An important new book about refugeehood

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 19/02/2020 - 10:34pm in

A brief plug for an important new (and affordable) book: every home should have one! David Owen has long been know for his thoughtful contribution to philosophical debates around migration, and now he has published a brilliant short book, What Do We Owe to Refugees? in the same excellent Political Theory Today series from Polity that my own book appears in. David’s book is highly readable and gives a solid introduction to the main controversy that runs through modern debates on refugeehood, namely, whether we should adopt a “humanitarian” or a “political” conception of refugees and what we owe to them.

A humanitarian conception of refugees focuses attention on them as needy persons forcibly displaced through no fault of their own. They may be fleeing persecution, or war, or natural disaster or environmental collapse, and the duties that we have to them flow from our common humanity. It is their neediness and not the specific cause of their neediness that is the most important factor. A political conception, by contrast, sees refugees as victims of a special wrong, the denial of political status, of effective citizenship through persecution by the very state whose obligation it is to include them as citizens and to guarantee and respect their rights. Refugeehood as conceived of by the political conception is an internationally-recognized political substitute for the membership that has been unjustly denied by a person’s persecutors.

As David sets out in a wonderfully-informative chapter on this history of refugeehood — did you know that the first refugiés were Huguenots escaping from Louis XIV? — both conceptions of refugeehood are present both in the history of refugees and in the political and legal documents and institutions that have structured international practice over the years. Currently, for example, the focus on persecution in the 1951 Convention and its 1967 Protocol admits most naturally of a political reading, but the practice of UNHCR, the international body that is tasked with administering refugee issues, is much broader and includes much humanitarian assistance.

The key animating idea of the book is centred on the relationship between the institution of refugeehood and the current international system, conceived of as a normative order. On the one hand we have a world that is territorially divided among sovereign states; on the other, we have a cosmopolitan commitment to the idea of human rights and those sovereign states are the primary vehicles through which human rights are (in theory) protected and realized. This international order is one that is maintained and reproduced by the collective of states themselves through their mutual recognition of one another and through their sustaining of international norms and institutions. Obviously, things often go wrong with the result that human beings are left unable to assure their basic rights on the territory of the state that is theoretically charged with protecting them. Refugeehood therefore functions as a “legitimacy repair mechanism” for the global normative order whereby those whose vital interests require crossing an international border to protect their rights are given a functional substitute membership by states other than their own, those states act “in loco civitas“. Doing so not only meets the needs of these displaced persons, but also upholds the legitimacy from which the receiving states benefit.

Whereas much of the debate around refugeehood has oscillated between the political and humanitarian paradigms, David argues that the duties picked out by “in loco civitas” vary depending upon the reasons for refugee displacement and proposes a differentiation of responses which he terms “asylum”, “sanctuary” and “refuge” that answer to whether the individual is a victim of targeted persecution, generalized violence or episodic events (such as natural disasters) respectively. I can’t do justice to the whole of David’s discussion here, but his proposal is that victims of targeted persecution need access to a state which can provide them with a robust protection of their rights and that doing so plays an expressive role in condemning the persecuting state; that sanctuary primarily requires the provision of a substitute social home and this may, allowing for considerations of fairness, be best accomplished in states with similar cultures or existing diasporas that can provide adequate social protection and opportunities; and that refuge will often be the most temporary provision of all, persisting while the cause of the immediate displacement is fixed.

David also addresses questions of “fair shares” in the context of a protection regime that is conceived of as project where states must do their bit to uphold a legitimate international order, and what the duties of states (and refugees) are when states are failing to play their part or, as now, actively thwarting the functioning of a just protection regime. He argues that the refusal of those fleeing persecution, war and other drivers of forced migration to accept the containment regimes put in place to thwart them constitutes a kind of justified global civil disobedience and resistance to an international regime that purports to be legitimate but which fails to supply the protection for human rights and needs which it officially promises.

From offshore prison to onshore motels: Free the refugees

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 18/02/2020 - 1:50pm in


refugees, refugees

Medevac legislation was meant to guarantee that two doctors could recommend
sick refugees in Nauru or PNG to be transferred for medical treatment.

Yet hundreds of refugees brought to Australia for
medical attention before the Medevac legislation was repealed are still being
held in closed detention.

In Brisbane, there are around 80 people in the
Kangaroo Point Central Hotel and another 70 in the Brisbane Immigration Transit
Accommodation (BITA). All have been there for months since being transferred
for medical treatment.

In Melbourne, there are 41 in the Melbourne
Immigration Transit Accommodation (MITA) and 55 in the Mantra Hotel, in Bell
Street, Preston. 

Since the Grandmothers for
Refugees held a protest at the Mantra Hotel before Christmas, there is growing
awareness that refugees brought for medical treatment are being imprisoned;
many without getting treatment.

A rally called by the Brisbane Refugee Action
Collective on Saturday 8 February brought further attention on the situation
for transferred refugees being held in that city. 

Much of the media attention has focused on the motel
detention of refugees which seems at once to be more confronting, offensive and
perverse than a detention centre.

Motels that are usually associated with holidays have
become places of torment. It is worse than prison.

There are no high fences, but the outside world is
just as unreachable. You can see outside, but the windows can’t be opened and
you can’t breathe fresh air.

Many have been transferred with their mental health
seriously damaged but are finding that detention in a motel or onshore prison
is no different from detention on Manus or Nauru.

People who couldn’t come out of their rooms on Manus
and Nauru see their mental health decline even further. 

They take their medication but the days get longer.
They aren’t coming out of their rooms in Brisbane or Melbourne either.


only exercise and the only way out of the hotel in Brisbane is to go to the
detention centre. Refugees are searched before they get on the bus, and have
just one hour at the gym, before they are taken back to the hotel and searched
again before going back to their rooms.

Similarly in Melbourne, like something out of
Catch-22, the only way that refugees get out of the hotel is to request to be
taken to the detention centre.

For some that’s worse. As one refugee told Solidarity,
“With the guards, the gates, the bars and electric fences, when I go to the
detention centre, I can’t breathe.”

One refugee has been in Mantra for three months but
hasn’t yet seen a counsellor, despite his requests. People who need proper
treatment for diabetes, heart disease, cataracts, kidney and dental problems
aren’t getting treatment in detention either.

Despite the government making a big deal of repealing
the Medevac legislation, since then, it has nonetheless transferred around 16
sick refugees from PNG and Nauru to Australia. But it’s a particularly twisted
policy that transfers refugees for medical treatment, only to condemn them to
onshore detention.

Offshore prisons and onshore detention are twin aspects
of the government’s border protection regime—it has to go.

By Ian Rintoul

Build these protests: “Let Them Out, Let Them Stay”

Melbourne—Outside the
Mantra Hotel, 215 Bell Street, Preston, 2pm Saturday 29 February

Brisbane—“Free Kazem,
Free Them All”, Kangaroo Point Hotel, 721 Main Street, Kangaroo Point, 3pm
Saturday 29 February

The post From offshore prison to onshore motels: Free the refugees appeared first on Solidarity Online.

Manus and Nauru refugees brought to Australia still rotting in detention

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 24/01/2020 - 7:30pm in



4 December
last year, the Morrison government, with the disgraceful support of Tasmanian
Senator Jacqui Lambie, finally managed to repeal the Medevac legislation.

After a bizarre, self-indulgent, tearful speech,
Lambie’s vote put an end to the legislation that had allowed doctors to
recommend the transfer of sick refugees from Manus and Nauru to Australia.

Lambie claimed she had put a secret proposal to the
government; a claim the government itself vehemently denied.

Without a trace of irony that she was referring to
herself, Lambie told the Senate that, “everybody who refers to national
security as a reason to keep something secret is a ‘lying cynical bum’ and they
are probably right most of the time.” We should remember her words.

In the nine months of the Medevac
legislation, around 180 people have been transferred for medical treatment. But
the fate of those still on Nauru or in PNG is now back under the control of
Dutton and Morrison.

People who the government itself had approved for
medical transfer will only get treatment at the whim of their jailers. The
government had approved more than 30 people on Nauru for transfer to Australia;
but since the Medevac repeal just one person has been transferred.

no different

are now many more people from Manus and Nauru in Australia than are being held
offshore. That’s a tribute to the campaign—but most of those transferred under
Medevac are being kept in detention in Australia.   

Around 160 people are in detention centres or hotels
in Brisbane and Melbourne. The first people transferred under Medevac have now
been in detention almost a year. The initial hopes for freedom have turned into

But, just before Christmas, Grandmothers for Refugees
and supporters held a carol-singing protest outside the Mantra Hotel in
Melbourne to highlight their situation. 

Complaints to Border Force are fobbed off with the
standard reply that, “All people in immigration detention have access to
medical care as required.” But that’s a lie. For one Iranian refugee brought
from Manus to Australia for dental treatment and abscesses in his mouth, the
treatment offered was to pull his teeth out. Fahad told SBS that he has had
three courses of antibiotics but the abscesses are no better.

Onshore detention needs more
attention in the run-up to the Palm Sunday refugee rallies on 5 April.
Brisbane’s Refugee Action Collective is planning a protest at the BITA
detention centre on Saturday 8 February.

Official Border Force correspondence says that, “Once
transferees no longer need to be in Australia for the temporary purpose for
which they were brought (medical treatment), they are expected to return to a
regional processing country.” Yet the government knows that no one going to be
sent back to PNG or Nauru. It is going to be up to the refugee campaign to make
sure that they are not that they are not victims of indefinite detention in

Refugees and asylum seekers in PNG and Nauru are into
their seventh year of offshore hell. There are still around 400 people there
without a future.

In January, nine more people left from Port Moresby to
be resettled in the US. But over 50 refugees accepted by the US are still
waiting, some of them for 12 months.

Others are waiting—it seems forever—for final
interviews. But as has been said so often before, even when US resettlement is
finally concluded, hundreds of people will be left in PNG and Nauru.

Nothing has been resolved. Refugees and asylum seekers
have been distributed around several hotels in Port Moresby but with no future,
the mental health crisis grows worse. In Nauru, the government wants to keep
every dollar of detention money flowing from Australia, and systematically
blocks the transfer of refugees for medical treatment.

Onshore the injustice of temporary protection visas
(TPVs) leaves refugees who arrived by boat without their families and without a
future. Many of them are required to re-apply for TPVs will find the system has
set them up to be rejected.

Meanwhile the government has spent over $100 million
to keep Christmas Island operational to keep Priya, Nades and their two
children, the Tamil family from Biloela, away from legal help and their

As long as refugees are denied support and permanent
protection, and as long as offshore detention remains the underpinning of
Australia’s border protection regime, the demands to “Close the camps, and
Bring them Here” are as crucial as ever.

By Ian Rintoul

The post Manus and Nauru refugees brought to Australia still rotting in detention appeared first on Solidarity Online.

Austerity: Making Women Poorer and Removing their Protections from Violence

I found this passage explaining how women have been among the worst affected by the Tories’ austerity policies in Vickie Cooper’s and David Whyte’s The Violence of Austerity. Since the policy was introduced, women have suffered a particularly greater loss of income than other groups, and the Tories have massively cut the funding for their protection. The writers state

Moreover, as political sociologist Daniela Tepe-Belfrage has argued, gender is a key marker in determining:

the largest drop in disposable income since the crisis has been experienced by women. Women are also more likely to be employed in the public sector or be subcontracted to the state via private sector organisations (for example, in the form of cleaners or carers). As the UK’s austerity policy regime has especially targeted public services women have been particularly affected, facing wage drops and job losses. Austerity has also had a ‘double-impact’ on women as, buy virtue of being disproportionally in caring roles, they tend to be more likely to depend on the public provision of social services such as childcare services or care provision.

Research published by the Northern Rock Foundation and Trust for London found that austerity has had a sudden and dramatic impact on services supporting women victims of domestic violence. Between 2009/10 and 2010/11 there was a 31 per cent cut in the Local Authority funding for domestic and sexual violence support. The report stated clearly that: ‘These cuts in service provision are expected to lead to increases in this violence.’ The report noted that 230 women were beinig turned away by the organisation Women’s Aid because of lack of provision in 2011. (p. 14).

Women of colour have been especially affected.

The multiple and intersectional nature of class, gender, disability and race means that, for example, black women will be exposed to austerity policies differently to white women. Social support for black women, already paltry, has been cut to the bone in the austerity period., just as support for refugees and people seeking asylum has been subject to the confluence of a range of policy prejudices. (same page).

Akwugo Emejulu and Leah Bassel discuss the particularly high unemployment rates for BAME women in their chapter, ‘Women of Colour’s Anti-Austerity Activism’. They state that women of colour were actually extremely impoverished before the Coalition government started the policy. They write

Well before the 2008 crisis, women of colour, on the whole, were already living in an almost permanent state of austerity. As the All Party Parliamentary Group for Race and Community noted in its inquiry into the Labour market experiences of Black, Pakistani and Bangladeshi women in Britain: ‘For all groups except for Indian men, ethnic minority unemployment has consistently remained higher than the rate for white people since records began.’ African and Caribbean women have an unemployment rate of 17.7 per cent, for Pakistani and Bangladeshi women it is 20.5 per cent, compared to 6.8 per cent for white women. Women of colour who are employed are more likely to be concentrated in low-skilled, low paid and temporary work – regardless of their educational qualifications. These unequal experiences in the labour market, unsurprisingly, translate into high levels of household poverty with poverty rates for minority groups at 40 per cent – doubtle the rate of the white population in 2007. (p. 118)

They note that these rates of poverty do not feature in either popular or policy discussions about the austerity crisis, and ask ‘whose crisis counts and whose crisis is being named and legitimated?’

They then go on to discuss some of the reasons why Black women are particularly worse off.

Austerity causes further immiseration due to its uneven effects. Because women of colour are more likely to be employed in the public sector in feminised professions such as teaching, nursing and social work, because women of colour and migrant women in particular are more likely to be subcontracted to the state via private sector organisations in low-skilled, low paid and temporary work as carers, cleaners and caterers, and because women of colour are more likely to use public services because they are typically the primary care givers of children and/or older adults, austerity measures clearly increase women of colour’s unemployment while simultaneously reducing the scope, coverage and access to public services. (pp.118-9)

But don’t worry – the Tories and Lib Dems are right behind women, because the Tories have had two women leaders – Margaret Thatcher and Tweezer – and the Lib Dems have had one, Jo Swinson. Labour is obviously full of misogynists, because they don’t have any. Even though Corbyn’s policies would have made women better off and there was a solid commitment to racial equality, which the Tories definitely don’t have.

And under Boris Johnson, is all going to get worse.

Australia’s Medevac catch-22 means no medical help for refugees

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 21/11/2019 - 1:35pm in


refugees, refugees

Despite the extensive efforts of Peter Dutton to discredit the Medevac
legislation—slavishly supported by the Murdoch press—an opinion poll in
Tasmania shows a large majority, 63 per cent, in favour of the Medevac
legislation (27 per cent backed repeal, 10 per cent were unsure).

This is a small improvement on the 60 per cent finding of the national
February 2019 poll run by the same company. But we can expect more of the
government selectively leaking refugees’ confidential details to the media
before the final parliamentary sittings of the year begin in the last week of

So far, since February, just 160 people have been transferred from Manus
and Nauru for medical treatment. Most of those transferred are being held in
closed detention, in detention centres and two motels in Brisbane and

As part of its campaign against Medevac, the government is deliberately
delaying medical treatment to those being transferred. The vast majority
are not getting medical treatment at all.

For those with mental health problems, closed detention is making their situation worse; for others, detention in Australia means they are still being deprived of medical attention despite being transferred to get it. It’s a particularly twisted Medevac version of Catch-22.

But while the political focus has been on Medevac, the first moves to so-called “community placement” are
underway in PNG, as the Australian government tries to further distance itself
from its responsibility for refugees’ care. Refugees are being moved out of the
Granville Motel, where scores of asylum seekers and refugees have been housed
since being transferred from Manus detention, into hotels in residential areas
of Port Moresby.

“Community placement” will leave refugees with fewer services as well as
being more exposed to danger.

Most significantly, it shows that the government is no closer to
providing the safe resettlement for the around 290 people left in PNG (or for
the around 270 people on Nauru).   

There will be no security at their new housing areas. They will now have
to provide food, water, phones, and all necessities for themselves; forcing
them to shop. They will be exposed to assault and robbery every time they are
forced to leave the hotel.

No transport will be provided to the Pacific International Hospital
(PIH), the only place they can get medical treatment. With only two taxi
vouchers a month, they will be at risk every time they are forced to use public

With a support allowance of just 200 kina (about A$100) a week, “community
placement” will also drive refugees into poverty, and leave many more to become
prisoners in their rooms. 

New Zealand to the rescue

Meanwhile, Australia’s most prominent and internationally-recognised
offshore refugee, Behrouz Boochani, has managed to get to New Zealand on a one-month
visa to attend a writers’ festival in Christchurch.

The move has highlighted the brutality of Australia’s offshore detention
policy, but it has also graphically exposed New Zealand’s complicity with
Australia’s offshore detention policy.

If the New Zealand government had the political will to defy the
Australian government, it could have taken refugees from Manus and Nauru years
ago. If New Zealand can issue a visa for one Manus refugee, it can grant
visas to many others. The demand for New Zealand to take a stand against Australia
and help free the refugees will grow.

Behrouz’s arrival in New Zealand will also likely re-open debate about
the Australian government’s “lifetime ban bill” and its paranoia that New
Zealand will become a back-door for the refugees that Australia expelled to
Manus and Nauru.  

Anything that breaks through the facade of Australia’s policy is

In Australia, the refugee movement will need to keep up the campaign to
“Bring them here.” The more pressure that can be applied in Australia, the
bigger the hole that can be punched in Australia’s border protection policy and
the sooner all the refugees on Manus and Nauru will be free. 

Bomana Starvation

More revelations about the conditions in the Bomana detention black hole
in PNG have confirmed the rendition-like conditions of a Guantanamo Bay. Asylum
seekers are denied visitors, phone access, fans, pens, or books (even playing
cards were confiscated), while the starvation rations have seen them lose between
12-15 kilograms in a couple of months.

There are now 43 asylum seekers still being held in the Bomana detention
centre in an effort to force them to sign to go back to their home countries.

Rallies in Sydney and Melbourne on Saturday 7 December will take up the government’s onshore war against asylum seekers, calling for permanent, not temporary, protection visas, for family reunion and for an end to the fast-track assessment system.

The post Australia’s Medevac catch-22 means no medical help for refugees appeared first on Solidarity Online.

Defend Medevac, but fight to open the borders

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 17/10/2019 - 4:30pm in


refugees, refugees

As this article was written, the Senate report on
the Medevac laws was about to be handed down.  

But the battlelines over Medevac are already drawn.
Eleven peak medical colleges, as well as the AMA, have publicly called on the
government not to repeal the Medevac legislation. 

Yet the government has thrown everything at trying to
scrap the Medevac laws; feeding headlines to the Herald Sun claiming
that medevac transfers are costing $150,000 each. Ironically the article also
includes the fact that the government has spent $185 million to open the
Christmas Island detention centre that is now holding just the Tamil family
from Biloela.

Dutton went on the rampage, feeding another story to
the Courier Mail about stopping an Iranian father from accompanying his
mentally ill daughter to Australia, on the basis simply of allegations rather
than any criminal conviction, as if that was something to boast about.

The government desperately wants
to reverse the historic defeat it suffered in February when the Morrison
government lost the vote on the floor of Parliament, and the Medevac
legislation was passed into law by Labor, The Greens and the independent

Morrison and Dutton want a return to the days of the
government having total control over the lives of the asylum seekers and
refugees they dumped on Manus and Nauru in 2013—regardless of medical advice.

The real reason for pushing to repeal the Medevac laws
was exposed in the “talking points” mistakenly sent to journalists in October,
“It is the Government’s position that it should determine who is
allowed to enter Australia, and the terms and conditions to be imposed on
that entry, as is the right of every sovereign nation.”

The talking points also stated, “Medical services
in Papua New Guinea and Nauru have improved over time
to more effectively respond to transferee health needs and requirements.”

Yet around 130 people have so far been brought
from Manus and Nauru under the Medevac legislation. And a large majority of the
transfers have been approved on the first application by Peter Dutton himself,
exposing Dutton’s hypocrisy and putting the lie to the claims about offshore
medical services.

Offshore detention has made everyone sick. The suicide
in Brisbane of the mentally-distressed Afghan doctor brought to Australia from
Manus two years ago is more shocking proof of the damage offshore detention
does, and is still doing. The Medevac legislation is not going to end offshore
detention. It is painfully slow, and many are left waiting even if they have

But the government’s attempt to repeal the legislation
is proof of its callous brutality and willingness to sacrifice more lives in
the name of “border protection.”   

We have no interest in protecting their border. Their
border protects their system that has systematically tortured and denied
medical treatment to women, men and children who sought Australia’s protection
in 2013.

It is their system and their borders that are creating
even more Kurdish refugees in Syria in 2019, at the same time as the Australian
government has held Kurdish refugees imprisoned offshore for the last six

Opposing the government’s attempt to repeal Medevac is
part of the fight to dismantle its whole punitive regime of mandatory
detention, temporary protection visas and offshore detention.

By boat or plane refugees are welcome

Labor will vote against the
repeal of the Medevac Bill, as they should. And they are calling for the
Biloela Tamil family to be allowed to stay in Australia.

But these are exceptions to Labor’s mistaken strategy of attempting to outdo Dutton on people-smuggling by attacking him over the number of plane arrivals seeking asylum. Kristina Keneally’s attack on Dutton for not stopping plane arrivals plays into the Liberals’ arguments about border protection.

To consistently back a humanitarian policy, Labor must drop the border protection rhetoric along with its support for turnbacks and offshore detention. Asylum seekers should be welcome however they arrive—by boat or plane.

By Ian Rintoul

The post Defend Medevac, but fight to open the borders appeared first on Solidarity Online.

Hostile Environment: How Immigrants Became Scapegoats – 13th November

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 17/10/2019 - 2:51am in

Hostile Environment: How Immigrants Became Scapegoats
Maya Goodfellow

6-8pm, Wednesday 13th November 2019

Richard Hoggart Building (RHB) 137a

Maya Goodfellow will be in conversation with Ayeisha Thomas-Smith talking about the findings and themes of Maya’s new book Hostile Environment: How Immigrants Became Scapegoats (Verso, 2019).

The UK government proudly calls the aim of its immigration policy to be the creation of a “hostile environment” while refugees drown in the Mediterranean and Britain votes to leave the EU against claims that “swarms”of migrants are entering Britain. Meanwhile, study after study confirms that immigration is not damaging the UK’s economy, nor putting a strain on public services, but immigration is blamed for all of Britain’s ills. Yet concerns about immigration are deemed “legitimate” across the political spectrum, with few exceptions. How did we get here? Maya Goodfellow offers a compelling answer. Through interviews with leading policy-makers, asylum seekers, and immigration lawyers, Goodfellow illuminates the dark underbelly of contemporary immigration policies. A nuanced analysis of the UK’s immigration policy from the 1960s onwards, Hostile Environment links immigration policy and the rhetoric of both Labour and Tory governments to the UK’s colonial past and its imperialist present. Goodfellow shows that distinct forms of racism and dehumanisation directly resulted from immigration policy, and reminds us of the human cost of concessions to anti-immigration politics.

Maya Goodfellow is a writer, academic and broadcast commentator. She has written for the New York Times, Guardian, the New Statesman and Al Jazeera, among others. She recently completed a PhD at SOAS, University of London, her research focused on race and racism in Britain.

Ayeisha Thomas-Smith is an activist, trainer and writer currently undertaking a PhD in Cultural Studies at Goldsmiths, researching neoliberal subjectivity in social movement infrastructure. She is a Senior Organiser at the New Economy Organisers Network, and leads on design and delivery of a national social movement training programme. Ayeisha co-founded KIN, a network for black activists working for collective liberation, and also presents the Weekly Economics Podcast, Economics with Subtitles for BBC R4 and The Why Factor for BBC World Service. She is currently editing a book on the lack of diversity in economics with Rethinking Economics.

This PERC event will be chaired by Aeron Davis, Co-Director of PERC.

All are welcome and no registration is required. For details on how to find Goldsmiths, click here.

Endorsements for Maya’s Book

‘An informative and insightful account of the history and politics of modern migration to Britain that is also very readable. Ranging across the intersecting histories of class, race, nation and empire, Maya Goodfellow deftly shows how the contemporary demonising of migrants, including refugees and asylum-seekers, has a long and dispiriting national and global backstory to it—but there are also heartening stories of resistance and solidarity which point to the way forward. Priyamvada Gopal, author of Insurgent Empire: Anticolonial Resistance and British Dissent

‘Maya Goodfellow has a sharp mind, a deep well of knowledge and a readable style. When she writes something, I learn something.’ Gary Younge

‘How immigrants became the scapegoats for injustices caused by the rich and powerful is one of the burning questions of modern politics. This masterful, wonderfully written, and vitally important book—written by one of the most powerful writers on race and migration today—more than does it justice. This book is essential to understanding the reactionary political upheavals which have swept the West.’ Owen Jones, author of Chavs

The post Hostile Environment: How Immigrants Became Scapegoats – 13th November appeared first on Political Economy Research Centre.

The Simple Truth About Libya and Syria

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 05/10/2019 - 5:25am in

Whatever one thinks of the pre-war regimes of Assad and Qaddafi, the majority of people in Syria were better off before the wars. This so completely undeniable, that anyone who claims otherwise is delusional or a liar (and hopefully on a payroll.)

War should have the highest bar of all because, as was noted at Nuremburg, it includes all others crimes, from rape and murder on down, within it.

“We came, we saw, he died,” said Hilary Clinton. Evil. Beyond evil. Anyone with two brain cells, after seeing Iraq and Afghanistan, could predict that the Western allies couldn’t rebuild Libya and that it would be far worse off afterwards.

While not all of Europe’s refugee crisis is Libya and Syria related, a lot is, and the Europeans (who remember, pushed hard for regime change, especially the French), and Americans are morally, and should be legally responsible for those refugees. Rather than refusing them, in a just world, they would be required to house and feed them, having been complicit in destroying their countries.

All of this is so obvious it should be beyond question to anyone remotely sentient.

The results of the work I do, like this article, are free, but food isn’t, so if you value my work, please DONATE or SUBSCRIBE.


Book Review: The Ethics and Practice of Refugee Repatriation by Mollie Gerver

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 01/10/2019 - 9:07pm in

In The Ethics and Practice of Refugee RepatriationMollie Gerver focuses on the ethical dilemmas of repatriation, exploring a number of key concerns in order to reflect on when and in what circumstances bodies and institutions such as NGOs ought to help refugees to return to their country of origin. This is a precise, policy-focused study, writes Rebecca Buxton, that provides a clear set of guidelines for all those working with refugees and forced migrants who are considering return. 

The Ethics and Practice of Refugee Repatriation. Mollie Gerver. Edinburgh University Press. 2018.

Find this book: amazon-logo

With forced migration becoming an increasingly discussed topic in political theory, The Ethics and Practice of Refugee Repatriation by Mollie Gerver offers a deep dive into one of the most morally troubling features of refugee policy: repatriation. Gerver defines repatriation as a refugee’s movement to ‘countries from which they or their parents fled’. This controversial topic has received increased media attention over the last few years. After the 1990s, which the then United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata declared ‘the decade of repatriation’, return has become states’ preferred solution to refugee flows around the world. Recently, concerns about the nature of the timing of repatriation have come to the fore with Bangladeshi officials claiming that the return of the Rohingya to Myanmar would begin in September 2019, in spite of the ongoing failure to recognise their rights.

The Ethics and Practice of Refugee Repatriation takes a novel and interesting methodological approach by combining primary fieldwork interviews with analytical political and moral philosophy. Gerver conducted interviews in South Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda and other countries of origin with individuals who had fled to and then returned from Israel. Interestingly, her focus here is not on the dilemma of repatriation as a global policy initiative, but rather the ethical dilemma faced by those who facilitate repatriation. She therefore aims to provide an answer to the question ‘when is facilitating repatriation wrong?’ Gerver thus offers a clear set of ethical guidelines for NGOs and other institutions working with refugees and forced migrants who are considering returning to their country of origin.

Image Credit: Former Ivoirian refugees turn to Cote D’Ivoire from Liberia, 2016. Photograph by Micah Clemens, USAID (USAID US Agency for International Development CC BY NC 2.0)

In this excellent book, Gerver tackles seven ethical dilemmas that refugee repatriation facilitators may face: coercion; misinformation; regret; payments; children; discrimination; and restitution. Refugees may be coerced into returning due to policies that make their lives difficult in the state of asylum, such as indefinite detention. Refugees might return due to misinformation when they come to believe that their state of origin has improved sufficiently for them to repatriate – often this is not correct. Refugees sometimes receive payments for returning, particularly from states that want to encourage their repatriation. Refugees also often decide to repatriate with their children even though this might put their lives at risk. Refugees may also face discrimination during the process of repatriation – for instance in Israel, people of African descent are given stipends to return while non-Africans are not. Finally, refugees may be entitled to restitution. That is, they may be entitled to property that they have lost whilst in exile. All of these moral dilemmas, for Gerver, require a rigorous ethical approach.

I will focus here on the two arguments that I found most interesting and relevant to current repatriation practices: coercion and payments.

When discussing the issue of coercion, Gerver outlines a common moral dilemma faced by repatriation facilitators that refugees often return to their country of origin simply because conditions are so terrible in their country of asylum. Many refugees face destitution and detention in their host state and can wait for years to receive secure legal status. For instance, as Gerver points out, Somali refugees in Kenya are often forcibly encamped and threatened with deportation when they attempt to settle in urban areas. Gerver argues that refugee repatriation facilitators therefore must ask themselves whether they should facilitate repatriation that is chosen to avoid destitution and detention. In other words, should repatriation be facilitated when it is perhaps not a genuine choice in the face of such coercion? Gerver makes the case here that organisations can permissibly facilitate coercion repatriation, but only under three conditions. First, they must try to end the coercion: for instance, by lobbying governments to end forced encampment or detention. Second, they must not contribute to the coercion. And third, they must inform the refugees of the risks of returning.

In Chapter Five, Gerver turns to a similar issue: states who pay refugees to repatriate. One example is Australia’s offer of $20,000 to Rohingya refugees who return to Myanmar. Gerver rightly calls many cash incentives ‘motivation payments’ as they are used to encourage refugees to return home. Gerver argues that such payments can be acceptable if conditions have improved in the state of origin and the individual is well-informed about the risks of returning. Governments that do encourage return with cash incentives should also issue re-entrance visas for those who want to return to the state of asylum. However, she also convincingly argues that we should be worried about ‘negative externalities’ such payments may reinforce the idea that refugees are unwanted members of society. This chapter of Gerver’s book is extremely interesting and touches on many ethical issues with cash payments that one might not usually consider.

This book offers an excellent example of what philosophers should be attempting to do today. It takes into account real-world policies as well as the attitudes and lives of forced migrants, and does so in a clear and prescriptive way. I did find myself, at times, wondering whether Gerver could have offered a more radical evaluation of the practice of repatriation itself: for instance, by considering its underlying assumption that individuals are best protected through being ‘rooted’ in a state. Such a discussion might have helped to draw out some of the more problematic aspects of the practice of repatriation as dependent upon the idea that people ultimately belong ‘where they came from’.

However, one cannot evaluate a book on what it did not set out to do Gerver clearly and precisely establishes the scope of this book from the outset and follows through on her promise to the letter. I appreciated and enjoyed this work of policy-focused, clear-headed and well-written philosophy. I hope to read more like it in the future.

Rebecca Buxton is a DPhil student at the Refugee Studies Centre, Oxford University. Her work looks at the political rights of refugees and forced migrants.

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. 

The Biblical Command to Support and Protect Refugees

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 27/09/2019 - 2:56am in

One of the great passages in the Old Testament that speaks directly to today’s world, is the statement in Deuteronomy that God loves and demands justice for widows, orphans and foreigners. Deuteronomy 10: 18-19 runs

He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. Love the sojourner therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.

(Eyre & Spottiswoode Study Bible, Revised Standard Version).

A similar command is issued in Exodus 23: 9: ‘You shall not oppress a stranger; you know the heart of a stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt’.

The commentary on Exodus in The New Bible Commentary Revised, D. Guthrie, J.A. Motyer, A. M. Stibbs and D.J. Wiseman, eds (Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press 1970) states that the Hebrew word translated as ‘strangers’ is Gerim, which means ”refugees’, folk seeking political asylum.’ (p. 119). The same book’s commentary on the two verses in Deuteronomy states that ‘this demand for Israel to love the alien is without parallel in Ancient Near Eastern legislation. While the Israelites were commanded to honour and fear their parents and to listen to the prophetic message, they were commanded also to enter into a relation of affection with the sojourner as a reminder of God’s love during the Egyptian captivity.’ (pp. 217-18′.

Now imagine the horror amongst the Tories if the archbishop or some other leading member of the clergy quoted those verses in a sermon attacking Conservative attitudes to asylum seekers, using the literal translation of ‘refugee’. They’d go berserk criticising him or her for interfering in politics, just as they attacked Robert Runcie when he was Archbishop of Canterbury for daring to attack Thatcher’s policies towards poverty.

The Biblical Condemnation of Lying

Exodus Chapter 23:1-4 also contains proscriptions against lying and perverting the course of justice. These are

You shall not utter a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man, to be a malicious witness. You shall not follow a multitude to do evil; nor shall you bear witness in a suit, turning aside after a multitude, so as to pervert justice; nor shall you be partial to a poor man in his suit.

The people smearing decent, self-respecting, anti-racist women and men as anti-Semites, and suing them for libel when they dare defend themselves, like the odious Rachel Rily is trying to do to Mike, should not this passage and remember it.