European Union correctly criticized about refugees’ deaths

Drowned three-year-old Syrian boy Aylan, dead on the Turkish coast

This photo shows three-year-old Syrian boy Aylan Kurdi, a refugee from the war-destroyed town Kobani, dead on the Turkish coast. Aylan drowned this week, together with his mother, his brother and other Syrian refugees.

Again and again, on this blog there has been sharp well-deserved criticism for President Erdogan of Turkey.

However, even broken clocks indicate the right time twice a day.

Even politicians who are wrong nearly all the time may be right a few times.

Today, it’s Erdogan’s turn for that.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

European Union is partly responsible for death of each refugee

Today, 18:32

“Europe is making the Mediterranean a refugee grave. The EU by its policy is partly responsible for the death of all refugees losing their lives.” That is the harsh criticism by Turkish President Erdogan of the current refugee problem.

“In the Mediterranean not only refugees drowned, but also our humanity,” said Erdogan. His country has since 2011 accepted about one and a half million refugees from the Middle East. The EU is 5.5 times bigger than Turkey and is struggling this year with the reception of between half a million and a million refugees.

Britain: Ukip candidate sparks outrage after blaming Aylan Kurdi’s ‘greedy’ parents for his death: here. And here.

By Markus Salzmann:

Thousands of refugees held at Budapest train station

3 September 2015

More than 3,000 refugees—the majority of them families with children—have been held at the Budapest East Train Station in miserable conditions since the Hungarian government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban blocked the access of refugees to the station.

Hundreds of refugees participated in a demonstration Wednesday demanding the right to continue their journey to Germany. They shouted slogans such as “freedom, freedom!” Jeering could be heard outside the station as angry refugees shouted at the hundreds of heavily armed police blocking the main entrance.

Since Tuesday, refugees have been camping outdoors since they are no longer permitted on the grounds of the station from which trains leave for Austria. A few found shelter in the neighboring subway station.

The hygienic conditions are disastrous. Only four portable toilets have been provided. The refugees have received no public assistance or accommodation. Help has come only from small organizations and private individuals who have distributed donated food and clothing and provided basic medical care. A reporter for the Berlin newspaper Tagesspiegel called the situation a “fundamental violation of human rights.”

The clearing of refugees from the train station was abrupt and harsh. Departures from the station were completely halted. Then, after a few hours, the station was reopened to passengers, but refugees were no longer permitted to enter, even though many had already bought tickets.

“The police came and told the Syrians: the trains are open,” a refugee told the German television news program Tagesschau. “Then they all bought a ticket here, 200 euro per person. Then the police came back when they had blocked everything off and said: ‘The trains are closed for you.’ We have not gotten our money back.”

The Hungarian police had unexpectedly allowed refugees to travel on Monday. The trains out of Hungary were stopped at the Austrian border, however, and the passengers had to wait for hours in extreme heat. According to the Austrian police, refugees who had already been registered in Hungary had to return to Budapest. The others would be permitted to seek asylum in Austria. The “aid” promised by the government for refugees in Budapest is contemptible given the situation. A tent camp is supposed to be erected beside the station within two weeks. With a capacity of between 800 and 1,000, it will barely accommodate a third of the immigrants.

Though EU countries such as Germany shed crocodile tears over the brutal treatment of refugees by Eastern European governments, the measures being carried out have their full support.

The heavy influx of refugees from Syria and other countries that have been devastated by the military and political interventions of the Western powers has led to the breakdown of the so-called Dublin Rule, which requires refugees to register and be processed in the first EU member country they enter. The authorities in Greece and Hungary are unable and unwilling to deal with the large numbers passing through their territories.

Berlin, in particular, has exerted pressure on the government in Budapest to prevent the refugees from traveling. As asylum seekers left for Germany on Monday, a spokesman for the German Interior Ministry declared, “Germany has not suspended Dublin.” In other words, the refugees should stay in Hungary and not seek better conditions by travelling to the north and west.

One can assume that the German government is frantically working behind the scenes to ensure that the Hungarian government prevents the onward journey of more refugees. This may well be the reason why the Orban government cordoned off the train station again.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is also exerting pressure on Orban to stop the stream of refugees. The two will meet on Thursday in Brussels to discuss the crisis.

In spite of the dramatic scenes unfolding in the Hungarian capital, Orban announced that he would treat refugees more harshly in the future. Chancellery Minister János Lázár said the police would be mobilized at the border and equipped with water cannon and rubber bullets. The security forces would not actively prevent refugees at the border from entering the country. “But the time for that will arrive,” Lázár declared.

Lázár confirmed media reports that the right-wing government in Budapest wants to deploy the army against refugees. The parliament will create the necessary legal framework in the coming week, he said. The government plans to use 13 new emergency laws to reduce the flow of refugees, starting in the middle of the month.

Hungary has erected a 175-kilometer fence on its border with Serbia. Most refugees travel through Greece and the Balkans until they get to Serbia. From there, they cross into the so-called Schengen area, the contiguous territory of 28 EU member-states where there is free movement across internal borders.

According to press reports from the German federal police, between 750 and 800 refugees a day travel to Hungary by land from Greece, through Macedonia and Serbia. The refugees originate predominantly in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq.

At a meeting of the Visegrád countries (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia), Orban and his counterparts discussed plans for treating refugees even more harshly.

Twenty-five years after the collapse of Stalinism in these countries, the false promises of democracy and freedom have been replaced by chauvinism and police repression. Capitalism is revealing its ugly and inhuman face. Refugees who have been on the road for weeks are being greeted by the authorities with hostility and rejection.

Czech Republic Finance Minister and Vice President Andrej Babis is demanding a NATO deployment to keep refugees out of the EU. “We must close the Schengen area from the outside,” the millionaire businessman and founder of the right-wing liberal party ANO declared Tuesday on Czech radio. The flow of refugees is “the biggest danger for Europe,” he added.

Czech President Miloš Zeman echoed these remarks and accused countries such as Greece and Italy of a “lack of will power” when it came to protecting their borders. At the beginning of August, he said in an interview: “No one has invited refugees here.” He added that his country would rather take Ukrainian refugees because they “integrate themselves better in society than Muslims.” Social Democratic Minister President Bohuslav Sobotka spoke against the required quotas of refugees announced by the EU.

Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico denounced the refugees and said it was impossible to determine for certain that there were no terrorists among them. Before that, Ivan Metik, spokesperson of the Slovakian Interior Ministry, said that Slovakia would accept only Christian Syrians.

Polish President Andrzej Duda spoke in favor of closing the border to refugees, adding that Poland wanted to take only Ukrainian refugees. “Other European countries should take that into account when we talk about readiness to help,” Duda told the German Bild newspaper.

The right-wing Polish government has already explained to Brussels that it is willing to accept only 2,000 refugees from Syria and Eritrea. Even this token number has prompted harsh criticism from Duda’s national conservative camp, which refers to the “Islamization” of Poland.

The Balkan countries Macedonia and Serbia, which are not EU member-states, are likewise taking harsh action against refugees. Macedonia blocked the border with barbed wire for two days and fired tear gas and rubber bullets on refugees.

The xenophobic attitude of the Eastern European governments, which are highly unstable and lack significant public support, is encouraging attacks on refugees by the most right-wing forces in the region.

On August 27, the fascist “64 Burgkomitate” held a demonstration in front of the Budapest East train station. Ahead of the demonstration, a group of neo-Nazis attacked several refugees who were waiting for their train. When the police arrived, they left the attackers alone and detained the refugees, including children, and took them to provisional refugee lodgings.

Refugees and Hungarian supporters at the train station in Szeged faced a similar situation when refugees were attacked by fascist gangs with close ties to the ultranationalist Jobbik party. Here as well, the police did not intervene. Various groups publicly and repeatedly boasted on social networks that they were hunting refugees on the Serbian border and “maintaining order.”

In Slovakia, the government campaign against refugees has led to riots. On Tuesday, several hundred right-wing extremists from the Our Slovakia party of Marian Kotleba demonstrated in the village of Gabcikovo, where some 500 refugees have been taken.

Meanwhile, today a train departed from Budapest station. Refugee passengers thought that at last their train tickets to Austria and Germany would bring them to Austria and Germany indeed. The xenophobic Hungarian government had a cruel surprise for them: it made the train stop at a prison camp in Bicske town.

Hungarian police dragging refugee family off railway track

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Refugees lie down out of despair on rails at Hungarian camp

Today, 17:10

In protest, a man pulls his family on the train rails at the station where the train stopped. “I will not go,” he shouts. “I had to leave my country. I left everything. I’m staying here on this track.”

Many of the refugees who just arrived on a train from Budapest do not know how to cope. They were on their way to Sopron, near the Austrian border, but were stopped in the Hungarian town of Bicske, where there is a refugee camp.

Policemen pull the man harshly off the track. They have been trying to catch all afternoon refugees from the trains, but these resist strongly. Before this man and his family already dozens of others lied down on the rails.

‘No camp’

The train left at the end of the morning from Budapest. It is the first train since Tuesday transporting migrants. The vehicle seemed on the way to the Austrian border, but stopped already after 40 kilometers.

In Bicske, the Hungarian police has by now sent all journalists away from the station. The refugees are still not giving in. …

Meanwhile refugees bang on the windows of the train. “No camp, no camp!” they cry.

UPDATE 3 September, 22:52, NOS TV: Refugees in three trains are now surrounded by police at Bicske.

By Peter Schwarz in Germany:

German chancellor feigns sympathy for refugees

3 September 2015

Merkel has finally found the right words,” “Merkel’s words are encouraging,” and “Suddenly chancellor for refugees” read the headlines on the traditional summer press conference given Monday in Berlin by Chancellor Angela Merkel. The press was enraptured by Merkel’s references to “human dignity” and the “incredible suffering” of refugees, her description of the refugee problem as a “national task that affects everybody,” and her threat to confront violent xenophobes with “the full force of law.”

In fact, the policy of the German government has not changed. It continues to be characterised by a brutal disregard for refugees fleeing for their lives from the war zones in the Middle East and Africa.

For months, Merkel remained silent on the fate of refugees and the series of arson attacks on refugee shelters in Germany. As recently as mid-July, a video went viral showing Merkel in her typically bureaucratic manner reducing a Palestinian student to tears by telling her that she still faced deportation despite her excellent academic performance.

Merkel has adopted a different tone in recent days basically for two reasons.

First, she completely misjudged the mood of the population. Despite determined efforts, in particular by the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in Saxony and the Christian Social Union (CSU) in Bavaria, the government has failed to incite xenophobic sentiments on a large scale. Refugees have been met with a wave of solidarity, which intensified after the recent series of arson attacks and neo-Nazi demonstrations in front of refugee centres. Many people instinctively realise that the refugees are victims of a policy that is also a threat to themselves.

Merkel’s cynical expressions of compassion are aimed at absorbing such sentiments. The pastor’s daughter from East Germany is adept at such gestures. She owes her stunning political ascent not to any firmly held beliefs, but rather to her ability to detect and adapt to the prevailing trend—only to steer it in a reactionary direction.

Second, even if it sought to do so, the government could not immediately curb the influx of refugees. The Dublin Rule that for years kept asylum seekers away from Germany’s borders has virtually collapsed. The agreement, which came into force in 1997, stipulates that refugees must seek asylum and remain in the first European Union (EU) country they enter. The agreement has proved extremely beneficial for Germany, which has no external borders with the regions from which most of the refugees come.

The massive influx of refugees from Syria and other countries that have been ruined as a result of the military and political intervention of the Western powers has overwhelmed the Dublin agreement. Refugees are either prevented from crossing borders by means of brute state force, or handed on as soon as possible to the next country.

This begins on the Greek islands, where fugitives, having crossed the Aegean Sea, are housed under unspeakable conditions, and continues at the borders of Macedonia, Serbia and Hungary.

The Hungarian government has sealed off its border with Serbia with a fence and is considering the use of the military. The main railway station of Budapest was temporarily blocked and then cleared of refugees by the police. On Monday, thousands of desperate refugees were able to board packed trains before the station was cordoned off again. The trains were stopped again at the Austrian border, ostensibly for security reasons. Finally, Austria organised special trains to transport some of the refugees to Germany.

Previously, the Dublin Rule kept refugees out of Germany. Now, it is doing the opposite. There is no country to which the German government can pass on the refugees.

In addition, many EU countries, especially Greece, have been so impoverished by the austerity policies imposed by Berlin that many refugees have concluded that better opportunities await them in Germany. Merkel was cynical enough to cite this as proof that “the world sees Germany as a land of hope and opportunity.” She added, with a nod to Germany’s past, “This really was not always the case.”

If one looks at Merkel’s statements to the press more carefully, it becomes clear that she is trying to buy time. She wants to impose her conditions on the other EU member states to remove refugees to the fringes of the EU and—under the pretext of combatting the roots of the refugee problem—prepare new wars and military interventions in Africa and the Middle East.

She has insisted that other European countries, and eastern European countries in particular, take in more refugees. “Europe as a whole needs to move,” she declared. The EU as a whole would be damaged, she said, if Europe failed to address the refugee issue. She announced that, together with France, she will push for the rapid erection of registration centres in Greece and Italy.

In Brussels, EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, who works closely with Merkel, wrote a letter to all EU member governments threatening them with fines if they failed to comply with the Dublin procedure. On Thursday, Juncker will admonish Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán personally in Brussels.

In Germany itself, Merkel announced, the processing of asylum applications is to be accelerated, so that rejected applicants can be deported quickly. Refugees will be compelled to remain in prison camp-like reception centres until their applications are processed. Only in the event of acceptance will they be transferred to accommodation in the municipalities.

By September 24, the government plans to present a programme that will significantly lower the standards for accommodation of refugees under the pretext of reducing bureaucratic hurdles. For example, the regulations for fire and pollution control are to be watered down.

Merkel promised that the federal government would support the states and municipalities with “billions” to bear the costs of accommodation and management of refugees. She did not specify an exact amount. However, it is assumed that the sum will be well below the €5 billion Finance Minister Schäuble is due to rake in this year due to increased tax returns.

In the media, there is a growing chorus demanding that the refugee crisis be fought at its root—i.e., via military intervention in those countries already destroyed by previous Western military actions.

On Monday, Richard Herzinger thundered in Die Welt against the “conspiracy theory” that “with its aggressive intervention, especially in the Middle East, the West created the bloody chaos that has forced millions of people to flee.” He continued: “Not the intervention of the West, but its shameful retreat has detonated the region…. The current crisis reminds the West, and particularly Europe, to undertake not less, but more global interventionism.”