Having read so much witless shit about the migrant crisis, I don’t think I can bear to hear or read one more paranoid alcoholic blogger prattling on about the ‘conspiracy’ to ‘wipe out the white race’; it was funny at first, but we’re way passed levity by now.
Just in the last day, two more horrific incidents have occupied headlines. One concerned the bodies of ’70 migrants’ found in an abandoned lorry near the Austrian border. The decomposing state of the bodies suggest that they had been dead for one to two days, the police have said, suggesting that the victims must have already been dead when the lorry crossed into Austria (a country swaying ever more to the Far Right).
Almost simultaneously, hundreds of people are now feared dead in the latest ‘Libya sinkings’, after two boats carrying up to 500 migrants have just capsized off the Libyan city of Zuwara. This is in addition to the well-over-a-thousand who’ve already drowned at sea just in this year.
Let’s establish a quick fact: the overwhelming majority of these people aren’t ‘economic migrants’ – they’re refugees.
An example of ‘economic migrants’ are the scores and scores of Europeans who emigrated en-masse to America a few centuries ago and displaced the native population. Another example of ‘economic migrants’ are the scores and scores of Europeans who emigrated en-masse to Australia and New Zealand and displaced and persecuted the native populations. Another example of ‘economic migrants’ are the scores of European who emigrated to South-Africa and Rhodesia and subjugated the native populations for generations.
Those are all classic examples of ‘economic migrants’.
Which is not to say, by the way, that this historic European migration/colonisation of faraway lands didn’t lead to anything good. Without question, this spreading of ‘civilisation’ was, on the balance, probably beneficial to society and to human progress. The point is that European migration (and radical transformation of the cultural make-up and racial demographics of foreign lands) has been far more comprehensive and total historically than immigration to Europe has been.
On the other hand, a classic example of a ‘refugee’ or ‘asylum seeker’ would be all those scores of European Jews who were fleeing Nazi Europe 70 years or so ago and who, almost without exception, were all turned back and sent back to die in the concentration camps.
As Jews fled Hitler’s Europe, representatives from Britain said the UK had no room to accommodate Jewish refugees. Australia (a country built exclusively on immigration) told them “We don’t have a racial problem and we don’t want to import one.” Canada said of the fleeing Jews that “none was too many.”
Only the Dominican Republic offered to take 100,000 Jews, but their relief agencies were so overwhelmed that only a few Jews could take advantage of the offer.
How sad that in this 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and the concentration camps, the same uncaring, xenophobic sentiments are being echoed across Europe.
The view that these aren’t economic migrants who are arriving in Europe is also taken by the United Nations, which estimates that 85-90 percent of people arriving in the EU are bona fide refugees, fleeing violence or persecution in their home countries.
In fact the eye-watering statistics, according to the UNHCR’s annual Global Trends Report, is that one in 122 people worldwide is now either a refugee, internally displaced, or seeking asylum. And 58% of all refugees are children. According to the UNHCR report, the number of refugees had risen to a staggering 59.5 million in 2014, an increase of over 8 million in just one year. The main reason is the war in Syria, which had an average of 42,500 people becoming refugees every day last year.
If you really think that people would leave their entire lives behind and get on a rickety boat to travel from Libya to Europe (many of them having paid virtually their life-savings to do so), with great risk of drowning, and with no promise of charitable treatment upon arrival, simply to sponge off the ‘benefit system’, then you’re a fucking idiot.
You’re also probably conflating the motivations of legal migration from within the EU with the motivation of migrants from elsewhere – which are two different things. In key cases, such as Syria (where a large percentage of the refugees are fleeing from) and Libya, the conditions they are fleeing are either partly or wholly the creation of Western governments. Frankly, anyone fleeing Libya should get automatic asylum in France, Britain or any of the other NATO member-states or 40 nations that destroyed that country in 2011.
I can categorically go further and say that this migrant crisis is a direct consequence of the British, French, American, NATO destruction of Libya in 2011. If you doubt that, then hear it from one of the migrants’ own mouths.
Libya, which was a stable country that had a reasonably high quality of life, is now a failed state, with ISIL, Al-Qaeda and other terrorist militias fighting over the spoils and with no functioning government. Some will argue with me that many of the migrants aren’t Libyans but Africans simply coming *via* Libya: but you’d be missing the point that an enormous number of the African migrants that are now ending up in Europe were people who used to end up in Libya. Libya used to be THE END DESTINATION for large numbers of sub-Sahran Africans. There were well over a million of them living in Gaddafi’s Libya up until 2011; they were part of the society and the migrant workers worked mostly in construction. When the NATO-backed Islamist militias and terrorists were let loose on Libya in 2011 by France, Britain, America and the other co-conspirators, the Black Libyans were persecuted, many killed or lynched. From that point on, Libya was no longer a safe place for African migrants.
I’ll refrain from going into the Libyan intervention again, as all of that is covered at exhaustive length in my book on the subject (download it, if you haven’t already – among everything else, it explains why the migrant crisis exists).
But if you want to blame someone, blame David Cameron, Nicolas Sarkozy and co – blame the 40 nations who bombed Libya to pieces four years ago. Because Europe didn’t have a ‘migrant crisis’ when Gaddafi was alive. And in fact, as I’ve already noted, Gaddafi himself warned that NATO’s actions in 2011 were going to turn the Mediterranean into “a sea of chaos”.
No one was fleeing Libya or being sent from Libya as ‘psychological warfare’ prior to the West’s ‘intervention’ in 2011.
As for Syria, that too was an internationally generated crisis, in which the US, the UK, Turkey, the Saudis, Qatar and Israel are all culpable.
I propose that, at the very least, any migrant coming out of Iraq, Libya or Afghanistan is *owed* automatic asylum in the UK, the US or any of the other countries involved in those wars. And Australia too, of course – a country whose government seems to regard all refugees the same way as it regarded the Jews 70 years ago: as some kind of sub-human vermin.
Meanwhile the conditions and attitudes many of the migrants encounter when they arrive anywhere is becoming increasingly hostile.
Two particular stories of Syrian refugees that recently went viral are heartbreaking. One concerned a young Syrian refugee boy in Turkey who was violently assaulted by a shop-owner for trying to sell tissues to make a little money for his family, and the other concerned a Syrian man who had resorted to walking around trying to sell pens on the streets in Lebanon in order to feed his young daughter (who he carried on his back).
These aren’t ‘swarms’ or statistics, but desperate human beings fleeing violence and loss. The pathetically low number of Syrian refugees being taken in by Britain is an embarrassment; particularly given how much support our government has given to Al-Qaeda-aligned ‘rebels’ in Syria.
But the backlash in Europe is growing dramatically. This is now party time for the Far-Right across the board. The eruption of Far-Right, anti-migrant activity in Germany will in all likelihood be followed by similar events in other countries. The recent attacks on immigrants in Germany are probably a sign of things to come; the violent anti-migrant mob were shouting “foreigners out” and carrying banners against the “asylum flood” while they threw bottles and stones at bus-loads of asylum seekers arriving in Heidenau, near Dresden. The demos were said to have been infiltrated by Germany’s Neo-Nazis. A car belonging to a politician who spoke up for the refugees was even blown up.
Support for far right-wing parties across Europe, including France’s National Front, Germany’s ‘Alternative For Deutschland’ and Austria’s Freedom Party, has continued to grow throughout the summer, as they are now in a great position to feed off of all the heightened xenophobia and tension.
Like the European Jews seven decades ago, the dehumanisation process has already begun; and Far-Right groups and figures are cleverly manipulating anyone they can. See more on that subject here.
And even those asylum seekers who do manage to reach Europe are in many cases held in poor conditions for an indefinite amount of time (or worse in Australia, where they’re held indefinitely in off-shore concentration camps). To the traffickers operating in Libya (including ISIS/ISIL, who openly threatened to use the post-Gaddafi Libyans as migrants and ‘psychological warfare’ against Europe – which they appear to be doing), they are pawns, while to most European and Western governments they are inconvenient statistics and to many newspapers and European citizens they are ‘lousy immigrants and asylum-seekers’, ‘swarms’ or according to some high-profile commentators, ‘cockroaches’, trying to ‘sponge off our countries’.
Many refugees and migrants are arbitrarily detained by the authorities. Hundreds, including families, pregnant women and unaccompanied children, were being detained for prolonged periods at Macedonia’s ‘Reception Centre for Foreigners’, with no indication of when they’d be allowed to move on. Former detainees told Amnesty International that they had been beaten by police officers, with some reporting that they’d been told “If you die here, nobody will come and ask about you. We will throw your dead body out.”
Violent xenophobic attacks on Syrian refugees were being reported from much further back and said to have been occurring in Bulgaria. A Human Rights Watch report details physical abuse of Syrian refugees by Bulgarian police (including beatings and the use of electric shocks), and the confiscation of personal possessions and money by border guards. There have been stories of the refugees being either robbed, assaulted or deliberately misled in various European countries.
Meanwhile, desperate to escape beyond the ill conditions of the Hungarian train stations, migrants who pay money to criminal operators promising to smuggle them across the border or even all the way to Germany are often tricked and left nowhere near where they were supposed to be going; or worse, simply abandoned.
The shanty town in Calais, a desolate wasteland near a chemical factory, has been described as a ‘horror movie’. In this piece from The Guardian, ‘Karim’, an Egyptian politics graduate with an admiration for Winston Churchill and “all things British” describes being pelted with potatoes and subjected to racist abuse from a passing car, while an Afghan physics graduate seeking asylum simply said, “I didn’t believe places like this could exist.”
Worse, Australia is a whole other matter. A ‘Pit of human misery’ is what Manus Island has been called; meanwhile the various off-shore concentration camps the Australian government uses to keep asylum seekers in indefinitely are shrouded in official secrecy, but are described by those few who’ve been able to visit them as hell-holes that dehumanise their scores of refugee inhabitants.
What we are witnessing now, especially in Europe, is an evaporation of humanitarianism and instead a growing tribalism and even a sectarianism that is being deliberately exacerbated by right-wing organisations and the right-wing elements of the media. Much of this is driven by the growing anti-Islam movements (even in Germany, where you’d think there’d be a lot less of that, given the historic stigma).
As I’ve said before, you’d be depressed by how many people haven’t learnt anything from history.
The best way to end here is to direct you to this piece by Zena Agha in The Independent earlier this year, in which she talks about her cousin from Syria, who died drowning on one of these ‘migrant boats’ trying to flee the war in Syria – and you can decide whether he sounds like a refugee or an ‘economic migrant’ looking to milk the ‘benefits system’. She writes, ‘Our apathy towards those dying in the Mediterranean epitomises this growing intolerance. We are moving inextricably towards a point where we worship borders and security over human life‘.
There’s probably a lot more to be said here; but I find this subject so depressing and frustrating that I should probably just stop.
But I almost wonder if everyone who was in favour of the war on Libya or the invasion of Iraq can be sent to live in post-war Libya or post-war Iraq. That’s poetic justice, surely. David Cameron would love a weekend in Gaddafi’s old home-town of Sirte – ISIS only executed 100 people there last week; those are decent odds.
And there’s got be a Baghdad bungalow with Dick Cheney’s or George Bush’s name on it, just waiting for them to move in.