Big protest against European Union anti-refugee policy


This video says about itself:

Germany: Ruptly journalist pepper-sprayed covering migrant justice protest

21 June 2015

Protesters clashed with police, as thousands rallied through Berlin for World Refugee Day, Sunday, protesting against the European policies towards the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean. A Ruptly producer got pepper-sprayed by police as he was filming the protest in front of the German Bundestag.

German activist group the Centre for Political Beauty converted the area in front of the Chancellery and the Bundestag into a symbolic graveyard, dedicated to “unknown migrants” to shed light on unprecedented numbers of migrants dying attempting the dangerous crossing of the Mediterranean.

By Stefan Steinberg in Germany:

5,000 protest in Berlin against EU refugee policy

24 June 2015

Over 5,000 people marched through central Berlin on Sunday to protest against the inhumane policy of the German government and European Union towards refugees. Many of the marchers carried flowers or candles and walked behind a funeral car symbolising the massive loss of life on European borders. Handheld banners declared: “Europe’s borders kill” and “Every person is legal”.

The vast majority of those assembled were young people and students, but the march also included families and refugee organisation activists.

The original aim of the demonstration was to assemble in front of the office of the German chancellor and, in the form of coffins, confront the head of government with the results of her policy. At the last minute the police banned the demonstration from marching on the chancellor’s office and set up a no-go cordon around the building. Determined to carry out their protest, the marchers changed their route and assembled in front of the German parliament (Bundestag).

The protesters then dug symbolic graves in the turf in front of the Bundestag decked with around 100 wooden crosses to mark a small number of the thousands of victims who have already died this year attempting to enter Europe. Later on Sunday evening police intervened and detained 50 of the protesters. The following morning the grounds of the Bundestag were cleared of the crosses.

The rally was organized by a group of artists called the Center for Political Beauty, which has organised a series of campaigns in recent years directed at drawing attention to political abuses by governments and institutions such as the United Nations and the Deutsche Bank. Supporters of the group, bearing T-shirts with the slogan “The Dead Are Coming”, formed a cortège around the funeral car which headed the demonstration through Berlin. Their aim is to put pressure on existing governments and EU institutions to implement their verbal commitment to human rights, despite the fact that these institutions are at the forefront of the attack on migrants.

The demonstration met with a broad response from layers of the population appalled at the daily reports of men, women and children dying on European borders. Some participants explained why they decided to attend the demonstration.

Sylvie is a student at the Humboldt University. She attended the demonstration with two friends. She said she had been shocked and sickened by the refugee deaths that had already taken place this year. “The actions of the German and other European governments are criminal”, Sylvie said. “Instead of welcoming immigrants with open arms the Merkel government and EU governments have set up a system aimed at deterring and punishing them.”

“25 years ago people celebrated here in Berlin when the wall came down”, she added, “but now new walls are being set up to separate people. A wall has been established around Europe to keep immigrants out and walls are being built inside Europe itself to keep people apart. Hungary plans to build a wall to keep Serbian refugees out. Greece is building barriers along its borders. This madness has to stop.”

Rolf, a refugee activist in Berlin, told WSWS: “The German government tries to wash its hands of any blame and claims it takes in more refugees than other countries. But it is the German government that has played a key role in making sure that immigrants are not allowed to move into central Europe after they have attempted to land in countries on the fringe of Europe.”

“All of the parties are equally to blame”, Rolf said. “Instead of taking responsibility for their actions and allowing people into Europe, the SPD is discussing a points system based on a Canadian model where only the best and brightest gain access to the labour market. If refugees can prove they have a master’s degree in computer science they will be allowed in. But there is no place for the rest and their families who are fleeing poverty and war.”

The response to Sunday’s protest came despite the fact that the demonstration had been called at short notice and against a background of fiercely hostile comments in the media and from leading politicians.

Activists from the group had staged funerals in Berlin last week for refugees who had died in the Mediterranean and been summarily buried in Italy. In a statement the group explained its aim: “We are commemorating all those who have died daily on the borders of Europe and are buried in unmarked graves, without their names ever reaching the public.”

The response by sections of the press was vitriolic, with articles claiming that the burials were “macabre”, “gruesome” or even “political pornography” (Süddeutsche Zeitung). The German government commissioner for refugees, Aydan Özoguz (SPD), also criticized the march on Sunday. “With all due respect for the anger of activists in the face of thousands of refugees drowned in the Mediterranean Sea, staging a spectacle of corpses goes beyond moral limits”, he told Die Welt on Saturday.

Germany’s leading newspapers and politicians recently declared it was necessary to enter into a serious dialogue with the right-wing, racist Pegida movement, which vilifies and terrorises refugees. Now, just a few weeks later, the same newspapers and political parties viciously condemn those seeking to highlight the EU’s criminal role in the death of thousands of immigrants.

EU begins military intervention in Mediterranean: here.

Stop European Union anti-refugee policies


This video from Italy says about itself:

Dramatic scenes as stranded African migrants flee Italy police

Italian police today (Tuesday June 16 2015) detained a handful of African migrants in the Italian city of Ventimiglia, near the French-Italian border.

Dozens of African migrants have been stranded for five days, after French police had blocked border crossings.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Italy: Police drag away refugees camped on French border

Wednesday 17th June 2015

REFUGEES camping on the Italy-France border were removed by Italian police yesterday as European nations failed to reach agreement on sharing responsibility for migrants.

Officers in riot gear dragged away dozens of African refugees at the Ventimiglia border crossing who had been demanding entry to France for five days.

Some of the migrants protested, grabbing on to signposts, while others had to be carried off by their arms and legs.

“We are human beings. We are not animals,” said Sudanese migrant Saddam.

“I know we are black and we are come from Africa, but we are still humans.”

Migrants squatting on the rocks where they had been sleeping were left in peace, but the rest were loaded onto a Red Cross bus and taken to the nearby railway station.

At talks in Luxembourg, EU interior ministers disagreed over how 40,000 new refugees arriving in Italy and Greece should be split up equitably among the EU’s 28 member states to ease the load on the two southern nations.

“We are working to avoid the political bankruptcy of Europe,” said Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano, adding that the scene in Ventimiglia was “a punch in the eye for those who refuse to see.”

His French counterpart Bernard Cazaneuve denied that France had closed its border.

“When migrants cross borders and it is established that they arrived in Italy, then it is only normal that they return to Italy,” he said.

Hundreds of Syrian and Iraqi refugees protested on Monday on the eastern Greek island of Lesbos, demanding better living conditions and faster processing of their asylum registrations.

This video from London, England is called No Military Intervention in Libya – Gigi Ibrahim | Stop the War protest, 12 March 2011.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Save empathy for refugees

Wednesday 17th June 2015

THE forcible arrest of refugees huddled on a stony beach on the Italian-French border yesterday was “a punch in the eye for those who refuse to see,” Italy’s Interior Minister Angelino Alfano says.

Alfano says he hopes talks with ministers from other EU member states will help “avoid the political bankruptcy of Europe.”

Some hope.

Since the 1985 Schengen agreement, which opened borders between core EU states but made it much tougher to gain access from outside the bloc, the institutions of the anti-democratic union have been geared towards creating a “fortress Europe” inaccessible to outsiders.

The Amsterdam Treaty in 1997 effectively criminalised asylum-seekers.

Things have got worse. So far this year almost 2,000 people have died at sea attempting to reach Europe – 10 times the number who died in the same period last year.

Most of those embarking on this desperate journey take ship from Libya.

It’s no wonder people are fleeing Libya for their lives – since Nato‘s blitz on the country four years ago overthrew the Muammar Gadaffi regime it has been torn apart by sectarian warfare, with thousands dying at the hands of religious fanatics.

Of course, Libya is also a transit point for refugees from other countries, because of its proximity to Italy. But if the number of refugees from across the region is rising the causes are not difficult to find. Not content with the carnage unleashed in Iraq and Libya, Western powers – Britain among them – have helped to equip and fund radical Islamists battling to replace Syria’s government with a nightmarish theocracy.

Arms and cash flow to these groups, sometimes from the United States and its Nato allies and more frequently from the autocratic butchers we’ve befriended in the Gulf.

The response from the Western countries setting the world alight to the people seeking safety from the flames is a disgrace.

Home Secretary Theresa May dropped British support for search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean last year, claiming that saving people’s lives simply encouraged people-traffickers.

Then Italy itself ditched its Mare Nostrum patrols, which had saved tens of thousands of lives, replacing them with a pared-down exercise that only operates in Italian waters.

Who announced this change? None other than a certain Angelino Alfano, ignoring warnings from Human Rights Watch and the European Council on Refugees and Exiles that this would see death tolls soar.

But that wasn’t a problem. At least, EU border agency Frontex chief Fabrice Leggeri was quite clear in April that saving drowning refugees was not his priority, telling a British paper that Triton – which replaced Mare Nostrum – “cannot be a search and rescue operation”.

EU interior ministers heading into talks yesterday have talked of the need to “show solidarity” with Italy and Greece as prime arrival-sites, although many dispute the idea that their own countries should agree to take in more “migrants” (never refugees).

Indeed, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve claims Italy needs to show “responsibility” by “organising the return of irregular migrants.”

We should rather show our solidarity with the children, women and men forced to risk everything to get away from murderous wars begun by our governments.

Save the Children CEO Justin Forsyth’s suggestions that Britain should immediately offer a home to 1,500 unaccompanied children who have landed in Italy would be a start, and help to counter a culture where immigrants are scapegoated, incarcerated and demonised by a ruling class determined we should blame anyone but themselves for this country’s problems.

Unless we abandon our addiction to military intervention, the world’s refugee crisis will never come to an end, writes JEREMY CORBYN: here.

European Red List of Birds published


This video is called Bird Calls | Songs | Cries | Sounds of Britain & Europe.

From BirdLife:

The European Red List of Birds is here

By Lisa Benedetti, Wed, 03/06/2015 – 09:19

We have a few theories why the famous Dodo went extinct by 1700 on the island of Mauritius. Predation, habitat loss and invasive species were just too much for this friendly flightless creature.

The truth is, unless we act now, many other species of bird could follow the Dodo’s sad journey to the museum shelf. But we can help stop this from happening with the knowledge of how specific bird populations are doing and what threats they face. For birds in Europe, BirdLife International has just given us a tool that does all this, the European Red List of Birds.

Out of some 10,000 known bird species in the world, about 530 species nest, winter, and call Europe their home. Some have been able to adapt, or even benefit, from human activities (either directly or indirectly) but many others are really struggling to survive in this ever-changing world. The European Red List of Birds uses IUCN criteria to measure a species extinction risk and applies it at regional level, fine-tuning a global standard and digging deeper into the needs of individual European species.

What we present today is the fruit of years of labour from scientists, conservationists, policy makers, and people who simply care about birds. It’s the tool we can go to first to be sure that the birds we have in Europe today are here tomorrow as well. This list gives us the latest and best available information on the size and trends of populations and distributions of every regularly occurring wild bird species in Europe. It identifies the conservation status of species occurring not only across the entire European continent, but also the European Union (at the time of the assessment, 27 Member States [EU27]) where key nature legislation applies, the Birds and Habitats Directives. These are the laws that have been protecting European nature and wildlife the last decades.

So what does the European Red List of Birds say?

It tells us that 13% of 533 species are threatened at a European level (of the 67 species, 10 are Critically Endangered (the highest threat level) including the Balearic Shearwater, Slender-billed Curlew, and Yellow-breasted Bunting; 18 are Endangered and 39 are Vulnerable). When looking at the EU27 level, 18% of 451 species are threatened (of the 82 species: 11 are Critically Endangered, including the Lesser White-fronted Goose and the Greater Spotted Eagle, 16 are Endangered and 55 are Vulnerable). We also discovered what the main culprits are for this situation, and that two stand out above the rest: illegal killing and land-use changes, especially on farmland. Other serious threats are climate change, pollution and invasive non-native species.

On the upside, since we last did a regional assessment in 2004, the status of some species has really improved. Charismatic birds like the Dalmatian Pelican, Lesser Kestrel, Arctic Loon and Great Bustard have made a comeback largely because of conservation efforts and legal protection. We even have news that the extinction risk for another 25 species is lower than a decade ago so we’ve been able to downlist these species, meaning their conservation status has improved. Zino’s Petrel and Azores Bullfinch may still be in trouble, but it’s a good sign that they have gone from Critically Endangered to Endangered.

On the down side, we’ve had to uplist 29 species since 2004. Species now in trouble include the once common European Turtle-dove, Eurasian Oystercatcher, Atlantic Puffin, and Willow Grouse. And sadly, some species like the Egyptian Vulture, Northern Lapwing and Little Bustard, have not improved at all. This situation clearly highlights the need for the strong legislation and strict protection that the Birds and Habitats Directives offers to give these birds a fighting chance.

Europeans have proven time and time again they can tackle some of the most urgent, challenging and complex conservation priorities they face. Now, with the European Red List of Birds in hand, we are ready to focus and deliver effective conservation action. But we still need your help. The European Commission is planning to dismantle the Bird and Habitats Directives, the very laws that protect our birds and nature in Europe. It would be an environmental catastrophe to lose such a vital conservation tool, so please sign our petition and tell the Commission to keep our nature laws intact.

The European Red List of Birds project was coordinated by BirdLife, with help from IUCN, Wetlands International, European Bird Census Council, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB; BirdLife partner), the Czech Society for Ornithology (BirdLife Partner), the British Trust for Ornithology and Sovon Vogelonderzoek Nederland.

One of Eurasia’s most abundant bird species has declined by 90% and retracted its range by 5000 km since 1980 a new study shows. Yellow-breasted Bunting Emberiza aureola was once distributed over vast areas of Europe and Asia, its range stretching from Finland to Japan. New research published in the journal Conservation Biology suggest that unsustainable rates of hunting, principally in China, have contributed to not only a catastrophic loss of numbers but also in the areas in which it can now be found: here.

European Union likes wars, hates refugees from those wars


This video says about itself:

Libyan refugees rejected by Italy set up camp in Hamburg – FOCUS – 06/12/2013

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 Martin Kreickenbaum in Germany:

European Union squabbles over refugee quotas

30 May 2015

The refugee question has once again revealed the true nature of the European Union. While military intervention on the coast of Libya to destroy refugee boats is welcomed by all member states, the question of accepting refugees has unleashed a fierce dispute inside the EU.

On Wednesday, the EU Commission presented an “immigration agenda,” which, among other things, foresees 40,000 refugees from Italy and Greece being dispersed to other EU countries over the next two years under a quota system. In addition, 20,000 Syrians from refugee camps outside Europe would also be settled in the EU.

The EU Commission created distribution quotas taking into account the respective population, gross domestic product, unemployment rate and number of refugees already recorded. Accordingly, Germany would take most of the refugees (around 18 percent), followed by France and Spain. However, the UK, Ireland and Denmark are excluded from the quota system, having agreed arrangements with the European Union some years ago freeing them from participation in such joint actions.

The basis for the EU Commission proposal is Article 78 (3) of the Lisbon Treaty, which provides for the resettlement of refugees within the European Union if individual member states face “a sudden influx of third country nationals in need.” The EU Commission has announced that it will pay 6,000 euros from an emergency pot to the host country for each resettled refugee. But despite this miserable haggling over refugees, a sharp conflict between the EU member states has broken out over the quota system.

Even before the plans were presented to the public, there was fierce opposition to the proposals. British Home Secretary Theresa May said beforehand that the UK would not under any circumstances participate in a quota system for distributing refugees. Last weekend, French President François Hollande said, “It’s out of the question to have immigrant quotas because we have rules on border checks and policies for overseeing immigration.”

He was repeating statements made by the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who rejected the planned quota system with openly xenophobic arguments, calling it a “proposal bordering on madness.” Appealing to nationalistic and xenophobic sentiments, Orban stated, “Europe must remain the continent of Europeans, and Hungary the country of Hungarians.”

Also opposing the proposed quota system are the governments of Spain, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland and Slovakia. Those speaking in favour are those states that have so far taken the largest share of refugees, or because of their location at the external border of the EU have been most affected by the refugee influx.

The quota system is a bureaucratic monstrosity that enforces the dispersal of traumatized refugees like general cargo across the continent, in some cases transporting them to countries where there is no functioning asylum system, where they are locked up in camps or have to live on the street without any support. Of course, this not the reason why the quota system is being rejected by European governments.

Although the EU Commission proposal only concerns refugees coming from Syria and Eritrea, whose asylum recognition rate in the EU is more than 75 percent, they are being denounced as “economic refugees.”

For example, instead of a quota system, Hollande demanded that all “economic refugees” be immediately deported. He said, “People who come because they think that Europe is a prosperous continent, even when they are not hired by companies…must be escorted back, that’s the rule.”

British Home Secretary Theresa May employed similar reasoning, urging that refugee boats should not even be allowed to reach Europe, but sent back to safe landing sites in North Africa. The Hungarian, Polish and Spanish governments justified their refusal to accept refugees, saying that they were “economic migrants.”

In reality, the growing number of refugees is a direct result of the military and political interventions of the European powers and the United States in the Middle East and North Africa. The Iraq war, the bombing of Libya, the fomenting of civil wars in Syria, Yemen and other countries, and the arming of Islamist groups by the Western powers and their regional allies have destroyed whole societies and driven millions to flee their homes.

In the last 18 months alone, more than 5,000 refugees have drowned or died of hunger or thirst in a desperate attempt to reach Europe via the Mediterranean Sea. In the first four months of this year, 26,000 refugees have reached Italy and 28,000 have reached Greece. There is no functioning intake system for asylum seekers in both countries. Refugees are often left to fend for themselves and face being homeless on the street.

At the same time, refugees who drowned in the Mediterranean or live in limbo on the edges of Europe are used as justification for further military interventions by the European Union. As fierce as the dispute is over their intake and distribution of refugees, even greater is the consensus on military action off the coast of Libya.

For the European governments, it is not a question of protecting migrants from unscrupulous people smugglers, as military interventions are officially justified. Rather, refugees should be apprehended far away from the coasts and borders of Europe, and access to the resource-rich regions of Africa secured. How far the EU intends to go is clear from official documents published by Statewatch and Wikileaks last week.

An internal EU paper describes in detail the four phases of the planned operation. According to military intelligence, refugee boats should first be taken into international waters and in a second phase of the operation, destroyed. In a third phase, if possible with a UN mandate or the agreement of the Libyan government in Tobruk, operations could also be conducted on land. Special Forces would “conduct operations along the coast, in harbours or against smugglers’ ships at anchor before they are used.” Fuel depots and other facilities used by the smugglers and traffickers are to be destroyed. What remains unclear is whether the EU will also conduct these actions without a mandate if necessary.

The EU Commission does not fail to point out that “operations against smugglers in the presence of migrants pose a high risk of collateral damage” and could mean the loss of human lives. They clearly accept that military action can lead to numerous deaths. In Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and in the global drone war conducted by the United States, so-called “precision operations” against infrastructure targets have led to massive “collateral damage” among the civilian population.

The EU Commission is already preparing for such an eventuality. A report by the EU Military Council proposes an “information strategy” that minimises “the EU’s reputational loss in case of loss of human life being ascribed to the EU mission.” To this end, it should be made clear from the beginning that “the focus is [not] to rescue migrants at sea but that the aim of the operation is to disrupt the migrant-smuggling business model.”

The boss of the department of crisis response and current operations of the EU Military Council used to be Greek General Georgios Epitideios. General Georgios Epitideios today is still in Brussels; now as a Member of the European parliament for the nazi Golden Dawn party.

It looks like that even after the transfer of General Georgios Epitideios, his neo-fascist xenophobia is still alive at the EU Military Council.

The Military Council also proposes a massive operation on land, whose tasks include “seizure of vessels…neutralisation of smugglers’ vessels and assets…hostage rescue…temporary detention of those posing a threat to the force or suspected of crimes.”

The document of the Military Council also points out that the success of the entire mission is expected to be very low if a UN mandate is absent for military operations on the Libyan coast and it applies only to phases one and two—monitoring and military surveillance and the confiscation and destruction of boats on the high seas.

On the other hand, a successful mission, according to the document, could not exclude that migration movements are displaced to the western and eastern Mediterranean. An extension of the action to Tunisia and Egypt, and close cooperation with the local military, was therefore advisable. In plain language, this means nothing other than that the European Union is seeking to turn all of North Africa into a war zone.

Unless we abandon our addiction to military intervention, the world’s refugee crisis will never come to an end, writes JEREMY CORBYN: here.