‘Abu Ghraib’ for refugees in Germany


This video is called Photos show abuse of asylum seekers by security guards in Germany.

By Christoph Dreier in Germany:

Abu-Ghraib-like” torture of refugees exposed in Germany

1 October 2014

Reports from various German refugee facilities have revealed that residents are subjected to systematic torture and humiliation. Last weekend, videos and pictures emerged showing the serious mistreatment of refugees by security staff at one facility. One short video shows a refugee lying on a mat covered with vomit. The refugee asks someone off camera why they are hitting him.

“Do you want another? Should I kick you in the face, or what?” responds the security guard. “Then I do not need to beat you.” His colleague orders the victim to lie down in the vomit.

The video was shot in the refugee camp in Burbach in North Rhine Westphalia, and was leaked to a journalist, who then alerted the police. During a search of the security guards’ day room, police discovered a baton and a knuckleduster.

Police officers also found more images on the mobile phone of a security guard. In one picture, disseminated via WhatsApp, a security guard can be seen pushing his boot into the neck of a refugee lying on the ground, handcuffed.

The images revealed “A touch of Abu Ghraib,” a headline in the Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper acknowledged, while Bild stated: “These images remind us of Abu Ghraib.”

The police are investigating six security guards for aggravated assault in Burbach. Two of them have previous convictions. In addition, the police have said an employee at a refugee camp in Essen and another in Bad Berleburg are being investigated for assaulting and beating residents. A total of eleven investigations are currently underway.

The WDR news programme Westpol showed a doctor’s certificate regarding the injuries of a resident at the Essen home. “They mistreat us here”, a refugee told the programme. “The security staff have transformed this home into a prison. They hit us. And especially if you complain. They do what they want with us. They treat us as if we had no rights.”

On Tuesday, the regional newspaper Siegerland Kurier published excerpts from an anonymous interview conducted with one of the guards from Burbach, who can be heard in the video. The employee, whose name was changed by the editors to S., leaves no doubt that the abuse of refugees is systematic in the refugee system. Attacks, as documented on the video, have always taken place, he told the newspaper.

This could be for violations of the ban on cigarettes and alcohol. His colleagues were really keen to catch residents for such infringements, he said. “They walked round the hallways sniffing at doors. If they smelled cigarette smoke, the room was stormed,” explains S. The guards doing this described themselves as “SS-troops;” i.e., Nazi storm troopers. Many of his co-workers had a “clearly visible right-wing background,” he said.

The scenes shown in the video took place in the so-called “problem room”. This is where residents were taken if they “made trouble” or asked questions. They were locked in the room for up to eight hours. In some cases they were denied the use of the toilet, and had to urinate out the window.

According to S., at least some police officers who were called about disputes between residents welcomed the abuse. “One once said: The next time, we’ll pick them up after you’ve worked them over for five hours,” S. recalled. The officer had been called to arrest a resident detained by the security staff.

The Siegerland Kurier also published photos from the camp at Burbach. They show sanitary facilities smeared with feces and menstrual blood, rubbish-strewn corridors and injured residents. S. reported that it often took days until defects were rectified. Medical care was often not provided.

The refugee camp in Burbach was established last year at an old barracks. It was meant to provide accommodation for 500 people, but is now home to 700 refugees. Acuh, the Essen camp, is seriously overcrowded, with 650 residents in a facility meant for 300.

Both camps are run by the for-profit company “European Homecare”, which operates a total of 40 camps and is considered the market leader in the sector. The security service at Burbach was first outsourced by “European Homecare” to the firm “ESS”, and then to “SKI Security”.

The terrible conditions in the refugee camps and their systematic character have shocked people throughout Germany. At the same time, politicians of all parties have cynically tried to downplay the events.

The North Rhine Westphalia state Interior Minister Ralf Jäger (SPD, Social Democratic Party) described the torture by security guards as “mistakes by individual criminals”. Criminals had infiltrated the security company, he told broadcaster ZDF. This was “reprehensible, but sometimes not preventable, despite all the checks, despite all the supervision”. Nevertheless, he declared, “we need more controls” and “our partners have not complied with all contractual conditions”.

Federal Interior Minister Thomas De Maizière (CDU, Christian Democratic Union) also tried to downplay the scandal. He was sure that “the state of North Rhine Westphalia would correct these deficiencies without delay”. On Monday, government spokesman Steffen Seibert announced a rapid investigation and stressed that Germany was “a philanthropic country”.

Opposition representatives mainly criticised the lack of finance for the refugee accommodations, without making any serious criticism of Germany’s brutal asylum regime. The parliamentary leader of the Greens, Kathrin Göring-Eckardt, demanded that the government “consider as soon as possible” which buildings it could provide for the initial reception of refugees. In addition, “it must provide financial relief for the federal states and municipalities”.

The Left Party domestic political spokesperson Ulla Jelpke, and Özlem Demirel, the state spokeswoman for the party in North Rhine Westphalia, both provided statements. Jelpke called for better financial support for the local authorities. “Local authorities must be able to provide care for asylum seekers, instead of placing this task in the hands of profit-oriented companies,” she said.

Demirel added, “I expect that not only the security guards responsible will be punished quickly, but that there will be major improvements in the standards of accommodation and the security staff. It must be excluded that right-wing extremists can work in refugee shelters with or without a uniform”.

In reality, the brutal acts of the security staff are not simply due to the poor financing of the accommodations or the result of a lack of control. Since the change to the asylum law in 1993, the situation of asylum seekers in Germany has systematically deteriorated. The use of inhumane treatment was part of a deliberate plan to deter further refugees and curb immigration.

Late last year, 350 refugees who were originally stranded on the Italian island of Lampedusa were seriously harassed by the Hamburg Senate (city/state government). The refugees were denied basic care, and even the Church was prohibited from providing this. At the same time, the Hamburg police organized a large-scale operation in the city, subjecting all dark-skinned people to ID controls.

There were several cases of police brutality against refugees in Berlin over the summer. …

The barbaric conditions in the refugee camps have been known for some time and are deliberate. Earlier reports revealed mass epidemics, the placing of refugees in dilapidated facilities and a lack of basic hygienic conditions. A UNICEF study severely criticised the German authorities for massive violations of the UN Children’s Convention in dealing with refugee children.

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).