Canadian Conservative government against Syrian war refugees

This video from Canada says about itself:

Justin Trudeau calls PMO role in refugee resettlement ‘disgusting’

9 October 2015

Liberal [party] leader made the comments at a campaign stop in Toronto close to Stephen Harper’s boyhood home in Leaside, Ont.

By Roger Jordan and Laurent Lafrance in Canada:

Conservative government intervened to halt Syrian refugees entering Canada

12 October 2015

Canada’s Conservative government called a halt to the processing of government-assisted refugee applications in June, claiming security concerns. The order came directly from Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s office, the PMO.

The move targeted United Nations selected refugees, who are some of the most vulnerable. The PMO directive stated that all UN approved refugees from Syria would first have to be vetted by the PMO. In addition, Harper ordered a review of all Syrian refugees referred by the United Nations in 2014 and 2015.

No public announcement was made at the time of the audit, and it remains unclear when the halt on application processing was finally lifted. So far this year, Canadian authorities have themselves accepted only a little more than 300 Syrian refugee applicants.

While Harper sought to deny that his officials were involved in approving applications, it is clear that his intervention was motivated by political considerations. The government has made no secret of the fact that it has intentionally directed its minuscule refugee resettlement efforts to Christians and other non-Muslims, in what amounts to a sop to its far-right, Christian fundamentalist supporters.

According to a CTV report relying on anonymous sources from within Citizenship and Immigration, the PMO implemented the audit to ensure that Christian refugees were being accepted over Shia and Sunni Muslims. Another official told the broadcaster that the Conservatives were targeting people with links to communities in Canada so that the party could win political support from these communities, and that Citizenship and Immigration was actively discouraged from accepting Muslim refugees.

A further exposé in the Globe and Mail Friday uncovered how the Harper government makes use of so-called areas of focus to select refugees. The areas include religion, the number of children, whether the individuals have owned a business, and whether they speak English or French. No mention of such restrictive and blatantly discriminatory criteria has ever been made publicly.

The government is likely flouting Canadian law, according to human rights lawyer Paul Champ. “My view is that it’s clearly unconstitutional,” Champ told the Globe. “When we are choosing from that group of refugees, we need to do so in a manner that’s compliant with our constitution and our charter of rights … Why are certain ones being processed as a priority? It has to be legitimately connected to the individual being at greater risk.”

Reports indicate that Harper’s intervention was in part a response to US intelligence claims that refugees posed a security risk. As part of his far-right election campaign, the Conservative leader has stoked deeply reactionary Islamophobic sentiments, including the claim that there is a serious security risk posed by Jihadi terrorists entering the country as refugees.

Such claims are thoroughly disingenuous. Experts around the globe have recognized that the hundreds of thousands of refugees trying to reach Europe are ordinary people, many of them women and children, desperate to escape war and social breakdown.

The latest revelation makes a mockery of the Conservatives’ attempt to pose as a party committed to aiding the millions of refugees from the Syrian civil war. The Conservatives recently announced a plan to accelerate the intake of refugees from Syria and Iraq, saying they will allow the placement of a total of 10,000—government and privately sponsored refugees—by September 2016 rather than over the coming three years.

Harper has committed to resettle another 10,000 people over the next four years. Yet even this commitment, which amounts to nothing more than a drop in the bucket, was forced out of him in the wake of a public outcry over the death of three-year-old Alan Kurdi on a Turkish beach. The anger provoked by the photograph of his corpse was strengthened still further by the revelation from a Vancouver woman that he was her nephew and that Canada was partly to blame for his fate. (See “Death of Syrian infant exposes Canadian complicity in refugee crisis”)

An Ottawa Citizen report published Friday revealed that by the time of Kurdi’s death, a backlog of over 7,000 Syrian refugee applications had built up, including 2,000 especially vulnerable UN-approved refugees.

Canada has accepted only 2,347 Syrian refugees since 2013, even though millions have been displaced in the civil war. Only a small minority of these have been brought in on the government-sponsored program, with the vast majority arriving via private sponsorship by a relative or voluntary organization—a process which takes up to 18 months and is often overseen by churches and other religious institutions.

From the outset of the refugee crisis, the Harper government has adopted a bellicose line, insisting that the best and only solution to help the refugees, who are fleeing their war-torn countries in North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia, is to broaden and intensify the war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

While Harper tries to paint ISIS as the evil source of the refugee crisis, the reality is that the emergence of ISIS and the largest refugee crisis since World War II result from the drive of US imperialism to subjugate the Middle East and North Africa to its unfettered domination in pursuit of its economic and geopolitical interests.

Canadian imperialism has aligned itself with a series of US-led wars and US-regime change operations that have incited religious and sectarian conflicts while destroying entire societies, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and now Syria. Washington and its allies have manipulated religious divisions, relying openly on Islamist forces in the overthrow of the Gaddafi regime in Libya and in fomenting armed opposition to the Assad government in Syria. It was out of these forces that ISIS grew, only becoming a concern to the US and Canada when it came into conflict with its interests in Iraq.

Both the New Democrats (NDP) and the Liberals seized on the PMO audit to denounce the Conservatives for their failure to aid refugees. “Now, we learn it was Stephen Harper, himself, who prevented the arrival of Syrian families into Canada in the worst Syrian refugee crisis since World War II,” declared NDP leader Thomas Mulcair at an election campaign event in Toronto Thursday.

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau focused his criticism on how Harper’s audit supposedly sullied the PMO’s sterling reputation.

The NDP recently said that if in power, it would fast-track private sponsorships and respond to the United Nations’ appeal to resettle 9,000 government-sponsored refugees each year for the next four years. The Liberals declared they are aiming to accept 25,000 by next January and promised a $200 million fund to help refugees.

The NDP and Liberals are staunch supporters of Canada’s imperialist foreign policy, having backed the bombardment of Yugoslavia in 1999 and Canada’s leading role in the invasion and neo-colonial occupation of Afghanistan. Both conflicts, begun by the Liberal government of Jean Chretien, produced masses of refugees as the destruction wrought by the imperialist powers laid waste to entire societies. In the current campaign, Mulcair has defended the NDP’s support for the air war in Libya, and both the NDP leader and Trudeau have embraced Harper’s aggressive stance against Russia in alliance with the US and NATO.

The Libyan conflict not only turned tens of thousands more into refugees, many of whom have subsequently risked their lives to cross the Mediterranean to Europe. It also strengthened the Islamist militias which, with CIA support, later shifted to Syria to participate in the ongoing civil war.

When Harper accused both Mulcair and Trudeau of endangering “national security” by wanting to open Canada’s doors to Syrians without proper security screening, Mulcair quickly reassured that “it’s completely false to affirm that any of the parties in Canada would want to throw open the doors to people without any regard to security.”

Successive Liberal and Conservative governments have tightened refugee regulations, with the Conservatives in 2012 moving to make it virtually impossible to apply for refugee status if an individual is deemed to have entered Canada from a “safe” third country or a “democratic” state.

Britain: MORE than 300 lawyers, including a former Supreme Court president, have condemned the government’s offer to take in just 20,000 Syrian refugees over the next five years as “too low, too slow and too narrow”: here.

Refugees welcome demonstration, The Hague, 1 November

This video says about itself:

6 September 2015

This is the welcome refugees deserve. We are seeing amazing scenes in Austria and Germany as people come out to cheer, help, feed and passionately welcome refugees arriving in their countries.

After the anti-refugee extreme right bomb violence in Woerden in the Netherlands, this becomes even more important.

From the Anti-Fascistische Actie blog in the Netherlands:

1-11-2015 Nationwide Demonstration: Refugees Welcome! Stop the right-wing witch-hunt!

On Sunday November 1, the Anti-Fascist Action (AFA) is organizing a nationwide demonstration under the banner of ‘Refugees Welcome’ in The Hague. With this demonstration, we would like to show solidarity with refugees and speak out against the right-wing witch-hunt against them.

Migration has always taken place. People are still fleeing from war, poverty, and political repression. The foreign policy of Western nations is largely responsible for these conditions. But instead of refugees being welcomed to the Netherlands, a right-wing witch-hunt is being carried out against them. Fueled by right-wing political parties, asylum seekers’ centers and future shelters for refugees get vandalized with racist words and symbols. Several locations in the Netherlands have been witness to demonstrations against refugees.

We believe that we should be in solidarity with refugees and that the smear campaign based on fear and lies from the right must stop. For example, it is often said that refugees take up social housing while the right-wing politicians are in fact making sure that public housing is no longer built. In times of increasing racism, it is important to build a strong anti-racist movement.

This is why we are calling for a large demonstration to express our solidarity with refugees and to unite against racism and discrimination. Come November 1 to The Hague at 15:00 in front of Central Station and demonstrate with us!

Refugees welcome! Stop the witch-hunt!

Date: 1-11-2015
Time: 15:00
Meet-up: Square in Front of The Hague Central Station
Facebook event: here.

Refugees in ‘new’ Libya: VICE News secured exclusive access to a camp outside Tripoli, run by a militia that has seized hundreds of migrants. Food is scarce, dehydration and disease is rife, and control comes in the form of whips and warning shots. The militia claims to have the migrants’ interests at heart, but what emerges is a very different story: here.

Extreme right anti-refugee violence, politician’s xenophobia in the Netherlands

This 7 October 2015 video shows refugees arriving in Woerden town in the central Netherlands.

Today, NOS TV in the Netherlands reports that Halbe Zijlstra, chairman of the caucus in parliament of the VVD, the biggest party in the Dutch coalition says that the Netherlands ‘should become more unattractive for refugees‘.

If politicians irresponsibly play with xenophobic sentiments, then it is hardly surprising that some stupid people go just one step further, and start criminal violent attacks on refugees.

Like happened yesterday evening in Woerden. A gang of about twenty extreme right masked hooligans stormed a hall housing refugees. They threw bombs which exploded.

According to the mayor, Mr Molkenboer, of Woerden:

Molkenboer says the refugees are extremely shocked by the incident. “Most come from a war zone. Hearing explosions gives them a traumatic experience.”

In the hall were 148 refugees, including 51 children.

On the Facebook page of the Dutch nazis of the Nederlandse Volksunie party, there was cheering today about this violent crime.

Many Woerden people, disgusted by the racist violence, have today brought presents for the refugees.

See also here.

The Hungarian government of Viktor Orbán has begun to deport refugees in expedited processing procedures. In order to get around international and European laws, which grant war refugees the right to a regular asylum procedure, it is engaging in dirty legal tricks: here.

British government jails raped, tortured refugee woman

This video says about itself:

12 September 2015

Many tens of thousands of people marched through London, past 10 Downing Street and up to Parliament in solidarity with refugees. They demand Britain grants asylum to more refugees. Jeremy Corbyn joined and addressed the crowds. London2Calais report.

By Paddy McGuffin in Britain:

Raped. Tortured. And locked up in Britain

Friday 9th October 2015

Judge slams Theresa May for ‘truly disgraceful’ asylum regime

A SUDANESE woman who sought safety in Britain after being repeatedly raped and tortured only to be treated “truly disgracefully” by immigration officials won her legal bid in the High Court yesterday.

Mr Justice Collins condemned the “utterly unreasonable and truly disgraceful” treatment of the woman, known only as IKM, and allowed her to claim damages from the government.

The damning ruling comes just days after Home Secretary Theresa May’s rabidly xenophobic anti-immigration and asylum speech at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester.

In it, Ms May said the supposedly “wealthiest, fittest and strongest” people who claimed asylum having already reached Britain — like IKM and 97 per cent of those who seek refuge here — were less deserving than people stuck in refugee camps.

Justice Collins said there was clear medical evidence that IKM had been repeatedly raped and tortured in Sudan.

And she suffered further when she was locked up in an English immigration prison from December 7 2013 to January 2014, the court heard, and had to spend three weeks in hospital to recover.

Ordering damages to be assessed either by the High Court or a county court, the judge said: “Very properly the secretary of state has conceded her detention was unlawful.

“It is well known that she was someone who in all probability had sustained torture and that meant she was someone who should not be detained unless there were very exceptional circumstances. There were none.

“It is, I hope, a unique case because the behaviour of those responsible was utterly unreasonable and truly disgraceful.”

IKM, a non-Arab from Darfur, initially came to England to study but then decided to claim asylum in the Republic of Ireland, believing that she could not claim in England because she possessed a student visa.

Her asylum claim was rejected and her appeal dismissed in 2010.

She made her way back to England via Belfast to an area in north-east England where a local Sudanese community came to her aid.

However, the Home Office ordered that she be dumped in Dublin, pointing to the Dublin Convention asylum rules which state that the country where the claim was lodged bears the responsibility.

But the judge said that was rubbish — IKM’s story was solid and five doctors agreed she was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

“In circumstances such as these, it is difficult to see this as other than a cast-iron case for asylum in this country,” he said.

Ms May “should seriously consider whether it really is humanitarian to require” an unbending following of the rules “rather than adopting a compassionate approach in the particular circumstances of this case.”

David Mitchell, applying for permission to appeal on behalf of the Home Office, claimed the ruling “emasculated” the Dublin Convention.

But Justice Collins dismissed the claim, saying the government had the choice whether or not to stick strictly to it.

Ms May still has the option to go to the appeal court directly.

Australian pro-refugee rallies, 11 October

This 7 September 2015 video is called Australia says refugees are welcome.

From daily News Line in Britain:

Wednesday, 7 October 2015


AUSTRALIANS will be hitting the streets in their thousands in cities and towns across the country on Sunday, 11th October in opposition to the government’s inhumane treatment of refugees in detention centres both on Australian soil and offshore on Manus Island and Nauru.

There will be mass rallies at 11am on Sunday in Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Darwin, Brisbane, and Adelaide. In the capital Canberra, whistleblower Tobias Gunn, a former Save the Children worker who has seen the deplorable conditions on Nauru first hand, will be one of the speakers at the main rally.

Gunn will be speaking out against the horrors of detention on Manus Island and Nauru. These include the physical, psychological and sexual abuse of men, women and children, and the silencing of doctors and other workers from speaking out about this abuse through the use of the draconian Border Force Act.

Refugee Action organisers declare: ‘Bring your friends and family or link up with one of the many groups attending and representing the diversity of Canberra’s community standing up for refugees. ‘Union contingents like CPSU, NTEU, IEU (Independent School Teachers), Nurses, AEU (public school teachers) and AMWU will be there.

‘There is a more humane, cost-effective, practical and proven alternative to the government’s cruel policy of deterrence. ‘It’s based on the system Australia operated in the 1970s and 1980s to eventually resettle more than 100,000 Indochinese refugees. Join us! Stand up for refugees and tell Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and the government that there is a better way and that Australia needs to completely abandon its shameful and inhumane refugee policy.’

Refugee Action are demanding:
• NO Turnbacks
• Close Manus & Nauru
• NO Border Force Act
• End Mandatory Detention’

Ahead of Sunday’s demonstration, the Melbourne Refugee Action Collective issued an Open Letter to the Refugee Movement. Entitled Kids Out, All Out! it stated: ‘Everyone wants children out of detention. The Australian Human Rights Commission report, “The Forgotten Children 2014”, which was released in early 2015, renewed interest in and drew attention to the situation of children in detention.

‘As a result, we have seen the formation of groups such as “Grandmothers Against Detention of Refugee Children”. The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre has “Kids Out” as one of its key campaigns. Since the election of Malcolm Turnbull, the Greens have also prioritised the focus on children. Their spokesperson Adam Bandt said a key test for Turnbull would be “Releasing children who are locked up in detention”.

‘And “GetUp’s” campaigner Shen Narayanasamy recently argued: “People might be swayed by the Stop the Boats rhetoric, but they draw the line at child abuse”.

But the truth is that there are few children in detention even if you count Nauru as well, where there were 87 as of July. The issue for children on Nauru is not detention per se, it is the fact that they are incarcerated on Nauru.

‘Getting them out of detention, only to leave them on Nauru would be worse than an empty victory. Keeping families and children on Nauru is still child abuse. By continuing to focus on “children in detention”, there is a serious risk of both disorienting the people in those groups and also misdirecting their significant energy and mobilising ability.

‘Limiting the focus to children, inadvertently actually limits the impact on the government. The fact is that the government is getting children out of detention including significant numbers out of detention on Nauru. Things have moved on since the “Forgotten Children”. To end the abuse of children, we have to end offshore processing and close Nauru.

‘It is time to campaign for what we really mean – close Manus, close Nauru. We also need to end mandatory detention, onshore as well as offshore. So long as the architecture of detention and deterrence exists, there is always a risk that children and others will be detained again in the future. Detention is not OK for anyone. It is understandable that people think campaigning for children is a relatively soft target, that can appeal to a much wider layer than “end offshore processing”.

‘It is also sometimes argued that “children out” is only a first step; and that the groups will then go on to campaign against offshore processing after “children out” is achieved. But that is not the way politics works. When (former Autralian premier) Howard released the children from detention in 2005, “ChildOut” folded. There are ways to tap into concerns about children in detention without disarming the campaign groups. Our slogans have to be “Free the Children; Free Everyone; Close Manus & Nauru; End Offshore processing”.

‘With the ascension of Turnbull it is essential that we don’t sell the campaign short. More and more people see through the Liberals’ “Stop the Boats” slogan. More than ever we have to demand: “Stop the abuse – free ALL the refugees”.’ The detention centre on the South Pacific island nation of Nauru was opened in 2001 for up to 800 people and the use of immigration detention facilities is now part of a policy of mandatory detention in Australia.

On 19 July 2013 there was a major riot in the detention centre with several buildings destroyed by fire. A TV programme on sexual assault allegations on Nauru last week lifted the lid on the scale of abuse women are suffering there. In one case, it was shown that the Australian government, Border Force, and IHMS (the medical provider on Nauru) have ignored the request for a termination by a 23-year-old Somali woman who became pregnant after a sexual assault. She is now 10 weeks pregnant.

‘The need for action by the government to meet her request grows more urgent by the day,’ said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition. Despite her requesting a termination for weeks, the woman is now 10 weeks pregnant. It is simply unbelievable that health authorities have not acted sooner. She is in a fragile state, yet those who have a duty of care are recklessly playing with her mental and physical health.’

The woman, known as Najma on the TV programme, should be brought to Australia immediately, he insisted. ‘Najma lives in daily terror,’ said Rintoul, ‘Like other refugee women in the community on Nauru, she is completely vulnerable. Many of the refugee houses are remote; have no lighting and no security. Like so many others, the perpetrators of her assault remain at large. Their houses are not secure; the door locks can be, and often are, slipped with a knife blade, leaving them exposed to assault and theft.

‘Many of the Somali women refugees on Nauru have been found to be refugees because they have been victims of sexual abuse. Najma was held captive by a rebel Somali group in 2004 and 2005 and was sexually assaulted and abused over those two years and her suffering didn’t stop then. Rather than finding protection on Nauru, Najma is facing the same kind of persecution she faced in Somalia.

‘The government has been aware of the shocking rate of sexual abuse on Nauru for a long time. One Iranian rape victim was kept on Nauru from May until August before finally being brought to Australia. She is still waiting for her family to join her. The Australian government has created a living hell for Najma and others on Nauru. Nauru is not safe, and must be closed.

‘Malcolm Turnbull has made concern about domestic violence a hallmark of the new government. The violence against women on Nauru is as bad as the domestic violence in Australia. It is violence that the government is ultimately responsible for. The Prime Minister has the power to immediately to end the violence against the refugee women on Nauru. The only question is, will he?’

AUSTRALIA plans to offload its responsibilities to refugees onto the Philippines, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said yesterday. Amid a refugee crisis that rivals that in the Mediterranean, Australia’s right-wing government wants its poorer neighbours to take in those fleeing war and poverty but unwelcome Down Under: here.