We were very grate­ful and proud to be part of it.

Eileen and Mar­tin are keen for a wider audi­ence for the film and invite us all to con­tact them for fur­ther show­ings. They intend to sub­ti­tle it in Span­ish (good luck with that for Free­dom Come All Ye!) and show it in their native Chile one day.

Open Shuha­da Street Event 16th Feb­ru­ary 2019
A great turnout from Protest in Har­mo­ny sup­port­ed the Pales­tine sol­i­dar­i­ty choir San Ghan­ny in Rose Street as part of the Inter­na­tion­al ‘Open Shuha­da Street’ cam­paign. Beside a mock ‘check­point’ many singers joined in a sim­u­lat­ed con­fronta­tion of Pales­tini­ans and Israeli sol­diers at Shuha­da Street in Hebron. Shuha­da Street epit­o­mis­es Israel’s apartheid pol­i­cy as Pales­tini­ans are not allowed to walk on it even if they live there, while Israeli set­tlers, sol­diers and inter­na­tion­al vis­i­tors may pass freely.

Oth­er Pales­tine sol­i­dar­i­ty organ­i­sa­tions helped by hand­ing out leaflets as PIH sang Pen­ny Stone’s song ‘Open Shuha­da Street’ and sev­er­al oth­er songs. The event was eye-catch­ing and some inter­est­ing and some chal­leng­ing con­ver­sa­tions took place with passers-by. A short video was sent to friends in Pales­tine in sol­i­dar­i­ty – and was much appre­ci­at­ed by them: Open Shuha­da Action 2019. Feel free to watch it and pass it on.

Faslane Demon­stra­tion
Anti-nuclear groups from all over Britain joined rep­re­sen­ta­tives from a num­ber of coun­tries to gath­er at Faslane on 22 Sep­tem­ber 2018. There was a very good rea­son to come togeth­er to cel­e­brate the award of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize to ICAN (Inter­na­tion­al Cam­paign to Abol­ish Nuclear Weapons). And as long-term cam­paign­ers, Protest in Har­mo­ny was there!

Jane Lewis had writ­ten a new song for us, set to Offenbach’s Can-Can and had some­how per­suad­ed at least ten of us to make and mod­el very fetch­ing tutus. Anoth­er fif­teen choir mem­bers lent joy­ful sup­port. A large green Nessie and a ten-foot pup­pet of “Craig” led about a thou­sand of us to the North gate. Jane, our ban­ner and the choir were to the fore while Pen­ny and Shereen sta­tioned them­selves along our col­umn to keep us all in time and tune. A piper accom­pa­nied us on the “Free­dom Come All Ye”. We were a colour­ful riv­er of life snaking round the grey base which was life­less except for the sound of dogs barking.

It was a won­der­ful cel­e­bra­tion and if it weren’t that we’re a non-vio­lent bunch you’d want to say we’d punched above our weight.
Jack­ie Kay spoke, sup­port­ed by won­der­ful peo­ple from Israel, Rus­sia and Roma­nia, Japan and the USA all prais­ing Scotland’s long wit­ness against the weapons.

We danced our can-can and sang our peace songs. Pen­ny, Sylvia and Eileen sang solos and Abba (Mar­garet and Sheila in gob­s­mack­ing dis­guise with their friends from the Glas­gow Hor­ti­cul­tur­al­ists) begged us to “Take a Chance on Peace”.

45 Years of the Chilean Pop­u­lar Government
On Fri­day 28th Sep­tem­ber, PiH mem­bers attend­ed an event organ­ised by the Chilean Soci­ety of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Edin­burgh, and sang El Pueblo Unido.

PiH mem­bers singing El Pueblo Unido.

11th Sep­tem­ber was the 45th anniver­sary of the coup d’é­tat in Chile that over­threw Allen­de’s Pop­u­lar Gov­ern­ment (1970–1973). Through short films, pho­tog­ra­phy, and music made at the time, the event was designed to fos­ter con­ver­sa­tion about the dif­fer­ent projects that aimed to fol­low a demo­c­ra­t­ic path to social­ism in Chile, and beyond the speci­fici­ties of the Chilean case, to be a direct invi­ta­tion to bring peo­ple togeth­er and to acknowl­edge that pos­i­tive social change is possible.

Stop the Bloodshed in Colombia

On the evening of Sat 7 August, PiH singers joined the demon­stra­tion in West Par­lia­ment Square in sup­port of the Colom­bian peace agree­ment, in recog­ni­tion of the assas­si­na­tion of more than 220 lead­ers since the begin­ning of the imple­men­ta­tion of the Peace Agree­ment between the Nation­al Gov­ern­ment and the FARC-EP in Decem­ber 2016.

Street Choirs 2018 
A small but deter­mined and tune­ful con­tin­gent made it to Brighton, along with some 30 oth­er choirs from across the UK, on a blis­ter­ing­ly hot week­end. The pic­ture shows us at the evening con­cert singing (and act­ing out) “Ye’ll No Sit Here”.

PiH on stage in Brighton

Ye’ll No Sit Here”

Gren­fell Tow­er commemoration
Ear­ly evening on 14 June 2018, 200 peo­ple gath­ered at the Mound precinct in Edin­burgh to join with oth­ers through­out the UK to mark the first anniver­sary of the Gren­fell fire.

Large pic­tures of each of the vic­tims of that tragedy were held by peo­ple lin­ing Princes Street in silent vig­il for 30 min­utes. This was fol­lowed by: a state­ment from Jus­tice for Gren­fell read by Ali­son Mur­phy of the Edu­ca­tion­al Insti­tute of Scot­land; songs from Protest in Har­mo­ny; short speech­es from Leigh Craven, Liv­ing Rent, Heather Ford, Edin­burgh Ten­ants Fed­er­a­tion, Neil Find­lay MSP and John McKen­zie of the Fire Brigades Union. The mov­ing event was closed with a final poem read by Mary Alexan­der of Unite.

(The com­mem­o­ra­tion was organ­ised by Edin­burgh Trade Union Coun­cil and the images are by Craig McLean, Nation­al Union of Journalists)

Anti-racism event
After our month­ly meet­ing on 17th March a large num­ber of us gath­ered in the High Street in Edin­burgh to sing. Eileen filmed us. A lot of peo­ple seemed stop and lis­ten. It was real­ly suc­cess­ful, with quite a few new mem­bers com­ing along. Near­ly every­one then went to George Square with Shereen to sing and sup­port a group of stu­dents who were demon­strat­ing there in sup­port of the lec­tur­ers’ strike.

Open Shuha­da Street: tak­ing part in a glob­al protest
On Feb­ru­ary 24th the High Street was busy with peo­ple on their way to the Rug­by Inter­na­tion­al against Eng­land. So, set­ting up a check­point near the City Cham­bers, mem­bers of Protest in Har­mo­ny and street the­atre group Active Inquiry told the sto­ry of the Hebron “High Street” which, since 1994, has been closed to Pales­tini­ans liv­ing in the West Bank of Hebron.

Queue­ing at a ‘check­point’

With queues, pass­es and “sol­diers”, they act­ed out Shuha­da Street-style apartheid as wit­nessed by San Ghan­ny Choir dur­ing their April 2017 vis­it to Hebron, in the West Bank. Songs of non-vio­lent protest were sung by the choir led by Pen­ny and Shereen. San Ghanny’s thir­teen mem­bers vis­it­ed and sang in Shuha­da Street and were so shocked by the sim­i­lar­i­ty to apartheid they vowed to join the glob­al cam­paign to “Open Shuha­da Street” start­ed by Youth Against Set­tle­ments in Hebron. “It was like the High Street in Edin­burgh being closed to all Scots!” said Sheila Mackay.
Many peo­ple were involved in the plan­ning of this action includ­ing mak­ing ban­ners, badges, a mock check­point and “pass­es” to hand­out to passers-by. A prepa­ra­tion day had intro­duced us to street the­atre tech­niques and Suzanne Dance had encour­aged us to impro­vise and act out sce­nar­ios to help us feel what it might be like to live on an apartheid street. About twen­ty-five choir mem­bers were involved in this suc­cess­ful and enjoy­able action and near­ly four hun­dred explana­to­ry “pass­es” were hand­ed to those who stopped to watch and listen.
Eileen Karmy made a video of the event which has been shared with Youth Against Set­tle­ments in Hebron and with a cam­paign­ing organ­i­sa­tion in Chile.

UCU strikes
Shereen writes: Many, many thanks to the PiH-ers who turned out earlier this week to support the UCU strikes. It’s been hugely appreciated by my colleagues (and of course by me!).

Bhopal memo­r­i­al Decem­ber 3rd 2017 
Bhopal Greyfriars 2017
It’s always mov­ing to sing in Greyfri­ars Kirk­yard on Decem­ber 3rd in mem­o­ry of the hor­ren­dous 1984 gas dis­as­ter in India. We stand tucked in, round the cor­ner, near the plaque at the gate­way so vis­i­tors often don’t see us at first. Then we sing. This year it was Think of Me, Step by Step (as a round) Rise Like Lions (but not with­out inci­dent!) Bam­balela and Free­dom Come All Ye.

Some­times it’s been in the dark or the rain but this year it was just “nor­mal Scot­tish cold” We, twen­ty-five or so mem­bers of Protest in Har­mo­ny led by Jane and Shereen, three wreath-lay­ers from the Trades Unions and one or two oth­er stal­wart souls lis­tened to Eurig Scan­drett as he spoke of his knowl­edge of Bhopal and the ongo­ing work there. Then he read from Rob Edwards’s 2014 news­pa­per arti­cle. We held a minute’s silence. Peo­ple came and went using the short­cut through the kirk­yard. But a small group stopped to lis­ten and learn about the world’s worst indus­tri­al disaster.

Campaign Against the Arms Trade
On Saturday Dec 9, 2017, quite a few of us went out to sing in Rose Street after our last rehearsal of the term. A record amount of money was collected by CAAT. Very successful.

Ability Centre, West Lothian
Eight or nine members of PiH went out to Livingston to support them as they challenged the closure of their services. They sang songs including Save Our Public Services and Bambalela.

Refugees are Welcome Here

Singing ‘Refugees Are Wel­come Here’ at the Scot­tish Green Par­ty event out­side Par­lia­ment in June to show sup­port for stay­ing in EU just before the Par­lia­men­tary debate.

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Some of us were able to be at the vig­il on June 15th for the peo­ple whose lives were tak­en in Orlan­do. We sang as peo­ple gathered.

Conscientious Objectors Memorial Day, 15th May 2016

About 70 peo­ple joined the third annu­al Con­sci­en­tious Objec­tors Day vig­il on 15 May to remem­ber the 16,000 COs of the First World War and all those who have refused com­pul­so­ry mil­i­tary ser­vice around the world in the past and today. Mark­ing the cen­te­nary of con­scrip­tion in the First World War we shone par­tic­u­lar­ly remem­bered COs from Edin­burgh and Scot­land who were impris­oned, forced to do hard labour and those who died.

We also remem­bered local peace activists who have passed away in the past year, includ­ing Fr Daniel Berri­g­an, an Amer­i­can Jesuit priest whose action with the Catonsville Nine in 1968 sparked anti-war actions and demon­stra­tions that even­tu­al­ly end­ed the Viet­nam War.
Speak­ers includ­ed Peace and Jus­tice Cen­tre Coor­di­na­tor Bri­an Larkin, Les­ley Orr from the Iona Com­mu­ni­ty, Eric Chester (IWW), Ari­an­na Andrean­geli­ni, who spoke about Sec­ond World War CO Franz Jag­ger­stadter, and Eliz­a­beth Allen and Andrew Far­rar, descen­dants of First World War COs.

Protest in Har­mo­ny joined in the memo­r­i­al singing songs includ­ing Unsung Heroes, Siya Ham­ba and Here We Are Again.

Once more this was a very mov­ing occasion.

May Day march and rally, 2016
Members of Protest in Harmony added their voices to the 2016 Edinburgh May Day march and rally. 2016 May Day was celebrated on Saturday, 7 May and celebrated workers’ rights, human rights and the life of James Connolly. One of our songleaders, Penny Stone, sang at the rally with members of PIH supporting from the crowd!

2016 Street Choirs Festival, Leicester
30 choirs, the vast majority being politically engaged, gathered for a fabulous concert given by local musicians and comedians, a great massed sing in Jubilee Square, busking on the streets (including lusty singing as we strolled past marching soldiers gathered for Armed Forces Day), a fantastic concert of all the choirs, and workshops and a picnic the final day.

Phew. Exhaust­ing? Yes. Exhil­a­rat­ing? Cer­tain­ly. Inspi­ra­tional? Undoubt­ed­ly — espe­cial­ly as it occurred on the week­end after the momen­tous deci­sion to leave the EU. Won­der­ful to be sur­round­ed by hun­dreds of peo­ple who care pas­sion­ate­ly about sol­i­dar­i­ty and diver­si­ty — the twin themes of the weekend.

Many thanks to Shereen and Pen­ny for their bril­liant leadership.

Moffat weekend 2016
Our annual residential weekend took place at the Well Rd Centre in Moffat.

27 of us had a great week­end of singing, social­is­ing, eat­ing, origa­mi, waltz­ing, Oscars, choco­late spoons and more. It might have been slight­ly chilly, but we soon warmed up thanks to the love­ly food on offer.

Eileen P. led us in some singing on Fri­day evening and on Sat­ur­day morn­ing the song lead­ers put us through our places, we soon warmed the gym up. Pen­ny taught us The Arti­cle 6 Waltz and there were some smart moves in the danc­ing. Although one mem­ber was heard to say that it was dif­fi­cult to har­monise and waltz at the same time. Shereen fair­ly woke us up with Big Sky, for many their first expe­ri­ence of Shape Note singing. This proved to be quite a chal­lenge, but as ever we all rose to the occa­sion and our voic­es rose as well as we were encour­aged to shout our parts. Poor Jane then had the unen­vi­able task of lead­ing us in a very poignant song about refugees, When Death Was Behind Me.
One of the high­lights, as ever, is the ‘Sat­ur­day Pair­ty’, very ably com­pered by John and the glam­orous Mag­gie who did a ster­ling job with award­ing the choco­late spoon Mof­fat Oscars. At the end of the evening we were all com­ment­ing on the huge and var­ied tal­ent pool that is Protest in Harmony.
Thanks to Kathy and her able accom­plices of Liz B, Hilary, Hilery and Liz E who made the week­end run seam­less­ly. If you missed it, make sure you are free for next year.

International Workers Memorial Day is a day to remember those who have died through work to pledge our ongoing commitment to improving working conditions around the world. As it does every year, Protest in Harmony played an important part in Edinburgh’s 2016 commemoration. We sang before and after the event on a rainy and cold day at the Workers Memorial Day tree in Princes Street Gardens.
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Despite the weather the event was a moving one, specifically highlighting work-related mental health issues and remembered those who have died through suicide where work played a part. Speakers were Paul Holleran, National Union of Journalists NUJ, Eileen Penman, a member of Protest in Harmony. telling a personal story of loss, and Alieu Ceesay, a journalist and refugee from the Gambia. We sang One Heart Beating, William Morris and Freedom Come All Ye. The event was organised by Scottish Hazards Campaign and Edinburgh TUC. Wreaths laid by UNITE, UNISON, NUJ, UCU, FBU, RISE, Scottish Hazards and Edinburgh TUC.

Scrap Trident march and rally
image24 singers traveled to London to join other campaign choirs, and many others from Scotland and the rest of the UK, to encourage the government not to renew the Trident missile system.

(Lat­est news appears to be that gov­ern­ment has by-passed the demo­c­ra­t­ic process and has announced that it will spend a fur­ther £642million on Tri­dent ahead of the Par­lia­men­tary vote.)

The atmos­phere, the weath­er, the crowds and the singing were all great — the lat­ter bril­liant­ly led by Shereen, Pen­ny and Jane.

At Trafal­gar Square there was a major­i­ty of female speak­ers, includ­ing polit­i­cal lead­ers. Nico­la Stur­geon made the obvi­ous point that the UK is in a minor­i­ty in hav­ing nuclear weapons.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly we did­n’t have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to sing our unique­ly Scot­tish songs, to the dis­ap­point­ment of one small soul (whose push chair she had aban­doned momen­tar­i­ly) who had been prac­tis­ing the Choco­late Teapot song diligently!

Sad­ly one of the unsung songs (I want to have a lit­tle bomb like you) was writ­ten many decades ago but is still high­ly relevant.

Would­n’t it be won­der­ful if we no longer had to make these heart­felt protests?

Campaign against the Arms Trade
On 12 December around 35 of us braved the cold to take part in our annual fundraising sing for the Campaign against the Arms Trade. Ably encouraged by our inspirational song leaders, we sang a very satisfying medley of seasonal standards together with some new and moving songs for Syria and Palestine. The Christmas shoppers seemed appreciative. Sadly recent events have made our songs very relevant this Christmas.

We Speak Earth

Mem­bers of Protest in Har­mo­ny joined singers from the Open Com­mu­ni­ty Singing Group, Por­to­bel­lo Com­mu­ni­ty Choir and Wild­fire to sing a Sami yoik, We Speak Earth, in sup­port of the Sami com­mu­ni­ty which will be dev­as­tat­ed by the increas­ing effects of cli­mate change.

We met togeth­er at Por­to­bel­lo Beach, luck­i­ly in some wel­come sun­shine after days of stormy weath­er, to sing togeth­er and make a sight and sound­bite to share on YouTube on 12th Decem­ber for the Paris Cli­mate Sum­mit 2015.

Singing it out­doors on the sand with the sea behind us and the sun shin­ing on us, with the sound of the waves, the gulls and the breeze sur­round­ing us made it all the more enjoy­able and meaningful.

Sara Marielle Gaup Beas­ka explains their sit­u­a­tion and plea here, and sings the yoik:

Bhopal memorial 2015 
20 people braved the rain and wind to gather at Greyfriars Kirkyard to commemorate the 31st anniversary of the Bhopal gas disaster. With songs, poetry and statements of solidarity, we remembered all those who have died and been made ill in Bhopal and renewed our pledges to support the people of Bhopal in their ongoing struggle for health care, clean water and justice.
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Edinburgh welcomes refugees, Sept. 12th 2015
We sang and sang, and sang — at rehearsal, on the Royal Mile, outside the Parliament — to show how Edinburgh welcomes refugees.
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