Refugees betrayed, from Hitler till today


This video says about itself:

Voyage of the Damned (1976)

This movie is based on the 1974 book about the voyage of the SS St. Louis in 1939. Over 900 Jews were on board hoping to find sanctuary in Cuba.

By Bill Van Auken:

”Voyage of the Damned:” Hundreds of refugees stranded in the Mediterranean

This year marks the 80th anniversary of the infamous voyage of the German cruise liner the MS St. Louis from Hamburg to the Americas with 937 passengers aboard, nearly all of them German-Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi persecution.

Even though the Cuban government had sold them visas, when they entered Havana’s harbor on May 27, 1939, the authorities stopped the refugees from disembarking. After waiting for a week in the vain hope that Cuban officials would reverse their decision, the St. Louis sailed to the coast of Florida hoping that the United States would offer refuge. However, the Democratic administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt also turned away the refugees. Attempts to enter Canada and the Dominican Republic were similarly rebuffed.

Left with no option but to return to Europe, the St. Louis docked at the Belgian port of Antwerp on June 17. Within less than a year, Belgium would be occupied by the German Wehrmacht. By the end of the Second World War, 256 of the St. Louis passengers would be murdered in the Holocaust.

Chronicled in the book Voyage of the Damned as well as a film by the same name, the fate of the St. Louis was a symbol and harbinger of the unprecedented barbarism, including Hitler’s “Final Solution”, that would engulf humanity in the course of a global war that claimed the lives of some 85 million people.

It was undoubtedly the tragic and criminal saga of the St. Louis that Leon Trotsky, the great Russian revolutionary and founder of the Fourth International, had in mind when he wrote in a May 1940 manifesto on “The Imperialist War and the Proletarian World Revolution”:

“The world of decaying capitalism is overcrowded. The question of admitting a hundred extra refugees becomes a major problem for such a world power as the United States. In an era of aviation, telegraph, telephone, radio, and television, travel from country to country is paralyzed by passports and visas. The period of the wasting away of foreign trade and the decline of domestic trade is at the same time the period of the monstrous intensification of chauvinism and especially of anti-Semitism. … Amid the vast expanses of land and the marvels of technology, which has also conquered the skies for man as well as the earth, the bourgeoisie has managed to convert our planet into a foul prison.”

These words retain all of their burning actuality under conditions in which “Voyages of the Damned” are being repeated on a daily basis in the central Mediterranean, a watery grave for tens of thousands of migrants and refugees, some 14,000 of them over the last three years alone.

The plight of two rescue vessels stranded off the coast of Europe, the Ocean Viking and the Open Arms, recalls nothing so much as the St. Louis, with the continent’s governments refusing to admit the more than 500 refugees aboard the ships.

A boat carrying refugees in the Mediterranean [Photo: UNHCR/L.Boldrini]

The migrants, most of them from Africa, were rescued off the coast of Libya from which they had fled, some them literally plucked out of the water. The 151 passengers—including 31minors—of the Open Arms, a vessel operated by a Spanish rescue group, have been at sea for nearly two weeks off the coast of Italy. They have been denied entry by Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, who has imposed fines of up to €1 million along with imprisonment for captains entering Italian waters with refugees, together with the confiscation of their ships.

Salvini, who is in the midst of a campaign to form a new, openly fascist government in Italy, has railed against the rescue ships, touting his policy of “absolute prohibition” against their landing and seeking to use the plight of the stranded refugees to whip up anti-immigrant chauvinism in advance of an election.

The Ocean Viking, which has 356 refugees rescued at sea—nearly a third of them minors—crammed into a space meant for 200, has been denied refueling in Malta as well as entry to Italy. The passengers are enduring conditions of suffocating heat and humidity and facing the threat of huge sea swells forecast for Wednesday.

The fascistic rants of Salvini are only the most blatant expression of a policy that has been put in place throughout Europe to bar the entry of refugees. A minister of the social democratic government of acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez in Spain rejected an appeal from the captain of the Open Arms to admit the 31 minors aboard the ship as refugees, asserting that the captain had no “juridical standing” or parental authority to make such a request. He further charged that those aboard the Open Arms rescuing refugees were “compromising the reputation of Spain.”

The immigration minister of Norway, whose flag is flown by the Ocean Viking, said that the refugees should be “transported back to Africa” in order to avoid any “extension of the refugee route”.

The European Commission, which issued a call to European Union (EU) member states to coordinate a solution to the plight of the stranded refugees and show solidarity, reported that not a single government had responded. Every European government, with Germany and France in the lead, has collaborated in erecting a “Fortress Europe” with barbed wire and machine guns defending the EU’s borders and a ruthless campaign to end the rescue missions in the Mediterranean.

A key part of this vicious anti-refugee campaign has been contracted out to Libyan militias, which have been recruited and trained as a coast guard dedicated to hunting down refugees trying to reach Europe. They run concentration camps in Libya where those fleeing for their lives from other parts of Africa and the Middle East are subjected to torture, rape, summary execution and being sold into slavery. A civil war that has devastated the country since the 2011 US-NATO war destroyed its government and infrastructure has further placed migrants’ lives at risk. The bombing of a detention center last month killed some 50 refugees.

The campaign against refugees in Europe is mirrored across the Atlantic, where the Trump administration has added to its mass incarceration of children, its turning away of refugees on the Mexican border and its round-up of undocumented workers in factory raids, the imposition of new regulations aimed at barring legal immigration by those without financial resources. Immigrants already in the US are to be targeted for deportation for the “crime” of using social services such as food stamps, Medicaid and housing subsidies.

Asked by a reporter Tuesday whether the poem of Emma Lazarus inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free…” still applied, Ken Cuccinelli, Trump’s acting director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services, responded with his own amended version: “Give me your tired and your poor, who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge.” While hardly poetry, the meaning is clear enough: working class immigrants and refugees need not apply.

TRUMPER: LADY LIBERTY ABOUT ‘PEOPLE FROM EUROPE’ Ken Cuccinelli, the Trump administration’s acting head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, reinforced his controversial interpretation of the inscription on the Statue of Liberty ― this time giving it a racist twist. [HuffPost]

The Bill Van Auken article continues:

The war against refugees and the scapegoating of immigrants for deteriorating living standards, unemployment and the destruction of social services under capitalism is a global phenomenon. It is employed by governments and ruling oligarchies the world over as a means of dividing the working class and cultivating neo-fascist elements that can be used to counter the growing wave of social struggles and strikes by the working class in country after country.

These policies are rooted not merely in the criminal and twisted mind of a Donald Trump or the fascistic ideology of a Matteo Salvini, but rather in the crisis of the capitalist system and the irreconcilable contradiction between the global integration of production and the capitalist nation-state system. The sealing of borders with razor wire barricades, the building of concentration camps for refugees and the whipping up of xenophobic and fascist forces echo the darkest days of the 1930s, just as the ships stranded in the Mediterranean recall the fate of the St. Louis.

The turn toward these methods is a sign not of strength, but of weakness and deepening crisis, as capitalist governments in the US, Europe and internationally face mounting opposition from working people that threatens revolutionary social and political explosions.

There are powerful sentiments of solidarity and support for refugees and immigrants within the working class that must be mobilized and armed with a socialist and internationalist program, including the right of all workers to live and work in whatever country they choose with full citizenship rights.

Britain: 3,000+ refugees have been on hunger strike in detention centres since 2015: here.

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French Macron’s war on refugees


Refugee tents under a highway in Saint Denis, near Paris, France

By Will Morrow:

Immigrant tent camps in Paris: Victims of France’s war on refugees

13 August 2019

Every night in Paris, in sprawling tent encampments under highway overpasses, in local playgrounds and parks, thousands of refugees go to sleep on the street. They receive no government housing, no money, no food and have no legal right to work. They are the victims of a criminal anti-immigrant regime overseen by the French state and the European Union and supported by the entire French political establishment.

Last week, World Socialist Web Site reporters interviewed dozens of asylum seekers in tents between the La Chapelle neighborhood of the 19th arondissement of Paris and the suburb of Saint Denis. Among them, most are younger than 25—the youngest 15, the oldest 45—and have been homeless in Paris for more than two years, relying on charities and private citizens for food, selling tourist knick-knacks, alcohol and cigarettes on street corners for cash.

There are between 1,500 and 2,000 homeless refugees in La Chapelle and neighboring suburbs alone, according to the immigrant rights group France Terre d’Asile. Many thousands more live in similar conditions across the country, and tens of thousands are imprisoned every year in a network of detention centers where they await deportation. The majority have fled Africa and the Middle East, escaping neo-colonial wars and conditions of poverty and social breakdown produced by centuries of oppression at the hands of France and the other imperialist powers.

The entire political establishment is complicit in this vicious anti-immigrant program, which is aimed at preventing refugees from exercising their democratic and legal right to claim asylum in France. …

Abdullah

Abdullah, 26 years old, is one of those living under the périphérique ring road at La Chapelle. He has been there since the start of 2019. Today he lives selling cigarettes at pedestrian crossings in the city.

It took him just under three years to reach France after fleeing Sudan in 2016. He travelled north through Libya and sailed across the Mediterranean toward Italy. This is the cheapest, and also likely the most dangerous, route. In 2011, France, the UK and the US launched a neo-colonial war for regime change in the country under humanitarian pretenses, plunging Libya into an ongoing civil war and installing an unstable right-wing puppet regime based on rival militias.

Since 2015, the EU has provided the Libyan coastguard with arms, ships and money to intercept refugees attempting to flee and imprison them in EU-funded detention centers, where there is widespread torture, slavery, murder and rape by the prison authorities.

Abdullah made three attempts sail to Europe before finally succeeding. On his first attempt, at the end of 2017, the Libyan coastguard caught the small boat carrying 130 people. They “drove circles around us to make the boat capsize,” he said. “Everyone was in the water. When I came up, everyone was screaming. I looked around and saw the bodies of three people, two children and a woman, floating in front of me. They left them there in the water that day.”

All the passengers were imprisoned in a detention center in Misrata. Eventually, Abdullah escaped, travelling to Tripoli, and after three months attempted to cross to Europe again. The boat was caught again by the Libyan army, and this time he was imprisoned at the Triq al Sikka detention center for six months before he was able to escape again. “Everyone must work there for nothing”, he said of this second prison. “Those who work, eat. The others are beaten or killed. The prison is foul, there are no toilets, just buckets on the ground.”

Abdullah made his final attempt at crossing in June 2018. This time his boat was picked up by a commercial liner, and transferred to the Aquarius, a rescue ship operated by Doctors Without Borders, which took the passengers to Europe. The Aquarius has been unable to sail since last November—its sailing rights have been stripped, and France and the other EU powers have refused to provide it with a flag to sail under, as part of their strategy of preventing all rescue operations in the Mediterranean and ensuring that refugees either drown or are returned to Libyan prisons.

But in France, Abdullah’s application for an asylum visa was not approved. While permitted to live in France, he was told that because he had no official birth certificate or documentation about his hometown (which he first fled at the age of 12), he would not be provided with work rights.

“Now I sleep on the road here,” he said. His tent contains a mattress and some spare clothes. Rats can be seen 20 meters away, and cars and trucks pass by at 70 kilometers per hour less than two meters from where he sleeps. “I cannot work because they say I cannot have papers. So what can I do now? When you leave Africa and think about Europe, you think you will be able to work, have documents, have a life. But you don’t. You sleep on the streets. There are many people here under the bridge who go crazy because they see no way out. This is Europe.”

Another refugee encampment in Saint-Denis

More groups of tents dot the roadway heading north out of Paris and into Saint-Denis. Less than a kilometer away, at a Saint-Denis park, lives Abdul, a 24-year-old former law student from Sudan. Under the EU’s punitive immigration system, he belongs to a category that Parisian asylum seekers refer to as “the Dublined”. It was created by the Dublin immigration agreement of 2013, which states that any refugee recorded arriving in one EU member state cannot reapply in another one, without waiting 18 months to submit their claim.

“When I arrived in Italy, they took my fingerprints,” Abdul said Friday, sitting in a Salvation Army center near La Chapelle where upwards of 200 refugees take showers and charge their cell phones every day. “So when I finally arrived here, they said I’d have to wait and gave me nothing. So I’ve been homeless here for the last two years. I just submitted my new application a month ago.”

As is the normal procedure for asylum applications in France, after submitting his application, Abdul was told to “wait” for an SMS about a follow-up meeting on his claim. They are given no information about when they will receive this text message, often waiting up to a year or more.

“I eat on the street. Sometimes I don’t eat. Sometimes individual people come and bring food they cooked at home. Most of the time I’m hungry,” he said.

Abdul took part in last month’s protest and occupation by more than 700 refugees at the historic Panthéon building, to demand the right to residency in France. “I received a photocopy of the leaflet on WhatsApp from my friend who was on the boat with me from Egypt to Italy,” he said. “I wanted to go just to show that we are here, that we exist. Right now, it is as if I didn’t exist. The government does nothing for us.”

He described the brutal police crackdown on the protest that ensued. Police entered the building, informing the protesters that “we could protest outside if we left. They told us, ‘In France, we have the freedom to protest.’” But as soon as the group left the building, the police attacked. “People were running everywhere to escape,” he said. “The police were just grabbing whoever they could get their hands on. I was arrested because I didn’t run. I said, I have the right to be here. Eventually three police came up to me, one hit me with a baton, and when I fell to the ground they kept hitting my legs.”

Police placed Abdul in detention for 24 hours before releasing him without charge. “I had all my identity documents and my application in my bag, which is why they let me out,” he said. “Many others had no papers—they were put in detention for deportation.”

The French government makes criticisms of Salvini in Italy,” Abdul commented. “But it’s the same policy. At least in Lampedusa, I had a home to live in and food to eat. Here, nothing. It’s clear that this is intentional. What they are telling us is: Stay where you are, or if you want to come here, fine, but it will be la misère.”

A playground in Saint-Denis converted into a tent camp

At a nearby Saint-Denis playground, dozens of refugees sleep on benches and tents, using the monkey bars as a clothesline and the other equipment as walls for their quarters. Mousa, a 44-year-old refugee from Somalia, has been in Europe for two years, and came to France after his application was rejected in Germany and he was threatened with deportation. He carried with him his papers, including medical prescriptions for Lyrica and Tilidin to treat his chronic back pain. He has no way of receiving these medications, and had eaten nothing for two days. “Most days someone comes at 9 p.m. and brings bread, tea and coffee,” he said.

David (29), Mohammedi (32) and Akbari (26) live in the same playground. All three are from Afghanistan, torn apart by a war led by the US and its NATO allies for the past 18 years, and all three came to France after their asylum applications were refused in Germany.

“Every day from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. you try to call the number to submit your application,” David said. “You wait on the phone for 2 hours and no one answers.” It took one month for him to reach someone and book an initial appointment to lodge his claim at the police prefect. “He took my fingerprints, said I was ‘Dublin’, and that I’d have to wait or go back. I have nowhere to go. So we stay here.”

Under a highway at La Chapelle, we spoke to a group of eight teenagers, between 15 and 19, all homeless. They came via different routes to France from Guinea, a former French colonial possession with a 50 percent poverty rate, and have been in France for between two months and two years. One of them, Quatorze, who is 17, has been in Paris since February. His application was also rejected, because he could not provide authorities with a birth certificate.

“I want to continue my studies and go to university,” he said. “I wanted to study sociology. I have no documents, so I cannot work or study here. I cannot rent an apartment. We receive nothing from the government. We live because people come and give us food—not the government, normal people, who make sacrifices for us.”

“The European Union should stop hiding its face and saying that it comes to the aide of migrants,” he commented. “They leave us like this and leave the Mediterranean in silence.”

The brutal anti-refugee regime established by the French government and the European Union is a warning to the entire working class. The mass concentration camps across Africa, the enforced homelessness and destitution of those who reach France, the brutal police crackdowns on those who protest—all these are tools of repression being developed to be deployed against the entire working class, as opposition grows to unprecedented levels of social inequality.

‘Europe’s leaders consider people drowning as an acceptable price to pay …’ says Medecins Sans Frontieres: here.

No free speech on Australian anti-refugee persecution


This 13 August 2013 video says about itself:

Steve Davies … being interviewed by Mark Parton of Radio 2CC concerning Michaela Banerji aka @LaLegale. Michaela, an Australian public servant, was sacked last year from her job after she criticised her department via an anonymous Twitter account.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Australian civil servant fired after critical immigration tweets

An immigration official in Australia was legally dismissed for criticizing the stringent migration policy on Twiter. The highest Australian court has ruled that. Michaela Banerji placed the tweets under a pseudonym years ago, but when she had been doxed in 2013, she was sacked.

Banerji had placed the messages with her own device, and most of them in her own time. She challenged her dismissal. In the first instance, she lost, but on appeal, she won. The appeal court ruled that the dismissal had violated her right to free speech.

Australia has a strict asylum policy. The country does not allow migrants on the mainland while they are still in the asylum procedure. In recent years there has been much to do about the conditions in migrant camps on islands. For example, last year the UN called for mass evacuation due to poor healthcare.

Through the @LaLegale account, Banerji was extremely critical of her government’s policies. Eg, she wrote that usThrough the @LaLegale account, Banerji was extremely critical of her government’s policies. Eg, she wrote that Australians are “sick and tired of the government throwing the UN treaty on refugees into the trashcan.” According to her, there is enough apace in Australia to receive eight million asylum seekers.

tralians are “sick and tired of the government throwing the UN treaty on refugees into the trashcan.” According to her, there is enough apace in Australia to receive eight million asylum seekers.

The government brought the matter before the Australian Supreme Court, and senior judges have now ruled that Banerji’s tweets were in violation of the code of conduct she had to adhere to as a civil servant.

Banerji left the courtroom visibly emotional. “This is not just a defeat for myself. It is a defeat for all of us, and I am very, very, very sorry.”

Effects

“This obviously has major consequences for the two million Australian public servants, who must therefore be very careful in their public statements of criticism”, says correspondent Eva Gabeler. “The Supreme Court recognizes the far-reaching consequences and calls them ‘broad and deep’, but finds it crucial that the civil service remains non-political.”

That the statements were made anonymously does not matter, because everyone who speaks out online, anonymously or not, must assume that his identity will ultimately be known, according to the Supreme Court.

So, bye bye free speech, and privacy. A victory for spying on all people on the internet by the United States NSA and their Australian spying colleagues.

Orwell

The trade union for the public sector is disappointed in the Supreme Court. A spokeswoman says that civil servants should have the same rights as other citizens “instead of Orwellian censorship because of their work.” She calls the consequences absurd and draconian. The Australian government should have shown that it considers a human right like freedom of expression important, spokesperson Flood believes.

Because Banerji eventually lost the case, she must also pay the costs of the trial.

See also here.

NATO visits Dear Kitty. Some blog


This 16 February 2016 video is called Europe Refugee Crisis: NATO plans to halt flow of refugees.

Today, the WordPress statistics of this blog registered a visit from an office of the NATO military alliance.

They especially visited yesterday’s post on Dear Kitty. Some blog about the protest in The Hague, the Netherlands against the role of NATO in making people refugees and stopping these refugees if they flee to Europe.

Welcome, NATO employees, like all visitors to this blog!

I hope you will learn something from your visit that will help to stop NATO policies of wars and xenophobia.

Pro-refugee anti-NATO action in Dutch The Hague


Activists at the NATO building in The Hague, the Netherlands, photo Robert Bas

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Activists demonstrate at NATO against ‘Fortress Europe‘, 17 arrested

Six activists were arrested this morning at the NATO and the TNO [military] research institute building in The Hague. Eleven others were arrested on the roof of the NATO building in the afternoon.

The bookkeeper in this The Hague NATO headquarters was from the 1950s till the 1970s Joop Glimmerveen. He had been a soldier in the Korean war. There, he met fellow soldiers, Dutch war criminal members of Hitler’s SS. They had lost their Dutch nationality after World War II. They could get that nationalty back by ‘fighting bolshevism’ in Korea, like they had ‘fought bolshevism’ in the Soviet Union in the 1940s. They convinced fellow soldier Glimmerveen of their fascist ideas.

Ever since the 1970s, Glimmerveen for decades was the Fuehrer of the Nederlandse Volks-Unie, the Dutch anti-immigrant and pro-Hitler party.

The activists are from the No Border Camp group, part of the left-wing, autonomous No Border Network. They oppose European and Dutch migration policy, which they believe is inhumane, and “militarizes borders and contributes to reasons why people must flee“. According to them, both NATO and TNO are involved in that.

The group had climbed the roof of the NATO building to hang a banner with the text “No person is illegal.”

A slogan, originally from Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel.

One of the banners on the NATO roof in this video says, translated: Migrants die because of NATO.

These two banners say, translated: From the sea to Yemen, NATO kills.

There were about fifty to sixty activists in front of the fences of the building.

“TNO research institute is one of the largest recipients of EU grants for research into and development of new border security technologies“, the group writes in a press release. “The walls of Fortress Europe are getting higher, rescue operations from aid organizations are being thwarted and refugees are being locked up and deported.” …

On Thursday, protests took place at the Red Cross, Friday at employment agency Otto Work Force and Saturday at a detention center in Rotterdam, where asylum seekers who have exhausted all legal remedies are awaiting their deportation.

At the Red Cross, flyers were distributed to employees because the aid organization cooperates with Airbus, the sixth largest arms company in the world. According to the activists, the cooperation between the two is “primarily intended to polish up the image of an arms company“. The action at employment agency Otto was to draw attention to the “precarious” circumstances of mainly Polish workers in the Netherlands.

Greek refugee camps, hell on earth


This Dutch 27 July 2019 video is by Dutch NOS TV correspondent Saskia Dekkers, who filmed secretly the horrible conditions for refugees from NATO ‘humanitarian’ wars on the Greek island Samos.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Refugee camps on Samos a hell: “I have not seen it like this before”

The refugee camp on the Greek island of Samos is intended for 650 migrants, but in the containers alone two thousand asylum seekers are jampacked on top of each other. In addition to the official camp there are makeshift tent camps. A further 2500 migrants live there. About ten boats with refugees arrive on Samos every week.

Abibulaye is from Togo. “When you arrive at the asylum service, they say the next day: ‘go there and find out’. And you don’t know anyone, you have no money, that’s bad.”

Rats

The situation is serious, says Europe correspondent Saskia Dekkers, who visited Samos. “I have not seen a situation like this anywhere else … People sit on top of each other. There is no running water, there are no showers or toilets. It stinks and we have seen rats among the tents.”

There is far too little room for all people, says Dekkers. “In places where people defecate, new tents have been set up. Many Afghans, Syrians and Congolese people are waiting here for their asylum application.”

Refugees in Italy have received much attention in recent months. In the meantime, the number of refugees in Greece is increasing again. Almost twenty thousand asylum seekers are now stuck on the islands. Almost all people who have arrived in the past year. Europe correspondent Saskia Dekkers secretly filmed on the island of Samos. “It seems that the refugee camps are deliberately kept unlivable by the European Union and Greece.”

… The Samos MP [Christodoulos Stefanadis, of the right-wing Nea Demokratia party] is in favour of a tough migration policy by his
[Nea Demokratia] government. …

Dekkers: “The camp is very hot and there is not enough water. But the biggest problem people tell us is the uncertainty. Nobody knows what their situation is.”

“You don’t know who you are anymore. I have been waiting for 7, 8 months now and my first date for an asylum interview is in 2021. I don’t know where I stand”, says an African asylum seeker.

Another refugee tragedy off Libya


This 27 July 2019 video says about itself:

62 bodies of dead migrants recovered off Libya

At least 62 bodies of migrants that went missing after their boat sank off the Libyan coast on Thursday have been recovered.

With still more migrants believed to be lost at sea, there are conflicting numbers of those that are still missing.

The International Organization for Migration has given estimate of 145 migrants surviving the ordeal and 110 missing.

While the Libyan navy has reported 134 survivors and 115 missing and on the other hand, Médecins sans frontières estimates that nearly 400 migrants were on board the two boats.

It is hard for the time being to give the exact numbers of the migrants even as search and rescue operations continue.

By Alex Lantier in France:

The mass drownings off Libya and the fight to defend refugees

27 July 2019

The ongoing wave of atrocities against refugees demonstrates that it is impossible to defend immigrants without a mass, international movement against the capitalist system. Despite mounting outrage at crimes committed against refugees by the world’s wealthiest states, these governments are determined to continue anti-immigrant policies condemning tens of thousands of innocent people to death.

On Thursday, a ship carrying 270 to 300 refugees fleeing Libya capsized and sank in the Mediterranean, en route to Italy. Fishermen who spotted the boat called the Libyan coast guard, who rescued around 140 refugees from the waves. The remaining are missing and presumed drowned.

Sabah Youssef, a survivor of the shipwreck devastated by the drowning of her seven-year-old child, declared: “I don’t want anything now except to go back to my country, Sudan, to die there.”

An Eritrean survivor made an international appeal for help: “We rescued ourselves. No one could help us, and no one came to rescue us, and here we are in a big problem, so we need your help.”

The refugees who survived the shipwreck are still in grave danger. Like all refugees delivered to Libya’s coast guard—a force built and funded by the European Union (EU), after the 2011 NATO war against Libya destroyed that country’s government and armed forces—they risk internment in EU-funded concentration camps. There, they face assault, rape, being sold into slavery, or murder, as the United Nations, human rights groups and major media have repeatedly documented.

Those who survive the abuse meted out by camp guards risk falling victim to the civil war that has devastated Libya since the NATO war. Earlier this month, dozens died when aircraft loyal to Khalifa Haftar, a military strongman backed by French President Emmanuel Macron and Egyptian dictator Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, bombed a refugee camp in Tajoura as they attacked the Italian-backed official Libyan government in nearby Tripoli.

Yesterday, UN High Commission on Refugees Spokesman for Africa Charlie Yaxley tweeted shocking news that of the survivors of the shipwreck, “84 were taken to Tajoura detention camp, where more than 50 died trapped inside during an airstrike just weeks ago. … They must be released and action taken so that no one is brought back to detention centers.”

Responsibility for refugee drownings in the Mediterranean, which have claimed 14,000 lives since 2016, lies with the European Union (EU) and the capitalist system. Faced with a global upsurge of the class struggle—mass protests in Puerto Rico, US teachers’ strikes, “yellow vest” protests in France, and strikes against EU austerity in Portugal, Germany and Poland—the capitalist class is viciously stoking anti-refugee chauvinism to divide the workers. At the same time, it builds up a police state for mass repression of the entire working class.

Imperialist governments on both sides of the Atlantic pour hundreds of billions of dollars into their military machines, and impose austerity to enrich billionaires like Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos (net worth $165.6 billion) and LVMH owner Bernard Arnault ($104.2 billion) at workers’ expense. Yet, echoing the fascist regimes of the 20th century, governments and bourgeois parties of all political colors insist that everyone must blame their troubles on immigrants.Militarism, racism in German parliament

America’s fascistic president, Donald Trump, has detained hundreds of thousands of immigrants in a network of US concentration camps and is threatening police raids on US cities to deport millions of undocumented immigrants. The Democratic Party has played a key role in supporting Trump’s far-right policy, voting $4.6 billion to fund the US concentration camp system in the US House of Representatives despite protests against immigration raids across the United States.

The drownings off Libya have provoked outrage in Europe at Italy’s far-right interior minister, Matteo Salvini, who proclaims his admiration for fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.

Salvini, who has threatened mass raids to deport illegal immigrants and the Roma people, blocks all ships bearing refugees from Italy. He ignored protests by 200,000 people this spring in Milan in defense of refugees. Having arrested German captain Carola Rackete of the Sea Watch 3 vessel for landing refugees in Italy, and released her amid a wave of protests in Germany, he now refuses to allow an Italian coast guard ship bearing refugees to land until other EU states agree to accept all immigrants aboard.

Yet responsibility lies with the entire EU. In 2015 it launched “Operation Triton”, ending rescue operations and stepping up warship deployments in the Mediterranean, and accelerated construction of a vast network of concentration camps. Millions of Middle East and African refugees are imprisoned in horrific conditions in EU-funded camps stretching from Italy and Greece to Turkey, Libya and Niger.

Statements of Berlin and Paris criticizing Salvini’s fascistic outbursts reek of hypocrisy. While the Macron government has called Salvini “disgusting,” Macron has hailed fascist dictator Philippe Pétain and his officials boast to their fascistic base in the security forces and the financial elite about grounding the migrant rescue ship Aquarius in Marseille, to keep refugees from reaching France. Its police brutally broke up a protest by African refugees in Paris on July 14, the anniversary of the French revolution, as they savagely attacked “yellow vests” protesting social inequality.

Having briefly extended an open door in 2015 to migrants fleeing the Syrian war via the Balkans to Germany, Berlin has adopted an anti-immigrant policy. As it rearms, and right-wing extremist German professors call to rehabilitate Hitler and German militarism, violent neo-Nazi groups are flourishing in the police apparatus. The unsolved murder of politician Walter Lübcke, who faced multiple death threats from neo-Nazis after publicly defending refugees, amounts to a barely veiled threat against anyone supporting refugees in Germany.

In 1940, two years before European fascism launched the genocide of the Jews, the great Marxist revolutionary Leon Trotsky wrote: “Today decaying capitalist society is striving to squeeze the Jewish people from all its pores; seventeen million individuals out of the two billion populating the globe, that is, less than 1 percent, can no longer find a place on our planet! Amid the vast expanses of land and the marvels of technology, which has also conquered the skies for man as well as the earth, the bourgeoisie has managed to convert our planet into a foul prison.”

Eighty years later, Trotsky’s words sound as a warning. After three decades of imperialist war in the Middle East and Africa since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and a decade of economic crisis since the 2008 Wall Street crash, tens of millions have fled bloodshed and poverty across the planet. Last year, 70.8 million people were displaced around the world, the most since World War II.

The relentless state repression and police-state build-up are signs that the ruling class are firmly set on a fascistic course.

The way forward is the fight to mobilize ever broader layers of the international working class in the developing struggles, and to arm these struggles with a socialist and internationalist program. This means rejecting attempts to blame immigrants for the social crisis produced by capitalism, and defending their right to travel, live and work in any country of their choosing. …

Only a perspective for mobilizing the working class internationally for the socialist transformation of society can free humanity from the diktat of the corporate oligarchy, defend democratic rights and guarantee a high standard of living to all.

LIBYA’S MIGRANT ‘HOLDING AREAS’ HAVE BECOME DEATH CAMPS The smell of decomposing human flesh is what Amal, a young Eritrean man, remembers most about the days after the Tajoura migrant detention center was struck by a missile earlier this month in the midst of Libya’s worsening civil war. [HuffPost]