‘Stop killing refugees’, demonstrators say


Pro-refugee demonstrators in Leipzig, Germany

From the World Socialist Web Site in Germany:

Thousands demonstrate in Germany against far-right attacks on refugee rescue ships

By our reporters

7 August 2018

In over 30 cities in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, thousands of people took to the streets on Saturday to demonstrate in favor of welcoming refugees to Europe and against the criminalization of emergency rescue workers at sea and the shutting of Europe’s borders. The numerous local protests were called by the “Sealift–Create safe harbors” alliance.

Over recent weeks, protests have taken place in dozens of cities that have been much larger than the organizers anticipated. Some 10,000 people took to the streets in Berlin in early July, while protests and minutes of silence were held in Frankfurt and other cities to commemorate drowned refugees.

In spite of the extreme heat, many people responded this past weekend across the country to calls for demonstrations, which were often spread via Facebook. Seven hundred people gathered in Dortmund, while there were 500 in Kiel and 400 in Braunschweig. Around 500 people turned out in Mainz, even though it was the second demonstration within three weeks. Further protests are planned in other cities into September.

Meanwhile, the European governments are intensifying their crackdown on refugees seeking to reach Europe by crossing the Mediterranean. In a flagrant violation of international law, an Italian merchant ship returned more than 100 people to Libya on July 30. It is now known that only one in four of the refugees who leave Libya reach Italy. Some 71 percent are brought back to Libya. The remainder are considered missing, with most drowning at sea.

At one of the largest demonstrations, in Leipzig, reporters for the WSWS spoke with participants about the situation facing refugees and the sharp shift to the right within the ruling class. According to the organizers, some 2,000 people gathered in the city, the majority being young people and families.

Aziz, who fled the Middle East, said he felt it was important to be at the protest because there are large numbers of people who have spent the summer and winter in Greece, Turkey, Serbia and Hungary at the border. They have nowhere to live and are stuck. Some of them live in the forest, he said. They urgently require help. “I am very happy to see this support for refugees from so many Germans”, he added.

Aziz

Aziz is originally from Syria and fled to Europe through Turkey. He assisted a group of refugees who spoke only Arabic and were lost due to their inability to communicate.

Asked whether the attacks on refugees were an international problem, Aziz responded, “This issue has no borders!” This is not a local problem, he explained, but something that concerns people around the world. “The refugees are just normal people. They have ordinary lives, go to work, go shopping, and have families”, he said.

He said the military interventions in the Middle East and North Africa were responsible for the refugee crisis. They gave rise to political conflicts and wars. Anyone studying the history of his region, Aziz continued, would see that every five years a new war begins. These wars are supported by international arms companies that provide munitions. To deal with these conflicts, Aziz stated, the major countries, which are in any case interested only in oil and gas reserves, would have to keep out.

Aziz rejected the German government’s claim that there are “safe countries of origin”. In his opinion, it is wrong to send refugees back to war zones. “It’s absolutely unacceptable that refugees are distinguished according to where they come from, or what their political or economic situation is.”

The WSWS also spoke to Nolte Bauer, a crew member with Mission LifeLine. He explained how the project was initiated in 2015.

Nolte Bauer

“The LifeLine developed out of the Dresden-Balkan Convoy, which operated on the Balkan route when it still existed”, he said. The group’s response to the closure of the Balkan route was to purchase a ship and become active in rescuing refugees at sea.

He reported on the terrible situation confronting refugees, “They come from a country, Libya, where they are detained by people smugglers. Entire families are blackmailed to give up their money.” An acquaintance reported that he had been covered in oil and photographed by a gang so as to threaten his family that he would be burnt alive. “This is also enforced by beatings, knives and weapons”, Bauer said. Some people get lost and drift at sea for several days, while others try several times to make the crossing, only to be recaptured.

The situation for refugees is now deteriorating sharply. Following the closure of the Balkan route, the EU also closed the Aegean Sea to refugees by reaching an agreement with Turkey. The route from Libya to Italy is also practically closed, reported Nolte. He said he expected that the route would now shift to Morocco and Spain, which would be even more dangerous due to the tides coming in from the Atlantic and the higher waves they create.

Emergency rescue at sea is part of international law, which states that each ship is responsible for rescuing people from a vessel in an emergency. The crew of the LifeLine has always operated within the law and is now being unilaterally blocked by Italy, Nolte said.

This shift to the right is “not a new phenomenon,” he added. “Europe and the entire first world” has long exploited Africa. It is “only logical” that the subsidized markets put African workers under pressure, prevent them from earning money, and force them to look elsewhere for work. It is hardly surprising that there are so many refugees given such economic and trading practices, and given the incitement of and support for new wars, he said.

Asked about the international character of the attacks on refugees, Nolte said that the weak are always played off against the weakest by the powerful. “Thus far, the EU has always portrayed itself as a Nobel Peace Prize winner, and criticized the wall to be built on the border with Mexico.” But then you look at the Balkans and see barbed wire and walls. Domestically, they’re doing the same thing. “They just criticize things from a distance and are only concerned with maintaining their image.”

He said his crew were aware that their sea rescue efforts do not resolve the fundamental problem. Conditions have to be created where people no longer feel the need to get into boats and risk such a dangerous crossing, he said. Everyone now has to influence politics and participate in these demonstrations.

German secret service-extreme right AfD party collusion


This video says about itself:

Germany: Thousands of protesters march in Berlin against racism, AfD

3 September 2016

Thousands of people gathered at Adenauerplatz in Berlin’s Charlottenburg district on Saturday, to protest against the AfD party and against what they see as the rise of racism in Germany.

Protesters held banners and flags against racism while some made use of flares and destroyed election placards of the AfD. Demonstrators claimed that 6,000 people took part in the march while police estimated around 2,500 protesters. …

Block Occupy representative (German): “With this protest here today, we all target the AfD and this is right. No other party in the last few years has achieved in bringing together and spreading racism, social chauvinism and sexism.”

By Ulrich Rippert in Germany:

Head of German secret service advised far-right Alternative for Germany

4 August 2018

Hans-Georg Maaßen, the president of Germany’s Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), met with former Alternative for Germany (AfD) leader Frauke Petry several times in 2015, advising her how to avoid nationwide surveillance of the AfD by the German secret service and having her party designated as “right-wing extremist.”

This was revealed in a recently published book, Inside AfD, by AfD dropout Franziska Schreiber. The 28-year-old author was a close colleague of Petry’s and was chairperson of the AfD youth organization Junge Alternative in Saxony.

“Petry informed me later that Maaßen had told her what the AfD had to do to evade surveillance by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, which he had not wanted himself”, writes Schreiber. “They both seem to have developed a certain sympathy for one another.”

Maaßen is said to have advised the AfD leader to expel Björn Höcke, a representative in the state parliament of Thuringia associated with the AfD’s ethnic nationalist wing. In December 2015, shortly after meeting with Maaßen, Petry did in fact call for Höcke’s resignation and prepared expulsion procedures against him. According to Schreiber, she did this “at the urgent advice” of the chief of intelligence.

The BfV has in the meantime indirectly confirmed that Maaßen met with Petry. One generally conducts conversations with representatives of all parties, a spokesperson told the Süddeutsche Zeitung, not denying that the meetings took place. He did, however, deny that Maaßen advised the AfD or recommended the expulsion of specific leading members.

That there were close relations between Maaßen and Petry was already known long before the publication of Inside AfD. The news magazine Der Spiegel reported in early 2016 that they had “at Petry’s request” met several times in the fall of 2015. The magazine referred to “several AfD politicians”, including Petry.

There was talk even then of counsel given to Petry. It was understood that Maaßen warned the AfD leader that the Saarland chapter would be placed under surveillance because of extremist activity. Shortly thereafter, the AfD moved to disband it.

Maaßen has for some time declined to investigate the radical right-wing AfD. In early 2016, Die Welt quoted him as saying, “The AfD is not a right-wing extremist party.” According to the article, Maaßen spoke with “unexpected clarity” against surveillance of the AfD. The conditions requiring such an investigation had not been met, according to Maaßen.

Since then, the AfD has increasingly advocated openly for National Socialist (Nazi) and ethnic-nationalist positions. Petry, who as head of the AfD called on police to “make use of their firearms if necessary” against those crossing the border illegally, left the party because it was, by her own admission, too right-wing. Her successor, Alexander Gauland, has called Hitler and the Nazis “a speck of bird shit in over a thousand years of successful German history.”

Not only is Björn Höcke still a party member, he has triggered nationwide protests with several inflammatory right-wing speeches. At the beginning of last year, he railed against the “culture of remembrance” of the crimes of the Nazis, called the Berlin Holocaust Memorial a “monument of shame”, and accused the Allies of seeking to “rob us of our collective identity” and “eradicate us root and branch” with their bombing runs on German cities. Despite this, party expulsion procedures against him ceased under pressure from the party leadership.

Notwithstanding these developments, the BfV maintains its defence of the AfD. In the new 2017 Report on the Protection of the Constitution, which Maaßen and Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (Christian Social Union—CSU) presented last week at a press conference in Berlin, the chapter on “right-wing extremism” does not devote so much as a syllable to the AfD. Their name appears more frequently in the chapter on “left-wing extremism”—as a “victim” of alleged “left extremists”.

The report reads as if it had been written at AfD headquarters. “Protests against the two party conferences of Alternative for Germany (AfD) held in Cologne in April and Hannover in December” are cited as defining characteristics of “left-wing extremism.” The same goes for the “persistent ‘struggle’ against right-wing extremists” and the fact that, in addition to the AfD, the “left-wing extremists” hold “the federal government of the Christian Democrats and social democracy as well as the party Alliance 90/The Greens responsible for the tightening of asylum laws.”

Whoever criticizes the far-right or rejects the brutal and inhumane refugee policy of the grand coalition in the Bundestag (parliament), is, according to the definition of the secret service, a “left-wing extremist” and a threat to the Constitution. Still more reprehensible, according to the report, is the collection of “information on alleged or actual right-wing extremists and their institutions.”

Maaßen’s meetings with Petry and the Report on the Protection of the Constitution make clear that the BfV does not “protect” the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution, but rather defends the AfD against all those who seek to exercise these basic rights. This is consistent with the policies of the federal government, which is made up of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the CSU and the Social Democratic Party (SPD). This grand coalition government has not only adopted the policies of the AfD, it does everything it can to promote the growth of this widely hated party.

With its decision to join with the CDU and CSU in a second grand coalition following the disaster in last year’s parliamentary elections for these, the parties of the previous grand coalition government, the SPD not only helped form the most right-wing government since the founding of the federal republic after World War II, it made the AfD, which received only 12.6 percent of the vote, the official opposition. Because of this, the right-wing demagogues of this neo-fascist party have unlimited access to prime time TV cameras and are able to freely spout their brown poison in the Reichstag—the very building whose destruction in a fire served as the pretext for the recently installed Chancellor Hitler to assume total power.

The grand coalition has adopted and implemented the demands of the AfD regarding refugees. Its policy of militarism and the building up of the state apparatus is supported by the AfD.

The BfV, which has more than 3,100 employees and a budget of 350 million euros at its disposal—and this does not include the secret police offices of the 16 states and their numerous informants, or “V-Leute ” —is playing a key role in the political shift to the right in Germany. This process recalls more and more the end of the Weimar Republic, with its conspiracies and political killings.

It was no accident that after the Second World War, many Nazis and members of right-wing organizations such as the Organization Consul (OC), which destabilized the Weimar Republic with political assassinations, were integrated into the BfV.

The links between the BfV and the neo-Nazi scene are notorious. The BfV was involved in covering up the background to the 1980 Oktoberfest bombing, in which 13 people were killed and more than 200 injured. After the National Socialist Underground (NSU), which murdered nine immigrants and a police officer, was broken up, it was revealed that at least two dozen V-Leute had been in the immediate periphery of the far-right terrorist cell.

This, too, was covered up. During the NSU trial, which lasted five years, the judge and the prosecuting attorney ruled out any investigation into this background, despite the insistence of the joint plaintiffs. Several V-Leute received limited or no authorization from the interior minister to speak before the court or a parliamentary investigating committee.

Maaßen, who claims to be unaffiliated with any party, has been a top official in the state intelligence apparatus for almost 30 years. In 1991, Otto Schily (SPD), then federal minister of the interior, brought Maaßen into his ministry, where he quickly became the head of the department on immigration law. In this capacity, he prevented the Guantanamo prisoner Murat Kurnaz, who grew up in Bremen, from returning to Germany in 2002.

In August 2012, Maaßen was appointed president of the BfV by then-Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich (CSU). A short time later, he attacked whistleblower Edward Snowden as a “traitor” and called for the media to collaborate more closely in the strengthening of state security. In 2015, Maaßen brought forward several criminal charges to initiate an investigation against two bloggers from “netzpolitik.org” on suspicions of treason. With this action, Maaßen unleashed a major attack on freedom of the press.

German conservatives want nuclear weapons


The daily Welt am Sonntag features a front-page picture of a nuclear bomb draped in a German flag

By Johannes Stern in Germany:

German right demands nuclear “weapons of mass extermination

31 July 2018

Just weeks after the right-wing coalition government in Germany announced its intention to massively increase military spending, a major national newspaper has called for the creation of an arsenal of nuclear weapons. In its latest edition, published this past weekend, the Welt am Sonntag

Part of the Axel Caesar Springer corporate empire, the right-wing history of which includes, eg, inciting the murder of 1960s student activist Rudi Dutschke; and, more recently, falsely accusing refugees of massive sexual aggression.

features a front-page picture of a nuclear bomb, draped in a German flag. The headline reads: “Do we need the bomb” [Brauchen wir die Bombe?] The answer is an unequivocal and bloodcurdling [Yes!] “Ja!”

The author of the article is Christian Hacke, a leading academic with close ties to leading figures in the government, the military and the foreign policy establishment. His political career dates back to the 1960s, when he made a name for himself as a leader of the right-wing Association of Christian-Democratic Students (RCDS). He has taught at the military university in Hamburg and is a member of the German Council on Foreign Relations, the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the Committee on Atlantic Studies, and the World Security Network. Clearly, Hacke is not merely expressing his personal opinion.

Arguing that Germany cannot leave the defense of its strategic interests to the United States and other NATO members, Hacke’s article calls for “a review of the contractual cornerstones of German defense policy.” Germany, he proclaims, cannot do without “weapons of mass extermination” [Massenvernichtungswaffen].

Hacke’s essay recalls the darkest chapter in German history. Vernichtung is the German word for extermination. The Nazis used the term Vernichtungskrieg [war of extermination] to describe the Third Reich’s war against the Soviet Union between 1941 and 1945. The fact that Hacke, without indicating any sort of political qualms, demands the creation of Massenvernichtungswaffen provides a chilling insight into the political outlook that prevails at the highest levels of the German state. Language that German political leaders did not dare employ for more than 70 years after the end of World War II is now becoming commonplace.

The time has come, Hacke insists, for Germany to throw off the restraints imposed upon it by its defeat in 1945. It should no longer shy away from asserting its interests. The time for moral squeamishness and apologies for past crimes is over. Hacke writes: “Political correctness, lack of civil courage, and inadequate military strategic considerations” must not be allowed anymore to “repress the nuclear component of our security.”

Rather than engaging in “Trump-bashing from the pedestal of moral arrogance”, Germany should “arm itself better in military terms—in all directions and by all means.”

Germany “can only rely on itself.” Hacke warns that national defense must be “based on its own nuclear deterrent capabilities and be given priority in the face of new transatlantic uncertainties and potential confrontations.”

Calling for the reintroduction of the draft and the development of a “sophisticated security culture”, Hacke insists that “Berlin must develop the will and ability to think or act in military strategic categories. Geopolitical considerations, such as safeguarding trade interests, are urgent in the face of new challenges”, he writes. But the “central question is: Under what conditions and at what cost could the central power of Europe become a nuclear power again?”

The comment in Welt am Sonntag sheds light on dangerous developments in Germany. The coalition government—consisting of the Christian-Democratic Union, Christian Social Union, and the Social Democratic Party—are implementing an extreme right-wing agenda with distinctly fascistic overtones. Although the far-right and racist Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) garnered only 12.5 percent of the vote in the last election, the Coalition government, nominally led by Chancellor Angela Merkel, is slavishly following its political agenda.

The resurgence of neo-Nazi influence within the highest levels of the German state has been abetted by the SPD’s participation in the ruling coalition … Another factor that has contributed to the growing strength of the extreme right has been the cowardice of German academics who have refrained from criticizing the Coalition government’s accommodation with the AfD.

In this political environment, the extreme right has been emboldened to pursue its neo-Nazi agenda. In its weekend edition, the Financial Times takes note of the growing brazenness of the neo-Nazi forces. It reports on physical attacks and death threats against left-wing artists.

The AfD, the Financial Times warns, “wants to change the way Germans see their past. Its ideologues have long argued that Germany is too focused on the Third Reich and the crimes and atrocities of Hitler’s regime. Last year one of its leaders, Björn Höcke, called for a ‘180-degree revolution’ in this culture of remembrance, and attacked the memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe in the centre of Berlin. ‘Germans are the only people in the world that have planted a monument of shame in the heart of their capital’, he said.”

There is hardly a political demand or statement of the AfD that has not been echoed by a representative of the establishment parties.

It must be stressed that the influence wielded by the AfD in ruling circles stands in sharp contrast to the sentiments of the overwhelming majority of the population.

According to a recent survey of the German weekly Der Spiegel, 67 percent of the German population are opposed to “the current shift to the right in German politics”. A broad majority also oppose the development of nuclear weapons. Seventy-one percent are in favor of Germany joining the UN ban on nuclear weapons, according to a recent survey by YouGov on behalf of the International Abolition of Nuclear Weapons.

Germany extraditing Puigdemont to Spain


This video says about itself:

Protests in Barcelona after former Catalan president arrested

25 March 2018

Protesters took to the streets in Barcelona after former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont was arrested in Germany five months after he went into self-imposed exile from Spain.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Carles Puigdemont, the leader of the separatist movement in Catalonia, will be extradited to Spain by Germany.

The last time a German government extradited a democratically elected head of the Catalan government to Spain was in 1940, when nazi dictator Adolf Hitler handed over Catalan Lluis Companys to his Spanish ally Franco; who had Companys tortured to death.

The justice department in the German state of Schleswig-Holstein has decided this on the basis of a judgment of the court in that state.

Today’s judgment said that it is possible to extradite Puigdemont for misappropriation of government money,

meaning using the Catalan government’s own money (not Madrid government money) to have the independence referendum

but not for rebellion.

Which may be a crime in Spain, but not in Germany. However, once Puigdemont will be in a Spanish jail, the Schleswig-Holstein court cannot stop Spanish judges from convicting Puigdemont for ‘rebellion’ as well. Spanish judges, many of whom were law students during the Franco dictatorship. Many of whom owe their jobs to the right-wing Popular Party, founded by an ex-minister of dictator Franco.

The prosecutor general then announced that the Catalan will be actually sent to Spain. …

In Catalonia, Puigdemont was succeeded by Quim Torra as president of the Catalan region. He had a talk this week with the new Spanish Prime Minister Sanchez about the future of the autonomous region Catalonia.

Will social democrat Sanchez stop the persecution of his right-wing predecessor Rajoy against Puigdemont and other Catalan political prisoners; against anti-monarchist rapper Josep Valtònyc; and in persecuting being drunk in a pub, or doing puppet theatre, as ‘terrorism’?

Spain to establish truth commission over Franco crimes: here.