This video, recorded in France, says about itself:
Afghan refugees in Paris speak out
19 Dec 2011
Homeless Afghan asylum seekers discuss their dangerous journeys to Europe and their desperate struggle for survival.
From daily News Line in Britain:
Monday, 27 January 2014
THREE Afghan refugees who survived last Monday’s wreckage of their boat off the Greek island of Farmakonisi in the eastern Aegean, emphatically and repeatedly accused the Greek Coast Guard patrol boat of ramming their boat so as to drown its passengers.
At an open air Press Conference on the pavement opposite the Vouli (Greek parliament) last Saturday, the three men, Abdul Sabur Azizi who lost his wife and child, Fada Mohammed Akhmadi, who lost his wife and three children, and Ekhsada Soufi, who lost his wife and four children, narrated the barbaric actions against them of the Greek Coast Guards that resulted in three women and nine children being drowned.
‘We sailed from the Turkish coast towards the Greek islands but our boat’s engine failed close to an island.
‘The Greek patrol boat appeared and we were glad that we were saved, but they did not want to save us.
‘They started shooting in the air and the Coast Guard patrol boat started ramming our boat to sink it.
‘Two Coast Guards jumped on our boat and put their guns against our necks shouting, “We will kill you! Fuck you, fuck you!” and tied a rope; they started towing us at high speed back to the Turkish coast.
‘We shouted to stop, but they increased speed and sailing in zigzags to sink our boat. Water started flooding our boat. Women and children fell off the boat and the rope was cut.
‘Women shouted “please help us’ but the Coast Guards shouted ‘fuck you’. The patrol boat started ramming our boat once again. We threw ourselves into the sea and we tried to get on the patrol boat to save ourselves.
‘But the Coast Guards started hitting us to prevent us from going onboard. Those who were still on the sinking boat cried out for life-jackets but the Coast Guard men did not give them any life-jacket.
‘The Coast Guards hit a 16-year-old Syrian boy on the head because he threw a wood plank to a woman who was struggling in the water.
‘We men managed to get hold of the Coast Guard boat but the women couldn’t make it. We saw with our own eyes our wives and children being drowned.
‘Then two boats appeared sailing towards us from the Turkish shores and the Greek Coast Guards took us onboard, otherwise they would have drowned us too. They threatened us that if we say anything they will punish us.
‘When we reach the Greek island of Farmakonisi the Coast Guard passed us on to the police who were kicking us.
‘They took us to a luxurious restaurant to show that we were treated well. But we only stayed there for a while.
‘Then they pushed us into a prison without any food or drink and we were still wearing soaked clothes.
‘Next day they interrogated us one by one always with the wrong interpreter.
‘They forced us to sign papers that we did not understand what it was written on them.
‘When a UN representative came into the room they would stop.
‘For the last two days we have been to Athens and we live in a refugee hostel but every time we go out, the Greek police are picking us up and harassing us.
‘All we ask now is for the bodies of our families to be found.
‘The Greek Merchant navy Minister M Varvitsiotis says that the Coast Guards came to rescue us. No, this is a lie, they came to drown us!
‘Let them if they can bring anyone to challenge what we are saying.
‘They (Greek Coast Guard) now say that they brought us to Greece, but if that was the case, the bodies of the drowned women and children would have been found on the Greek shore.
‘Up to now, bodies have been found only on the Turkish shore. They are lying.
‘They (Greek Coast Guard) say that we thanked them for rescuing us! How can you thank those who killed our families?’
Several speakers representing SYRIZA (the Coalition of the Radical Left), ANTARSYA (the anti-capitalist formation), trades unions, migrant organisations and civil liberties committees, demanded that the surviving refugees been given asylum and that there should be an investigation and severe punishment for those responsible for such atrocities against the refugees.
They also demanded trade union action to stop such crimes against migrants and refugees and castigated the European Union policies on migrants and refugees.
The speaker from the Community of Afghan Refugees in Greece said that there have been hundreds of drownings, ‘the whole eastern Aegean between Greece and Turkey is a cemetery,’ he said.
Such barbaric crimes as those carried out by the Greek Coast Guards, as narrated by the Afghan refugees, are a direct consequence of the EU’s policies and of the Greek parliamentary junta’s counter-revolutionary attacks on Greek and migrant workers.
Following the Press Conference, over 1,000 workers, refugees, youth and unemployed marched through Athens city centre shouting, ‘Asylum to all refugees!’ ‘The Minister kills – he should resign now!’ ‘Immigrants are not the reason that we are going hungry – it’s the Prime Minister Samaras!’
and ‘Farmakonisi was not a tragedy – it was a premeditated murder by the government!’
A banner at the front of the march read ‘Fortress Europe kills even children – Locate the political and penal responsibilities now!’
With the police absent they attacked the offices of a left-wing organisation and tore down anti-racist and anti-fascist banners near the spot where rapper Pavlos Fyssas was stabbed to death by a Golden Dawn member last September.
A few hours later, hundreds of youth gathered to confront them but the fascists had disappeared.
Golden Dawn gang desecrates Fyssas memorial in Keratsini: here.
Migrants saved in Greek boat accident mourn relatives – and dispute claims. Survivors say coastguards refused to help them as vessel sank and stamped on hands of those clinging to Greek boat: here.
‘Greece’ (Human Rights Watch – World Report 2014): here.
Media interviews with asylum seekers on boats forced back to Indonesia by the Australian navy under the Abbott government’s “stop the boats” regime have confirmed earlier reports of physical assaults and abuse, with asylum seekers being beaten, pepper-sprayed and handcuffed: here.
This video from Greece says about itself:
The survivors of Farmakonisi, Greece arrived in Athens
23 Jan 2014
11 women and kids drowned in this tragic incident. It happened when they were approaching the Greek shore; the coast guard tried to push them back to Turkey.
After Nelson Mandela being for decades on a United States government list of so-called “terrorists”, along with President Morales of Bolivia, the late US Senator Edward Kennedy, and a million people more …
After the persecution of Egyptian archaeologist Hawass as a “terrorist” … the persecution of a little eight-year-old boy as a “terrorist” … the persecution as a “terrorist” in Britain for singing a song by punk rock band The Clash … after the British government persecuting journalism as “terrorism” … now, another NATO country: Greece. Greece, where refugees from wars in Afghanistan, Syria, etc. come; but the government does not want to know they are refugees.
Public order minister links ‘illegal immigration’ to terrorism
Posted on 26/01/2014 by icantrelaxingreece
Nikos Dendias makes claims only days after Farmakonisi drowning disaster
In the same week that nine children and three women drown during a controversial coastguard operation, Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias claims ‘terrorism is likely to exploit the issue of phenomenon of illegal immigration’.
Days after the drowning of twelve migrants, including nine children, in the eastern Aegean during a controversial coastguard operation, a government minister has sought to link the issue of “illegal immigration” with terrorism.
“Terrorism is likely to exploit the issue of phenomenon of illegal immigration,” Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias said at a press conference following the conclusion of an informal meeting of EU justice and home affairs ministers in Athens.
Dendias said that raised the issues of combating international terrorism, border management, immigration and illegal immigration at the meeting.
Meanwhile, another minister who alleged on Thursday that Europe’s human rights watchdog was trying to make a “political point” against Greece over the drowning tragedy near the islet Farmakonisi said that he was “shocked” at the incident.
“We are shocked at the Farmakonisi incident and at any loss of human life at sea,” Miltiadis Varvitsiotis told the same press conference.
He said the circumstances surrounding the accident would be investigated by prosecutors.
From Eleftherotypia’s English website, 24 January 2014.
This video, in Greek, is about shipwrecked refugees arriving in Piraeus harbour.
Outcry over the deaths in the Aegean sea
Posted on 24/01/2014 by icantrelaxingreece
Amnesty International calls on the Greek government to investigate all allegations of mistreatment and collective repulsions at the Greek-Turkish borders [and] in the Aegean [sea] and to prosecute the officials involved in such practices. At the same time, Varvitsiotis [Shipping Minister] washes his hands of the incident while hurling racist comments.
Amnesty International requests a thorough, transparent, and independent investigation into the death of immigrants in the sea close to Farmakonisi island, as well as the prosecution of those who are responsible.
In the meantime, Shipping Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis appeared to respond in an arrogant way to the international and local reactions triggered by the drowning of immigrants on Monday in the sea close to Farmakonisi:
“Such things should not become the subject of petty political political exploitation. I do not believe that there is anyone that really wants us to open our borders and let all immigrants enjoy asylum in our country”, he said in one of his racist comments, following the A. Georgiadis’s [Minister of Health] far-right delirium.
THE VIDEO SPEAKS FOR ITSELF
Migrants said, when they arrived in Piraeus, that the coast guard officers did not throw any lifejackets to those who had fallen into the sea and prevented a father from trying to save his wife and child by pointing a gun at him. No state or other institutional official was present when the immigrants were taken to Piraeus.
The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights called on the Greek government to put an end to the illegal practice of mass expulsions and said that this incident is the result of a “failed pushback attempt” which took place only one day after the allegations from UN High Commission for Refugees.
“According to survivors’ testimonies to UNHCR, the coast guard’s vessel was pulling their boat while moving towards the Turkish coast at high speed amid rough seas when the tragic incident took place. The testimonies also mention that the immigrants were crying for help, as there was a large number of children on the boat”, says the statement of UNHCR.
Pro Asyl organisation also intervened, just a short period after denouncing the Greek government, the border guard, and the coast guard as responsible for the torture and death of refugees.
In the meantime, the coast guard denies the immigrants’ allegations that appeared in the UNHCR’s announcement, according to which the immigrants’ boat was capsized.
The government’s denial of all responsibility makes the outcry even stronger.
“The recent deaths in the Aegean constitute another reminder of the dangerous journeys that immigrants and refugees have to make in order to reach Europe. Since August 2012 at least 136 refugees, most of them Syrians and Afghanis, have lost their lives in at least twelve incidents while trying to reach Greece by boat from Turkey. The EU and the member states have to ensure there is effective seach and rescue in the sea and focus their efforts on the saving of lives rather than on the protection of borders”, says Amnesty International’s announcement.
The EU states’ unwillingness to put an end to the tragedy of drowned immigrants in the waters of Mediterranean (from Lampedusa and Sicily to the Aegean and Evros river) seems to be endless. EU summits from Rome to Brussels to Athens only suggest more ‘Frontex style’ patrolling.
Antiracist and humanitarian organisations claim that the crime in the Mediterranean is being perpetuated.
The governments of Letta, Samaras, and Erdogan, and the EU in its entirety are trying to deal with such tragedies by perpetuating the absurdity of the closed borders and by calling immigrants ‘illegal’, while tragedies like the ones of Lampedusa and Farmakonisi are multiplied.
These conditions nourish the creation of groups of traffickers that take advantage of the ‘illegal’ status of immigrants. Immigrants, being ‘illegal’, try to evade Frontex’s patrolling by resorting to traffickers. This makes things even worse.
SYRIZA’s Rights Committee issued an announcement about the tragedy.
“They drown the refugees in Farmakonisi, just like they do in Lampedusa, while the EU ministers are continuing their racist criminal policy”, KEERFA says, while announcing a series of international antiracist initiatives and events and a European day of action on the 22nd of March.
SYRIZA’s announcement requests a thorough investigation to determine whether the coast guard has any responsibility for the overturning of the boat carrying the immigrants. According to the opposition party, the survivors’ testimonies raise questions about the actions of the coast guard in this incident that cost the lives of 12 refugees, including 9 children.
Unfortunately, SYRIZA says, Shipping Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis does not seem to take the events seriously, something evident in his recent statements about the tragedy. His statements demonstrated profound political insensitivity and disrespect for human life. It is time for the government to listen to the Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muizniek and to stop the “informal” pushbacks that put lives under threat and violate international law, SYRIZA says.
Translated from ‘Eleftherotypia’ newspaper.
The latest deaths of migrants seeking to enter “Fortress Europe” by boat occurred this week in the Aegean Sea: here.
This video says about itself:
18 Jan 2013
From Dawn of the Greeks blog:
Investigation into alleged Greek coastguard abuse of migrants
Posted on January 14, 2014 by dawnofthegreeks
An internal investigation has been ordered into a number of cases of alleged ill-treatment of migrants by Greek coastguard officials last Autumn, the government has told Europe’s top human rights watchdog.
“The Hellenic Coastguard commandant has ordered the investigation of three distinct cases of alleged ill-treatment of third-country nationals by staff of the Hellenic Coastguard for the period between August and December 2013,” Shipping Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis informed Nils Muižnieks, the Council of Europe’s human rights commissioner, on January 10.
In November, a German-based human rights organisation produced a report that said refugees attempting to enter Greece through the Aegean were being systematically, illegally and, in cases, brutally pushed back by the Greek authorities, in contravention of international law and with the complicity of the European authorities. Amnesty International has also raised its concerns about the same issue.
Muižnieks, who raised the claims made in the reports last month in a letter (pdf) to Varvitsiotis and his public order colleague, Nikos Dendias, on Tuesday greeted the written replies from the ministers.
“I therefore welcome as a first positive step the Greek authorities’ ongoing investigations on push-backs and alleged ill-treatment of migrants, as well as their commitment to share with me the outcome of these investigations,” he said in a statement.
The human rights commissioner had told the ministers that Greece must end the practise of collectively expelling migrants, including Syrians fleeing war and violence in their country, and must investigate a number of incidents of alleged human rights violations on its border.
“The large number of reported collective expulsions by Greece of migrants, including a large number of Syrians fleeing war violence, and allegations of ill-treatment of migrants by members of the coastguard and of the border police raise serious human rights concerns,” he wrote in December.
He called on the two ministers “to carry out effective investigations into all recorded incidents and take all necessary measures in order to end and prevent recurrence of such practices”.
In his reply (pdf), Varvitsiotis also underlined the role that the coastguard play in providing “emergency humanitarian assistance” to migrants arriving by sea at eastern Aegean islands.
He said the practices and behaviours described in recent reports “run against the professional ethics and the internal orders of the Hellenic Coastguard and are in stark violation of national, union and international applicable legislation.
“Any report alleging misbehaviour or malpractice by or on behalf of a Hellenic Coastguard member against any citizen whatsoever is thoroughly and expeditiously investigated.”
In his comparatively vague response to the commissioner, Dendias said that “every such case” of “allegations for unproceed [sic] returns to Turkey through the Evros river (‘push backs’)” and “ill-treatment of intercepted illegal migrants” is being investigated by the Hellenic Police”, adding that if the investigations uncover any “substantial evidence”, then “appropriate penal and disciplinary measures will be imposed”.
He underlined that the “practices and procedures” recorded in the reports “are totally unacceptable and prohibited by the national legal framework, as well as the internal orders and the ethics of the Hellenic Police”.
Publishing his letter and the ministers’ replies on Tuesday, Muižnieks said that while he noted the recent adoption of legislative measures aimed at protecting migrants’ – including minors’ – access to health and social care in initial reception centres, the “collective expulsions of foreign nationals violate international and European human rights law and raise very serious issues of compatibility with the fundamental principle of non-refoulement, enshrined in the UN refugee convention, by which Greece is bound”.
“In addition to being incompatible with international human rights and refugee law, collective expulsions of migrants are also ineffective, given that people facing desperate situations cannot really be prevented from migrating,” he added.
He said that if Greece is to uphold its human rights obligations, then it “has to radically change its migration policy and practice”.
“This is all the more necessary now that Greece has taken on additional responsibilities by holding the presidency of the Council of the European Union. I therefore welcome as a first positive step the Greek authorities’ ongoing investigations on push-backs and alleged ill-treatment of migrants, as well as their commitment to share with me the outcome of these investigations.”
Greek Golden Dawn nazis in banking scandal: here.
This video from Britain says about itself:
24 July 2013 The privatisation of justice and security is really alarming – particularly when it is given to a company as awful as G4S. G4S is the largest security firm in the world. It is also the world’s third largest private sector employer, after Walmart and Foxconn. So what’s wrong with them? Chronic incompetence: G4S messed up their contract for the London Olympics Fraud: G4S has recently been found guilty of fraud for overcharging the Department of Justice electronic monitoring. Brutality: including the death of Jimmy Mubenga and Gareth Myatt Supporting Israeli apartheid: G4S provides security in illegal West Bank settlements, at checkpoints and at prisons …and much more. And yet we still keep giving them billions in public money.
By Ryan Fletcher in Britain:
Audit office exposes Serco and G4S again Saturday 11th January 2014 G4S and Serco fail to meet contractual standards for asylum-seekers accommodation National Audit Office (NAO) investigators yesterday exposed more failings by G4S and Serco during an inquiry into the firms’ use of private accommodation for asylum-seekers. They found the scandal-hit companies had failed to meet contractual standards in some areas such as property conditions. The government is now attempting to recover rebates worth £7 million due to poor performance. Yet G4S, Serco and fellow multinational Clearel are pushing for the government to allow them to expand into new areas outside the agreed postcodes. At the end of 2012, the now-defunct UK Border Agency (UKBA) replaced 22 separate contracts provided by 13 different suppliers with six regional contracts divided between the three firms. G4S and Serco “struggled” throughout preparations for and during the transition, the NAO found, which caused contining uncertainty for asylum-seekers. Both firms took on housing stock without inspecting it and subsequently found that many of the properties did not meet the contractual quality standards, said the auditors. The pair continued to fail to meet contractual standards in some areas, the investigators added, such as finding properties for asylum-seekers within a set timescale and on property conditions. Refugee Council chief executive Maurice Wren said: “Asylum-seekers are often people who have fled horrifying experiences in their own countries and have lost everything. “Failure to provide adequate accommodation is always unacceptable. It’s essential the Home Office sets clear standards, provides the resources required to deliver them and is tough on contractors who fail to meet them.” Labour shadow immigration minister David Hanson said: “It is now vital that the Home Office come clean on how much extra cost is being incurred, what they are doing to renegotiate contracts and if G4S and Serco and Clearel will be paying any money back to the taxpayer for the under-performance.” Both Serco and G4S admitted the faults and said improvements were being made. A Home Office spokesman said: “We are committed to providing safe and secure accommodation while applications are considered.”
Kent University students’ union is terminating a contract with security firm G4S over its role in human rights abuses in Palestine, South Africa, Britain and elsewhere: here.
From Dawn of the Greeks blog:
Iranian man describes how ear was bitten off in racist attack in Athens
Posted on January 10, 2014 by dawnofthegreeks
Young Iranian migrant who had his ear bitten off in a suspected racist attack says the experience shows him that there is ‘no culture, no love’ in Europe
A young migrant from Iran who says he was the target of a racist attack about two months ago in central Athens has described how one of his assailants bit his ear off. In a recorded video interview with a international humanitarian aid organisation, the man, who identifies himself as Shaid, said that he was set on by three men dressed in black
as he was speaking on the phone near Metaxourgiou Square.
“They beat me. After one of them put his hand around my neck and got me in a headlock, he bit his teeth into my ear. I was bleeding and my ear fell to the ground,” he said in a recorded video interview with Médecins du Monde.
Shaid initially was not aware of what had been done to him. He was spotted by a friend, who came to his rescue and took him – and his severed ear – to hospital, where attempts to reattach the ear failed and doctors had to remove it. After he was discharged from hospital two weeks later, he approached Médecins du Monde, which has helped him come to terms with what has happened. “All I can say to immigrants who leave their county is that things might be better for them at home. I see no civilisation in Europe. No culture, no love,” he said.
This video from Israel says about itself:
28 Dec 2013
Occupy Tel Aviv, December 28 – NOW – thousands of Africans and Israeli supporters march in Tel Aviv. Major avenues closed, no violence at all.
By Jean Shaoul:
Mass protests by migrants and asylum seekers in Israel
9 January 2014
Tens of thousands of African asylum seekers marched to Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square Sunday to protest measures restricting their freedom of movement, ability to work and long delays in processing refugee applications.
About 300 asylum seekers held a protest outside the Interior Ministry in Israel’s Red Sea port of Eilat in the south of the country.
They are demanding official refugee status and an end to the government’s policy of holding them for long periods in the new detention centre at Holot in the Negev.
As well as mounting public protests, asylum seekers began a three-day strike from their work in restaurants, hotels and other workplaces throughout the country.
On Monday, they, along with Israeli supporters, demonstrated outside the embassies and diplomatic offices of the European Union, France, Canada, Sweden, Britain, Germany, Italy, the African Union and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. By far the biggest rally of thousands of migrants took place in front of the American embassy in downtown Tel Aviv. They chanted, “We are all refugees” and “Yes to freedom, no to prison!”
The protestors demanded that foreign governments put pressure on Israel to recognise them as refugees, stop arresting them and free those incarcerated. They issued a statement calling on the world “to help us in the face of Israel’s harsh policies against us,” adding, “We will call on the international community to support our struggle against Israel’s violations of basic human rights.”
Last month, 250 migrants left Holot to hold a sit-in in Jerusalem in protest against new rules keeping them in the detention centre for up to a year, leading to the arrest of hundreds of migrants.
Under Israeli law, migrants are forbidden from working until they are registered as asylum seekers. This is all but impossible. Indeed, according to the UN Refugee Agency, while the average national recognition rate of asylum seekers is 39 percent, in Israel, the rate is less than 1 percent. Most of Israel’s asylum seekers are Eritreans and Sudanese, who have an average international recognition rate of 84 percent and 64 percent respectively.
There are about 60,000 African asylum seekers, mostly fleeing civil strife and repression from Eritrea and Sudan, who have crossed Israel’s border with Egypt since 2006. They typically live alongside poor Israelis in Tel Aviv’s impoverished southern suburbs. Many live in crates, shacks and other improvised homes, without access to basic rights and treated by the police as criminals.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that the vast majority were “not refugees” but “economic migrants” who had crossed illegally into Israel before the border fence with Egypt was reinforced. The “full weight of the law” would be used to ensure that they did not remain, he said. “No demonstration or strike will help.”
Netanyahu added that 2,600 “infiltrators” had been expelled in 2013, six times more than in 2012, and that this number would in increase in 2014.
Former Interior Minister Eli Yishai of the Shas Party, who was responsible for the decision to build Holot, said that the scale of the migrants’ protest in Tel Aviv underlined the necessity of strictly enforcing the laws mandating their repatriation, because Tel Aviv had become “an African city.”
New amendments to Israel’s anti-infiltration law passed last month allow the authorities to detain people without a valid visa for up to a year without a judicial hearing. Only those considered war refugees would be allowed to stay.
To this end, Israel established Holot detention centre, the world’s largest, in the Negev desert near Israel’s border with Egypt, to replace the Saharonim prison where migrants were previously held. Three weeks ago, the government transferred 483 African migrants from prisons elsewhere to Holot. Last week, it began instructing other migrants from Eritrea and Sudan to report to Holot within 30 days or face imprisonment.
The Holot detention centre is run by the prison service and designated as an open prison. Detainees are not allowed to work and must report for roll call three times a day. People languish there without work or education, and in violation of the 1951 United Nations convention on refugees, to which Israel is a signatory. The convention states that the country a refugee arrives in is responsible for his or her welfare, health and rights. These rights include freedom of movement, access to documents and the right to work.
One Eritrean asked Ha’aretz, “Why are the authorities calling Holot an ‘open prison,’ if it is in the desert, far from any city and run by the prison services…Refugees are calling us from the prisons, crying that they have no freedom. In recent weeks, many refugees have been chased through the streets by Israeli authorities. We’re afraid to leave our homes.”
Many workers face racist discrimination and are brutally exploited by employers. The Ministry of Labour turns a blind eye and the trade unions do nothing. The government initially turned to low paid foreign labour following the 1988 Palestinian intifada, when it restricted the number of labour permits for Palestinians living in the occupied territories. It now has one of the highest proportions of migrant labour in the world, with about 300,000, or 10 percent of the workforce.
According to the Hotline for Migrant Workers, Israel has put pressure on hundreds of jailed migrants to accept payouts and leave. More than a dozen agreed to leave. A study by the End Child Detention Coalition found that 83 percent of detained migrant children and parents exhibit post-traumatic symptoms.
Israel has apparently struck a deal last August with a ‘third country’ where those African migrants whom Israel sees as “illegal infiltrators” would be sent. The country is believed to be Uganda, though the Ugandan government denies any deal. As Uganda has repatriated other refugees to their home country, Israel’s asylum seekers could end up being deported back to the countries from which they fled.
Israel has refused to introduce asylum legislation, because it would mean absorbing tens of thousands of non-Jewish refugees—threatening “the Jewish character of the state” on which Zionist policy is based. According to human rights groups, Israel has recognised less than 200 people as refugees since its establishment in 1948.
To do so would also lead to renewed demands for the right to return of Palestinians and their descendants who fled or were forced from their homes in the wars of 1948 and 1967. All regulations regarding migrant workers and refugees are at the discretion of the minister of the interior.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) representative in Israel issued a rare press release, Israel’s new laws and policies do not live up to the Spirit of the 1951 Refugee Convention, criticising Israel and calling on the government to consider alternatives to its current policy of “warehousing” of migrants. The representative, Walpurga Englbrecht, said, “I am particularly disquieted about the purpose of the so-called ‘open’ residence facility in Holot which, in its current form and despite its designation as ‘open,’ would appear to operate as a detention centre from where there is no release…This means in effect indefinite detention.”
Three MKs initiate meeting with representatives of African community, but Knesset speaker denies their entry; Israeli author David Grossman joins the protest and says: ‘I feel embarrassed and ashamed that we have reached this situation’: here.
This video is about a solidarity demonstration in The Hague, the Netherlands, with the refugees in Israel.
From daily The Morning Star in Britain:
Monday 21st April 2014
NUT Conference: Delegates hear of harsh treatment handed out to black visitors
Two black teachers told yesterday how they were harassed by Israeli security officers who singled them out because of their skin colour.
Bodrul Amin of Luton and Seema McArdle from Brighton were in Tel Aviv as part of an official NUT delegation to Palestine when they were separated from colleagues and held for more than two hours by soldiers.
At least 23 Eritreans still detained in Israel, in violation of state policy. One month after being notified of the situation, only one out of the 24 asylum seekers being held in Holot has been released; he had a lawyer: here.
This video says about itself:
When the Libyan war broke out two years ago, thousands fled the country in search of security and employment. Many made their way to the island of Lampedusa in Italy, but the Italian authorities closed reception facilities, and gave the migrants a few hundred euros to leave. Now hundreds of Africans from Togo, Ghana and the Ivory Coast have set up camp in Hamburg. Our correspondents spoke to some who have taken up quarters in a church.
By Christoph Dreier in Germany:
German police declare parts of Hamburg “no-go zone”
8 January 2014
Early Saturday morning, police in the northern German city of Hamburg declared the entire district of St. Pauli and large parts of Altona, Eimsbuettel and Sternschanze to be a “no-go zone.” The announcement of such a broad “no-go area” is unprecedented in German post-war history. In such areas police officers are entitled to arbitrarily check and search any individual and demand they leave the zone.
Police authorities justified the measure by arguing that there had been a number of attacks on police stations. In the most recent incident, police claim a mob attacked a Hamburg station on December 28, allegedly injuring one police officer seriously. In fact witness accounts published by Der Spiegel refute the official police version of what took place.
The police are now using this dubious incident to terrorize and intimidate the population of entire neighbourhoods. On Sunday night alone, 263 people were stopped in the “no-go zone,” according to a police report, and 62 individuals were instructed to leave the area.
The Hamburger Morgenpost reported that a group of young people were stopped and searched on the way into a nightclub. Although police found nothing suspicious, the young people were told to leave the area. One policeman allegedly justified the order by declaring that the young people looked like leftists. The newspaper then quotes a young woman who said, “Yes, we are. And where is the problem? This is a total insult.”
The right to freedom of assembly is abolished in the “no-go zone.” People had gathered in various spots to protest such state intimidation, but they were promptly dispersed by police. On Saturday evening, 60 people gathered in front of the Rote Flora alternative cultural centre. They were immediately surrounded by police, who asked every protester to provide identity papers. Two-thirds of those present were then taken into custody.
The districts affected have been declared a “no-go area” for an indefinite period. According to the Morgenpost, police intend to maintain the ban on assembly until the spring. This means that tens of thousands of residents will be deprived of basic democratic rights and subjected to months of harassment by police.
This police action has the support of the Hamburg Senate, which is headed by the Social Democratic Party. “We strongly support the efforts of the police to fully exploit the legal framework to pre-emptively counter new attacks,” said SPD domestic policy spokesman Arno Münster.
The recent police operation is part of a broader ongoing campaign. Over the past few months the mayor of Hamburg, Olaf Scholz, has systematically curtailed democratic rights, enforced police-state type measures, and escalated conflicts with anarchist groups in order to create a pretext for further police action. Scholz is a national deputy chairman of the SPD.
In October of last year, the SPD administration organized a comprehensive search for African migrants. The police were instructed to apprehend and search all citizens with dark skin in order to identify refugees without proper identification. At this time, around 300 African migrants lived in the city. They had formerly worked in Libya, before fleeing the recent war and ending up on the Italian island of Lampedusa.
To escape the inhuman conditions at their detention camp, they had moved to Hamburg, where the Senate subsequently ordered them to leave. Eighty of them then took refuge in a church.
Since then, there have been regular solidarity demonstrations for the refugees involving thousands of people. Although the protesters behaved peacefully, police sought to aggravate the situation and increasingly intimidate the protesters, week to week.
There was then a confrontation between demonstrators and police on December 21 following attempts to evict squatters from the Rote Flora centre. The owner of the building wants to demolish the centre and replace it with a commercial project.
Almost 10,000 people gathered outside the building to protest the eviction of residents. Shortly after the demonstration had formed, police blocked the road and began attacking demonstrators. Small groups of police repeatedly charged the demonstration in a deliberate attempt at escalation.
Some members of the so-called anarchist “black block”—which is known to be infiltrated by state agent provocateurs—then threw bottles, stones and fireworks. Police responded with water cannons and attacked the crowd with tear gas and rubber truncheons. Up to 500 protesters were injured, some seriously.
The tageszeitung quoted an anonymous informant from the ranks of the Hamburg police, who stated that the riots had been deliberately provoked by the police to stop the “hated leftist scene.” In order to do this, the authorities were prepared to accept, or indeed wanted “collateral damage,” the informant declared.
The establishment of the “no-go area” shows that the persecution of the “left scene” and of refugees is aimed at curtailing the democratic rights of the entire population. As social attacks continue, causing mounting unemployment and poverty, the ruling elite is preparing to defend its privileges by beefing up the state.
According to the Joint Welfare Association poverty in Hamburg has increased from 13.1 percent in 2008 to 14.8 percent in 2012. After Bremen and North Rhine-Westphalia, Hamburg is the West German state with the third highest unemployment rate: 8.6 percent in 2012.
Olaf Scholz, who heads the only SPD majority state administration in Germany, has made a name for himself as a law-and-order politician. In 2001 in his post as Hamburg’s Interior Senator he introduced the forcible administration of emetics to preserve evidence against drug dealers. He continued this brutal policy even after one drug addict died as a consequence in December 2001.
In 2007, Scholz was appointed Labour Minister in the first grand coalition led by Angela Merkel. In this position, he played a key role in implementing the fierce social attacks that accompanied the 2008 financial crisis and bank bailouts. He was also instrumental in raising the retirement age to 67.
Last year, Scholz was one of the main architects of the current grand coalition. Together with Wolfgang Schäuble (Christian Democratic Union), he led the coalition negotiations in the key working group for finance, which drew up the austerity policies of the new government.
In Hamburg, Scholz has now demonstrated how the state intends to deal with resistance to these policies. The austerity measures drawn up by the government are incompatible with basic democratic rights.
This video from Israel says about itself:
5 Jan 2014
The third time a large demonstration for Eritrean and Sudanese refugees in March for Freedom in Israel.
From the BBC:
5 January 2014 Last updated at 15:13 GMT
African migrants in Israel protest in Tel Aviv
Thousands of African migrants have marched in the city of Tel Aviv to protest against their treatment by the Israeli government.
They demanded the right to work legally and for their asylum bids to be processed.
An Israeli police spokeswoman said the march was peaceful.
“We are all refugees” and “Yes to freedom, no to prison!” they chanted.
The BBC’s Richard Galpin in Tel Aviv says the protest was prompted by the new law on detention, which had dashed hopes that a recent crackdown would be halted.
The migrants, some of whom have been in Israel for years and have taken low-paid jobs, say they are all refugees who have fled persecution and conflict back home in Eritrea and Sudan.
They say their only choice will be either to spend time in prison in Israel or agree to return home.
The dangers in their home countries mean they cannot be forcibly returned.
The migrants said they would hold further demonstrations outside UN offices and foreign embassies in Tel Aviv on Monday.
An Israeli official said the authorities would continue to deal with people who, as she put it, had infiltrated Israel, adding that more than 2,600 had agreed to leave voluntarily last year.
Ultra-Orthodox MP Eli Yishai said the migrants had been encouraged by “anti-Zionist human rights organisations”.
He told the Maariv daily the protest was “a sharp and clear cry for the state of Israel and judicial and law enforcement authorities to apply all the means at their disposal to return the infiltrators to their countries”.
See also here.