Canadian singer Leonard Cohen, RIP


This music video says about itself:

I am REFUGEE—SOLIDARITY Forever… to LIFE!

29 August 2015

Leonard Cohen sings Pete Seeger’s hymn, actually for victims of the Vietnam war but I think it fits for the refugee drama of our days as well! AGAINST INTOLERANCE, STUPIDITY and HATRED against refugees from all parts of the world!

By Chris D’Angelo of the Huffington Post in the USA:

Legendary Musician Leonard Cohen Dead At 82

The Canadian singer-songwriter’s death comes just weeks after the release of his new album, “You Want It Darker.”

11/10/2016 08:56 pm ET

Canadian singer, songwriter and poet Leonard Cohen, whose voice was as golden as his lyrics were moving, has died, Sony Music confirmed on his Facebook page Thursday. He was 82.

See also here.

Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen died in Los Angeles November 7 at the age of 82. His manager Robert Kory subsequently revealed that Cohen, who had cancer, died in his sleep after falling during the night: here.

Hungarian racists quarrel among each other


This video says about itself:

26 February 2013

Hungary’s Jewish community number more than one-hundred thousand, and yet this significant group is increasingly battling anti-Semitic feeling. The rise of the radical nationalist party Jobbik has breathed new life into the country’s neo-Nazi movement causing some Jews are opting to leave Hungary altogether.

By Ben Chacko:

Hungary: Right split thwarts Orban’s bid to keep refugees out

Wednesday 9th November 2016

DIVISIONS on the far right saw Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban defeated in his bid to pass anti-refugee amendments to the constitution yesterday.

Mr Orban, head of the ruling Fidesz party, received 131 votes for the five amendments while only three MPs voted against — but this fell short of the two-thirds majority of the 199-member parliament required.

The prime minister’s changes would have ruled that a “foreign population cannot be settled in Hungary” and were designed to make European Union proposals for a quota system for dividing refugees among member states unconstitutional.

They followed last month’s referendum where 98 per cent of participants said they opposed the EU having the right to settle non-Hungarian citizens in the country without the consent of the government.

Critics said the result was a product of low turnout (just 44 per cent of citizens voted, rendering the plebiscite invalid), the choice of wording and a viciously racist state-supported propaganda campaign, which saw massive billboards alleging that the Paris terrorist attacks were carried out by “immigrants” — in fact they were not — and claiming sexual harassment of women was rising because of the refugee crisis.

Ultra-nationalist party Jobbik was expected to back Mr Orban’s amendments but instead demanded he add a clause revoking the practice of issuing “residency bonds,” by which foreigners and their immediate families receive papers if they buy a €300,000 (£242,000) five-year bond.

Fidesz parliamentary leader Lajos Kosa said adding conditions was “tantamount to treason” while Jobbik chairman Gabor Vona snarled back: “Neither rich migrants nor poor migrants, neither rich terrorists nor poor terrorists can come to Hungary.”

The defeat is a setback for the prime minister, who has successfully changed the constitution six times since he rose to power in 2010 — including adding an official condemnation of communism in 2013 that forced the country’s Communist Party to change its name and drop use of the hammer and sickle or face being banned.

Calais refugee children suffer PTSD


A demonstration of over 100,000 marched through London to welcome refugees in September 2015

From News Line daily in Britain:

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Almost all Calais refugee children suffer post-traumatic stress

ALMOST all of the children who have spent time in the so-called ‘Jungle’ camp in Calais for refugees have a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), says the Citizens UK charity.

Delays in transfers out of Calais or being housed in storage containers has left many youths with deteriorating mental health. There are also reports of children sleeping rough around the periphery of the camp.

Staff at Citizens UK say they have been sent suicidal text messages from the children, since the demolition of the refugee camp. Dr Susannah Fairweather, a psychiatrist who compiled evidence for the charity, said there had been a ‘significant deterioration in the children’s mental health,’ including a risk of suicide.

She told the Guardian: ‘As a consultant psychiatrist who has assessed children both in the “Jungle” and once they have arrived in the UK, I know the children living there experienced horrific traumas both in their home countries and their journeys there.

‘Of the children who underwent psychiatric assessment, all of them presented with psychiatric symptoms, with approximately 90% meeting the criteria for a recognised psychiatric disorder, such as PTSD and depression.’

Citizens UK says that of the 40 children being taken care of, 90% say they have ‘increased anxiety’ and over 30% report having suicidal thoughts. Just 15% of the lone children in Calais have now been transferred to Britain and 1,600 are now scattered all over France in temporary accommodation.

Last Friday, 4 November, the May Tory government said that no more children would be coming to the UK this weekend. Fairweather said: ‘The young people who have lived in the unstructured, informal camp for a prolonged period of time find it particularly difficult to adjust to life in more ordinary circumstances.

‘A temporary transfer to accommodation in France will only serve to exacerbate this.

‘The longer they are met with uncertainty from authorities about their situation, the less likely they are to trust professionals. This increases the risk that they will use unofficial systems to enter the UK, such as people smugglers.’

Many of the children are in limbo as diplomatic tensions between Paris and London continue. French President Francois Hollande is demanding that PM Theresa May and her government ‘take their share to welcome them in Britain’. However, Home Secretary Amber Rudd said it was the duty of the French government to ‘properly protect’ the children.

Meanwhile Save the Children charity has recounted another episode in the plight of refugees attempting the Mediterranean crossing. It said last Friday: ‘Two very young children, whose mother died while on board a boat ferrying refugees and migrants from North Africa to Europe, were rescued by Save the Children on Thursday 3 November as part of an operation in which more than 100 people were saved by our search and rescue vessel, the Vos Hestia.

‘Several children, including one who was as young as two, were among those on board the boat ferrying migrants and refugees. The two children who lost their mother have no other relatives with them and are now under the care of Save the Children’s on board child protection teams, who work closely with the Italian authorities. Prayers were said on board for their mother.

‘The rescue came less than 24 hours after more than 240 migrants and refugees are believed to have drowned when two rubber dinghies capsized off the North African coast, survivors told Save the Children. Only 29 people out of the at least 270 people believed to have been on board the two dinghies were pulled alive from the water. Save the Children was on hand to assist the rescue operations late on Wednesday and spotted two women who had been out at sea for hours.’

Roger Alonso, Save the Children’s team leader on the Vos Hestia said: ‘There are no words to describe the horrific events we have witnessed over the past 24 hours. We’ve seen a mother in utter shock, unable to speak after losing her baby. Two young children have witnessed their mother die in unspeakable circumstances.

‘These mothers left Africa with their children with hopes of a better future – it cost them their lives. Our team is now doing everything they can to provide support to these children, including psychological care. This needless loss of life highlights the perverse impact of current EU policy, which is focused on protecting borders rather than providing to refugees and migrants, especially those most vulnerable, legal and safe ways to reach sanctuary in our countries.’

The charity stressed: ‘Save the Children has repeatedly called for the EU to provide safe and legal routes into Europe, such as resettlement, humanitarian visas and other forms of humanitarian admissions, which should help to ensure minimum standards of protection, especially for children.

‘So far, 2016 has been the deadliest year on record for those crossing the Mediterranean, and if the number of casualties from the latest shipwreck is confirmed, more than 4,100 people will have died trying to make it to Europe from North Africa.

‘The journey is so dangerous that the likelihood of dying while trying to make the crossing is now one for every 47 arrivals.

‘Save the Children have rescued more than 1,300 people, including more than 200 children, and is continuing to conduct its life saving-operations to help prevent more people losing their lives at sea.’

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has opened a new camp in Hasansham to house newly displaced Iraqi families fleeing the military offensive in Mosul. Some 3,000 people were received at the camp last Friday and all families are being allocated a tent and receiving assistance.

At present 450 tents – enough to shelter 2,700 people – are available and 500 tents will be erected per day to house additional arrivals. The camp will be able to house 1,800 families, almost 11,000 people. Friday’s new arrivals are among an estimated 8,000 people who arrived to Khazer and Hasansham camps in the past three days.

Many have come from Gogjali and other areas on the eastern outskirts of Mosul, which saw fierce fighting three days ago and is now under the control of the Iraqi Security Forces. Frederic Cussigh, UNHCR’s Senior Field Coordinator, was in Hasansham Camp as it opened and witnessed the arrivals.

He said last Friday: ‘People arrived with nothing or next to nothing, exhausted but relieved to find safety and receive help. Everyone who arrived today will be allocated a tent and receive water and a hot meal.’

Sultan Ghassem, a 47-year-old metalworker from Gogjali, Mosul, said: ‘We left home three days ago to escape the mortars falling all around us. For the last two years we haven’t had even the basics of life, only oppression. There was no money, no work. We sold everything we owned just to eat. The only reason nothing happened to me is because I stayed in my home all the time.’

Shmala Hamdi, a 50-year-old housewife from Gogjali, said: ‘We spent two days hiding in a corner of our house sheltering from the bullets and bombs. We left our home this morning as soon as the fighting was over we fled and came straight to this camp. The last two and a half years have been no kind of life.

‘We weren’t allowed out of the house, and the boredom ate away at our souls. Now we feel safe, and I’m looking forward to sleeping properly for the first time in months. I’m worried about living in a tent during winter, but as soon as it’s safe we will go back home.’

Hasansham is one of 11 camps UNHCR is building in order to respond to an anticipated large-scale displacement from Mosul. Five camps are now ready to receive people fleeing the city.

Refugees, back to Africa, German government plan


This video says about itself:

29 May 2016

40 children, including several newborns, were among the 700+ migrants feared dead in recent shipwrecks in the Mediterranean Sea.

Recently, US American country singer Johnny Rebel (real name Clifford Joseph Trahan) died. Johnny Rebel was notorious for his racist songs, praising the Ku Klux Klan and defaming African Americans.

One of his songs is Send ‘Em All Back To Africa. In that song, he proposes to deport all African Americans, whose ancestors were mainly brought by slave traders to the present USA centuries ago, forcibly to Africa:

We oughta send ’em all back to Africa
Where they belong
We oughta send ’em all back to Africa
We oughta send ’em all back to Africa
They oughta get the hell out of America
And leave the white man alone …

I got one thing to suggest
They outta leave, and get gone
Gather up all the niggers
And go back home

Now that Johnny Rebel is dead, unfortunately his racist ideas have not died with him. Not in the USA. Not in Europe.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

German plan to send boat refugees back to Africa

Today, 06:09

The German Interior Ministry wants to return immigrants who are picked up at sea immediately back to Africa … the newspaper Welt am Sonntag writes.

The proposal, which means that refugees must apply for asylum outside the EU, is reminiscent of the Australian approach. If Germany would try to implement the plan at EU level, then that would represents a major shift in the policies of the country, which until now has a generous asylum policy.

‘Generous’, if compared to, eg, the Orban regime in Hungary. However, there have been flip-flops on this in Germany before.

“By removing the prospect that they might ever reach European shores, the migrants could be convinced that they should not embark on the perilous and expensive journey,” said a spokesperson for the department of Minister De Maizière. …

The proposal is said to have not been addressed at EU level yet.

Two refugee boats capsized this week in the Mediterranean near the Libyan coast, leading to the deaths in a 48-hour period of about 240 people. This brings the total number of refugees who have died trying to cross the Mediterranean and reach Europe to 4,220, more than ever before in a six-month period. The European Union bears full, criminal responsibility for this massive loss of life: here.

‘European Union pressure causes torture of refugees in Italy’


This Ugandan TV video says about itself:

AMNESTY REPORTS HORRIFIC REFUGEE ABUSE IN LIBYA

2 July 2016

Amnesty International, the UK-based human rights organisation, has documented horror stories of migrants and refugees who faced killings, torture, rape and starvation – mostly at the hands of traffickers in Libya.

The report, released on Friday, was based on interviews with more than 90 refugees and migrants at reception centres in the Italian cities of Puglia and Sicily who had made the journey across the Mediterranean Sea from Libya over the past few months.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Amnesty: EU pressure on Italy leads to ill-treatment of refugees

Today, 00:01

The European Union pressure on Italy in the reception of refugees leads to human rights violations. That said Amnesty in a report. The organization speaks of beatings, intimidation and imprisonment.

Europe began in 2015 with the ‘hotspot’ approach. Refugees had to be identified at different locations (hotspots) in the EU. Their fingerprints had to be recorded. In the hotspots it should be decided quickly whether the refugees may remain or will be returned to their countries of origin. Because in some countries, such as Italy, there are many refugees, the applicants had to be distributed according to an EU plan to the other European countries.

Little of this plan has materialized. Last year, according to Amnesty, 150,000 people came to Italy. 1200 of them have moved to other EU countries. That should have been 40,000. “The hotspot approach has just stepped up the pressure on countries on the EU’s borders rather than lessened it,” said Amnesty. “This leads to violations of the rights of these people.” Earlier, it turned out that there are too few hotspots in Italy. Of the six ones planned, only four are open.

Many asylum seekers arriving via Italy in Europe, according to human rights organizations do not want their fingerprints taken. If they are registered, then they can be returned under the Dublin Convention, for example from the Netherlands to Italy.

People who do not want to give fingerprints are treated properly by most police, according to Amnesty. “But sometimes arbitrary detention, harassment and excessive violence is used.”

Amnesty has spoken to people who were beaten, given electric shocks or were humiliated sexually. The organization collected 24 testimonies, they were beaten in sixteen cases.

“They held my shoulders and legs firmly, squeezed my testicles with tweezers and pulled twice. It was indescribably painful”, said a man who was forced by police to remove his clothes

A 25-year-old Eritrean woman said a police officer hit her multiple times in her face, until she gave her fingerprints.

According to Amnesty, Italy under pressure from the EU also looked for ways to send more migrants back. “This has resulted in agreements with countries that commit terrible crimes,” Amnesty noted. “Eg, forty Sudanese were put by Italy on a plane back to that country. They do that while the risk per individual of human rights violations has not been studied well.”

Calais refugee children sleeping among ruins


This video says about itself:

29 October 2016

As the French authorities continue to destroy the Calais jungle refugee camp, the child refugees and the minors are bearing the brunt. They are being forced to sleep in the ruins of the camp.