Stop US drone attacks on Yemeni civilians


This video says about itself:

Drone attacks in Yemen mostly hit civilians

17 July 2013

US drones strikes in Yemen nearly tripled last year compared to the year before, from 18 to 53, according to the New America Foundation, a Washington-based think tank. According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, there have been up to 154 strikes by US drones in Yemen since 2002, that has killed almost 800 people. But it is mostly civilians who are often injured or killed in these attacks. Al Jazeera’s Mohammed Adow reports from the village of Subul in Northern Yemen.

From daily News Line in Britain:

Thursday, 3 September 2015

STOP US DRONE STRIKES ON YEMEN

A YEMENI family whose relatives were killed in a US drone strike have appealed to a German court to ensure that a US base in the country is not used for further attacks, which might endanger their lives.

In May 2014, a court in Cologne heard evidence from Faisal bin Ali Jaber, an environmental engineer from Sana’a, following revelations that Ramstein air base is used by the US to facilitate American drone strikes in Yemen.

Mr Jaber is bringing the case against Germany – represented by international human rights organisation Reprieve and its local partner the European Centre for Human Rights (ECCHR) – for failing to stop the bases on its territory from being used for the attacks that have killed civilians.

Although the court ruled against Mr bin Ali Jaber in the May hearing, it gave him immediate permission to appeal the decision, while the judges agreed with his assertion that it is ‘plausible’ Ramstein air base is crucial in facilitating drone strikes in Yemen.

Today’s appeal, filed at the Higher Administrative Court in Münster, asks the German government to end the country’s complicity in the extrajudicial killings. Mr Jaber lost his brother-in-law Salim, a preacher, and his nephew Waleed, a local police officer, when a US strike hit the village of Khashamir on 29 August 2012.

Salim often spoke out against extremism, and had used a sermon just days before he was killed to urge those present to reject Al Qaeda. Kat Craig, Legal Director at Reprieve, said: ‘It is now clear that US bases on German territory, such as Ramstein, provide a crucial hub for the launching of drone strikes in countries like Yemen – leading to scores of civilians being killed.

‘Faisal bin Ali Jaber and the countless other victims like him are right to call for an end to European countries’ complicity in these terrible attacks. The German courts have already signalled their serious concerns – now the government must be held accountable for allowing the use of German soil to carry out these killings.’

Andreas Schüller of the ECCHR said: ‘Drone strikes carried out outside of conflict zones are nothing but extrajudicial targeted killings – the implementation of death sentences without any trial. German authorities are under an obligation to protect individuals – including people living in Yemen – from suffering harm caused by breaches of international law involving Germany, but the exchange of diplomatic notes between the German and US government has to date proven to be wholly unsuitable. There needs to be a public debate on whether Germany is really doing enough to prevent violations of international law and the murder of innocent people.’

Background information on Faisal bin Ali Jaber’s case:

Faisal bin Ali Jaber is an engineer from Yemen. His brother-in-law Salem and nephew Waleed were killed by a US drone strike in 2012. Salem was an imam who was known for speaking out against al-Qaeda in his sermons, and Waleed was a local policeman.

Faisal’s relatives were given a bag containing $100,000 in US dollar bills as compensation, but the US has never admitted responsibility. ‘Our family are not your enemy. In fact, the people you killed had strongly and publicly opposed al-Qaeda. Salem was an imam.

‘The Friday before his death, he gave a guest sermon in the Khashamir mosque denouncing al-Qaeda’s hateful ideology. It was not the first of these sermons, but it was his last.’ Faisal went to Washington, DC, where he met with members of Congress and members of the National Security Council, and told his story to a number of journalists.

In July 2014, one of Faisal’s relatives was offered a bag containing $100,000 in US dollar bills at a meeting with the Yemeni National Security Bureau (NSB). The NSB official told a family representative that the money was from the US and that he had been asked to pass it along.

The payment came after the Yemeni government confirmed in writing that the US carried out the drone strike, and that the deaths of Faisal’s relatives were ‘a mistake’. The US has never publicly admitted that the strike that killed Waleed and Salem was a mistake.

The killings have never been investigated and the US has never apologised to Faisal and the rest of his family. ‘My family received money from the US government as an admission of their guilt for “mistakenly” killing our relatives in a drone strike. But this is not justice. There are many other families in Yemen who have lost innocent relatives in US drone strikes but do not receive hush money for speaking out,’ said Faisal bin Ali Jaber.

The Friday before he was killed, Salem had given a sermon at the mosque in the village of Khashamir, denouncing al-Qaeda’s ideology. A few days later, some strangers arrived in the village, demanding to speak with him. Salem eventually agreed to meet them, and took Waleed with him.

The two men went to meet the strangers near the local mosque, where they had parked their car. The whole group was then hit by a US drone missile, killing all of them. The strike took place on the second day of family wedding celebrations, which Salem and Waleed were attending.

Cori Crider, Reprieve’s Strategic Director and Faisal’s attorney, said: ‘President Obama is as reluctant as ever to admit the full extent of the US drone programme in Yemen – but money talks, even if the White House won’t.

‘Cash payments without full accountability won’t quell the outrage about civilian drone deaths, and continued US strikes will only bring further instability to Yemen. The victims’ families want and deserve an explanation, while the American people need to hear the truth about what is being done in their name.

‘In October 2014, we helped Faisal take legal action in the German Constitutional Court. We had discovered that German military bases were being used to facilitate drone strikes in Yemen – including the strike that killed Faisal’s relatives.

‘Our claim asked that the German administration stop the use of German territory for illegal actions by the US in Yemen. We argued that the German government is acting in breach of the country’s constitution by permitting the US to use its Ramstein airbase for illegal drone attacks abroad.

‘In May 2015, the court ruled against us, but the judge gave us immediate leave to appeal. This is a rare move, and means that our case could be heard again within months. This is the first time that the crucial role of Ramstein in facilitating the US drone programme has been challenged in court.

‘Without Germany – and other Western allies – the US could not fly the drones that kill innocent people. In June 2015, we heard that the German Federal Prosecutor’s office – Germany’s highest prosecuting office – has launched a “monitoring process”, which will investigate possible violations of international law involving Ramstein.

‘They have requested documents from government agencies, including the Ministry of Defence, that might indicate that they had an idea about what was happening in Ramstein. This is the first step of a much bigger journey towards making sure that people like Faisal and his family are able to live in peace, without the constant fear of drones hanging over them. We will continue to seek justice for Faisal and his family, and demand an end to US-led drone strikes.’

The United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) are carrying out a secret drone missile assassination program in Syria, the Washington Post reported late Tuesday: here.

Refugees, the German government and neo-nazis


This video is about the big demonstration on 29 August 2015 in Dresden, Germany; against nazi anti-refugee violence and governmental anti-refugee policies helping xenophobia.

By Marianne Arens in Germany:

German interior minister plans further attacks on refugees

31 August 2015

After a number of fires at refugee camps over recent weeks, and the intimidation of asylum seekers by neo-Nazis, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Joachim Gauck belatedly issued an official statement last Wednesday.

Merkel visited the refugee camp in Heidenau, Saxony, where right-wing extremists ran riot over recent days, and declared her commitment to the humane treatment of refugees. Gauck also made an appearance in front of a refugee camp in Berlin and praised volunteers who were carrying out official tasks in their free time.

But these official media appearances as well as the condemnation of anti-immigrant chauvinism by the Social Democrat (SPD) leader Sigmar Gabriel—who described the neo-Nazi rioters as a “mob”—are aimed above all at diverting attention away from the government’s responsibility for the miserable conditions confronting refugees.

Not only does the German government bear joint responsibility for the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Libya, and the intolerable conditions in many regions from which millions are fleeing for their lives, but they are also consciously promoting anti-immigrant sentiments and placing as many hurdles as possible in the way of refugees.

Just a day before Merkel and Gauck publicly shed crocodile tears over the refugees, interior minister Thomas de Maizière sent a catalogue of wide-ranging legislative reforms to reduce levels of immigration to the other ministries for approval.

On Sunday both Merkel and de Maizière both stressed that deportation procedures against so-called “economic refugees,” i.e. those forced to flee their countries due to extreme poverty and destitution, would be intensified.

Refugees from so-called secure states of origin, including Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro, will practically be imprisoned and immediately be deported. They will have to stay in refugee camps twice as long, i.e. six instead of three months and accept residency legislation, which means they can be deported at any time. Welfare for refugees is to be cut drastically, with what remains being provided mainly in the form of material aid rather than cash.

“In the view of the interior minister, accelerated legal proceedings for people who have little hope of asylum in Germany should send a signal to their countries—and thus restrict the flow [of refugees],” commented Spiegel Online, which had early access to the text of the proposals.

In another remarkable response to the developing crisis, the chairman of the Social Democrats (SPD) in Thuringia, Andreas Bausewein, went public with a major attack on the refugees. In an “open letter” to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Thuringia’s state premier Bodo Ramelow (Left Party), he demanded that the children of refugees be removed from the schools.

Bausewein demanded that children of refugees not be sent to school until their residency status, and that of their family, had been decided. In his own words, he called for a “suspension of the requirement to attend school until the determination of the residency status of the children/family, and no requirement to attend school during ongoing application, at least for asylum seekers from secure countries of origin.”

The number of children attending school without residency status was very high, the SPD politician complained. All children between six and sixteen years of age are sent to school after three months in Germany, but “the capacity of the schools has been overstretched.”

Bausewein’s demand undoubtedly violates the law. The obligation to attend school goes back to the Reformation and Martin Luther (1483-1546) and has been law in many parts of Germany for centuries.

Bausewein’s choice of an “open letter,” which he signed in his capacity as mayor of Erfurt, is, to put it mildly, remarkable. The SPD forms the government in Thuringia with the Left Party, so Bausewein could have spoken directly with Ramelow at any time. However, he is obviously concerned with the promotion of anti-immigrant sentiment and the encouragement of right-wing prejudices.

Bausewein also used his open letter to call for better surveillance of the refugees by expanding the financial resources for state security services. He wrote that the “recognition of the scale of surveillance deemed necessary by municipalities and the covering in full of the costs arising from this” was necessary.

In addition, Bausewein, like de Maizière, aims to arbitrarily strengthen asylum laws and make the laws, which are already extremely restrictive, as strict as possible. He demanded, “The existing list of secure countries of origin must be urgently reviewed and adjusted to the current situation…the departure of asylum seekers who have not been recognised as refugees, whose asylum applications have been rejected and who have no right to appeal, should proceed quickly and, if necessary, be enforced by deportations.”

Such language is hardly distinguishable from the crude “foreigners out!” cries of the radical right-wing agitators. Bausewein cynically adds that the reason for his initiative was that he “does not want to see another ‘Heidenau’—whether in Erfurt or any other city.” But in his letter, he is promoting precisely the sentiments that will encourage further racist attacks.

Bausewein is a leading Social Democrat. The 42-year-old mayor of Erfurt, who is an electrician by training with a diploma in social pedagogy, has been described as the “rising star of the SPD” (taz) or a “dyed-in-the-wool SPD” politician (MDR). He was formerly state leader of the young Social Democrats (Jusos) and an employee of the German confederation of trade unions (DGB). Since October 2014, he has served as state chairman of the SPD in Thuringia.

His latest intervention underscores once again the source of anti-immigrant acts: the establishment politicians who promote and facilitate them. They greet exhausted refugees upon arrival with bullying, repressive measures and intimidation, providing encouragement to the neo-Nazis. They attempt to divide the population and smother widespread sympathy for the refugees.

The measures being deployed against refugees today will confront the entire working class tomorrow: unprecedented attacks on basic democratic rights, such as the right to education. In Greece, democratic rights have already been trampled underfoot by the German government.

At the same time, under the pretext of combatting the causes for the growing number of refugees, the German government is preparing new imperialist wars and military interventions in the Middle East and Africa.

German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen is using the refugee crisis to prepare a major deployment of the army within Germany. The armed forces will participate in the accommodation of refugees nationwide. Barracks are being revamped into refugee camps and soldiers brought in to carry out tasks normally assigned to civil authorities, such as registering refugees: here.

Syrian refugees welcome in Iceland: here.

Big anti-nazi march in Germany


A demonstrator in Dresden, Germany holds a sign that reads ‘refugees welcome’ on Saturday. Photograph: Oliver Killig/dpa/Corbis

From AFP news agency:

German pro-immigrant protest welcomes asylum seekers to Dresden

Anti-Nazi Alliance organisers estimate 5,000 people took part in march through Pegida stronghold in response to rightwing protests against migrants

Sunday 30 August 2015 01.05 BST

Thousands of people took to the streets of the German city of Dresden on Saturday to send a message of welcome to refugees after a string of violent anti-migrant protests in the region.

Led by protesters holding a huge banner that read “Prevent the pogroms of tomorrow today”, the crowds marched peacefully through the eastern city under the watch of police in riot gear.

“Say it loud, say it clear, refugees are welcome here,” they chanted.

Police said 1,000 people took part in the protest, which was called by the Anti-Nazi Alliance, while organisers put the numbers at 5,000.

Dresden is the stronghold of the anti-Islam Pegida movement, whose demonstrations drew up to 25,000 people at the start of the year.

The eastern state of Saxony, of which Dresden is the capital, has suffered a series of ugly anti-migrant protests, with the government saying on Friday it was sending police reinforcements to the state.

“We’re here because what is happening in Germany, particularly in Saxony, is unbearable,” said Eva Mendl, a teacher who was among the demonstrators.

“Hating refugees, who live here because they can no longer live at home, because they have been through a war … that shouldn’t happen in a rich country,” she added.

Afterwards, several hundred participants in the rally gathered in the nearby town of Heidenau, which has been the theatre of protests over the opening of a new refugee centre.

Local authorities had initially banned all outdoor public gatherings in the town of 16,000 this weekend, fearing a repeat of last weekend’s clashes between police and far-right protesters in which several dozen people were injured.

But the federal constitutional court on Saturday struck down the ban, paving the way for the pro-refugee rally, which passed off peacefully, with refugees and their supporters dancing together in the street.

Germany is struggling to absorb a vast wave of asylum seekers that is expected to reach a record 800,000 this year.

Chancellor Angela Merkel was booed by far-right activists during a visit to Heidenau’s new refugee centre this week, with about 200 people shouting “traitor, traitor” at her.

Nazi violence, anti-nazi pro refugee demonstration in Germany


Welcome party for refugees in Heidenau, Germany

This video is about the welcome party for refugees from wars in Heidenau, Germany, yesterday. The caption of the photo says (translated):

The deputy leader of the Left Party, Caren Lay, takes part in the welcoming party in Heidenau. She said: “I am delighted that the festival can take place thanks to the court decision, the Saxon CDU [‘center right’ governing party] has once again demonstrated their complete failure in the asylum policy. And because they have been doing nothing for years when one needs to combat the right-wing mob, it bears partial responsibility for the situation!”

Translated from weekly stern in Germany today:

Pirna – In Pirna in Saxony an office of the Left Party has been attacked in the night. Unknown attackers destroyed in the district office five window panes and damaged the front door, as police in Dresden said. Whether there is a connection with the xenophobic protests in neighboring Heidenau, the police could not say. Heidenau itself has remained calm after protests by the far right. Left-wing groups in Dresden have called for a demonstration today for the protection of refugees and against the government’s asylum policy in Germany.

See also here.

Refugees from wars, welcomed by people, abused by governments


This video from Germany says about itself:

Germany: Heidenau holds “Welcome Festival” for newly arrived refugees

28 August 2015

Hundreds of volunteers gathered in Heidenau on Friday to host a celebration aimed at welcoming newly arrived refugees to Germany, after last weekend’s attacks on the refugees by far-right radicals.

From Deutsche Welle in Germany:

Cake and politicians at ‘Refugees Welcome’ party in Heidenau

28 August 2015

The party took place in Heidenau after all, despite a police ban that was lifted following a political outcry. As Ben Knight reports, the event was largely peaceful, as refugees gathered [around] a truck full of donated clothes.

Few disused hardware stores in neglected eastern German towns have received this much attention from major politicians in recent years. The Praktiker store in Heidenau, closed two years ago and hastily converted into a makeshift refugee shelter last week, has now hosted three major political leaders in the space of a week.

But the last of these visits, on Friday by Green party leader Cem Özdemir, was initially undertaken in a more troublemaking spirit than the first two. Both Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel‘s visit on Monday and Chancellor Angela Merkel’s on Wednesday were standard displays of political defiance against the far-right violence that made Heidenau the most infamous town in Germany last weekend.

But Özdemir was here to a defy a ban, imposed by regional Saxony authorities on the grounds that “the available police resources are not capable of getting the measure of predicted developments in the situation.”

In the event, Saxony police were spared the embarrassment of handcuffing a party leader, as an expedited court order ruled the ban unlawful, allowing a planned “welcome party” to show support for the refugees to go ahead.

Özdemir milder, with cake

Özdemir arrived, bearing cherry cake, and told reporters, “When I got on the train they said the party couldn’t take place, and by the time I got off, they said it could.” He also struck a much more conciliatory note than during his outraged appearance on the TV news show “Morgenmagazin,” when he accused the Saxony state government of “suspending democracy.”

“I’m pleased that the administrative court shares my opinion, and I think the opinion of everyone here, that there can’t be a state of emergency, if only because one can call for help from neighboring states,” he told reporters in Heidenau. “When there’s a G7 summit, when there’s a football game, [the police] can call for help from other states, why can’t they do it when neo-Nazis and fascists threaten people?”

Özdemir got a much friendlier reception from volunteers than Markus Ulbig, Saxony’s Christian Democrat interior minister, who had to be carefully shielded by security guards. Ulbig, who has been blamed for the failure to prepare for last weekend’s violence and for condoning the police ban, was jeered as he tried to deliver statements to the press. “Get out! You weren’t invited!” demonstrators chanted. “You could’ve come last Sunday.”

“All I can say is that it is good that this party is taking place here today,” Ulbig managed to tell reporters, before virtually being driven from the grounds by angry leftists.

With no sign of neo-Nazis throughout the afternoon, except for an isolated cluster of men who shouted abuse at passing anti-fascists from behind a bush across the road, this was as close as the party came to spilling over into violence. The police also kept their distance, though many were dressed in riot gear, while other units had been positioned around the town and at the train station.

Donations and local pride

In the event, the politicians’ visits were largely overshadowed by the “Refugees Welcome” party itself – which came complete with barbecue, salad, fruit, Özdemir’s cake, “anti-fascists” who juggled, span plates, and sang left-wing anthems, and a bouncy castle. There was also a truck full of donated clothes, toys, shampoo, and toothpaste, much of which was desperately needed in the shelter, which, the refugees said, had only the most basic hygiene facilities.

A few Heidenauers appeared at the party too, as much to defend the honor of their home town as to bring donations. “I was ashamed on Wednesday, when the chancellor came and they [nazis] shouted ‘traitor’ at her,” one old man told DW. “I was a refugee myself – at the end of the war, I was twelve when I came here.”

“People left East Germany after the Wall came down, for much smaller reasons than these people are coming here,” said a Heidenau woman, adding some of grandchildren’s discarded toys to the pile. “I wouldn’t like to have to flee a war.”

The truck of donations, and the party, had been organized by a network of “anti-fascist” groups from Dresden and elsewhere, as well as a refugee group from the Oranienplatz protest camp in Berlin. Among these was Adam Bahar, himself a refugee from Sudan who has been in Germany for three years.

“It was important for us to show solidarity with other refugees,” he said. “But we are also doing something good for Germany – we are showing that people are welcoming, you know, and that they have an open mind.”

Bahar also expressed shock, as many in Germany have, that the authorities have appeared so unprepared to cope with the new influx of refugees. “There’s been a war in Syria for more than four years,” he said.

“I’m really surprised that the people who have the power in this country don’t see this. Instead they make propaganda and say, ‘Ah! Too many people are coming.’ It’s not true – for example in Turkey there are more than two million refugees from Syria – but I don’t see Turkish people attacking refugees.”

True for the big majority of Turkish people; though some Turkish soldiers did kill refugees.

By Marianne Arens and Patrick Martin:

Casualties of “Fortress Europe”: Refugees dead on land and sea

29 August 2015

The death toll among desperate refugees fleeing war zones in the Middle East and Africa continues to mount, with horrifying scenes that go beyond anything seen in Europe since World War II.

The vast majority of these refugees are seeking to escape violence unleashed on their homes and families by the imperialist powers, above all the United States, with its accomplices including France, Britain, Germany, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands.

Once they escape their home countries, including Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and various countries in east and west Africa, the refugees encounter still more violence at every step: from police and border guards, from smugglers like those who asphyxiated refugees in the hold of a ship and the van of a truck, and from neo-Nazi mobs in Saxony, who were permitted to attack them by German police.

More than 300,000 have already crossed the Mediterranean Sea this year, more than in all of 2014, according to UN and EU figures. This includes an estimated 180,000 making the short crossing from the Turkish mainland to Greek offshore islands, then trekking through Greece, Macedonia and Serbia to Hungary, and from there throughout the EU.

The UN forecast this week that 3,000 migrants a day were passing through the Balkans by this land route—an annual rate of more than one million people, the bulk of them fleeing the civil war in Syria, fomented by Washington and fueled by weapons supplied by US allies like Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey.

Another 100,000 or more have made the even more dangerous voyage across the Mediterranean from Libya to Italy, in the course of which at least 2,500 have already lost their lives this year. This toll increased by another 250 Thursday night and Friday morning, as two more ships capsized off the Libyan coast.

At least 150 bodies have been recovered from the twin disasters, involving a small dinghy with perhaps 100 people aboard, and a larger fishing boat loaded with more than 400 people. The Libyan Red Crescent told UN officials Friday that they did not have enough body bags for all the victims of the second, larger sinking.

Most of the victims on the fishing boat had been locked in the ship’s hold when it sank shortly after leaving the port city of Zuwarah, leaving them no escape. About 100 people were rescued alive, and the search was going on for additional bodies among those missing in the sea. The migrants were mainly Africans, officials said.

The International Organization for Migration said that 4,400 migrants were rescued from the Mediterranean near Sicily August 22-23, making it one of the busiest weekends for rescue operations this year.

The gruesome tragedy on the A4 motorway between Budapest and Vienna showed the deadly dangers of the supposedly safer land route for refugees. In an abandoned refrigerated truck lay 71 dead people, 59 men, eight women and four children; a girl who was not yet two years old, and three boys, ages between eight and ten years.

An Austrian employee of the motorway company Asfinag discovered the parked truck on Thursday when attending a breakdown near Lake Neusiedl; decomposition fluids were already dripping from the vehicle. The police had the truck towed to a veterinary border service at Nickelsdorf on the Hungarian border, where police investigators retrieved the dead and examined the vehicle before the corpses were taken to the coroner’s office in Vienna.

The cause of death is thought to have been asphyxiation. The truck’s refrigerator compartment, meant for poultry meat, had no fresh air openings. Dents on the side of the vehicle point to what horrific scenes must had occurred in the interior, as the refugees desperately tried to escape the agonizing suffocation.

On Friday, the Hungarian police arrested four people, three Bulgarians and a Hungarian as the owners and drivers of the truck, after surveillance footage at several tollbooths was analyzed. Since then, the media and politicians have indulged in tirades against the criminal traffickers. According to estimates, each of the 71 refugees had to pay up to a thousand euros for the ride.

People trafficking is only such a lucrative business because the EU member states have sealed up their borders so tightly. They are trying to prevent people who are fleeing war and terror from crossing the borders with fences and razor sharp barbed wire, with rigid police controls and attack dogs.

“Whoever really wanted to put a stop to traffickers would deprive them of the basis of their business, i.e. open up Europe’s borders to refugees,” Florian Hassel wrote quite rightly in the Süddeutsche Zeitung. “European politicians,” he added, “are not ready to do this.”

The corpse-filled van was discovered while the Western Balkans Summit was taking place a few miles away at the Hofburg Palace in Vienna. Chancellor Angela Merkel, Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini met with the leaders of six Balkan countries. The aim of the gathering was to agree on better control over the routes taken by refugees and to further fortify the EU’s external borders.

Merkel responded to the news of the tragedy by saying that one should approach the subject of migration “quickly and in the European spirit, that is, in the spirit of solidarity.” How this works in practice can be seen by the fact that her government now wants to declare Kosovo, Montenegro and Albania safe countries of origin in order to more rapidly deport people coming to Germany from these countries.

This had been demanded by German Interior Minister de Maiziere only two days previously. He also wants to speed up the deportation of refugees, cut benefits and replace cash in kind support to deter refugees from coming to Germany.

In Austria, the ruling coalition of Social Democrats and Conservatives is also moving harshly against refugees. Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner responded to the recent refugee crisis by demanding even more restrictive border controls and that traffickers be punished even more stringently.

The night before on the newscast “Zeit im Bild,” Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz had called for a tightening of asylum policy, “much more intensive border controls” and “rapid proceedings” for asylum seekers. He cited Hungary, which is building a four-metre-high fence along its entire 109-mile southern border, as a model, and threatened that other EU members, “not only the Hungarians, but also perhaps we [will] take measures which are not so pleasing.”

A five-point plan presented by the Austrian government in Vienna also includes the use of force to combat criminal gangs and IS forces in the Middle East. The EU had already presented plans in May that provide for a military intervention in Libya. This would amount to a further expansion of the wars that are the main reason millions of people have been forced to flee.

The attitude of the imperialist powers toward the Syrian people is particularly cynical. For four years, they have cited the killing of Syrians by the government of President Bashar al-Assad as the reason for a stepped-up campaign of subversion and violence to overthrow the Assad regime. Yet, when millions of Syrians flee the resulting killing field, they are demonized as invaders threatening the jobs and welfare of the European population, who must be deported or walled off.

The 71 refugees who were found dead in Austria were likely from Syria, as a Syrian travel document was reportedly found among the bodies. This means that they had completed an arduous journey of 3,500 kilometres. An increasing number of Syrians are fleeing to Turkey and from there travel via the Balkan route and over the Aegean to Western Europe, since the North Africa-Italy route has proven to be extremely dangerous and the Mediterranean has increasingly become a mass grave.

The authors also recommend:

The refugee crisis and the inhuman face of European imperialism
[28 August 2015]

German neo-nazis, the political establishment and anti-refugee violence


This video says about itself:

Germany: Protesters march for refugee rights as Interior Minister arrives in Magdeburg

25 August 2015

Refugees and pro-refugee activists took part in a “March against racist asylum laws” in Magdeburg, Tuesday, marching from the city centre to the Regiocom GmbH headquarters where German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere made an appearance.

By Christoph Dreier in Germany:

Attacks on refugee camp encouraged by German government’s right-wing policies

26 August 2015

Right-wing extremists attacked refugee accommodations over the weekend in the small town of Heidenau near Dresden. Over three successive nights they repeatedly attacked police and left-wing counter-demonstrators with fireworks and stones, all while chanting Nazi slogans.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (Christian Democrats, CDU) Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel (Social Democrats, SPD) and other politicians released official statements in which they condemned the violence against refugees. But the crocodile tears being shed cannot disguise the fact that the state apparatus and the German government’s right-wing policies contributed considerably to the violence.

The attacks came as no surprise; the fascist National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD) registered a demonstration to pass through Heidenau on Friday. On social media and in forums, right-wing extremists urged “blockades” and “civil war” to stop the plan to open the housing for refugees over the weekend.

Despite this, only 135 police officers were present. Encouraged by this balance of forces, between 600 and 1,000 right-wing extremist demonstrators entered the empty warehouse, which was due to begin accommodating asylum seekers on Saturday. They attacked police with stones and fireworks, injuring 31 officers. Nazi and anti-immigrant slogans were repeatedly chanted, such as “We are the people,” “Foreigners Out!” and “national resistance.” “Sieg Heil!” calls were also heard.

Even after this experience, the contingent of police was strengthened by 40 to 175 officers for the opening of the accommodation on Saturday. In addition, 150 people gathered in front of the building to demonstrate their solidarity with the refugees.

After right-wing extremists once again gathered at the warehouse on Saturday evening, throwing stones and fireworks, the police called on the supporters of the refugees to end their demonstration on the grounds that their security could not be guaranteed. In subsequent clashes, more police were injured. The first refugees were brought into the accommodation under police escort.

On Sunday, a large contingent of officers was deployed, two water cannons were set up and a so-called control zone was established in a 500-metre radius around the camp, within which police could search individuals merely on suspicion, issue expulsions, and ban people from the area.

But the state power was ultimately deployed more against counter-demonstrators who had travelled to the town from Leipzig and Dresden, rather than the right-wing vandals. As the protesters clashed with right-wing extremists at a petrol station, the police deployed tear gas and rubber bullets, and according to eyewitnesses forced the left-wing demonstrators to the train station and onto trains. There were no further attacks on the refugee centre on Sunday.

Confronted with this chronology of events, the question is posed: to what extent were the attacks encouraged by the Saxony state government, or at least tolerated by it? Shaghayegh, a 30-year-old activist from the Asylum Seekers Movement who was in the area on Friday and Saturday, said in an interview with the Süddeutsche Zeitung that even the choice of accommodation had been dubious.

“The question we are asking ourselves is why accommodate refugees in a town like this,” Shaghayegh said. Heidenau has a strong right-wing scene. At the most recent town council elections, the NPD secured 7.5 percent of the vote. In addition, the warehouse, left unoccupied for two years, is not a fit place for people to live in. A total of 600 refugees are to be housed in one large room.

Similar scenes played out 15 kilometres away in the state capital, Dresden. According to doctors, at a tent camp for 800 refugees that was established earlier this year, human rights were trampled underfoot. There were insufficient sanitary facilities and inadequate medical care.

The NPD organised demonstrations in July against the refugees in Dresden. Left-wing counter-demonstrators were attacked by right-wing extremists, and several counter-demonstrators were seriously injured.

These are not isolated cases. According to official government figures, there were 200 attacks on refugee centres during the first six months of the year. Remarkably, 42 of them took place in Saxony. However, the state takes in only around 5 percent of all refugees.

The reason for this is that the connections between the government and the right-wing extremist milieu are particularly close in Saxony. The judiciary, police and domestic intelligence agency have been targeting Nazi elements for years, while the right-wing extremists continue with their activities unhindered.

Last year, the right-wing Pegida movement was systematically built up. The anti-Islamic group, which had its centre in Dresden, immediately won the support of the state office for political education. Along with SPD leader Sigmar Gabriel, several members of the state government spoke out in favour of a “dialogue” with the right-wing radicals.

In addition, the government of Saxony has adopted the programme of the far right in recent years. Two weeks ago, Saxony CDU General Secretary Michael Kretschmer welcomed the Hungarian plan to build a 175-kilometre long fence along its border with Serbia.

The state spokesman for interior affairs in the CDU, Christian Hartmann, even called for the reintroduction of border controls within the European Union. Last year, Saxony’s interior minister Markus Ulbig urged the creation of a special police unit to target asylum seekers committing criminal offences.

The ability of the neo-Nazi mob to run riot again in Germany is the direct product of these right-wing politics, not only at state level but also throughout the country. Right-wing extremist forces have been encouraged by a refugee policy that is openly based on deterrence.

The unrest involving ultra right-wing elements has in turn been exploited by politicians and the media to justify renewed attacks on refugees. Even as the violence in Heidenau continued, Peter Karstens published a comment in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung headlined “The downside of the open culture.” In it he criticised the fact that, “in a climate of misunderstood tolerance and laziness,” politicians for years had avoided “deporting rejected asylum seekers.”

Then he cited the interior spokesman for the CDU/Christian Social Union parliamentary faction, Stefan Mayer, who said, “The inadequate level of deportations of rejected asylum seekers is one of the main problems in overcoming the tense asylum seeker situation.”

The foul propaganda against refugees and immigrants can only be understood in a broader political context. A policy is being carried out against refugees, in collaboration with right-wing forces, which is in reality aimed against all workers. The basic social and democratic rights denied to refugees today will be called into question in general tomorrow. A policy like that being imposed by the German government in Greece, and the preparation of new wars, are not compatible with democratic rights for the working class.

It is thus all the more cynical when representatives of all the establishment political parties respond to attacks on refugees by calling for the further strengthening of the state apparatus, which is itself responsible for organising the misery faced by refugees.

Saxony’s representative for external affairs, Geert Mackenroth (CDU), has already announced the deployment of “professional security services”, as well as video surveillance and bans on demonstrations. Such security services have been in the headlines many times over the past year for torturing and severely abusing refugees.

FOLLOWING THE SEA OF EUROPEAN MIGRANTS Documenting the mass exodus from the Middle East and Afghanistan. [NYT]

Around 50 refugees and asylum seekers were found dead in the hold of a boat off the coast of Libya Wednesday morning. While rescuers were able to save 439 other people on board, the latest reports indicated that 51 people had died: here.

Up To 50 Refugees Suffocate In Back Of Truck In Austria, Local Media Says: here.

AUSTRIAN MIGRANT TRUCK HORROR WORSENS Investigators say more than 70 bodies have been found in an truck abandoned on the Austrian autobahn. The refugees most likely suffocated to death. [Reuters]