country:switzerland

  • A tiny Swiss company that thinks it can help stop climate change (h...
    https://diasp.eu/p/8514041

    A tiny Swiss company that thinks it can help stop climate change

    Two European entrepreneurs think they can remove carbon from the air at prices cheap enough to matter. Article word count: 6675

    HN Discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19142536 Posted by pseudolus (karma: 10419) Post stats: Points: 154 - Comments: 142 - 2019-02-12T11:00:29Z

    #HackerNews #can #change #climate #company #help #stop #swiss #that #thinks #tiny

    Article content:

    Image Christoph Gebald, left, and Jan Wurzbacher, the founders of Climeworks, at their plant in Hinwil, Switzerland.CreditCreditLuca Locatelli for The New York Times

    Feature

    Two European entrepreneurs think they can remove carbon from the air at prices cheap enough to matter.

    Christoph Gebald, left, and Jan Wurzbacher, the (...)



  • 2018: The Downfall of Crypto Funds
    https://hackernoon.com/2018-the-downfall-of-crypto-funds-9d7a2642dc96?source=rss----3a8144eabfe

    “Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance”Crypto hedge funds are part of a larger group of crypto funds, including those based on venture capital and private equity. Grouped together, there are currently 622 crypto funds across all categories, 303 of those being crypto hedge funds, which represent assets of less than $4 billion, according to the research. Half of the funds are based in the U.S., multiple launches have been seen in Australia, China, Malta, Switzerland, The Netherlands and the U.K. this 2018. 2017 was a great year to start a crypto hedge fund. Great returns.Is it hard to perform in bull markets?2018, on the other hand, has seen a significant downturn in many of the cryptocurrencies. Many of these coins make up a strong percentage of most of the (...)

    #cryptocurrency #finance #blockchain #investing #bitcoin


  • The Real Wall Isn’t at the Border. It’s everywhere, and we’re fighting against the wrong one.

    President Trump wants $5.7 billion to build a wall at the southern border of the United States. Nancy Pelosi thinks a wall is “immoral.” The fight over these slats or barriers or bricks shut down the government for more than a month and may do so again if Mr. Trump isn’t satisfied with the way negotiations unfold over the next three weeks.

    But let’s be clear: This is a disagreement about symbolism, not policy. Liberals object less to aggressive border security than to the wall’s xenophobic imagery, while the administration openly revels in its political incorrectness. And when this particular episode is over, we’ll still have been fighting about the wrong thing. It’s true that immigrants will keep trying to cross into the United States and that global migration will almost certainly increase in the coming years as climate change makes parts of the planet uninhabitable. But technology and globalization are complicating the idea of what a border is and where it stands.

    Not long from now, it won’t make sense to think of the border as a line, a wall or even any kind of imposing vertical structure. Tearing down, or refusing to fund, border walls won’t get anyone very far in the broader pursuit of global justice. The borders of the future won’t be as easy to spot, build or demolish as the wall that Mr. Trump is proposing. That’s because they aren’t just going up around countries — they’re going up around us. And they’re taking away our freedom.

    In “The Jungle,” a play about a refugee camp in Calais, France, a Kurdish smuggler named Ali explains that his profession is not responsible for the large numbers of migrants making the dangerous journeys to Europe by sea. “Once, I was the only way a man could ever dream of arriving on your shore,” the smuggler says. But today, migrants can plan out the journeys using their phones. “It is not about this border. It’s the border in here,” Ali says, pointing to his head — “and that is gone, now.”

    President Trump is obsessed with his border wall because technology has freed us from the walls in our heads.

    For people with means and passports, it’s easy to plot exotic itineraries in a flash and book flights with just a glance at a screen. Social feeds are an endless stream of old faces in new places: a carefree colleague feeding elephants in Thailand; a smug college classmate on a “babymoon” in Tahiti; that awful ex hanging off a cliff in Switzerland; a friend’s parents enjoying retirement in New Zealand.

    Likewise, a young person in Sana, Yemen, or Guatemala City might see a sister in Toronto, a neighbor in Phoenix, an aunt in London or a teacher in Berlin, and think that he, too, could start anew. Foreign places are real. Another country is possible.

    If you zoom out enough in Google Earth, you’ll see the lines between nations begin to disappear. Eventually, you’ll be left staring at a unified blue planet. You might even experience a hint of what astronauts have called the “overview effect”: the sense that we are all on “Spaceship Earth,” together. “From space I saw Earth — indescribably beautiful with the scars of national boundaries gone,” recalled Muhammed Faris, a Syrian astronaut, after his 1987 mission to space. In 2012, Mr. Faris fled war-torn Syria for Turkey.

    One’s freedom of movement used to be largely determined by one’s citizenship, national origin and finances. That’s still the case — but increasingly, people are being categorized not just by the color of their passports or their ability to pay for tickets but also by where they’ve been and what they’ve said in the past.
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    This is what is happening on that front already:

    A 2017 executive order barred people from seven countries, including five with Muslim majorities, from entering the country. An older rule put in place during the Obama administration compelled anyone who’d even just visited seven blacklisted nations to obtain additional clearance before traveling to the United States. Even as the Trump administration’s policy has met with legal challenges, it means that the barrier to entering the United States, for many, begins with their data and passport stamps, and is thousands of miles away from this country.

    The Trump administration would also like to make it harder for immigrants who’ve received public assistance to obtain citizenship or permanent residence by redefining what it means to be a “public charge.” If the administration succeeds, it will have moved the border into immigrants’ living rooms, schools and hospital beds.

    The walls of the future go beyond one administration’s policies, though. They are growing up all around us, being built by global technology companies that allow for constant surveillance, data harvesting and the alarming collection of biometric information. In 2017, the United States announced it would be storing the social media profiles of immigrants in their permanent file, ostensibly to prevent Twitter-happy terrorists from slipping in. For years, Customs and Border Protection agents have asked travelers about their social media, too.

    The Electronic Frontier Foundation has said these practices can “chill and deter the free speech and association of immigrants to the United States, as well as the U.S. persons who communicate with them.” In other words, it’s no longer enough to have been born in the right place, at the right time, to the right parents. The trail of bread crumbs you leave could limit your movements.

    It’s possible to get a glimpse of where a digital border might lead from China. Look at its continuing experiment with social-credit scoring, where a slip of the tongue or an unpaid debt could one day jeopardize someone’s ability to board a train or apply for a job. When your keystrokes and text messages become embedded in your legal identity, you create a wall around yourself without meaning to.

    The Berkeley political theorist Wendy Brown diagnoses the tendency to throw up walls as a classic symptom of a nation-state’s looming impotence in the face of globalization — the flashy sports car of what she calls a “waning sovereignty.” In a recent interview for The Nation, Professor Brown told me that walls fulfill a desire for greater sovereign control in times when the concept of “bounded territory itself is in crisis.” They are signifiers of a “loss of a national ‘we’ and national control — all the things we’ve seen erupt in a huge way.”

    Walls are a response to deep existential anxiety, and even if the walls come down, or fail to be built in brick and stone, the world will guarantee us little in the way of freedom, fairness or equality. It makes more sense to think of modern borders as overlapping and concentric circles that change size, shape and texture depending on who — or what — is trying to pass through.
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    It’s far too easy to imagine a situation where our freedom of movement still depends entirely on what has happened to us in the past and what kind of information we’re willing to give up in return. Consider the expedited screening process of the Global Entry Program for traveling to the United States. It’s a shortcut — reserved for people who can get it — that doesn’t do away with borders. It just makes them easier to cross, and therefore less visible.

    That serves the modern nation-state very well. Because in the end, what are borders supposed to protect us from? The answer used to be other states, empires or sovereigns. But today, relatively few land borders exist to physically fend off a neighboring power, and countries even cooperate to police the borders they share. Modern borders exist to control something else: the movement of people. They control us.

    Those are the walls we should be fighting over.


    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/26/opinion/sunday/border-wall-immigration-trump.html#click=https://t.co/BWNDIXplPK
    #mobile_borders #frontières_mobiles #ligne #ligne_frontalière #frontières #ubiquité


  • DAVOS-Big Oil is more talk than action on renewables - Iberdrola | Reuters
    https://uk.reuters.com/article/davos-meeting-iberdrola-idUKL3N1ZO3ZT

    The world’s largest wind-power producer, Iberdrola SA, has brushed off Big Oil’s embrace of renewable energy as “more noise” than action.

    Major oil and gas firms have been venturing into renewable power under pressure from climate-change policy, collectively spending around 1 percent of their 2018 budgets on clean energy, according to a recent study by research firm CDP.

    However, Iberdrola Chief Executive Ignacio Galan, who has led the Spanish utility for 17 years, shrugged when asked in a Reuters interview if Big Oil represented a competitive threat.

    It’s good that they have moved in this direction but they make more noise than the reality,” he said on Thursday on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

    Galan said returns on oil investment still far exceeded those typical of wind and solar projects and he doubted major oil companies would make a meaningful shift until that changed.

    They like to be enthusiastic but if they had to make a choice between a wonderful oil well and a good wind farm, I feel their heart will move in the traditional direction.
    […]
    He said U.S. states were more influential than Washington in terms of energy investment, and that several were looking to develop America’s first offshore wind farms, from Massachusetts down to North Carolina and New York across to California.

    The states are more and more committed to moving to renewables and the same is true of the cities and towns,” he said, adding that falling generation costs of renewable energy was a big driver of the U.S. adoption of wind and solar power.


  • Beware ! Les hordes asiatiques vont déferler sur l’Occident !
    Il s’agit de produits intermédiaires (diesel) raffinés en Chine.

    Armada of Giant New Tankers Lines Up to Ship Diesel Out of Asia - Bloomberg
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-01-24/armada-of-giant-new-tankers-lines-up-to-ship-diesel-out-of-asia


    Photographer : Tim Rue/Bloomberg

    • Maintenance season in Europe seen pulling cargoes West
    • New China refineries, weak local demand seen driving shipments

    A fleet of giant newly built oil tankers is gearing up to ship diesel out of East Asia.

    Five very large crude carriers, which typically carry about 2 million barrels of oil each, are currently positioned in the seas off China’s eastern and southern coasts, according to shipping intelligence and tracking company Kpler. Two more newbuilds are set to swell that fleet shortly. If all were fully loaded, they would haul a total approaching what is currently held in independent storage in Europe’s key trading hub of the Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Antwerp ports.

    It’s a large volume coming at once,” said Olivier Jakob, director at Petromatrix GmbH in Zug, Switzerland.

    China is boosting output, with more refinery capacity coming online, while weak local demand for middle distillates is helping to push products west, said Jakob. The start of refinery maintenance season in Europe also stoking Western demand for the fuel. China’s first round of export quotas also signaled an increase in diesel exports at the start of the year, while independent gasoil/diesel stocks in ARA are at their lowest seasonally since 2014.

    Three of the seven VLCCs highlighted by Kpler — the San Ramon Voyager, Ascona and Olympic Laurel — have already taken on board a combined 3.5 million barrels of diesel, according to a Bloomberg calculation from Kpler data, but are not yet fully loaded. Of the remaining four, one is currently loading, one is en route to Singapore where it may take on product, and two have yet to fully leave their construction yards.

    We expect the majority of these cargoes to head west around the Cape of Good Hope,” said Eli Powell, a Kpler analyst. Discharging is likely in northwest Europe, with possible partial discharges in West Africa.

    European demand conditions are quite favorable,” said Harry Tchilinguirian, global head of commodity markets strategy at BNP Paribas in London. “It would make sense to try to move a lot of volume into Europe in short order to meet that demand.

    The surge in Asian exports mirrors an increase in shipments of oil products, much of it diesel, from India and the Middle East into Europe in recent weeks. January’s monthly arrivals from India are set to hit their highest since at least 2017, and shipments from the Persian Gulf will be at their highest since July last year.


  • Germany pulls out of Mediterranean migrant mission Sophia

    Germany is suspending participation in Operation Sophia, the EU naval mission targeting human trafficking in the Mediterranean. The decision reportedly relates to Italy’s reluctance to allow rescued people to disembark.
    Germany will not be sending any more ships to take part in the anti-people smuggling operation Sophia in the Mediterranean Sea, according to a senior military officer.

    The decision means frigate Augsburg, currently stationed off the coast of Libya, will not be replaced early next month, Bundeswehr Inspector General Eberhard Zorn told members of the defense and foreign affairs committees in the German parliament.

    The 10 German soldiers currently working at the operation’s headquarters will, however, remain until at least the end of March.

    The European Union launched Operation Sophia in 2015 to capture smugglers and shut down human trafficking operations across the Mediterranean, as well as enforce a weapons embargo on Libya. Sophia currently deploys three ships, three airplanes, and two helicopters, which are permitted to use lethal force if necessary, though its mandate also includes training the North African country’s coast guard. The EU formally extended Operation Sophia by three months at the end of December.

    The Bundeswehr reported that, since its start, the naval operation had led to the arrest of more than 140 suspected human traffickers and destroyed more than 400 smuggling boats.

    But Operation Sophia’s efforts have largely focused on rescuing thousands of refugees from unseaworthy vessels attempting to get to Europe. According to the Bundeswehr, Operation Sophia has rescued some 49,000 people from the sea, while German soldiers had been involved in the rescue of 22,534 people.

    European impasse

    The operation has caused some friction within the EU, particularly with Italy, where the headquarters are located, and whose Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has threatened to close ports to the mission.

    Salvini, chairman of the far-right Lega Nord party, demanded on Wednesday that the mission had to change, arguing that the only reason it existed was that all the rescued refugees were brought to Italy. “If someone wants to withdraw from it, then that’s certainly no problem for us,” he told the Rai1 radio station, but in future he said the mission should only be extended if those rescued were distributed fairly across Europe. This is opposed by other EU member states, particularly Poland and Hungary.

    Italy’s position drew a prickly response from German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen, who accused Sophia’s Italian commanders of sabotaging the mission by sending the German ship to distant corners of the Mediterranean where there were “no smuggling routes whatsoever” and “no refugee routes.”

    “For us it’s important that it be politically clarified in Brussels what the mission’s task is,” von der Leyen told reporters at the Davos forum in Switzerland.

    Fritz Felgentreu, ombudsman for the Bundestag defense committee, told public broadcaster Deutschlandfunk that Italy’s refusal to let migrants rescued from the sea disembark at its ports meant the operation could no longer fulfill its original mandate.

    The EU played down Germany’s decision. A spokeswoman for the bloc’s diplomatic service, the EEAS, told the DPA news agency that Germany had not ruled out making other ships available for the Sophia Operation in future, a position confirmed by a German Defense Ministry spokesman.

    Decision a ’tragedy’

    The decision sparked instant criticism from various quarters in Germany. Stefan Liebich, foreign affairs spokesman for Germany’s socialist Left party, called the government’s decision to suspend its involvement a “tragedy.”

    “As long as Sophia is not replaced by a civilian operation, even more people will drown,” he told the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung.

    The Green party, for its part, had a more mixed reaction. “We in the Green party have always spoken out against the military operation in the Mediterranean and have consistently rejected the training of the Libyan coast guard,” said the party’s defense spokeswoman, Agnieszka Brugger. But she added that Wednesday’s announcement had happened “for the wrong reasons.”

    Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, defense policy spokeswoman for the Free Democratic Party (FDP), called the decision a sign of the EU’s failure to find a common refugee policy.

    Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), meanwhile, defended the decision. “The core mission, to fight trafficking crimes, cannot currently be effectively carried out,” the party’s defense policy spokesman, Henning Otte, said in a statement. “If the EU were to agree to common procedure with refugees, this mission could be taken up again.”

    Otte also suggested a “three-stage model” as a “permanent solution for the Mediterranean.” This would include a coast guard from Frontex, the European border patrol agency; military patrols in the Mediterranean; and special facilities on the North African mainland to take in refugees and check asylum applications.

    https://www.dw.com/en/germany-pulls-out-of-mediterranean-migrant-mission-sophia/a-47189097
    #Allemagne #résistance #Operation_Sophia #asile #migrations #réfugiés #retrait #espoir (petit mais quand même)

    • EU: Italy’s choice to end or continue Operation Sophia

      The European Commission says it is up to Italy to decide whether or not to suspend the EU’s naval operation Sophia.

      “If Italy decides, it is the country in command of operation Sophia, to stop it - it is up to Italy to make this decision,” Dimitris Avramopoulos, the EU commissioner for migration, told reporters in Brussels on Wednesday (23 January).

      The Italian-led naval operation was launched in 2015 and is tasked with cracking down on migrant smugglers and traffickers off the Libyan coast.

      It has also saved some 50,000 people since 2015 but appears to have massively scaled back sea rescues, according to statements from Germany’s defence minster.

      German defence minister Ursula von der Leyen was cited by Reuters on Wednesday saying that the Italian command had been sending the Germany navy “to the most remote areas of the Mediterranean where there are no smuggling routes and no migrant flows so that the navy has not had any sensible role for months.”

      Germany had also announced it would not replace its naval asset for the operation, whose mandate is set to expire at the end of March.

      But the commission says that Germany will continue to participate in the operation.

      “There is no indication that it will not make another asset available in the future,” said Avramopoulos.

      A German spokesperson was also cited as confirming Germany wants the mission to continue beyond March.

      The commission statements follow threats from Italy’s far-right interior minister Matteo Salvini to scrap the naval mission over an on-going dispute on where to disembark rescued migrants.

      Salvini was cited in Italian media complaining that people rescued are only offloaded in Italy.

      The complaint is part of a long-outstanding dispute by Salvini, who last year insisted that people should be disembarked in other EU states.

      The same issue was part of a broader debate in the lead up to a renewal of Sophia’s mandate in late December.

      https://euobserver.com/migration/143997

    • #Operazione_Sophia

      In riferimento alle odierne dichiarazioni relative all’operazione Sophia dell’UE, il Ministro degli Esteri e della Cooperazione Internazionale Enzo Moavero Milanesi ricorda che «L’Italia non ha mai chiesto la chiusura di Sophia. Ha chiesto che siano cambiate, in rigorosa e doverosa coerenza con le conclusioni del Consiglio Europeo di giugno 2018, le regole relative agli sbarchi delle persone salvate in mare». Infatti, gli accordi dell’aprile 2015 prevedono che siano sbarcate sempre in Italia, mentre il Consiglio Europeo del giugno scorso ha esortato gli Stati UE alla piena condivisione di tutti gli oneri relativi ai migranti.

      https://www.esteri.it/mae/it/sala_stampa/archivionotizie/comunicati/operazione-sophia.html


  • Report to #Davos meeting points to deepening contradictions of global capitalism - World Socialist Web Site

    https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2019/01/18/wefr-j18.html

    The report prepared by the World Economic Forum (WEF) for its annual gathering in Davos, Switzerland, next week presents a picture of the ongoing disintegration of all the mechanisms—economic, political and ideological—that have served to sustain the global capitalist order in the post-war period.

    In his preface to the report, WEF president Børge Brende said the world was facing a “growing number of complex and interconnected challenges—from slowing global growth and persistent economic inequality to climate change and geopolitical tensions,” as well as changes brought about by technological developments, characterised by the WEF as the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

    #capitalisme


  • The Rosa Luxemburg & Karl Liebknecht papers | IISH
    https://socialhistory.org/en/news/rosa-luxemburg-karl-liebknecht-papers


    At the IISH, the papers of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht are made available:
    http://hdl.handle.net/10622/ARCH00842
    http://hdl.handle.net/10622/ARCH00822

    Today marks the passing of 100 years since the murders of Rosa Luxemburg (1871-1919) and Karl Liebknecht (1871-1919). Luxemburg and Liebknecht were killed in the middle of the Spartacist uprising, a series of strikes and demonstrations that began on 4 January 1919, when the Independent Socialist Emil Eichhorn was dismissed as Police Chief of Berlin. Luxemburg and Liebknecht were the main leaders of the uprising and therefore prime targets for the paramilitary Freikorps units. The provisional government, led by social-democrat Friedrich Ebert, had ordered these units to put down the uprising.

    Prior to their deaths, both Luxemburg and Liebknecht had been important figures in the German socialist movement. Liebknecht was the son of Wilhelm Liebknecht, the co-founder of the German social-democratic party (SPD) and had been working as a defence attorney for party members, while also being an active member of several international socialist organizations and a member of parliament for the SPD.

    Although Luxemburg did not have a family history of party membership like Liebknecht, she was active in socialist organizations from the age of fifteen: first in Russian-controlled Poland, where she was born, later in Switzerland and finally in Germany, where she moved to in 1898. Luxemburg became an active member of the SPD and a strong critic of the party’s parliamentary course, proposing a revolutionary way to power instead. She contributed many important works to Marxist theory, such as The Accumulation of Capital on economics and Dialectic of Spontaneity and Organization on political philosophy.

    In 1914, at the advent of the First World War, the matter of supporting the war heavily divided the German socialists. The majority of the SPD supported the war, while those against it formed the Independent Social Democratic Party (USPD). Luxemburg and Liebknecht, as strong advocates for international solidarity among workers, founded the Spartakus League, together with some other German socialists, to protest the war and spread antimilitarist pamphlets.

    With Germany’s defeat in the war becoming inevitable after the summer of 1918, unrest spread throughout the country. Starting with a sailors’ mutiny in the northern port city of Kiel in the last days of October, the revolution had soon reached all major German cities, where worker- and soldier councils began to take control of local government. The social democrats, led by Ebert, managed to gain control of the national government and tried to consolidate power. Soldiers were returning home, food was in short supply and the political unrest led to riots and brawls in the streets. Germany was in turmoil.


  • The shady origins of gold refined in Switzerland

    Most of the gold in the world passes through Switzerland. This is a business worth CHF70-90 billion ($70-90 billion) depending on the year. Gold arrives here in unrefined form, and leaves the country in all its glittering purity.

    Sometimes, though, it is of highly dubious provenance. The government recognises the risk, which is why it recently issued a report on the subject. This report raises concerns over the exploitation of mine workers, and makes several recommendations to Swiss firms active in the field.

    Swiss refineries process 70% of the unrefined gold mined in the world each year. Four of the nine major players in the global gold industry conduct most of their business here in Switzerland. While the gold originates in ninety different countries, roughly half of all the gold imported for processing in Switzerland comes from Britain, the United Arab Emirates or Hong Kong – three countries that produce no gold themselves.

    Gold accounts for 63% of Britain’s exports to Switzerlandexternal link, 92% of the Emirates’ and 78% of Hong Kong’s. But then too, Switzerland imports a significant amount of gold from countries that largely depend on it as a main export, such as #Burkina_Faso (where gold represents 72% of the country’s exports), #Ghana (51%) and #Mali (77%).

    As can be seen from the accompanying chart, some of the main gold producers are countries not exactly known for respecting human rights. But looking at the second table, we also see that among the gold producers are several countries at war, which use the profits from gold to bankroll hostilities. In all these cases, the phrase used is “illegal gold” or “dirty gold” or even “blood gold”.

    An important economic sector

    To show just how important this sector is for the Swiss economy: in 2017, for example, 2404 metric tons of gold were imported, with a value of about CHF70 billion. In the same year Switzerland exported gold worth approximately CHF67 billion. In other words, 24% of Swiss exports and 31% of imports were directly linked to gold.

    To compare this with the other “jewels in the crown” of Swiss industry: in the same period the country’s watchmakers made about CHF20 billion in exports, the equivalent about 24 million watches and clocks. Swiss chocolate makers exported just under CHF1 billion, or 128,000 tons of chocolate.

    To match the achievements of the gold sector, these other industries would have to export 85 billion chocolate bars or 84 million watches and clocks. Only the pharmaceutical industry packs more economic weight: in 2017 the Swiss pharma giants exported goods to the value of CHF 98 billion.

    Limited transparency

    The trade in gold is worth one out of three Swiss franc’s worth of imports, and a quarter of a franc’s worth of exports. Not exactly peanuts, is it? The charts provided by the Observatory of Economic Complexity are instructive in this regard:

    This is not a sector known for transparency. Far from it. There has been no lack of scandals over the years – from Peru to Togo (see story), via Burkina Faso and the Congo. In all these cases there has been talk of “blood gold” arriving from these countries in Switzerland to be refined. Then the gold in all its purity ends up in Britain, India, China and Hong Kong.
    What is “blood gold”?

    What exactly counts as “blood gold”? As the name implies, it’s gold stained with human blood, extracted in ways that fly in the face of human rights. “Bloody gold” also involves trampling of the rights of native peoples to self-determination and ownership of their ancestral lands.

    Illegal mining of gold causes environmental damage, mainly due to pollution by heavy metals. Furthermore, gold mining often goes together with gun-running for local wars, organised crime, and money laundering.

    Some of this gold has a way of getting to Switzerland for refining. The Swiss government has long been aware of this risk. In its report on the trade in gold published recently, it admits it cannot exclude the possibility that gold produced at the expense of human rights may be coming into Switzerland.
    Blood gold - origin and traceability

    In a joint statement, several of the Swiss NGOs active in campaigning for human rights agree that the government’s analysis pinpoints the major problems in this high-risk economic sector, but they find that the solutions proposed are inadequate.

    One of the main problems is knowing where the gold actually comes from. More than half of all gold entering Switzerland comes from Britain, the United Arab Emirates and Hong Kong. These countries no more produce gold than does Switzerland itself. They are just the second-last stop on the journey of unrefined gold from other parts of the world.

    “Multinationals that refine gold in Switzerland know perfectly well where their raw materials are coming from," say Marc Ummel, head of development policy in the raw materials sector at Swissaid. "They just don’t say it.”

    While the federal government recognises in its report that the origins of gold need to be traceable, in practice the regulatory agencies just know the last country it came from, not the real country of origin.

    For Ummel, the answer to the problem is simple. “We call on the government to require the Federal Customs Administration to find out the origin of goods arriving and not just the last country exporting them to Switzerland”.

    Over the years, adds Ummel, the gold industry multinationals have been saying they want to improve the quality of information available. “But what does that mean? It would be enough just to declare the origin of the gold, what country, what mine it is coming from, and above all whether these mining operations pay heed to basic human rights and respect the environment. That would be improving the quality of information all right. But it isn’t happening.”

    Voluntary compliance

    As the government’s own report says, Swiss refineries apply “voluntary” standards to ensure that production is in line with social and environmental considerations. But there is no obligation to comply.

    The federal government itself endorses (but does not enforce) the standards developed by the OSCE and encourages (but does not compel) corporations to implement them.

    The “Better Gold Initiative” (BGI) was launched by Switzerland in 2013 in Peru with a view to sourcing gold from small-scale mines that respect the voluntary sustainability guidelines. The project meant that from 2013 to 2017, some 2.5 tons of gold produced in a responsible manner were extracted and sold. It was certainly a laudable undertaking, but it represented no more than 0.015% of yearly world production.
    Well-meaning but imperfect legislation

    Swiss legislation already on the books is among the strictest in the world in regulating trade in gold, the federal government says. Laws on control of precious metals and combatting money-laundering aim to ensure that gold being processed in the refineries does not come from illegal mining.

    Ummel does not share this view. “It’s not really true,” he says. “The European Union, even the US, have stricter laws. Swiss law does try to curb illegal gold mining, but, as the government admits, it does not have explicit provisions on respecting human rights.” Despite this admission, the federal government sees no need for new legislation in the matter.

    Why this reluctance? Ummel has his theories. “The federal government talks about the tough international competition that the Swiss industry has to confront,” he notes. “So, not wishing to add to the difficulties of a sector involving one third of all imports and a quarter of all exports, the government has little inclination to clean things up.”

    Competition is a fact. As Ummel himself admits, “there are more refineries in the world than there is unrefined gold.”
    What’s the answer?

    In its report, the federal government has eight recommendations for greater transparency, but it is not considering making anything compulsory.

    The NGOs, in contrast, are calling for a requirement of “due diligence” (https://www.swissaid.ch/fr/conseil-federal-rapport-or), with sanctions that would be invoked if the diligence was not done. That is, they say, the only real step to take in the direction of trasparency. It remains to be seen whether the industry is able – or willing – to do it.

    https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/business/multinationals_the-shady-origins-of-gold-refined-in-switzerland/44621040
    #or #matières_premières #Suisse #extractivisme #transparence #multinationales


  • This is the border between italy and Switzerland... Far up at the horizon you can see france, if i do not mistake. From this perspective, the natural landscape unfolds underneath me in an unstructured manner. In fact, the borders are just human creation, socialy and materially constructed lines that cut into the continuety of landscapes. That cut around national ideas of belonging, inherently cutting out ’others’. In fact, borders are more about people than that they have ever been about land. They are situated not only at the actual border, but as well at airports, migration offices, police station... In trainstations, busstops, public parks and squares.... In databases for visa application, in surveillance technologies, in border/wapen industries... and finaly in the foodsteps, fingertops and facial features of people on the move who through all these bordering agents become (il)legalized migrants. Because “without borders there would be no migrants, only mobility” (de Genova). However, the movement of people came first, and will always continue to be. Mobility is as normal to humanity as eating and sleeping, and no xenofobic reactions of bordering will ever stop that. Europe can only make the roads harder and ever more dangerous and deathly, which is exactly what we are doing now. Is this the europe we want to be?


    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1996093227177932&set=p.1996093227177932&type=3&theater

    #frontières #frontière_naturelle #mobilité #migrations #Etats-nation #Alpes #montagne #France #frontière_sud-alpine #Italie #frontière_mobile #paysage #géographie_politique #altérité #identité
    ping @reka @_kg_


  • Australia Starts Tackling Modern Slavery

    A new law in Australia requires companies of a certain size operating in Australia to publicly state the steps they are taking to keep their supply chains free from the worst forms of modern-day slavery. The law, which went into effect on January 1st, is aimed at ending child and forced labor as well as human trafficking.

    Companies will have to file annual statements on their modern slavery efforts according to a set of mandatory criteria, including a description of the company’s operations and supply chain, any risks for modern slavery in the supply chain, and a description of the steps the company is taking to address those risks. The first of these statements is likely to be due by mid-2020.

    A government-run database, accessible to the public and free of charge, will house these statements. One glaring gap is that the Australian law currently does not penalize companies for noncompliance, though the Minister for Home Affairs can make an inquiry if a company has not complied. If a company fails to respond, the minister may publicly disclose information about the company’s failure to comply.

    Australia joins the United Kingdom and France, who have implemented similar laws. Several other countries are contemplating modern slavery legislation, including Switzerland, Germany, and Canada.

    Subnational governments in other countries have also adopted similar laws, such as the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act. Additionally, last June the Australian state of New South Wales passed its own modern slavery law, making critical additions to the national law by creating an independent anti-slavery commissioner to monitor implementation and promote action against modern slavery. The law also creates a range of monetary penalties for companies with employees in New South Wales that fail to comply with the modern slavery statement requirements.

    Australia’s modern slavery law is an important initial step to ensuring that company supply chains are free from modern day slavery and trafficking, but the national or state governments government can go further to ensure compliance. Future legislative efforts, whether in Australia or in other countries, should include systems for monitoring as well as consequences for non-compliance – innovative and pioneering elements found in the New South Wales law.

    https://www.hrw.org/news/2019/01/08/australia-starts-tackling-modern-slavery

    #esclavage_moderne
    ping @reka


  • Security tokens in the US: regulations and exemptions under the #sec laws
    https://hackernoon.com/security-tokens-in-the-us-regulations-and-exemptions-under-the-sec-laws-

    The USA and Switzerland became the first countries to initiate the legitimization of tokens. It is up to them that today we know the difference between security and utility tokens. Despite the fact that no law defines these concepts, each jurisdiction already has its own rules regarding security tokens’ issuance. Experts from consulting company Platinum have examined the American legislation and share their insights on SEC regulation, common pitfalls and secret paths.2018 can be considered as the year when crypto industry matured. The US Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) started investigating crypto companies on the nature of their tokens.As a result, more and more companies started filing the SEC’s Form D to conduct an STO, considering this type of fundraising as a reliable and (...)

    #blockchain #us-security-tokens #cryptocurrency #security-tokens-sec


  • Statistical Insights: Are international productivity gaps as large as we thought? - OECD
    http://www.oecd.org/sdd/productivity-stats/statistical-insights-are-international-productivity-gaps-as-large-as-we-though


    Figure 1. Average annual hours worked per person, selected OECD countries, 2016

    Labour productivity is a key indicator of economic wellbeing, and raising it – producing more goods and services from the same or less work (labour input) – is one of the main drivers of sustainable economic growth.

    Historically, comparisons of levels of productivity across countries have shown substantial gaps, even between similar-sized economies at a similar stage of development – leaving many analysts struggling to understand the causes. However, a new OECD study has found that at least a part of these gaps disappears once we adjust for differences in how countries measure labour input.
    In the case of the United Kingdom for instance, the study reveals that the gap in labour productivity levels with the United States is around 8 percentage points smaller than was previously thought – closing from 24% to 16%. The gap with Germany shrinks from 22% to 14% and with France from 20% to 11%.

    The corollary of lower hours worked of course is higher labour productivity levels. Figure 2 shows labour productivity levels, referenced to the United States, using official national accounts average hours worked estimates, comparing them with new results from the OECD simplified component approach for countries using the direct method.

    Overall, the results point to a reduction in relative productivity gaps of around 10 percentage points on average compared with current official estimates in many countries, with notable international ranking changes for some countries. The United Kingdom for example moves above Italy, while Austria moves ahead of France, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Germany.


    Figure 2. International productivity gaps, levels, 2016


  • Tale of Swiss-based Syrian torture survivor highlights Dublin flaws

    Jalal last saw his youngest son was when the boy was a baby. Now Hamude is almost five. The asylum seeker from Syria is caught up in a complicated international case based on the Dublin accord, a regulation that Switzerland applies more strictly than any other country in Europe, according to critics.

    Jalal has been living in limbo, unable to plan more than a few months in advance, since 2014.

    “I spent five years in a Syrian prison and now I have spent [almost] another five years in an open prison,” Jalal told swissinfo.ch in November.

    The father leads an isolated life in a tiny studio on the outskirts of Lucerne in central Switzerland.

    Hamude, along with his mother and two siblings, live equally isolated in a rundown caravan camp a couple thousand kilometres away in Greece. Their relationship unfolds largely over Whatsapp. Living with no sense of when or where they will all see each other again has both parents on the edge of a nervous breakdown.

    Despite the efforts of lawyers in both countries, the family has been unable to reunite, victims of a Dublin accord that member states including Switzerland prefer to invoke to expel people rather than evaluate their cases. Under the regulation, Switzerland can automatically deport individuals to the first country of arrival in the Schengen area. As a Kurd, who says he suffered torture and prolonged detention in Syria as well as a dangerous war wound, Jalal’s asylum claim warrants evaluation.

    But Jalal faced a classic problem — one confronting asylum-seekers in Switzerland and across Europe. The only aspect of his journey the Swiss authorities cared about at the time of his arrival was through which country he entered Europe’s open borders Schengen area, not why he was seeking asylum. On that basis, the decision to expel him to Italy was made in early 2015.

    “Switzerland has never lived through a war, so the Swiss are not able to empathize with people who are fleeing a war,” concluded Jalal in a moment of deep uncertainty about his future. “If they had any sense of what we have been through they would not deal with us like this.”

    Switzerland prides itself on its strong humanitarian tradition but policies relating to asylum and migration have hardened in recent years as elsewhere in Europe. The Swiss Secretariat for Migration (SEM) declined to comment, saying it does not provide details on individual cases for “data protection” reasons.

    A Syrian nightmare

    Back in Syria, in 2004, Jalal says he found himself on the wanted list of the Syrian regime for participating in a protest demanding greater rights for the Kurdish minority population. He and his father were targeted in a knife attack by pro-regime thugs three years later, in 2007. Jalal incurred 12 cuts while his father was killed on the spot.

    According to his story, Kurdish rights activism landed him behind bars. He was held in a prison in the northern city of Aleppo where one of the many grisly tasks assigned to him was cleaning the basement room used for executions — punishment for dodging military service. He was still behind bars as a popular revolt against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad gave way to large scale massacres and war.

    He says he eventually managed to escape during a rebel attack on the prison, seized the opportunity to flee to Turkey and had to return to Syria to borrow money to pay smugglers to get his family to Europe. On that journey, he sustained a grenade injury. Neither surgeons at the field clinic that treated him that day nor those later in Switzerland were able to extract all of the fragments.
    Getting to Europe

    Badly wounded, he boarded a naval ship from the Turkish coastal town of Mersin and travelled with hundreds of others to Italy. Time in Italy was brief but long enough for the authorities to take his fingerprints — an act that would underpin the Swiss decision to send him back.

    “The Italian authorities put us on buses and took us straight to the train station in Milan, so we could continue to Europe,” says Jalal, who picked Switzerland over Germany because his two brothers were already living in the Alpine nation. “A return to Italy would mean starting from scratch and god knows how many years until I see my wife and children.”

    In Switzerland, he now gets by on emergency aid and found accommodation — a spartan but clean studio — through the Caritas charity. Every two weeks he must report to the local migration authorities. The one thing he is deeply grateful for is the medical and psychological treatment he has received here.
    Navigating Swiss and international laws

    Gabriella Tau and Boris Wijkström are his lawyers at the Centre suisse pour la défense des droits de migrants (CSDM), an organisation focused on defending the rights of migrants. CSDM took up his case and brought it to the attention the Committee Against Torture (CAT) at the United Nations, which suspended his expulsion pending a ruling on the merits of the case.

    During an October interview in his small office in Geneva, where dozens wait in the stairway in the hope of getting legal assistance, Wijkström said they are “very careful” of which cases they defend. The lawyers only take up a few per year, selecting the ones where they feel there has been a real miscarriage of justice.

    “They are very sensitive to any possible limitations imposed on Dublin expulsions to Italy,” he said about the Swiss position on asylum cases that have reached CAT.

    Switzerland has a reputation for being a highly efficient user of the Dublin system, a “blindly” mechanical efficiency that human rights groups including Amnesty Internationalexternal link say ride roughshod over the most vulnerable of individuals. The Swiss Refugee Councilexternal link wants Switzerland to stop sending vulnerable asylum seekers back to Italy because “adequate reception is not guaranteed there”.

    In 2017, Switzerland made 2,297 transfers invoking The Dublin III Regulation to neighbouring Italy, Germany and France and received 885 transfers from those countries, accordingexternal link to the Council.

    “Switzerland stands out as one of the biggest users of the Dublin system, even though volumes are, for instance, much smaller than those of Germany,” notes Francesco Maiani, an expert on European asylum policy and law. “Switzerland is one of the countries that consistently had more transfers to other countries than transfers from other countries.”

    However, two clauses with the Dublin Regulation III actively encourage a softer approach. One is the sovereignty clause. The other is the humanitarian clause.

    The SEM told swissinfo.ch it applies the “sovereignty clause” when a transfer “would contravene mandatory provisions of international law or in the presence of humanitarian grounds indicating that a transfer is a particularly rigorous measure.”

    It also rejected the notion that it applies the Dublin Regulation “blindly.”

    “The whole ethos of the Dublin system is quite problematic,” said Maiani, a member of the faculty of law at Lausanne University in a phone interview. “It tends to underscore that if you send asylum applicants away you win the game. If you admit them, you lose the game. And this of course introduces a lot of distortions in the process.”

    In an October letter to UN special rapporteur on torture Nils Melzer, CSDM outlined its concerns over “the systematic expulsion of torture victims and other vulnerable asylum seekers under the Dublin Regulation from Switzerland to European Union countries where dysfunctional asylum systems that expose them to a real risk of inhuman and degrading treatment”.

    A SEM spokesperson explained that Switzerland wants to see the Dublin III regulation reformed so that procedures are “faster and more efficient”, secondary migration prevented and responsibility between countries distributed more fairly. “Switzerland regularly takes this position at the European level and in bilateral talks with government representatives of EU member states and EU institutions,” the spokesperson said.
    Not one, but two Dublin proceedings

    For now, Jalal’s best shot at family reunification would be a Swiss decision to grant him asylum. But that risks being a lengthy process. The family got tangled in two Dublin proceedings — one to expel Jalal from Switzerland to Italy, the other a bid by Greece to see the family reunited in Switzerland.

    “Sometimes a Dublin reunification can take up to two or three years although on paper things should move more quickly,” notes Michael Kientzle, who works with the refugee aid group in Greeceexternal link that filed a request for Switzerland to take charge of Jalal’s family. The request was rejected and is now being appealed.

    The rest in limbo just like Jalal.

    When asked about the case, SEM said it takes into account the arguments put forward in decisions made by CAT [which recently ruled in favour of an Eritrean asylum-seeker and torture survivor presenting similar circumstances.] “[If SEM] concludes that a transfer to a Dublin state would endanger a person, it will conduct the asylum procedure in Switzerland,” it said.

    Shortly after being contacted by swissinfo.ch, SEM finally decided to examine his asylum claim. “The facts of his case have not changed,” noted Wijkström. “It’s great news for him but it underscores the arbitrariness of the whole system.”

    Adding to the absurdity of it all, he added, the Lucerne prosecutor has kept open a case against Jalal over illegal entry and illegal stay.

    Arbitrary or not — the decision by authorities to hear him out has filled Jalal with a new sense of purpose and hope for a fresh start in Switzerland.

    On the chilly morning of December 12, he met with a Caritas lawyer who will join him during his asylum hearing. He came prepared with all his documents, including X-rays and family identification booklet.

    “Maybe things finally work out and I get to see my family,” he tells swissinfo.chexternal link, consumed by nerves both about the outcome of his interview and the conditions of his mother and brother struggling to get on in a war-torn pocket of Syria.” All I can do is retell my story. They already have all the evidence.”

    https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/international-law_tale-of-swiss-based-syrian-torture-survivor-highlights-dublin-flaws/44615866
    #torture #Suisse #Dublin #renvois_Dublin #asile #migrations #réfugiés #réfugiés_syriens #Italie #expulsions #renvois

    ping @isskein


  • Manuel Herz Architects

    http://www.manuelherz.com/profile

    Manuel Herz Architects is an office for architecture and urban planning, based in Basel, Switzerland and Cologne, Germany. Amongst the recently constructed buildings is the Jewish Community Center of Mainz, the mixed-use building ‘Legal / Illegal’ in Cologne, and a museum extension (with Eyal Weizman and Rafi Segal) in Ashdod, Israel. Current projects include housing projects in Cologne, Zürich and Lyon [...]

    #architecture #manuel_herz


  • Harm Reduction in Immigration Detention

    It seems to be an inexorable quality of immigration detention that it causes the individual to experience pain or injury. From a human rights perspective, is it possible to talk about “best practices”?

    This Global Detention Project Special Report systematically compares conditions and operations at detention centres in five European countries—Norway, France, Germany, Sweden, and Switzerland—to identify practices that may be used to develop “harm reducing” strategies in detention. Commissioned by the Norwegian Red Cross as part of its efforts to promote reforms of Norway’s detention practices, the report addresses several key questions:

    In what ways has the Norwegian system met or exceeded internationally recognised standards? In what ways has it fallen short, especially when compared to detention practices of peer countries? And what are the key reform priorities going forward that may help reduce the harmful impact of detention?

    In Norway’s Trandum Detention Centre, multiple reports have highlighted an overzealously punitive and restrictive detention regime where detainees consider themselves to be “treated as criminals” even though they are not serving criminal prison sentences. Despite repeated recommendations from relevant experts, including the country’s Parliamentary Ombudsman, many important reforms have not been implemented.

    To complete the study, GDP researchers sought to assess Trandum in a comparative context that would highlight conditions and procedures in other European countries. The analysis of centres in Norway, France, Germany, Sweden, and Switzerland reveals that Trandum has embraced a carceral model for immigration detention to a much greater extent than centres elsewhere in Europe, falling short of standards provided in international law and promoted by national and regional human rights bodies.

    The report highlights several key areas for promoting reforms, both at Trandum and in other facilities across Europe, including: placing immigration detainees in the custody of social welfare institutions rather than public security agencies; reforming operating rules on everything from food preparation to electronic communications; and shedding detention centres of carceral elements, including the aspect of guards and staff members and the internal layout and regime of detention centres. Many of these suggestions have been highlighted by the Norwegian Red Cross in a statement urging the country’s authorities to reform its immigration detention system.

    https://www.globaldetentionproject.org/harm-reduction-immigration-detention
    #détention_administrative #rétention #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Europe #rapport #Norvège #France #Suisse #Allemagne #Suède #Frambois #Trandum #Toulouse #Ingelheim #Märsta


  • Forest Law + Night Soil - Nocturnal Gardening
    http://constantvzw.org/site/Forest-Law-Night-Soil-Nocturnal-Gardening.html

    On Tuesday evening, Z33 organizes, in the context of the #Alchorisma worksession, a #Screening of two films that focus on the themes of magic and spirituality. The two films show how artists respond, in their own way, to our contemporary interaction with elements from the earth and nature. Forest Law by Ursula Biemann & Paulo Tavares - Ecuador / Switzerland - 2014 - 38 min. Night Soil - Nocturnal Gardening by Melanie Bonajo - US/NL - Full HD one-channel color video with sound, 49:47 min. (...)

    Alchorisma

    / Screening


  • The Kaiser goes : the generals remain - Theodor Plivier
    https://libcom.org/history/kaiser-goes-generals-remain-theodor-plivier-1932

    Text entier en anglais : https://libcom.org/files/TheKaiserGoesTheGeneralsRemain.pdf https://libcom.org/files/TheKaiserGoesTheGeneralsRemain.mobi

    Du même auteur : Stalingrad (1945), Moskau (1952), Berlin (1954), une trilogie sur la guerre contre les nazis. Je n’ai pas encore trouvé de version en ligne.

    This is an amazing novel about the German Revolution, written by a participant. Republished here in PDF and Kindle formats.

    I’m republishing a novel about the German Revolution called The Kaiser Goes: the Generals Remain, written by a participant in the naval mutinies which kicked the whole thing off. But the novel doesn’t just concern rebellion in the armed forces, there’s all kinds of other exciting events covered too!

    I first became aware of the novel when I noticed some quotations from it in Working Class Politics in the German Revolution1, Ralf Hoffrogge’s wonderful book about the revolutionary shop stewards’ movement in Germany during and just after World War I.

    I set about finding a copy of The Kaiser goes..., read it, and immediately wanted to make it more widely available by scanning it. The results are here.

    Below I’ve gathered together all the most readily accessible information about the novel’s author, Theodor Plivier, that I can find. Hopefully, the sources referenced will provide a useful basis for anybody who wants to do further research.

    Dan Radnika

    October 2015

    THEODOR Otto Richard PLIVIER – Some biographical details

    Theodor Plivier (called Plievier after 1933) was born on 12 February 1892 in Berlin and died on 12 March 1955 in Tessin, Switzerland.

    Since his death Plivier/Plievier has been mostly known in his native Germany as a novelist, particularly for his trilogy of novels about the fighting on the Eastern Front in WWII, made up of the works Moscow, Stalingrad and Berlin.

    He was the son of an artisan file-maker (Feilenhauer in German) and spent his childhood in the Gesundbrunnen district in Berlin. There is still a plaque dedicated to him on the house where he was born at 29 Wiesenstraße. He was interested in literature from an early age. He began an apprenticeship at 17 with a plasterer and left his family home shortly after. For his apprenticeship he traveled across the German Empire, in Austria-Hungary and in the Netherlands. After briefly returning to his parents, he joined up as a sailor in the merchant navy. He first visited South America in 1910, and worked in the sodium nitrate (saltpetre) mines in 1913 in Chile. This period of his life seems to have provided much of the material for the novel The World’s Last Corner (see below).

    He returned to Germany, Hamburg, in 1914, when he was still only 22. He was arrested by the police for a brawl in a sailors’ pub, and was thus “recruited” into the imperial navy just as the First World War broke out. He spent his time in service on the auxiliary cruiser SMS Wolf, commanded by the famous Commander Karl August Nerger. It was he who led a victorious war of patriotic piracy in the Atlantic, the Indian Ocean and the Pacific, seizing enemy ships and their cargo, taking their crews prisoner, and returning in glory to Kiel in February 1918. The activities of SMS Wolf are described in fictional form in the final chapter of Plivier’s The Kaiser’s Coolies (see below). The young Plivier didn’t set foot on land for 451 days, but while at sea he became converted to revolutionary ideas, like thousands of other German sailors. Nevertheless, he never joined a political party. In November 1918, he was in Wilhelmshaven and participated in the strikes, uprisings and revolts accompanying the fall of the German Empire, including the Kiel Mutiny. He also played a small role in the November Revolution in Berlin.

    He left the navy after the armistice (11 November 1918) and, with Karl Raichle and Gregor Gog (both sailor veterans of the Wilmhelmshaven revolt), founded the “Green Way Commune”, near Bad Urach. It was a sort of commune of revolutionaries, artists, poets, proto-hippies, and whoever turned up. Two early participants were the anarchist Erich Mühsam and Johannes Becher (see below), who was a member of the German Communist Party (KPD). At this time several communes were set up around Germany, with Urach being one of three vegetarian communes set up in the Swabia region2.

    It was the beginning of the anarchist-oriented “Edition of the 12” publishing house. Plivier was certainly influenced by the ideas of Bakunin, but also Nietzsche. Later he took on some kind of “individualist anarchism”, ensuring that he didn’t join any party or formal political organisation.

    In Berlin in 1920 he married the actress Maria Stoz3. He belonged to the circle of friends of Käthe Kollwitz4, the radical painter and sculptor, who painted his portrait. On Christmas Day 1920 he showed a delegation from the American IWW to the grave of Karl Liebknecht5. In the early ‘20s he seems to have associated with the anarcho-syndicalist union, the FAUD (Free Workers’ Union of Germany), and addressed its public meetings6.

    Plivier underwent a “personal crisis” and began to follow the example of the “back to nature” poet Gusto Gräser7, another regular resident of “Green Way” and a man seen as the leading figure in the subculture of poets and wandering mystics known (disparagingly at the time) as the “Inflation Saints” (Inflationsheilige)8. In the words of the historian Ulrich Linse, “When the revolutionaries were killed, were in prison or had given up, the hour of the wandering prophets came. As the outer revolution had fizzled out, they found its continuation in the consciousness-being-revolution, in a spiritual change”9. Plivier began wearing sandals and robes…10 According to the Mountain of Truth book (see footnote), in 1922, in Weimar, Plivier was preaching a neo-Tolstoyan gospel of peace and anarchism, much influenced by Gräser. That year he published Anarchy, advocating a “masterless order, built up out of the moral power of free individuals”. Supposedly, “he was a religious anarchist, frequently quoting from the Bible”11. This was not unusual amongst the Inflationsheilige.

    His son Peter and his daughter Thora died from malnutrition during the terrible times of crisis and hyper-inflation in 1923. A year later he began to find work as a journalist and translator. He then worked for some time in South America as a cattle trader and as secretary to the German consul in Pisagua, Chile. On his return to Germany he wrote Des Kaisers Kulis (“The Kaiser’s Coolies”) in 1929, which was published the following year. It was a story based on his days in the Imperial Navy, denouncing the imperialist war in no uncertain terms. At the front of the book is a dedication to two sailors who were executed for participation in a strike and demonstration by hundreds of sailors from the Prinzregent Luitpold12. Erwin Piscator put on a play of his novel at the Lessingtheater in Berlin, with the first showing on 30 August 1930. Der Kaiser ging, die Generälen blieben (“The Kaiser Goes: The Generals Remain”) was published in 1932. In both novels Plivier did an enormous amount of research, as well as drawing on his own memories of important historical events. In the original edition of Der Kaiser ging… there is a citations section at the end with fifty book titles and a list of newspapers and magazines consulted. This attention to historical fact was to become a hallmark of Plivier’s method as a novelist. The postscript to Der Kaiser ging… clearly states what he was trying to do:

    “I have cast this history in the form of a novel, because it is my belief that events which are brought about not by any exchange of diplomatic notes, but by the sudden collision of opposed forces, do not lend themselves to a purely scientific treatment. By that method one can merely assemble a selection of facts belonging to any particular period – only artistic re-fashioning can yield a living picture of the whole. As in my former book, The Kaiser’s Coolies, so I have tried here to preserve strict historic truth, and in so far as exact material was available I have used it as the basis of my work. All the events described, all the persons introduced, are drawn to the life and their words reproduced verbatim. Occasional statements which the sources preserve only in indirect speech are here given direct form. But in no instance has the sense been altered.”

    His second marriage (which didn’t produce any children) was to the Jewish actress Hildegard Piscator in 1931. When Hitler came to power as Chancellor in 1933, his books were banned and publically burnt. He changed his name to Plievier. That year he decided to emigrate, and at the end of a long journey which led him to Prague, Zurich, Paris and Oslo, he ended up in the Soviet Union.

    He was initially not subject to much censorship in Moscow and published accounts of his adventures and political commentaries. When Operation Barbarossa was launched he was evacuated to Tashkent along with other foreigners. Here, for example, he met up (again?) with Johannes Robert Becher, the future Culture Minister of the DDR! In September 1943 he became a member of the National Committee for a Free Germany (NKFD), which gathered anti-Nazi German exiles living in the USSR – not just Communist Party members, although there were a fair number of them involved. In 1945 he wrote Stalingrad, based on testimonies which he collected, with official permission, from German prisoners of war in camps around Moscow. This novel was initially published in occupied Berlin and Mexico, but ended up being translated into 14 languages and being adapted for the theatre and TV13. It describes in unflinching and pitiless detail the German military defeat and its roots in the megalomania of Hitler and the incompetence of the High Command. It is the only novel by Plievier that was written specifically as a work of state propaganda. It is certainly “defeatist”, but only on the German side – it is certainly not “revolutionary defeatist” like Plievier’s writings about WWI. The French writer Pierre Vaydat (in the French-language magazine of German culture, Germanica14) even suggests that it was clearly aimed at “the new military class which was the officer corps of the Wehrmacht” in an effort to encourage them to rise up against Hitler and save the honour of the German military. The novel nevertheless only appeared in a censored form in the USSR.

    He returned to Weimar at the end of 1945, as an official of the Red Army! For two years he worked as a delegate of the regional assembly, as director of publications and had a leading position in the “Cultural Association [Kulturbund] for German Democratic Renewal” which was a Soviet organisation devoted to changing attitudes in Germany and preparing its inclusion into the USSR’s economic and political empire. As with so much else in Plievier’s life, this episode was partly fictionalised in a novel, in this case his last ever novel, Berlin.

    Plievier ended up breaking with the Soviet system in 1948, and made an announcement to this effect to a gathering of German writers in Frankfurt in May of that year15. However, Plievier had taken a long and tortuous political path since his days as a revolutionary sailor in 1918… He clearly ended up supporting the Cold War – seeing the struggle against “Communist” totalitarianism as a continuation of the struggle against fascism (logically enough). What’s more, his views had taken on a somewhat religious tinge, talking of a “spiritual rebirth” whose foundations “begin with the Ten Commandments from Mount Sinai and end with the theses of the Atlantic Charter”! Although it can be read as a denunciation of the horrors of war in general, it’s clear that Berlin, his description of the collapse of Nazi Germany in 1945, is far more of a denunciation of Soviet Russia than anything else. The character Colonel Zecke, obviously a mouthpiece for Plievier’s views, even claims that Churchill and Roosevelt only bombed Dresden because they wanted to please Stalin. If you say so, Theo…! One virtue of Plievier’s single-minded attack on the Russian side is that he draws attention to the mass rape of German women by Russian soldiers. This was a war crime which it was not at all fashionable to mention at the time he was writing, despite the existence of perhaps as many as two million victims16.

    Berlin ends with one of the recurring characters in Plievier’s war novels being killed while participating in the East German worker’s revolt in 195317. Despite his conservative turn, Plievier obviously still has some of the spirit of Wilhelmshaven and can’t restrain himself from giving the rebellious workers some advice about how to organise a proletarian insurrection – seize the means of production! Another character says:

    “What use was it raising one’s fists against tanks, fighting with the Vopos [Volkspolizei – People’s Police], trampling down propaganda posters – one has to get into the vital works, to get busy at the waterworks, the power stations, the metropolitan railway! But the workers are without organisation, without leadership or a plan –the revolt has broken out like a steppes fire and is flickering away uncoordinated, in all directions at once.”

    He went to live in the British Zone of Occupation. He got married for a third time, in 1950, to Margarete Grote, and went to live next to Lake Constance. He published Moscow (Moskau) in 1952 and Berlin in 1954. He moved to Tessin in Switzerland in 1953, and died from a heart attack there in 1955, at the age of 63.

    His works – particularly the pro-revolutionary ones – are almost unknown in the English-speaking world (or anywhere else) today. The republication of The Kaiser Goes: The Generals Remain in electronic form is a modest attempt to remedy this!

    Finally, please read Plivier’s novels! Even the reactionary ones…

    #Allemagne #histoire #révolution #littérature


    • First Light – Migration in the Swiss alps

      “Escape from hardship, because it is the only hope.” is what the father of the little Iranian boy explained to me as to why his son is named Vihan. (In Persian, the name Vihan can be translated as “First light” or hope)

      From August to October 2016 I had the opportunity to work as ‘artist in residence’, on a project for SMART (Sustainable Mountain Art programme) in Switzerland, creating pictures to raise awareness on the challenges facing mountain regions. I chose the theme of migration that has interested me for some time already.

      Since the middle ages, demographic pressure, armed conflict and oppression, natural disasters and overpopulation have driven the cause for Migration in the Swiss mountain regions. The largest mass emigration being of the Walser people from Lötschental, who over the course of 2 centuries established themselves over the Valais region and even as far as Austria.

      The foreigner’s lot was that of having very limited rights and labeled with the status of ‘inhabitant’, often not welcomed and even restricted by opposition to marriage to locals.

      I stayed in the historical village of #Medergen in the Graubünden, established by the #Walser people as early as 1300 with houses dating back to the 1700s, high in the alps at 2000m above sea level. A special, tiny village almost frozen in time, as people live a very modest life with no running water inside the house, which also means no flushing toilets or showers. Wooden stoves are used for cooking and heating water for washing, as there is no electricity either, except for the recent additions of solar panels. People use buckets to fetch water from the fresh water fountains, just like Heidi! :)

      In Litzirüti the closest village to Medergen, there is an old ski-hotel, that has been transformed into a temporary home for about 100 asylum seekers from various war torn and heavily oppressed countries such as Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, Afghanistan, Turkey, Siria, Gambia, Tibet, awaiting the decision of the Swiss government to announce their fate, if they will be rejected or if they will be given permission to stay in Switzerland.

      During the time I worked on the project, I hiked four hours up and down the mountain every second or third day, spending time and getting to know some of the people who reside here. If you ask anyone they will say that they are very thankful to be here in this peaceful village of Litzirüti and to be so well looked after in this beautiful place. And thankful to be in a country where there is peace and modern prosperity.

      However, thankful for escaping the unimaginable oppression and life threatening situations in their home countries, it is clear that they now have to deal with new challenges and difficulty in their lives. The youth in particular find it challenging to be in such a tiny village where there isn’t a single shop or anything to stimulate their growing minds. Furthermore, most of the people have been in Switzerland for a year or more, still waiting to have an interview to have their reasons for needing asylum assessed and their fate and extent of freedom, decided accordingly.

      What I’ve learnt from my research and looking at both the history of migration and what is happening today, is that the same challenges that existed centuries ago still exist today, namely that whenever there are newcomers, inevitably there is at least a degree of resistance to their acceptance that they are met with and state control that is the decider of their fate, prolonging the process of integration, usually in order to protect the fears of the established.

      “Cultural diversity is as essential to humanity as biodiversity is to nature. It makes the world a richer and more varied place and enlarges the range of choices available. It is the breeding ground that allows different cultures to continue and develop and enrich themselves through contact with each other, without drifting towards rigid identities. It is one of the sources of development, which must be perceived not merely in terms of economic growth , but also as a means of attaining to a satisfying intellectual, emotional, moral and spiritual existence.”

      (Quote from the SDC – Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation on the importance of culture for development).

      By depicting the contrast between the history of migration in the Swiss alps and the rich traditions that has become established in time, with the current asylum seeker and refugee situation mostly being a state of limbo, I aim to raise awareness of the current day migrants (asylum seekers) and remind people that sooner or later in life we all were or will be migrants again.

      I believe that through time, if cultures can embrace their differences, be it language, colour, traditions or spirituality, they will see that on the other side is another human being with the same hopes and desires as themselves and that we can all benefit and be so much richer for getting to know each other and giving each other the freedom to live out our own identity that makes us complete and wholesome human beings.


      http://lavonne.co.za/lavonnebosmanphotographicart/portfolio/first-light-migration-swissalps
      #Suisse #Alpes #Grisons

    • The Italian Ski Resort

      From Libya via Lampedusa. In the dark, the hotel that loomed after the last hairpin bend looked rather like Overlook in Stanley Kubrick’s film The Shining. But that’s where the resemblance ends. Montecampione, altitude 1,800 meters, is a ski resort at the end of the road winding up the Camonica Valley in Lombardy. The most striking thing on arrival here is being greeted with the faces and voices from another continent. Since June 2011, more than 100 Africans who fled the war inhave been settled in this hotel by the Brescia police authority, in line with the Italian government’s policy of spreading thearound the country. In most places the local authorities have been required to house them, but here private enterprise has also been asked to contribute. The hotel in Montecampione houses and feeds the migrants for 40 euros a head per day. The nearest village in the valley is more than 20km away, so the migrants are cut off from the outside world while they await a decision on their fates.
      “We live in a strange situation here,” admitted a lively young Ghanaian called Michael. “We’ve got absolutely nothing to do, but we’re all impatient to find work and start our lives again.” The last five migrants to arrive in Montecampione are equally bewildered. They reached Lampedusa early in August, and were taken across Italy. They have got plenty of time to find out about where they have ended up.

      http://www.bclaudia.com/libya-refugees/eleanor-rigby
      #Italy #stations_de_ski

    • Des photos, mais aussi un #film...

      Ilmurrán

      Nell’estate 2014, una giovane ragazza Maasai ha raggiunto una “pastora” piemontese sui pascoli delle Alpi Marittime. Due donne lontanissime tra loro, diverse per colore di pelle, generazione e lingua hanno vissuto una stagione d’alpeggio insieme, condividendo il lavoro, raccontandosi la loro storia, riconoscendosi più vicine.

      Le loro voci arrivano da lontano. Silvia si muove tra elementi primordiali, produce il formaggio con gli strumenti dei suoi antenati, ha tramandato la passione a suo figlio come in un rituale. Leah ha impressi a fuoco sulla pelle i simboli di un popolo pastore che ancora sopravvive sugli altipiani del Kenya. L’una e l’altra incarnano culture che oggi si trovano di fronte a scelte decisive, necessarie per la loro sopravvivenza. Ilmurrán significa “guerrieri”, perché la loro è una storia di resistenza.

      L’incontro è nato come un’esperienza antropologica a tutti gli effetti, realizzata in regime di completa autoproduzione dall’Associazione Culturale Geronimo Carbonò.


      http://www.ilmurran.it
      #Italie #Maasaï #pastoralisme #Alpes_maritimes #femmes


  • A Haven for Money in the Middle East, Dubai Is Losing Its Shine - Bloomberg
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-11-18/a-haven-for-money-in-the-middle-east-dubai-is-losing-its-shine

    There’s a deeper problem. Dubai prospered as a kind of Switzerland in the Gulf, a place to do business walled off from the often violent rivalries of the Middle East, says Jim Krane, author of the 2009 book “City of Gold: Dubai and the Dream of Capitalism.’’

    Now the state that Dubai is part of, the United Arab Emirates, has become an active player in those conflicts, fighting in civil wars from Libya to Yemen and joining the Saudi-led boycott of Qatar.

    “It’s a situation that Dubai finds itself in mostly through no fault of its own,’’ says Krane. “You can go to war with your neighbors, or you can trade with them. It’s really hard to do both.’’
    ‘Unpleasant Surprise’

    Stories of Qatari citizens being ordered to leave the U.A.E. shocked businesses that serviced the region from headquarters in Dubai. American executives were especially concerned about the prospect of being forced to pick sides, says Barbara Leaf, who was U.S. ambassador in the U.A.E. until March.

    “It has cast a shadow,’’ she says. “It was a very unpleasant surprise when U.A.E.-based companies found out they could no longer fly or ship goods directly to Doha.’’ The dispute rumbles on, even though the U.S. is applying renewed pressure for a settlement.

    #émirats


  • Detainees Evacuated out of Libya but Resettlement Capacity Remains Inadequate

    According to the United Nations Refugee Agency (#UNHCR) 262 migrants detained in Libya were evacuated to Niger on November 12- the largest evacuation from Libya carried out to date. In addition to a successful airlift of 135 people in October this year, this brings the total number of people evacuated to more than 2000 since December 2017. However Amnesty International describes the resettlement process from Niger as slow and the number of pledges inadequate.

    The evacuations in October and November were the first since June when the Emergency Transit Mechanism (ETM) centre in Niger reached its full capacity of 1,536 people, which according to Amnesty was a result of a large number of people “still waiting for their permanent resettlement to a third country.”

    57,483 refugees and asylum seekers are registered by UNHCR in Libya; as of October 2018 14,349 had agreed to Voluntary Humanitarian Return. Currently 3,886 resettlement pledges have been made by 12 states, but only 1,140 have been resettled.

    14,595 people have been intercepted by the Libyan coast guard and taken back to Libya, however it has been well documented that their return is being met by detention, abuse, violence and torture. UNHCR recently declared Libya unsafe for returns amid increased violence in the capital, while Amnesty International has said that “thousands of men, women and children are trapped in Libya facing horrific abuses with no way out”.

    In this context, refugees and migrants are currently refusing to disembark in Misrata after being rescued by a cargo ship on November 12, reportedly saying “they would rather die than be returned to land”. Reuters cited one Sudanese teenager on board who stated “We agree to go to any place but not Libya.”

    UNHCR estimates that 5,413 refugees and migrants remain detained in #Directorate_for_Combatting_Illegal_Migration (#DCIM) centres and the UN Refugee Agency have repetedly called for additional resettlement opportunities for vulnerable persons of concern in Libya.

    https://www.ecre.org/detainees-evacuated-out-of-libya-but-resettlement-capacity-remains-inadequate
    #réinstallation #Niger #Libye #évacuation #asile #migrations #réfugiés #HCR #détention #centres_de_détention

    • ET DES INFORMATIONS PLUS ANCIENNES DANS LE FIL CI-DESSOUS

      Libya: evacuations to Niger resumed – returns from Niger begun

      After being temporarily suspended in March as the result of concerns from local authorities on the pace of resettlement out of Niger, UNHCR evacuations of vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers from Libya through the Emergency Transit Mechanism has been resumed and 132 vulnerable migrants flown to the country. At the same time the deportation of 132 Sudanese nationals from Niger to Libya has raised international concern.

      Niger is the main host for refugees and asylum seekers from Libya evacuated by UNHCR. Since the UN Refugee Agency began evacuations in cooperation with EU and Libyan authorities in November 2017, Niger has received 1,152 of the 1,474 people evacuated in total. While UNHCR has submitted 475 persons for resettlement a modest 108 in total have been resettled in Europe. According to UNHCR the government in Niger has now offered to host an additional 1,500 refugees from Libya through the Emergency Transit Mechanism and upon its revival and the first transfer of 132 refugees to Niger, UNHCR’s Special Envoy for the Central Mediterranean Situation, Vincent Cochetel stated: “We now urgently need to find resettlement solutions for these refugees in other countries.”

      UNHCR has confirmed the forced return by authorities in Niger of at least 132 of a group of 160 Sudanese nationals arrested in the migrant hub of Agadez, the majority after fleeing harsh conditions in Libya. Agadez is known as a major transit hub for refugees and asylum seekers seeking passage to Libya and Europe but the trend is reversed and 1,700 Sudanese nationals have fled from Libya to Niger since December 2017. In a mail to IRIN News, Human Rights Watch’s associate director for Europe and Central Asia, Judith Sunderland states: “It is inhuman and unlawful to send migrants and refugees back to Libya, where they face shocking levels of torture, sexual violence, and forced labour,” with reference to the principle of non-refoulement.

      According to a statement released by Amnesty International on May 16: “At least 7,000 migrants and refugees are languishing in Libyan detention centres where abuse is rife and food and water in short supply. This is a sharp increase from March when there were 4,400 detained migrants and refugees, according to Libyan officials.”

      https://www.ecre.org/libya-evacuations-to-niger-resumed-returns-from-niger-begun

    • Libya: return operations running but slow resettlement is jeopardizing the evacuation scheme

      According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) 15.000 migrants have been returned from Libya to their country of origin and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has assisted in the evacuation of more than 1,300 refugees from Libya thereby fulfilling the targets announced at the AU-EU-UN Taskforce meeting in December 2017. However, a modest 25 of the more than 1000 migrants evacuated to Niger have been resettled to Europe and the slow pace is jeopardizing further evacuations.

      More than 1000 of the 1300 migrants evacuated from Libya are hosted by Niger and Karmen Sakhr, who oversees the North Africa unit at the UNHCR states to the EU Observer that the organisation: “were advised that until more people leave Niger, we will no longer be able to evacuate additional cases from Libya.”

      During a meeting on Monday 5 March with the Civil Liberties Committee and Foreign Affairs Committee MEPs, members of the Delegation for relations with Maghreb countries, Commission and External Action Service representatives on the mistreatment of migrants and refugees in Libya, and arrangements for their resettlement or return, UNHCR confirmed that pledges have been made by France, Switzerland, Italy, Norway, Sweden and Malta as well as unspecified non-EU countries but that security approvals and interviewing process of the cases is lengthy resulting in the modest number of resettlements, while also warning that the EU member states need to put more work into resettlement of refugees, and that resettlement pledges still fall short of the needs. According to UNHCR 430 pledges has been made by European countries.

      An estimated 5000 people are in government detention and an unknown number held by private militias under well documented extreme conditions.

      https://www.ecre.org/libya-return-operations-running-but-slow-resettlement-is-jeopardizing-the-evac

    • Libya: migrants and refugees out by plane and in by boat

      The joint European Union (EU), African Union (AU) and United Nations (UN) Task Force visited Tripoli last week welcoming progress made evacuating and returning migrants and refugees out of Libya. EU has announced three new programmes, for protecting migrants and refugees in Libya and along the Central Mediterranean Route, and their return and reintegration. Bundestag Research Services and NGOs raise concerns over EU and Member State support to Libyan Coast Guard.

      Representatives of the Task Force, created in November 2017, met with Libyan authorities last week and visited a detention centres for migrants and a shelter for internally displaced people in Tripoli. Whilst they commended progress on Voluntary Humanitarian Returns, they outlined a number of areas for improvement. These include: comprehensive registration of migrants at disembarkation points and detention centres; improving detention centre conditions- with a view to end the current system of arbitrary detention; decriminalizing irregular migration in Libya.

      The three new programmes announced on Monday, will be part of the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa. €115 million will go towards evacuating 3,800 refugees from Libya, providing protection and voluntary humanitarian return to 15,000 migrants in Libya and will support the resettlement of 14,000 people in need of international protection from Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Burkina Faso. €20 million will be dedicated to improving access to social and protection services for vulnerable migrants in transit countries in the Sahel region and the Lake Chad basin. €15 million will go to supporting sustainable reintegration for Ethiopian citizens.

      A recent report by the Bundestag Research Services on SAR operations in the Mediterranean notes the support for the Libyan Coast Guard by EU and Member States in bringing refugees and migrants back to Libya may be violating the principle of non-refoulement as outlined in the Geneva Convention: “This cooperation must be the subject of proceedings before the European Court of Human Rights, because the people who are being forcibly returned with the assistance of the EU are being inhumanely treated, tortured or killed.” stated Andrej Hunko, European policy spokesman for the German Left Party (die Linke). A joint statement released by SAR NGO’s operating in the Mediterranean calls on the EU institutions and leaders to stop the financing and support of the Libyan Coast Guard and the readmissions to a third country which violates fundamental human rights and international law.

      According to UNHCR, there are currently 46,730 registered refugees and asylum seekers in Libya. 843 asylum seekers and refugees have been released from detention so far in 2018. According to IOM 9,379 people have been returned to their countries of origin since November 2017 and 1,211 have been evacuated to Niger since December 2017.

      https://www.ecre.org/libya-migrants-and-refugees-out-by-plane-and-in-by-boat

      Complément de Emmanuel Blanchard (via la mailing-list Migreurop):

      Selon le HCR, il y aurait actuellement environ 6000 personnes détenues dans des camps en Libye et qui seraient en attente de retour ou de protection (la distinction n’est pas toujours très claire dans la prose du HCR sur les personnes à « évacuer » vers le HCR...). Ces données statistiques sont très fragiles et a priori très sous-estimées car fondées sur les seuls camps auxquels le HCR a accès.

    • First group of refugees evacuated from new departure facility in Libya

      UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, in coordination with Libyan authorities, evacuated 133 refugees from Libya to Niger today after hosting them at a Gathering and Departure Facility (GDF) in Tripoli which opened on Tuesday.

      Most evacuees, including 81 women and children, were previously detained in Libya. After securing their release from five detention centres across Libya, including in Tripoli and areas as far as 180 kilometres from the capital, they were sheltered at the GDF until the arrangements for their evacuation were concluded.

      The GDF is the first centre of its kind in Libya and is intended to bring vulnerable refugees to a safe environment while solutions including refugee resettlement, family reunification, evacuation to emergency facilities in other countries, return to a country of previous asylum, and voluntary repatriation are sought for them.

      “The opening of this centre, in very difficult circumstances, has the potential to save lives. It offers immediate protection and safety for vulnerable refugees in need of urgent evacuation, and is an alternative to detention for hundreds of refugees currently trapped in Libya,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.

      The centre is managed by the Libyan Ministry of Interior, UNHCR and UNHCR’s partner LibAid. The initiative is one of a range of measures needed to offer viable alternatives to the dangerous boat journeys undertaken by refugees and migrants along the Central Mediterranean route.

      With an estimated 4,900 refugees and migrants held in detention centres across Libya, including 3,600 in need of international protection, the centre is a critical alternative to the detention of those most vulnerable.

      The centre, which has been supported by the EU and other donors, has a capacity to shelter up to 1,000 vulnerable refugees identified for solutions out of Libya.

      At the facility, UNHCR and partners are providing humanitarian assistance such as accommodation, food, medical care and psychosocial support. Child friendly spaces and dedicated protection staff are also available to ensure that refugees and asylum-seekers are adequately cared for.

      https://www.unhcr.org/news/press/2018/12/5c09033a4/first-group-refugees-evacuated-new-departure-facility-libya.html

    • Migration : à Niamey, des migrants rapatriés de Libye protestent contre leurs conditions de séjour

      Les manifestants protestent contre leur détention de vie qu’ils jugent « déplorables » et pour amplifier leurs mouvements, ils ont brandi des pancartes sur lesquelles ils ont écrit leurs doléances. Les migrants manifestant s’indignent également de leur séjour qui ne cesse de se prolonger, sans véritable alternatives ou visibilité sur leur situation. « Ils nous ont ramené de la Libye pour nous laisser à nous-mêmes ici », « on ne veut pas rester ici, laisser nous partir là où on veut », sont entre autres les slogans que les migrants ont scandés au cours de leur sit-in devant les locaux de l’agence onusienne. Plusieurs des protestataires sont venus à la manifestation avec leurs bagages et d’autres avec leurs différents papiers, qui attestent de leur situation de réfugiés ou demandeurs d’asiles.

      La situation, quoique déplorable, n’a pas manqué de susciter divers commentaires. Il faut dire que depuis le début de l’opération de rapatriement des migrants en détresse de Libye, ils sont des centaines à vivre dans la capitale mais aussi à Agadez où des centres d’accueil sont mis à leurs dispositions par les agences onusiennes (UNHCR, OIM), avec la collaboration des autorités nigériennes. Un certain temps, leur présence de plus en plus massive dans divers quartiers de la capitale où des villas sont mises à leur disposition, a commencé à inquiéter les habitants sur d’éventuels risques sécuritaires.

      Le gouvernement a signé plusieurs accords et adopté des lois pour lutter contre l’immigration clandestine. Il a aussi signé des engagements avec certains pays européens notamment la France et l’Italie, pour l’accueil temporaire des réfugiés en provenance de la Libye et en transit en attendant leur réinstallation dans leur pays ou en Europe pour ceux qui arrivent à obtenir le sésame pour l’entrée. Un geste de solidarité décrié par certaines ONG et que les autorités regrettent presque à demi-mot, du fait du non-respect des contreparties financières promises par les bailleurs et partenaires européens. Le pays fait face lui-même à un afflux de réfugiés nigérians et maliens sur son territoire, ainsi que des déplacés internes dans plusieurs régions, ce qui complique davantage la tâche dans cette affaire de difficile gestion de la problématique migratoire.

      Le Niger accueille plusieurs centres d’accueil pour les réfugiés et demandeurs d’asiles rapatriés de Libye. Le 10 décembre dernier, l’OFPRA français a par exemple annoncé avoir achevé une nouvelle mission au Niger avec l’UNHCR, et qui a concerné 200 personnes parmi lesquelles une centaine évacuée de Libye. En novembre dernier, le HCR a également annoncé avoir repris les évacuations de migrants depuis la Libye, avec un contingent de 132 réfugiés et demandeurs d’asiles vers le Niger.

      Depuis novembre 2017, le HCR a assuré avoir effectué vingt-trois (23) opérations d’évacuation au départ de la Libye et ce, « malgré d’importants problèmes de sécurité et les restrictions aux déplacements qui ont été imposées ». En tout, ce sont 2.476 réfugiés et demandeurs d’asile vulnérables qui ont pu être libérés et acheminés de la Libye vers le Niger (2.069), l’Italie (312) et la Roumanie (95).


      https://www.actuniger.com/societe/14640-migration-a-niamey-des-migrants-rapatries-de-libye-protestent-contr

      Je découvre ici que les évacuations se sont faites aussi vers l’#Italie et... la #Roumanie !

    • Destination Europe: Evacuation. The EU has started resettling refugees from Libya, but only 174 have made it to Europe in seven months

      As the EU sets new policies and makes deals with African nations to deter hundreds of thousands of migrants from seeking new lives on the continent, what does it mean for those following dreams northwards and the countries they transit through? From returnees in Sierra Leone and refugees resettled in France to smugglers in Niger and migrants in detention centres in Libya, IRIN explores their choices and challenges in this multi-part special report, Destination Europe.

      Four years of uncontrolled migration starting in 2014 saw more than 600,000 people cross from Libya to Italy, contributing to a populist backlash that is threatening the foundations of the EU. Stopping clandestine migration has become one of Europe’s main foreign policy goals, and last July the number of refugees and migrants crossing the central Mediterranean dropped dramatically. The EU celebrated the reduced numbers as “good progress”.

      But, as critics pointed out, that was only half the story: the decline, resulting from a series of moves by the EU and Italy, meant that tens of thousands of people were stuck in Libya with no way out. They faced horrific abuse, and NGOs and human rights organisations accused the EU of complicity in the violations taking place.

      Abdu is one who got stuck. A tall, lanky teenager, he spent nearly two years in smugglers’ warehouses and official Libyan detention centres. But he’s also one of the lucky ones. In February, he boarded a flight to Niger run (with EU support) by the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, to help some of those stranded in Libya reach Europe. Nearly 1,600 people have been evacuated on similiar flights, but, seven months on, only 174 have been resettled to Europe.

      The evacuation programme is part of a €500-million ($620-million) effort to resettle 50,000 refugees over the next two years to the EU, which has a population of more than 500 million people. The target is an increase from previous European resettlement goals, but still only represents a tiny fraction of the need – those chosen can be Syrians in Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon as well as refugees in Libya, Egypt, Niger, Chad, Sudan, and Ethiopia – countries that combined host more than 6.5 million refugees.

      The EU is now teetering on the edge of a fresh political crisis, with boats carrying people rescued from the sea being denied ports of disembarkation, no consensus on how to share responsibility for asylum seekers and refugees within the continent, and increasing talk of further outsourcing the management of migration to African countries.

      Against this backdrop, the evacuation and resettlement programme from Libya is perhaps the best face of European policy in the Mediterranean. But, unless EU countries offer more spots for refugees, it is a pathway to safety for no more than a small handful who get the luck of the draw. As the first evacuees adjust to their new lives in Europe, the overwhelming majority are left behind.

      Four months after arriving in Niger, Abdu is still waiting to find out if and when he will be resettled to Europe. He’s still in the same state of limbo he was in at the end of March when IRIN met him in Niamey, the capital of Niger. At the time, he’d been out of the detention centre in Libya for less than a month and his arms were skeletally thin.

      “I thought to go to Europe [and] failed. Now, I came to Niger…. What am I doing here? What will happen from here? I don’t know,” he said, sitting in the shade of a canopy in the courtyard of a UNHCR facility. “I don’t know what I will be planning for the future because everything collapsed; everything finished.”
      Abdu’s story

      Born in Eritrea – one of the most repressive countries in the world – Abdu’s mother sent him to live in neighbouring Sudan when he was only seven. She wanted him to grow up away from the political persecution and shadow of indefinite military service that stifled normal life in his homeland.

      But Sudan, where he was raised by his uncle, wasn’t much better. As an Eritrean refugee, he faced discrimination and lived in a precarious legal limbo. Abdu saw no future there. “So I decided to go,” he said.

      Like so many other young Africans fleeing conflict, political repression, and economic hardship in recent years, he wanted to try to make it to Europe. But first he had to pass through Libya.

      After crossing the border from Sudan in July 2016, Abdu, then 16 years old, was taken captive and held for 18 months. The smugglers asked for a ransom of $5,500, tortured him while his relatives were forced to listen on the phone, and rented him out for work like a piece of equipment.

      Abdu tried to escape, but only found himself under the control of another smuggler who did the same thing. He was kept in overflowing warehouses, sequestered from the sunlight with around 250 other people. The food was not enough and often spoiled; disease was rampant; people died from malaria and hunger; one woman died after giving birth; the guards drank, carried guns, and smoked hashish, and, at the smallest provocation, spun into a sadistic fury. Abdu’s skin started crawling with scabies, his cheeks sank in, and his long limbs withered to skin and bones.

      One day, the smuggler told him that, if he didn’t find a way to pay, it looked like he would soon die. As a courtesy – or to try to squeeze some money out of him instead of having to deal with a corpse – the smuggler reduced the ransom to $1,500.

      Finally, Abdu’s relatives were able to purchase his freedom and passage to Europe. It was December 2017. As he finally stood on the seashore before dawn in the freezing cold, Abdu remembered thinking: “We are going to arrive in Europe [and] get protection [and] get rights.”

      But he never made it. After nearly 24 hours at sea, the rubber dinghy he was on with around 150 other people was intercepted by the Libyan Coast Guard, which, since October 2016, has been trained and equipped by the EU and Italy.

      Abdu was brought back to the country he had just escaped and put in another detention centre.

      This one was official – run by the Libyan Directorate for Combating Irregular Migration. But it wasn’t much different from the smuggler-controlled warehouses he’d been in before. Again, it was overcrowded and dirty. People were falling sick. There was no torture or extortion, but the guards could be just as brutal. If someone tried to talk to them about the poor conditions “[they are] going to beat you until you are streaming blood,” Abdu said.

      Still, he wasn’t about to try his luck on his own again in Libya. The detention centre wasn’t suitable for human inhabitants, Abdu recalled thinking, but it was safer than anywhere he’d been in over a year. That’s where UNHCR found him and secured his release.

      The lucky few

      The small village of Thal-Marmoutier in France seems like it belongs to a different world than the teeming detention centres of Libya.

      The road to the village runs between gently rolling hills covered in grapevines and winds through small towns of half-timbered houses. About 40 minutes north of Strasbourg, the largest city in the region of Alsace, bordering Germany, it reaches a valley of hamlets that disrupt the green countryside with their red, high-peaked roofs. It’s an unassuming setting, but it’s the type of place Abdu might end up if and when he is finally resettled.

      In mid-March, when IRIN visited, the town of 800 people was hosting the first group of refugees evacuated from Libya.

      It was unseasonably cold, and the 55 people housed in a repurposed section of a Franciscan convent were bundled in winter jackets, scarves, and hats. Thirty of them had arrived from Chad, where they had been long-time residents of refugee camps after fleeing Boko Haram violence or conflict in the Sudanese region of Darfur. The remaining 25 – from Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Sudan – were the first evacuees from Libya. Before reaching France, they, like Abdu, had been flown to Niamey.

      The extra stop is necessary because most countries require refugees to be interviewed in person before offering them a resettlement spot. The process is facilitated by embassies and consulates, but, because of security concerns, only one European country (Italy) has a diplomatic presence in Libya.

      To resettle refugees stuck in detention centres, UNHCR needed to find a third country willing to host people temporarily, one where European resettlement agencies could carry out their procedures. Niger was the first – and so far only – country to volunteer.

      “For us, it is an obligation to participate,” Mohamed Bazoum, Niger’s influential interior minister, said when interviewed by IRIN in Niamey. Niger, the gateway between West Africa and Libya on the migration trail to Europe, is the top recipient of funds from the EU Trust Fund for Africa, an initiative launched in 2015 to “address the root causes of irregular migration”.

      “It costs us nothing to help,” Bazoum added, referring to the evacuation programme. “But we gain a sense of humanity in doing so.”

      ‘Time is just running from my life’

      The first evacuees landed in Niamey on 12 November. A little over a month later, on 19 December, they were on their way to France.

      By March, they had been in Thal-Marmoutier for three months and were preparing to move from the reception centre in the convent to individual apartments in different cities.

      Among them, several families with children had been living in Libya for a long time. But most of the evacuees were young women who had been imprisoned by smugglers and militias, held in official detention centres, or often both.

      “In Libya, it was difficult for me,” said Farida, a 24-year-old aspiring runner from Ethiopia. She fled her home in 2016 because of the conflict between the government and the Oromo people, an ethnic group.

      After a brief stay in Cairo, she and her husband decided to go to Libya because they heard a rumour that UNHCR was providing more support there to refugees. Shortly after crossing the border, Farida and her husband were captured by a militia and placed in a detention centre.

      “People from the other government (Libya has two rival governments) came and killed the militiamen, and some of the people in the prison also died, but we got out and were taken to another prison,” she said. “When they put me in prison, I was pregnant, and they beat me and killed the child in my belly.”

      Teyba, a 20-year-old woman also from Ethiopia, shared a similar story: “A militia put us in prison and tortured us a lot,” she said. “We stayed in prison for a little bit more than a month, and then the fighting started…. Some people died, some people escaped, and some people, I don’t know what happened to them.”

      Three months at the reception centre in Thal-Marmoutier had done little to ease the trauma of those experiences. “I haven’t seen anything that made me laugh or that made me happy,” Farida said. “Up to now, life has not been good, even after coming to France.”

      The French government placed the refugees in the reception centre to expedite their asylum procedures, and so they could begin to learn French.

      Everyone in the group had already received 10-year residency permits – something refugees who are placed directly in individual apartments or houses usually wait at least six months to receive. But many of them said they felt like their lives had been put on pause in Thal-Marmoutier. They were isolated in the small village with little access to transportation and said they had not been well prepared to begin new lives on their own in just a few weeks time.

      “I haven’t benefited from anything yet. Time is just running from my life,” said Intissar, a 35-year-old woman from Sudan.

      A stop-start process

      Despite their frustrations with the integration process in France, and the still present psychological wounds from Libya, the people in Thal-Marmoutier were fortunate to reach Europe.

      By early March, more than 1,000 people had been airlifted from Libya to Niger. But since the first group in December, no one else had left for Europe. Frustrated with the pace of resettlement, the Nigerien government told UNHCR that the programme had to be put on hold.

      “We want the flow to be balanced,” Bazoum, the interior minister, explained. “If people arrive, then we want others to leave. We don’t want people to be here on a permanent basis.”

      Since then, an additional 148 people have been resettled to France, Switzerland, Sweden and the Netherlands, and other departures are in the works. “The situation is improving,” said Louise Donovan, a UNHCR communications officer in Niger. “We need to speed up our processes as much as possible, and so do the resettlement countries.”

      A further 312 people were evacuated directly to Italy. Still, the total number resettled by the programme remains small. “What is problematic right now is the fact that European governments are not offering enough places for resettlement, despite continued requests from UNHCR,” said Matteo de Bellis, a researcher with Amnesty International.
      Less than 1 percent

      Globally, less than one percent of refugees are resettled each year, and resettlement is on a downward spiral at the moment, dropping by more than 50 percent between 2016 and 2017. The number of refugees needing resettlement is expected to reach 1.4 million next year, 17 percent higher than in 2018, while global resettlement places dropped to just 75,000 in 2017, UNHCR said on Monday.

      The Trump administration’s slashing of the US refugee admissions programme – historically the world’s leader – means this trend will likely continue.

      Due to the limited capacity, resettlement is usually reserved for people who are considered to be the most vulnerable.

      In Libya alone, there are around 19,000 refugees from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Sudan registered with UNHCR – a number increasing each month – as well as 430,000 migrants and potential asylum seekers from throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Many have been subjected to torture, sexual violence, and other abuses. And, because they are in Libya irregularly, resettlement is often the only legal solution to indefinite detention.

      In the unlikely scenario that all the sub-Saharan refugees in Libya were to be resettled, they would account for more than one third of the EU’s quota for the next two years. And that’s not taking into account people in Libya who may have legitimate grounds to claim asylum but are not on the official radar. Other solutions are clearly needed, but given the lack of will in the international community, it is unclear what those might be.

      “The Niger mechanism is a patch, a useful one under the circumstance, but still a patch,” de Bellis, the Amnesty researcher, said. “There are refugees… who cannot get out of the detention centres because there are no resettlement places available to them.”

      It is also uncertain what will happen to any refugees evacuated to Niger that aren’t offered a resettlement spot by European countries.

      UNHCR says it is considering all options, including the possibility of integration in Niger or return to their countries of origin – if they are deemed to be safe and people agree to go. But resettlement is the main focus. In April, the pace of people departing for Europe picked up, and evacuations from Libya resumed at the beginning of May – ironically, the same week the Nigerien government broke new and dangerous ground by deporting 132 Sudanese asylum seekers who had crossed the border on their own back to Libya.

      For the evacuees in Niger awaiting resettlement, there are still many unanswered questions.

      As Abdu was biding his time back in March, something other than the uncertainty about his own future weighed on him: the people still stuck in the detention centres in Libya.

      He had started his travels with his best friend. They had been together when they were first kidnapped and held for ransom. But Abdu’s friend was shot in the leg by a guard who accused him of stealing a cigarette. When Abdu tried to escape, he left his friend behind and hasn’t spoken to him or heard anything about him since.

      “UNHCR is saying they are going to find a solution for me; they are going to help me,” Abdu said. “It’s okay. But what about the others?”

      https://www.irinnews.org/special-report/2018/06/26/destination-europe-evacuation


  • #bitcoin Crashes Below $5,300, Taking The Market To A New Low And Switzerland Approves World’s…
    https://hackernoon.com/bitcoin-crashes-below-5-300-taking-the-market-to-a-new-low-and-switzerla

    Bitcoin Crashes Below $5,300, Taking The Market To A New Low And Switzerland Approves World’s First Crypto ETPThe State of The Market — November 19, 2018BTC: $5,221.31 (-6.73%)XRP: $0.477899 (-6.77%)ETH: $154.83 (-11.91%)After the massive crash last week, some coins made a slight recovery by the end of the week. However, all of it was wiped off early today. Bitcoin dropped to a new low of $5,221. Along with it, the total market cap also crashed to $172 Billion. All of the top 10 cryptocurrencies are down by more than 10%. However, Ethereum suffered the biggest loss, further widening the gap between Ethereum and XRP. The market cap of XRP is now $3 Billion more than Ethereum.In other news, Hong Kong-based Hang Seng Bank has announced that it has successfully completed a pilot trade (...)

    #cryptocurrency-news #cryptocurrency-investment #cryptocurrency #blockchain


  • Une belle histoire pour changer : comment le DNDi a trouvé et développé un nouveau médicament contre la #maladie_du_sommeil.

    Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) is a collaborative, patients’ needs-driven, non-profit drug research and development (R&D) organization that is developing new treatments for neglected patients.

    A doctor’s dream
    https://stories.dndi.org/sleepingsickness-doctors-dream

    #Fexinidazole, the first all-oral drug for both stages of sleeping sickness was approved in November 2018
    Here are the stories of the doctors, patients, and scientists who contributed to this story

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9tsKmK5Yms&feature=youtu.be

    #santé MSF, pas de #brevets pas de #pharma

    • Un peu de #pharma quand même, puisque Sanofi est dans le coup, et doit bien y trouver son intérêt. Lors du développement d’un médicament contre la Malaria par DNDi il y a 10 ans, Sanofi en était déjà, et on pouvait lire dans Fortune :

      Sanofi’s aim was not entirely altruistic, says Bernard Pécoul, executive director of DNDi, a doctor and public health specialist who spearheaded the antimalaria project. “It’s good for their image,” he says, “but it will also help with the penetration of these countries’ markets.”

      Mais aussi :

      […] a nonprofit organization in Geneva, Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi), had figured out a way to combine the two antimalaria drugs and was looking for a corporate partner to conduct clinical trials and market and produce the drug on a large scale. “It was the marriage of both of our needs,” says Robert Sebbag, a vice president for Sanofi.

      Source : http://archive.fortune.com/2008/02/22/news/international/malaria.fortune/index.htm?section=magazines_fortuneintl

      Je me suis intéressé à DNDi à cette époque pour mon mémoire de master sur la question des communs immatériels dans la coopération internationale (inspiré alors du logiciel libre). Une interrogation, posée un peu vite en fin de chapitre : l’open source en matière de recherche médicale est-elle soluble dans les monopoles ?

      Si des fois, le texte complet est là (en espagnol). Sur les médicaments, p22-30 :
      http://gofile.me/2faRd/eKo0ig4JV

    • EMA Panel Backs First Oral-Only Drug for Deadly Disease
      https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/905009

      Fexinidazole was developed by Sanofi-Aventis in partnership with the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), a nonprofit drug research and development organization based in Switzerland. Fexinidazole is intended exclusively for markets outside the European Union.

      [...]

      This is the tenth medicine recommended by the EMA under Article 58, a regulation that allows the CHMP to assess and give opinions on medicines that are intended for use in countries outside the European Union.

      “The scientific opinion from the CHMP helps to support regulators in countries where regulatory capacity may be limited, by providing an expert evaluation of the medicine when used in local practice. National regulators can use the CHMP’s scientific assessment to decide on the use of the medicine in their countries,” the EMA explains.


  • #Operazione_Libero

    Nous étions exaspérés. Et nous savions qu’à présent le temps était venu de procéder à des changements. Ainsi, après le « oui » à l’initiative d’immigration de masse, nous nous sommes rassemblés entre amis et amis d’amis. Nous avons discuté, débattu et sommes arrivés à la conclusion que nous avons besoin d’un changement sur le long terme en politique, d’un nouveau #mouvement_politique.

    Le résultat du 9 février 2014 n’a été que la dernière impulsion. Depuis un moment déjà, nous nous sentons sous-représentés au sein du paysage politique de la Suisse, et nous observons les récents événements avec préoccupation. Des initiatives rétrogrades et une atmosphère d’hostilité envers le futur ont mis la Suisse sur de mauvais rails. Elles sont les étincelles qui ont mis le feu aux poudres pour Opération Libero.

    https://www.operation-libero.ch/fr/mouvement
    #Suisse #résistance #extrême_droite #politique #démocratie_directe #hostilité

    • Switzerland has been a lab for toxic rightwing politics. We took that on

      The Swiss People’s party used referendums to deploy its anti-migrant, anti-EU rhetoric. That’s where our movement started.

      Four years ago, along with some friends, I started a grassroots liberal democratic movement in Switzerland called Operation Libero. Since then, we’ve won four referendums (which under Swiss electoral law are frequent) against the rightwing populists. How did we do that? We fought tooth and nail to defend the institutions that protect our freedom and the rule of law. We believed in our goals. And we decided to never sing the populist’s song – only our own song.

      For more than two decades Switzerland has been something of a laboratory for rightwing populism. Ahead of others in Europe, the rightwing Swiss People’s party deployed a relentless anti-immigrant, anti-EU rhetoric. It has successfully used referendums as a marketing tool for its political agenda and has become the largest political force in Switzerland.

      I am 27, and a history student. This was the political environment I grew up in. But in February 2014, my friends and I experienced a kind of Brexit shock before Brexit happened: a “mass immigration initiative” – a referendum – spearheaded by the populists put our country’s relations with the EU at risk. It was a wake-up call. A small group of us in our 20s decided we’d had enough, and it was time to do something.

      We were fed up with the passivity of Switzerland’s established parties. We were angry that traditional political forces were on the defensive in front of the populists, and that no one was speaking up for the very institutions that have made our country so successful in the last two centuries. We felt the need to get involved, to stand up proudly for Switzerland as a land of opportunity, not as an open-air museum – a country of diversity, with a positive narrative for liberal ideas.

      Our crowdfunded, volunteer-based campaigning has achieved a lot in the last four years. We defeated the Swiss People’s party in four major referendum battles: on the question of expelling foreigners who have broken the law (February 2016), on providing legal support for asylum seekers (June 2016), on naturalisation (February 2017) and on the abolition of the country’s public broadcasting (March 2018).

      Right now we’re busy campaigning in the run-up to another referendum, on 25 November, in which the populists aim to place Swiss legislation above international law – in essence a “Switzerland first” agenda. The vote could result in Switzerland’s withdrawal from the European Convention on Human Rights. I’d like to share what we’ve learned along the way.

      To tackle rightwing populism, you have to dispense with peevishness and be very much on the offensive – you must lead the narrative. Take, for example, the 2016 referendum asking Swiss citizens whether they’d agree to have foreigners expelled on the grounds of even minor offenses, such as driving too fast twice in a 10-year period. The vote aimed at modifying the constitution to allow a system of automatic expulsions from the country, with judges given no room to consider personal hardship – an essential element of the law. These changes could have potentially targeted people born in Switzerland who had never lived in the country their parents came from.

      At the time, mainstream parties seemed exhausted, having just come out of a general election in which the Swiss People’s party had dominated the campaign. They seemed to wallow in defeatism. Survey showed the populist referendum plan might garner up to 66% of voters’ support. To be sure, this was a low start for us. But we also knew that we didn’t want to live in a country with a two-tier legal system and a judiciary hindered in its work.

      So what we did is this: we entirely avoided speaking about foreigners and criminality. Instead, we set the tone of the debate by speaking out about the rule of law and how important it is that everyone be equal before it. We moved the political battlefield and forced our adversaries to meet us there. We deliberately argued in a patriotic way, repeatedly referring to the constitution as a pillar of our liberal democracy. In this way, we removed the rightwing populist’s ability to dictate what “their” referendum was about and demonstrated that the changes being considered would affect everyone, not just “criminal foreigners” – as the populists put it.

      And it worked. As the vote drew close, the Swiss People’s party shifted away from the topic of “criminal foreigners”. They found themselves having to explain why they wanted Swiss values to be upended. This was a reversal. People took notice. After the results came out, the leader of the populist’s party conceded: “I don’t know what happened but at some point, everyone was just talking about the rule of law.”

      As the 2019 European parliamentary elections approach, the task for liberal-minded pro-Europeans is to capture the initiative and be the first to define what that election is really about. As a Swiss citizen and a stout liberal democrat, I care immensely about the EU’s fate. Next year’s vote will be about the shape and values of the continent we want to live in. It is very much about freedom and opportunities – not about migration or identity.

      Let’s not be intimidated by rightwing populists. Let them explain why they want to attack institutions and values that brought decades of peace, freedom and prosperity to Europe. Let them explain why we should dismantle that model.

      Europeans need to show pride in institutions that exist because of what we’ve learned from the past. It’s true that many citizens don’t relate to these institutions and often don’t understand what they stand for – which brings me to another crucial point: politics needs to speak directly to people’s hearts and minds. Populists don’t have a monopoly on emotions. Liberalism is based on emotions too. It is based on the profound belief that freedom and equal rights are necessary for any society to prosper as a whole.

      That’s where the battle lies. Serious democrats across Europe have a responsibility to ensure that a vast majority of citizens understand and connect emotionally to what truly protects them – liberal institutions. Now is the time to sing that song – and proudly so.

      https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/nov/15/switzerland-laboratory-far-right-politics