Blind African refugee beaten up in Britain


This video from England says about itself:

Who killed Jimmy Mubenga? Protest outside G4S AGM, London 6 June 2013

By Ryan Fletcher in Britain:

Friday 11th April 2014

A disabled asylum-seeker told the Star yesterday that he was beaten by staff tasked to deliver him to Heathrow airport for deportation.

Alain Kouayep Tchatchue was delivered to Heathrow early on Saturday from nearby Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre.

Visually impaired Mr Tchatchue claimed that when he refused to board a flight to Cameroon, from which he fled because he is bisexual, he was attacked.

He alleged that the two staff responsible for taking him to the airport dragged him back to the transportation van, punched him repeatedly in the ribs and then left him in the van for over three hours with his hands and feet tied.

Mr Tchatchue claimed that the two staff told him “they were just doing their job.”

Speaking to the Star from the detention centre yesterday, he said: “I couldn’t see properly and was screaming ‘please help me.’

“They tied my feet together and handcuffed me. I could feel them putting pressure on my neck.

“They untied my feet after three hours but I was handcuffed for over four.”

Eventually Mr Tchatchue was returned to the detention centre after it was decided he was too ill to travel.

He has subsequently put in a complaint to the police, but said he was still suffering with mobility problems in his shoulder for which he has needed painkillers all week.

He told the Star: “I am very scared and upset. Even now I can’t sleep. This is a very difficult time in my life.”

Mr Tchatchue fled Cameroon after having a relationship with a man and said that reports about his sexuality had appeared in the local press there and he would be in danger if he was deported.

Manchester Metropolitan Church pastor Andy Braunston has been campaigning on Mr Tchatchue’s behalf.

He said: “Alain is a blind man who uses a white stick to get around and who has fled here because of fear of the violence of the state in Cameroon.”

The Metropolitan Police and the Home Office were unavailable for comment.

Britain: We musn’t lose the gains made by black workers over the last decade in an austerity-led backlash, says GLORIA MILLS: here.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Refugees and racism in Greece update


This video from Greece is called Farmakonisi, Greece: Fortress Europe kills, even children (subtitles: Greek, English, French, Italian and Spanish).

From Ekathimerini daily in Greece, Wednesday February 19, 2014:

Another body found off Farmakonisi, taking total to 10

The bodies of three of the undocumented migrants who drowned off the Dodecanese island of Farmakonisi last month were located by coast guard divers late on Tuesday.

A fourth body was also found in the vessel that sank on January 20 after it was recovered by the Greek coast guard on Wednesday.

The bodies found on Tuesday were those of two boys, one aged between 1 and 2 years and a 10-year-old, and a woman aged around 30, according to the officials.

The body found in the vessel on Wednesday was that of a young girl.

The discovery brought the number of bodies recovered to 10 while one migrant remains unaccounted for.

Sixteen migrants were rescued in the incident, some of whom alleged that a Greek coast guard patrol vessel attempted to tow the migrants boat back to Turkish waters, causing it to sink.

Dimitris Bandias: “I would apologise again for the Farmakonisi incident: here.

Refugees describe dire conditions in Greek migrant detention centres: here.

On Location: Why refugees to Greece are sewing their mouths shut: here.

New incident of violence in Amyygdaleza. Police officer hits an immigrant after asking for a painkiller: here.

Hundreds of Greek Roma held a protest in central Athens Friday calling for equal treatment, better living conditions and free access to health: here.

Golden Dawn’s entire parliamentary group to be summoned for questioning: here.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Saudi Arabia deports refugees to dangerous Somalia


This video says about itself:

MaximsNewsNetwork: 25 August 2010 – UNHCR: Mogadishu, Somalia – The ongoing conflict between the transitional government and the Al-Shabaab militants has displaced over a million Somalis and pushed hundreds of thousands to neighbouring countries seeking asylum; the United Nations Refugee Agency, UNHCR, reports that as many as 4,000 Somalis had been deported from Saudi Arabia over the previous year.

Somali citizens are among thousands recently deported from Saudi Arabia. Many have left because of the ongoing fighting between government troops and Islamist insurgents.

Asha Ahmed Abukar left Mogadishu six years ago to escape the anarchy and violence that has plagued Somalia for years. She lived, married and had her four children in Saudi Arabia, but recently she was sent back by the authorities.

Asha ended up here — in this derelict world of makeshift cloth huts — near Mogadishu along with another 150 deportees.

Fartun Ali Mohamed’s story is similar. She was sent back to Somalia after nine months.

Asho is here alone too. Her husband stayed in Saudi Arabia to work. But now he is in hiding because he has no legal papers.

SOUNDBITE (Somali) Asho Ahmed, deported Somali:

“I was captured on my way to do laundry for the people I was working for and sent to a deportation centre. My children were brought to me. I was there for 15 days and then I was deported to Somalia eight months ago.”

SOUNDBITE (Somali) Fartun Ali Mohamed, deported Somali:

“I suffered a lot during my deportation. I was pregnant and had a child in hand. My husband got sick and died. Now we are in the bush in a refugee camp, we suffered a lot.”

SOUNDBITE (Somali) Asho Ahmed, deported Somali:

“If there is peace I would like to stay in Somalia. There is nothing I like more than my country.”

From Human Rights Watch:

Saudi Arabia: 12,000 Somalis Expelled

Mass Deportations without Considering Refugee Claims

February 18, 2014

(Nairobi) – Saudi authorities have deported more than 12,000 people to Somalia since January 1, 2014, including hundreds of women and children, without allowing any to make refugee claims. Saudi Arabia should end the summary deportations, which risk violating its international obligations not to return anyone to a place where their life or freedom is threatened or where they face other serious harm.

Seven Somalis recently deported from Saudi Arabia told Human Rights Watch researchers in Mogadishu, the Somali capital, that the Saudi authorities had detained them for weeks in appalling conditions and some said Saudi security personnel beat them. None had been allowed to speak with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to discuss possible refugee claims before being deported. UNHCR said in mid-January that “south central Somalia is a very dangerous place.” UNHCR also said the Saudi authorities have denied its staff access to detained Somalis in the country.

“The Saudi authorities have deported thousands of men, women, and children to conflict-ridden Somalia, while denying them any chance to seek asylum,” said Gerry Simpson, senior refugee researcher. “Saudi Arabia should allow anyone fearing serious ill-treatment at home to claim refugee status, with help from the UN, if needed.”

The head of Somalia’s Immigration and Naturalization Services told Human Rights Watch researchers on February 3 that Saudi Arabia had deported 12,332 Somalis to Mogadishu since January 1. According to UNHCR,a number of the deportees are not only from Mogadishu but also from other parts of south-central Somalia.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) says the Somali Interior Ministry expects Saudi Arabia to deport another 30,000 in the coming weeks. The deportations are part of a Saudi campaign to remove undocumented foreign workers.

Saudi Arabia should immediately introduce procedures allowing refugees, including those from Somalia, to seek asylum or other forms of protection. Children should not be detained because of their immigration status, and unaccompanied children – those traveling alone without caregivers – shouldnot be held with unrelated adults.If Saudi Arabia identifies anyone at risk of harm in Somalia the authorities should give them secure legal status and should work closely with UNHCR, if needed. It should also urgently improve detention conditions for people waiting to be deported, and only detain as necessary and proportional to that need.

The deported Somalis Human Rights Watch interviewed described severe overcrowding, lack of access to air and daylight, sweltering heat, and limited medical assistance in Saudi detention centers as they awaited deportation. All complained about the quality and quantity of the food. One deportee said prison guards beat him repeatedly, and another saw guards beating detainees who complained about conditions. With one exception, none of the detention centers had bedding and detainees slept on the floor.

Somalis said that beatings and other abusive treatment continued during the deportation process. A woman in her ninth month of pregnancy, Sadiyo, who was arrested and deported separately from her husband, told Human Rights Watch that a Saudi policewoman beat her on the back with a baton while she stood in line at Jeddah airport. She went into labor and gave birth on the cabin floor of the plane as it flew to Mogadishu.

“Saudi authorities should investigate allegations of abuse in detention and during deportation,” Simpson said. “The government should immediately improve its dreadful detention facilities.”

One deported Somali, Mohammed, said Saudi authorities detained him in five detention facilities for a total of 57 days before deporting him.

“In the first detention center in Riyadh [the Saudi capital], there was so little food, we fought over it so the strongest ate the most,” he said. “Guards told us to face the wall and then beat our backs with metal rods. In the second place, there were two toilets for 1,200 people, including dozens of children.”

The deportees may risk life-threatening situations or inhuman and degrading conditions in south-central Somalia. In Mogadishu, approximately 370,000 displaced people live in dire conditions in camps for people who have fled famine and violence elsewhere in the country, with inadequate security. Fighting continues in many parts of south-central Somalia. The Islamist armed group al-Shabaab still forcibly recruits adults and children.

Al-Shabaab bombings and other attacks in Mogadishu frequently target or otherwise kill and wound civilians. …

Customary international law prohibits refoulement, the return of anyone to a place where their life or freedom would be threatened or where they would face persecution, torture, or inhuman or degrading treatment.On January 17, UNHCR issued guidelines on returns to Somalia and called on countries not to return anyone before interviewing them and ensuring they do not face the threat of persecution or other serious harm if returned. Both UNHCR and IOM say that Saudi Arabia has not made any such determination before sending the Somalis back.

“Somalia is still wracked by violence that kills and maims civilians, while hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people are barely surviving in insecure camps,” Simpson said. “Saudi Arabia and other countries where Somalis are living should closely examine any refugee claims and other claims for protection Somalis may have.”

Saudi Arabia has not ratified the 1951 Refugee Convention and does not have an asylum system. UNHCR, which has a small office in Riyadh, is not allowed to receive and review refugee claims, a process known as “Refugee Status Determination.” The Saudi authorities have no other procedures allowing Somalis or others who fear persecution or other harm in their home countries to seek protection in Saudi Arabia.

Major donors to UNHCR, including the European Union and the United States, should press Saudi Arabia to end its deportations of Somalis.

“The Saudi government is entitled to promote employment opportunities for its own citizens, but it needs to make sure it’s not sending people back to a life-threatening situation,” Simpson said. “Saudi Arabia has no excuse for not offering protection to some of the world’s most vulnerable people.”

Somalis Describe Detention Conditions in Saudi Arabia

Several of the deportees who spoke to Human Rights Watch researchers said they developed chronic health problems in detention in Saudi, including persistent coughing. Some said they saw children detained with their relatives and other adults. One said he was detained with approximately 30 children who were in their young teens and who had no caregiver.

A health worker in Mogadishu told Human Rights Watch that she attended a one-year-old boy in a Mogadishu hospital for several weeks. The baby had been detained with his father for a month before being deported and was suffering from diarrhea, malnutrition, and anemia.

Saladu, 35, said the Saudi authorities detained her for nine days with her two children, ages seven and nine, and her sister’s three children before deporting them: “The room we stayed in with 150 other women and children was extremely hot and there was no air conditioning. The children were sick. My son was vomiting and his stomach was very bloated. There were no mattresses, people just slept on the floor.”

IOM publicly said that many of the deportees are in poor health because of their prolonged detention in substandard conditions before they were deported. Some had suffered physical and psychological trauma or had respiratory illnesses, including pneumonia. IOM noted that “a significant number may have been subjected to ill-treatment.”

An IOM representative told Human Rights Watch that it plans to set up a facility at Mogadishu’s Aden Adde airport to provide emergency medical assistance, non-food items such as blankets, and water to deportees, though the services had not begun as of February 17. UNHCR told Human Rights Watch that its staff would be working with IOM to identify those at greatest risk of harm in Somalia.

Deportations of Undocumented Migrants in Saudi Arabia

The mass deportations of Somalis in January followed Saudi Arabia’s deportation of at least 12,000 Somalis to Mogadishu in 2013 and thousands of others in 2012, according to UNHCR.

In November, Saudi officials resumed a campaign that had started in April but had been suspended shortly thereafter, to locate and deport foreign workers considered to be violating local labor laws, including workers from Somalia, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India, the Philippines, Nepal, Pakistan, and Yemen. The Saudi Interior Ministry announced on January 21 that it had deported more than 250,000 people since November.

Human Rights Watch interviewed 42 Yemeni workers deported from Saudi Arabia in November whose descriptions of detention conditions were similar to those of the Somali deportees. Most said there was overcrowding and insufficient food and drinkable water, and reported frequent beatings by prison guards. Five Ethiopian nationals told Human Rights Watch in November that thousands of foreign workers in Riyadh were held in makeshift detention facilities without adequate food and shelter before being deported.

Violence in Somalia

On January 17, UNHCR issued guidelines for factors countries should consider when assessing refugee claims by Somali nationals or other claims for protection based on international human rights law. On January 28, UNHCR issued a news release about the guidelines, appealing to all governments “to uphold their obligations” not to forcibly return anyone to Somalia unless they are convinced the person would not suffer persecution or other serious harm upon return.

UNHCR said that southern and central Somalia “remains a very dangerous place” and that it “consider[s] the options for Somalis to find protection from persecution or serious harm within Southern and Central Somalia to be limited.” The agency said that this “is especially true for large areas that remain under the control of Al-Shabaab,” which “prohibits the exercise of various types of freedoms and rights, especially affecting women” and uses “public whipping, amputation … and beheadings” as punishment.

UNHCR also said al-Shabaab attacks in Mogadishu that killed civilians had increased in 2013 and that the Somali authorities are “reported to be failing to provide much of [the] population with basic security.”

In March 2013 Human Rights Watch reported on sexual violence and other abuses against displaced persons living in Mogadishu’s internally displaced persons camps.

In January 2013 the Somali government announced plans to relocate tens of thousands of displaced people in Mogadishu. These plans stalled primarily due to the government’s inability to provide basic protection in the planned relocation sites. According to UNHCR, almost 60,000 people were displaced in Somalia in the first nine months of 2013, bringing the total number of displaced to 1.1 million.

A February 13, 2014, Human Rights Watch report documents high levels of rape and sexual abuse against women and girls in Mogadishu in 2013, particularly among displaced women who are attacked inside and near camps for displaced people.

In November UNHCR, Kenya, and Somalia signed a tri-partite agreement setting out procedures to be followed to assist Somalis wishing to return to Somalia. The agreement emphasized that the principle of nonrefoulement needed to be scrupulously respected. UNHCR’s January news release said neither the agreement nor UNHCR’s possible future assistance to help reintegrate voluntarily returning Somali nationals from Kenya should in any way imply that UNHCR believes that Somalia is safe for everyone. The agency reported that 42,000 Somalis fled their country to seek asylum worldwide in 2013.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Australian government censorship about torture


This video from Australia says about itself:

Australia deports Tamil torture victim back to Sri Lanka

2 Aug 2012

On July 26, Tamil refugee Dayan Anthony (formerly known as “Mr X” in Australia in an attempt to protect his identity from Sri Lankan authorities), was deported from Australia. He was handed over to the Sri Lankan intelligence forces – who had held Mr Anthony in custody for years, and had tortured him.

After 16 hours in custody, paraded in front of the media by his captors, he recanted all allegations of torture – despite suffering in Australia from post-traumtic stress found to be from torture, and having suffered a broken back as a result of torture.

Melbourne refugee activists and the Tamil community outline the horror of the Australian government sending a torture victim back to their oppressor – and the battle against such deportations. Get involved with http://rac-vic.org or the refugee action group in your state.

By Mike Head in Australia:

Witch-hunt against Australian ABC escalates over refugee torture allegations

8 February 2014

As evidence continues to emerge indicating that the Australian navy may have assaulted refugees, deliberately causing burns, during operations to force them back to Indonesia, the government is intensifying its witch-hunt of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) for reporting the accusations.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Wednesday demanded that the ABC apologise for broadcasting video footage of the refugees’ badly burned hands and for suggesting that the injuries supported the allegations initially made by asylum seekers to Indonesian police last month. Abbott accused the ABC for its reporting “in ways that were extremely damaging to the professionalism of our military personnel.”

Defence Minister David Johnston went further yesterday, saying he was “absolutely sick to the stomach that this iconic Australian news agency would attack the navy in the way that it has.” Describing naval personnel as “heroes,” he called for an inquiry into the ABC. At the same time he reiterated the government’s refusal to investigate the mounting evidence. In an extraordinary outburst pointing to the xenophobic nature of the government’s campaign, Johnston told the Australian newspaper that the refugees making the complaints were not “even Australian” and were “desperate people.”

The government’s campaign is aimed at defending its “Operation Sovereign Borders” policy, which is in blatant violation of refugees’ right under international law to flee persecution and oppression. More broadly, Abbott and his colleagues are attempting to bully and threaten anyone who dares call into question the use of the military to trample over fundamental legal and democratic rights.

According to the Australian’s foreign editor Greg Sheridan, the Abbott government has “internalised several lessons” from the October 2001 “children overboard” scandal, in which the previous Liberal-National government of John Howard was exposed, by leaks from sailors themselves, after it falsely claimed that refugees had thrown children into the ocean to force the navy to rescue them. The truth was that the navy, under the government’s order, had fired shots toward their boat, which sank the following day, throwing its passengers into the water (see: “Australian navy opens fire on refugee boat”).

The “children overboard” accusations, which were fully backed by the Labor Party, became a turning point in the demonisation of refugees in the lead-up to the 2001 federal election. However the lies unravelled after the election, severely discrediting Howard’s government. Sheridan said the main political lesson drawn by the Liberal Party was that “everybody started leaking” to the media—a practice that had to stop.

Backed by the corporate media, the government is creating an atmosphere of wartime-like censorship in which any criticism of the military is to be forbidden.

The government’s threats to the ABC have been directly facilitated by figures within the broadcaster itself, most notably Paul Barry, the presenter of ABC TV’s “Media Watch” program. On Monday night, Barry proclaimed that the ABC had “got it wrong” and “over-reached” by “essentially endorsing the allegations of Navy mistreatment.”

Barry’s pronouncement reflects the rightward evolution of a layer of erstwhile liberals, who previously opposed the harsh treatment of refugees. They fell into line with the previous former Gillard Labor government which cynically justified its ramped-up “border protection” regime as a humanitarian policy to prevent people dying while trying to reach Australia’s shores. Now these elements are lurching further to the right.

Barry previously acquired something of a reputation for exposing the machinations of the corporate media, writing books on former media proprietors, Alan Bond and James Packer. Now he has aligned himself with a witch-hunt orchestrated by the same forces.

Fairfax Media, a traditional small “l” liberal platform, also weighed in. A Sydney Morning Herald editorial on January 30 declared that “the ABC’s handling of the ‘burnt hands’ claims was at times boosterish” and “damaged Australia’s reputation in the region.”

Likewise, opposition leader Bill Shorten rushed to declare that the Labor Party supports the military, while criticising the government for making the navy’s job “tougher” by keeping its operations secret. Greens spokesperson, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young took a similar line, complaining that the government’s secrecy was “tarnishing the navy’s reputation.”

The ABC already functions as a reliable conduit for the Australian corporate and political establishment. It initially declined to report the complaints of burns and torture, which first surfaced on Indonesian news sites on January 7, and were published by Agence France Presse the next day. It was only then that the ABC felt compelled to report them—accompanied by vehement denials by Immigration Minister Scott Morrison of any wrongdoing.

The ABC’s supposed “overreach” occurred on January 22, when it published video footage that it noted “appears to back asylum seekers’ claims of mistreatment by the Australian Navy.”

Following Barry’s “Media Watch” verdict, ABC managing director Mark Scott issued a grovelling statement, saying: “We regret if our reporting led anyone to mistakenly assume that the ABC supported the asylum seekers’ claims.” Head of ABC news content Gaven Morris issued an edict to staff, warning them not to “embellish” or add “any flourish” to claims of mistreatment by “Australian border protection forces.”

None of this satisfied the government or the Murdoch press, which want nothing less than the reduction of the ABC to a pure propaganda outfit, giving unquestioned backing to the military. When Abbott was asked whether the controversy had been ended with the ABC’s statement, he replied: “I wonder why sorry seems to be the hardest word for them.”

The government’s opposition to any investigation of the alleged crimes carried out by the Australian military underscores its readiness to abrogate the most basic democratic and legal rights. Behind a blanket of secrecy, what is happening in the waters off the Australian coast is that some of the most vulnerable members of the international working class are being subjected to military detention, physically abused and dumped at sea in flimsy craft.

This is a warning of the kind of reactionary political atmosphere and methods that the government and the entire media and political establishment are preparing against the working class as a whole. There is not one rule for asylum seekers and another for working people at home.

It is no accident that the other supposed “crime” committed by the ABC was to publish former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden’s documents. They reveal not just US-backed spying on the people and governments throughout the Asia-Pacific region, but also the police-state surveillance being carried out domestically, with the US and Australian intelligence networks monitoring the phones and social media activity of millions of people.

The Abbott government is drawing up far-reaching budget cuts to social spending and supporting sweeping attacks on jobs, wages and conditions. The brutal treatment of refugees is a warning of the methods that will be used in the future against the resistance of workers and youth to these attacks on living standards.

The author also recommends:

Australian government joins international witch-hunt of Edward Snowden
[3 February 2014]

In an interview with Sydney Morning Herald journalist Michael Bachelard published yesterday, Sudanese refugee Yousif Ibrahim Fasher provided a further eye-witness account detailing Australian naval personnel physically assaulting and punishing asylum seekers who were attempting to reach Australia by boat: here.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Drowning refugees and nazis in Greece


This video says about itself:

Greece: Families of survivors from “Greek Lampedusa” arrive

23 Jan 2014

A total of 16 Afghan and Syrian refugees arrived at the port of Piraeus, Thursday, after 12 people drowned following an incident involving the Greek coast guard pulling a refugee boat towards the Turkish coast. As the refugees arrived, they were greeted by sympathisers and protesters, some of whom holding banners comparing the incident to the tragic incident in Lampedusa, when more than 350 refugees drowned off the coast of Italy.

Refugees had tried to land their boat at Farmakonisi, a Greek island in the eastern Mediterranean. A total of three women and nine children drowned in the incident. The United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) has condemned the Greek coast guard following interviews with survivors, who said their boat capsized while they were being pulled back to the Turkish coast.

From I Can’t Relax in Greece blog:

Migrant drowns off Rhodes

Posted on 04/02/2014 by icantrelaxingreece

Man, believed to be Syrian, died while trying to swim ashore …

The man’s death comes two weeks to the day after a dozen people, including three women and nine children, drowned when their vessel capsized while being towed in a controversial coastguard operation near the island of Farmakonisi, also in the eastern Aegean.

Behind the Coast Guard officers and illegal ‘refoulements’, there is the government which provokes anyone seeking clarifications about the Farmakonisi affair: here.

UN’s High Commissioner Muiznieks expressed concern about the escalation of anti-migrant rhetoric in Greece: here.

The German press speaks of relations between Golden Dawn and neo-nazi organizations from the south of Germany, while it is noted that a delegation of fascist organizations participated in the Golden Dawn demonstration on the anniversary of the Imia crisis: here.

Greece’s Golden Dawn to form new party if banned from polls. Far-right activists say they will form National Dawn to contest elections if they are prevented from standing in elections: here.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Greek students arrested for protesting ill-treatment of refugees


Greek ‘Delta’ riot police beating up students who were protesting at the drowning of migrants

From daily News Line in Britain:

Saturday, 1 February 2014

GREEK RIOT POLICE ATTACK YOUTH

THE ‘Delta’ mobile Greek riot police units arrested 47 protesting students last Thursday outside the private office of the Merchant Marine Minister M Varvitsiotis in Athens. They were protesting over the Farmakonisi Aegean sea island refugee drownings on the night of 19 January.

Later, students staged a picket outside Athens Police HQ where 46 arrested students were released; one was charged with ‘resisting police’.

Last Wednesday, the Commander of the Greek Coast Guard, Dimitris Bantias, stated at a parliamentary committee looking into the Farmakonisi drownings of three women and nine children: ‘I take responsibility, I ask for forgiveness from the families of those drowned, from all of you, from the minister and the government, from all Greeks, we did the best we could.’

In an open-air press conference last Saturday outside the Vouli (Greek parliament), three Afghan refugees that survived at the Farmakonisi, accused the Greek Coast Guard boat that approached them of deliberately ramming them in order to drown them and indeed the Coast Guard boat, claimed the refugees, succeeded in drowning the three women and the nine children.

Enhanced by Zemanta