At 6am on Monday, 14 June, two artists set off on an epic journey to mark the 70th anniversary of the UN Refugee Convention. We shared live updates throughout the day.
Paria Goodarzi and Francisco Llinas from Distanced Assemblage walked 23 miles from Dungavel Detention and Removal Centre in Strathaven to the Home Office Building in Glasgow, carrying engraved mirrors on their backs.
AMBER reflects on the different paths people seeking asylum in Scotland might take in their search for safety: the ‘Home’ office that can provide refuge under the Convention, and the ‘Removal’ centre, which returns people to the places they have fled.
6.45am: AMBER is underway!
Paria and Francisco began their walk just after 6am this morning. We caught up with them before they set off to find out how they were feeling about the road ahead of them.
Paria: I feel excited for what we are doing today, but I have this feeling of being really uncertain. I know where I’m going, but I have this feeling of not knowing what’s going to happen.
Frank: Yeah, cos I think we’re going to encounter so many things along the way, and you don’t know. There is that feeling of expecting, that uncertainty, but yeah, we’re excited. Let’s see what the road has for us.
Paria: Are we going to walk to celebrate something, or to protest?
Frank: Are people going to be happy when they see us, or are they going to be puzzled?
Both: Let’s see.
11am: On the road
Paria and Francisco have been on the road for 5 hours now and despite the drizzle they’re making excellent time. Along the way, they’ve passed fields of cows and horses, received a warm welcome (and some much appreciated coffee and cake) at The Heron Farm Shop and Kitchen, and made friends with a friendly farm dog. Here’s how they’re getting on…
1.15pm: Half way!
Paria and Francisco are more than half way through their journey. They’ve been walking for over 8 hours and are passing through East Kilbride.
2pm: The path splits
People seeking asylum in Scotland can take many different paths in their search for safety. Paria and Francisco reflect on these diverse journeys as they prepare to go it alone, on their long walk to the Home Office.
Paria: We’re feeling a little bit tired. When you stop, that’s when you really start to feel the path you have walked.
Frank: We’ve walked over 25k and it’s now that you start to feel the weight of that distance on your feet. It’s been an ongoing reflection – nature, people, unpredictability
Paria: We planned everything, but we’ve had to adapt a lot. On the way, we were talking about how people who are seeking asylum make their journey to safety. They’re looking for the “promised land” but they don’t know exactly where they are going to go or how they are going to get there.
Frank: They don’t always know what path they are going to take. They don’t have maps, or Internet. They’re in a really difficult position. They just need to trust their senses.
Paria: Sometimes you have to follow a path you don’t want to take and you might have difficult decisions to make. Once you’re on the path, you can’t stop. You need to keep going to survive, whatever the conditions. That feeling of wanting to get to safety helps you to keep going and gives you that energy
Frank: That’s helped us to push through the difficult bits. You want to stop but you know you need to keep going. We’re feeling a bit anxious about this next bit. So far, we’ve been walking together. We’ve been supporting each other.
Paria: This part is going to be different. It’s going to be more difficult because we won’t be with each other. We’re going to have to stay in touch and keep phoning each other along the way.
Paria and Frank’s paths have reconnected at Queen’s Park in Glasgow. Friends welcomed the pair near the flagpole, where they tied white ribbons to a tree planted by Scottish Refugee Council and took a well earned break before continuing on their journey to the Home Office building on Brand Street.
4.15pm: The last leg
Paria and Francisco have begun the final part of their walk, from Queen’s Park to the Home Office building on Brand Street. Just one more push. They have very nearly made it to the end.
5pm: They’ve reached their destination!
Finally, after 11 hours on the road, Paria and Francisco have completed their incredible 23 mile journey! It has been a long and exhausting day. We caught up with them for their final reflections on their walk.
Paria: We have been so tired, but with all the support here, we feel like we could walk back again!
Frank: Having people around us made it really emotional as well. It was easier to get through the last bit; even though we were tired; even though we don’t feel our feed any more.
Paria: Yeah, the support has been amazing! Thanks to everyone for being with us. It’s been an amazing journey.
Frank: We’re not planning to repeat it any time soon, but we’ll be repeating it in our heads for a long time.
That’s a wrap folks. Huge congratulations to Paria and Francisco and thanks so much to everyone who supported them along the way.
Arts and cultureRefugee Festival Scotland