British government plans to deport torture victim


Janahan Sivanathan

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Fears for victim of torture spark rally

Friday 12th June 2015

CAMPAIGNERS in Yorkshire will protest outside Home Office buildings in Sheffield today over the threatened deportation of a 22-year-old torture victim from Sri Lanka.

Supporters say Janahan Sivanathan, a Tamil living in Doncaster, was “horrendously tortured” in captivity in 2009, during Sri Lanka’s civil war, when he was a school student.

They are demanding he be allowed to stay in Britain.

Protest organiser Alistair Tice said: “There was a genocide against Tamils in Sri Lanka in 2009, with 100,000 killed or missing.

“The Foreign Office’s latest report on Sri Lanka found that there were continued allegations of police involvement in torture and custodial deaths, as well as in extrajudicial killings throughout 2014.”

Mr Sivanathan is to report to the Home Office today. The last time he did so, he was detained. The protest is at 1.30pm.

22 year old man detained regardless of UK rules forbidding detention of torture survivors: here.

A GLASGOW student was feared dead yesterday after he disappeared in Pakistan following his deportation by the Home Office: here.

European Union likes wars, hates refugees from those wars


This video says about itself:

Libyan refugees rejected by Italy set up camp in Hamburg – FOCUS – 06/12/2013

When the Libyan war broke out two years ago, thousands fled the country in search of security and employment. Many made their way to the island of Lampedusa in Italy, but the Italian authorities closed reception facilities, and gave the migrants a few hundred euros to leave. Now hundreds of Africans from Togo, Ghana and the Ivory Coast have set up camp in Hamburg. Our correspondents spoke to some who have taken up quarters in a church.

By Martin Kreickenbaum in Germany:

European Union squabbles over refugee quotas

30 May 2015

The refugee question has once again revealed the true nature of the European Union. While military intervention on the coast of Libya to destroy refugee boats is welcomed by all member states, the question of accepting refugees has unleashed a fierce dispute inside the EU.

On Wednesday, the EU Commission presented an “immigration agenda,” which, among other things, foresees 40,000 refugees from Italy and Greece being dispersed to other EU countries over the next two years under a quota system. In addition, 20,000 Syrians from refugee camps outside Europe would also be settled in the EU.

The EU Commission created distribution quotas taking into account the respective population, gross domestic product, unemployment rate and number of refugees already recorded. Accordingly, Germany would take most of the refugees (around 18 percent), followed by France and Spain. However, the UK, Ireland and Denmark are excluded from the quota system, having agreed arrangements with the European Union some years ago freeing them from participation in such joint actions.

The basis for the EU Commission proposal is Article 78 (3) of the Lisbon Treaty, which provides for the resettlement of refugees within the European Union if individual member states face “a sudden influx of third country nationals in need.” The EU Commission has announced that it will pay 6,000 euros from an emergency pot to the host country for each resettled refugee. But despite this miserable haggling over refugees, a sharp conflict between the EU member states has broken out over the quota system.

Even before the plans were presented to the public, there was fierce opposition to the proposals. British Home Secretary Theresa May said beforehand that the UK would not under any circumstances participate in a quota system for distributing refugees. Last weekend, French President François Hollande said, “It’s out of the question to have immigrant quotas because we have rules on border checks and policies for overseeing immigration.”

He was repeating statements made by the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who rejected the planned quota system with openly xenophobic arguments, calling it a “proposal bordering on madness.” Appealing to nationalistic and xenophobic sentiments, Orban stated, “Europe must remain the continent of Europeans, and Hungary the country of Hungarians.”

Also opposing the proposed quota system are the governments of Spain, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland and Slovakia. Those speaking in favour are those states that have so far taken the largest share of refugees, or because of their location at the external border of the EU have been most affected by the refugee influx.

The quota system is a bureaucratic monstrosity that enforces the dispersal of traumatized refugees like general cargo across the continent, in some cases transporting them to countries where there is no functioning asylum system, where they are locked up in camps or have to live on the street without any support. Of course, this not the reason why the quota system is being rejected by European governments.

Although the EU Commission proposal only concerns refugees coming from Syria and Eritrea, whose asylum recognition rate in the EU is more than 75 percent, they are being denounced as “economic refugees.”

For example, instead of a quota system, Hollande demanded that all “economic refugees” be immediately deported. He said, “People who come because they think that Europe is a prosperous continent, even when they are not hired by companies…must be escorted back, that’s the rule.”

British Home Secretary Theresa May employed similar reasoning, urging that refugee boats should not even be allowed to reach Europe, but sent back to safe landing sites in North Africa. The Hungarian, Polish and Spanish governments justified their refusal to accept refugees, saying that they were “economic migrants.”

In reality, the growing number of refugees is a direct result of the military and political interventions of the European powers and the United States in the Middle East and North Africa. The Iraq war, the bombing of Libya, the fomenting of civil wars in Syria, Yemen and other countries, and the arming of Islamist groups by the Western powers and their regional allies have destroyed whole societies and driven millions to flee their homes.

In the last 18 months alone, more than 5,000 refugees have drowned or died of hunger or thirst in a desperate attempt to reach Europe via the Mediterranean Sea. In the first four months of this year, 26,000 refugees have reached Italy and 28,000 have reached Greece. There is no functioning intake system for asylum seekers in both countries. Refugees are often left to fend for themselves and face being homeless on the street.

At the same time, refugees who drowned in the Mediterranean or live in limbo on the edges of Europe are used as justification for further military interventions by the European Union. As fierce as the dispute is over their intake and distribution of refugees, even greater is the consensus on military action off the coast of Libya.

For the European governments, it is not a question of protecting migrants from unscrupulous people smugglers, as military interventions are officially justified. Rather, refugees should be apprehended far away from the coasts and borders of Europe, and access to the resource-rich regions of Africa secured. How far the EU intends to go is clear from official documents published by Statewatch and Wikileaks last week.

An internal EU paper describes in detail the four phases of the planned operation. According to military intelligence, refugee boats should first be taken into international waters and in a second phase of the operation, destroyed. In a third phase, if possible with a UN mandate or the agreement of the Libyan government in Tobruk, operations could also be conducted on land. Special Forces would “conduct operations along the coast, in harbours or against smugglers’ ships at anchor before they are used.” Fuel depots and other facilities used by the smugglers and traffickers are to be destroyed. What remains unclear is whether the EU will also conduct these actions without a mandate if necessary.

The EU Commission does not fail to point out that “operations against smugglers in the presence of migrants pose a high risk of collateral damage” and could mean the loss of human lives. They clearly accept that military action can lead to numerous deaths. In Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and in the global drone war conducted by the United States, so-called “precision operations” against infrastructure targets have led to massive “collateral damage” among the civilian population.

The EU Commission is already preparing for such an eventuality. A report by the EU Military Council proposes an “information strategy” that minimises “the EU’s reputational loss in case of loss of human life being ascribed to the EU mission.” To this end, it should be made clear from the beginning that “the focus is [not] to rescue migrants at sea but that the aim of the operation is to disrupt the migrant-smuggling business model.”

The boss of the department of crisis response and current operations of the EU Military Council used to be Greek General Georgios Epitideios. General Georgios Epitideios today is still in Brussels; now as a Member of the European parliament for the nazi Golden Dawn party.

It looks like that even after the transfer of General Georgios Epitideios, his neo-fascist xenophobia is still alive at the EU Military Council.

The Military Council also proposes a massive operation on land, whose tasks include “seizure of vessels…neutralisation of smugglers’ vessels and assets…hostage rescue…temporary detention of those posing a threat to the force or suspected of crimes.”

The document of the Military Council also points out that the success of the entire mission is expected to be very low if a UN mandate is absent for military operations on the Libyan coast and it applies only to phases one and two—monitoring and military surveillance and the confiscation and destruction of boats on the high seas.

On the other hand, a successful mission, according to the document, could not exclude that migration movements are displaced to the western and eastern Mediterranean. An extension of the action to Tunisia and Egypt, and close cooperation with the local military, was therefore advisable. In plain language, this means nothing other than that the European Union is seeking to turn all of North Africa into a war zone.

Unless we abandon our addiction to military intervention, the world’s refugee crisis will never come to an end, writes JEREMY CORBYN: here.

Genocide of Rohingya in Myanmar


This video says about itself:

Attacks on Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar (2013)

Government police attacks on Muslims in Myanmar instigated by extremist Buddhist monk U Wirathu. Graphic and violence content.

By Ramzy Baroud:

MYANMAR‘S SHAME

Tuesday 26th May 1915

The world’s most persecuted minority are being abandoned in their darkest hour, writes RAMZY BAROUD

“NOPE, nope, nope,” was Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s answer to the question whether his country will take in any of the nearly 8,000 Rohingya refugees stranded at sea.

Abbott’s logic is as pitiless as his decision to abandon the world’s most persecuted minority in their darkest hour. “Don’t think that getting on a leaky boat at the behest of a people smuggler is going to do you or your family any good,” he said.

But Abbott is hardly the main party in the ongoing suffering of Rohingyas, a Muslim ethnic group living in Myanmar, or Burma.

The whole south-east Asian region is culpable. It has ignored the plight of the Rohingya for years.

While tens of thousands of Rohingya are being ethnically cleansed, having their villages torched, forced into concentration camps and some into slavery, Myanmar is being celebrated by various Western and Asian powers as a success story of a military junta-turned democracy.

“After Myanmar moved from dictatorship toward democracy in 2011, newfound freedoms of expression gave voice to Buddhist extremists who spewed hatred against the religious minority and said Muslims were taking over the country,” reported the Associated Press from the former Myanmar capital Yangon.

That “newfound freedom of expression” has cost hundreds of people their lives, thousands their properties and “another 140,000 Rohingya were driven from their homes and are now living under apartheid-like conditions in crowded displacement camps.”

While one may accept that freedom of expression sometimes invites hate speech, the idea that Myanmar’s supposed democracy has resulted in the victimisation of the Rohingya is as far from the truth as it gets.

Their endless suffering goes back decades and is considered one of the darkest chapters in south-east Asia’s modern history.

When they were denied citizenship in 1982 — despite the fact that it is believed that they descended from Muslim traders who settled in Arakan and other Myanmar regions over 1,000 years ago — their persecution became almost an official policy.

Even those who take to the sea to escape hardship in Myanmar find the coveted salvation hard to achieve.

“In Myanmar, they are subjected to forced labour, have no land rights and are heavily restricted. In Bangladesh many are also desperately poor, with no documents or job prospects,” reported the BBC.

And since many parties are interested in the promotion of the illusion of the rising Myanmar democracy few governments care about the Rohingya.

Despite recent grandstanding by Malaysia and Indonesia about the willingness to conditionally host the surviving Rohingya who have been stranded at sea for many days, the region as a whole has been “extremely unwelcoming,” according to Chris Lewa of the Rohingya activist group Arakan Project.

The stories of those who survive are as harrowing as those who die while floating at sea, with no food or water.

In a documentary aired late last year, Al-Jazeera reported on some of these stories.

“Muhibullah spent 17 days on a smuggler’s boat where he saw a man thrown overboard. On reaching Thai shores, he was bundled into a truck and delivered to a jungle camp packed with hundreds of refugees and armed men, where his nightmare intensified. Bound to shafts of bamboo, he says he was tortured for two months to extract a $2,000 ransom from his family.

“Despite the regular beatings, he felt worse for women who were dragged into the bush and raped. Some were sold into debt bondage, prostitution and forced marriage.”

Human rights groups report on such horror daily, but much of it fails to make it to media coverage simply because the plight of the Rohingya doesn’t constitute a “pressing matter.”

Human rights only matter when they are tied into an issue of significant political or economic weight.

Yet somehow the Rohingyas seep into our news occasionally, as they did in June 2012 and later months, when Rakhine Buddists went on violent rampages, burning villages and setting people ablaze under the watchful eye of the Myanmar police.

Then Myanmar was being elevated to non-pariah state status, with the support and backing of the US and European countries.

It is not easy to sell Myanmar as a democracy while its people are hunted down like animals, forced into deplorable camps, trapped between the army and the sea where thousands have no other escape but “leaky boats” and the Andaman Sea. Abbott might want to do some research before blaming the Rohingyas for their own misery.

So far, the “democracy” gambit is working, and many companies are now setting up offices in Yangon and preparing for massive profits.

This is all while hundreds of thousands of innocent children, women and men are being caged like animals in their own country, stranded at sea or held for ransom in some neighbouring jungle.

Association of Southeast Asian Nations countries must understand that good neighbourly relations cannot fully rely on trade and that human rights violators must be held accountable and punished for their crimes.

No efforts should be spared to help fleeing Rohingyas, and real international pressure must be enforced so that Myanmar abandons its infuriating arrogance.

Even if we are to accept that Rohingyas are not a distinct minority, as the Myanmar government argues, that doesn’t justify the unbearable persecution they have been enduring for years and the periodic acts of ethnic cleansing and genocide.

A minority or not, they are human, deserving of full protection under national and international law.

While one is not asking the US and its allies for war or sanctions, the least one should expect is that Myanmar must not be rewarded for its fraudulent democracy as it brutalises its minorities.

Failure to do so should compel civil society organisations to stage boycott campaigns of companies that conduct business with the Myanmar government.

Ramzy Baroud is the author of several books and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com. He is currently completing his PhD studies at the University of Exeter. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London).

As delegates from 19 countries gather today in Bangkok for a meeting on “irregular migration in the Indian Ocean,” more evidence has emerged of the horrors facing thousands of Bangladeshis and Rohingya Muslims from Burma fleeing persecution and poverty. All of the countries attending the meeting, in one way or another, bear responsibility for their plight: here.

Life inside a Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh: here.

German police torture of refugees


This video from Germany says about itself:

Refugees in hunger strike for freedom in Germany

7 June 2014

Yassir, since 10 days in hunger strike in a refugee protest in a camp in Hannover. Days ago three other Sudanese refugees from the camp joined him in solidarity for their demands.

Yassir start his hunger strike at 28 May, a day after German police attacked the camp without any reason.

They decided to continue their hunger strike until their demands are realized, including freedom to move.

By Verena Nees in Germany:

German police officer accused of torturing refugees

21 May 2015

The pictures inevitably recall the most disturbing images from Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib. But this time they come from the German city of Hannover.

A police officer has been accused of abuse in Hannover, allegedly having tortured refugees in holding cells. According to research by regional broadcaster NDR, there were at least two cases of abuse. They allegedly took place at the holding cells of the federal police at Hannover’s main train station in 2014.

The victim, a 29-year-old refugee from Afghanistan, had no passport when he was checked in March 2014 and was therefore taken into custody at the train station. His treatment was described in a message written by the officer to police colleagues using the Whatsapp messaging service: “[I] have put him away. An Afghan. With a travel ban. Stuck my finger in his nose. And poked. Was funny. And dragged by the bound feet through the cell. That was nice. Squealed like a pig. That was a present from Allah.”

The second case involved a 19-year-old Moroccan from Tangiers. He was detained by the federal police in Hannover, according to NDR, because he was travelling in a train without a ticket. The officers allegedly found marijuana in his socks.

The Moroccan teen also ended up in the Hannover holding cells where he was humiliated by the police, held on the floor and forced to eat rancid pork.

The evidence of this was provided by the accused officer who presented a mobile phone picture. It shows a man lying on the floor in an unnatural position, the hands secured by handcuffs and the face distorted in pain. It appears as though the man was held down by two policemen, as the tips of their boots can be seen in the picture.

In the text message cited by NDR, it states, “This is a Moroccan, I turned him white. XY [the immediate superior] said that he heard him upstairs, and that he had squealed like a pig. Then the bastard ate the rest of the rotten pork from the fridge like an animal from the floor.”

A colleague described the incident: “He got the rancid pork from the fridge. It was the leftovers of our breakfast at the weekend. The food was green, so obviously off. As he got it, he said he wanted to do something good, because he was a friend of humanity. His tone made clear that he meant this ironically. And then we were asked to leave the room. I assume that he actually gave him the ground pork.”

The Hannover state prosecutor is investigating initial suspicion of bodily harm by a police officer on duty and the breach of the arms law, after two unnamed individuals filed complaints against the officer. They were not associated with the victim and are likely fellow police officers. The accusers in any case are well-informed, and knew about the messages.

During a search of the service quarters of the accused officer, as well as his private home on Friday, an illegal weapon was found, according to senior state prosecutor Klinge. As the two complainants asserted, the man held his service weapon to the temple of a colleague in 2013 and demanded that he perform sexual acts. Five other officers allegedly witnessed the incident. There had been a number of other occasions in the police department when weapons were turned on colleagues, an insider told NDR.

The facts revealed thus far have produced horror across the country. Holger Nitz, from the Lower Saxony association of criminal defence lawyers stated in an NDR report on Monday that the incidents bordered on torture and recalled “grim associations” and he was “reminded of “very grim times.”

The refugee organisation ProAsyl declared that the incidents displayed a horrifying degree of racism and inhumanity. ProAsyl director Günter Burkhardt called for criminal prosecutions, including the prosecution of those who potentially knew about the incidents. “The scandal within the scandal is the inactivity of those in police uniforms who knew what was happening,” said Burkhardt.

By contrast, officials from the police trade union (GdP) and politicians from the Social Democrats (SPD) and Christian Democratic Union (CDU) described the scandal as a one-off event. …

In reality, the torture practiced by the federal police in Hannover is only the high point of a growing number of incidents in which police have abused refugees.

The abuse of refugees at a centre in North Rhein-Westphalia was made public last autumn. The residents were systematically humiliated and tortured by employees of a private security firm. In this case also, representatives of all the political parties sought to present it as an exceptional case. It was claimed that problem was the private security services, within which individual criminals had developed. While the police investigated the security firm Burbach, it was revealed that the police had previously known about the abuses taking place at the facility.

The mistreatment of refugees now extends to the police themselves. The sadism of the police officer and his possible accomplices is shocking. Even more horrifying is his open sharing of his acts with his colleagues over Whatsapp and in text messages. Obviously the perpetrator believed that many of his colleagues would approve of such torture practices against refugees.

These anti-social attitudes are being encouraged by a political climate of agitation against refugees and hostility towards Muslims promoted by the German government and the European Union. The suspension of rescue missions in the Mediterranean Sea last year resulted in the horrifying deaths of around 2,000 refugees within a few days. Now they are responding by proceeding with military operations to stem the flow of refugees.

At the same time, the abuses are a warning sign of changes within the state apparatus. In 2002, the use of the threat of torture to extract a confession in the kidnapping of a banker’s son provoked a month-long public debate about the legitimacy of torture, which was promoted by many. The WSWS warned at the time of a step in the direction of a police state. Ultimately, a series of court rulings, the last in 2012, confirmed the ban on torture and issued a symbolic fine to the state of Hesse which employed the officers.

The current incidents involving the federal police in Hannover, based on what is already known, make clear that in spite of an official ban, torture has established itself as a routine part of police activity behind the backs of the population. While refugees fleeing from the wars in the Middle East and North Africa are the immediate target for torture, such practices are aimed ultimately at the working class and will be deployed to suppress social opposition to militarism, war and the growing assault on social rights.

German police brutality scandal: Officers in Hanover accused of racism. A rights organization has accused German federal police of “an appalling level of racism and contempt for human beings.” Prosecutors are looking into the torture of migrants by officers in Hanover: here.