Again, hundreds of refugees from wars drown in Mediterranean


This video says about itself:

Syrian refugees left to die at sea

23 October 2013

Footage has emerged of the rescue of hundreds of Syrian refugees who say they were left to drown in the Mediterranean off the coast of Malta. Survivors said they were rescued off the Maltese coast after their boat was shot and sunk by Libya traffickers after an argument about payment earlier this month. Al Jazeera’s Jonah Hull has more.

From the Daily Telegraph in Britain:

Up to 700 migrants drown in Mediterranean as people smugglers accused of deliberately capsizing boat

More than 650 migrants are feared to have drowned in the Mediterranean in two separate incidents, with humanitarian organisations calling for “legal avenues” to be opened up to enable refugees to reach Europe safely

Dutch NOS TV, quoting Libyan authorities, says 800 people dead.

By Nick Squires, Rome

4:46PM BST 15 Sep 2014

Up to 500 migrants were feared to have drowned in the Mediterranean after people smugglers deliberately rammed their boat, it was announced on Monday, as a second disaster claimed as many as 160 lives off the coast of Libya.

In the first tragedy, survivors of the sinking told officials from the International Organisation for Migration that around 500 people had been on a boat sailing from the coast of Egypt towards Malta last week and that most had drowned at sea.

The horrific story, which if confirmed would rank as the worst disaster in the Mediterranean for years, was recounted by two Palestinians who spent more than a day floating in the water before being picked up by a Panama-flagged merchant vessel about 300 miles off Malta.

They were brought to the port of Pozzallo in Sicily at the weekend, where they told their story to IoM officials.

Nine other survivors were rescued by Greek and Maltese rescue vessels.

The two Palestinians, believed to be fleeing Gaza, said the boat, packed with refugees and migrants from Syria, the Palestinian territories, Sudan and Egypt, set sail from the Egyptian coast on Sept 6.

The large group included small children and unaccompanied minors.

When the people traffickers in charge of the crossing ordered their human cargo to transfer to another, smaller boat in the middle of the sea, they refused.

A furious argument broke out and the traffickers in the smaller vessel allegedly rammed the migrants’ boat, forcing it to capsize.

“If this story, which the police are investigating, is confirmed, it would be the worst shipwreck in recent years. It is particularly grave, in that it seems to have been not an accident but mass murder, perpetrated by criminals without scruples or any respect for human life,” IOM said in a statement.

Among the hundreds of migrants who drowned was a young Egyptian boy who had hoped to earn enough money in Europe to pay for his father’s heart operation, the Palestinians said.

He clung to a life buoy along with one of the Palestinians but, suffering from exposure and hypothermia, was unable to hold on and slipped beneath the water.

In the second tragedy, more than 160 African migrants were feared dead on Monday after an overloaded boat heading for Italy capsized off the coast of Libya.

Libyan officials recovered dozens of bodies, including those of women and children, from the sea off the coast of Tajoura, to the east of the capital, Tripoli.

Just 36 people had been rescued, officials said, although the search effort was continuing.

The boat was believed to have been packed with more than 200 migrants who had paid people traffickers thousands of pounds to take them to Italy.

The two shipwrecks were the latest in a series of similar tragedies in the Mediterranean.

The wars in Iraq and Syria, poverty and unrest in the Horn of Africa and West Africa, and chaos in Libya since the overthrow of Muammar Gadaffi has spurred a massive exodus of refugees towards Europe.

Since 1988, more than 20,000 adults and children have lost their lives trying to reach Europe by sea, according to Fortress Europe, a website that tracks the fatalities.

Enticed by the prospect of making tens of thousands of pounds from each crossing, people smugglers were putting migrants in increasingly “decrepit and overcrowded boats, causing directly or indirectly the death of thousands of people,” the IOM said.

The organisation called on the international community to identify, catch and punish the traffickers, while at the same time depriving them of their livelihood by opening up “legal avenues” for people fleeing war and persecution to enter Europe.

The actress Angelina Jolie, who is a special envoy for the United Nations’ refugee agency, also urged the international community to “wake up to the scale of the crisis.”

“There is a direct link between the conflicts in Syria and elsewhere and the rise in deaths at sea in the Mediterranean,” she said.

“We have to understand what drives people to take the fearful step of risking their children’s lives on crowded, unsafe vessels. It is the overwhelming desire to find refuge,” she said.

Mediterranean shipwrecks leave over 700 refugees dead, many fleeing Mideast wars: here.

100 children among migrants ‘deliberately drowned’ in Mediterranean: here.

NATO anti-peace demonstrator fence becomes Calais anti-refugee fence


This video is called LOCKDOWN! NATO’s RING OF STEEL in Wales For Annual LORDS OF WAR Meeting.

From daily The Independent in Britain, 7 September 2014:

[British] Ministers have approved giving Calais the 9ft-high “Ring of Steel” security fence that had been used at the Nato Summit, to help tackle the issue of migrants seeking to illegally board ferries and trucks bound for the UK. …

Two impenetrable steel walls were constructed to provide security at the convergence of world leaders at the two-day Nato Summit this week.

There was one around the Celtic Manor venue in Newport and another 12-mile-long one around Cardiff City Centre, which was disassembled at 4am this morning.

Dubbed the “Ring of Steel”, the imposing barrier was brought in to help mitigate the threat of a terrorist attack, with one member of the public mockingly renaming the Nato Summit “Stalag Luft 12”, reports Wales Online, in reference to the high security Nazi Germany prisoner-of-war camps. …

Tim Finch, the Director of Migration at the Institute for Public Policy Research, told The Independent that the problem of migrants in Calais is “essentially irresolvable”.

Britain has “no alternative but to keep them out”, he said, though some of them may die in the process”.

The Institute for Public Policy Research is called a “progressive thinktank” on Wikipedia. The whole Wikipedia article shows the IPPR is rather ‘Blairite‘, ‘new’ Labour, so not really progressive. If, instead of Tim Finch, an aide to Russia’s Putin, Syria’s Assad, Cuba’s Raul Castro, or some other politician whom NATO countries’ establishments hate for various reasons, would so callously dismiss the value of human lives of refugees from wars, Tony Blair’s wars, NATO’s wars, then corporate media in all NATO countries would furiously demand ‘humanitarian’ invasion right now of the country of the person who spoke this inhuman sentence.

The British government’s gift of the NATO ‘Stalag Luft 12′ fence comes after blackmail by the Rightist mayor of Calais.

By Stéphane Hugues in France:

France: Calais mayor demands crackdown on migrants, threatens to block port

6 September 2014

Calais mayor Natacha Bouchart of France’s right-wing Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) has threatened Britain that she will blockade Calais harbor unless the government in London helps fund Calais’ repression of immigrants trapped in the city trying to reach Britain. Bouchart’s threat means blocking the passage of thousands of cars and trucks that cross the English Channel to Britain every day.

Bouchart issued this threat after 100 refugees in desperation tried to outrun the police and board a P&O ferry in the port bound for Britain earlier this week. The ferry staff raised the ship’s ramps and walkways and turned their fire hoses onto the refugees.

“I could take the decision to block the port…I could bring pressure to bear. It would be illegal but today I want to make a strong gesture towards the British,” Bouchart told reporters in Paris after meeting French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve.

She said she did not discuss her proposal with Cazeneuve, “but I told him that I hoped he would have some strong negotiations with the British.” In blocking the port, Bouchart is trying to use the situation to squeeze money out of the British government. She claims that Calais currently pays out 10 million Euros a year in “Security charges” for policing the refugees.

Bouchart’s outburst and avowedly illegal threats are part of decades of mounting persecution by European authorities of immigrants trying to travel across Europe to Britain. There are 1,500 or more refugees in Calais and its suburbs trying to reach Britain. Most are fleeing from famine or imperialist wars in their own countries, which include Syria, Afghanistan, Eritrea, and Somalia. They are forced to sleep in the open air with no covers.

Refugee support groups try to help them by distributing food, but the refugees have been reduced to conditions even more brutal than the homeless. Before, they were able to build shantytowns on unused ground. Now, these dwellings are systematically destroyed.

Until 2002, the refugees were housed in a Red Cross refugee centre in Sangatte, near Calais. The then Interior Minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, shut the camp and forced the refugees to find refuge wherever they could in the Calais area.

THE mayor of Calais reacted with scorn today to an offer from the British government of 12 miles of security fencing to help keep out illegal immigrants: here.

Algerian immigrant killed by French police


This is a French video on the death of Algerian immigrant Abdelhak Goradia.

By Athiyan Silva:

Algerian immigrant killed by French police while being deported

1 September 2014

Abdelhak Goradia, a 51-year-old Algerian undocumented immigrant and father of a 6 year old child, died on August 21 while being forcibly transferred toward Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport for deportation.

Goradia had lived in France since 1996, having arrived with a tourist visa and remained in France after its expiration date. He was unable to get a permanent visa and was arrested by police this summer.

He was imprisoned in the brutal detention center (Administrative Retention Centre, CRA) in Vincennes near Paris on August 12 and served with the expulsion order. On August 16, he resisted the first attempt by the police to expel him. He died while being forcefully transferred to the airport by the notorious UNESI (National Unit for Escort, Support and Intervention) unit.

Police falsely claimed Goradia, who was asthmatic, died of a heart attack. This claim was contradicted by the autopsy report, which concludes that the cause of death was “asphyxia due to gastric regurgitation.”

Witnesses and his family members also rejected police claims. Goradia’s cousin, who saw his body, told the media: “He had facial injuries but we could not see the rest of the body because it was hidden.”

Another witness who was in the detention center with Goradia said the killing took place “… when we were doing prayers at 18h. As soon as we finished, he came down allegedly because he had a visit. In the local reception area, the cops beat him. They put a helmet and handcuffs on him and bound his legs. The cops knew he was going to refuse, and then they used force with him.”

After Goradia’s death, police publicly discussed Goradia’s record with the media, including convictions for credit card fraud, in a cynical attempt to blacken his character and implicitly justify the police killing.

In European Union countries, including France, many thousands of immigrants and asylum seekers are treated like animals and forcibly expelled every year. A recent Amnesty International report said: “Human rights groups, magistrates associations and unions which assists refugees and asylum-seekers at frontier areas, both published reports which describe police ill-treatment (blows, beatings with batons, tight handcuffing, racial insults) at the holding area at Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport.”

In France, since 2003 four immigrants and asylum seekers have died during deportation. Argentinean national Ricardo Barrientos, Ethiopian national Miriame Getu Hagos, Tunisian national Salem Souli and Algerian national Abdelhak Goradia died amid police violence. Last year, 36,822 immigrants were deported from France.

Every year, the number of deportations rises. At the same time, many immigrants continue to risk their lives to reach European shores aboard primitive boats. Over the last two decades, tens of thousands of people have drowned in the Mediterranean Sea. Most are from Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. These immigrants are victims of imperialist war, misery, and repression in their home countries.

Since the Stalinist dissolution of the USSR in 1991, the escalating wars and interventions of imperialist powers have claimed millions of lives and turned millions into refugees in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. French imperialism has joined these wars to re-divide and recolonize the world, waging wars in Syria, Mali, the Central African Republic, Libya, and now in Iraq. However, Paris employs the most brutal methods to repress refugees fleeing the social catastrophes created by these wars.

In Europe, including France, many undocumented immigrants work as virtual slaves in restaurants, small shops, or cleaning and construction works in order to live. Many bosses cheat these workers, because they cannot go to the police to complain. Some workers work more than 250 hours per month to earn only 1200 euros without a pay sheet and without social benefits to pay rent.

As the political and social crisis has intensified, the issue of immigration has come to the fore. In an irrefutable sign of its bankrupt and reactionary character, the entire capitalist political establishment in Europe is denouncing and attacking immigrants, using them as scapegoats to poison the political atmosphere and divide the working class. The immigration policy of the so-called “Socialist” government of President François Hollande is even more brutal than that of the previous conservative government of President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Undocumented immigrants and asylum seekers live under constant threat of deportation. Amnesty International reported that about 20,000 Roma families were expelled from their makeshift homes in 2013. In May 2014, police forcibly evicted nearly 700 immigrants and asylum seekers from makeshift camps in Calais.

Former Interior Minister and current Prime Minister Manuel Valls infamously denounced the Roma people in racist terms for being “incapable of assimilating” into French society” to justify his government’s policy of mass deportations of the Roma. Such comments demonstrate the reactionary character of the ruling Socialist Party (PS), which is moving towards the positions of France’s neo-fascist National Front (FN).

730,000 Ukrainian refugees to Russia, 117,000 elsewhere in Ukraine


This 29 June 2014 video is called Number of Ukrainian refugees in Russia has reached 110,000: UNHCR.

That was June. Now, it is August.

From UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency:

GENEVA, August 5 – Amid a worsening situation in eastern Ukraine, the UN refugee agency on Tuesday estimated that more than 117,000 people are now displaced inside Ukraine. …

Most Ukrainians leaving their country are not applying for refugee status. They often seek other legal status. Some fear applying for refugee status will lead to complications and they consider the alternatives available a better temporary solution.

According to Russian authorities, 168,677 displaced people applied to the Federal Migration Service in the first seven months of this year. These included 6,347 for refugee status, 48,914 for temporary asylum, 28,134 for citizenship, 59,858 for temporary residence, 19,943 for residence permits and 5,481 under the programme of resettlement of compatriots.

A larger number of Ukrainians are arriving and staying in Russia under the visa-free regime. The Russian authorities estimate that around 730,000 Ukrainians, including the 168,000 seen by the Federal Migration Service, have arrived since the beginning of the year under this programme.

Around 80 per cent of Ukrainians are staying in border areas, while others are moving to stay with friends or relatives in other parts of the country. More than 585 temporary accommodation facilities are hosting 42,486 people. The Russian authorities have adopted several regulations to facilitate the temporary stay of Ukrainians arriving on its territory.

7 August 2014: again fighting on Maidan square in Kyiv.

The Ukrainian government has been directing heavy artillery bombardments against civilians in the major cities of east Ukraine held by pro-Russian forces, damaging residential areas, hospitals and Russian Orthodox churches and killing and wounding dozens of civilians: here.

The Ukrainian government is funding and deploying gangs of fascist thugs as the spearhead of its operations in preparation for the large scale massacre of pro-Russia separatists and civilians in the city of Donetsk: here.

The siege of the Ukrainian cities of Donetsk and Luhansk, launched by the regime in Kiev and abetted by the US government and the European Union (EU), is a barbaric act of collective punishment: here.

A fierce dispute over German policy towards Russia has broken out between two leading German business newspapers, Handelsblatt and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ). While the FAZ calls for a robust confrontation with Russia, the Handelsblatt describes this as a “wrong track” leading directly to war. The conflict expresses sharp divisions within the ruling class over the future direction of German foreign policy: here.

Iraq war refugees in Britain, new theatre play


This video from Britain says about itself:

Nabil Elouahabi and Rashid Razaq discuss their new play, The Nightmares of Carlos Fuentes, with Juliette Foster on Arise News, 17 July 2014.

By Joe Gill in Britain:

The power of nightmares

Tuesday 5th August 2014

Nabil Elouahabi tells JOE GILL how he came to produce and star in a new play about an Iraqi refugee in Britain

Nabil Elouahabi took the opening night bow at the Arcola Theatre in Dalston last week to loud applause for a play that he not only stars in but nurtured from an idea to its realisation.

Written by Evening Standard journalist Rashid Razaq and directed by Nicholas Kent, The Nightmares of Carlos Fuentes tells the story of an Iraqi refugee who comes to Britain and changes his name to that of the famous Mexican writer in a semi-comical attempt to disguise his Arab origins and forget the horrors of Iraq.

Told in a fragmented narrative, it’s a funny, sad and moving drama in which Carlos (born Salim) meets a rich Englishwoman called Lydia (Caroline Langrishe) while working as a waiter. He marries her but ultimately cannot escape his past — he left a wife and daughter in war-torn Baghdad.

The play opens with Carlos handcuffed to a hotel bed during a dirty weekend with Lydia — a sharp and witty two-hander in which a sex game morphs into an English history test for the would-be British citizen.

By the end we are taken full circle as the story jumps between 2006 and 2011, each scene introduced with a video speech from western political leaders, including Bush, Blair and Cameron, reminding us of the doublespeak used to justify the Iraq war.

Ultimately we see the impact of political deception in the tragedy of Carlos’s life but rather than a mere victim, his eccentricities, struggles with the language — captured brilliantly in the script and Elouahabi’s performance — and naive dreams of becoming a true Englishman keep the piece grounded at the human level.

We believe wholeheartedly that Elouahabi is Carlos/Salim — an innocent everyman caught up in brutal geopolitics.

Elouahabi is best known for his TV and film work — playing Tariq in East Enders, with parts in 24, Zero Dark Thirty and two Michael Winterbottom films — but recently he has been searching for more interesting roles than the two-dimensional terrorists he was being offered.

“I was becoming very frustrated with the parts that were available and the prism through which we see Arabs,” he says.

“I am lucky in that I do work, but that’s not to say that there isn’t a frustration that the roles you are doing are peripherals, always seen as an addition. I wanted to completely change the theatrical lens and make them the centrepiece.”

Ultimately this led to him producing The Nightmares of Carlos Fuentes, the seeds of which were born when he read a collection of short stories by Iraqi writer Hassan Blasim back in 2009.

“I’d been working with Nick Kent at the Tricycle and I was fortunate enough to be part of a trilogy of plays called The Great Game: Afghanistan. Then Nick retired and I thought he’d be an interesting person to take this piece to because it had a political dimension to it and I knew that was his brand.”

Elouahabi asked Kent if he would consider directing a play based on the Blasim story. “One of the strengths of Nicholas Kent’s direction is his ability to hang the piece on a political frame without it being didactic — it’s always through the personal. It’s about his wife, his daughter, about the human in all of us.”

Kent was moved by the story of displacement and assimilation. Next Elouahabi asked Razaq, whose work he had seen and liked, to write a script on spec. Kent was impressed with Razaq’s draft script. Two years and 20 drafts later, the play took to the stage.

“It’s the first time I’ve put on the producer’s hat,” says Elouahabi.

“For me it’s about creating the right alliance, getting the right people to do the right jobs and letting them get on with it.”

The play opened with Iraq once again in the headlines. “We’ve just recently had this surge in sectarian violence in Iraq with Isis coming through, forcing Shias and Sunnis to divorce, so this is absolutely topical right now.”

Elouahabi has recently made headlines for talking about the paucity of good roles for Arab and black actors in British drama. “For me it’s about enriching the theatrical landscape as opposed to making it exclusive,” he says.

“We all benefit from sharing stories with different people in them. There is a fear that ‘oh no, that’s a story with Arabs in it,’ but actually if the stories and characters are on the front foot, everything else is irrelevant. It’s all about the writers and the people at the top believing those stories are going to be watched.

“I’m not on a political mission, but simply from an audience perspective, why just have fish and chips? It’s like food, now we like hummus – let’s put more food on the table. Right now it’s just a bit samey samey.”

Runs until August 16. Box office (020) 7503-1646.

Refugees from the world’s conflicts came to Westminster to share their stories, writes JEREMY CORBYN: here.

Victory for refugee Orashia Edwards


This video from England says about itself:

Judgement Day – Documentary – Orashia Edwards

30 June 2014

Following on from the documentary ‘State of Limbo’- here Orashia Edwards attends his ‘Judgement Day’ hearing at Leeds Crown Court.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Bisexual asylum seeker’s deportation dropped

Thursday 3rd July 2014

PLANS to deport a Leeds asylum seeker who is escaping persecution in his country for his sexuality were yesterday dropped by Home Office immigration officials.

Orashia Edwards was due to be deported to Jamaica after being refused asylum.

But following a legal challenge, a judicial review into the refusal is to be heard next week.

Immigration officials had planned to deport him before the review was heard, but have now abandoned this idea.

Mr Edwards fled from Jamaica after being persecuted for being bisexual.

He made his home in Leeds where he has family and has become an active campaigner with the city’s LGBT community.

Emily Jennings of Leeds No Borders said the decision to cancel Mr Edwards’ flight had been taken a week ago but he had not been informed by the Home Office.

“This is yet again an example of how awfully asylum seekers are treated by the Home Office,” she said.

So, a partial victory for Orashia Edwards. However, the fight for his rights is not over yet.

Welcome to South Williamsport, Pennsylvania — the only place in America, outside of the Inhofe family, where there are no gays in the village: here.

Stop British government deporting bisexual refugee


This video from Britain is called State of Limbo – Short Documentary; about refugee Orashia Edwards.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Asylum seeker threatened with deportation before judicial review

Tuesday 24th June 2014

IMMIGRATION officials are attempting to deport a Leeds asylum-seeker a week before a judicial review of his case is held.

Campaigners in the city have rallied to support Orashia Edwards, 32, a Jamaican who fled his own country after being persecuted for being bisexual.

He settled in Leeds and applied for asylum. He has won many friends and carried out campaigning work in the city.

But asylum has been refused. He was arrested on June 12 and granted bail. The judicial review has been set for July 9 but Mr Edwards has been issued with “removal directions” for July 2.

Leeds No Borders group has mounted regular protests and demonstrations in his support and is urging campaigners to take action, including by protesting to British Airways. Details are available on the Leeds No Borders website.

The next protest against Mr Edwards’s deportation will be held outside Leeds town hall at 4.30pm on Thursday.

GAY, lesbian, bi and transsexual activists condemned “Ukipisation” of British politics yesterday as they kicked off a campaign against migrant discrimination: here.