refugees

Cartoon of the day

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 24/09/2017 - 10:00pm in

Dutton’s callous cuts for ‘Let Them Stay’ refugees

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 08/09/2017 - 11:19am in

Tags 

refugees

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton’s announcement that he was going to cut the income and housing support from around 100 refugees brought to Australia from Manus and Nauru for medical treatment has created outrage.

Around 60 single men and women have had their paltry $100 a week allowance cut and have been given three weeks to get out of their present community detention housing. They have been issued with a six month bridging visa (with the right to work and Medicare) and told that they are expected to return to Manus, Nauru, or to their home countries.

Typically, there was no logic to the Immigration Department’s announcement. Women who are victims of sexual assault, cruelly held in detention for two years and released into community detention for just two months were expected to find houses and jobs. Others who have on-going medical issues were summarily cut off support, while others who had been living in the community for a long time and are fit and well, were ignored.

But if Dutton thought that his latest piece of nastiness would be meekly accepted, it wasn’t. His decree galvanised all those who have been involved in the “Let Them Stay” campaign since February 2016. The churches who offered sanctuary in 2016, offered it again. The head of the Anglican Church, Archbishop Philip Freier, called Dutton’s decree, “a callous attack on vulnerable people”.

Hundreds of people have responded with offers to help to make sure that everyone that Dutton cuts off will be supported and have a roof over their head.

The grassroots movement that stood up to Dutton to say, “Let Them Stay” (most dramatically outside Brisbane’s Lady Cilento hospital to stop baby Asha being sent to Nauru) is not going to allow Dutton to make them homeless and send them back.

This time too, the Labor Party opposed Dutton. Bill Shorten called the government’s move, “cowardly and cruel.” Labor is still committed to the also cruel, offshore processing, but Shorten went on to say the people from Nauru and Manus should be settled in the US or “other countries in our region”, putting a small gap between Labor and the Coalition.

A day before Dutton’s announcement, Labor members of the ACT parliament supported The Greens motion, “that the ACT government is willing and ready to settle refugees and asylum seekers from Manus Island and Nauru in Canberra as part of a national program of resettlement.”

So far, of the 400 people brought from Manus and Nauru for medical care, only about 60 refugees have had the income and housing support cut. Dutton may end up cutting support from more of the “Let Them Stay” group of asylum seekers and refugees. If he does, even more people will step up to support them.

Of course, the refugees and asylum seekers should never have been sent to Nauru or Manus; they should never have been in community detention. They should have had the right to work and been given permanent visas and every assistance to settle in Australia.

Nonetheless, Dutton’s move to grant them bridging visas is an admission that he cannot force them back to Nauru or Manus. To that extent, it is a small victory for the “Let Them Stay” campaign and the legal action that has prevented Dutton removing them to Nauru and Manus.

Dutton has labelled the lawyers involved in filing such cases “unAustralian”—a label we should proudly wear considering what Dutton and “Australian values” mean to those held on Manus and Nauru.

Dutton’s cruel abortion veto has to go

As this article was being written there are still three pregnant refugees on Nauru waiting to hear if they will be allowed to have the terminations they requested weeks ago. One of the women is now 18 weeks pregnant, yet she requested a termination when she was just six weeks.

Because abortion is unlawful on Nauru, a request for a termination has its own form of Newspeak, and is referred to as “a gynecological procedure unavailable on Nauru.”

Under new rules imposed by Australia’s Border Force department, IHMS (the medical provider) can no longer approach Border Force directly with abortion requests; requests for “a procedure unavailable on Nauru” must be referred to Nauru’s Overseas Medical Referral (OMR) committee. Border Force will only consider a request from the OMR.

Dutton’s twisted ban on abortion targets refugee women in the most barbaric way imaginable. But the barbarism is a direct product of the government’s paranoid determination that no refugee will ever come to Australia.

Dutton’s use of the OMR to ban abortions must be fought. And the fight to bring them here just got that much more critical.

By Ian Rintoul

The post Dutton’s callous cuts for ‘Let Them Stay’ refugees appeared first on Solidarity Online.

DSEI: A supermarket for state surveillance and border wars

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 06/09/2017 - 5:20pm in

As borders are increasingly militarised and
their operation privatised, migration, more than ever before, is also
an anti-militarist struggle.

Picture by Sara Woods, all rights reserved to the author. It took Stephen*
two years to get to the UK. The
journey began in his home
country of Sudan, crossing
through Libya, Italy, France and Belgium before reaching the UK where
he is applying to stay. Like thousands of others, he spent several
months in France and Belgium
before eventually crossing
the UK border, earlier this year, in
the back of a van.

Stephen had been
through several months of
failed attempts before this:
Being
discovered in Calais after
several hours cramped in the
back of a van from Belgium
with a group of four or five others,
then being stuck in France,
getting the money together to travel back to Belgium
and try again.

“If you have a good luck you can pass; if you
don’t, the security check will take you out,” he explains. “First
they use dogs, and if the dogs indicate there’s something, they
will check it for themselves…
If they can’t find anything easily they have to take the truck to
the computer scanner…
It’s quite scary.”

He says police patrols in Calais and elsewhere
operate day and night, with officers carrying tasers and pepper
spray. “They are using it easy – they don't care what is going to
happen, it doesn't matter for them,” he says. “They don’t care
if you die, if you don’t, if you’re injured...”

Borders are becoming increasingly militarised and
unsafe places –
particularly for people like
Stephen, who are trying to cross them undocumented. The security
measures he describes are only the visible ones. As well as the X-ray
machine, there’s a monitor that can detect heartbeats, and another
to detect raised levels of carbon dioxide from people breathing
inside the lorries.

Migrants and smugglers go to great lengths to
avoid detection by such machines –
such as travelling in airtight lorry containers and risking death by
asphyxiation, as happened to 15
year old Masud
from Afghanistan in early 2016; 71
men, women and children
in 2015, and 58
people
from China in 2000.

The entire UK border zone at Calais is surrounded
by floodlights, 2.5 miles of nine-feet high fencing, a "comprehensive
network of surveillance cameras
", and drones.
As well as the tasers and pepper spray described by Stephen, border
guards at Calais are now equipped with guns, batons and body armour.

Private
companies, producing and developing the
technology used at borders are making money from the perceived
threat
of an 'invasion' of refugees in Europe and the very real suffering of
people. Many of the companies developing and promoting equipment,
surveillance technologies and the IT infrastructure to track people
on the move are often among the world’s biggest arms companies.

These defence giants not only profit from the wars
and state oppression that cause people to flee their homes, but also
from the high-tech surveillance equipment that tracks them, the
violence that greets them, and the biometric systems that register
them on arrival.

The biannual Defence and Security Equipment
International (DSEI) trade fair is a chance for these companies to
showcase their work and products. From 12-15 September 2017, DSEI
will host over 1,600 companies, from across the defence and security
sector industries, at the ExCeL centre in London Docklands. It’s
set to attract over 34,000 visitors, including Defence Ministers,
international military representatives and private sector companies.
Many of the companies who profit from borders will be represented –
part of a border security market estimated
at €15 billion in 2015 and predicted to rise to €29 billion by
2022.

All across Europe there has been an increasingly
militarised response to migration by the European Union. Border
Wars
, a 2016 report from the Transnational
Institute (TNI) and Stop Wapenhandel puts the total EU funding for
member state border security measures at €4.5 billion between 2004
and 2020.

Technologies used against migrants include
monitoring towers, cameras, land radars and wireless
telecommunication, infra-red surveillance, high-tech fences,
identification systems, immigration databases, drones,
even
warships.

The
European border security industry is dominated by major arms
companies, including DSEI exhibitors Thales,
Safran and BAE
Systems
– the
third largest arms company in the world – who in 2002 won a
£7.6
million
contract from Romania to supply
equipment used in tightening the border, including Mobile
Surveillance Vehicles (MSVs), hand-held thermal imagers and night
vision binoculars.

Increased surveillance technology at borders is
forcing undocumented migrants everywhere to take greater and greater
risks. This year over
2,400 people
have already lost their lives in
the Mediterranean trying to reach Europe. Over 5,000
people
died in 2016.

The numbers are growing, but the routes and causes
of death have changed. Starting from the summer of 2015 – the “long
summer of migration” – huge numbers of people crossed the Aegean
Sea from Turkey to Greece, taking the Balkan Route through Macedonia,
Serbia, Croatia or Hungary, then into Austria and Germany, or on to
Nordic countries such as Sweden, where Syrian citizens were at one
time almost guaranteed refugee status.

During the first few weeks of January 2016, more
than 30,000 people
successfully crossed the
Aegean to Greece, in comparison to nearly 1,500 in the whole of
January 2015.

But one by one, countries along the Balkan Route
began to shut their borders, even building
physical walls
in some cases, and criminalising
migration in increasingly creative ways. After Turkey was given
€3 billion
to keep migrants away from EU
borders, European border army FRONTEX were
deployed
to some of the Greek islands, and NATO
warships began patrolling
the Eastern Med, this
stopped being the busiest route into Europe, and people began making
their way to Libya instead.

Libya is now an incredibly dangerous place as
rival militias compete for power. Black Africans are commonly
captured
and put into makeshift camps
by these gangs,
often in starving, torturous, and extremely poor conditions. The
gangs know that the European Union likes to export
its border management
to external “third countries”, where monitoring of
human rights conditions are harder, and trafficking people is
increasingly lucrative. The European Union has been training the
Libyan Coastguard and supplied it with €200 million, but rather
than rescuing people, they are carrying out illegal
push-backs and armed violence
against migrants. Now ISIS is also
active in Libya, the situation is even worse.

In 2017, nearly all deaths of migrants in the
Mediterranean have been people using the Central Mediterranean route,
trying to cross between Libya and Italy. NATO
has now also deployed warships there
as part of 'Operation Sea
Guardian'.

The British government has thrown millions
at the Calais border, which seems on
its way
to full privatisation. The death toll
is rising along with the amount of money thrown at the border, with a
growing
number of deaths each year. An October
2016 report
from the Calais Research Network
documented 40 companies benefiting from this situation, many of whom
will be exhibiting at DSEI:

  • Thales –
    Described as, “one of the top-earning companies in the border
    industry”, the French multinational was commissioned
    to supply a surveillance and access control
    system at Calais in 2010. In 2014 they were awarded a two year £3.8
    million
    contract from the UK Home Office to
    provide a system to encrypt biometric and biographic data for
    Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) cards for non-EU foreigners.

  • The Chemring
    Group –
    supplied PMMWI (Passive Millimeter-Wave Imaging) and vehicle
    scanning. Roke Manor Research, part of Chemring Group, developed the
    PandoraTM lorry
    scanning system
    , trialled in Calais.

  • FLIR Systems –
    has supplied thermal
    imaging cameras
    for use in Calais during the
    night or in fog, rain or snow when CCTV cameras can’t provide a
    clear image.

  • L3
    Technologies

    supplied x-ray scanning equipment at Calais.

Opposing
DSEI is one way to act in solidarity with migrants. During the ‘Free
Movement for People, Not Weapons’ day of action against DSEI 2015,
a member of Black
Dissidents

said as part of a rousing
speech
:

"If
countries are embroiled in a western-fuelled armed conflict, people
will flee. They will flee to safer places. European governments have
ensured that if they arrive here, they will not be safe. They will
suffer the risk of deportations, detention centres, or raids. They
will be scrutinised on the basis of their stories, or their age.
While the privileged sell their weapons, and move freely, trans
people are detained, queer people have to prove their sexuality,
deaths in detention occur in parallel to deaths in custody, and
privatisation of services by global security firms such as G4S, or
Serco are left unaccountable with impunity."

Join
the week of action
to Stop the Arms Fair
at London’s Docklands from 4-11 September, 2017. The
Stop
the Arms Fair coalition
is made up of
diverse groups and individuals who oppose the fair. The coalition
supports groups using a
diversity
of different tatics
to oppose the fair.
It is open for new people and new movements to get involved.

Thursday 7 September's day of action has the
theme '
Solidarity
Without Borders
' making the links
between the arms and security industry. There are also events going
on
across
the UK
, in the lead up to DSEI and
during the event
.

 

*name
changed to protect his identity

Sideboxes
Related stories: 

Normalising torture

Arms bazaar: needs wars, eats lives

‘Sorry I drowned’

Rights: 

CC by NC 4.0

DSEI: A supermarket for state surveillance and border wars

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 06/09/2017 - 5:20pm in

As borders are increasingly militarised and
their operation privatised, migration, more than ever before, is also
an anti-militarist struggle.

Picture by Sara Woods, all rights reserved to the author. It took Stephen*
two years to get to the UK. The
journey began in his home
country of Sudan, crossing
through Libya, Italy, France and Belgium before reaching the UK where
he is applying to stay. Like thousands of others, he spent several
months in France and Belgium
before eventually crossing
the UK border, earlier this year, in
the back of a van.

Stephen had been
through several months of
failed attempts before this:
Being
discovered in Calais after
several hours cramped in the
back of a van from Belgium
with a group of four or five others,
then being stuck in France,
getting the money together to travel back to Belgium
and try again.

“If you have a good luck you can pass; if you
don’t, the security check will take you out,” he explains. “First
they use dogs, and if the dogs indicate there’s something, they
will check it for themselves…
If they can’t find anything easily they have to take the truck to
the computer scanner…
It’s quite scary.”

He says police patrols in Calais and elsewhere
operate day and night, with officers carrying tasers and pepper
spray. “They are using it easy – they don't care what is going to
happen, it doesn't matter for them,” he says. “They don’t care
if you die, if you don’t, if you’re injured...”

Borders are becoming increasingly militarised and
unsafe places –
particularly for people like
Stephen, who are trying to cross them undocumented. The security
measures he describes are only the visible ones. As well as the X-ray
machine, there’s a monitor that can detect heartbeats, and another
to detect raised levels of carbon dioxide from people breathing
inside the lorries.

Migrants and smugglers go to great lengths to
avoid detection by such machines –
such as travelling in airtight lorry containers and risking death by
asphyxiation, as happened to 15
year old Masud
from Afghanistan in early 2016; 71
men, women and children
in 2015, and 58
people
from China in 2000.

The entire UK border zone at Calais is surrounded
by floodlights, 2.5 miles of nine-feet high fencing, a "comprehensive
network of surveillance cameras
", and drones.
As well as the tasers and pepper spray described by Stephen, border
guards at Calais are now equipped with guns, batons and body armour.

Private
companies, producing and developing the
technology used at borders are making money from the perceived
threat
of an 'invasion' of refugees in Europe and the very real suffering of
people. Many of the companies developing and promoting equipment,
surveillance technologies and the IT infrastructure to track people
on the move are often among the world’s biggest arms companies.

These defence giants not only profit from the wars
and state oppression that cause people to flee their homes, but also
from the high-tech surveillance equipment that tracks them, the
violence that greets them, and the biometric systems that register
them on arrival.

The biannual Defence and Security Equipment
International (DSEI) trade fair is a chance for these companies to
showcase their work and products. From 12-15 September 2017, DSEI
will host over 1,600 companies, from across the defence and security
sector industries, at the ExCeL centre in London Docklands. It’s
set to attract over 34,000 visitors, including Defence Ministers,
international military representatives and private sector companies.
Many of the companies who profit from borders will be represented –
part of a border security market estimated
at €15 billion in 2015 and predicted to rise to €29 billion by
2022.

All across Europe there has been an increasingly
militarised response to migration by the European Union. Border
Wars
, a 2016 report from the Transnational
Institute (TNI) and Stop Wapenhandel puts the total EU funding for
member state border security measures at €4.5 billion between 2004
and 2020.

Technologies used against migrants include
monitoring towers, cameras, land radars and wireless
telecommunication, infra-red surveillance, high-tech fences,
identification systems, immigration databases, drones,
even
warships.

The
European border security industry is dominated by major arms
companies, including DSEI exhibitors Thales,
Safran and BAE
Systems
– the
third largest arms company in the world – who in 2002 won a
£7.6
million
contract from Romania to supply
equipment used in tightening the border, including Mobile
Surveillance Vehicles (MSVs), hand-held thermal imagers and night
vision binoculars.

Increased surveillance technology at borders is
forcing undocumented migrants everywhere to take greater and greater
risks. This year over
2,400 people
have already lost their lives in
the Mediterranean trying to reach Europe. Over 5,000
people
died in 2016.

The numbers are growing, but the routes and causes
of death have changed. Starting from the summer of 2015 – the “long
summer of migration” – huge numbers of people crossed the Aegean
Sea from Turkey to Greece, taking the Balkan Route through Macedonia,
Serbia, Croatia or Hungary, then into Austria and Germany, or on to
Nordic countries such as Sweden, where Syrian citizens were at one
time almost guaranteed refugee status.

During the first few weeks of January 2016, more
than 30,000 people
successfully crossed the
Aegean to Greece, in comparison to nearly 1,500 in the whole of
January 2015.

But one by one, countries along the Balkan Route
began to shut their borders, even building
physical walls
in some cases, and criminalising
migration in increasingly creative ways. After Turkey was given
€3 billion
to keep migrants away from EU
borders, European border army FRONTEX were
deployed
to some of the Greek islands, and NATO
warships began patrolling
the Eastern Med, this
stopped being the busiest route into Europe, and people began making
their way to Libya instead.

Libya is now an incredibly dangerous place as
rival militias compete for power. Black Africans are commonly
captured
and put into makeshift camps
by these gangs,
often in starving, torturous, and extremely poor conditions. The
gangs know that the European Union likes to export
its border management
to external “third countries”, where monitoring of
human rights conditions are harder, and trafficking people is
increasingly lucrative. The European Union has been training the
Libyan Coastguard and supplied it with €200 million, but rather
than rescuing people, they are carrying out illegal
push-backs and armed violence
against migrants. Now ISIS is also
active in Libya, the situation is even worse.

In 2017, nearly all deaths of migrants in the
Mediterranean have been people using the Central Mediterranean route,
trying to cross between Libya and Italy. NATO
has now also deployed warships there
as part of 'Operation Sea
Guardian'.

The British government has thrown millions
at the Calais border, which seems on
its way
to full privatisation. The death toll
is rising along with the amount of money thrown at the border, with a
growing
number of deaths each year. An October
2016 report
from the Calais Research Network
documented 40 companies benefiting from this situation, many of whom
will be exhibiting at DSEI:

  • Thales –
    Described as, “one of the top-earning companies in the border
    industry”, the French multinational was commissioned
    to supply a surveillance and access control
    system at Calais in 2010. In 2014 they were awarded a two year £3.8
    million
    contract from the UK Home Office to
    provide a system to encrypt biometric and biographic data for
    Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) cards for non-EU foreigners.

  • The Chemring
    Group –
    supplied PMMWI (Passive Millimeter-Wave Imaging) and vehicle
    scanning. Roke Manor Research, part of Chemring Group, developed the
    PandoraTM lorry
    scanning system
    , trialled in Calais.

  • FLIR Systems –
    has supplied thermal
    imaging cameras
    for use in Calais during the
    night or in fog, rain or snow when CCTV cameras can’t provide a
    clear image.

  • L3
    Technologies

    supplied x-ray scanning equipment at Calais.

Opposing
DSEI is one way to act in solidarity with migrants. During the ‘Free
Movement for People, Not Weapons’ day of action against DSEI 2015,
a member of Black
Dissidents

said as part of a rousing
speech
:

"If
countries are embroiled in a western-fuelled armed conflict, people
will flee. They will flee to safer places. European governments have
ensured that if they arrive here, they will not be safe. They will
suffer the risk of deportations, detention centres, or raids. They
will be scrutinised on the basis of their stories, or their age.
While the privileged sell their weapons, and move freely, trans
people are detained, queer people have to prove their sexuality,
deaths in detention occur in parallel to deaths in custody, and
privatisation of services by global security firms such as G4S, or
Serco are left unaccountable with impunity."

Join
the week of action
to Stop the Arms Fair
at London’s Docklands from 4-11 September, 2017. The
Stop
the Arms Fair coalition
is made up of
diverse groups and individuals who oppose the fair. The coalition
supports groups using a
diversity
of different tatics
to oppose the fair.
It is open for new people and new movements to get involved.

Thursday 7 September's day of action has the
theme '
Solidarity
Without Borders
' making the links
between the arms and security industry. There are also events going
on
across
the UK
, in the lead up to DSEI and
during the event
.

 

*name
changed to protect his identity

Sideboxes
Related stories: 

Normalising torture

Arms bazaar: needs wars, eats lives

‘Sorry I drowned’

Rights: 

CC by NC 4.0

Review of Betts and Collier on refugees

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 31/08/2017 - 1:11am in

I have a review of Andrew Betts and Paul Collier, Refuge: Transforming a Broken Refugee System (Allen Lane) in The New Humanist. It is a curious book, with some interesting and serious parts, but the whole is marred by an arrogant rhetoric and it risks serving as an alibi for some very bad policies indeed.

Why have over 600,000 Syrian refugees returned to an evil dictator who only wants to kill them?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 18/08/2017 - 8:27am in

A girl is seen at a damaged site in Aleppo’s Sheikh Maqsoud neighbourhood, Syria. © Omar Sanadiki / Reuters   Caitlin Johnstone in Medium, via SottNet: Al Jazeera, not often known to rock the establishment boat when it comes to the official narrative about Syria, has published an interesting new report on some recent findings of the International Organization for Migration. According to IOM, nearly 603,000 Syrian refugees returned to their homes in Syria between January and July of 2017. And, naturally, those hundreds of thousands of displaced Syrians who are returning home are all returning to areas that are securely protected from the bloodthirsty tyrant Bashar al-Assad by the Freedom Fighters and Moderate Rebels who oppose him, right? They’d never willfully return to an area ruled by a sadistic dictator who routinely drops barrel bombs on his own people for no reason and kills children with poison gas, would they? Well yes, if you believe the things that the western mass media have been saying about Assad, they would. IOM reports that of those …

Another Manus death—Turnbull is worse than Trump

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 15/08/2017 - 11:41am in

Tags 

refugees

The death of Hamed Shamshiripour has rocked the Manus detention centre. Hamed, a 31 year-old Iranian refugee, was found hanging from a tree on 7 August behind the school, near the East Lorengau Transit Centre.

Hamed’s death is the fifth at the detention centre, and comes at the same time that Australian Border Force and PNG Immigration are trying to drive refugees out of the detention centre with forced closures of compounds.

A shocking history of abuse and mistreatment surrounds Hamed. His mental health had seriously declined. Even in 2015, when he was brought to Melbourne for medical treatment, he requested help for his mental health but was returned to Manus, where his mental health deteriorated badly.

His distressed behaviour led to him being jailed and repeatedly beaten by PNG police. In January this year, he was released from jail and placed into the East Lorengau Transit Accommodation.

The government denies all responsibility for Hamed’s death. They would not even notify the family that Hamed had died. But like the four others, Hamed has been killed by a detention system that was established, funded, and administered by Australia. There is more blood on the hands of Turnbull and Dutton.

The government can’t hide behind the argument that they are saving people from drowning at sea. It is deliberate government policy that is taking their lives.

Reporting on Hamed’s death, the Washington Post headline screamed, “Trump said the Australians were ‘worse than I am’ on immigration. A tragedy may prove his point.”

Phone call

The leaked transcript of the conversation between US President Donald Trump and Malcolm Turnbull over the deal to settle some refugees in the US, reveals Trump telling Turnbull, “You are worse than I am.”

Trump asks, “What is the thing with boats? Why do you discriminate against boats? No, I know, they come from certain regions. I get it.”

But Turnbull explains it is not that the boats come from “certain regions”, Australian policy bans anyone who arrives by boat.

Trump is impressed and thinks being worse than him is a compliment. But as incredible as it seems, on refugees, Turnbull is worse than Trump.

In fact Turnbull started the conversation emphasising an earlier discussion with Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, about how Australian policies had informed the immigration policies of the Trump administration.

Trump came to power promising to build a wall between Mexico and the US. Turnbull already has a “wall”—a naval blockade between Indonesia and Australia—that is ruthlessly policed to repel asylum seekers.

Turnbull also praises Trump’s prioritising of minorities in his executive order banning the citizens of seven Muslim countries from entering the United States. Turnbull boasts of Australia’s own discriminatory policy towards Syrian refugees, “Ninety per cent will be Christians,” he tells Trump, a “deliberate policy… I have taken.”

Turnbull is revealed as callous and hypocritical. Turnbull tells Trump, explicitly, that the agreement with the US, “does not require you to take any.” And when Trump questions why 2000 people are imprisoned on Manus and Nauru asking, “Why haven’t you let them out,” Turnbull says Australia knows everything about them and they are not bad people.

The transcript makes sickening reading as Turnbull both grovels and boasts to Trump of how alike they really are. In the process the US deal is also exposed as a shabby trick.

But it also reveals the significance of the fight against Turnbull. When Trump is taking inspiration from Australian refugee policies there is every reason to redouble our efforts to end detention, end the turn-backs and fight to bring all those on Manus and Nauru to Australia.

Arrests on Nauru as protests re-ignite

Meanwhile on Nauru, disappointment and despair has turned to anger as the hopes of resettlement in the US have been snatched away again.

Protests have spread from the gates of the refugee settlements to the detention centre and, significantly, to immigration offices at Beach House and to the OPC 1, the administrative centre of detention operations on the island.

The OPC 1 protest struck a nerve. Five people were arrested and beaten when police attacked the peaceful protest on 8 August.

On the night of 8 August, a transport bus was burned at the OPC 1 gates.
A hastily convened court on 9 August (the day after their arrests) convicted and jailed four of the refugees on charges of unlawful assembly for 14 days.

By Ian Rintoul

The post Another Manus death—Turnbull is worse than Trump appeared first on Solidarity Online.

Book Review: Voices from the ‘Jungle’: Stories from the Calais Refugee Camp edited by Marie Godin, Katrine Møller Hansen, Aura Lounasmaa, Corinne Squire and Tahir Zaman

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 25/07/2017 - 10:45pm in

Voices from the ‘Jungle’: Stories from the Calais Refugee Camp offers a collection of individual testimonies written by a number of people residing in the so-termed Calais ‘Jungle’, the refugee camp in Northern France. While more accounts from women would have been welcome, this is a moving and timely anthology that seeks to give a voice to the lives, experiences and future hopes of those living in the camp, writes Sharon Wu

Voices from the ‘Jungle’: Stories from the Calais Refugee Camp. Marie Godin, Katrine Møller Hansen, Aura Lounasmaa, Corinne Squire and Tahir Zaman (eds). Pluto Press. 2017.

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In a political climate where refugees are often used as pawns in a global geopolitical game, Voices from the ‘Jungle’: Stories from the Calais Refugee Camp humanises those who suffer most from the current ‘refugee crisis’. Voices from the ‘Jungle’ is a collection of first-hand narratives gathered from the ‘Jungle’: the infamous Calais refugee camp located in the north of France. Although refugees seeking passage to the UK have set up informal camps around Calais for almost two decades, the Calais ‘Jungle’ in its largest and most recognised form existed from January 2015 until October 2016, when French officials evicted the camp. With the help of various humanitarian groups and volunteers, residents of the ‘Jungle’ established sanitation systems, restaurants, a library, healthcare facilities, educational services and all types of creative and artistic endeavours. They had arrived from all over the world, including Syria, Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan, spending anywhere from a few days to a few months at Calais.

The stories in this book were originally written for a short accredited undergraduate writing course on ‘Life Stories’ taught by the University of East London (UEL) in Calais in 2015 and 2016 in collaboration with a number of educational associations within the camp. UEL did not initially intend to publish a book from the class, but the students and instructors together decided that they wanted their voices to be heard by a wider audience. 22 refugees who escaped a perilous situation at home and safely arrived in Calais offer their testimonies, written under a mixture of real names and pseudonyms. The book is divided into five chronological chapters that follow their trajectories, beginning at home and ending at Calais, the UK or elsewhere in Europe. These written narratives are also accompanied by the writers’ poetry and photographs of the camp. All the accounts from Voices from the ‘Jungle’ are beautiful, striking and sorrowful in their own ways: they echo common themes of heartache, family, survival, freedom, discrimination and violence.

The first chapter starts at the beginning, with the writers narrating the initial decision to leave home and head towards Europe. They come from various places and circumstances, but all have one thing in common: home is a dangerous place for each of them. In deciding to flee, they leave behind family and friends without really knowing what is ahead.

The second chapter, titled ‘Journeys’, recalls the tortuous voyages between home and Calais. In addition to the infinite number of dangerous obstacles that refugees face in reaching Calais, this section also shows an often forgotten component of this expedition: waiting. Waiting to register at a border, waiting for a boat to reach land, waiting for a smuggler to say go, waiting for a call from a relative in Europe and waiting in many hours-long lines for all types of reasons. Majid (from Iran) writes:

This was so familiar to us now: Wait, wait, queue, and queue. Midnight came. They gave us tuna fish, bread, coffee, tea, and told us to sleep on the camp beds — and wait (92).

Image Credit: (malachybrowne CC BY 2.0)

Both the second chapter and the fourth chapter, ‘Living in and Leaving the “Jungle”’, explore the robust informal economy of smugglers who profit from providing safe passage. Smugglers are instrumental in assisting refugees in both reaching Calais and leaving it for the UK or elsewhere. With their expertise, many smugglers abuse their position of power over refugees. In describing his encounter with smugglers in the Saharan desert, Eritrea (from Eritrea) writes: ‘The smugglers are not good people. They are very cruel people, especially towards the ladies. We saw many evil things happening to the ladies. The smugglers liked to have sex with them. It was against their will; it happened by force. They were very cruel towards them’ (83). With their power, smugglers charge exorbitant prices, cram too many bodies into too small spaces and are often unreliable or unpredictable.

Upon arriving at Calais, refugees are faced with a whole new set of challenges. The chapters on life in the camp illustrate inadequate camp conditions in addition to a brutal police presence. Supplies and personal belongings are stolen from unguarded tents and shipping containers. People befriend each other only to betray them later. Infants are born without sufficient access to healthcare and proper vaccinations. The French police regularly and violently crack down on those trying to escape. However, the writers also discuss the community that develops from this adversity: how people come to help others despite language barriers, cultural differences and a lack of resources.

While a beautiful and timely anthology, Voices from the ‘Jungle’ suffers from an unevenness between individual stories. Each chapter begins with an introductory paragraph for background, and then additional, oftentimes unnecessary, explanatory paragraphs are interspersed throughout. These interrupt the flow of storytelling and often explain themes that don’t require clarification. In doing this, the editors’ voices often overpower those of the refugees’, and ultimately prevent readers from reaching their own conclusions. While this choppiness is most evident in the first chapter, ‘Home’, it does lessen as the book progresses.

As addressed in the book’s introduction, the book also lacks a female perspective, as the majority of students on the writing course were men. Safia (from Afghanistan) is the only female narrator in this collection, and she presents a wholly unique perspective amidst the male voices. While most of the male narratives focus on individual safety and survival, Safia writes about all these issues as well as discussing pregnancy, childcare and women’s health at Calais. In a rare moment of pleasure, Safia describes ‘Beauty Day’ at Calais: “‘Beauty Day’, organised by the Blue Bus, is good. It is good because you can have your nails polished and your eyebrows done. People come for massage, nail-polish, for makeup, everything. One time, someone came and I got my hair done, together with another woman’ (173). She delivers a glimpse into the lives of other women living in the camp as well, illuminating a whole host of daily struggles not mentioned by any of the other writers.

Despite the hardships of residing at Calais, many of the authors speak of the camp eventually feeling like a second home. Muhammad (from Syria) writes: ‘Saying goodbye to the camp is like leaving your home once more […] So many things are left behind. So many friends. So many attempts and too many wishes and too much love’ (206). In a later section, he echoes the same sentiment:

I think no man can enter the ‘‘Jungle’’ and leave it in the same manner, without changing. There were so many friends […] Everyone had their own stories and journeys which are greater than could be written in such pages as these (250).

There is still an enormous amount of uncertainty and instability for refugees if and once they sort out their legal status and settle into their new lives in Europe. Calais is just one of many stepping stones on their path towards a freer life. Voices from the ‘Jungle’ opens up this particular step, giving voice to the many who make this voyage.

Sharon Wu is an MSc candidate in the Conflict Studies program at the London School of Economics. She received her undergraduate degree from New York University and previously worked for an independent publisher in the San Francisco Bay Area. Find her on Twitter at @sharonlxwu. Read more by Sharon Wu.

Note: This review gives the views of the author, and not the position of the LSE Review of Books blog, or of the London School of Economics. 


A shame for Europe (and unfortunately for SYRIZA too)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 24/07/2017 - 7:47pm in

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articles, refugees

Back in the summer of 2015, when the troika crushed the Greek Spring, they also sacrificed Democracy and Reason. That summer, even we, who disagreed with the government’s capitulation, believed the SYRIZA administration would at least hold high the principles of Humanism regarding the refugee crisis. Some months later, the EU lost its soul by signing the controversial EU-Turkey refugee deal, to which SYRIZA was a signatory.

The story of Shabbir Iqbal, imminently threatened with deportation to Turkey, is a graphic illustration of the crime that is EU policy on the ‘refugee crisis’ – to which SYRIZA is a willing accomplice. Stories like Shabbir’s expose the true scandal of a policy for which the current leaders of EU countries (including Mr. Tsipras) will one day have to answer to History.

Several months ago, we met Shabbir, the person who today symbolizes DiEM25’s campaign to #StopTheDeal between EU and Turkey. It is a story that is well worth spreading far and wide.

Disgracing and deporting a Good Samaritan

Shabbir is a 40-year-old electrical engineer from Pakistan. One day last December 2015, in the small town where he lived in Pakistan, a local group of Islamic extremists attacked Shabbir’s neighbour, a Christian. Shabbir came to his defence, and for this he was labelled a heretic and forced to flee his town. Several members of his family and close circle have now been murdered by the extremists in a series of reprisal killings, and his wife and children have gone into hiding.

After a horrific journey, Shabbir lives in a state of limbo in Lesvos, Greece, where he has remained since March 2016, his appeals for asylum having been turned down. We have recently learned that over the next few days he is going to be deported under the terms of the EU-Turkey deal. This is despite the fact that if Shabbir returns home, the extremists will almost certainly try to kill him.

There are thousands of people like Shabbir: people trying to escape war, seeking refuge in Europe, a democratic and peaceful place, and instead of help they find denial, walls, concentration camps and deportations.

The US and major European countries responsible for their unacceptable record of failed and unjust wars in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen; for selling weapons to authoritarian and terrorist-friendly regimes like Saudi Arabia; for looking the other way while Erdogan oppresses the Turkish people – bear their fair share of responsibility for the situation that makes refugees abandon their homes.

So, while the West – and the EU in particular – has to change its foreign policy if it is to make permanent progress in solving the ‘refugee crisis’, they can at least begin by abandoning immediately their “refugee camps and then deport” policy; a policy not only in contradiction with Europe’s values of solidarity and humanism, but also with the Geneva Refugee Convention.

The agreement between the EU and Turkey on refugees is just one more proof of how irrelevant the EU leadership is, and one more example of how hypocrisy is becoming an integral part of how the EU deals with major challenges. Just as in the economy, where they invert the truth, making insolvent debts viable and stagnation a solution, the EU characterises Turkey as a safe country and calls concentration camps reception centres, to delude itself that all is well for people trying desperately to escape war and terror.

Negative developments like Shabbir’s deportation together with the desperate loss of hope of refugees in detention, highlight the urgency of putting a stop to the shameful EU-Turkey deal.

 

Sign the petition to #StopTheDeal

 

Cartoon of the day

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 14/07/2017 - 9:00pm in

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