country:romania

  • UK sending Syrians back to countries where they were beaten and abused

    Refugees tell of being held in cages and even tortured in European countries including Hungary and Romania

    Britain is using EU rules to send asylum seekers from Syria and other countries back to eastern European states where they were beaten, incarcerated and abused, the Guardian has learned.

    Migrant rights groups and lawyers say the Home Office is using the rules to send people back to “police brutality, detention and beatings” in several European countries.

    The Guardian has spoken to refugees who were subjected to assaults as they travelled through Europe. The men tell of being held in “cages” in Hungary, waterboarded and handcuffed to beds by detention centre guards in Romania and beaten in Bulgaria.
    Britain is one of worst places in western Europe for asylum seekers
    Read more

    They now face being returned to those countries as, under the so-called Dublin law, asylum seekers are supposed to apply in their first EU country of entry.

    In 2015 more than 80,000 requests were made by EU countries for another government to take back an asylum seeker. The UK made 3,500 of these requests to countries around Europe, including Bulgaria, Romania, Italy and Hungary.

    The Home Office claims it should be entitled to assume that any EU country will treat asylum seekers properly.

    The charity Migrant Voice has collected testimony from several refugees who are fighting removal from the UK to other European countries. Nazek Ramadan, the director of the charity, said the men had been left traumatised by their journey and their subsequent treatment in the UK.

    “We know there are hundreds of Syrians in the UK who have fingerprints in other European countries,” said Ramadan. “Many no longer report to the Home Office because they are afraid of being detained and deported away from their family in the UK. Those who have been forcibly removed often end up destitute.

    “These are people who were abused in their home country, sometimes jailed by the regime there. Then they were imprisoned again in Europe. They feel that they are still living in a war zone, moving from one arrest and detention to another.”

    The law firm Duncan Lewis recently won a key case preventing forced removals back to Hungary because of the risk that people might be forced from there back to their country of origin.

    The firm is also challenging removals to Bulgaria because of what the UN refugee agency has described as “substandard” conditions there. A test case on whether Bulgaria is a safe country to send people back to is due to be heard by the court of appeal in November.

    The situation could get even more complex as an EU ban on sending asylum seekers back to Greece is due to be lifted on Wednesday after a six-year moratorium.

    Krisha Prathepan, of Duncan Lewis, said: “We intend to challenge any resumption of returns to Greece, as that country’s asylum system remains dysfunctional and the risk of refugees being returned from Greece to the very countries in which they faced persecution remains as high as ever.”

    The Home Office says it has no immediate plans to send refugees back to Greece, but is following European guidelines.

    “We have no current plans to resume Dublin returns to Greece,” a spokesperson said, citing among other reasons “the reception conditions in the country”.

    She added: “In April 2016, the high court ruled that transfer to Bulgaria under the Dublin regulation would not breach the European Convention on Human Rights. If there is evidence that Bulgaria is responsible for an asylum application, we will seek to transfer the application.”

    Mohammad Nadi Ismail, 32, Syrian

    Mohammad Nadi Ismail, a former Syrian navy captain, entered Europe via Bulgaria and Hungary, hoping to join his uncle and brother in Britain.

    In Bulgaria he was detained, beaten and humiliated. “They stripped us and made us stand in a row all naked. We had to bend over in a long line. Then they hit us on our private parts with truncheons.

    “They would wake us at night after they had been playing cards and drinking. Then they would come and hit us or kick us with their boots or truncheons.”

    One day he was released and took his chance to leave, walking for days to reach Hungary.

    But in Hungary he was locked up again. “They took us to a courtyard of a big building where there were five or six cages, about 8ft [2.4 metres] square. Most of the people were African. Some of them had been in there for four or five days. Luckily we Syrians were allowed out after one night and I headed for the UK.”

    In the UK Ismail met up with the family he hadn’t seen for three years and applied for asylum immediately.

    Then a letter came, saying his fingerprints had been found in Bulgaria and he would be returned. After a month in detention he now reports every two weeks, waiting and hoping that the UK will let him stay.

    “I will not go back to Bulgaria. I still have hope that I can stay here legally and rebuild my life with my family who have always supported me,” he said.

    ‘Dawoud’, 34, Iranian

    Dawoud (not his real name) was 28 when he fled Iran after his political activities had made him an enemy of the government. His brother and parents made it to the UK and were given refugee status.

    When he was told by border guards that he was in Romania he had no idea what that meant. “I had never even heard of this country,” he said. He was put in a camp where “water dripped through the electrics – we were electrocuted often. Children and families screamed. We lived in fear of the wild dogs who circled the camp, attacking and biting us. We were given no food; we had to go through bins in the town nearby for scraps.”

    He escaped once, to the Netherlands, but was sent back.

    “I experienced several beatings, on all parts of the body. There were people covered in blood and they were refused medical help. They even waterboarded me. I thought I would die.”

    Finally he managed to reach his mother, father and brother in the UK. For two years he has lived in hiding, too scared to apply for asylum for fear of being sent back to Romania. But a few months ago he finally reported to the Home Office. A letter informed him that a request had been made to Romania to take him back.

    Dawoud shakes as he talks about his fear of removal, saying: “When I hear people speak Romanian in the street it brings back my trauma. I once fell to the ground shaking just hearing someone speak. I will kill myself rather than go back.”

    Wael al-Awadi, 36, Syrian

    Wael travelled by sea to Italy and was detained on arrival in Sicily. “They hit us with their fists and sticks in order to make us give our fingerprints. Then they let us go. They gave us nothing, no accommodation, just told us: ‘Go where you like.’ So many Syrians were sleeping in the streets.”

    When he reached the UK he was detained for two months before friends helped him get bail. A year and a half later, when reporting at the Home Office, he was detained again and booked on to a plane to Italy.

    He refused to go and a solicitor got him out on bail. His appeal is due to be heard later this year. “I left Syria to avoid jail and detention and here I have been locked up twice,” he said. “I can’t understand it. Why can’t they look at me with some humanity? I am mentally so tired. My children call me from Syria but I can’t speak to them any more. It is too painful.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/12/the-refugees-uk-wants-to-send-back-to-countries-where-they-were-abused?
    #réfugiés_syriens #UK #Angleterre #Dublin #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Bulgarie #Roumanie #Hongrie #Italie #renvois #expulsions #renvois_Dublin


  • Europe Should Let Italy Win – Foreign Policy
    https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/11/14/europe-should-let-italy-win


    Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini attends a press conference at the Italian Embassy in Bucharest, Romania, on Oct. 23.
    Daniel Mihailescu/AFP/Getty Images

    #barbichette

    The current standoff between the Italian government and the European Commission in Brussels—in which Italy is pushing for greater spending resulting in a larger deficit, which the commission claims violates its rules—seems at first glance like a replay of the game of chicken that drove the Greek debt crisis in 2015. Then, like now, debt and politics were intimately intertwined, with an indebted nation trying by any means necessary to gain leverage on the eurozone institutions that have a say over its economy. On the one hand, Italy has been emphasizing its geopolitical importance, arguing that it has a critical role to play in maintaining Libya’s stability. On the other, it is sending a subtle message that, if placed under pressure, it has the power to blow up the eurozone.

    Who will flinch first? The answer will likely turn on two differences that distinguish the current case from that of Greece. […]
    […]
    It is not difficult to see how a compromise might be found in which Italy and Europe could agree on infrastructure investment financed through deficit spending, but the escalation of the political conflict means that as time passes any productive outcome becomes less and less likely. The European Union must find a solution before the politics become completely poisonous.

    On the face of it, the budget dispute, which turns on Italy’s proposal for a 2.4 percent deficit, looks puzzling. Isn’t 2.4 percent less than 3 percent, the (admittedly overly simple) deficit to GDP ratio rule stipulated in the EU’s Maastricht Treaty and its Stability and Growth Pact? In truth, the dispute is fundamentally about the link between fiscal positions and growth.
    […]
    The problem is that everyone knows that Italy’s bootstraps narrative doesn’t fully describe its motives. The importance of the budget for the Italian government goes far beyond its numbers: Its basic purpose is political. The fiscal package represents not only an overall stimulus for the Italian economy but also an attempt to tie together the two quite disparate parties in the government coalition. […]
    There is also a very obvious national, not to say nationalist, element. This is a budget designed to defy Europe and to make the point that in a democracy people should, in voting for their government, have a say over their tax rates and their fiscal regime. The budget also includes some savings, in part from reduced spending on the housing and management of migrants.


  • Austrian wins Ireland’s biggest international art award

    https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/austrian-wins-ireland-s-biggest-international-art-award-1.3691393

    Un des co-fondateur du Vegetable orchestra de Vienne

    Austrian artist #Nikolaus_Gansterer has won the 2018 MAC International prize.

    The work of the 44-year-old Vienna-based artist was chosen from more than 800 international submissions for the £20,000 award, which has been described as “Ireland’s Turner Prize”.

    The award, which is funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Tourism NI and Belfast City Council, is Ireland’s largest art prize and one of the most substantial in the UK.

    The shortlist of 13 included artists from Ireland, Italy, Romania, Hungary, Croatia, Canada, USA, Palestine, Austria, France and Turkey. The artists worked across a range of mediums including photography, film, installation, sculpture and drawing.

    #art #autriche


  • Croatia, criminalisation of solidarity

    With 700 cases of reports of violence and theft against migrants at the border, Croatia holds the negative record among the countries of the area. Meanwhile, intimidation against solidarity increases and the first convictions pour down.

    “At the end of August 2015, when the first wave of refugees came to our territory, with a group of friends we went every day to help in Bapska, in Tovarnik, later in Opatovac. It was solidarity that moved me. Here in Croatia many were refugees not so long ago and still remembered what it means to be driven out of your home. At that time, the borders were open and refugees were still seen as human beings. We worked together, volunteers from all over the world, the police, the locals who collected food and basic necessities. It was nice to see how people managed to organise, and very quickly”, recalls Dragan Umičević.

    Dragan, a retired veteran from Osijek, has continued to volunteer for refugees both in Croatia and in Serbia and Greece. When the Balkan route was already closed, in collaboration with the NGO Are you syrious? (AYS), he assisted some refugees by going personally to the border with Serbia, to be sure they were allowed to apply for asylum in Croatia. In fact, for some time now, many NGO testimonies on the field agree that the Croatian police carries out illegal rejections of refugees, accompanied by violence, denying them the right to asylum.
    “Unwitting negligence”

    On the night of March 21st, 2018, being the closest volunteer, Dragan went to Strošinci on the recommendation of AYS, that was in contact with a group of refugees who had just entered Croatian territory. Among them were the family members of Madina Hussiny, the little Afghan girl who was hit by a train after her group, in a previous attempt to cross the border, had been illegally returned to Serbia by the Croatian police.

    “In a group of 14 people there were 11 minors, including some very young children. There was a storm, they were frozen, wet, worn out. At the border I contacted the police, explaining the situation, and acted in cooperation with them. It would not have been possible to do otherwise”, continues Umičević, who then indicated the way to the refugees by flashing the headlights of his car. “When the refugees arrived, the police told me I could go home, but I preferred to take them to the police station to make sure that their asylum application was presented. After an informal interview, during which no accusation against me was advanced, I left”.

    Two weeks later, however, Umičević learned that he had earned the ungrateful role of the first activist targeted by a judicial proceeding for a crime of solidarity in Croatia. Charges questioned both the fact that the police had authorised him to flash to the group of refugees and his awareness, at the time, of the exact position of the refugees in relation to the Croatian border.

    In first instance, he was found guilty of “unwitting negligence” – as, despite being notified of the geolocation of the group of refugees, already in Croatia, he acted without being able to verify it – and sentenced to pay a fine of 60,000 kunas (over 8,000 Euros). The prosecution, however, had requested a fine of 320,000 kunas, two months in prison for the volunteer, and the ban on the activity of AYS.

    “The purpose of the sentence is to discourage volunteers, who will think twice before engaging, especially if the sentence is confirmed, and then the police will have their hands free. This can be transferred to other segments of everyday life”, concludes Umičević, who is now awaiting the appeal. In the meantime, he has received the solidarity of the people around him, civil society, and some media. “That I know of, no politician has expressed solidarity. They have nothing to gain from that”. Indeed, the Croatian political scene has been silent not only in front of his case, but in the face of the systematic violations of refugee rights in general.
    Violations of human rights

    On October 23rd, Platforma 112 , which brings together many Croatian human rights organisations, once again invited Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and Interior Minister Davor Božinović to suspend attacks on associations supporting refugees, demanding independent investigations and punishment not of those who defend human rights, but those who violate them.

    This was only the last of the appeals, which followed the letter from Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatović to Prime Minister Plenković, in which the Croatian government was asked to stop police violence on refugees trying to enter the country.

    The reticence of the Croatian police in providing access to information was also highlighted in the 2017 report by ombuswoman Lora Vidović, whose office, as reported on the official site itself , receives daily inquiries by foreign and local media on cases of violence and violation of rights – impossibility of applying for asylum in the country – to the detriment of refugees.

    The appeal by Platforma 112 has fallen on deaf ears, with no reaction from either Croatian politics or European governments. For a European Union that seeks to outsource the management of refugee flows as much as possible and no matter what, violence on its doorsteps is not news. According to UNHCR report Desperate Journeys , with 700 reported cases of violence and theft at the border, Croatia holds the negative record among the countries of the area, compared to 150 and 140 cases, respectively, in Hungary and Romania.

    Intimidations against solidarity in Croatia have intensified since Madina’s family entered the country. The family was detained in the Tovarnik closed camp for over two months after applying for asylum in Croatia, and transferred to an open structure only after repeated interventions by the European Court of Human Rights. The NGOs (AYS and Center for Peace Studies) and lawyers (Ivo Jelavić and Sanja Bezbradica) who supported the family in their search for the truth received pressures. Umičević’s conviction is part of this framework.
    The media debate

    The Croatian events cannot be separated from the European context of criminalisation of solidarity, with a series of judicial proceedings in Italy, France, Hungary, and elsewhere. Moreover, the collaboration of border police in implementing chain rejections from Italy to Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina was exposed by a recent report by La Stampa .

    However, what currently stands out in Croatia is the aggressive media campaign against refugees, also stimulated in recent weeks by the news from Velika Kladuša, Bosnia and Herzegovina, where thousands of individuals are pressing at the borders of the European Union.

    In particular, a piece by a well-known right-wing opinionist can be seen as a sort of manifesto of the new right wing – sovereignist, anti-migrant, and contrary to secularisation.

    On Večernji List, Nino Raspudić compared those who selflessly help refugees to the bizarre case of a Dutch tourist hospitalised for the bite of a viper she had tried to pet. Both cases would show a deformed view of reality typical of Western civilisation, unable to recognise true evil and danger, but “happy to kill unborn children and send parents to euthanasia”. The article continues by attacking NGOs, defined as “traffickers”, “criminals, mobsters, mercenaries”, attached “to Soros’ breast”. These are the same accusations periodically circulated by obscure media and Serbian, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Hungarian, and now also Italian politicians, conflating otherwise conflicting extreme right discourses in the hate speech against refugees.

    In the column Reakcija, also hosted by Večernji List, opinionist Mate Miljić stated that the European Union is to blame for the pressure of migrants at Croatian borders because, “in its will to create a multicultural melting pot, it has allowed mass illegal immigration”. Moreover, in his opinion, the left would be ready to cut pensions for war veterans to “give them to illegal migrants”.

    Trvtko Barun, director of Jesuit Refugee Service, replied to Raspudić on the same newspaper. Pointing to the dangers of calling to hatred and using distorted images, Barun cited Pope Bergoglio’s positions on refugees, that struggle to be received in the Croatian Catholic Church.
    Narratives of fear

    In addition to direct crusades, however, the Croatian press is spreading narratives that stimulate the construction of barriers, fuelling suspicion, fear, and lack of empathy toward refugees.

    In the days of pressure on the borders of Velika Kladuša, following a declaration by a local police inspector, the news circulated for days that a migrant suspected of murdering five people in Macedonia had been arrested, even after this was categorically denied by the sources of the Macedonian Interior Ministry.

    The very hierarchy of the news shows the construction – intentional or not – of a narrative of suspicion and fear, with refugees (now called “illegal migrants”) without faces, names, and stories, seen exclusively as a threat to public order.

    The story of some refugees who, in days of bad weather, allegedly entered some vacant holiday homes in the mountain region of Gorski Kotar, to seek shelter and dry clothes, received great attention nationally, although the damage amounted to a few hundred Euros.

    As elsewhere in Europe, also in Croatia the many fake news and the prejudices circulating on the web – both on registered outlets and on social networks – find in the fear of the other fertile ground to build easy consensus and grab clicks. In a piece on Novi List, however, Ladislav Tomičić recalled that the habit of resorting to lying will leave a mark in society, which will pay the price also when the wave of refugees is exhausted.

    https://www.balcanicaucaso.org/eng/Areas/Croatia/Croatia-criminalisation-of-solidarity-190998
    #Croatie #asile #migrations #réfugiés #solidarité #délit_de_solidarité

    • La Croatie criminalise la solidarité

      6 novembre — 14h15 : Le 23 octobre, la plate-forme 112, qui réunit de nombreuses associations d’aide aux réfugiés, a appelé le Premier ministre Andrej Plenković et le ministre de l’Intérieur Davor Božinović à suspendre les attaques judiciaires en cours contre les associations de solidarité, qui se sont multipliées ces derniers mois. Dans le même temps, la majorité des médias croates, notamment le quotidien Večernji List multiplient les articles et les éditoriaux très hostiles aux réfugiés, réclamant parfois la création d’un mur sur la frontière avec la Bosnie-Herzégovine.

      via Courrier des Balkans : https://www.courrierdesbalkans.fr/Bosnie-police-renforts-frontieres

    • Croatie : sale temps pour les ONG d’aide aux réfugiés

      Les bénévoles et employés d’ONG d’aide aux réfugiés en Croatie sont confrontés quasiment tous les jours à des intimidations, dénonce le réseau de médias européens Euractiv. Des menaces anonymes et actes de vandalisme qui font suite aux tentatives du ministère de l’Intérieur de criminaliser les activités de ces organisations humanitaires.

      Le ministère de l’Intérieur a récemment refusé de prolonger son accord de coopération avec le Centre pour les études de la paix (CMS), une organisation qui s’occupe des réfugiés et demandeurs d’asile depuis quinze ans. Suite à cette décision, le CMS est désormais interdit de se rendre dans les centres d’accueil, tandis que ses bénévoles ne peuvent plus enseigner le croate ni fournir une aide juridique aux réfugiés qui suivent un parcours d’intégration.

      L’ONG Are You Syrious (AYS), qui travaille avec les réfugiés depuis 2015, a quant à elle vu ses bureaux vandalisés à plusieurs reprises au cours des dernières semaines. Les murs et un véhicule de l’organisation ont été tagués. Lors d’attaques précédentes, des briques avaient été jetés sur les fenêtres et les véhicules de l’organisation.

      Des attaques qui se produisent alors que les discours de haine à l’encontre des réfugiés se généralisent en Croatie et dans le reste de l’Europe. Pour Sara Kekuš (CMS), citée par Euractiv, c’est résultat de « la politique européenne actuelle envers les réfugiés [...] que la droite extrême qualifie fréquemment de migrants illégaux et présente comme une menace pour toute l’Europe », déclare-t-elle.

      AYS est également l’objet d’intimidations sur les réseaux sociaux avec des messages les accusant d’être « à la solde de Soros pour islamiser l’Europe », d’aider « les terroristes et les violeurs », et les menaçant de « punitions conséquentes ». Mi-novembre, le Centre pour l’intégration, qui dépend d’AYS, et son entrepôt à Novi Zagreb ont été vandalisés avec un graffiti « Les immigrants ne sont pas les bienvenus » inscrit sur un mur et « Fuck Isis » tagué sur leur véhicule. « Tout cela a lieu, alors que le ministre de l’Intérieur Davor Božinović a déclaré au Parlement que notre organisation était impliquée dans d’obscures activités de trafic », rappelle Asja Korbar d’AYS.

      Le ministère de l’Intérieur a exercé des pressions sur le CMS et AYS après que ces deux ONG ont publié des témoignages de récurrentes violences policières à l’encontre des réfugiés. La situation s’est détériorée après la mort de Madini Husini, une fillette qui a perdu la vie le 21 novembre 2017 le long de la voie ferrée Tovarnik-Šid, près de la frontière serbe. « Quand on s’est saisi de l’affaire, le ministère de l’Intérieur a commencé à nous criminaliser », explique Sara Kekuš. « Il s’est mis à associer notre organisation à des trafiquants et à criminaliser notre travail plutôt que d’enquêter sur cette mort et de résoudre l’affaire. »

      Les déclarations du ministère de l’Intérieur ont été fermement condamnées par la médiatrice de la Réublique, Lora Vidović. « Les trafiquants sont les ennemis des droits humains et constituent une menace pour les migrants, ils ne doivent donc pas être associés aux ONG qui agissent conformément aux lois croates », a-t-elle affirmé, avant de conclure : « Je suis sûre qu’il ne s’agit que d’une poignée d’individus et que la majorité des citoyens condamne ces violences, mais il est très important que les institutions fassent passer le même message et poursuivent les responsables ».

      https://www.courrierdesbalkans.fr/Croatie-ONG-refugies


  • The History of Civilization Is a History of Border Walls

    When I joined my first archaeological dig at a site near Hadrian’s Wall in 2002, walls never appeared in the nightly news. Britain was still many years away from planning a barrier near the opening of the Chunnel in Calais. Saudi Arabia hadn’t yet encircled itself with high-tech barricades. Israel hadn’t started reinforcing its Gaza border fence with concrete. Kenya wasn’t seeking Israel’s help in the construction of a 440-mile barrier against Somalia. And the idea that India might someday send workers high into the Himalayas to construct border walls that look down on clouds still seemed as preposterous as the notion that Ecuador might commence construction on a 950-mile concrete wall along its border with Peru.

    No one chatted about walls while we cut through sod to expose the buried remains of an ancient fortress in northern Britain. I doubt that anyone was chatting about walls anywhere. The old fortress, on the other hand, was generally considered the crown jewel of British archaeology. For more than 30 years, sharp-eyed excavators at the Roman fort of Vindolanda had been finding writing tablets — thin slivers of wood upon which Roman soldiers had written letters, duty rosters, inventories, and other assorted jottings. At first, the tablets had represented something of a technical challenge; their spectral writing faded almost immediately upon exposure to air, almost as if written in invisible ink. But when the writings were recovered through infrared photography, a tremendous satisfaction came from the discovery that Roman soldiers complained about shortages of beer while the wives of their commanders planned birthday parties. The Romans, it turned out, were a lot like us.

    Archaeology, even at such a special place, was tiring business, but after work I enjoyed taking hikes along the wall. It was beautiful countryside — well lit by an evening sun that lingered late during the Northumbrian summer — and as I ambled over the grassy hills, occasionally enjoying the company of sheep, I sometimes imagined I was a lonely Roman soldier, stationed at the end of the world, scanning the horizon for barbarians while I awaited a resupply of beer. I’m ashamed to say that I took no detailed notes on the wall itself. It made for beautiful photographs, the way it stretched languidly over the countryside, but my real interest lay in other things: the Roman soldiers, the barbarians, the letters. If anything I saw in Britain was to hold any significance for my research, it seemed obvious that I would find it in the wet gray clay of Vindolanda. There I hoped only to discern tiny clues about a particular period of Roman history. Such are the modest goals of the academic. For the duration of my stay, my focus was on the clay. All the while, I was standing right next to a piece of a much bigger story, a fragment of the past that was about to rise up from its ancient slumber to dominate contemporary politics on two continents. I was leaning against it, resting my hand on it, posing for pictures by it. I just didn’t see it.

    It was my interest in the barbarians that finally opened my eyes to the historical importance of walls. The barbarians were, in the main, inhabitants of every North African or Eurasian wasteland — the steppes, the deserts, the mountains. Civilized folk had erected barriers to exclude them in an astonishing array of countries: Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Iran, Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Russia, Britain, Algeria, Libya, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Peru, China, and Korea, to give only a partial list. Yet somehow this fact had entirely escaped the notice of historians. Not a single textbook observed the nearly universal correlation between civilization and walls. It remained standard even for specialists to remark that walls were somehow unique to Chinese history, if not unique to Chinese culture — a stereotype that couldn’t possibly be any less true.

    By some cruel irony, the mere concept of walls now divides people more thoroughly than any structure of brick or stone.

    The reemergence of border walls in contemporary political debates made for an even more surprising revelation. Like most people my age, I had watched the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 with great excitement. To many of us, it looked like the beginning of a new era, heralded by no less towering an international figure than David Hasselhoff, whose concert united both halves of Berlin in inexplicable rapture. More than a quarter-century has passed since then, and if it had once seemed that walls had become a thing of the past, that belief has proven sorely wrong.

    Border walls have experienced a conspicuous revival in the 21st century. Worldwide, some 70 barriers of various sorts currently stand guard. Some exist to prevent terrorism, others as obstacles to mass migration or the flow of illegal drugs. Nearly all mark national borders. By some cruel irony, the mere concept of walls now divides people more thoroughly than any structure of brick or stone. For every person who sees a wall as an act of oppression, there is always another urging the construction of newer, higher, and longer barriers. The two sides hardly speak to each other.

    As things turned out, it was the not the beer or the birthday parties that connected the past to the present in northern England. It was the wall. We can almost imagine it now as a great stone timeline, inhabited on one end by ancients, on the other by moderns, but with both always residing on the same side facing off against an unseen enemy. If I couldn’t see that in 2002, it was only because we were then still living in an anomalous stage in history and had somehow lost our instinct for something that has nearly always been a part of our world.

    How important have walls been in the history of civilization? Few civilized peoples have ever lived outside them. As early as the 10th millennium BC, the builders of Jericho encircled their city, the world’s first, with a rampart. Over time, urbanism and agriculture spread from Jericho and the Levant into new territories: Anatolia, Egypt, Mesopotamia, the Balkans, and beyond. Walls inevitably followed. Everywhere farmers settled, they fortified their villages. They chose elevated sites and dug ditches to enclose their homes. Entire communities pitched in to make their villages secure. A survey of prehistoric Transylvanian farming villages determined that some 1,400 to 1,500 cubic meters of earth typically had to be moved just to create an encircling ditch — an effort that would have required the labor of 60 men for 40 days. Subsequently, those ditches were lined with stone and bolstered by palisades. If a community survived long enough, it might add flanking towers. These were the first steps toward walls.

    The creators of the first civilizations descended from generations of wall builders. They used their newfound advantages in organization and numbers to build bigger walls. More than a few still survive. We can estimate their heights, their thicknesses, their volumes, and their lengths. But the numbers can only tell us so much. We will always learn more by examining the people who built the walls or the fear that led to their construction.

    And what about these fears? Were civilizations — and walls — created only by unusually fearful peoples? Or did creating civilization cause people to become fearful? Such questions turn out to be far more important than we’ve ever realized.

    Since 2002, I’ve had ample time to reflect on the Roman soldiers who once guarded Hadrian’s Wall. They certainly never struck me as afraid of anything. Then again, they weren’t exactly Roman, either. They came chiefly from foreign lands, principally Belgium and Holland, which were in those days still as uncivilized as the regions north of the wall. Everything they knew of building and writing, they had learned in the service of Rome.

    As for the Romans, they preferred to let others fight their battles. They had become the definitive bearers of civilization and as such were the target of a familiar complaint: that they had lost their edge. Comfortable behind their city walls and their foreign guards, they had grown soft. They were politicians and philosophers, bread makers and blacksmiths, anything but fighters.

    The Roman poet Ovid knew a thing or two about the soft life, but he also had the unusual experience of learning what life was like for Rome’s frontier troops. The latter misfortune came as a consequence of his having offended the emperor Augustus. The offense was some peccadillo — Ovid never divulges the details — compounded by his having penned a rather scandalous book on the art of seduction. “What is the theme of my song?” he asked puckishly, in verse. “Nothing that’s very far wrong.” Augustus disagreed. Reading Ovid’s little love manual, the moralistic emperor saw plenty of wrong. He probably never even made it to the section where Ovid raved about what a great ruler he was. Augustus banished the poet from Rome, exiling him to Tomis, a doomed city on the coast of the Black Sea, 60-odd miles south of the Danube.

    Tomis was a hardscrabble sort of place, a former Greek colony already some 600 years old by the time of Ovid’s exile in the first century AD and no shinier for the wear. Its distinguishing characteristics were exactly two: First, it was about as far from Rome as one could be sent. Second, it lay perilously close to some of Rome’s fiercest enemies, in an area that didn’t yet have a border wall. Like northern Britain, the region of Tomis would one day receive its share of border walls, but in Ovid’s day, the only barriers to invasion were the fortifications around the city itself.

    Ovid suffered in his new home. It was one thing to live in a walled city, but quite another to be completely confined within those walls. In his letters to Rome, Ovid complained that the farmers of Tomis couldn’t even venture out onto their fields. On the rare occasion when a peasant dared to visit his plot, he guided the plow with one hand while carrying weapons in another. Even the shepherds wore helmets.

    Fear permeated everyday life in Tomis. Even in times of peace, wrote Ovid, the dread of war loomed. The city was, for all intents and purposes, under perpetual siege. Ovid likened the townspeople to a timid stag caught by bears or a lamb surrounded by wolves.

    Occasionally, Ovid reminisced on his former life in the capital, where he’d lived free from fear. He wistfully recalled the amenities of Rome — the forums, the temples, and the marble theaters; the porticoes, gardens, pools, and canals; above all, the cornucopia of literature at hand. The contrast with his new circumstances was complete. At Tomis, there was nothing but the clash and clang of weapons. Ovid imagined that he might at least content himself with gardening, if only he weren’t afraid to step outside. The enemy was quite literally at the gates, separated only by the thickness of the city’s wall. Barbarian horsemen circled Tomis. Their deadly arrows, which Ovid unfailingly reminds us had been dipped in snake venom, made pincushions of the roofs in the city.

    The birth of walls set human societies on divergent paths, one leading to self-indulgent poetry, the other to taciturn militarism.

    There remained a final indignity for Ovid: the feeble, middle-aged author was pressed into service in defense of Tomis. As a youth, Ovid had avoided military service. There was no shame for shirkers back in Rome, a city replete with peaceniks and civilians. Now aging, Ovid had finally been forced to carry a sword, shield, and helmet. When the guard from the lookout signaled a raid, the poet donned his armor with shaking hands. Here was a true Roman, afraid to step out from behind his fortifications and hopelessly overwhelmed by the responsibility of defending them.

    From time to time, a Chinese poet would find himself in a situation much like Ovid’s. Stationed at some lonely outpost on the farthest reaches of the empire, the Chinese, too, longed for home while dreading the nearness of the barbarians. “In the frontier towns, you will have sad dreams at night,” wrote one. “Who wants to hear the barbarian pipe played to the moon?” Sometimes they meditated on the story of the Chinese princess who drowned herself in a river rather than cross beyond the wall. Even Chinese generals lamented the frontier life.

    Oddly, none of these sentiments appear in the letters written by the Roman soldiers at Vindolanda. Transplanted to a rainy land far from home, they grumbled at times about the beer supply but had nothing to say about shaky hands or sad dreams. It was as if these barbarian-turned-Roman auxiliaries had come from another world, where homesickness and fear had been banished. Perhaps they had.

    Almost anytime we examine the past and seek out the people most like us — those such as Ovid or the Chinese poets; people who built cities, knew how to read, and generally carried out civilian labor — we find them enclosed behind walls of their own making. Civilization and walls seem to have gone hand in hand. Beyond the walls, we find little with which we can identify — warriors mostly, of the sort we might hire to patrol the walls. The outsiders are mostly anonymous, except when they become notorious.

    The birth of walls set human societies on divergent paths, one leading to self-indulgent poetry, the other to taciturn militarism. But the first path also pointed to much more — science, mathematics, theater, art — while the other brought its followers only to a dead end, where a man was nothing except a warrior and all labor devolved upon the women.

    No invention in human history played a greater role in creating and shaping civilization than walls. Without walls, there could never have been an Ovid, and the same can be said for Chinese scholars, Babylonian mathematicians, or Greek philosophers. Moreover, the impact of walls wasn’t limited to the early phases of civilization. Wall building persisted for most of history, climaxing spectacularly during a 1,000-year period when three large empires — Rome, China, and Sasanid Persia — erected barriers that made the geopolitical divisions of the Old World all but permanent.

    The collapse of those walls influenced world history almost as profoundly as their creation, by leading to the eclipse of one region, the stagnation of another, and the rise of a third. When the great border walls were gone, leaving only faint traces on the landscape, they left indelible lines on our maps — lines that have even today not yet been obscured by modern wars or the jockeying of nations for resources. Today, a newer set of walls, rising up on four continents, has the potential to remake the world yet again.


    https://medium.com/s/greatescape/the-history-of-civilization-is-a-history-of-border-walls-24e837246fb8
    #civilisation #histoire #murs #murs_frontaliers #histoire #frontières #livre #David_Frye


  • “I saw things children shouldn’t see” – surviving a troubled childhood | Mosaic
    https://mosaicscience.com/story/surviving-troubled-childhood-resilience-neglect-adversity

    Why are some people able to become happy, well-adjusted adults even after growing up with violence or neglect? Their life stories – from 1950s Hawaii to the orphanages of Romania – could provide answers that will help more children to thrive. By Lucy Maddox.

    #surpassement #traumatismes #enfance


  • Time for a revolution: how the art of 1968 caught a world in turmoil | Culture | The Guardian

    https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2018/apr/30/time-for-a-riot-how-the-art-of-1968-caught-a-world-in-turmoil

    Photography: ‘The moment a country lost its sense of self’

    On 19 August #1968, Josef Koudelka returned to Czechoslovakia from Romania, where he had been living among and photographing Romany Gypsies. The following day, Soviet tanks appeared on the streets of Prague. For seven days, the 30-year-old Moravian-born photographer roamed the city with his East German Exakta Varex camera loaded with movie film, the only stock he could find at short notice.


  • Orange snow creates eerie post-Apocalyptic scenes in eastern Europe | Toronto Star
    https://www.thestar.com/news/world/2018/03/26/orange-snow-creates-eerie-post-apocalyptic-scenes-in-eastern-europe.html


    à Polyana dans les Carpates ukrainiens

    The photos and videos haven’t been edited by the latest Instagram filter or otherwise digitally manipulated. Orange-tinted snow did blanket parts of Eastern Europe on Friday and over the weekend, creating eerie post-Apocalyptic scenes and baffling people from countries like Russia, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Romania and Moldova, the BBC reported.

    Documentation of the strange snow appeared all over social media, with some making jokes about “skiing on Mars,” according to CNN.

    While orange snow seems unearthly, meteorologists said the phenomenon actually occurs about every five years and that this instance was caused by sand from storms in the Sahara Desert mixing with snow and rain, according to the BBC.

    Unlike past occurrences, however, the concentrations of sand are much higher this time, with people even complaining of getting it in their mouths, the BBC reported.


  • Major Fire on Ultra-Large Containership Maersk Honam in Arabian Sea, Situation ’Critical’ – gCaptain
    http://gcaptain.com/major-fire-on-ultra-large-containership-maersk-honam-arabian-sea

    An ultra-large containership belonging to container shipping giant Maersk has suffered what is being described as a ‘serious fire’ in one of its cargo holds in the Arabian Sea.

    According to an emailed statement from Maersk Line, the MV Maersk Honam reported a serious fire in a cargo hold on Tuesday 6 March 2018 at 15:20 GMT while enroute from Singapore towards Suez, Egypt. 

    Four crew members are missing.
    […]
    The ship is reported to be carrying 7,860 containers.
    […]
    The Maersk Honam was built in 2017 and has a nominal capacity of 15,262 TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit). It sails under the Singapore flag.

    The nationalities of the 27 crew members are: India (13), the Phillipines (9), Romania (1), South Africa (1), Thailand (2) and the United Kingdom (1).

    • Insurers brace for multi-million-dollar claims as Maersk Honam is towed to port - The Loadstar
      https://theloadstar.co.uk/insurers-brace-multi-million-dollar-claims-maersk-honam-towed-port

      The insurance industry is bracing itself for hundreds of millions of dollars of claims from the biggest container vessel casualty to date – but some shippers will not have been insured.

      A Maersk spokesman told The Loadstar today no decision had yet been reached on the port of destination for the fire-damaged 15,262 teu Maersk Honam.
      […]
      The 2017-built Maersk Honam caught fire on 6 March in the Arabian Sea en route to the Mediterranean, via Suez, claiming the lives of four seafarers with a further crew member presumed to be lost.

      According to the Indian coastguard pictures, hundreds of containers in the fore section of the ULCV would seem to be a total loss, but boxes stowed behind the superstructure and in the aft section appear intact.
      […]
      Meanwhile, for cargo that was insured, marine reinsurance branches will be expecting an avalanche of claims for this latest containership casualty.

      Insurers have for some time expressed their concerns about their exposure in the event of a major ULCV casualty. In the case of the 8,110 teu MOL Comfort which broke its back off the coast of Yemen in 2008, resulting in a total loss of the ship and its 4,380 containers, the insured cargo loss alone was reported at some $300m.

      Marine insurers typically calculate their average exposure per box at between $50,000-$100,000, but it was reported that amounts lost from the MOL Comfort were considerably higher, and there have been instances recorded by marine insurers where the value of a single pallet packed in a container has exceeded $1m.


  • These Are the World’s Most Miserable Economies - Bloomberg

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-14/most-miserable-economies-of-2018-stay-haunted-by-inflation-beast

    L’idée du « #misery_index » est plutôt intéressante #indice #index #misère_économique mais misery ou miserable en fançais doit sans doute se traduire par autre chose que « misérable », je pense à calamiteu·se, malheureu·se, piteu·se voire lamentable. Je me souviens vaguemen que c’est un faux-ami

    Rising prices are more of a threat to the global economy this year than joblessness, according to Bloomberg’s Misery Index, which sums inflation and unemployment outlooks for 66 economies.

    Venezuela marks its fourth year as the world’s most miserable economy, with a score that’s more than three times what it was in 2017. Thailand again claimed “least miserable” status, though the nation’s unique way of calculating unemployment makes No. 2 Singapore worth noting. Elsewhere, Mexico looks to make big strides this year as inflation becomes more manageable, while Romania absorbs more misery for the opposite reason.

    #indice #index #indicateur #statistique #critère #urban_matter


  • En 2017, un tiers des demandeurs d’asile placés sous procédure Dublin

    Les premières données statistiques sur la demande d’asile publiées le 16 janvier 2018, font apparaître plusieurs évolutions significatives. Il s’agit de données provisoires, les chiffres consolidés étant diffusés au printemps dans les rapports d’activité de l’Office français de protection des réfugiés et apatrides (OFPRA) et de la Cour nationale du droit d’asile (CNDA).

    Le ministère de l’Intérieur indique qu’un total de 100 412 demandes a été enregistré par l’OFPRA, soit une hausse de 17% par rapport à 2016. Les demandes de réexamens (7 582) sont relativement stables (+4%) tandis que les premières demandes (73 689) connaissent une hausse importante (+15%) tout comme le nombre de mineurs accompagnants (19 141 / +33%) rattachés aux dossiers de leurs parents. Le record de premières demandes établi en 2016 (63 935) est donc dépassé : jamais la France n’a enregistré autant de demandes d’asile.

    Les principaux pays d’origine des premières demandes enregistrées à l’OFPRA sont l’Albanie (7 630, +29%), l’Afghanistan (5 987, +6%), Haïti (4 934, stable), le Soudan (-24%) et la Guinée (+62%). La Côte d’Ivoire connait la hausse la plus significative parmi les principaux pays d’origine : le nombre de demandes, qui avait déjà fortement augmenté entre 2015 et 2016 (+48%), progresse de 111% (3 243).

    http://www.forumrefugies.org/s-informer/actualites/en-2017-un-tiers-des-demandeurs-d-asile-places-sous-procedure-dublin
    #statistiques #chiffres #Dublin #Règlement_dublin #asile #migrations #réfugiés #France #2017
    cc @isskein

    • Push for transfers at any cost – the Dublin system in 2017 : AIDA Comparative Report

      The 2017 Dublin Update, published by the Asylum Information Database, releases figures for 18 European countries revealing an increase in transfers in the aftermath of European Union and domestic political commitments for a stricter enforcement of the Dublin system.

      Germany continues to spearhead the Dublin system with a record-high 64,267 outgoing requests to other countries. France issued 41,500 requests, Austria 10,490 and Greece 9,784. With the exception of Greece, the majority of countries make marginal use of the family unity provisions (0.4% of requests in Slovenia, 1.5% in Switzerland, 4.1% in the United Kingdom) and the humanitarian clause of the Dublin Regulation (0% in Spain and the United Kingdom, 0.1% in Slovenia, 0.2% in Hungary and 0.9% in Romania). Most states overwhelmingly rely on the irregular entry criterion and applications previously made by asylum seekers in other countries.

      The number of transfers implemented in 2017 was 7,102 for Germany, 4,268 for Greece, 4,201 for Sweden and 3,760 for Austria. While the “transfer rate” of effective outgoing transfers to outgoing requests was 43.6% in Greece and 35.8% in Austria, Germany’s rate was only 11%, thereby indicating that the vast majority of Dublin procedures do not result in a transfer.

      The costs of this policy are palpable. Beyond pointing to an excessive and often unreasonable use of administrative and financial resources on the part of asylum authorities, the continued push for more Dublin transfers has translated into an expansion of abusive practices and deterioration of procedural safeguards in some countries. Asylum seekers are given transfer decisions before being able to lodge their asylum applications or to bring forward vulnerabilities or family links under a new procedure applied by Italy in its north-eastern region bordering Slovenia and Austria. In France, people are increasingly placed in detention during the weekend to be effectively deprived of the possibility to access legal assistance and challenge their transfer in France.

      Finally, the Dublin Update illustrates the widely disparate approaches taken by European states with regard to the safety of countries such as Hungary, Bulgaria and Greece.

      “The presumptions of mutual trust and equivalent standards have never held throughout the life of the Dublin system. Yet, to date, many governments continue to apply the Dublin Regulation even in the face of strong evidence of substandard asylum systems and reception conditions. These tactics at best subject asylum seekers to unduly long Dublin procedures never leading to a transfer; at worst, they send them to countries where their human rights are in jeopardy”, says Minos Mouzourakis, Senior AIDA Coordinator at ECRE.

      https://www.ecre.org/push-for-transfers-at-any-cost-the-dublin-system-in-2017

      Voici quelques données :


      –-> Bizarre ce tableau pour la #France... où il semblerait, en regardant ce tableau, qu’en 2017, aucun « outgoing transfert » ait été effectué...


      http://www.asylumineurope.org/sites/default/files/aida_2017update_dublin.pdf
      #Europe #rapport

      In France, people are increasingly placed in detention during the weekend to be effectively deprived of the possibility to access legal assistance and challenge their transfer in France.

      #rétention #détention_administrative

      La #Suisse est en train de perdre son titre de #champion_des_renvois_Dublin (sic)
      #efficacité (sic)

    • On me répond que les statistiques de transferts Dublin pour la France ne sont pas disponibles... du coup, pourquoi ne pas le mentionner plus clairement sur le tableau au lieu de laisser croire que la France n’a transféré aucun dubliné ?

    • Petite précision d’une amie sur les dublinés à #Grenoble :

      Je dirais plutôt que la catégorie n’est pas renseignée comme s’ils n’avaient pas les chiffres.
      A Grenoble, on estime à 20% environ les transferts effectifs ; c’est à dire 20% de personnes en Dublin sont arrêtées, ensuite elles sont systématiquement transférées. Il n’y a plus de libération du CRA sans expulsion. Et ça tient au fait qu’ils entrent au CRA apres 18h et en sont embarqués vers 6h du matin.

    • How do Member States Return Unwanted Migrants? The Strategic (non‐)use of ‘Europe’ during the Migration Crisis

      This article analyzes how Member States have used the opportunities and avoided the constraints of the EU’s multilevel governance architecture to return unwanted migrants. Drawing on sociological approaches to the EU and a broad understanding of return policies, we investigate the ways in which the northern Member States, notably Germany and Austria, have increasingly relied upon the EU’s operational and financial resources to achieve their goal of pursuing a bold return policy. A key ‘usage’ of Europe has been the pooling of political and financial power to externalize and informalize its return policy. At the same time, the northern Member States’ deliberate – yet widely under‐researched – ‘non‐use’ of Europe, such as using and maximizing national leeway, has been an equally important strategy to reduce migratory pressure and achieve higher return rates.


      https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/jcms.12621


  • Six photographers travel across states that once came under the dominion, or existed in the orbit, of the Soviet Union. Their stories evoke worlds both ordinary and stunning and raises the question of how long the shadow of the the past can be said to linger over the present.

    Journeys — The Calvert Journal

    http://reports.calvertjournal.com/journeys

    A quarter century after the collapse of the Wall, what does the landscape look like for peoples of the former Eastern Bloc?

    Here, six photographers travel across states that once came under the dominion, or existed in the orbit, of the Soviet Union. Their stories evoke worlds both ordinary and stunning and raises the question of how long the shadow of the the past can be said to linger over the present.

    From the high mountains of Tajikistan to a failing mining town in Romania and the opulent homes of Russia’s newly rich, history, it seems, is never far away.

    –—

    Snow ghosts

    Soviet military-industrial power frozen in time

    D

    anila Tkachenko is a Russian photographer whose series Restricted Areas crystallises the tendencies of many artists working on themes of the post-Soviet space. As Calvert 22’s Power and Architecture season demonstrates, there is a healthy interest in the abandoned or neglected buildings that once served as landmarks of Soviet ambition: the rack and ruin of utopia. What sets Tkachenko apart is the unforgiving simplicity of his compositions.

    The architecture of Restricted Areas is scattered across Eurasia: from an observatory in Kazakhstan to submarines in the Volga region of Samara and oil fields in the remote republic of Bashkortostan. But through Tkachenko’s lens they become part of a single winter landscape, minimal and saturated with whiteness.

    #photographie #soviétisme #urss #ex-urss


  • One hundred years since the birth of Romanian pianist and composer #Dinu_Lipatti - World Socialist Web Site
    https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2017/12/20/dinu-d20.html

    April 1, 2017, marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of the celebrated Romanian pianist and composer Dinu Lipatti, who died at the young age of 33 in 1950. Despite his premature death, Lipatti left a legacy of outstanding recordings of some of the major works of classical music, and is justly considered one of the greatest musicians of the twentieth century.

    Lipatti was born into a musical family of upper-middle-class Greek origin in the Romanian capital of Bucharest. The wealth of his parents, and their connections with Romania’s leading artists and musicians of the inter-war period, provided additional opportunities for Lipatti to realize his musical talent.

    #musique #piano


  • Who’s Afraid of George Soros? – Foreign Policy (10/10/2017) http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/10/10/whos-afraid-of-george-soros

    BUCHAREST, Romania — Last winter, in the middle of anti-corruption demonstrations, a television broadcaster accused George Soros — the Hungarian-born, Jewish-American billionaire philanthropist — of paying dogs to protest.

    The protests in Bucharest, sparked by dead-of-night legislation aimed at decriminalizing corruption, were the largest the country had seen since the fall of communism in 1989. Romania TV — a channel associated with, if not officially owned by, the government — alleged the protesters were paid.

    “Adults were paid 100 lei [$24], children earned 50 lei [$12.30], and dogs were paid 30 lei [$7.20],” one broadcaster said. 

    Some protesters responded by fitting their dogs with placards; others tucked money into their pets’ coats. One dog stood next to a sign reading, “Can anyone change 30 lei into euro?” Another dog wore one that read: “#George_Soros paid me to be here.”

    “The pro-government television, they lie all the time. In three sentences, they have five lies,” investigative journalist Andrei Astefanesei told Foreign Policy outside a gyro shop in Bucharest. “I told you about that lie, that Soros paid for dogs. ‘If you bring more dogs in the street, you get more money.’” He laughed.

    Romania TV was fined for its false claims about Soros. But the idea — that roughly half a million Romanians, and their dogs, came to the streets because Soros made them do it — struck a responsive chord. It’s similar to the idea that Soros is personally responsible for teaching students about LGBTQ rights in Romanian high schools; that Soros manipulated the teenagers who led this year’s anti-corruption protests in Slovakia; and that civil organizations and what’s left of the independent media in Hungary wouldn’t exist without Soros and his Open Society Foundations.

    The idea that the 87-year-old Soros is single-handedly stirring up discontent isn’t confined to the European side of the Atlantic; Soros conspiracies are a global phenomenon. In March, six U.S. senators signed a letter asking Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s staff to look into U.S. government funding going to Soros-backed organizations.

    “Our skepticism about Soros-funded groups undermining American priorities goes far beyond Eastern Europe,” said a spokesperson for Utah Sen. Mike Lee, who led the initiative, when asked if there was some specific piece of evidence of Soros-funded activity in Eastern Europe that prompted the letter or if concerns were more general.

    Soros has even been linked to former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who knelt during the national anthem to protest police brutality. “Congrats to Colin Kaepernick for popularizing the hatred of America. Good work, bro,” Tomi Lahren, a conservative commentator, tweeted during the controversy. “Your buddy George Soros is so proud. #istand.”

    On Twitter, Soros has also been held responsible for the recent Catalan independence referendum and the mass shooting in Las Vegas.

    But one of the places in which suspicion of Soros is most obvious is Central and Eastern Europe. There, Soros is not unlike the Mirror of Erised in Harry Potter, except that while the fictional mirror shows what the viewer most desires, Soros reflects back onto a country what it most hates.

    In Romania, where the head of the ruling party said Soros wants to do evil, the billionaire is not to be trusted because he’s Hungarian. In Hungary, where Prime Minister Viktor Orban has reportedly declared that Soros will be a main campaign theme in next year’s general election, he’s a traitor. And everywhere, he is Jewish, his very name a nod to the anti-Semitism that runs deep throughout the region.

    Now, Soros’s effectiveness as a bogeyman for conservative governments will be put to the test, literally. This week, Hungary is holding a “national consultation,” essentially a referendum designed to condemn Soros and his views on immigration. The government-funded questionnaire will be open to the country’s adult citizens and is meant to solicit their views on the Hungarian-born Holocaust survivor.

    “George Soros has bought people and organizations, and Brussels is under his influence,” Orban said in a radio interview Friday in the run-up to the consultation. “They want to demolish the fence, allow millions of immigrants into Europe, then distribute them using a mandatory mechanism — and they want to punish those who do not comply.”

    Soros declined an interview for this article, but a spokesperson for the Open Society Foundations, the main conduit for Soros’s philanthropic efforts, chalked up the backlash to his outspokenness. “He’s a man who stands up for his beliefs,” Laura Silber, a spokeswoman for the foundation, told FP. “That’s threatening when you’re speaking out against autocrats and corruption.”

    Blame and hatred of Soros are, to borrow from Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, a specter haunting Central and Eastern Europe. But how did an 87-year-old billionaire thousands of miles away become the region’s most famous ghost?

    #conspirationnisme

    • George Soros lègue 18 milliards de dollars à sa fondation
      http://www.latribune.fr/economie/international/george-soros-legue-18-milliards-de-dollars-a-sa-fondation-754607.html

      Open Society Foundations (OSF) a reçu 18 milliards de dollars (15,2 milliards d’euros) de ce grand donateur du parti démocrate américain, a indiqué à l’AFP une porte-parole. « Cette somme reflète un processus en cours de transfert des actifs » de M. Soros, « qui prévoit de laisser la vaste majorité de sa fortune à Open Society Foundations », a-t-elle souligné.

      Cette donation fait d’Open Society Foundations la deuxième plus riche ONG aux Etats-Unis après la Fondation Bill et Melinda Gates, qui dispose de 40 milliards de dollars pour promouvoir les problématiques de santé publique et de développement à travers le monde, d’après la National Philanthropic Trust.

      L’OSF est un réseau de 39 entités aux opérations interconnectées à travers le globe et fait la promotion de ses valeurs dans plus de 120 pays. La première a ouvert ses portes en 1984 en Hongrie, pays d’origine de M. Soros. La dernière a vu le jour en 2016 en Birmanie. George Soros en est le président et ses fils Alexander et Jonathan sont membres du conseil d’administration. D’autres de ses enfants sont également impliqués.

      Le milliardaire américain d’origine hongroise, connu pour ses paris financiers risqués, avait donné jusqu’à ce jour 12 milliards de dollars (10,2 milliards d’euros) de sa fortune à des oeuvres caritatives. Depuis des décennies, il donne environ entre 800 et 900 millions de dollars à des associations chaque année d’après des chiffres mentionnés par le New-York Times. C’est en 1979 que le financier avait fait son premier don en attribuant des bourses d’études à des élèves noirs sud-africains en plein Apartheid, rappelle OSF sur son site internet. Selon le président de la Ford Foundation, Darren Walker interrogé par le quotidien américain :

      "il n’y a aucune organisation caritative dans le monde, y compris la Ford Foundation, qui a plus d’impact que l’Open Society Foundations durant ces deux dernières décennies. [...] Parce qu’il n’y a aucun endroit dans le monde où ils ne sont pas présents. Leur empreinte est plus importante et plus conséquente que n’importe qu’elle organisation de justice sociale dans le monde".

      v/ @hadji

    • Soros turns antisocial: Billionaire says Facebook & Google manipulate users like gambling companies
      https://www.rt.com/news/417065-soros-social-media-blame

      Soros, whose investment fund owned over 300,000 shares in #Facebook until last November, said social media platforms are deliberately engineering “addiction to the services they provide.” Facebook and Google deceive their users by “manipulating their #attention and directing it towards their own commercial purposes,” he said.

      In this respect, online platforms have become similar to gambling companies, Soros asserted. “#Casinos have developed techniques to hook gamblers to the point where they gamble away all their money, even money they don’t have.

      “Something very harmful and maybe irreversible is happening to human attention in our digital age,” he said. Social media companies “are inducing people to give up their autonomy,” while the power to shape the public’s attention “is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few companies.”

      The billionaire financier, whom the Hungarian government has labeled a “political puppet master,” then struck an even gloomier tone by offering a full-on dystopian conspiracy theory.

      In future, there could be “an alliance between authoritarian states and these large, data-rich IT monopolies,” in which tech giants’ corporate surveillance would merge with “an already developed system of state-sponsored surveillance,” he said.

      That “may well result in a web of totalitarian control the likes of which not even Aldous Huxley or George Orwell could have imagined,” he said, referring to the British authors of two famous dystopian novels.

      Last year, some tech corporations fell out of favor with Soros when his investment fund sold 367,262 shares in Facebook, although he chose to keep 109,451 of the network’s shares. Soros’ fund also offloaded 1,700 shares in Apple and 1.55 million in the owners of Snapchat. It also reduced its stake in Twitter by 5,700 shares, while still holding 18,400 shares in the social media service.

      Soros was not the only Davos speaker to launch a verbal attack on Big Tech. American entrepreneur and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff said on Tuesday that Facebook should be regulated just like a tobacco company.

      “I think you’d do it exactly the same way you regulate the cigarette industry. Here’s a product, cigarettes, they are addictive, they are not good for you,” Benioff said. “Maybe there is all kinds of different forces trying to get you to do certain things. There are a lot of parallels.”


  • Fracking Romania

    The McIntyres felt like they had discovered gold 20 years ago, when they moved into an area far from the city and drilled a well that yielded crystal clear and freezing cold water. Their previous home had no running water, so the remote plot of land in Woodlands, 30 miles north of Pittsburgh, nestled amidst lush trees and verdant bushes, felt like paradise.
    But this turned into a nightmare in January 2011, when the family suddenly became sick. “Headaches, uncontrollable diarrhea, even my adult children were experiencing the same symptoms that we were having”, says Janet McIntyre. “My husband turned on our kitchen faucet to find that our water was foaming, spitting, and purple.”

    Meanwhile in the poorest corner of the European Union, a Romanian villager shows off his most prized possession, a water fountain with a stone cross and a portrait of Jesus.
    Last spring, Dumitru Fânaru, a former councilor from the community of #Vadurile, received an unexpected visit from “some Americans” who photographed his water well and gave him $40 to dig in his backyard.


    http://fracking.casajurnalistului.ro/english
    #Roumanie #fracturation_hydraulique #énergie #gaz_de_schiste #santé #Chevron


  • Romania faces a rush of migrant boats as smugglers test new routes to Europe | Public Radio International

    https://www.pri.org/stories/2017-09-26/romania-faces-new-rush-migrant-boats-smugglers-test-new-routes-europe

    Et maintenant, le corridor roumain

    During World War II, Romania’s Jewish refugees, fleeing extermination in Europe, would pay to cram aboard flimsy boats crossing the Black Sea to the Middle East. In 2017, Romania’s shores have been the recipient of migrant boats traveling the journey in reverse, as a rarely-used smuggler’s passage is reactivated.

    #migrations #asile #réfugiés #roumanie


  • Europe’s human rights court struggles to lay down the law
    Nearly 10,000 judgments covering 46 countries have not been implemented.

    http://www.politico.eu/article/human-rights-court-ilgar-mammadov-azerbaijan-struggles-to-lay-down-the-law

    The most sophisticated system in the world for defending human rights is facing a test. So far, it’s failing.

    Nearly 10,000 judgments of the European Court of Human Rights have not been put into effect by national governments. Some of those cases were ruled on as far back as 1992, and they cover all but one of the 47 member countries of the Strasbourg-based Council of Europe, the court’s parent body and the Continent’s leading human rights organization.

    The failure to implement these judgments — detailed in a Council of Europe database — means that practices have continued across Europe, in many cases for years, after being ruled violations of human rights. These range from segregating HIV-positive prisoners in Greece, to police brutality in Bulgaria, to not properly investigating deaths of prisoners in Romania.

    One case in particular could soon elevate this problem to a bigger political stage. The court ruled in 2014 that the detention of Ilgar Mammadov, an opposition leader in Azerbaijan, was a human rights violation — but he is still in prison three years later.


  • The Azerbaijani Laundromat - OCCRP

    https://www.occrp.org/en/azerbaijanilaundromat

    The Azerbaijani Laundromat is a complex money-laundering operation and slush fund that handled $2.9 billion over a two-year period through four shell companies registered in the UK.

    The scheme was uncovered through a joint investigation by Berlingske (Denmark), OCCRP, The Guardian (UK), Süddeutsche Zeitung (Germany), Le Monde (France), Tages-Anzeiger and Tribune de Genève (Switzerland), De Tijd (Belgium), Novaya Gazeta (Russia), Dossier (Austria), Atlatszo.hu (Hungary), Delo (Slovenia), RISE Project (Romania), Bivol (Bulgaria), Aripaev (Estonia), Czech Center for Investigative Journalism (Czech Republic), and Barron’s (US)

    #azerbaïdjan #corruption




  • Eastern Europe turns back on single market – POLITICO
    http://www.politico.eu/article/eastern-europe-versus-the-single-market

    The European Commission regards this new legislation in the former communist countries as an existential threat to the EU’s free flow of goods, people and capital — the single market, in short — and struck back with infringement cases intended to preserve its sanctity.

    In Bulgaria, for example, the European Commission launched an infringement proceeding last year over a law that investors should be resident for more than five years before they can buy farmland. In Romania, Brussels objected this year to rules that supermarkets should source 51 percent of fresh produce from local suppliers. There has been no decision on either case.

    It is in Poland, the regional heavyweight, that the battle over respect for the single market is fought the hardest. Brussels has already ordered the authorities to halt a tax on the retail sector on the grounds it grants a selective advantage to small, local shops with a low turnover over big foreign-owned supermarkets. All eyes are now focusing on how the European Commission will react to a growing chorus of complaints in Poland over the rights of foreigners to buy farmland.

    #terres #Europe #UE #Europe_de_l'Est #marché_unique



  • La géographie humaine des régions montagneuses post-socialistes

    Matthias Schmidt
    Human Geography of Post-Socialist Mountain Regions [Texte intégral]
    An Introduction
    Géographie humaine des régions montagneuses post-socialistes [Texte intégral | traduction]
    Une introduction
    Alexey Gunya
    Land Reforms in Post-Socialist Mountain Regions and their Impact on Land Use Management : a Case Study from the Caucasus [Texte intégral]
    Les réformes foncières dans les régions de montagnes post-socialistes et leur impact sur l’aménagement du territoire – une étude de cas dans le #Caucase [Texte intégral | traduction]
    Jesse Quinn
    Gatekhili Mountains, gatekhili State : Fractured Alpine Forest Governance and Post-Soviet Development in the Republic of Georgia [Texte intégral]
    Montagnes gatekhili, État gatekhili : gestion fracturée de la #forêt alpine et développement post-soviétique en République de #Géorgie [Texte intégral | traduction]
    Aiganysh Isaeva et Jyldyz Shigaeva
    Soviet Legacy in the Operation of Pasture Governance Institutions in Present-Day Kyrgyzstan [Texte intégral]
    L’héritage soviétique dans les actions des institutions de gestion des #pâturages au #Kirghizistan [Texte intégral | traduction]
    Irène Mestre
    Quand les bergers creusent la montagne. Impact des activités minières artisanales sur les systèmes agropastoraux du #Kirghizstan. Étude de cas dans la région de #Naryn [Texte intégral]
    When Shepherds Mine Mountains : The Impact of Artisanal Mining on Agropastoral Systems in Kyrgyzstan. Case Study of Naryn Province [Texte intégral | traduction]
    Andrea Membretti et Bogdan Iancu
    Dai contadini operai agli amenity migrants. L’eredità del socialismo e il futuro del ruralismo montano in Romania [Texte intégral]
    From Peasant Workers to Amenity Migrants. Socialist Heritage and the Future of Mountain Rurality in Romania [Texte intégral | traduction]

    http://rga.revues.org/3555
    #soviétisme #post-soviétisme #post-socialisme #montagne #revue #Roumanie #mines



  • European Parliament votes to end visa-free travel for Americans | The Independent

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/europe-visa-free-travel-americans-european-parliament-vote-a7609406.h

    The European Parliament has voted to end visa-free travel for Americans within the EU.

    It comes after the US failed to agree visa-free travel for citizens of five EU countries – Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania – as part of a reciprocity agreement. US citizens can normally travel to all countries in the bloc without a visa.

    The vote urges the revocation of the scheme within two months, meaning Americans will have to apply for extra documents for 12 months after the European Commission implements a “delegated act” to bring the change into effect.

    #marrant #visas #eu #états-unis cc @fil