Turkish border guards murder Syrian refugee women, children

This video says about itself:

Stop shooting! Turkish border guards continue to shoot, beat and kill Syrian refugees – HRW

10 May 2016

Turkish border guards are continuing to shoot and abuse Syrian refugees who are crossing into the country, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW). The rights group, citing the deaths of several asylum seekers, has called on Ankara to investigate. “Firing at traumatized men, women, and children fleeing fighting and indiscriminate warfare is truly appalling,” said Human Rights Watch researcher Gerry Simpson.

From The New Arab:

Turkish troops kill nine Syrian refugees crossing the border

19 June, 2016

Nine members of one family, most of them women and children were killed on Saturday night by Turkish border guards, and eight others were injured.

The Syrian refugees were attempting to cross the border into Turkey near the town of Kherbet Eljoz, northwest of the city of Idlib, north Syria.

“Several families from the city of Jarablus, north east of the city of Aleppo and Idlib tried to cross the border on Saturday night towards Turkey,” a source from the town who wished to remain anonymous told The New Arab.

“Turkish border guards opened fire on them indiscriminately, killing nine people and wounding eight others”, he said.

“The dead are all from one family – three children, four women and a man displaced from the city of Jarablus. They fled the city when they heard the fighting near them,” according to the source.

This is not the first time that displaced Syrians have been killed by Turkish border guards.  Activists have documented the killing of at least fifty people in the past few months.

The UN and other humanitarian organisations have condemned actions taken by Turkey against Syrian refugees with Doctors Beyond Borders calling on the Turkish government to open its borders to thousands fleeing the conflict in Syria.

THE Turkish parliament passed a law on Thursday night granting impunity from prosecution to troops involved in the brutal crackdown on Kurdish cities: here.

European Union-African dictators anti-refugee deal?

This video from the USA says about itself:

March to Stop Genocide and Dictatorship in Ethiopia/Africa Gaining Momentum

On Sunday, September 13, 2009, many Ethiopians and others gathered in front of the US Capitol building to bring attention to the ongoing genocide and other human rights crimes being perpetrated against the people of Ethiopia by the repressive authoritarian government of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. The event was a success and we believe it will lead to many new opportunities. One of these will be the possibility of working together in collaboration to map out a strategic plan for the future.

It was a historic event in that so many different groups, who have never come together before, were present. The crowd reflected the enthusiasm of this milestone as they came together not only from one group or one ethnicity, but as a mix of many, all with the same goal of bringing about an inclusive civil society in Ethiopia where justice, individual rights, the rule of law and opportunity would be based on being a citizen of Ethiopia rather than on tribalism, cronyism or elitism.

By Martin Kreikenbaum in Germany:

European Union seeks agreements with African dictators to deter refugees

16 June 2016

The European Union (EU) is abandoning all pretense of human rights restraints in its refugee policy. A strategy paper published last week by the EU Commission outlined migration partnerships that will compensate nine states in Africa and the Middle East, both transit countries and countries of origin, for their cooperation in deterring refugees.

The goal of the agreements—described as “compacts”—is “the combatting of causes of flight and a reduction of irregular migration to Europe,” EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos declared in an interview with the German daily Die Welt. In fact, what is involved is a programme with which the refugees themselves are to be combatted. The EU’s reactionary partners are to seal off escape routes, detain refugees and send them back to their countries of origin.

The list of countries with which agreements are to be concluded alone makes clear that the EU has no qualms about with whom it cooperates. In the interview, Avramopoulos named Jordan, Lebanon, Tunisia, Niger, Mali, Ethiopia, Senegal, Nigeria and Libya. In addition, there is the “Better Migration Management” programme, with which the EU intends to provide technical assistance to the dictatorial regimes in Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia and Eritrea to combat refugees. These are the most important transit states and countries of origin for refugees in Africa.

The agreement the EU plans to conclude with each of these states is aimed at “convincing” each government to “take back illegal migrants. In addition, we want to ensure that these countries deal firmly with people smugglers and effectively secure their borders,” Avramopoulos told Die Welt. Describing refugees as “illegal migrants” has long since become accepted practice in the EU, so as to deny the desperate people fleeing war, poverty and persecution any right to protection in Europe.

To secure cooperation in combatting refugees, the EU intends to top up the financial assistance available to those states designated part of “migration partnerships.” The prospects of improved trading relations and relaxed visa requirements have also been raised. The EU Commission intends to make almost €8 billion [$US 9.01 billion] available for the program by 2020.

With utter cynicism, the chairman of the social democratic fraction in the European Parliament, Italian politician Gianni Pitella, praised the EU Commission. Africa could not be permitted “to become a cage which refugees cannot leave” and the EU member states had to make a financial contribution. Yet the EU Commission’s plan is precisely to keep refugees stuck in Africa at any price. The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, spoke of a “Copernican shift” in the EU’s policy.

It is breathtaking how savagely the EU is trampling its oft-repeated “values” and principles under foot. With the migration partnerships, the EU is effectively making clear that it no longer has any intention of being bound by international law as contained in the Geneva Convention on Refugees.

“We want to try and bring order to the flows of refugees,” said Frans Timmermans, EU Commission vice president, repeating a formulation of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. She set the goal in April of “bringing order and managing the route from Libya to Italy as we have done in Turkey.”

The EU’s dirty deal with Turkey already systematically violated the rights of refugees. They are detained in Greece and even children are held under catastrophic conditions in internment camps. Turkey permits its forces to shoot at refugees on the Syrian border and ruthlessly deports them to their countries of origin.

Concluding such a deal with Libya, as the EU Commission proposes, would be a further crime. Since the US-led NATO intervention in 2011 to topple the regime of Muammar Gaddafi, the country has been dominated by a bloody civil war that has thrown it into economic and political chaos. There are three governments in the country, none of which controls substantial territory. A “unity government” recently imposed by the imperialist powers is to help, above all, to prepare a further military intervention by the US and its European allies.

Amnesty International recently published a report documenting arbitrary violence against refugees by the Libyan coast guard. Refugees intercepted at sea were beaten and shot, before being dragged to Libyan detention centres where they were abused and tortured. Despite this, the EU intends to deport refugees there.

Another “partner” of the EU is the Sudanese regime of Omar al-Bashir, who is sought by the International Criminal Court in the Hague for war crimes. Nonetheless, his regime is to receive vehicles, cameras, an aeroplane and additional technical equipment so as to strengthen the “border infrastructure” at the country’s 17 border crossings, as an EU Commission document states.

The German government has taken the lead in working out the deal with Sudan. Although Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development Gerd Müller (Christian Social Union) rejected a report by the Guardian that the German government was financing the strengthening of the Sudanese security forces, he neglected to mention that the state-sponsored Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) has already assumed this role.

Things are little better in South Sudan, Ethiopia or Somalia, which the EU also hopes to secure as border guards to carry out the dirty work in its ruthless policy of sealing off its borders.

The other side of the EU’s brutal external refugee policy is the further erosion of rights for refugees within Europe itself. The European Council for Justice and Internal Affairs issued a demand to the Greek government, which virtually coincided with the presentation of the African migration “partnerships,” to recognise Turkey as a secure third country and deport more Syrians there.

Austrian Minister for the Interior Wolfgang Sobotka also gave his backing to a proposal by Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz (both members of the right-wing Austrian People’s Party) to intercept refugees in the Mediterranean and either deport them immediately or detain them on Mediterranean islands. He mentioned Australia as an example, which interns refugees on Pacific islands.

On Sunday, Bulgaria’s Foreign Minister Daniel Mitov told the Austrian newspaper Die Presse that the Geneva Convention on the status of refugees was obsolete. He claimed that “the document was written basically for people escaping communist regimes. It was not about masses of people.” This is a brazen lie. Mitov neglects to mention that the convention adopted in 1951 was primarily a response to the crimes of National Socialism. Hundreds of thousands of people, above all Jews, fled the Hitler regime between 1933 and 1945. With no country prepared to take them in, they were left in the murderous hands of the Nazis.

Today in Europe tens of thousands of refugees are once again kept in detention and denounced as “illegal migrants” or “economic refugees.” The human rights commissioner of the United Nations, Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein, recently sharply criticized the EU’s policy. The number of detentions are increasing “alarmingly”—with even unaccompanied minors being imprisoned, declared al-Hussein at the opening of a new session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. The “hot spots” set up by the EU were, “essentially huge incarceration facilities.” Al-Hussein called on the EU to monitor the detention of migrants statistically: “I fear the numbers will be very shocking.”

European Union working with African despots to deter refugees: here.

German extreme rightist shoots refugee children

This video says about itself:

30 January 2016

Frauke Petry, one of the leaders of right-wing German opposition party Alternative for Germany (AfD), has sparked outrage with provocative comments about refugees.

“Border guards must prevent illegal border crossings and even use firearms if necessary,” Petry told German newspaper ‘Mannheimer Morgen’, in an interview published on Saturday.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

German shoots refugees with air rifle

Yesterday, 16:32

In the German city of Lingen, forty kilometers across the border at Oldenzaal, a man with an air rifle from a distance has shot refugees at a reception center. Two migrants who were outside were injured. They are a five-year-old girl from Macedonia and a boy of 18 from Syria.

Initially it was not clear that the migrants were shot at. The mother of the Macedonian girl sounded the alarm when she saw that her daughter had a leg wound. She suspected that someone had thrown a rock at the child. When the gunman struck again an hour later, wounding the Syrian, an eyewitness called the police. Which could finally arrest the man.

The 21-year-old gunman lives opposite the refugee centre in Lingen. He fired the shots from his home, about forty meters away. His motive is still unclear, police say. Local media report that the man has links with far-right groups.

The mayor of Lingen detests the shelling. He wants the shooter, who is suspected of grievous bodily harm, to be punished severely. For the time being the man of 21 at large. The refugees have been treated at the hospital, but are recovering.

This article in the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung in Germany reports on the gunman’s links to the extreme right. It says he had been convicted for violent crimes nine times before.

Refugee Olympic athletes speak

This video says about itself:

Meet the Olympics’ first #TeamRefugees

7 June 2016

For the first time in history, a team of refugees who have fled their homes in search of safety will be competing at the Olympics. The 10 athletes on #TeamRefugees were recently chosen and will compete in the summer games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

From the United Nations Refugee Agency:

These 10 refugees will compete at the 2016 Olympics in Rio

For the first time, a team of refugee athletes will compete under the Olympic flag.


3 June 2016

Since the modern Olympics began in 1896, over 200 national teams have vied for glory at the Summer and Winter Games. Now, for the first time, a team of refugees will compete as well.

The International Olympic Committee today announced the selection of 10 refugees who will compete this August in Rio de Janeiro, forming the first-ever Refugee Olympic Athletes team. They include two Syrian swimmers, two judokas from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a marathoner from Ethiopia and five middle-distance runners from South Sudan.

“Their participation in the Olympics is a tribute to the courage and perseverance of all refugees in overcoming adversity and building a better future for themselves and their families,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi. “UNHCR stands with them and with all refugees.”

The initiative comes at a time when more people than ever – 59.5 million at last count – are being forced to flee their homes to escape conflict and persecution. The squad representing them in Rio hopes to give the world a glimpse of their resilience and untapped talent.

Meet #TeamRefugees:

Rami Anis, 25, Syria, 100-metre butterfly

Rami Anis started formal swimming training as a 14-year-old growing up in Aleppo. He credits his Uncle Majad, who swam competitively in Syria, with instilling a passion for competing in the water. “Swimming is my life,” Rami says. “The swimming pool is my home.”

As bombings and kidnappings in Aleppo grew more frequent, his family put him on a flight to Istanbul to live with an older brother who was studying Turkish. “The bag I took had two jackets, two t-shirts, two trousers – it was a small bag,” Rami recalls. “I thought I would be in Turkey for a couple of months and then return to my country.”

“The swimming pool is my home.”

As months turned to years, he used the time to hone his swimming technique at the prestigious Galatasaray Sports Club. Yet without Turkish nationality, he was unable to swim in competitions. “It’s like someone who is studying, studying, studying and he can’t take the exam.”

Determined to prove himself, Rami rode an inflatable dinghy to the Greek island of Samos. Eventually he reached the Belgian town of Ghent, where he’s been training nine times a week with former Olympic swimmer Carine Verbauwen.

“With the energy I have, I am sure I can achieve the best results,” he says. “It will be a great feeling to be part of the Olympics.”…

Paulo Amotun Lokoro, 24, South Sudan, 1,500 metres

Just a few short years ago, Paulo Amotun Lokoro was a young herder guarding his family’s few cattle on the plains of what is now South Sudan. He says he “knew nothing” of the world except his own homeland, which had been at war for almost all his life. The effects of that conflict pushed him to flee to neighbouring Kenya, where he has developed new, grand ambitions: “I want to be world champion,” he says.

Living in a refugee camp, Paulo excelled in school sports, ultimately gaining a spot on the refugee squad now training near Nairobi under the guidance of Tegla Loroupe, the renowned Kenyan runner who holds several world records. “Before I came here I did not even have training shoes,” he says. “Now we have trained and trained, until we see ourselves at a good level, and now we know fully how to be athletes.”

“Before I came here, I did not even have training shoes.”

The effort paid off: Paulo is going to Rio. “I am so happy,” he says. “I know I am racing on behalf of refugees. I was one of those refugees there in the camp, and now I have reached somewhere special. I will meet so many people. My people will see me on the television, on Facebook.” Still, his aim is simple: “If I perform well, I will use that to help support my family, and my people.” …

Yusra Mardini, 18, Syria, 200-metre freestyle

As the flimsy vessel started taking on water, Yusra Mardini knew what to do. Stranded off the Turkish coast with about 20 other desperate passengers, the teenager from Damascus slipped into the water with her sister, Sarah, and began pushing the boat towards Greece.

“There were people who didn’t know how to swim,” says Yusra, who represented Syria at the FINA World Swimming Championships in 2012. “It would have been shameful if the people on our boat had drowned. I wasn’t going to sit there and complain that I would drown.”

Yusra lost her shoes during that perilous sea crossing – a small price to pay for making sure lives were not lost. After arriving on the Greek island of Lesvos, she travelled north with a group of asylum-seekers, occasionally turning to people-smugglers.

“I want to show everyone that, after the pain, after the storm, comes calm days.”

Not long after arriving in Germany in September 2015, she started training with a club in Berlin, Wasserfreunde Spandau 04. Now 18, she is preparing to compete in the women’s 200-metre freestyle event at the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil, as part of the Refugee Olympic Athletes team.

“I want to represent all the refugees because I want to show everyone that, after the pain, after the storm, comes calm days,” she says. “I want to inspire them to do something good in their lives.”

Yiech Pur Biel, 21, South Sudan, 800 metres

Yiech Pur Biel knew early on that if he wanted to make it in life, he would have to do so on his own. Forced to flee the fighting in southern Sudan in 2005, he ended up on his own in a refugee camp in northern Kenya. He started playing football there, but grew frustrated at having to rely so much on his teammates. With running he felt greater control over his own destiny.

“Most of us face a lot of challenges,” says Yiech. “In the refugee camp, we have no facilities – even shoes we don’t have. There is no gym. Even the weather does not favour training because from morning up to the evening it is so hot and sunny.”

“I can show to my fellow refugees that they have a chance and a hope in life.”

Yet he stayed motivated. “I focused on my country, South Sudan, because we young people are the people who can change it,” he says. “And secondly, I focused on my parents. I need to change the life they are living.”

Competing in the 800 metres at Rio, Yiech says, could help him to become an ambassador for refugees everywhere. “I can show to my fellow refugees that they have a chance and a hope in life. Through education, but also in running, you can change the world.”

Rose Nathike Lokonyen, 23, South Sudan, 800 metres

Until a year ago, Rose Nathike Lokonyen barely knew the talent she had. She had never competed, even as an amateur, after fleeing war in South Sudan when she was 10 years old. Then, during a school competition in the refugee camp in northern Kenya where she lives, a teacher suggested that she run a 10-kilometre race. “I had not been training. It was the first time for me to run, and I came number two,” she says, smiling. “I was very surprised!”

Rose has since moved to a training camp near the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, where she is preparing to run the 800-metre event at the Olympics. “I will be very happy and I will just work hard and prove myself,” she says. She sees athletics not only as an avenue to earning prize money and endorsements, but also as a way to inspire others. “I will be representing my people there at Rio, and maybe if I succeed I can come back and conduct a race that can promote peace, and bring people together.”

“I will be representing my people there at Rio.”

She is still worried about injuries, however. “That is my main challenge,” she says. Until recently, she was not training with professional running shoes, and had no professional guidance. She still seems surprised that, in little over a year, she has risen to this point. “I can do running as sport or, now I see, even as a career.”

Yonas Kinde, 36, Ethiopia, marathon

On a hill overlooking the city of Luxembourg, Yonas Kinde glides around the running track with determination and grace.

“I get power, and more and more power,” the Ethiopian marathoner says afterwards, a wide smile breaking out over his slender face. “I normally train every day, but when I heard this news [about the refugee team] I trained two times per day, every day, targeting for these Olympic Games. It’s a big motivation.”

Yonas, who has lived in Luxembourg for five years now, rarely stops moving. He’s been taking French classes regularly, and driving a taxi to earn a living, all the while pushing himself to become a better runner. In Germany last October, he completed a marathon in the impressive time of 2 hours and 17 minutes.

“We can do everything in the refugee camp.”

But memories of fleeing his home remain uncomfortable territory. “It’s a difficult situation,” he says about life in Ethiopia. “It’s impossible for me to live there… It’s very dangerous for my life.”

For Yonas, the chance to run with the world’s best in Rio de Janeiro is much more than another race. “I think it will be the big message that refugees, young athletes, they can do their best,” he says. “Of course we have problems – we are refugees – but we can do everything in the refugee camp, so it will help refugee athletes.”

Anjelina Nadai Lohalith, 21, South Sudan, 1,500 metres

Anjelina Nadai Lohalith has not seen or spoken to her parents since she was six years old and was forced to flee her home in southern Sudan. As war closed in on her village, “everything was destroyed,” she says. Anjelina has heard that they are still alive, although “last year the hunger was very tough.” Helping her parents is her main motivation as she steps up her training ahead of competing in the 1,500-metre event in Rio.

As war closed in on her village, “everything was destroyed.”

She knew she was good at athletics after winning school competitions at the refugee camp where she now lives in northern Kenya. But it was only when professional coaches came to select athletes for a special training camp that she realised just how fast she was. “It was a surprise,” she says.

Now she wants to run well in Rio de Janeiro, and then earn places at major international races with significant prize money. “If you have money, then your life can change and you will not remain the way you have been,” Anjelina says. The first thing she would do with a big win? “Build my father a better house.”

James Nyang Chiengjiek, 28, South Sudan, 800 metres

At age 13, James Nyang Chiengjiek fled his home in what was then southern Sudan to avoid being kidnapped by rebels who were forcibly recruiting child soldiers. As a refugee in neighbouring Kenya, he attended school in a highland town known for its runners and joined a group of older boys training for long-distance events. “That’s when I realised I could make it as a runner – and if God gives you a talent, you have to use it,” he says.

At first, he did not have proper running shoes. Sometimes he borrowed footwear from others, but he won no matter what he wore on his feet. “We all of us got a lot of injuries because of the wrong shoes we had,” he says. “Then we were sharing. If maybe you have two pairs of shoes, then you help the one that has none.”

“By running well, I am doing something good to help others.”

When he goes to Rio, James aims to inspire others. “By running well, I am doing something good to help others – especially refugees,” he says. “Maybe among them are athletes with talent, but who did not yet get any opportunities. We are refugees like that, and some of us have been given this opportunity to go to Rio. We have to look back and see where our brothers and sisters are, so if one of them also has talent, we can bring them to train with us and also make their lives better.”

Alex Court contributed reporting from Belgium and Luxembourg, Luiz Godinho and Diogo Felix from Brazil, Josie Le Blond from Germany and Mike Pflanz from Kenya.

Refugees team primed to pump up feel-good factor at Rio Olympics: here.

European Union, Turkey and refugees

This video says about itself:

9 June 2016

Richard Seymour reviews recent media coverage of the EU deal with Turkey and their approach to handling the refugee crisis.

European Union helping dictators to stop African refugees

This video from Canada says about itself:

Protest – Ethiopian Student Massacre

9 May 2014

The Oromo community in British Columbia is deeply saddened by the massacre of our school kids under the Ethiopian regime. Unfortunately the [then, Stephen Harper‘s Conservative] Canadian government provides significant economic support to this murderous regime in Ethiopia.

Translated from Dutch daily NRC:

‘European Union aid to dictators to stop migration

Africa: European Union would offer inter alia Sudan, of the accused dictator Bashir, equipment and training to stop migrants

Koert Lindijer

June 9, 2016

Europe is considering doing business with African dictators to stop the flow of migrants, even while it tries to have those leaders on trial for human rights violations. …

Germany’s Der Spiegel and the British New Statesman recently received documents of a secret EU action plan. It is said to have been discussed on 23 March by EU member states. The plan proposed to provide Sudan with cameras, computers and other anti-migrant recording devices. Also border police would be trained at 17 border crossings. Finally, there would be plans to set up along the eastern border of Sudan, in the towns of Kassala and Gedaref, camps for migrants. According to human rights organizations, the equipment which the EU would provide to Sudan might also be used for internal repression.

In three years eight African countries, including Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Uganda and Djibouti, would get 40 million euros from the EU to stop migrants. Ethiopia, extremely repressive like Sudan, would receive equipment and training to improve border controls and the ability to track smugglers ….

On Tuesday, the European Commission presented a more comprehensive investment plan for North Africa to stop migration. This plan does not include Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti and Uganda. …

Now the indicted Sudanese leader is said to be lured with funds to stop migration on Sudanese territory via Libya to Europe. So Al-Bashir is back in favour, despite the arrest warrants issued by the ICC for crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide in Darfur. …

With Ethiopia, the EU has been working closely together for years. Several months ago, the Ethiopian army shot dead hundreds of Oromo people protesters who opposed land expropriation. Ethiopia is one of the countries of the investment plan which the Commission presented on Tuesday.