organization:civil society

  • After the Quake

    #Gyumri, the city symbol of the quake that 21 years ago struck Armenia. The stories of the homeless, the #domiks, the migrants, waiting for the opening of the borders with Turkey. Reportage.

    December 7, 1988, 11.41 am – An earthquake measuring 6.9 on the Richter scale hits northern Armenia, killing 25,000 and leaving many more homeless. Mikhail Gorbachev, then General Secretary of the Communist Party of the U.S.S.R. cuts short an official visit to the United States to travel to the small South Caucasus Soviet republic as news of the catastrophe makes headlines the world over. Poverty skyrockets as a nation mourned its dead.

    Hundreds of millions of dollars flooded into the country for relief and reconstruction efforts, but two other events of as much significance soon frustrated efforts to rebuild the disaster zone. In 1991, Armenia declared independence from the former Soviet Union, and in 1993, in support of Azerbaijan during a de facto war with Armenia over the disputed territory of Nagorno Karabakh, Turkey closed the land border with its eastern neighbor.

    Meanwhile, as corruption skyrocketed, the conflict as well as two closed borders and an economic blockade by Azerbaijan and Turkey only added to Armenia’s woes. Yet, despite strong economic growth in the mid-2000s, albeit from a low base, and promises from then President Robert Kocharyan to completely rebuild Gyumri, Armenia’s second largest city and the main urban center to be hit by the earthquake, the outlook appears as bleak as ever.

    Once Gyumri had been known for its architecture, humor and cultural importance, but now it has become synonymous with the earthquake and domiks – “temporary” accommodation usually amounting to little more than metal containers or dilapidated shacks. Hot in the summer and bitterly cold in the winter, others more fortunate found refuge in abandoned buildings vacated during the economic collapse following independence.

    Vartik Ghukasyan, for example, is 71 and alone. An orphan, she never married and now struggles to survive on a pension of just 25,000 AMD (about $65) a month in a rundown former factory hostel in Gyumri. However, that might all change as more buildings are privatized or their existing owners seek to reclaim them.

    According to the 2001 census, the population of Gyumri stands at 150,000 although some claim that it has since grown to 160-170,000. Nevertheless, few local residents take such figures seriously. Pointing to low school attendance figures, they estimate the actual population might be no more than 70,000. Even so, despite the exodus, there are as many as 4-7,000 families still living in temporary shelter according to various estimates.

    Anush Babajanyan, a 26-year-old photojournalist from the Armenian capital, is one of just a few media professionals who remain concerned by their plight. Having spent the past year documenting the lives of those still waiting for proper housing, the anniversary might have been otherwise low-profile outside of Gyumri, but Babajanyan attempted to focus attention on the occasion by exhibiting her work in Yerevan.

    “When I started this project, 20 years had passed since the earthquake and there were families still living in domiks who were not receiving enough attention,” she told Osservatorio. “ The government and other organizations promised to solve the issue of their housing, but their actions were not enough. Since then I have seen very little improvement.”

    “If this issue wasn’t solved in 20 years, it probably isn’t surprising that not much has changed in just a year. However, it has been two years since Serge Sargsyan, then Armenian prime minister and now president, said that the issue of these residents will be solved by now. But, although some districts are being reconstructed, this is not enough to resolve the issue.”

    As the center of Shirak, an impoverished region that most in Armenia and its large Diaspora appear to have largely forgotten, Gyumri suffers from unemployment higher than the national average. Travel agents continue to advertise flights from the local airport to parts of Russia. As elsewhere in the region, the only hope for a better life lies outside. But, with a global economic crisis hitting the CIS hard, there are now also fewer opportunities even there.

    This year GDP per capita has already plummeted by over 14 percent nationwide, far in excess of the decline registered in Azerbaijan and Georgia, while poverty and extreme poverty - already calculated with a low yardstick - has reportedly increased from 25.6 and 3.6 percent respectively in 2008 to 28.4 and 6.9 percent today. Local civil society activists claim that the figures might be twice as high in Gyumri.

    But, some believe, the city could benefit greatly from an open border with Turkey , transforming itself into a major economic and transit hub for direct trade between the two countries. Just 8 km away lies the village of Akhurik, one of two closed border crossings. Repair work had been conducted on the railway connecting Gyumri to the Turkish city of Kars prior to last year’s World Cup qualifying match with Turkey held in Yerevan.

    With Turkish President Abdullah Gül making a historic visit to Armenia for the match, villagers were once again given hope that a border opening would be imminent. “It will be very good if it opens,” one resident told RFE/RL at the time. “We used to work in the past — 40 families benefited from work related to the railway. Now they sit idle without work or have to choose migrant work in Russia. It will be good when the line is opened.”

    But, with pressure from Azerbaijan on Turkey not to sign two protocols aimed at establishing diplomatic relations and opening the border until the Karabakh conflict is resolved, such a breakthrough appears as elusive as ever while unemployment and poverty increases. Nowhere is that more evident than the city of Ashotsk, just 30 minutes outside of Gyumri. Karine Mkrtchyan, public relations officer for the Caritas Armenia NGO says conditions are typical.

    “Everywhere you will see abandoned places, especially public spaces,” she says. “They are ruined. There are no facilities, there is a lack of drinking water, and irrigation. People are on their own to solve their problems. We had a loss of life during the earthquake and then massive migration which stopped in the late 1990s before starting again in early 2000. Now there are even more people who decide to migrate.”

    Last week, on the 21st anniversary of the earthquake, the government attempted to counter criticism of what many consider to be inaction and a lack of concern with the socioeconomic situation in Gyumri. Opening a sugar refinery owned by one of the country’s most notorious oligarchs at the same time, the Armenian president visited Gyumri and promised that 5,300 new homes would allocated to those still without by 2013.

    The $70 million construction project has been made possible through a $500 million anti-crisis loan from the Russian Federation.

    However, whether such promises come to fruition remains to be seen and government critics remain unimpressed. Indeed, they point out, even if the apartments are built and allocated on time, it would have taken a quarter of a century to do so. Moreover, for Gyumri natives such as Mkrtchyan, the need for economic investment and development in the regions of Armenia remains as urgent as ever.

    https://www.balcanicaucaso.org/eng/Areas/Armenia/After-the-Quake-55719
    #tremblement_de_terre #post-catastrophe #Arménie #histoire #logement #réfugiés_environnementaux #asile #migrations #réfugiés #frontières


  • How Hamas sold out Gaza for cash from Qatar and collaboration with Israel

    Israel’s botched military incursion saved Hamas from the nightmare of being branded as ’sell-outs’. Now feted as resistance heroes, it won’t be long before Hamas’ betrayal of the Palestinian national movement is exposed again

    Muhammad Shehada
    Nov 22, 2018 7:04 PM

    https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/.premium-how-hamas-sold-out-gaza-for-cash-from-qatar-and-collaboration-with

    Earlier this month, Hamas was confronted by one of its worst nightmares. The Palestinian mainstream began to brand Hamas with the same slurs that Hamas itself uses to delegitimize the Palestinian Authority. 
    "They sold us out!” Gazans began to whisper, after Hamas reached a limited set of understandings with Israel in early November. Its conditions required Hamas to distance Gazan protesters hundreds of meters away from the separation fence with Israel and actively prevent the weekly tire-burning and incendiary kite-flying associated with what have become weekly protests.
    In return for this calm, Israel allowed a restoration of the status quo ante – an inherently unstable and destabilizing situation that had led to the outbreak of popular rage in the first place. 

    Other “benefits” of the agreement included a meaningless expansion of the fishing zone for few months, restoring the heavily-restricted entry of relief aid and commercial merchandise to Gaza, instead of the full-on closure of previous months, and a tentative six-month supply of Qatari fuel and money to pay Hamas’ government employees. Basically, a return to square one. 
    skip - Qatari ambassador has stones thrown at him in Gaza
    Qatari ambassador has stones thrown at him in Gaza - דלג

    The disaffected whispers quickly became a popular current, which took overt form when the Qatari ambassador visited Gaza. He was met with angry cries of “collaborator,” as young Gazans threw stones at his vehicle after the ambassador was seen instructing a senior Hamas leader with the words: “We want calm today...we want calm.”
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    Hamas leaders didn’t dare show their faces to the people for several days following, and the movement’s popular base had a very hard time arguing that the agreement with Israel - which offered no fundamental improvement of condition – and sweetened by Qatari cash wasn’t a complete sell-out by Hamas. 
    Inside Hamas, there was evident anxiety about public outrage, not least in the form of social media activism, using Arabic hashtags equivalents to #sell-outs. One typical message reads: “[Suddenly] burning tires have became ‘unhealthy’ and [approaching] the electronic fence is suicide! #sell-outs.”

    Social media is clearly less easy to police than street protests. Even so, there was a small protest by young Gazans in Khan Younis where this “sell-out” hashtag became a shouted slogan; the demonstrators accused Hamas of betrayal.
    But relief for Hamas was at hand – and it was Israel who handed the movement an easy victory on a gold plate last week. That was the botched operation by Israel thwarted by Hamas’ military wing, the al-Qassam brigade, which cost the life of a lieutenant colonel from an IDF elite unit.
    The ensuing retaliation for Israel’s incursion, led by the Islamic Jihad (prodded into action by Iran), who launched 400 improvised rockets into Israel, was intended to draw a bold red line of deterrence, signaling that the Israeli army cannot do as it pleases in Gaza. 
    For days after this last escalation, Hamas leaders rejoiced: that exhibition of muscle power proved their moral superiority over the “collaborationist” Palestinian Authority. Boasting about its heroic engagement in the last escalation, Hamas easily managed to silence its critics by showing that the “armed resistance” is still working actively to keep Gaza safe and victorious. Those are of course mostly nominal “victories.”

    But their campaign was effective in terms of changing the political atmosphere. Now that the apparatus of the Muqawama had “restored our dignity,” further criticism of Hamas’ political and administrative conduct in Gaza was delegitimized again. Criticism of Hamas became equivalent to undermining the overall Palestinian national struggle for liberation.

    Unsurprisingly that silenced the popular outrage about Hamas’ initial agreement of trading Gaza’s sacrifices over the last seven months for a meager supply of aid and money. The few who continued to accuse Hamas of selling out were promptly showered by footage of the resistance’s attacks on Israel, or reports about Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s resignation, for which Hamas claimed credit, coming as it did a day after a Hamas leader demanded he resigned. 
    Mission accomplished, a piece of cake. Now it was time for Hamas to return to business, strengthened by a renewed shield of resistance-immunity that branded criticism as betrayal.
    Although Hamas leaders have admitted the reality: no more fundamental cease-fire is being negotiated, and so no fundamental improvements for Gaza can be expected - it continues to sell Gazans the delusion that their decade of endurance is finally bearing fruit and soon, more prosperity, employment and hope will trickle down to the masses.
    What has actually trickled down so far are temporary and symbolic painkillers, not an actual end to Gaza’s pain.

    Hamas agreed to give a small share of the Qatari spoils to 50,000 poor Gazan families; $100 for each household. They agreed to creating temporary employment programs for 5,000 young university graduates with the aspirational title of Tomoh (“Ambition”). They promised to keep up the fight until Gaza is no longer unlivable, and Hamas leaders pledged with their honor to continue the Gaza Great Return March until the protests’ main goal - lifting the blockade - was achieved.
    But does that really mean anything when the protests are kept at hundreds of meters’ distance from the fence, essentially providing the “Gazan silence” Netanyahu wants? When no pressure is applied anymore on the Israeli government to create a sense of urgency for action to end the disastrous situation in Gaza? And when Hamas continues to avoid any compromises about administering the Gaza Strip to the PA in order to conclude a decade of Palestinian division, and consecutive failures?
    That Hamas is desperately avoiding war is indeed both notable and worthy, as well as its keenness to prevent further causalities amongst protesters, having already suffered 200 deaths and more than 20,000 wounded by the IDF. That genuine motivation though is mixed with more cynical ones – the protests are now politically more inconvenient for Hamas, and the casualty rate is becoming too expensive to sustain.
    Yet one must think, at what price is Hamas doing this? And for what purpose? If the price of Gaza’s sacrifices is solely to maintain Hamas’ rule, and the motive of working to alleviate pressure on Gaza is to consolidate its authority, then every Gazan has been sold out, and in broad daylight.

    Only if Hamas resumes the process of Palestinian reconciliation and a democratic process in Gaza would those actions be meaningful. Otherwise, demanding that the world accepts Hamas’ rule over Gaza as a fait accompli – while what a Hamas-controlled Gaza cannot achieve, most critically lifting the blockade, is a blunt betrayal of Palestinian martyrdom.
    It means compromising Palestinian statehood in return for creating an autonomous non-sovereign enclave in which Hamas could freely exercise its autocratic rule indefinitely over an immiserated and starving population.
    Which, according to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, is what Hamas has always wanted since rising to power in 2009: an interim Palestinian state in Gaza under permanent Hamas rule, not solving the wider conflict but rather obliterating in practice the prospect of a two state solution.
    It remains to be seen if the calls of “sell-outs” will return to Gaza’s social networks and streets, not least if Hamas’ obduracy and appetite for power end up selling out any prospect of a formally recognized State of Palestine.
    Muhammad Shehada is a writer and civil society activist from the Gaza Strip and a student of Development Studies at Lund University, Sweden. He was the PR officer for the Gaza office of the Euro-Med Monitor for Human Rights. Twitter: @muhammadshehad2

    Muhammad Shehada


  • MIGRENT

    The publication [#MIGRENT] provides an overview of a few current migrant (and) social entrepreneurial initiatives in Europe. It moves primarily toward the understanding that migrant entrepreneurship is an important tool of socio-economic emancipation, guaranteeing both successful integration of a newcomer while creating an impact to local economic growth. Moreover, it encompasses importance of authenticity and solidarity in entrepreneurial endeavors creating a more just and socially-aware economy in opposition to rather capitalistic realities of our aiming at only profit making. Moreover, we noted an importance of community and civil society support to the empowerment of newcomers and their entrepreneurial steps. The publication integrates examples of migrant entrepreneurship projects or civil society organizations’ initiatives promoting entrepreneurship through so-called Corners of Inspiration.

    [MIGRENT] is also a coined abbreviation that stands for migrant entrepreneurship. It also stands as an umbrella title for all current and future activities conducted by the Centre for Peace Studies when it comes to promotion of, contribution to and development of migrant entrepreneurship, especially social entrepreneurship. [MIGRENT] relies on previous experiences of the Centre for Peace Studies in developing social cooperative for intercultural cooperation known as Taste of Home (Okus doma). [MIGRENT] also embraces new knowledge and experience sharing among migrant and domestic social entrepreneurs. The publication followed an international conference held in April 2017 in Zagreb gathering more than 50 entrepreneurs, volunteers, activists, academics, researchers, journalists and workers of civil society organizations. As many great ideas were shared in this engaging and learning process, this publication reflects on many spoken words and shared experiences, bringing us to the real life of business ideas and entrepreneurial surroundings.


    https://www.okus-doma.hr/en/tekstovi/migrent/migrent-publikacija
    #économie_sociale_et_solidaire #EES #Europe #entrepreneurs #entreprenariat #économie #travail #économie_locale #intégration_professionnelle #guide #manuel


  • Why Spain is a Window into the E.U. Migration Control Industry

    Spain’s migration control policies in North Africa dating back over a decade are now replicated across the E.U. Gonzalo Fanjul outlines PorCausa’s investigation into Spain’s migration control industry and its warning signs for the rest of Europe.

    There was a problem and we fixed it.” For laconic President José María Aznar, these words were quite the political statement. The then Spanish president was speaking in July 1996, after 103 Sub-Saharan migrants who had reached Melilla, a Spanish enclave in North Africa, were drugged, handcuffed and taken to four African countries by military aircraft.

    President Aznar lay the moral and political foundations of a system based on the securitization, externalization and, increasingly, the privatization of border management. This system was consolidated by subsequent Spanish governments and later extended to the rest of the European Union, setting the grounds for a thriving business: the industry of migration control.

    Between 2001 and 2010, long before Europe faced the so-called “refugee crisis,” Spain built two walls in its North African enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, signed combined development and repatriation agreements with nine African countries, passed two major pieces of legislation on migration, and fostered inter-regional migration initiatives such as the Rabat Process. Spain also designed and established the Integral System of External Surveillance, to this day one of the most sophisticated border surveillance mechanisms in the world.

    The ultimate purpose of these efforts was clear: to deter irregular migration, humanely if possible, but at any cost if necessary.

    Spain was the first European country to utilize a full array of control and cooperation instruments in countries along the migration route to Europe. The system proved effective during the “cayuco crisis” in 2005 and 2006. Following a seven-fold increase in the number of arrivals from West Africa to the Canary Islands by boat, Spain made agreements with several West African countries to block the route, forcing migrants to take the even riskier Sahel passage.

    Although the E.U. questioned the humanitarian consequences of these deals at the time, less than a decade later officials across the continent have replicated large parts of the Spanish system, including the E.U. Emergency Trust Fund for Africa and agreements between the Italian and the Libyan governments.

    Today, 2005 seems like different world. That year, the E.U. adopted its Global Approach on Migration and Mobility, which balanced the “prevention of irregular migration and trafficking” with promising language on the “fostering of well-managed migration” and the “maximization” of its development impact.

    Since then, the combined effect of the Great Recession – an institutional crisis – and the increased arrival of refugees has diluted reformist efforts in Europe. Migration policies are being defined by ideological nationalism and economic protectionism. Many politicians in Europe are electorally profiting from these trends. The case of Spain also illustrates that the system is ripe for financial profit.

    For over a year, Spanish investigative journalism organization porCausa mapped the industry of migration control in Spain. We detailed the ecosystem of actors and interests facilitating the industry, whose operations rely almost exclusively on public funding. A myriad private contractors and civil society organizations operate in four sectors: border protection and surveillance; detention and expulsion of irregular migrants; reception and integration of migrants; and externalization of migration control through agreements with private organisations and public institutions in third countries.

    We began by focusing on securitization and border management. We found that between 2002 and 2017 Spain allocated at least 610 million euros ($720 million) of public funding through 943 contracts related to the deterrence, detention and expulsion of migrants. Our analysis reached two striking conclusions and one question for future research.

    Firstly, we discovered the major role that the E.U. plays in Spain’s migration control industry. Just over 70 percent of the 610 million euros came from different European funds, such as those related to External Borders, Return and Internal Security, as well as the E.U. border agency Frontex. Thus, Spanish public spending is determined by the policy priorities established by E.U. institutions and member states. Those E.U. institutions have since diligently replicated the Spanish approach. With the E.U. now driving these policies forward, the approach is likely to be replicated in other European countries.

    Secondly, our data highlights how resources are concentrated in the hands of a few businesses. Ten out of the 350 companies included in our database received over half of the 610 million euros. These companies have enjoyed a long-standing relationship with the Spanish government in other sectors such as defence, construction and communications, and are now gaining a privileged role in the highly sensitive areas of border surveillance and migration control.

    Our research also surfaced a troubling question that has shaped the second phase of our inquiry: to what extent are these companies influencing Spanish migration policy? The capture of rules and institutions by elites in an economic system has been documented in sectors such as defence, taxation or pharmaceuticals. That this could also be happening to borders and migration policy should alarm public opinion and regulators. For example, the key role played by private technology companies in the design and implementation of Spain’s Integral System of External Surveillance demonstrates the need for further investigation.

    Spain’s industry of migration control may be the prototype of a growing global phenomenon. Migration policies have been taken over by border deterrence goals and narratives. Meanwhile, border control is increasingly dependent on the technology and management of private companies. As E.U.-level priorities intersect with those of the highly-concentrated – and possibly politically influential – migration control industry, Europe risks being trapped in a political and budgetary vicious circle based on the premise of migration-as-a-problem, complicating any future reform efforts towards a more open migration system.

    https://www.newsdeeply.com/refugees/community/2018/05/21/why-spain-is-a-window-into-the-e-u-migration-control-industry
    #Afrique_du_Nord #externalisation #modèle_espagnol #migrations #contrôles_migratoires #asile #frontières #contrôles_frontaliers #asile #réfugiés #histoire


  • Croatia, criminalisation of solidarity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • La Croatie criminalise la solidarité

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


  • #Madagascar citizens demand transparency in a fishy deal with China · Global Voices
    https://globalvoices.org/2018/10/31/madagascar-citizens-demand-transparency-in-a-fishy-deal-with-china

    n September 2018, Hery Rajaonarimampianina, the incumbent president of Madagascar, announced that a 10-year fishing agreement had been finalized between the Malagasy Agency for Economic Development and Promotion of Enterprises and Taihe Century Investments Developments Corporation, a Chinese business consortium.

    According to sources in Madagascar, the president had negotiated the deal with almost no input from his administration, parliament or civil society. Madagascar’s main development partners, including the World Bank and the European Union were not informed of the deal either.

    #pêchs #chine


  • L’Austria esce dal patto Onu per le migrazioni: “Limita la sovranità del nostro Paese”

    L’accordo internazionale che punta a difendere i diritti dei rifugiati entrerà in vigore a dicembre. Prima di Vienna, anche Usa e Ungheria si sono sfilati. Il governo Kurz: “Migrare non è un diritto fondamentale”.

    L’Austria esce dal patto Onu per le migrazioni: “Limita la sovranità del nostro Paese”

    L’accordo internazionale che punta a difendere i diritti dei rifugiati entrerà in vigore a dicembre. Prima di Vienna, anche Usa e Ungheria si sono sfilati. Il governo Kurz: “Migrare non è un diritto fondamentale”

    L’Austria annuncia il suo ritiro dal patto delle Nazioni Unite sulle migrazioni, e segue così l’esempio di Stati Uniti e Ungheria, che prima di lei sono uscite dall’accordo internazionale, in controcorrente con gli oltre 190 Paesi che l’hanno firmato. Lo ha comunicato il cancelliere Sebastian Kurz, motivando la scelta sovranista come una reazione necessaria per respingere un vincolo Onu che “limita la sovranità del nostro Paese”. Non ci sarà, dunque, nessun rappresentante di Vienna alla conferenza dell’Onu a Marrakech, in Marocco, il 10 e 11 dicembre. Mentre all’Assemblea generale delle Nazioni Unite dell’anno prossimo l’Austria si asterrà.

    COSA PREVEDE L’ACCORDO

    Il patto per le migrazioni era stato firmato da 193 Paesi a settembre 2017 ed entrerà in vigore a dicembre con la firma prevista al summit di Marrakech. Prevede la protezione dei diritti dei rifugiati e dei migranti, indipendentemente dallo status, e combatte il traffico di esseri umani e la xenofobia. E ancora, impegna i firmatari a lavorare per porre fine alla pratica della detenzione di bambini allo scopo di determinare il loro status migratorio; limita al massimo le detenzioni dei migranti per stabilire le loro condizioni, migliora l’erogazione dell’assistenza umanitaria e di sviluppo ai Paesi più colpiti. Facilita anche il cambiamento di status dei migranti irregolari in regolari, il ricongiungimento familiare, punta a migliorare l’inclusione nel mercato del lavoro, l’accesso al sistema sanitario e all’istruzione superiore e ad una serie di agevolazioni nei Paesi di approdo, oltre che ad accogliere i migranti climatici.

    LE RAGIONI DI VIENNA

    Un documento di 34 pagine, per politiche in favore di chi lascia il proprio Paese che promuovano una migrazione sicura. L’Austria in un comunicato respinge tutti i criteri stabiliti da quella che è stata ribattezzata la “Dichiarazione di New York”. Kurz, che da giovanissimo ministro degli Esteri fece il suo esordio mondiale proprio all’Assemblea generale dell’Onu, decide così di strappare e imporre il suo giro di vite sui migranti, spinto dal suo alleato al governo, l’ultradestra dell’Fpö di Heinz-Christian Strache, il quale a margine dell’annuncio del ritiro ha aggiunto: “La migrazione non è e non può essere un diritto fondamentale dell’uomo”. Il governo di Vienna, in particolare, spiega che “il patto limita la sovranità nazionale, perché non distingue tra migrazione economica e ricerca di protezione umanitaria”, tra migrazione illegale e legale. “Non può essere - continua il governo Kurz - che qualcuno riceva lo status di rifugiato per motivi di povertà o climatici”.

    “SEGUIAMO IL LORO ESEMPIO”

    Il patto, in realtà, non è vincolante ai sensi del diritto internazionale, una volta firmato. Si delinea come una dichiarazione di intenti, per mettere ordine nelle politiche sulle migrazioni a livello mondiale, all’insegna della solidarietà. Per questo, la mossa di Vienna assume un valore simbolico, sull’onda delle dichiarazioni di Kurz e i suoi che vorrebbero chiudere le porte dell’Europa all’immigrazione e controllare i confini. Trascina dietro di sé la lodi di altri partiti populisti europei, uno tra tutti l’AfD tedesca, con la leader Alice Weidel che non ha tardato a twittare: “Anche la Germania non aderisca, il Global Compact apre la strada a milioni di migranti africani e legalizza l’immigrazione irregolare”.

    https://www.lastampa.it/2018/10/31/esteri/laustria-esce-dal-patto-onu-per-le-migrazioni-limita-la-sovranit-del-nostro-paese-GbGo3HsbsGygjZ3aOjVfkJ/pagina.html
    #Global_compact #global_compact_on_refugees #migrations #réfugiés #asile #Autriche #Hongrie #USA #Etats-Unis

    • Austria to shun global migration pact, fearing creep in human rights

      Austria will follow the United States and Hungary in backing out of a United Nations migration pact over concerns it will blur the line between legal and illegal migration, the right-wing government said on Wednesday.

      The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration was approved in July by all 193 member nations except the United States, which backed out last year.

      Hungary’s right-wing government has since said it will not sign the final document at a ceremony in Morocco in December. Poland, which has also clashed with Brussels by resisting national quotas for asylum seekers, has said it is considering the same step.

      “Austria will not join the U.N. migration pact,” said Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, a conservative and immigration hard-liner who governs in coalition with the far-right Freedom Party.

      “We view some points of the migration pact very critically, such as the mixing up of seeking protection with labor migration,” said Kurz, who argues that migrants rescued in the Mediterranean should not be brought straight to Europe.

      U.N. Special Representative for International Migration Louise Arbour called the move regrettable and mistaken and said the compact simply aimed to improve the management of cross-border movements of people.

      “It is no possible sense of the word an infringement on state sovereignty - it is not legally binding, it’s a framework for cooperation,” she told Reuters.

      Vienna currently holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, a role that usually involves playing a mediating role to bridge divisions within the bloc. Instead its move highlighted the disagreements on migration that have blighted relations among the 28 member states for years.

      The Austrian government is concerned that signing up to the pact, even though it is not binding, could eventually help lead to the recognition of a “human right to migration”. The text of a cabinet decision formally approving its move on Wednesday said it would argue against such a right.

      “We reject any movement in that direction,” Freedom Party leader and Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache told a news conference after the weekly cabinet meeting.

      Arbour said such concerns were unfounded.

      “The question of whether this is an invidious way to start promoting a ‘human right to migrate’ is not correct. It’s not in the text, there’s no sinister project to advance that.”

      Austria took in roughly 1 percent of its population in asylum seekers in 2015 during a migration crisis in which more than a million people traveled to Europe, many of them fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere.

      That experience dominated last year’s parliamentary election and helped propel Kurz’s conservatives to power. He has said he will prevent any repeat of that influx and has implemented policies that include restricting benefits for new immigrants.

      The U.N. pact addresses issues such as how to protect people who migrate, how to integrate them into new countries and how to return them to their home countries.

      The United Nations has hailed it as a historic and comprehensive pact that could serve as a basis for future policies.

      Austria will not send an envoy to the signing ceremony in Morocco and will abstain at a U.N. General Assembly vote on the pact next year, Kurz’s office said.

      In a paper this month, the Brookings Institution, a U.S. think tank, said the pact “reflects widespread recognition, among even the most skeptical member states, that managing migration effectively is in the common interest”.

      Amnesty International criticized Vienna’s stance.

      “Instead of facing global challenges on an international level, the government is increasingly isolating Austria. That is irresponsible,” the rights group said in a statement.

      https://www.reuters.com/article/us-un-migrants-austria/austria-to-withdraw-from-u-n-migration-agreement-apa-idUSKCN1N50JZ

    • Communication Breakdown in Austria – How Far-Right Fringe Groups Hijacked the Narrative on the Global Compact for Migration

      Yesterday Austria announced its withdrawal from the UN Global Compact for Migration (GCM), thus joining the United States and Hungary. The decision was met with little surprise. It followed an announcement in early October that Austria would reconsider its continued participation in the GCM process. And it followed weeks of efforts by the right-wing Freedom Party (FPÖ) and other far-right actors to discredit the GCM.

      As the Austrian decision gained media attention, many outside the world of migration policy wondered what the Global Compact for Migration is. This post is both for newcomers and long-time observers. For the newcomers, I explain how the GCM came about and why it is significant. Long-time observers may want to skip to the section discussing the context and implications of the Austrian decision to withdraw.
      What is the UN Global Compact for Migration?

      The short answer is that it is a non-binding agreement on migration at the UN level. The lengthy intergovernmental negotiations concluded in July, which means that the text of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration is already available. The text lays out 23 objectives covering a wide array of policies, including objectives on addressing the drivers of migration, better data gathering, border management, enhanced regular pathways and more. In December, states will adopt the GCM in Marrakesh, right after the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD).

      The long answer is that the Global Compact for Migration encompasses more than the final text. The process leading up to the agreement is just as noteworthy. The negotiations between states and with close participation of civil society actors stretched over eighteen months. At several thematic sessions, states, non-governmental organisations, researchers, grassroots organisations, and think tanks came together in New York, Vienna, and Geneva. In the sessions, actors mostly read out their condensed two- or three-minute statements. But intense discussions happened during panels, outside, at side-events, and during breaks. And parallel to the global proceedings, there were regional and, in some cases, also national consultations. It was thus also a process of learning and coalition-forming.
      Why did Austria decide to leave the Global Compact for Migration?

      The official Austrian critique of the Global Compact for Migration rests on two points. First, it argues that the GCM would eventually be a legally binding document. Second, the GCM is portrayed to diminish states’ national sovereignty. Neither of these statements holds true. Already in the preamble, it clearly says that it is “a non-legally binding, cooperative framework” and that it “upholds the sovereignty of States.” And during the lengthy negotiations, states overwhelmingly emphasized their sovereignty. The decision to leave therefore appears to be much more about short-term domestic politics than about the above-stated concerns.

      Already during the parliamentary election in 2017, the conservative People’s Party (ÖVP) and the far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ) outdid each other with anti-immigration rhetoric. Now that they form the current governing coalition, they have passed increasingly restrictive migration and integration policies. Their recent measures stretch from budget cuts for language courses parallel to restricting welfare based on language skills. In light of this, the Austrian decision is not surprising.

      But until recently, the Global Compact for Migration had not been a point of contention for the Freedom Party. In fact, the Austrian foreign ministry – currently headed by a minister affiliated with the FPÖ – took part in the negotiations. The timing of this withdrawal therefore merits attention. Some weeks ago, fringe groups on the far-right started to mobilize against the GCM. With online petitions, posters, and a protest in front of the UN headquarters in Vienna. The websites contain close to no information on the GCM. Instead, they make the baseless assertion that it would lead to “limitless migration” and repeat the alarmist imagery that Nigel Farage used for his “Breaking Point” banner ahead of the Brexit referendum. At the helm of this disinformation campaign is Martin Sellner, leader of the far-right Identarian movement.

      Shortly after, the Austrian Freedom Party also started to publicly criticize the Global Compact for Migration in widely read Austrian tabloids. During the evening news on the day of the official withdrawal, Armin Wolf confronted FPÖ Vice-Chancellor Strache with the question why the FPÖ had only begun its criticism after far-right fringe group activism had started. Strache denied any connection in the timing. Meanwhile, Martin Sellner celebrated the success of the imitative. Instead, Strache argued that it took time to reach a judgment on the final product. However, the text had been in its final shape for months.
      What can be learned from this?

      To be clear, one should not be tempted to overstate the significance of fringe actors. But one also should not leave the debate in the wider public about the Global Compact for Migration in their hands. The GCM negotiation process has been inclusive to those actors wishing to participate and all previous drafts of the agreement had been available online. The efforts were thus comparatively transparent. But, nonetheless, the communication with the wider public was not proactive.

      In the months that I had been involved with the GCM process, I was repeatedly surprised how many people within the world of migration and integration were unaware of the negotiations, even less so the wider public. And while it is not necessary to indulge in the technicalities of such a lengthy process, it meant that many people in Austria heard about the GCM only when far-right groups brought it to the fore. In the absence of wider public engagement, there was no counter-movement to challenge the misinformation that was spreading.

      What are the implications of this decision? And what is next?

      There is already talk of other countries following the path of Austria, Hungary, and the US. But instead of getting stuck in speculations about who else may withdraw, efforts should concentrate on the majority that upholds the Global Compact for Migration. This incident provides an opportunity to start a conversation beyond those tightly involved in migration policy.

      And it is important to remember that December will just be the beginning, not the end. Ahead lies a long road of implementation. Then, inclusiveness – especially of those directly affected by the GCM – and proactive communication will remain crucial.


      https://www.compas.ox.ac.uk/2018/communication-breakdown-in-austria-how-far-right-fringe-groups-hijacked

      –-> et sur cette image, le fameux slogan australien #No_Way (you won’t make Australia home)
      #modèle_australien #Australie

    • Le Pacte de l’ONU pour les migrations divise le parlement

      Le gouvernement souhaite signer, avec une réserve, un projet de traité international sur les réfugiés. Des commissions parlementaires délivrent des messages contradictoires.

      Le Conseil fédéral doit-il approuver le Pacte mondial des Nations unies pour les migrations les 10 et 11 décembre à Marrakech ? C’est son intention. Il l’a annoncée le 10 octobre. Mais cette perspective fait des vagues, à tel point qu’une commission parlementaire émet de sérieuses réserves à ce sujet alors que d’autres sont divisées. Comme il l’avait promis, le gouvernement les a consultées avant de prendre une décision définitive.

      La Commission des institutions politiques du Conseil national (CIP-N) s’est manifestée la première. Le 19 octobre, elle a adopté une motion qui demande que la décision d’approbation soit soumise aux Chambres fédérales. Une semaine plus tard, la Commission de politique extérieure du Conseil des Etats (CPE-E) a adressé au Conseil fédéral une lettre annonçant son intention de déposer une requête similaire. Vendredi dernier, la CIP-N a franchi un pas de plus : par 15 voix contre 9, elle a formellement décidé de recommander au Conseil fédéral de ne pas approuver ce traité migratoire. Cette revendication sera discutée en séance plénière du Conseil national le 6 décembre.

      Ambassadeur actif et décrié

      Lundi, la CPE-N a émis un avis différent. Par 14 voix contre 10, elle recommande au Conseil fédéral d’apposer sa signature au bas du pacte de l’ONU. Dans des proportions similaires, elle a refusé de soumettre celui-ci au vote obligatoire ou de recueillir formellement l’avis des Chambres fédérales. La commission sœur du Conseil des Etats n’a pas encore rendu son verdict. Elle se réunit une nouvelle fois lundi prochain.

      C’est l’UDC qui a ouvert les feux. Mi-septembre, alors que personne à Berne ne se préoccupait de la prochaine signature de cette convention migratoire, elle a condamné ce texte, contraignant politiquement mais pas juridiquement, avec la plus grande virulence. Celui-ci prône une « migration sûre, ordonnée et régulière ». Selon le Conseil fédéral, ses objectifs recoupent les siens : réduire la migration irrégulière, renforcer l’aide sur place, lutter contre la traite des êtres humains et le trafic des migrants, sécuriser les frontières, respecter les droits humains, faciliter le rapatriement, la réintégration ou l’intégration durable dans le pays d’accueil. La Suisse a même joué un rôle moteur dans l’élaboration de ce texte, puisque l’ambassadeur auprès de l’ONU, Jürg Lauber, en a été l’une des chevilles ouvrières avec son homologue mexicain, Juan José Gomez Camacho, et la représentante spéciale de l’ONU pour les migrations internationales, Louise Arbour.
      Plusieurs pays ont renoncé

      L’UDC fait de ce document une lecture très différente. Elle y voit un moyen de permettre « aux migrants d’accéder plus facilement aux pays de leur choix, indépendamment de leurs qualifications ». Elle brandit la menace d’une immigration massive vers la Suisse. A quelques semaines du vote sur l’initiative contre les juges étrangers, et en vertu de l’article constitutionnel qui dit que la Suisse doit gérer son immigration de manière indépendante, l’UDC exige le rejet de ce pacte. Elle n’est pas seule. Le projet est aussi controversé au sein du PLR.

      Pour le Conseil fédéral, la situation n’est pas simple. Les Etats-Unis, la Hongrie et l’Autriche ont déjà fait savoir qu’ils ne participeraient pas à la signature. Comme l’ambassadeur Lauber, sur qui l’UDC tire à boulets rouges et qui est aussi la cible d’une campagne sauvage de la droite identitaire, a contribué activement aux négociations, un refus de la Suisse serait considéré comme un affront au sein de l’ONU.

      Par ailleurs, on rappelle volontiers que les fondements de ce texte, dont l’élaboration a débuté en 2016, recoupent la politique migratoire défendue par Didier Burkhalter et Simonetta Sommaruga. Or, le premier nommé a quitté le Conseil fédéral et c’est son successeur Ignazio Cassis, à qui l’on reproche de ne pas défendre suffisamment son émissaire auprès des Nations unies, qui a repris le flambeau. Début octobre, le gouvernement a proposé d’approuver le pacte assorti d’une réserve portant sur le traitement des mineurs âgés d’au moins 15 ans.

      https://www.letemps.ch/suisse/pacte-lonu-migrations-divise-parlement

    • Ne pas signer le Pacte de l’ONU sur les migrations est « une erreur politique »

      La #Suisse ne signera pas le Pacte de l’ONU sur les migrations, du moins pas pour l’instant, a décidé le Conseil fédéral. « Une erreur politique », selon le président du Parti socialiste Christian Levrat.

      Le Conseil fédéral a reconnu mercredi que ce Pacte est dans l’intérêt de la Suisse, mais estime qu’il est trop tôt pour le signer.

      https://www.rts.ch/info/suisse/10013083-ne-pas-signer-le-pacte-de-l-onu-sur-les-migrations-est-une-erreur-polit

    • Pour Louise Arbour, la volte-face de la Suisse porte atteinte à sa crédibilité multilatérale

      La représentante spéciale de l’ONU pour les migrations démonte le mythe de la perte de souveraineté des Etats qui adopteront le pacte à Marrakech en décembre. Elle ne comprend pas non plus la peur des « soft laws » qui saisit le parlement fédéral

      Alors que le Conseil des Etats débat ce jeudi d’une motion de l’UDC exhortant le Conseil fédéral à ne pas adopter le Pacte mondial de l’ONU pour les migrations ainsi que d’une proposition de la Commission des institutions politiques de soumettre son adoption à l’Assemblée fédérale, les Nations unies mettent les choses au point.

      Interrogée par Le Temps au Palais des Nations à Genève, Louise Arbour, représentante spéciale du secrétaire général de l’ONU pour les migrations, s’étonne des discussions au sujet du pacte qui serait, selon certains parlementaires fédéraux, « de la soft law [droit souple, ndlr] susceptible de se transformer en droit coutumier (obligatoire) ».

      « Je suis avocate moi-même. Je ne comprends pas cette notion selon laquelle ce pacte deviendrait subrepticement obligatoire contre la volonté de la Suisse. Je vous rassure. Ce n’est pas le cas. Aucune disposition du pacte n’empiète sur la souveraineté des Etats qui l’adoptent. »

      Un débat particulièrement agressif

      La responsable onusienne relève que le pacte, qui sera formellement adopté à Marrakech les 10 et 11 décembre prochain (sans la Suisse qui a, sur proposition du conseiller fédéral Ignazio Cassis, finalement renoncé à s’y rendre), offre un menu d’options et de bonnes pratiques que les Etats peuvent choisir d’adopter ou non. « Je suis étonnée que la Suisse s’inquiète de ce pacte. Elle applique elle-même déjà pleinement ce que prévoit le document », précise la Canadienne.

      A Berne, la tonalité du débat demeure très agressive. Certains parlementaires UDC vont jusqu’à demander que l’ambassadeur de Suisse auprès des Nations unies à New York, Jürg Lauber – par ailleurs diffamé dans une campagne menée par des mouvements identitaires et d’extrême droite autrichiens, allemands et suisses – soit traduit en justice pour « trahison ».

      Ignorance ou mauvaise foi ?

      Là encore, Louise Arbour n’en revient pas : « Ce genre de discours montre comment les processus internationaux sont mal compris. J’espère que c’est de l’ignorance et non de la mauvaise foi. Il faut savoir comment un tel processus fonctionne. Quand l’Assemblée générale de l’ONU décide de mettre en place un processus, le président de l’assemblée nomme des cofacilitateurs pour leurs qualités personnelles et non pour leur appartenance nationale.

      L’élaboration du pacte a été cofacilitée de façon neutre par l’ambassadeur Jürg Lauber et son homologue mexicain, Juan José Gomez Camacho. Tant la Suisse que le Mexique avaient des délégations complètement distinctes de leurs ambassadeurs. Il ne faut pas tout mélanger quant à la réelle implication de la Suisse. »
      Un pacte basé sur les faits

      Pour la responsable onusienne, le revirement de la Suisse par rapport à ses positions de négociation est problématique. « Que les Etats qui ont négocié dans leur capacité nationale et même obtenu des concessions d’autres Etats se dissocient aujourd’hui des positions qu’ils ont prises est très décevant. Une telle volte-face porte atteinte à leur crédibilité comme partenaires dans un environnement multilatéral. »

      Louise Arbour tente d’identifier la raison des résistances : « La migration peut être une question traitée de manière très fractionnée, parfois par plusieurs ministères. Sans grande cohésion. Cela peut avoir contribué à la difficulté de faire passer le message. »

      Pas le fruit de bureaucrates

      Quant à l’idée que le pacte migratoire serait le produit de l’imagination de bureaucrates de New York, elle s’en défend : « Le processus ayant mené au pacte a été très respectueux, et surtout basé sur la réalité et des faits. » Les crispations (sensibles en Hongrie, aux Etats-Unis, en Israël, en Suisse, etc.) autour du pacte ne sont pas justifiées, estime-t-elle.

      La meilleure manière de mener une politique migratoire nationale efficace est de coopérer avec ses voisins. La migration implique forcément une interdépendance. C’est ce cadre coopératif que propose le pacte, « négocié non pas en secret, mais avec la société civile, le secteur privé, les syndicats », ajoute Louise Arbour.

      Hors de l’ONU, la pression sur le Conseil fédéral est venue mercredi du CICR dont le président, Peter Maurer, appelle à adopter le pacte « négocié de façon totalement transparente pendant près de trois ans ». La Commission fédérale des migrations abonde dans le même sens, jugeant nécessaire de s’associer à cet effort mondial de réguler la migration.

      https://www.letemps.ch/monde/louise-arbour-volteface-suisse-porte-atteinte-credibilite-multilaterale

    • Global Compact, il governo sospende il patto Onu sull’immigrazione

      L’annuncio del premier Conte su input del ministro Salvini: l’Italia non parteciperà neanche al summit di Marrakech di dicembre.
      L’Italia sospende l’adesione al Global Compact sull’immigrazione, il patto firmato da oltre 190 Paesi il 19 settembre 2016 e ribattezzato “Dichiarazione di New York“. Inoltre l’Italia non parteciperà nemmeno al summit Onu di Marrakech, in Marocco, che tra il 10 e l’11 dicembre adotterà il documento.

      https://www.tpi.it/2018/11/29/global-compact-immigrazione-italia
      #Italie

    • What’s to Fear in the U.N. Global Compact for Migration?

      The forthcoming adoption of the United Nations’ global migration compact has sparked turmoil, particularly among members of the European Union. But the compact itself refutes much of the criticism, says Solon Ardittis, director of Eurasylum.

      After two years of intense intergovernmental negotiations, the United Nations Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration will be formally adopted on December 10-11 in Marrakech. Though the compact went largely unnoticed by most political parties and the public throughout the negotiation period, its forthcoming adoption is now sparking turmoil in Europe and around the world.

      To date, at least a dozen U.N. member states have declared they do not intend to sign it or are considering doing so. Last fall, the United States became the first to withdraw. Hungary followed earlier this year, which set off a domino effect of withdrawals in the European Union over the past few weeks. Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia have said they won’t sign, and Italy has signaled its disapproval, too. In Belgium, profound disagreement among coalition partners over the compact is threatening to bring down the government.

      So what exactly does the compact proffer to make it the source of such growing discontent? The 30-page document is an international, nonbinding agreement that aims “to make an important contribution to enhanced cooperation on international migration in all its dimensions.” Emerging in the wake of Europe’s 2015 refugee crisis, it draws on a range of existing international instruments, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which the vast majority of member states are signatories. And it aims to develop an international cooperative framework acknowledging that no nation can address the contemporary problems of migration alone. This is the first time in history that all U.N. member states have come together to negotiate an agreement on migration in such a comprehensive manner.

      The compact is comprised of 23 objectives. These include, inter alia: collecting adequate data; ensuring all migrants have legal proof of identity; saving lives and establishing coordinated international efforts on missing migrants; strengthening the transnational response to smuggling and trafficking; managing borders in an integrated manner; and giving migrants access to basic services. The compact also includes a follow-up and review mechanism.

      Crucially, while acknowledging states’ shared responsibilities, the compact reaffirms their sovereign right to determine their national migration policies and to govern migration within their jurisdictions. It also stresses that the compact’s implementation will account for different national realities, capacities and levels of development; and will respect national policies and priorities.

      Given such lenient and largely unthreatening policy objectives, what’s behind the growing resentment?

      First, after only recently appearing on the radar of political parties in Europe and internationally, the compact now seems to offer a golden opportunity for populist parties and opinion-makers to push their claims that nations are losing control over their sovereignty and borders. Ironically, the same parties that now criticize the compact have traditionally challenged national governments for not taking sufficiently coordinated action to manage irregular migration, migrant smuggling and human trafficking, or for addressing the growing number of migrant fatalities at sea. The compact represents a foundation for such coordinated action.

      Its most vocal opponents claim, among other things, that the compact does not sufficiently distinguish between legal and illegal migration, that it mixes up the rights of asylum seekers with those of economic migrants, or even stipulates the number of migrants that each member state will need to accept. All this is strictly contradicted in the compact itself.

      Nevertheless, such unfounded criticism has eventually led many governments to adopt a low profile, avoid media exposure and be represented at the Marrakech conference next week at a much less senior level than anticipated. One notable exception is German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has intensified efforts to reassure “concerned citizens” and to reaffirm that the compact aims to strengthen the protection of national borders rather than weaken them.

      Also worthy of mention is E.U. migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos’s Dec. 4 warning that withdrawal from the compact could hamper cooperation with third countries to control migration and send mixed messages about the E.U.’s resolve to cooperate on an equal basis with its African partners to address future migration challenges. While the E.U. of course has its own cooperation channels and modalities with key migration origin and transit countries, particularly on development and migration management policies, there is little doubt the Global Compact would open additional avenues for the E.U. (and indeed other U.N. member states) to engage in more informal, multistakeholder and non donor-dominated discussions on a range of migration-related policy initiatives.

      The second point that needs be stressed, particularly with respect to the E.U., is that the compact bears no comparison to some of the remarkably more constraining transnational legal and policy frameworks on migration adopted over the past decade. In particular, there have been a wide array of E.U. directives on immigration (legal and irregular), migrant integration policies, migrant smuggling, trafficking in human beings and a range of related policy areas that have been regulated at European Union, rather than member state, level after the E.U. executive gained increased competences to legislate in this field.

      Of course, the E.U. has a history of controversial policy interventions on migration. However, with the exception of the E.U. refugee relocation program, which has generated limited consensus among member states, and of the United Kingdom and Denmark’s decision to opt out of some of the E.U.’s most stringent migration policy instruments, to date none of the bloc’s migration-related policies, including those that were legally binding and requiring transposition into national law, has generated as much turmoil as the U.N. Global Compact for Migration.

      The compact may have some inherent weaknesses, such as not sufficiently demonstrating that it will be relevant and actionable in member states with such contrasting migration features and policy approaches. Doubts also persist on the levels of financial resources that will be allocated to implement such a nonbinding and largely aspirational policy framework.

      It remains that the agreement to be signed next week need not become a cause for concern for any member of society, and even less so be used as a scapegoat by potentially ill-intentioned or ill-informed commentators. Despite its nonbinding nature, the Global Compact looks set to establish some potentially innovative ways for all key stakeholders – in government, civil society and the private sector – to communicate and cooperate on a range of contemporary migration issues.

      At this stage, what should really matter is the degree of genuine commitment signatory parties will express in the next few years and the quality and political clout of the follow-up and review mechanisms to be established after the compact is adopted. All the rest is unnecessary and unhelpful noise.

      https://www.newsdeeply.com/refugees/community/2018/12/05/whats-to-fear-in-the-u-n-global-compact-for-migration

    • Dispute over UN migration pact fractures Belgian government

      Belgium’s center-right government is fighting for its survival this week after the largest coalition party broke away from its three partners and said it would not back a global U.N.-backed migration pact.

      The right-wing N-VA party started a social media campaign against the migration pact Tuesday, more than two months after Prime Minister Charles Michel pledged he would sign the pact for Belgium at a meeting next week in Marrakech, Morocco.

      Instead of a coalition breakup, Michel announced late Tuesday he would take the issue to parliament for vote in the days to come.

      “I want parliament to have its say,” Michel said, staving off an immediate collapse of the government that has been in power for three years. “I have the intention to go to Marrakech and let the position of the parliament be known.”

      Michel’s statement came at the end of a hectic day dominated by an anti-pact social media campaign by the N-VA, of the biggest coalition partner.

      The in-your-face campaign featured pictures of Muslim women with their faces covered and stated the U.N. pact focused on enabling migrants to retain the cultural practices of their homelands.

      The party quickly withdrew the materials after the campaign received widespread criticism.

      “We made an error,” N-VA leader Bart De Wever told VRT network.

      De Wever apologized for the pictures of women wearing face-covering niqab in western Europe, but immediately added “these pictures are not fake. You can take pictures like this every day in Brussels. It is the stark reality.”

      Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel pledged at United Nations headquarters in September that he would go to a meeting in Marrakech, Morocco where the U.N.’s Global Compact Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration is to be signed next week.

      Amid the N-VA upheaval, a Cabinet meeting was canceled Tuesday afternoon and Michel resumed consultations with vice-premiers looking for a way out of the crisis.

      Remarking on the party’s withdrawn campaign, Christian Democrat Vice Premier Kris Peeters said: “I only have one word for this — indecent.”

      Even with the parliamentary vote, the options for ensuring the government’s survival were slimming down.

      The United Nations says the compact will promote safe and orderly migration and reduce human smuggling and trafficking.

      The N-VA said it would force Belgium into making immigration concessions. “In our democracy, we decide. The sovereignty is with the people,” the party said in a statement.

      Many experts said the accord is non-binding, but the N-VA said it still went too far and would give even migrants who were in Belgium illegally many additional rights.

      The U.N. compact was finalized in July with only the U.S. staying out. Several European nations have since pulled out of signing the accord during the Dec. 10-11 conference in Morocco.

      https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/belgian-government-fights-for-survival-over-un-migrants-pact

      #Belgique

    • Le pacte migratoire de l’ONU sème la discorde

      191 pays ont approuvé un accord sur la migration échafaudé par l’ONU. Ce jeudi à Berne, les Chambres devraient empoigner le pacte qui en découle, sous tension, et les pays favorables l’adopteront bientôt au Maroc. Histoire d’un texte controversé

      L’Europe s’est-elle remise de la crise migratoire de 2015 ? A voir les résistances qui ont émergé ces dernières semaines contre l’adoption du Pacte mondial de l’ONU sur les migrations, qui doit être formellement adopté à Marrakech le 11 décembre, il est permis d’en douter. Le pacte suscite un déferlement de propos haineux, voire complotistes. A l’ONU, on enregistre avec incompréhension, voire avec une once de panique, les critiques virulentes qui font florès, surtout en Europe. Le pacte est-il devenu un monstre qu’on ne contrôlerait plus ? Sur les 191 pays qui avaient accepté l’accord sur un tel pacte à New York en juillet dernier, seuls deux tiers disent désormais vouloir se rendre au Maroc. Les volte-face se multiplient.

      #Libre_circulation_mondiale

      Mercredi, en Belgique, le premier ministre, Charles Michel, a évité de peu une possible chute de son gouvernement. Au sein de la coalition gouvernementale, le parti flamand N-VA s’oppose avec véhémence au pacte. Le parlement belge a finalement apporté son soutien au premier ministre. Le mouvement des « gilets jaunes » en France, qui est aussi divers que peu structuré, est également happé par la vague anti-pacte. Sur Facebook, des « gilets jaunes » disent vouloir empêcher le président Emmanuel Macron de se rendre à Marrakech. Selon eux, le pacte va créer « un #chaos total » et permettra à quelque 900 000 migrants (voire 4 millions d’entre eux selon certains) d’entrer en France.

      Ils réclament la destitution du chef de l’Elysée. A l’image de l’UDC en Suisse, qui estime à tort que l’adoption du pacte équivaudrait à instaurer une libre circulation mondiale des personnes, les républicains et le Rassemblement national de Marine Le Pen en France soufflent aussi sur les braises. Ce samedi, cette dernière participera à Bruxelles à un meeting du parti nationaliste flamand Vlaams Belang en compagnie de Steve Bannon, l’ex-chef stratège de Donald Trump et héraut du souverainisme.

      Un pacte épouvantail de la #globalisation

      Des « gilets jaunes » allemands réunis sous la bannière du mouvement #Pegida à Berlin ont véhiculé le même type de message, exigeant la démission de la chancelière Angela Merkel, laquelle s’était distinguée en autorisant l’arrivée sur sol allemand d’un million de migrants de Syrie en 2015. L’onde de choc ne s’arrête pas là. Si Budapest a tout de suite exprimé son opposition au pacte onusien, d’autres pays de l’Europe de l’Est et du centre ont suivi : la #Bulgarie, la #Pologne, la #République_tchèque et l’Autriche. En #Slovaquie, le ministre des Affaires étrangères, qui soutenait le pacte, a démissionné face au refus de son gouvernement.

      En Italie, le ministre de l’Intérieur et chef de file du parti d’extrême droite de la Lega, Matteo Salvini, a été catégorique : « Le gouvernement italien, comme les Suisses qui ont porté à bout de bras le pacte avant de faire marche arrière, ne signera rien et n’ira pas à Marrakech. C’est le parlement qui devra en débattre. » Le pacte est devenu une sorte d’épouvantail de la globalisation dont se sont saisis les mouvements populistes et extrémistes. La bataille symbolise celle qui oppose désormais violemment les élites globalisées et les populations qui estiment subir la #mondialisation.

      Aux Etats-Unis, l’opposition de l’administration de Donald Trump n’est pas surprenante tant sa politique migratoire ultra-restrictive est le moyen de cimenter une base électorale remontée contre ce que le président appelle le « #globalisme ». L’#Australie, #Israël mettent aussi les pieds au mur. Même la #République_dominicaine s’est ralliée au camp du refus, craignant que les centaines de Haïtiens tentant chaque jour de franchir la frontière puissent venir s’établir sans problème dans le pays.

      Souveraineté intacte

      Ce pacte, juridiquement non contraignant, ne touche pas à la #souveraineté des Etats. Il ne contraint aucun pays à modifier sa #politique_migratoire, aussi dure soit-elle. Sert-il dès lors à quelque chose ? Il remplit un vide. Aucun cadre n’existait pour améliorer la coordination internationale du phénomène global de la migration. Avec ses 23 objectifs, il vise à encourager les potentiels migrants à rester dans leur pays d’origine en traitant au mieux les problèmes structurels qui les poussent à partir. Il prévoit une feuille de route que les Etats peuvent utiliser ou non pour gérer les 260 millions de migrants qui se déplacent chaque année. Il veut améliorer les voies de migration régulières.

      Face à cette #rébellion inattendue, la haut-commissaire de l’ONU aux Droits de l’homme, Michelle Bachelet, a déclaré hier à Genève : « Certains responsables politiques n’agissent pas en leaders. Ils suivent les sondages. » Directeur de l’Organisation internationale pour les migrations, le Portugais Antonio Vitorino exprime lui aussi son courroux : « Nous assistons de la part de certains secteurs politiques à la #manipulation, à la distorsion des objectifs du pacte. On a la sensation que la migration est devenue le #bouc_émissaire des problèmes culturels et sociaux. »

      https://www.letemps.ch/monde/pacte-migratoire-lonu-seme-discorde
      #populisme

    • European governments in melt-down over an inoffensive migration compact

      IT WAS LIKE watching paint dry, or other people’s children play baseball. Last month Gert Raudsep, an Estonian actor, spent two hours on prime-time television reading out the text of a UN migration agreement. Estonia’s government was tottering over whether to pull out of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, to give it its full name. So Mr Raudsep was invited to present the source of the discord to worried viewers. Thoughts of weary migrants from Africa and Latin America kept him going, he said. “But my eyes got a bit tired.”

      Mr Raudsep’s recital made for dull viewing because the compact is a dull document. Its 23 “objectives” are peppered with vague declarations, platitudes and split differences. Partly in the spirit of other global agreements like the Paris climate deal, it encourages states to co-operate on tricky cross-border matters without forcing them to do anything. It urges governments to treat migrants properly, but also to work together on sending them home when necessary. At best it helps build the trust between “sending” and “receiving” countries that is the foundation of any meaningful international migration policy.

      None of this has prevented European governments from melting down over it. In the end Estonia resolved its row; it will join more than 180 other countries in Marrakesh on December 10th-11th to adopt the compact. But so far at least ten others, including seven from Europe, have followed the lead of Donald Trump and pulled out of a deal that they helped negotiate. The agreement is agitating parliaments, sparking protests and splintering coalitions; Belgium’s is on the verge of collapse. More withdrawals may follow.

      Why the fuss? The text explicitly states that governments retain the sovereign right to make immigration policy. But critics say that cannot be trusted. Although the compact is not legally binding, they argue it is “soft law” that might one day be used to press governments into hard commitments, such as acknowledging a “human right” to migration or expanding the grounds for asylum.

      This is, largely, codswallop. The compact is hardly perfect; the drafters should have refrained from urging governments to “educate” journalists on migration, for example, or to hold “culinary festivals” to celebrate multiculturalism. Yet until cynical politicians started paying attention, the main charge the compact faced was toothlessness. Most of the political arguments against it emerged after governments had already approved the draft in July.

      That suggests other forces are at work. In Slovakia, the compact stirred passions only after the speaker of parliament, embroiled in a plagiarism scandal, sought a way to change the subject. The government has since withdrawn from the compact, which led the foreign minister, a former president of the UN General Assembly, to offer his resignation. In Germany a row over the compact, triggered by the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD), has forced the candidates running to succeed Angela Merkel as leader of the Christian Democratic Union to declare themselves: for or against? (The party chooses her successor on December 7th.) Now the AfD boasts, correctly, that its ideas have infiltrated the mainstream.

      As has become depressingly routine in Europe, the row over the UNcompact has little to do with its ostensible target and everything to do with the smouldering embers of a culture war that the drastic reduction in illegal immigration since the surge of 2015 has failed to extinguish. (A pointless spat over border controls nearly destroyed Mrs Merkel’s coalition earlier this year.) Immigration remains a potent topic for the right; the trouble in Belgium started when the country’s largest party, the nationalist New Flemish Alliance, began a social-media campaign against the compact, replete with imagery of women in niqabs and the like (it later apologised). But in the absence of a genuine crisis to mobilise support, fake problems must be confected. The UN compact is a sitting duck. There is no downside to hammering a multilateral agreement on a controversial subject negotiated by obscure officials in air-conditioned rooms abroad. That it was agreed by governments in plain sight, with parliamentarians invited to participate, is by-the-by.
      Displacement activity

      In Berlin, where outrage over the compact took the establishment by surprise, some say the government should have forcefully made the case for it as soon as it was agreed. Instead, caught on the back foot, Mrs Merkel and other defenders of the deal are locked into an awkward argument: that fears about the compact are overblown because it is not legally binding, but that it is also an important tool for managing migration. Yet aside from Mrs Merkel’s perennial reluctance to lead rather than react to debates, arguing for the deal earlier would simply have given opponents a bigger target and more time to shoot at it. A more sobering conclusion is that, for now, it has become impossible to have a level-headed conversation about managing migration in Europe.

      UN insiders profess themselves frustrated but unbowed by the string of withdrawals. (Many blame Sebastian Kurz, the Austrian chancellor, whose decision in October to pull out inspired several others to follow.) Although the idea for the compact was drawn up just after Europe’s refugee crisis of 2015-16—indeed, partly at the request of panicked European leaders—its provisions are global. Europe’s navel-gazing arguments have little bearing on the lot of Bangladeshi workers in the Gulf or Zimbabweans in South Africa.

      True enough. But Europe’s rejectionist governments are shooting themselves in the foot nonetheless. Even a hard-headed policy of tough border controls, swift return of illegal immigrants and encouraging would-be migrants to stay home obliges governments to work with others, if only to strike grubby repatriation deals. Building trust by sticking to international commitments lays the foundations for that. That so many governments are choosing to do precisely the opposite does not inspire hope that Europe is groping towards a more sensible migration policy.


      https://www.economist.com/europe/2018/12/08/european-governments-in-melt-down-over-an-inoffensive-migration-compact

      #dessin_de_presse #caricature

    • Under far-right pressure, Europe retreats from UN migration pact

      A previously obscure 34-page, jargon-filled document is causing political convulsions across Europe — even though it’s not even legally binding.

      Italy this week became the latest in a string of European countries to say it would not sign the U.N.’s Global Compact on Migration at a ceremony in Marrakech in just under two weeks. From the Netherlands through Belgium and Germany to Slovakia, the pact has triggered infighting in ruling parties and governments, with at least one administration close to breaking point.

      The fight over the pact illuminates how migration remains a combustible issue across the Continent, three years after the 2015 refugee crisis and with next May’s European Parliament election on the horizon. Far-right parties keen to make migration the key campaign issue have seized on the pact while some mainstream parties have sought to steal their thunder by turning against the agreement. Liberals and centrists, meanwhile, have found themselves on the defensive — arguing that the agreement poses no harm and migration is best handled through international cooperation.

      Louise Arbour, the senior U.N. official overseeing the pact, said she is surprised by the controversy, as diplomats from 180 countries — including many that have now pulled out — signed off on the text last summer after two years of negotiations.

      The initiative was launched at the request of Europe after the migration surge of 2015, Arbour said. The countries now having “second thoughts or misgivings” were very active during the negotiations and “extracted compromises from the others,” she told POLITICO in an interview.

      Arbour, a former Canadian judge and U.N. human rights commissioner, said the recent backtracking illustrates a clear “disconnect” between some countries’ foreign policies “and domestic pressures or national concerns that were not included into the process.”

      She stressed the compact is not binding and, after its formal adoption next month, “there is not a single member state that is obligated to do anything that it doesn’t want to.”

      The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, to give it its full name, sets out a “cooperative framework” for dealing with international migration. Signatories agree, for example, to limit the pressure on countries with many migrants and to promote the self-reliance of newcomers. The document states that no country can address migration alone, while also upholding “the sovereignty of States and their obligations under international law.”

      That assurance has not been enough to placate many in Europe. Hungary, whose Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has made anti-migrant policies his signature issue, pulled out while the pact was being negotiated. But the recent wave of European withdrawals was triggered by conservative Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who renounced the pact at the end of October.

      Heinz-Christian Strache, the leader of the far-right Freedom Party, Kurz’s coalition partner, declared that “Austria must remain sovereign on migration” and said the country is “playing a leading role in Europe.” At least in terms of the pact, that turned out to be true with Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Poland, Estonia and Switzerland all following Vienna’s lead. (Croatia caused confusion after its president declared she would not sign the document but the government later said a minister would go to Marrakech and support the adoption of the pact.)
      Bratislava, Berlin and beyond

      Slovakia is among the most recent countries to withdraw its support for the pact. After an EU summit on Sunday, Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini said Bratislava would not support the pact “under any circumstances and will not agree with it.”

      Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajčák on Thursday said he would resign after parliament decided to reject the pact. Lajčák was president of the U.N. General Assembly when the migration pact was adopted.

      Populist parties in other countries have forced the pact to the top of the political agenda. The Dutch government under Prime Minister Mark Rutte has come under pressure from far-right leaders, including Geert Wilders and Thierry Baudet, who refers to the agreement as the “U.N. Immigration Pact.” The government ordered a legal analysis of the text last week to ensure that signing it will not entail any legal consequences. The Cabinet finally decided on Thursday that it would support the pact, but would add an extra declaration, a so-called explanation of position, to prevent unintended legal consequences.

      In Germany, the pact has become an issue in the battle to succeed Angela Merkel — the EU politician most associated with a more liberal approach to migration — as leader of the ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU). Two of the leading contenders for the post, Jens Spahn and Friedrich Merz, have both criticized the agreement and called for it to be amended.

      The German chancellor mounted a spirited defense of the pact, telling the Bundestag last week that the agreement is in Germany’s national interest as it will encourage better conditions for refugees and migrants elsewhere in the world.

      Arbour argued that although the pact is not legally binding, it is still worthwhile. “The pact is a major cooperation project ... a political initiative to align initiatives for the common benefit,” she said.

      But such arguments cut little ice with the WerteUnion (“Union of Values”), a group of thousands of conservative members of the CDU and its Bavarian sister party. It takes issue with multiple sections of the pact, such as a declaration that migrants “regardless of their status, can exercise their human rights through safe access to basic services.” The group argues that as German social benefits are high, such a commitment would encourage migrants to come to Germany.

      In Belgium, the pact has put liberal Prime Minister Charles Michel’s coalition government at risk. The Flemish nationalist N-VA, the biggest party in government, has demanded Belgium withdraw from the agreement. Michel is caught between his commitment to the pact and his coalition partner’s rejection of it — while seeking to fend off a Francophone opposition that will take any opportunity to portray him as a puppet of the Flemish nationalists ahead of federal, regional and European elections next May.

      Searching for a way to keep his government afloat, Michel has been consulting with a handful of European countries including Denmark, Estonia, the U.K. and Norway, to produce a joint statement to be attached to the pact, according to Belgian media. Another idea is for several of those countries to join the Netherlands in signing a common “explanation of position,” Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant reported.

      Arbour said it’s too late to start making changes to the pact itself. Renegotiating the text or attaching an extra statement is “not what other [countries] have signed up to,” she said.

      https://www.politico.eu/article/migration-un-viktor-orban-sebastian-kurz-far-right-pressure-europe-retreats



  • Can Islamist moderates remake the politics of the Muslim world? - CSMonitor.com

    https://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2018/0919/Can-Islamist-moderates-remake-the-politics-of-the-Muslim-world

    By Taylor Luck Correspondent

    AMMAN, JORDAN; TUNIS, TUNISIA; KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA
    Alaa Faroukh insists he is the future. After nearly a decade in the Muslim Brotherhood, he says that he has finally found harmony between his faith and politics, not as a hardcore Islamist, but as a “Muslim democrat.”

    “We respect and include minorities, we fight for women’s rights, we respect different points of view, we are democratic both in our homes and in our politics – that is how we honor our faith,” Mr. Faroukh says.

    The jovial psychologist with a toothy smile, who can quote Freud as easily as he can recite the Quran, is speaking from his airy Amman clinic, located one floor below the headquarters of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood, the very movement he left.

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    “The time of divisive politics of older Islamists is over, and everyone in my generation agrees,” says the 30-something Faroukh. “The era of political Islam is dead.”

    Faroukh is symbolic of a shift sweeping through parts of the Arab world. From Tunisia to Egypt to Jordan, many Islamist activists and some established Islamic organizations are adopting a more progressive and moderate tone in their approach to politics and governing. They are reaching out to minorities and secular Muslims while doing away with decades-old political goals to impose their interpretation of Islam on society.

    Taylor Luck
    “The time of divisive politics of older Islamists is over, and everyone in my generation agrees. The era of political Islam is dead,” says Alaa Faroukh, a young Jordanian who left the Muslim Brotherhood for a moderate political party.
    Part of the move is simple pragmatism. After watching the Muslim Brotherhood – with its call for sharia (Islamic law) and failure to reach out to minorities and secular Muslims – get routed in Egypt, and the defeat of other political Islamic groups across the Arab world, many Islamic activists believe taking a more moderate stance is the only way to gain and hold power. Yet others, including many young Muslims, believe a deeper ideological shift is under way in which Islamist organizations are increasingly recognizing the importance of religious tolerance and political pluralism in modern societies. 

    Think you know the Greater Middle East? Take our geography quiz.
    While Islamist movements remain the largest and most potent political movement in the region, a widespread adoption of democratic principles by their followers could transform the discourse in a region where politics are often bound to identity and are bitterly polarized.

    “We believe that young Jordanians and young Arabs in general see that the future is not in partisan politics, but in cooperation, understanding, and putting the country above petty party politics,” says Rheil Gharaibeh, the moderate former head of the Jordanian Brotherhood’s politburo who has formed his own political party.

    Is this the beginning of a fundamental shift in the politics of the Middle East or just an expedient move by a few activists?

    *

    Many Islamist groups say their move to the center is a natural step in multiparty politics, but this obscures how far their positions have truly shifted in a short time.

    Some 20 years ago, the manifesto of the Muslim Brotherhood – the Sunni Islamic political group with affiliates across the Arab world – called for the implementation of sharia and gender segregation at universities, and commonly employed slogans such as “Islam is the solution.”

    In 2011, the Arab Spring uprisings swept these Islamist movements into power or installed them as the leading political force from the Arab Gulf to Morocco, sparking fears of an Islamization of Arab societies.

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    But instead of rolling back women’s rights, the Tunisian Islamist party Ennahda pushed through gender equality laws and helped write the most progressive, gender-equal constitution in the Arab world. The Moroccan Justice and Development Party (PJD) has played down its Islamic rhetoric, abandoning talk of Islamic identity and sharia and instead speaking about democratic reform and human rights. And the Brotherhood in Jordan traded in its slogan “Islam is the solution” for “the people demand reform” and “popular sovereignty for all.”

    The past few years have seen an even more dramatic shift to the center. Not only have Islamist movements dropped calls for using sharia as a main source of law, but they nearly all now advocate for a “civil state”­ – a secular nation where the law, rather than holy scriptures or the word of God, is sovereign.

    Muhammad Hamed/Reuters
    Supporters of the National Alliance for Reform rally in Amman, Jordan, in 2016. They have rebranded themselves as a national rather than an Islamic movement.
    In Morocco and Jordan, Islamist groups separated their religious activities – preaching, charitable activities, and dawa (spreading the good word of God) – from their political branches. In 2016, Ennahda members in Tunisia went one step further and essentially eliminated their religious activities altogether, rebranding themselves as “Muslim democrats.”

    Islamist moderates say this shift away from religious activities to a greater focus on party politics is a natural step in line with what President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has done with his Justice and Development Party in Turkey, or even, they hope, with the Christian democrats in Europe: to become movements inspired by faith, not governing through faith.

    “While we are a Muslim country, we are aware that we do not have one interpretation of religion and we will not impose one interpretation of faith over others,” says Mehrezia Labidi, a member of the Tunisian Parliament and Ennahda party leader. “As Muslim democrats we are guided by Islamic values, but we are bound by the Constitution, the will of the people, and the rule of law for all.”

    Experts say this shift is a natural evolution for movements that are taking part in the decisionmaking process for the first time after decades in the opposition.

    “As the opposition, you can refuse, you can criticize, you can obstruct,” says Rachid Mouqtadir, professor of political science at Hassan II University in Casablanca, Morocco, and an expert in Islamist movements. “But when you are in a coalition with other parties and trying to govern, the parameters change, your approach changes, and as a result your ideology changes.”

    The trend has even gone beyond the borders of the Arab world. The Malaysian Islamic Youth Movement (ABIM), founded in 1971 by Malaysian university students inspired by the Brotherhood and now one of the strongest civil society groups in the country, is also shedding the “Islamist” label.

    In addition to running schools and hospitals, ABIM now hosts interfaith concerts, partners on projects with Christians and Buddhists, and even reaches out to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender activists in its campaign for social justice.

    “We are in the age of post-political Islam,” says Ahmad Fahmi Mohd Samsudin, ABIM vice president, from the movement’s headquarters in a leafy Kuala Lumpur suburb. “That means when we say we stand for Islam, we stand for social justice and equality for all – no matter their faith or background.”

    *


  • Egypt Sends Actress to Jail for Spreading ‘Fake News’ Over Sexual Harassment - WSJ

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/egypt-sends-actress-to-jail-for-spreading-fake-news-over-sexual-harassment-1538

    CAIRO—A woman has been sentenced in Egypt to two years in prison for allegedly spreading fake news after she posted a video on Facebook decrying her experience of sexual harassment in the country.

    The sentencing of actress Amal Fathy comes as Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi has given free rein to the country’s police and judiciary to clamp down on women who complain of sexual assault and harassment and women’s activist groups. The crackdown on women and feminist organizations is part of a broader government assault on civil society, dissidents, and anyone perceived as tarnishing the country’s image.

    Ms. Fathy was arrested in a raid on her home in May after she published a video on her personal Facebook page where she talked about her experience of sexual harassment in a Cairo bank.


  • Bots at the Gate A Human Rights Analysis of Automated Decision. Making in Canada’s Immigration and Refugee System

    A new report from the Citizen Lab and the International Human Rights Program at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law investigates the use of artificial intelligence and automated decision-making in Canada’s immigration and refugee systems. The report finds that use of automated decision-making technologies to augment or replace human judgment threatens to violate domestic and international human rights law, with alarming implications for the fundamental human rights of those subjected to these technologies.

    The ramifications of using automated decision-making in the sphere of immigration and refugee law and policy are far-reaching. Marginalized and under-resourced communities such as residents without citizenship status often have access to less robust human rights protections and less legal expertise with which to defend those rights. The report notes that adopting these autonomous decision-making systems without first ensuring responsible best practices and building in human rights principles at the outset may only exacerbate pre-existing disparities and can lead to rights violations including unjust deportation.

    Since at least 2014, Canada has been introducing automated decision-making experiments in its immigration mechanisms, most notably to automate certain activities currently conducted by immigration officials and to support the evaluation of some immigrant and visitor applications. Recent announcements signal an expansion of the uses of these technologies in a variety of immigration decisions that are normally made by a human immigration official. These can include decisions on a spectrum of complexity, including whether an application is complete, whether a marriage is “genuine”, or whether someone should be designated as a “risk.”

    The report provides a critical interdisciplinary analysis of public statements, records, policies, and drafts by relevant departments within the Government of Canada, including Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, and the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat. The report additionally provides a comparative analysis to similar initiatives occurring in similar jurisdictions such as Australia and the United Kingdom. In February, the IHRP and the Citizen Lab submitted 27 separate Access to Information Requests and continue to await responses from Canada’s government.

    The report concludes with a series of specific recommendations for the federal government, the complete and detailed list of which are available at the end of this publication. In summary, they include recommendations that the federal government:

    1. Publish a complete and detailed report, to be maintained on an ongoing basis, of all automated decision systems currently in use within Canada’s immigration and refugee system, including detailed and specific information about each system.

    2. Freeze all efforts to procure, develop, or adopt any new automated decision system technology until existing systems fully comply with a government-wide Standard or Directive governing the responsible use of these technologies.

    3. Adopt a binding, government-wide Standard or Directive for the use of automated decision systems, which should apply to all new automated decision systems as well as those currently in use by the federal government.

    4. Establish an independent, arms-length body with the power to engage in all aspects of oversight and review of all use of automated decision systems by the federal government.

    5. Create a rational, transparent, and public methodology for determining the types of administrative processes and systems which are appropriate for the experimental use of automated decision system technologies, and which are not.

    6. Commit to making complete source code for all federal government automated decision systems—regardless of whether they are developed internally or by the private sector—public and open source by default, subject only to limited exceptions for reasons of privacy and national security.

    7. Launch a federal Task Force that brings key government stakeholders alongside academia and civil society to better understand the current and prospective impacts of automated decision system technologies on human rights and the public interest more broadly.


    https://citizenlab.ca/2018/09/bots-at-the-gate-human-rights-analysis-automated-decision-making-in-canad
    #frontières #surveillance #migrations #catégorisation #tri #Droits_Humains #rapport #Canada #réfugiés #protection_des_données #smart_borders #frontières_intelligentes #algorithme #automatisme
    signalé par @etraces sur seenthis


  • Sustainability Transitions Research Network

    #STRN is an international network of more than 1’500 scholars interested in #sustainability_transitions. Sustainability transitions are long-term transformation processes of established industries, socio-technical systems and societies to more sustainable modes of production and consumption.

    STRN is an entirely independent, research-driven network. Membership is open to anyone who is interested and involved in research on sustainability transitions.

    Our mission is to deepen the scientific understanding of sustainability transitions through a program of networking, research coordination, education and synthesis activities. Towards this end we want to provide a meeting place and a platform, where researchers can engage in a vibrant intellectual exchange on the challenges of sustainability transitions.

    We also want to be a hub for practitioners in policy making, civil society, and business who are working to advance societies into more sustainable directions.


    https://transitionsnetwork.org
    #réseau #transition


  • City Forgotten: The Fate of India’s Small Cities - a film by @AyonaDatta from the research platform Learning from Small Cities in India
    https://www.smartsmallcity.com

    City Forgotten: The Fate of India’s Small Cities
    Malegaon, a small town near Nashik, Maharashtra, is driven solely by the power loom industry and is forgotten by the state and private sector since the Malegaon, a small town near Nashik, Maharashtra, is driven solely by the power loom industry and is forgotten by the state and private sector since the bomb blasts of 2006. Through the eyes of its residents, local activists and civil society members, City Forgotten tells the story of Malegaon’s fall from the Manchester of India to a town in decline, where its women and minorities continue to aspire for and claim their constitutional rights to education despite the lack of any real prospects for its future generations.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=915&v=vJRLRdcujBc


    #Inde #communautarisme #hindouisme #islam #industrie #émeutes


  • Time for EU to stop being bystander in Western Sahara

    The Western Sahara conflict is at a turning point.

    UN peace talks towards a negotiated settlement are expected as early as November.

    With the recent appointment of a new UN secretary general’s special envoy, former German president Horst Koehler, and the upcoming renewal of the UN peacekeeping operation (MINURSO) in a conflict that has been frozen for nearly 40 years, there is a rare window of opportunity to change the status quo.

    It is in the interest of the EU, and the future of the Maghreb region as a whole, for decision makers in Brussels to stop being a bystander in the political process and use their effective policy options to create the conditions for meaningful negotiations.

    This is not about the EU doing the UN’s job. But instead about the EU being an active player in the security and stability of its Southern neighbourhood.

    Unfortunately, the EU’s current approach is defined by a narrow and misguided focus on trade with Morocco at the expense of the Saharawi people. This has clear negative implications for the UN political process.

    In successive judgements, the European Court of Justice ruled that EU-Morocco trade agreements could not be applied to Western Sahara – which in line with international law is deemed “separate and distinct” from Morocco.

    But the EU has continued on a course of undermining its own legal rulings and somehow finding a process that would support the illegal trading of Western Saharan resources through Morocco.

    As the prospects of renewed UN peace talks approach, the EU cannot continue to ignore the grave consequences of its actions. As the recognised representative of the Saharawi people, the Polisario is duty bound to protect the interests of our people and of our natural resources.

    We are left with no choice but to go back to the courts, which will only tie up our and the EU’s bandwidth, all at the same time when the UN and UN Security Council members are asking us to focus all our resources on the political process.

    The negative impact of the EU’s actions goes further.

    While the Polisario has stated clearly and publicly our position to negotiate with no pre-conditions, when the talks likely resume in November we will be sat opposite an empty chair.
    Happy with status quo

    Put simply, Morocco will not come to the negotiating table to agree to peacefully give up its illegal occupation of Western Sahara while the EU continues to sign trade deals which implicitly help to strengthen the status quo.

    The uncomfortable reality for the EU is that Morocco neither wants negotiations nor a genuine political process; yet it is being rewarded for the illegal occupation and exploitation of our natural resources.
    What about Saharawi?

    A key missing element in the EU’s approach has been the will of the Saharawi people.

    The EU has sadly afforded preferential treatment to Morocco’s illegal occupation of Western Sahara including by knowingly excluding from the trade talks the thousands of Saharawis forced to live in exile in refugee camps as a result of the occupation.

    To highlight this, 89 Saharawi civil society organisations wrote to EU leaders earlier this year to highlight their deep concerns over EU’s trade negotiations, the absence of consent, and to remind EU leaders of the dire human rights situation under Morocco’s brutal and illegal occupation.

    This leaves the Polisario with no other choice but to pursue all available legal avenues to ensure such agreements do not continue to violate our rights under international and European law.

    Against this backdrop, an urgent change of approach is needed, which would see the EU finally play a genuine, impartial, and constructive role in supporting peace – including by suspending all ongoing trade negotiations and agreements which concern the territory or territorial waters of Western Sahara, appointing an EU envoy to support the UN political process on Western Sahara, and using preferential trade agreements as a peace dividend to incentivise the successful conclusion of a peace agreement.

    During his recent visit to the region Koehler was clear: the ultimate goal of the political process is the self-determination of the Saharawi people.

    International law is unequivocal on this.

    It is high time for the EU to get behind this international objective for the sake of a sustainable future for the Maghreb built on democratic stability, prosperity, and the rule of law.

    https://euobserver.com/opinion/142566
    #Sahara_occidental #conflit #Sahraoui
    cc @reka


  • Envisaging #L’Aquila. Strategies, spatialities and sociabilities of a recovering city

    L’Aquila, a city of about 70,000 inhabitants located in central Italy, was hit by a devastating earthquake on April 6th, 2009. The disaster killed 309 people, left 50,000 homeless and shut down entire areas of its sprawling urban system.

    The public debate and policy interventions that followed the disaster raised the question of what kind of city should be rebuilt. Which new visions for the city could be put forward?

    Envisaging L’Aquila brings together the results of a large and articulated research project carried out at the Gran Sasso Science Institute to document the reconstruction process.

    The book provides a broad overview of the emerging visions and spatial strategies unfolding at the local level, documenting the everyday life public spaces, civil society movements, and the relaunch of the knowledge economy in the local territorial system.


    http://www.professionaldreamers.net/?p=3821
    #tremblement_de_terre #reconstruction #post-disaster #urban_matter #villes #désastre #catastrophe

    cc @albertocampiphoto


  • Avec ce commentaire de Tihomir Sabchev sur twitter :

    Graph of all actors involved in the refugee reception in Lesvos. Apparently, a civil society led approach. What about local authorities? Only role I see is “Sex management of Kara Tepe”..To fulfill #humanrights we need stronger engagement of local gvmts

    source : https://twitter.com/TihomirSabchev/status/1039761860504023040
    et ici : https://www.opoiesis.com/ressources/3w-map-of-ngos-and-services-in-lesvos

    #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Lesbos #Grèce #solidarité #société_civile #ONG #associations #visualisation #acteurs
    Et je ressors ici un concept, utilisé par @louca dans sa thèse de doctorat : #projectorat


  • Before the Trump Era, the “Wall” Made In Arizona as Political Performance

    “Trump’s Wall” illustrates the US obsession with ever-greater militarization of the Mexican border, independently of the actual numbers of unauthorized crossings. Yet these debates began revolving around the slogan “Build The Wall” long before the rise of Trump. Between 2010 and 2013, the activities of a coalition of activists, politicians and Arizona security experts had already legitimized recourse to a “wall”. Border-security debates thus concern more than mere control of border crossings. More crucially, they structure local and national political life in accordance with the interests and agendas of the political players whom they bring together.

    The Governors of California and Arizona reacted unevenly to President Trump’s announcement on April 4th, 2018, that National Guard soldiers were to be sent to the Mexican border1 to reinforce the Border Patrol and local police. Doug Ducey, Republican Governor of Arizona, displayed his enthusiasm: “I’m grateful today to have a federal administration that is finally taking action to secure the border for the safety of all Americans” 2. Jerry Brown, Democrat Governor of California, was more circumspect. He insisted upon the limits of such a measure: “”This will not be a mission to build a new wall […] It will not be a mission to round up women and children or detain people escaping violence and seeking a better life. […] Here are the facts: There is no massive wave of migrants pouring into California3”. These contrasting reactions illustrate the US rift over migration and border-security issues. To the anti-migrant camp, the border is insufficiently secured, and is subject to an “invasion4”. For opponents of the border’s militarization, this deployment is futile.

    On the anti-migrant side, between 2010 and 2013, Republican state congressmen in Arizona set up a unified Committee to gather all the political players who demanded of President Obama that he increases militarization of the border5. This included Sheriffs and Arizona State ministers—but also a breeders’ organization, the border Chambers of Commerce, militiamen who patrol the desert, and Tea Party groups. In May 2011, this Committee launched a fundraising drive dubbed “Build the Border Fence”. They portrayed cross-border migration as a threat to the public, consecrated the “Fence” as a legitimate security tool, and, seeking to force the hand of the Federal Government, accused it of failing in its duty to protect. Examining this mobilization prior to Trump’s election enables illustrating how militarization and the debates around it came to acquire legitimacy—and therefore to shed light on its current crystallization around the rhetoric of the “Wall”. This article will, first, briefly describe stages in the performative militarization of the border within which this political mobilization is embedded. It then presents three stages in the legitimization of the “Wall”, drawing on pro-“Border Wall” activism in Arizona.

    #Militarization by One-Upmanship

    Parsing differences over migration debates in the United States requires situating them within the framework of the long-term political performance of militarization of the border. The process whereby the border with Mexico has become militarized has gone hand in hand with the criminalization of unauthorized immigration since the 1980s-6. In the border area, militarization is displayed through the deployment of technology and surveillance routines of transborder mobility, both by security professionals and by citizen vigilantes7. The construction of “fences”8 made the borderline visible and contributed to this policy of militarization. The Trump administration is banking on these high-profile moments of wall-construction. In doing so, it follows in the footsteps of the G.W.Bush administration through the 2006 Secure Fence Act, and California Republicans in the 1990s. This is even while the numbers of unauthorized crossings are at historically low levels9, and federal agencies’ efforts are more directed towards chasing down migrants within the US. At various stages in the development of this policy, different players, ranging from federal elected officials through members of civil society to the security sector, local elected officials and residents, have staged themselves against the backdrop of the territory that had been fenced against the “invaders”. They thereby invest the political space concerned with closing this territory,against political opponents who are considered to be in favor of its remaining open, and of welcoming migrants. The latter range from players in transborder trade to religious humanitarian and migrant rights NGOs. Border security is therefore at the core of the political and media project of portraying immigration in problematic and warlike terms. Beyond controlling migrants, the issue above all orbits around reassuring the citizenry and various political players positioning themselves within society-structuring debates.
    Why Demand “Fences”?

    First and foremost, Arizona’s pro-fence players package transborder mobility as a variety of forms of violence, deriving from interpretation, speculation and—to reprise their terms—fantasies of “invasion”. In their rhetoric, the violence in Mexico has crossed the border. This spillover thesis is based on the experience of ranchers of the Cochise County on the border, who have faced property degradations since the end of the 1990s as a result of migrants and smugglers crossing their lands. In January 2013, the representative of the Arizona Cattlemen Association struck an alarmist tone: “Our people are on the frontline and the rural areas of our border are unsecured10”. The murder of an Association member in March 2010 was cited as evidence, swiftly attributed to what was dubbed an “illegal alien11”.

    “Border security also reflects domestic political stakes.”

    Based on their personal experiences of border migration, the pro-fence camp has taken up a common discursive register concerning the national stakes tied to such mobility. As Republican State Senator Gail Griffin explains, they express a desire to restore public order over the national territory, against the “chaos” provoked by these violent intrusions:

    “People in larger communities away from the border don’t see it as we do on the border but the drugs that are coming in though my backyard are ending up in everybody’s community in the State of Arizona and in this country. So it’s just not a local issue, or a county issue or a state issue, it’s a national issue 12.”

    In their view, the threat is as much to public order as it is to national identity. These fears denote a preoccupation with the Hispanization of society and cultural shifts affecting a nation that they define as being “Anglo-Saxon”. When the Build the Border Fence fundraising drive was launched on July 27, 2011, for example, Representative Steve Smith pronounced himself “horrified” by a development that he called “Press 2 for Spanish” in telephone calls. He also condemned the lack of integration on the part of Mexican migrants:

    “If you don’t like this country with you, you wanna bring your language with you, your gangfare with you, stay where you were! Or face the consequences. But don’t make me change because you don’t want to13.”

    Finally, border security also reflects domestic political stakes. It is a variable in the political balance of power with the federal government to influence decisions on immigration policy. Arizona elected representatives condemn the federal government’s inefficiency and lay claim to migration decision-making powers at the state-level. The “fence” is also portrayed a being a common sense “popular” project against reticent decision-making elites.
    “Fences”—or Virtual Surveillance?

    Control of the border is already disconnected from the border territory itself, and virtual and tactical technologies are prioritized in order to manage entry to the US. “Fences” appear archaic compared to new surveillance technologies that enable remote control. In the 2000s, the “virtualization” of border control was favored by the Bush and Obama administrations. Since 2001-2002, it has been embedded in the strategic concept of “Smart Borders” within the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). This aims to filter authorized migration through programs that grant expedited- and preregistered-entry to US ports of entry, and through the generalization of biometric technologies. This strategy also rests upon integrating leading-edge technologies, such as the Secure Border Initiative (SBI) program that was in place from 2006 to 2011. At the time, the border area (including South-West Arizona) acquired watchtowers equipped with cameras and radar. Fences are, moreover, costly—and the financial and human costs of the construction, guarding and upkeep of these fences raise doubts over the benefits of such infrastructure. These doubts are expressed at security-technology fairs, where security professionals and industrialists gather14. There, the “fence” is ultimately understood as being a marginal control technology.

    Regardless, pro-fence activism in Arizona grants a key role to those military and police who help legitimate the recourse to “fences”. In particular, they draw on such models of securitization as the California border, that has been gradually been sealed since 1991, as well as, since 2006-07, the triple-barrier of Yuma, in South-West Arizona. Sheriff Paul Babeu, an ex-military National Guardsman who erected the “fences” in Yuma, assesses that they provide a tactical bonus for Border Patrol agents in smuggling centers, urban areas and flatlands15. Mainly, Arizona security professionals articulate their defense of the “fence” within the pursuit of personal political agendas, such as Republican sheriffs who are both security and political professionals.

    Attacking the Federal Government for Failure to Protect

    The spread of the pro-fence narrative largely rests upon widely-covered events designed to symbolize the process of militarization and to call for federal intervention. The materiality of “fences” elicits easy media coverage. The pro-fence camp are well aware of this, and regularly stage this materiality. During such public events as the 4thof July national holiday, they erect fake wooden fences on which they encourage participants to write “Secure the Border”. These pro-fence political players also seek out media coverage for their public statements.

    “Republicans consecrate Arizona as their laboratory for immigration and border security policy.”

    Such media as Fox News follow their activities to the extent of turning pro-fence events into a regular series. On August 25, 2011, on the Fox News program On The Record, presenter Greta Van Susteren invited Republican Representative Steve Smith and publicized the fundraising drive using visuals drawn from the initiative’s website 16. The presenter framed the interview by gauging that Arizona parliamentarians had “got a grip on things to get the White House’s attention”. At no point was Steve Smith really challenged on the true cost of the fence, nor on opposition to the project. This co-production between the channel’s conservative editorial line and the pro-fence narrative enables the border area to be presented as a warzone, and amplifies the critique of the federal government.

    This staging of the debate complements lobbying to set up direct contact with federal decision-makers, as well as legal actions to pressure them. Pro-barrier activists in Arizona thus set out plans to secure the border, which they try to spread among Arizona authorities and federal elected officials-17. Sheriff Paul Babeu, for instance, took part in consultations on border security conducted by Senator John McCain and Presidential candidate Mitt Romney. By passing repressive immigration laws and mobilizing Arizona legal advisors to defend these laws when they are challenged in court, Republicans consecrate Arizona as their laboratory for immigration and border security policy.
    Twists and Turns of “Build The Wall”

    Portraying transborder mobility as a “problem” on the local and, especially, the national levels; Legitimizing a security-based response by promoting the “fence” as only solution; And accusing the federal government of failing to protect its citizens. These are the three pillars of “The Fence”, the performance by pro-fence activists in the early 2010s. These moves have enabled making militarization of the border and the “Build The Wall” trope banal. Its elements are present in the current state of the discourse, when Donald Trump resorts to aggressive rhetoric towards migrants, touts his “Wall” as the solution, and stages photo-ops alongside prototypes of the wall—and when he accuses both Congress and California of refusing to secure the border. The issue here has little to do with the undocumented, or with the variables governing Central American migration. It has far more to do with point-scoring against political opponents, and with political positioning within debates that cleave US society.


    https://www.noria-research.com/before-the-trump-era-the-wall-made-in-arizona-as-political-performan
    #performance #performance_politique #spectacle #murs #barrières #barrières_frontalières #USA #Etats-Unis #Arizona #surveillance #surveillance_virtuelle #sécurité

    signalé par @reka


  • Opinion | Is Boycotting Israel ‘Hate’? - The New York Times
    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/04/opinion/is-boycotting-israel-hate.html

    Opponents of the nonviolent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement are involved in a dishonest branding campaign.

    By Joseph Levine
    Mr. Levine is a philosophy professor and a member of the Jewish Voice for Peace Academic Advisory Council.

    The debate over the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (B.D.S.) movement against Israel has been one of the most contentious in American political culture for more than a decade. Now, given the tumultuous and deadly events of the past several months, it is likely to heat up further.

    Casualties in the ongoing protests in Gaza, which began in March, continue to mount; nearly 180 mostly unarmed Palestinian protesters have been killed by Israeli forces, with more than 18,000 injured, according to the United Nations. Dozens of those deaths came in mid-May, as the United States took the provocative step of moving its embassy to Jerusalem. Tensions will surely spike again following last week’s decision by the United States to stop billions in funding to the United Nations agency that delivers aid to Palestinian refugees.

    B.D.S. began in 2005 in response to a call by more than 100 Palestinian civil society organizations, with the successful movement against apartheid South Africa in mind. The reasoning was that Israel, with its half-century occupation of Palestinian territories, would be equally deserving of the world’s condemnation until its policies changed to respect Palestinian political and civil rights. B.D.S. calls for its stance of nonviolent protest to remain in effect until three conditions are met: that Israel ends its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantles the wall; that Israel recognizes the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and that Israel respects, protects and promotes the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in United Nations Resolution 194.

    • The debate over the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (B.D.S.) movement against Israel has been one of the most contentious in American political culture for more than a decade. Now, given the tumultuous and deadly events of the past several months, it is likely to heat up further.

      Casualties in the ongoing protests in Gaza, which began in March, continue to mount; nearly 180 mostly unarmed Palestinian protesters have been killed by Israeli forces, with more than 18,000 injured, according to the United Nations. Dozens of those deaths came in mid-May, as the United States took the provocative step of moving its embassy to Jerusalem. Tensions will surely spike again following last week’s decision by the United States to stop billions in funding to the United Nations agency that delivers aid to Palestinian refugees.

      B.D.S. began in 2005 in response to a call by more than 100 Palestinian civil society organizations, with the successful movement against apartheid South Africa in mind. The reasoning was that Israel, with its half-century occupation of Palestinian territories, would be equally deserving of the world’s condemnation until its policies changed to respect Palestinian political and civil rights. B.D.S. calls for its stance of nonviolent protest to remain in effect until three conditions are met: that Israel ends its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantles the wall; that Israel recognizes the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and that Israel respects, protects and promotes the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in United Nations Resolution 194.

      Opposition to B.D.S. is widespread and strong. Alarmingly, in the United States, support for the movement is in the process of being outlawed. As of now, 24 states have enacted legislation that in some way allows the state to punish those who openly engage in or advocate B.D.S., and similar legislation is pending in 12 more states. At the federal level, a bill called the Israel Anti-Boycott Act would criminalize adherence to any boycott of Israel called for by an international agency (like the United Nations). The bill has garnered 57 Senate co-sponsors and 290 House co-sponsors, and may very well come up for a vote soon.

      While these bills certainly constitute threats to free speech — (a view shared by the ACLU) — I am interested in a more subtle effect of a fairly widespread anti-B.D.S. strategy: co-opting rhetoric of the anti-Trump resistance, which opposes the growing influence of racist hate groups, in order to brand B.D.S. as a hate group itself.

      In my home state of Massachusetts, for example, where a hearing for one of the many state bills aimed at punishing B.D.S. activity took place in July 2017, those who testified in favor of the bill, along with their supporters in the gallery, wore signs saying “No Hate in the Bay State.” They took every opportunity to compare B.D.S. supporters to the alt-right activists recently empowered by the election of Donald Trump. (Full disclosure: I am a strong supporter of B.D.S. and was among those testifying against the bill.)

      The aim of this activity is to relegate the B.D.S. movement, and the Palestine solidarity movement more generally, to the nether region of public discourse occupied by all the intolerant worldviews associated with the alt-right. This is an area the philosopher John Rawls would call “unreasonable.” But to my mind, it is the anti-B.D.S. movement itself that belongs there.

      There are two dimensions of reasonableness that are relevant to this particular issue: the one that allegedly applies to the B.D.S. campaign and the one I claim actually applies to the anti-B.D.S. campaign. Rawls starts his account of the reasonable from the premise of what he calls “reasonable pluralism,” an inevitable concomitant of modern-day democratic government. Large democratic societies contain a multitude of groups that differ in what Rawls calls their “comprehensive doctrines” — moral, religious or philosophical outlooks in accord with which people structure their lives. What makes a comprehensive doctrine “reasonable” is the willingness of those living in accord with it to recognize the legitimate claims of differing, often conflicting doctrines, to accord to the people that hold them full participation as citizens and to regard them as deserving of respect and equal treatment. We can label this dimension of reasonableness a matter of tolerance.

      The second dimension of reasonableness is associated with the notion of “public reason.” When arguing for one’s position as part of the process of democratic deliberation in a society characterized by reasonable pluralism, what kinds of considerations are legitimate to present? The constraint of public reason demands that the considerations in question should look reasonable to all holders of reasonable comprehensive doctrines, not merely one’s own.

      For example, when arguing over possible legal restrictions on abortion, it isn’t legitimate within a democracy to appeal to religious principles that are not shared by all legitimate parties to the dispute. So, while the personhood of the fetus is in dispute among reasonable doctrines, the status of African-Americans, women, gays and Jews is not. To reject their status as fully equal members of the society would be “unreasonable.”

      One of the essential principles of democratic government is freedom of thought and expression, and this extends to the unreasonable/intolerant as well as to the reasonable, so long as certain strict limits on incitement to violence, libel and the like are observed. Still, doctrines within the “tent of the reasonable” are accorded a different status within public institutions and civil society from those deemed outside the tent. This is reflected in the kinds of public support or reprobation representatives of the state and other civil society institutions (e.g., universities) display toward the doctrines or values in question.

      To put it simply, we expect what’s reasonable to get a fair hearing within the public sphere, even if many don’t agree with it.

      On the other hand, though we do not suppress the unreasonable, we don’t believe, in general, that it has the right to a genuinely fair hearing in that same sphere. For instance, after the white supremacist rallies in Charlottesville, Va., in August last year, students at my campus, the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, were greeted in the fall with signs plastered everywhere that said “Hate Has No Home at UMass.” This was intended to let the Richard Spencers of this world know that even if it may not be right or legal to bar them from speaking on campus, their message was not going to be given the respectful hearing that those within the tent of the reasonable receive.

      The alleged basis for claiming that B.D.S. advocates are anti-Semitic, and thus worthy only of denunciation or punishment, not argument, is that through their three goals listed in their manifesto they express their rejection of Jews’ right to self-determination in their homeland. This idea was put succinctly by Senator Chuck Schumer at the policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac) in March, where he said, “Let us call out the B.D.S. movement for what it is. Let us delegitimize the delegitimizers by letting the world know when there is a double standard, whether they know it or not, they are actively participating in an anti-Semitic movement.”

      B.D.S. supporters are “delegitimizers,” according to Schumer, because they do not grant legitimacy to the Zionist project. Some might quibble with this claim about the B.D.S. goals, but I think it’s fair to say that rejection of the legitimacy of the Zionist project is fairly widespread within the movement. But does this constitute anti-Semitism? Does this put them outside the tent of the reasonable?

      To justify this condemnation of the B.D.S. movement requires accepting two extremely controversial claims: first, that the right to self-determination for any ethnic, religious or racial group entails the right to live in a state that confers special status on members of that group — that it is “their state” in the requisite sense; and second, that Palestine counts for these purposes as the rightful homeland of modern-day Jews, as opposed to the ancient Judeans. (I have argued explicitly against the first claim, here.)

      With regard to the second claim, it seems obvious to me, and I bet many others when they bother to think about it, that claims to land stemming from a connection to people who lived there 2,000 years ago is extremely weak when opposed by the claims of those who currently live there and whose people have been living there for perhaps a millennium or more.

      Remember, one needn’t agree with me in my rejection of these two principal claims for my point to stand. All one must acknowledge is that the right at issue isn’t obvious and is at least open to question. If a reasonable person can see that this right of the Jews to establish a state in Palestine is at least open to question, then it can’t be a sign of anti-Semitism to question it! But once you admit the B.D.S. position within the tent of the reasonable, the proper response is not, as Senator Schumer claims, “delegitimizing,” but rather disputing — engaging in argument, carried out in the public sphere according to the rules of public reason.

      But now we get to my second main point — that it’s the anti-B.D.S. camp that violates reasonableness; not because it is an expression of intolerance (though often it flirts with Islamophobia), but because it violates the constraints on public reason. Just how far the positive argument for the legitimacy of the Zionist project often veers from the rules of public reason is perfectly captured by another quote from Mr. Schumer’s speech to Aipac.

      “Now, let me tell you why — my view, why we don’t have peace. Because the fact of the matter is that too many Palestinians and too many Arabs do not want any Jewish state in the Middle East,” he said. “The view of Palestinians is simple: The Europeans treated the Jews badly, culminating in the Holocaust, and they gave them our land as compensation. Of course, we say it’s our land, the Torah says it, but they don’t believe in the Torah. So that’s the reason there is not peace. They invent other reasons, but they do not believe in a Jewish state, and that is why we, in America, must stand strong with Israel through thick and thin …”

      This quote is really quite remarkable, coming from one of the most powerful legislators in our democracy. After fairly well characterizing a perfectly reasonable attitude Palestinians have about who is responsible for the Holocaust and who should pay any reparations for it, Mr. Schumer then appeals to the Torah to justify the Jewish claim against them. But this is a totally illegitimate appeal as a form of public reason, no different from appealing to religious doctrine when opposing abortion. In fact, I claim you can’t find any genuine argument that isn’t guilty of breaching the limits of the reasonable in this way for the alleged right to establish the Jewish state in Palestine.

      This almost certainly explains why opponents of B.D.S. are now turning to the heavy hand of the state to criminalize support for it. In a “fair fight” within the domain of public reason, they would indeed find themselves “delegitimized.”

      Joseph Levine is a professor of philosophy at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and the author of “Quality and Content: Essays on Consciousness, Representation and Modality.” He is a member of the Jewish Voice for Peace Academic Advisory Council.

      #Palestine #USA #BDS #criminalisation_des_militants #liberté_d'expression #censure

      Et aussi à ajouter à la longue liste d’articles sur la confusion entretenue entre #Antisionisme et #Antisémitisme :

      https://seenthis.net/messages/337856
      https://seenthis.net/messages/580647
      https://seenthis.net/messages/603396
      https://seenthis.net/messages/604402
      https://seenthis.net/messages/606801
      https://seenthis.net/messages/690067
      https://seenthis.net/messages/700966
      https://seenthis.net/messages/716567
      https://seenthis.net/messages/718335
      https://seenthis.net/messages/719714


  • Google’s Dragonfly : A Bellwether for Human Rights in the Digital Age
    https://www.justsecurity.org/59941/googles-dragonfly-bellwether-human-rights-digital-age

    Both of us vividly recall the remarkable events of 2010, when Google took its stand against Chinese government censorship by publicly declaring it would withdraw its search engine services from China. One of us was providing informal feedback to senior Google executives in the weeks leading up to the decision ; the other was working at Human Rights in China, a civil society member of the Global Network Initiative (GNI), of which Google was a founding member. The decision to withdraw from (...)

    #Google #GoogleSearch #algorithme #Dragonfly #censure #web #surveillance #TheGreatFirewallofChina


  • Vu sur Twitter :

    M.Potte-Bonneville @pottebonneville a retweeté Catherine Boitard

    Vous vous souvenez ? Elle avait sauvé ses compagnons en tirant l’embarcation à la nage pendant trois heures : Sarah Mardini, nageuse olympique et réfugiée syrienne, est arrêtée pour aide à l’immigration irrégulière.

    Les olympiades de la honte 2018 promettent de beaux records

    M.Potte-Bonneville @pottebonneville a retweeté Catherine Boitard @catboitard :

    Avec sa soeur Yusra, nageuse olympique et distinguée par l’ONU, elle avait sauvé 18 réfugiés de la noyade à leur arrivée en Grèce. La réfugiée syrienne Sarah Mardini, boursière à Berlin et volontaire de l’ONG ERCI, a été arrêtée à Lesbos pour aide à immigration irrégulière

    #migration #asile #syrie #grèce #solidarité #humanité

    • GRÈCE : LA POLICE ARRÊTE 30 MEMBRES D’UNE ONG D’AIDE AUX RÉFUGIÉS

      La police a arrêté, mardi 28 août, 30 membres de l’ONG grecque #ERCI, dont les soeurs syriennes Yusra et Sarah Mardini, qui avaient sauvé la vie à 18 personnes en 2015. Les militant.e.s sont accusés d’avoir aidé des migrants à entrer illégalement sur le territoire grec via l’île de Lesbos. Ils déclarent avoir agi dans le cadre de l’assistance à personnes en danger.

      Par Marina Rafenberg

      L’ONG grecque Emergency response centre international (ERCY) était présente sur l’île de Lesbos depuis 2015 pour venir en aide aux réfugiés. Depuis mardi 28 août, ses 30 membres sont poursuivis pour avoir « facilité l’entrée illégale d’étrangers sur le territoire grec » en vue de gains financiers, selon le communiqué de la police grecque.

      L’enquête a commencé en février 2018, rapporte le site d’information protagon.gr, lorsqu’une Jeep portant une fausse plaque d’immatriculation de l’armée grecque a été découverte par la police sur une plage, attendant l’arrivée d’une barque pleine de réfugiés en provenance de Turquie. Les membres de l’ONG, six Grecs et 24 ressortissants étrangers, sont accusés d’avoir été informés à l’avance par des personnes présentes du côté turc des heures et des lieux d’arrivée des barques de migrants, d’avoir organisé l’accueil de ces réfugiés sans en informer les autorités locales et d’avoir surveillé illégalement les communications radio entre les autorités grecques et étrangères, dont Frontex, l’agence européenne des gardes-cotes et gardes-frontières. Les crimes pour lesquels ils sont inculpés – participation à une organisation criminelle, violation de secrets d’État et recel – sont passibles de la réclusion à perpétuité.

      Parmi les membres de l’ONG grecque arrêtés se trouve Yusra et Sarah Mardini, deux sœurs nageuses et réfugiées syrienne qui avaient sauvé 18 personnes de la noyade lors de leur traversée de la mer Égée en août 2015. Depuis Yusra a participé aux Jeux Olympiques de Rio, est devenue ambassadrice de l’ONU et a écrit un livre, Butterfly. Sarah avait quant à elle décidé d’aider à son tour les réfugiés qui traversaient dangereusement la mer Égée sur des bateaux de fortune et s’était engagée comme bénévole dans l’ONG ERCI durant l’été 2016.

      Sarah a été arrêtée le 21 août à l’aéroport de Lesbos alors qu’elle devait rejoindre Berlin où elle vit avec sa famille. Le 3 septembre, elle devait commencer son année universitaire au collège Bard en sciences sociales. La jeune Syrienne de 23 ans a été transférée à la prison de Korydallos, à Athènes, dans l’attente de son procès. Son avocat a demandé mercredi sa remise en liberté.

      Ce n’est pas la première fois que des ONG basées à Lesbos ont des soucis avec la justice grecque. Des membres de l’ONG espagnole Proem-Aid avaient aussi été accusés d’avoir participé à l’entrée illégale de réfugiés sur l’île. Ils ont été relaxés en mai dernier. D’après le ministère de la Marine, 114 ONG ont été enregistrées sur l’île, dont les activités souvent difficilement contrôlables inquiètent le gouvernement grec et ses partenaires européens.

      https://www.courrierdesbalkans.fr/Une-ONG-accusee-d-aide-a-l-entree-irreguliere-de-migrants

      #grèce #asile #migrations #réfugiés #solidarité #délit_de_solidarité

    • Arrest of Syrian ’hero swimmer’ puts Lesbos refugees back in spotlight

      Sara Mardini’s case adds to fears that rescue work is being criminalised and raises questions about NGO.

      Greece’s high-security #Korydallos prison acknowledges that #Sara_Mardini is one of its rarer inmates. For a week, the Syrian refugee, a hero among human rights defenders, has been detained in its women’s wing on charges so serious they have elicited baffled dismay.

      The 23-year-old, who saved 18 refugees in 2015 by swimming their waterlogged dingy to the shores of Lesbos with her Olympian sister, is accused of people smuggling, espionage and membership of a criminal organisation – crimes allegedly committed since returning to work with an NGO on the island. Under Greek law, Mardini can be held in custody pending trial for up to 18 months.

      “She is in a state of disbelief,” said her lawyer, Haris Petsalnikos, who has petitioned for her release. “The accusations are more about criminalising humanitarian action. Sara wasn’t even here when these alleged crimes took place but as charges they are serious, perhaps the most serious any aid worker has ever faced.”

      Mardini’s arrival to Europe might have gone unnoticed had it not been for the extraordinary courage she and younger sister, Yusra, exhibited guiding their boat to safety after the engine failed during the treacherous crossing from Turkey. Both were elite swimmers, with Yusra going on to compete in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

      The sisters, whose story is the basis of a forthcoming film by the British director Stephen Daldry, were credited with saving the lives of their fellow passengers. In Germany, their adopted homeland, the pair has since been accorded star status.

      It was because of her inspiring story that Mardini was approached by Emergency Response Centre International, ERCI, on Lesbos. “After risking her own life to save 18 people … not only has she come back to ground zero, but she is here to ensure that no more lives get lost on this perilous journey,” it said after Mardini agreed to join its ranks in 2016.

      After her first stint with ERCI, she again returned to Lesbos last December to volunteer with the aid group. And until 21 August there was nothing to suggest her second spell had not gone well. But as Mardini waited at Mytilini airport to head back to Germany, and a scholarship at Bard College in Berlin, she was arrested. Soon after that, police also arrested ERCI’s field director, Nassos Karakitsos, a former Greek naval force officer, and Sean Binder, a German volunteer who lives in Ireland. All three have protested their innocence.

      The arrests come as signs of a global clampdown on solidarity networks mount. From Russia to Spain, European human rights workers have been targeted in what campaigners call an increasingly sinister attempt to silence civil society in the name of security.

      “There is the concern that this is another example of civil society being closed down by the state,” said Jonathan Cooper, an international human rights lawyer in London. “What we are really seeing is Greek authorities using Sara to send a very worrying message that if you volunteer for refugee work you do so at your peril.”

      But amid concerns about heavy-handed tactics humanitarians face, Greek police say there are others who see a murky side to the story, one ofpeople trafficking and young volunteers being duped into participating in a criminal network unwittingly. In that scenario,the Mardini sisters would make prime targets.

      Greek authorities spent six months investigating the affair. Agents were flown into Lesbos from Athens and Thessaloniki. In an unusually long and detailed statement, last week, Mytilini police said that while posing as a non-profit organisation, ERCI had acted with the sole purpose of profiteering by bringing people illegally into Greece via the north-eastern Aegean islands.

      Members had intercepted Greek and European coastguard radio transmissions to gain advance notification of the location of smugglers’ boats, police said, and that 30, mostly foreign nationals, were lined up to be questioned in connection with the alleged activities. Other “similar organisations” had also collaborated in what was described as “an informal plan to confront emergency situations”, they added.

      Suspicions were first raised, police said, when Mardini and Binder were stopped in February driving a former military 4X4 with false number plates. ERCI remained unnamed until the release of the charge sheets for the pair and that of Karakitsos.

      Lesbos has long been on the frontline of the refugee crisis, attracting idealists and charity workers. Until a dramatic decline in migration numbers via the eastern Mediterranean in March 2016, when a landmark deal was signed between the EU and Turkey, the island was the main entry point to Europe.

      An estimated 114 NGOs and 7,356 volunteers are based on Lesbos, according to Greek authorities. Local officials talk of “an industry”, and with more than 10,000 refugees there and the mood at boiling point, accusations of NGOs acting as a “pull factor” are rife.

      “Sara’s motive for going back this year was purely humanitarian,” said Oceanne Fry, a fellow student who in June worked alongside her at a day clinic in the refugee reception centre.

      “At no point was there any indication of illegal activity by the group … but I can attest to the fact that, other than our intake meeting, none of the volunteers ever met, or interacted, with its leadership.”

      The mayor of Lesbos, Spyros Galinos, said he has seen “good and bad” in the humanitarian movement since the start of the refugee crisis.

      “Everything is possible,. There is no doubt that some NGOs have exploited the situation. The police announcement was uncommonly harsh. For a long time I have been saying that we just don’t need all these NGOs. When the crisis erupted, yes, the state was woefully unprepared but now that isn’t the case.”

      Attempts to contact ERCI were unsuccessful. Neither a telephone number nor an office address – in a scruffy downtown building listed by the aid group on social media – appeared to have any relation to it.

      In a statement released more than a week after Mardini’s arrest, ERCI denied the allegations, saying it had fallen victim to “unfounded claims, accusations and charges”. But it failed to make any mention of Mardini.

      “It makes no sense at all,” said Amed Khan, a New York financier turned philanthropist who has donated boats for ERCI’s search and rescue operations. To accuse any of them of human trafficking is crazy.

      “In today’s fortress Europe you have to wonder whether Brussels isn’t behind it, whether this isn’t a concerted effort to put a chill on civil society volunteers who are just trying to help. After all, we’re talking about grassroots organisations with global values that stepped up into the space left by authorities failing to do their bit.”


      https://amp.theguardian.com/world/2018/sep/06/arrest-of-syrian-hero-swimmer-lesbos-refugees-sara-mardini?CMP=shar

      #Sarah_Mardini

    • The volunteers facing jail for rescuing migrants in the Mediterranean

      The risk of refugees and migrants drowning in the Mediterranean has increased dramatically over the past few years.

      As the European Union pursued a policy of externalisation, voluntary groups stepped in to save the thousands of people making the dangerous crossing. One by one, they are now criminalised.

      The arrest of Sarah Mardini, one of two Syrian sisters who saved a number of refugees in 2015 by pulling their sinking dinghy to Greece, has brought the issue to international attention.

      The Trial

      There aren’t chairs enough for the people gathered in Mytilíni Court. Salam Aldeen sits front row to the right. He has a nervous smile on his face, mouth half open, the tongue playing over his lips.

      Noise emanates from the queue forming in the hallway as spectators struggle for a peak through the door’s windows. The morning heat is already thick and moist – not helped by the two unplugged fans hovering motionless in dead air.

      Police officers with uneasy looks, 15 of them, lean up against the cooling walls of the court. From over the judge, a golden Jesus icon looks down on the assembly. For the sunny holiday town on Lesbos, Greece, this is not a normal court proceeding.

      Outside the court, international media has unpacked their cameras and unloaded their equipment. They’ve come from the New York Times, Deutsche Welle, Danish, Greek and Spanish media along with two separate documentary teams.

      There is no way of knowing when the trial will end. Maybe in a couple of days, some of the journalists say, others point to the unpredictability of the Greek judicial system. If the authorities decide to make a principle out of the case, this could take months.

      Salam Aldeen, in a dark blue jacket, white shirt and tie, knows this. He is charged with human smuggling and faces life in jail.

      More than 16,000 people have drowned in less than five years trying to cross the Mediterranean. That’s an average of ten people dying every day outside Europe’s southern border – more than the Russia-Ukraine conflict over the same period.

      In 2015, when more than one million refugees crossed the Mediterranean, the official death toll was around 3,700. A year later, the number of migrants dropped by two thirds – but the death toll increased to more than 5,000. With still fewer migrants crossing during 2017 and the first half of 2018, one would expect the rate of surviving to pick up.

      The numbers, however, tell a different story. For a refugee setting out to cross the Mediterranean today, the risk of drowning has significantly increased.

      The deaths of thousands of people don’t happen in a vacuum. And it would be impossible to explain the increased risks of crossing without considering recent changes in EU-policies towards migration in the Mediterranean.

      The criminalisation of a Danish NGO-worker on the tiny Greek island of Lesbos might help us understand the deeper layers of EU immigration policy.

      The deterrence effect

      On 27 March 2011, 72 migrants flee Tripoli and squeeze into a 12m long rubber dinghy with a max capacity of 25 people. They start the outboard engine and set out in the Mediterranean night, bound for the Italian island of Lampedusa. In the morning, they are registered by a French aircraft flying over. The migrants stay on course. But 18 hours into their voyage, they send out a distress-call from a satellite phone. The signal is picked up by the rescue centre in Rome who alerts other vessels in the area.

      Two hours later, a military helicopter flies over the boat. At this point, the migrants accidentally drop their satellite phone in the sea. In the hours to follow, the migrants encounter several fishing boats – but their call of distress is ignored. As day turns into night, a second helicopter appears and drops rations of water and biscuits before leaving.

      And then, the following morning on 28 March – the migrants run out of fuel. Left at the mercy of wind and oceanic currents, the migrants embark on a hopeless journey. They drift south; exactly where they came from.

      They don’t see any ships the following day. Nor the next; a whole week goes by without contact to the outside world. But then, somewhere between 3 and 5 April, a military vessel appears on the horizon. It moves in on the migrants and circle their boat.

      The migrants, exhausted and on the brink of despair, wave and signal distress. But as suddenly as it arrived, the military vessel turns around and disappears. And all hope with it.

      On April 10, almost a week later, the migrant vessel lands on a beach south of Tripoli. Of the 72 passengers who left 2 weeks ago, only 11 make it back alive. Two die shortly hereafter.

      Lorenzo Pezzani, lecturer at Forensic Architecture at Goldsmiths University of London, was stunned when he read about the case. In 2011, he was still a PhD student developing new spatial and aesthetic visual tools to document human rights violations. Concerned with the rising number of migrant deaths in the Mediterranean, Lorenzo Pezzani and his colleague Charles Heller founded Forensic Oceanography, an affiliated group to Forensic Architecture. Their first project was to uncover the events and policies leading to a vessel left adrift in full knowledge by international rescue operations.

      It was the public outrage fuelled by the 2013 Lampedusa shipwreck which eventually led to the deployment of Operation Mare Nostrum. At this point, the largest migration of people since the Second World War, the Syrian exodus, could no longer be contained within Syria’s neighbouring countries. At the same time, a relative stability in Libya after the fall of Gaddafi in 2011 descended into civil war; waves of migrants started to cross the Mediterranean.

      From October 2013, Mare Nostrum broke with the reigning EU-policy of non-interference and deployed Italian naval vessels, planes and helicopters at a monthly cost of €9.5 million. The scale was unprecedented; saving lives became the political priority over policing and border control. In terms of lives saved, the operation was an undisputed success. Its own life, however, would be short.

      A critical narrative formed on the political right and was amplified by sections of the media: Mare Nostrum was accused of emboldening Libyan smugglers who – knowing rescue ships were waiting – would send out more migrants. In this understanding, Mare Nostrum constituted a so-called “pull factor” on migrants from North African countries. A year after its inception, Mare Nostrum was terminated.

      In late 2014, Mare Nostrum was replaced by Operation Triton led by Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, with an initial budget of €2.4 million per month. Triton refocused on border control instead of sea rescues in an area much closer to Italian shores. This was a return to the pre-Mare Nostrum policy of non-assistance to deter migrants from crossing. But not only did the change of policy fail to act as a deterrence against the thousands of migrants still crossing the Mediterranean, it also left a huge gap between the amount of boats in distress and operational rescue vessels. A gap increasingly filled by merchant vessels.

      Merchant vessels, however, do not have the equipment or training to handle rescues of this volume. On 31 March 2015, the shipping community made a call to EU-politicians warning of a “terrible risk of further catastrophic loss of life as ever-more desperate people attempt this deadly sea crossing”. Between 1 January and 20 May 2015, merchant ships rescued 12.000 people – 30 per cent of the total number rescued in the Mediterranean.

      As the shipping community had already foreseen, the new policy of non-assistance as deterrence led to several horrific incidents. These culminated in two catastrophic shipwrecks on 12 and 18 April 2015 and the death of 1,200 people. In both cases, merchant vessels were right next to the overcrowded migrant boats when chaotic rescue attempts caused the migrant boats to take in water and eventually sink. The crew of the merchant vessels could only watch as hundreds of people disappeared in the ocean.

      Back in 1990, the Dublin Convention declared that the first EU-country an asylum seeker enters is responsible for accepting or rejecting the claim. No one in 1990 had expected the Syrian exodus of 2015 – nor the gigantic pressure it would put on just a handful of member states. No other EU-member felt the ineptitudes and total unpreparedness of the immigration system than a country already knee-deep in a harrowing economic crisis. That country was Greece.

      In September 2015, when the world saw the picture of a three-year old Syrian boy, Alan Kurdi, washed up on a beach in Turkey, Europe was already months into what was readily called a “refugee crisis”. Greece was overwhelmed by the hundreds of thousands of people fleeing the Syrian war. During the following month alone, a staggering 200.000 migrants crossed the Aegean Sea from Turkey to reach Europe. With a minimum of institutional support, it was volunteers like Salam Aldeen who helped reduce the overall number of casualties.

      The peak of migrants entered Greece that autumn but huge numbers kept arriving throughout the winter – in worsening sea conditions. Salam Aldeen recalls one December morning on Lesbos.

      The EU-Turkey deal

      And then, from one day to the next, the EU-Turkey deal changed everything. There was a virtual stop of people crossing from Turkey to Greece. From a perspective of deterrence, the agreement was an instant success. In all its simplicity, Turkey had agreed to contain and prevent refugees from reaching the EU – by land or by sea. For this, Turkey would be given a monetary compensation.

      But opponents of the deal included major human rights organisations. Simply paying Turkey a formidable sum of money (€6 billion to this date) to prevent migrants from reaching EU-borders was feared to be a symptom of an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ attitude pervasive among EU decision makers. Moreover, just like Libya in 2015 threatened to flood Europe with migrants, the Turkish President Erdogan would suddenly have a powerful geopolitical card on his hands. A concern that would later be confirmed by EU’s vague response to Erdogan’s crackdown on Turkish opposition.

      As immigration dwindled in Greece, the flow of migrants and refugees continued and increased in the Central Mediterranean during the summer of 2016. At the same time, disorganised Libyan militias were now running the smuggling business and exploited people more ruthlessly than ever before. Migrant boats without satellite phones or enough provision or fuel became increasingly common. Due to safety concerns, merchant vessels were more reluctant to assist in rescue operations. The death toll increased.
      A Conspiracy?

      Frustrated with the perceived apathy of EU states, Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) responded to the situation. At its peak, 12 search and rescue NGO vessels were operating in the Mediterranean and while the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) paused many of its operations during the fall and winter of 2016, the remaining NGO vessels did the bulk of the work. Under increasingly dangerous weather conditions, 47 per cent of all November rescues were carried out by NGOs.

      Around this time, the first accusations were launched against rescue NGOs from ‘alt-right’ groups. Accusations, it should be noted, conspicuously like the ones sounded against Mare Nostrum. Just like in 2014, Frontex and EU-politicians followed up and accused NGOs of posing a “pull factor”. The now Italian vice-prime minister, Luigi Di Maio, went even further and denounced NGOs as “taxis for migrants”. Just like in 2014, no consideration was given to the conditions in Libya.

      Moreover, NGOs were falsely accused of collusion with Libyan smugglers. Meanwhile Italian agents had infiltrated the crew of a Save the Children rescue vessel to uncover alleged secret evidence of collusion. The German Jugendrettet NGO-vessel, Iuventa, was impounded and – echoing Salam Aldeen’s case in Greece – the captain accused of collusion with smugglers by Italian authorities.

      The attacks to delegitimise NGOs’ rescue efforts have had a clear effect: many of the NGOs have now effectively stopped their operations in the Mediterranean. Lorenzo Pezzani and Charles Heller, in their report, Mare Clausum, argued that the wave of delegitimisation of humanitarian work was just one part of a two-legged strategy – designed by the EU – to regain control over the Mediterranean.
      Migrants’ rights aren’t human rights

      Libya long ago descended into a precarious state of lawlessness. In the maelstrom of poverty, war and despair, migrants and refugees have become an exploitable resource for rivalling militias in a country where two separate governments compete for power.

      In November 2017, a CNN investigation exposed an entire industry involving slave auctions, rape and people being worked to death.

      Chief spokesman of the UN Migration Agency, Leonard Doyle, describes Libya as a “torture archipelago” where migrants transiting have no idea that they are turned into commodities to be bought, sold and discarded when they have no more value.

      Migrants intercepted by the Libyan Coast Guard (LCG) are routinely brought back to the hellish detention centres for indefinite captivity. Despite EU-leaders’ moral outcry following the exposure of the conditions in Libya, the EU continues to be instrumental in the capacity building of the LCG.

      Libya hadn’t had a functioning coast guard since the fall of Gaddafi in 2011. But starting in late 2016, the LCG received increasing funding from Italy and the EU in the form of patrol boats, training and financial support.

      Seeing the effect of the EU-Turkey deal in deterring refugees crossing the Aegean Sea, Italy and the EU have done all in their power to create a similar approach in Libya.
      The EU Summit

      Forty-two thousand undocumented migrants have so far arrived at Europe’s shores this year. That’s a fraction of the more than one million who arrived in 2015. But when EU leaders met at an “emergency summit” in Brussels in late June, the issue of migration was described by Chancellor Merkel as a “make or break” for the Union. How does this align with the dwindling numbers of refugees and migrants?

      Data released in June 2018 showed that Europeans are more concerned about immigration than any other social challenge. More than half want a ban on migration from Muslim countries. Europe, it seems, lives in two different, incompatible realities as summit after summit tries to untie the Gordian knot of the migration issue.

      Inside the courthouse in Mytilini, Salam Aldeen is questioned by the district prosecutor. The tropical temperature induces an echoing silence from the crowded spectators. The district prosecutor looks at him, open mouth, chin resting on her fist.

      She seems impatient with the translator and the process of going from Greek to English and back. Her eyes search the room. She questions him in detail about the night of arrest. He answers patiently. She wants Salam Aldeen and the four crew members to be found guilty of human smuggling.

      Salam Aldeen’s lawyer, Mr Fragkiskos Ragkousis, an elderly white-haired man, rises before the court for his final statement. An ancient statuette with his glasses in one hand. Salam’s parents sit with scared faces, they haven’t slept for two days; the father’s comforting arm covers the mother’s shoulder. Then, like a once dormant volcano, the lawyer erupts in a torrent of pathos and logos.

      “Political interests changed the truth and created this wicked situation, playing with the defendant’s freedom and honour.”

      He talks to the judge as well as the public. A tragedy, a drama unfolds. The prosecutor looks remorseful, like a small child in her large chair, almost apologetic. Defeated. He’s singing now, Ragkousis. Index finger hits the air much like thunder breaks the night sounding the roar of something eternal. He then sits and the room quiets.

      It was “without a doubt” that the judge acquitted Salam Aldeen and his four colleagues on all charges. The prosecutor both had to determine the defendants’ intention to commit the crime – and that the criminal action had been initialised. She failed at both. The case, as the Italian case against the Iuventa, was baseless.

      But EU’s policy of externalisation continues. On 17 March 2018, the ProActiva rescue vessel, Open Arms, was seized by Italian authorities after it had brought back 217 people to safety.

      Then again in June, the decline by Malta and Italy’s new right-wing government to let the Aquarious rescue-vessel dock with 629 rescued people on board sparked a fierce debate in international media.

      In July, Sea Watch’s Moonbird, a small aircraft used to search for migrant boats, was prevented from flying any more operations by Maltese authorities; the vessel Sea Watch III was blocked from leaving harbour and the captain of a vessel from the NGO Mission Lifeline was taken to court over “registration irregularities“.

      Regardless of Europe’s future political currents, geopolitical developments are only likely to continue to produce refugees worldwide. Will the EU alter its course as the crisis mutates and persists? Or are the deaths of thousands the only possible outcome?

      https://theferret.scot/volunteers-facing-jail-rescuing-migrants-mediterranean


  • Demonstrate with the Arabs - Haaretz Editorial -
    The place of Livni and the other opposition leaders is in Rabin Square, alongside the Arab community. Their struggle is the struggle of all Israelis, Jews and Arabs alike

    Haaretz Editorial
    Aug 10, 2018 1:32 AM

    https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/editorial/demonstrate-with-the-arabs-1.6364336

    The demonstration called for Saturday night in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square by the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee, which represents Israel’s Arab community, is the most important of all the protests that have taken place against the nation-state law. It’s also one of the most important demonstrations in Israel in the past several years.
    No minority in Israel suffers as much discrimination as the Arab minority, which is also Israel’s largest minority. It is frequently the target of normalized, institutionalized racism. 
    To really understand Israel and the Middle East - subscribe to Haaretz
    The nation-state law, which has sparked civic protests throughout Israeli society, was engineered precisely in order to strip the Arabs of their rights and subordinate them to rule by the Jews, the lords of the land, even at the price of sacrificing civic equality. This worldview has characterized despicable racist regimes throughout history, and its implementation in Israel is a black stain not only on the history of the state, but also on that of the Jewish people.
    The nation-state law is an especially ugly milestone in the right’s delegitimization campaign against the Arabs. It’s meant to mark them as enemies, as a fifth column; to cause strife between them and Jews; and to remove them from civil society. Given this, it’s regrettable that the leaders of the opposition, who warmly embraced the Druze community’s justified protest against the law, have decided not to attend this demonstration.
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    >> In Show of Renewed Activism, Arab Israelis to Protest Nation-state Law on Saturday
    Opposition leader Tzipi Livni, who came to the Druze demonstration last Saturday night, announced that she won’t attend the upcoming one because some Knesset members from the predominantly Arab  Joint List “don’t share my view that Israel is the nation-state of the Jews.” In the same breath, she declared her belief in “equal rights for all.” She thereby proved that even the left has adopted the right’s propaganda. If, as she says, Livni believes in equality for all and opposes the nation-state law — the issues of the demonstration — why is it even relevant what Joint List MKs think Israel’s character should be?
    Livni must meet the challenge that was posed to Israeli society by President Reuven Rivlin in his “four tribes” speech, in which he argued that Israel’s future depends on abandoning a worldview based on majority and minority in favor of one that is based on a partnership with the ultra-Orthodox and the Arabs, who don’t define themselves as Zionist. The place of Livni and the other opposition leaders Saturday night is in Rabin Square, alongside the Arab community. Their struggle is the struggle of all Israelis, Jews and Arabs alike.


  • Israel
    Jews and Arabs: Unite, the Nation-state law poses an existential threat

    This won’t be an alliance of love. It won’t even be an encounter between friends. But this is the only way to survive as a citizen of Israel and not become a political prisoner in a theocracy

    Ravit Hecht SendSend me email alerts
    Aug 03, 2018

    https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-jews-and-arabs-unite-the-nation-state-law-poses-existential-threat

    The abominable nation-state law was admittedly passed at this particular moment for contemptible political reasons: Elections are only a Knesset session away, and in the background are the investigations of the prime minister, a despair-inducing front devoid of achievement in the south and a terrifying front in the north.
    To really understand Israel and the Palestinians - subscribe to Haaretz
    But these circumstances, while genuine and rational, don’t hide what comes next. And what comes next is clear. Israel, with the support of a substantial portion of its Jewish population, is en route to apartheid, both de facto and de jure, which will evict the Arabs from civil society. Next in line for the chopping block: leftists, who are going with the flow to various degrees, and ultimately, anyone defined as disloyal to the government (that is, “the state”).
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    This is not a cataclysmic lamentation or a stylized prophecy of destruction. It’s reality, plain and simple. The moment you begin fiddling with democracy – that is, creating differences in the level of equality to which citizens are entitled and conditioning it on various conditions – the road is clear.
    The attempts to bribe the Druze, whose pain, unlike that of the other Arabs, evokes empathy from Jewish Israelis, only makes the picture clearer: The government is creating castes among minorities and citizens in general based on the degree of sympathy the government has for them and the whims of the masses.
    What can one do in light of this reality but rend one’s garments, weep bitter tears and protest at demonstrations whose importance is beyond price, but whose contribution to changing the course of reality will be limited to the point of nonexistence?
    Israel’s Jewish and democratic camp has only one partner for building a front against the settler right, with its hallmarks of fascism, which is currently making historic changes to the country’s character. That partner is the Arabs.

    And when we speak of making such a partnership, we aren’t talking about a Jewish and democratic camp that includes only people like opposition MKs Tamar Zandberg and Tzipi Livni, but also former senior defense officials like Gabi Ashkenazi, Tamir Pardo and Moshe Ya’alon, who still aren’t willing to be portrayed, heaven forbid, as leftists, but whom the modern right is already rejecting like a transplant, because such security establishment figures’ consciences bar them from submerging themselves in today’s right wing and joining in the destruction of democracy.
    >> Planted by Netanyahu and Co., nation-state law is a time bomb exploding in Israel’s face | Analysis >>
    Nevertheless, it’s not only the Jews on whom the burden of effecting a change in consciousness falls. The Arabs will also have to make what they see as painful concessions.
    As long as MKs Ahmad Tibi, Jamal Zahalka and Aida Touma-Sliman keep talking about two states – a state of all its citizens on one side and the nation-state of the Palestinian people on the other – they’ll remain within the bounds of their own narrow community, plus a few thousand Jewish voters following their conscience or a fad. They’ll have no chance of taking power, no ability to have a major impact, no access to the resources that could save the voters from the bitter fate written on the wall.
    Therefore, they’ll have to swallow hard and accept the Law of Return and the fact that Israel within the 1967 borders is the national home of the Jewish people worldwide, in order to enable the establishment of a Palestinian state and save themselves and us from the nightmare of occupation and apartheid.
    This won’t be an alliance of love. It won’t even be an encounter between friends. But this is the only way to survive as a citizen of Israel and not become a political prisoner in a Bezalel Smotrich-like theocracy.
    The battle for life requires passing through the deep wadis of painful compromise and getting scratched by the thorns of upsetting concessions. It requires changing our methods and our worldviews, because there’s no choice. Because we want to live. And just for your information, we are in a fight for our lives.


  • #Agromafie e #caporalato: 430 mila lavoratori a rischio sfruttamento

    L’Osservatorio Placido Rizzotto della Flai Cgil fotografa la situazione nel suo quarto rapporto «Agromafie e caporalato». Un fenomeno che si estende dal Sud al Nord Italia. Tra giornate lavorative di 12 ore e pagate una manciata di euro

    https://www.flai.it/osservatoriopr
    #mafia #agriculture #exploitation #travail #Italie #agromafia

    Pour télécharger le #rapport (c’est la troisième édition):


    https://www.flai.it/osservatoriopr/ilrapporto
    –-> La principale attività dell’Osservatorio è la redazione del rapporto Agromafie e Caporalato, un rapporto biennale sull’infiltrazione delle mafie nella filiera agroalimentare e sulle condizioni di lavoro nel settore. Dopo la prima (2012) e la seconda (2014) edizione, a Maggio del 2016 è stato presentato il terzo rapporto Agromafie e Caporalato, ormai un lavoro di inchiesta e ricerca diventati in pochi anni un riferimento per chiunque voglia approfondire il tema delle Agromafie e delle condizioni di lavoro in agricoltura.

    • ‘Agromafia’ Exploits Hundreds of Thousands of Agricultural Workers in Italy

      In Italy, over 400,000 agricultural labourers risk being illegally employed by mafia-like organisations, and more than 132,000 work in extremely vulnerable conditions, enduring high occupational suffering, warns the fourth report on Agromafie and Caporalato.

      The report, released this July by the Italian trade union for farmers, Flai Cgil, and the research institute Osservatorio Placido Rizzotto, sheds light on a bitter reality that is defined by the report itself as “modern day slavery”. The criminal industry is estimated to generate almost five billion euros.

      “The phenomenon of ‘Caporalato’ is a cancer for the entire community,” Roberto Iovino from Osservatorio Placido Rizzotto, told IPS. “Legal and illegal activities often intertwine in the agro-food sector and it ultimately becomes very difficult to know who is operating in the law and who is not.”

      The criminal structure is called Caporalato or Agromafia when it touches a number of aspects of the agri-food chain. It is administered by ‘Caporali’, who decide on working hours and salaries of workers. The phenomenon is widespread across Italy. From Sicilian tomatoes, to the green salads from the province of Brescia, to the grape harvest used for producing the ‘Franciacorta’ sparkling wine in Lombardia, to the strawberries harvested in the region of Basilicata—many of these crops would have been harvested by illegally-employed workers, according to the report.

      Miserable salaries and excessive working hours

      The average wages of the exploited, warns the report, range between 20 and 30 euros per day, at an hourly rate of between three to four euros. Many reportedly work between eight to 14 hours per day, seven days a week. The majority of the collected testimonies show that many workers are paid less than their actual time worked and their salaries are 50 percent lower than the one outlined by the national contract for farmers.

      In some areas like Puglia or Campania in southern Italy, most salaries are paid on a piecework basis or per task.

      Some workers reported to Flai-Cgil that they were paid only one euro per hour and that they had to pay 1.5 euros for a small bottle of water, five euros for the transportation to reach the field and three euros for a sandwich at lunchtime each day. Day labourers are also required to pay between 100 to 200 euros for rent, often in abandoned, crumbling facilities or in remote and less-frequented hotels.

      The money was paid to the ‘Caporale’ or supervisor.

      According to the report, a ‘Caporale’ earns between 10 to 15 euros a day per labourer under their management, with each managing between 3,000 to 4,000 agricultural workers. It is estimated that their average monthly profit fluctuates between tens to hundreds of thousands of euros per month, depending on their position in the pyramid structure of the illegal business. It is alleged in the report that no tax is paid on the profits and this costs the state in lost income and also impacts on companies operating within the law.

      “Those people [‘Caporali’] are not naive at all,” one of the workers told the trade union’s researchers. “They know the laws, they find ways of counterfeiting work contracts and mechanisms to [circumvent] the National Social Security Institute.” The institute is the largest social security and welfare institute in Italy.

      “They have a certain criminal profile,” the worker explained.

      Migrant victims

      The ‘Caporali’ are not just Italians but Romanians, Bulgarians, Moroccans and Pakistanis, who manage their own criminal and recruiting organisations. The report warns that recruitment not only takes place in Italy but also in the home countries of migrants like Morocco or Pakistan.

      In 2017, out of one million labourers, 286,940 were migrants. It is also estimated that there are an additional 220,000 foreigners who are not registered.

      African migrants also reportedly receive a lower remuneration than that paid to workers of other nationalities.

      These victims of Agromafia live in a continuous state of vulnerability, unable to claim their rights. The report points out that some workers have had their documents confiscated by ‘Caporali’ for the ultimate purpose of trapping the labourers. It also highlights the testimonies of abuse, ranging from physical violence, rape and intimidation. One Afghan migrant who asked to be paid after months without receiving any pay, said that he had been beaten up because of his protests.

      The report also estimates that 5,000 Romanian women live in segregation in the Sicilian countryside, often with only their children. Because of their isolation many suffer sexual violence from farmers.

      Luana told Flai-Cgil of her abuse. “He offered to accompany my children to school, which was very far to reach on foot,” she said. “If I did not consent to this requests, he threatened not to accompany them any more and even to deny us drinking water.”

      “We have to put humanity first, and then profit”

      Many of the victims hesitate to report their exploiters because they are fearful of losing their jobs. A Ghanaian boy working in Tuscany told Flai-Cgil that Italians have explained to him how to lay a complaint, but he holds back because he still has to send money to his family.

      During the report release Susanna Camusso, secretary general of the country’s largest trade union, CGIL, said: “We must rebuild the culture of respect for people, including migrants. These are people who bend their backs to collect the food we eat and who move our economy.

      “We must help these people to overcome fear, explaining to them that there is not only the monetary aspect to work. A person could be exploited even if he holds a decent salary. We have to put humanity first, and then profit .”

      http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/07/agromafia-exploits-hundreds-thousands-agricultural-workers-italy

    • Is Italian Agriculture a “Pull Factor” for Irregular Migration—and, If So, Why?

      In discussions on irregular migration in Europe, undeclared work is generally viewed as a “pull factor”—positive aspects of a destination-country that attract an individual or group to leave their home—for both employers as well as prospective migrants, and especially in sectors such as agriculture. A closer examination of the agricultural model, however, reveals that structural forces are driving demand for work and incentivizing exploitation. This is particularly evident in Southern Italy, a region famous for its produce, where both civil society organizations and the media have documented exploitation of migrant workers. A closer examination of EU and member states efforts to avoid exploitation is needed.

      In Is Italian Agriculture a ‘Pull Factor’ for Irregular Migration—and, If So, Why?, a new study, authors from the Open Society Foundations’ European Policy Institute and the European University Institute look at how Europe’s Common Agricultural Policy, the practices of supermarket chains, organized crime, and gang-master recruitment practices contribute to migrant exploitation. The study further recommends a closer examination of EU member state efforts to counter exploitation and offers an overview of private sector practice’s intended to combat exploitation—such as the provision of information on workers’ rights, adequate housing and transport, and EU-wide labeling schemes, among others.

      https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/reports/italian-agriculture-pull-factor-irregular-migration-and-if-s
      #rapport #pull-factor #facteur_pull


  • China: Crackdown on Tibetan Social Groups. New Regulations Ban Social Action Under Guise of Fighting ‘Organized Crime’

    Chinese authorities are using an ostensible anti-mafia campaign to target suspected political dissidents and suppress civil society initiatives in Tibetan areas, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The authorities are now treating even traditional forms of social action, including local mediation of community or family disputes by lamas or other traditional authority figures, as illegal.

    The 101-page report, “‘Illegal Organizations’: China’s Crackdown on Tibetan Social Groups,” details efforts by the Chinese Communist Party at the local level to eliminate the remaining influence of lamas and traditional leaders within Tibetan communities. The report features rare in-depth interviews, state media cartoons depicting the new restrictions, and cases of Tibetans arbitrarily detained for their involvement in community activities.


    https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/07/29/china-crackdown-tibetan-social-groups
    #Chine #Tibet #rapport #répression


  • Two SOMO researchers denied entry into Israel on arbitrary grounds - SOMO - July 21, 2018
    https://www.somo.nl/two-somo-researchers-denied-entry-israel-arbitrary-grounds

    On Friday 20 July, two researchers of SOMO were denied access into Israel at Ben Gurion airport (Tel Aviv). The stated reason for the denial of entry was their alleged Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) activism. SOMO finds this decision, issued by the Israeli Minister of Interior, and the treatment of the researchers subsequent to their denial of entry, to be both incomprehensible and unacceptable.

    #expulsion #Israël