Disabled Syrian refugee will carry Olympic torch


This video says about itself:

Disabled Syrian Refugee to Carry Olympic Torch

22 April 2016

A victim of the war in Syria will take part in the Olympic torch relay in Greece to raise awareness of the plight of refugees from his homeland.

Anti-refugee terrorism in Germany


This September 2015 video is called Germany: Arson attack leaves Wertheim refugee shelter uninhabitable.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Five nabbed in raids on far-right group in Germany

Wednesday 20th April 2016

FOUR men and a woman were arrested in Germany yesterday on suspicion of forming a right-wing terror group with the aim of attacking refugees’ homes and other facilities.

The Freital group, named after a suburb of the eastern city of Dresden subject to a string of anti-refugee protests and other incidents, was formed last July or earlier, federal prosecutors said.

The group had acquired more than 100 banger-type fireworks from the Czech Republic, prosecutors said.

“With today’s operation, the security authorities have dealt a powerful blow to a regional right-wing terrorist group,” Interior Minister Thomas DeMaiziere said in a statement.

The deaths of hundreds of refugees in the Mediterranean on Monday is not only a tragedy, it is a crime. Those responsible are the governments in Washington, Berlin, Athens, Rome and other European capitals, as well as the European Union Commission in Brussels: here.

German government backs draconian refugee “integration” law: here.

Refugees’ human rights violated in deportations to Turkey


This video says about itself:

Protesting deportation to Turkey at the VIAL detention Center on Chios, Greece, April 3, 2016

18 April 2016

A video given to Human Rights Watch shows Shila Ahmadi wailing as about 15 riot police with helmets and shields approach. A group of men nearby starts chanting: “This is Europe, it’s a shame on you!” and “It’s not human rights!”

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Human rights violated by expulsions to Turkey

Today, 11:10

The first expulsion of migrants from Greece to Turkey was chaotic and violated human rights. So says Human Rights Watch after conversations with 12 friends of 19 Afghans who were returned on April 4 from the Greek island Chios to Turkey.

According to HRW, the migrants did not know they were deported, they had no idea where they were going and some were not allowed to bring personal belongings like backpacks and mobile phones.

A friend of three expelled Afghans told Human Rights Watch: “Ilias, Mohammad and Reza were told they had to register, they walked away happily and when they came out the police was waiting for them. If they had known that they would be deported, then they would have brought their bags, their papers and their money.”

Crying protest

According to HRW the group of 66 people was driven together in one building, where later that day a protest broke out. About 15 police officers with helmets and shields kept the group under control.

According to HRW policemen then tied the hands of the refugees behind their backs and they were then put into a police van. Jackets, bags, money and cell phones were not allowed to go along.

It seems that the Greek authorities were in a hurry to reach the number of deportees that had been agreed between the European Union and Turkey, HRW concludes.

According to numerous news sources, another disaster involving a refugee boat took place Monday in the Mediterranean Sea. Italian President Sergio Mattarella spoke of several hundred deaths, while German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier confirmed over 300. Somalia’s ambassador in Egypt told BBC Arabic that there were 400 deaths: here.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) have now confirmed that a refugee boat went down earlier this week between the Libyan port of Tobruk and the Greek island of Crete. Both organisations, based on the testimony of 41 survivors, estimate that up to 500 refugees died in the disaster: here.

Hollande sheds crocodile tears over refugees in Lebanon visit: here.

European Union bungling, refugees drowning


This video says about itself:

Hundreds of refugees reportedly drown in Mediterranean

18 April 2016

Sergio Mattarella said Europe needs to reflect on the new disaster. The asylum seekers were reportedly fleeing from Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea. They died when their boats capsized near Egypt. The Somali ambassador in Egypt says over 4-hundred are thought to have lost their lives. European countries have recently reduced search and rescue operations for likely stranded refugee boats. They took the measure as part of plans to halt the inflow of asylum seekers, escaping war in Africa and in the Middle East, especially Syria.

From daily The Independent in Britain today:

Fears 400 refugees have drowned in Mediterranean after boats capsize

Reports say the refugees were fleeing to Italy from Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

EU neglect on search and rescue ‘killed refugees’ in Mediterranean

Monday 18th April 2016

EUROCRATS are guilty of “killing by neglect” by cutting rescue missions in the Mediterranean, potentially costing the lives of more than 1,500 refugees, academics revealed yesterday.

A report said that charities and UN officials warned European Union policymakers against ending Italy-led search and rescue mission Mare Nostrum in 2014.

Triton, its replacement, deployed fewer ships and prioritised deterring refugees over rescue operations.

The move could have a disastrous effect and lead to far more deaths at sea, according to the report, Death By Rescue: The Lethal Effects Of The EU’s Policies Of Non-assistance At Sea.

Documents unearthed by British academics showed the European border force Frontex pushed ahead with the change despite an internal assessment warning that if it was not properly planned, it “would likely result in a higher number of fatalities.”

The subsequent scaling-back of search-and-rescue operations during the refugee crisis “created the conditions that led to massive loss of life,” the report concludes.

Over 1,500 refugees died trying to cross the sea in the months after the change was implemented.

Report co-author Charles Heller of Goldsmiths, University of London said policymakers were guilty of “institutionalised wilful neglect.”

He asked: “Can we really qualify the ending of Mare Nostrum and its replacement by Triton, in all knowledge of the consequences this would have, as a mistake?

“I would rather argue that this was a case of institutionalised wilful neglect, and that European policymakers and Frontex have made themselves guilty of killing by omission.”

We face the greatest displacement of humanity in decades — more than 60 million people forced from their homes by war, misery or oppression from places like Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, or Eritrea. A tiny percentage of these desperate men, women and children have risked their lives on overcrowded boats and knocked on Europe’s front door. Faced with this crisis, European leaders were given a choice — to work together to provide asylum and help those in need, or push people out of sight to other countries, where the European public cannot see their suffering and where European leaders can more easily hide their shame. They chose the latter: here.

Pope Francis I meets refugees on Lesvos


This video says about itself:

Greek minister slams conditions at Idomeni refugee camp

18 March 2016

Greek Interior Minister Panagiotis Kouroumplis compared the Idomeni refugee site on the border between Greece and Macedonia to the infamous Dachau concentration camp while on a visit.

“I wouldn’t hesitate to say that this is a modern Dachau,” Kouroumplis said during his visit to the camp where thousands of people live in improvised tents, deprived of basic necessities, on Friday.

Idomeni “is a logical result of closed borders,” he said, adding that Greece “believes in Europe without borders.” Two improvised camps, hosting over 15,000 migrants, sprung up near the Idomeni crossing in late February after the Macedonian authorities closed its borders amid a massive refugee crisis in the EU.

Kouroumplis expressed regret over “the awakening of a kind of nationalism against the persecuted people” in Europe. He acknowledged that accepting 1.5 million migrants in no easy task, but said that the people stuck at Idomeni “didn’t leave their countries by choice, but were forced to flee by wars, in which Europe also participated.”

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Tears and drawings as pope meets refugees on Lesvos

Today, 10:07

Edited today, 11:57

Hundreds of selected migrants could greet Pope Francis this morning. He had traveled to Lesvos to see with his own eyes the consequences of the refugee crisis.

Some migrants were in tears when Francis passed. Others called out their countries of origin: Afghanistan, Syria. The pope took drawings received from children and praised a girl for her work. His entourage received the drawing and were told not to fold it because he wanted to have it on his desk.

Dozens of migrants who were not invited tried to to get a glimpse of the visit from behind the fences. This afternoon there will be a lunch with eight migrants who will tell their stories. Then they will lay a wreath into the sea in memory of migrants who have drowned in the Mediterranean Sea in their attempts to reach Lesvos.

Talking to Tsipras

Francis was accompanied by the leader of the Orthodox Church and the archbishop of Athens. Together they will discuss the situation with the Greek Prime Minister Tsipras. Tsipras said upon receiving the Pope that it is a historic visit, and that he is proud to offer the migrants shelter. “Especially at a time when some of our partners, even dropping the name of a Christian Europe, build walls and fences to prevent defenseless people from finding a better life.”

Greece currently offers more than 50,000 refugees shelter. Most arrive on Lesvos, on boats from Turkey. For two weeks now the people who are coming are returned to Turkey as part of the agreement that the EU concluded with Turkey.

Humanitarian, not political

The Vatican stressed that the visit is of a humanitarian and religious nature and not a criticism of the EU agreement. But at the same time the cardinal who on behalf of the Vatican deals with migration indeed criticized the agreement. According to him, the agreement deals with migrants as goods that can be traded back and forth.

According to Greek media Francis will take ten refugees back with him, eight Syrians and two Afghans. The details thereof are not yet known. Especially the two Afghans are symbolic, because migrants from Afghanistan are no longer automatically recognized as refugees.

Turkish government sending Syrian refugees back to war


This video says about itself:

Turkey is sending Syrian refugees back to war zone, claims Amnesty

1 April 2016

Is Turkey a safe country for Syrian refugees?

Amnesty International doesn’t think so.

And with Europe’s deal on returning migrants there taking effect from Monday, “the rights group claims that Ankara has been forcing thousands of Syrians to go back to their war-torn homeland.

“The Turkish government needs to stop this blatantly illegal and inhumane practice’.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Turkey sends refugees back to Syria

Today, 18:21

Turkey indeed actively sends Syrian refugees back to war zones. According to research by the NOS in the Turkish province of Hatay. Eyewitnesses and refugees themselves declare that almost daily buses with refugees cross the border, including in recent days.

Amnesty International wrote two weeks ago in a report that there has been refoulement for over a thousand people in recent months. Nevertheless, last week Monday the EU-Turkey deal started, and the first expulsions of refugees from the Greek islands to Turkey. Turkey strongly opposed the allegations of Amnesty International.

Buses across the border

Correspondent Luke Waagmeester visited Hatay in response to the Amnesty report. He met eyewitnesses who saw buses with Syrian men, women and children cross the border.

He also met people living in the border area, relatives of refugees who have been sent back and a human rights lawyer who collected many files on the refoulements.

Eyewitness

“Two days ago I saw there also four large buses passing by. Children and families,” says Yunus Dolgun. He lives near the border in Hatay.

They went according to Dolgun to the border at Cilvegözü, a border town 50 kilometers west of Syrian Aleppo. “Even last night I saw three minibuses over there. From Antakya to Cilvegözü, from there to Syria.”

Deportations

“Migration Offices in cities across the country bring refugees here, and from here they go to the border at Cilvegözü. From there they will be deported,” said human rights lawyer Hatice Can, who has collecting eyewitness statements for a number of months.

Can gets those statements regularly to the local immigration office in Hatay. “They say it is not their business. But they do not deny in front of me loudly that deportations happen here.”

Syrian Mahmoud Bitar has been living in Hatay for two years. His cousin fled four times to Turkey, and was sent back four times. “She was already in Turkey and ran into an ambush of the border police. The next day they were deported by bus to Syria. The last time was in February.”

Bitar: “The refoulements do happen, no doubt, I’ve seen them with my own eyes and I have friends on the Syrian side of the border who see it happen. I do not know why the Turkish authorities and Europeans close their eyes to it… and pretend it does not exist.”

War zone

The area where the refugees are sent back to is directly a war zone. Hatay is located on the Syrian border, near Aleppo. In Aleppo there has been since the beginning of the war, five years ago, heavy fighting between ISIS, other opposition groups and the Syrian army.

Eyewitness Yunus Dolgun sees from the roof of his home the refugee camp Atimeh, just across the border in Syria. “This entire region is under the control of the jihadist group Al-Nusra Front. You may wonder if the people who are sent back are certain to stay alive.”

Turkey denies

The Turkish government in Ankara denies the existence of deportations. …

A few weeks ago, the EU reached a deal with Turkey on the refugee issue. For every illegal refugee who is taken back to Turkey, Europe takes one Syrian. Turkey also receives three billion euros extra for refugee relief.

HELPING MIGRANTS IN EUROPE? You might be charged with human smuggling. Here’s a look at anti-migrant policies across Europe. [WaPo]

Bulgarian xenophobic paramilitarists handcuff Afghan war refugees


This 11 April 2016 video shows a Bulgarian paramilitary gang tying refugees from the Afghan war.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands today:

In Bulgaria images have turned up of vigilantes tying migrants. The amateur footage shows three migrants. They are located in a forest on the ground with their hands tied at the back. They are told that they must immediately return to Turkey. “No Bulgaria for you”, says one of the vigilantes.

According to Bulgarian media, the images are from the Strandja region, near the Turkish border. The video was posted Sunday on Facebook by one of the vigilantes, who calls himself Joseph Louis Barrow. Barrow was a famous American boxer.

Illegal action

Border police chief calls the vigilante action illegal. “In Bulgaria, only the authorities may arrest someone,” he says. According to the border police, the migrants come from Afghanistan.

“Apparently our government and the compliant media have forgotten their Bulgarian origin,” Barrow wrote this morning. “Long live Bulgaria … Death, death and death alone to the traitors.”

The BBC reports that more vigilantes are active near the Turkish-Bulgarian border. Last week a volunteer border patrol was given an award by the border police for holding 23 migrants.

AT the Idomeni crossing from Greece into Macedonia refugees are clashing with Macedonian soldiers and police, as they try to reopen the border near their makeshift camp in the northern Greek border village of Idomeni, so as to proceed into Europe. 300 people have been injured by Macedonian police firing teargas, stun grenades and rubber bullets at them, said ‘Doctors without Borders’. The teargas from the clashes has spread to the nearby camp where children are suffering from respiratory problems, and where two people have already set themselves alight in protest at their treatment: here.

By Peter Schwarz in Germany today:

Not long ago, a bitter conflict raged in Europe between advocates of sealing off Europe’s borders and supporters of a “European solution” to the refugee crisis.

The German chancellor, who insisted most explicitly on a “European solution,” was praised to the skies by liberal journalists and politicians as the “refugees’ chancellor,” who had finally discovered her heart for the vulnerable and persecuted. The Greens and sections of the Left Party joined in. There were even suggestions that Merkel be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Merkel’s opponents accused her of national betrayal and violation of the Constitution.

Now, everyone can see what a “European solution” means: sealing off Europe’s borders. War refugees, who have risked the life-threatening journey across the Aegean Sea, are detained, mistreated and sent back to Turkey, where they are interned once again by the Turkish government and then returned to their country of origin.

The concentration camps on Greek islands surrounded by barbed-wire fences, the batons and tear gas canisters with which Macedonian border police assault defenceless refugees, and the bureaucratic ruthlessness with which desperate people are bullied and expelled throughout Europe recall the grimmest chapter in German history.