position:leader

  • Generation Hate: French far right’s violence and racism exposed

    Al Jazeera investigation reveals Generation Identity members carrying out racist attacks, making Nazi salutes in Lille.

    It was the first weekend of 2018 and Remi Falize was hungry for a fight.

    The 30-year-old far-right activist, who previously said his dying wish was to kill Muslims in the northern city of Lille, took out a pair of black plastic-reinforced leather gloves.

    “Here, my punching gloves, just in case,” he told his friends in a secretly filmed conversation. “We are not here to get f**ked about. We are in France, for f**k’s sake.”

    Falize found his fight towards the end of the night.

    Around 1am, outside the O’Corner Pub in Lille’s main nightlife strip, a group of teenagers approached Falize and his friends. One asked for a cigarette. Suddenly, Falize’s friend pushed him and the doorman at the bar was pepper-spraying the teenagers.

    “I swear to Mecca, don’t hit me,” one girl in the group pleaded.

    Falize was incensed. “What to Mecca? I f**k Mecca!”

    The burly man went after her even as she turned to leave and punched her in the head several times.

    “Girl, or no girl, I couldn’t give a f**k. They’re just Arabs,” he said. Then, taking a drag on his cigarette, he shook his wrist and said: “She really must have felt it because I’m hurting.”

    Falize and his friends are part of Generation Identity (GI), one of Europe’s fastest growing and most prominent far-right movements. The organisation was set up in France six years ago, and now has branches in several countries, including Italy, Austria, Germany and the United Kingdom.

    The pan-European group, estimated to have thousands of members and an online following of tens of thousands, advocates the defence of what it sees as the identity and culture of white Europeans from what it calls the “great replacement” by immigration and “Islamisation”.

    It presents itself as a patriotic movement and claims to be non-violent and non-racist.

    But when an Al Jazeera undercover reporter infiltrated GI’s branch in Lille, he found the opposite.
    ’Defend Europe’

    Footage our reporter filmed secretly over a period of six months, beginning in September 2017, shows GI members carrying out racist attacks and admitting to a series of other assaults on Muslims.

    The group’s activists were frequently seen making Nazi salutes and shouting “Heil Hitler”. Its leaders meanwhile explained how they’ve infiltrated the National Front (now the National Rally), a far-right French party led by Marine Le Pen, who lost a 2017 presidential election runoff to Emmanuel Macron.

    Made up of white nationalists, the group first came to prominence in 2012 when dozens of its activists occupied a mosque in Poitiers, western France, for more than six hours before police ejected them. Days later, GI issued a “declaration of war” on multiculturalism and called for a national referendum on Muslim immigration.

    Robin D’Angelo, a French political analyst, said the group considers France their “main battleground” in Europe, as it’s the country with the largest Muslim community on the continent. Muslims make up nearly 10 percent of France’s 67 million population. A second and more significant factor, D’Angelo said, was a rise in deadly attacks by Muslim assailants in the country in recent years.

    They include a 2015 gun attack on the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in the French capital, which left a dozen people dead, as well as a series of coordinated assaults later that year in Paris, including at the Bataclan theatre, in which more than 130 people were killed. The next year, assailants drove a 19-tonne cargo truck into crowds of people celebrating Bastille Day in the Mediterranean city of Nice, killing 86 people.

    GI, however, differs from traditional far-right groups, D’Angelo said, in its public attempts to distance itself from violence and overt racism. “What they understood was that marginalisation would never bring their ideas to power, would never make their ideas spread, so they try to be as clean as possible,” D’Angelo said.

    The group’s strategy to influence public debate includes staging spectacular publicity stunts to attract media attention and gain a huge social media following, he said.

    Such moves include a 2017 boat mission called “Defend Europe” which sought to disrupt refugee rescue ships in the Mediterranean Sea. GI raised more than 50,000 euros ($57,000) in less than three weeks for the mission, which ultimately failed when the group’s boat was blocked from refuelling in Greece and Tunisia.

    In April, more than 100 GI activists tried to shut off a snowy mountain pass on the French-Italian border used by migrants. After erecting a makeshift barrier there, they unfurled a banner which read: “You will not make Europe your home. No way. Back to your homeland.”
    ’We want power’

    Aurelien Verhassel was one of the GI leaders who took part in the group’s Alpine mission. He is also the head of the group’s Flanders branch. In a backstreet in Lille’s city centre, the 34-year-old runs a members-only bar called the Citadelle.

    “It’s not just a bar,” he told Al Jazeera’s undercover reporter. “It’s a community with all the activities that go with it; a boxing club, a library, a cinema club.”

    Membership in GI Flanders had almost tripled, he said, from 300 to 800 in just a year.

    At the Citadelle, Verhassel, a man with an angular face and slicked-back hair, hosted lengthy discussions on politics, entertaining GI members from other parts of France and sometimes journalists, too. One Friday in December last year, Verhassel asked members to be present for a TV interview with journalists from Quebec, Canada.

    In his television appearance, Verhassel, who has a string of criminal convictions for violence, including a five-month prison sentence for an attack on two North African teenagers that he is appealing, presented the image of a committed but professional politician.

    “Europe has been invaded,” he told the Canadian journalists. And the aim of GI, “a serious political movement that trains young leaders”, was to tackle mass Muslim immigration, he said.

    GI’s main solution, he added, was a concept called “remigration” - a programme to send non-European families to their ancestral homelands. “For us, the non-Europeans, the Islamists, can go home by any means,” he said. “By boat, by plane or by spaceship. They can go home however they want.”

    The “remigration concept” is at the core of GI’s vision for France’s future, and was detailed in a policy document the group released during the 2017 election campaign. Jean-David Cattin, a GI leader who was in charge of the group’s communications when its activists targeted refugee rescue missions in the Mediterranean, told Citadelle members in October last year that France could force former colonies to take back migrants by making development aid conditional on the return of non-European residents and migrants.

    “We are France, we have nuclear weapons. We give them hundreds of millions in development aid,” he told a sceptical activist. “We’d say: ’Listen, we’d love to help you out financially, but you’ve got to take back your guys.’”

    Mathias Destal, a journalist who has been investigating France’s far right for years, called the “remigration” concept “delirious” and likened it to ethnic cleansing.

    “It would mean deporting thousands and thousands of people to countries which are supposedly their countries of origin because their ancestors might have lived there or because the colour of their skin or their culture refers to countries which are not France … so, in fact, it would nearly be ethnic cleansing.”

    Verhassel believed that the strategy to take the concept mainstream was to protect the group’s media image.

    GI Lille has refused entry to “skinheads and all those anti-social types”, he told our undercover reporter, and expelled others who might damage GI’s reputation. The image he wanted to cultivate, Verhassel said, was “it’s cool to be a fascist”.
    Verhassel was particularly worried about people who might post photos online of themselves doing Nazi salutes at the Citadelle. “We’d be shut down. We’d be done for,” he said.

    Over a beer at the Citadelle, Verhassel explained: “They want to make gestures. We want power … They just want romanticism. It’s beautiful, it’s sweet, but it doesn’t do much to advance the cause. The goal is to win.”
    Racist attacks and Nazi salutes

    Despite the public disavowal of violence and racism, Verhassel himself was secretly filmed encouraging activists to carry out assaults. “Someone needs a smack. But yeah, the advantage is that we’re in a violent environment and everyone accepts that,” he said.

    Footage from the Citadelle and other parts of Lille also show activists frequently boasting about carrying out violent attacks and making Nazi salutes.

    On the night of the attack on the teenagers, a far-right activist associated with GI, known as Le Roux, greeted Falize and his friends at a bar in central Lille that same night, saying: “Sieg Heil! Come on Generation Identity! F**king hell! Sieg Heil!”

    Charles Tessier, another associate of Falize, described an attack on three Arab men in which Falize broke his opponent’s nose.

    “It started pissing blood,” he said.

    “Then we fight, three on three, and they ran off. We chase them shouting ’Dirty Arab! Sieg Heil!”

    “We were Sieg-Heiling on the street.”

    Such racist attacks, another activist called Will Ter Yssel said, brought GI activists together.

    Falize, meanwhile, was caught on camera confessing that if he was diagnosed with a terminal illness, his wish would be to “sow carnage” against Muslims, perhaps by going on a shooting spree at a mosque in Lille, or even a car-ramming at the city’s Wazemmes market, which is popular with Arabs and Muslims.

    “If you take your car there on a Sunday, it’ll be chaos,” he said, laughing.

    “As long as I don’t die during the carnage, I’ll do it again.”

    Responding to Al Jazeera’s findings, a lawyer for Verhassel said the Citadelle welcomed people of “diverse persuasions” and does not represent GI.

    The Citadelle “condemned in the strongest terms” the comments from its members if such statements were attributable to them, the lawyer added.

    Sylvie Guillaume, vice president of the European Parliament, called the footage of the attacks and admissions of violence “disturbing”.

    Calling for legal action, she added: “They intend to get into fights, they say it, they’re preparing themselves, they have gloves for hitting, they target their victims. These are people who make direct references to Hitler, who speak with phrases the Nazis used.”

    Guillaume continued: “That is punishable by law.”


    https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/12/generation-hate-french-violence-racism-exposed-181208155503837.html
    #génération_identitaire #identitaires #extrême_droite #France #racisme #xénophobie #Aurelien_Verhassel #Lille #defend_Europe


  • ‘They Say My Music’s Too Loud’: Chuck D and Ernie Isley Fight The Power
    NPR Music, Youtube, le 7 décembre 2018
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bScwXhbY5VM

    NPR’s American Anthem series brings together two songwriters — Ernie Isley of The Isley Brothers and Chuck D of Public Enemy — whose respective versions of ‘Fight the Power’ eyed the same struggle.

    The Isley Brothers spent the 1960s churning out hits like ‘Twist and Shout,’ “This Old Heart of Mine” and ‘It’s Your Thing.’ But the group’s image underwent a serious change in the ’70s. It was a post-Watergate America, when trust in government was perilously low. The energy of the civil rights movement had cooled. And the country was recovering from a recession to boot.

    ‘Fight the Power, Pts. 1 & 2,’ released into that context in 1975, was a crossover smash for The Isleys, charting in the top five. The funky beat made it a hit in dance clubs. But there was also a rebellious message that took listeners by surprise.

    Carlton Ridenhour was 15 years old, and a lifelong Isley Brothers fan, when that song changed his life.

    Ridenhour would later take the stage name Chuck D, as the leader of the pioneering rap group Public Enemy. In 1989, he wrote his own ‘Fight the Power’ for the film ’Do the Right Thing.’ The movie is set on the hottest day of the summer in a Brooklyn neighborhood, where the temperature leads long-simmering racial tensions to boil over in the street.

    Writer/director Spike Lee told Public Enemy he needed an anthem. The song the group created would come to score the film’s legendary opening sequence — and, later, cause the plot to turn in a tragic way.

    For the series American Anthem, NPR arranged for Chuck D to sit down with Ernie Isley and talk about their songs and their inspirations.

    #Musique #Musique_et_politique #Isley_Brothers #Public_Enemy #Fight_the_power #Funk #Rap


  • Pushing for an Israeli victory is the only way to end the conflict with the Palestinians

    Il faut lire ce point de vue d’un néoconservateur américain car il reflète une partie de la pensée de la droite pro-israélienne

    Lieberman and Bennett failed to impose a new paradigm on how to deal with Hamas, but more and more people in Israel are recognizing that compromises and concessions have only led to more violence

    Daniel Pipes SendSend me email alerts
    Dec 02, 2018 4:04 PM
    https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-an-israeli-victory-is-the-only-way-to-end-the-conflict-with-the-pa

    From a practical political point of view, Avigdor Lieberman, Naftali Bennett, and their idea to take a tougher stand toward Hamas just went down to defeat, if not humiliation. 
    That’s because Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu once again showed his political skills; the first is now ex-defense minister, the second failed to become defense minister.
    >> ‘Get used to the rockets’: What Netanyahu should tell Israelis living near Gaza | Opinion
    From a longer-term point of view, however, the duo raised an issue that for decades had not been part of the Israeli political discourse but, due to their efforts, promises to be an important factor in the future: that would be the concept of victory, of an Israeli victory over Hamas and, by extension, over the Palestinian Authority and Palestinians in general.
    Victory – defined as imposing one’s will on the enemy so he gives up his war goals - has been the war goal of philosophers, strategists, and generals through human history. Aristotle wrote that “Victory is the end of generalship.” Karl von Clausewitz, the Prussian theorist, concurred: “The aim of war should be the defeat of the enemy.” Gen. James Mattis, the U.S. secretary of defense, finds that “No war is over until the enemy says it’s over.” 
    Palestinians routinely speak of achieving victory over Israel, even when this is fantastical: to cite one example, PA leader Mahmoud Abbas called his Hamas counterpart, Ismail Haniyeh, after eight days of violence with Israel that left Gaza badly battered in November 2012 to “congratulate him on the victory and extend condolences to the families of martyrs.”

    Contrarily, in Israel, the notion of victory has been sidelined since at least the Oslo Accords of 1993, after which its leaders instead focused on such concepts as compromise, conciliation, confidence-building, flexibility, goodwill, mediation, and restraint. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert immemorially articulated this attitude in 2007 when he stated that "Peace is achieved through concessions.”
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    >> Israel is incomparably stronger than Hamas – but it will never win: Interview with Hamas leader in Gaza
    his perverse understanding of how wars end led Israel to make extraordinary blunders in the 15 years after Oslo, for which it was punished by unremitting campaigns of delegitimization and violence, symbolized, respectively, by the Durban conference of 2001  and the Passover Massacre of 2002. 
    Such nonsense ended during Netanyahu’s near-decade-long term as prime minister, but it has not yet been replaced by a sturdy vision of victory. Rather, Netanyahu has put out brush fires as they arose in Sinai, Gaza, the West Bank, the Golan Heights, Syria, and Lebanon. While agreeing with the concept of an Israeli victory when personally briefed, he has not spoken publicly about it.
    Meanwhile, other leading figures in Israel have adopted this outlook. Former deputy chief of staff Uzi Dayan called on the army “to return the path of victory.” Former education and interior minister Gideon Sa’ar has stated that “The ‘victory paradigm,’ like Jabotinsky’s ‘Iron Wall’ concept, assumes that an agreement may be possible in the future, but only after a clear and decisive Israeli victory ... The transition to the ‘victory paradigm’ is contingent upon abandoning the Oslo concept.”
    In this context, the statements by Lieberman and Bennett point to a change in thinking. Lieberman quit his position as defense minister out of frustration that a barrage by Hamas of 460 rockets and missiles against Israel was met with a ceasefire; he called instead for “a state of despair” to be imposed on the enemies of Israel. Complaining that “Israel stopped winning,” Bennett demanded that the IDF “start winning again,” and added that “When Israel wants to win, we can win.” On rescinding his demand for the defense portfolio, Bennett emphasized that he stands by Netanyahu “in the monumental task of ensuring that Israel is victorious again.”
    >> Netanyahu’s vision for the Middle East has come true | Analysis
    Opponents of this paradigm then amusingly testified to the power of this idea of victory. Ma’ariv columnist Revital Amiran wrote that the victory the Israeli public most wants lies in such arenas as larger allocations for the elderly and unbearable traffic jams. Meretz leader Tamar Zandberg, replied to Bennett that for her, a victorious Israel means winning Emmy and Oscar nominations, guaranteeing equal health services, and spending more on education.
    That victory and defeat have newly become a topic for debate in Israel constitutes a major development. Thus does the push for an Israeli victory move forward.
    Daniel Pipes is president of the Middle East Forum think tank, which promotes Israel Victory, a project to steer U.S. policy toward backing an Israeli victory to resolve the conflict with the Palestinians. Follow him on Twitter @DanielPipes


  • CIA Intercepts Underpin Assessment Saudi Crown Prince Targeted Khashoggi - WSJ
    Conclusion that Mohammad ‘probably ordered’ killing relies in part on 11 messages he sent to adviser who oversaw hit squad around time it killed journalist

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/cia-intercepts-underpin-assessment-saudi-crown-prince-targeted-khashoggi-154364

    WASHINGTON—Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman sent at least 11 messages to his closest adviser, who oversaw the team that killed journalist Jamal Khashoggi, in the hours before and after the journalist’s death in October, according to a highly classified CIA assessment.

    The Saudi leader also in August 2017 had told associates that if his efforts to persuade Mr. Khashoggi to return to Saudi Arabia weren’t successful, “we could possibly lure him outside Saudi Arabia and make arrangements,” according to the assessment, a communication that it states “seems to foreshadow the Saudi operation launched against Khashoggi.”

    Mr. Khashoggi, a critic of the kingdom’s leadership who lived in Virginia and wrote columns for the Washington Post, was killed by Saudi operatives on Oct. 2 shortly after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, where he sought papers needed to marry his Turkish fiancée.

    Excerpts of the Central Intelligence Agency’s assessment, which cites electronic intercepts and other clandestine information, were reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

    The CIA last month concluded that Prince Mohammed had likely ordered Mr. Khashoggi’s killing, and President Trump and leaders in Congress were briefed on intelligence gathered by the spy agency. Mr. Trump afterward questioned the CIA’s conclusion about the prince, saying “maybe he did; and maybe he didn’t.”

    The previously unreported excerpts reviewed by the Journal state that the CIA has “medium-to-high confidence” that Prince Mohammed “personally targeted” Khashoggi and “probably ordered his death.” It added: “To be clear, we lack direct reporting of the Crown Prince issuing a kill order.”

    The electronic messages sent by Prince Mohammed were to Saud al-Qahtani, according to the CIA. Mr. Qahtani supervised the 15-man team that killed Mr. Khashoggi and, during the same period, was also in direct communication with the team’s leader in Istanbul, the assessment says. The content of the messages between Prince Mohammed and Mr. Qahtani isn’t known, the document says. It doesn’t say in what form the messages were sent.

    It is unclear from the excerpts whether the 2017 comments regarding luring Mr. Khashoggi to a third country cited in the assessment are from Prince Mohammed directly, or from someone else describing his remarks.

    Saudi Arabia has acknowledged Mr. Khashoggi was murdered in the consulate. But it has denied Prince Mohammed had any role and blamed the operation on rogue operatives. The Saudi Public Prosecutor’s office last month announced charges against 11 Saudis in connection with Mr. Khashoggi’s death, saying it would seek the death penalty in five cases. The office didn’t release their names.

    The U.S. Treasury Department in mid-November slapped sanctions on 17 Saudis whom it linked to the killing. But Mr. Trump, in a statement days later, said he intended to maintain strong relations with the crown prince because of Saudi Arabia’s opposition to Iran, its investments in the U.S. and its role in the oil market.

    The Trump administration’s posture has angered many in Congress, and the intercepts and intelligence gathered by the CIA may complicate Mr. Trump’s efforts to maintain relations with Prince Mohammed, the de facto leader one of the world’s biggest oil producers. The two are among the world’s leaders meeting this weekend in Buenos Aires for a summit of Group of 20 nations.

    Earlier this week, the Senate voted to begin consideration of a resolution to withdraw U.S. support for a Saudi-led military coalition fighting against Houthi rebels in Yemen, with senators venting their frustration over Mr. Trump’s reluctance to hold Prince Mohammed responsible for Mr. Khashoggi’s death.


  • Want To Increase Your Company Profile? 6 Ways Thought Leadership #marketing Can Help
    https://hackernoon.com/want-to-increase-your-company-profile-6-ways-thought-leadership-marketin

    Nicolas Cole InstagramThe term “thought leadership” is a fairly new one in the marketing world.To be perfectly honest, there are a million different names for what this marketing method is called. Some people call it “staying top of mind.” Some people call it “personal branding.” And some people just straight up call it PR. But there’s something unique about the term “thought leadership,” and that’s because it’s not a destination or a title.It’s an action.To be “a leader of thoughts” is essentially just a funny way of saying “I actively participate in conversations.” That’s it. And where so many companies, founders, executives, and industry experts go wrong is they think thought leadership is something they can buy. They mistake thought leadership with a press feature, or a high-performing ad, or being (...)

    #thought-leadership #personal-branding #startup #content-marketing


  • 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


  • #Operazione_Libero

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


  • Cheap Words | The New Yorker
    https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/02/17/cheap-words

    Amazon is a global superstore, like Walmart. It’s also a hardware manufacturer, like Apple, and a utility, like Con Edison, and a video distributor, like Netflix, and a book publisher, like Random House, and a production studio, like Paramount, and a literary magazine, like The Paris Review, and a grocery deliverer, like FreshDirect, and someday it might be a package service, like U.P.S. Its founder and chief executive, Jeff Bezos, also owns a major newspaper, the Washington Post. All these streams and tributaries make Amazon something radically new in the history of American business.

    Recently, Amazon even started creating its own “content”—publishing books. The results have been decidedly mixed. A monopoly is dangerous because it concentrates so much economic power, but in the book business the prospect of a single owner of both the means of production and the modes of distribution is especially worrisome: it would give Amazon more control over the exchange of ideas than any company in U.S. history. Even in the iPhone age, books remain central to American intellectual life, and perhaps to democracy. And so the big question is not just whether Amazon is bad for the book industry; it’s whether Amazon is bad for books.

    According to Marcus, Amazon executives considered publishing people “antediluvian losers with rotary phones and inventory systems designed in 1968 and warehouses full of crap.” Publishers kept no data on customers, making their bets on books a matter of instinct rather than metrics. They were full of inefficiences, starting with overpriced Manhattan offices. There was “a general feeling that the New York publishing business was just this cloistered, Gilded Age antique just barely getting by in a sort of Colonial Williamsburg of commerce, but when Amazon waded into this they would show publishing how it was done.”

    During the 1999 holiday season, Amazon tried publishing books, leasing the rights to a defunct imprint called Weathervane and putting out a few titles. “These were not incipient best-sellers,” Marcus writes. “They were creatures from the black lagoon of the remainder table”—Christmas recipes and the like, selected with no apparent thought. Employees with publishing experience, like Fried, were not consulted. Weathervane fell into an oblivion so complete that there’s no trace of it on the Internet. (Representatives at the company today claim never to have heard of it.) Nobody at Amazon seemed to absorb any lessons from the failure. A decade later, the company would try again.

    Around this time, a group called the “personalization team,” or P13N, started to replace editorial suggestions for readers with algorithms that used customers’ history to make recommendations for future purchases. At Amazon, “personalization” meant data analytics and statistical probability. Author interviews became less frequent, and in-house essays were subsumed by customer reviews, which cost the company nothing. Tim Appelo, the entertainment editor at the time, said, “You could be the Platonic ideal of the reviewer, and you would not beat even those rather crude early algorithms.” Amazon’s departments competed with one another almost as fiercely as they did with other companies. According to Brad Stone, a trash-talking sign was hung on a wall in the P13N office: “people forget that john henry died in the end.” Machines defeated human beings.

    In December, 1999, at the height of the dot-com mania, Time named Bezos its Person of the Year. “Amazon isn’t about technology or even commerce,” the breathless cover article announced. “Amazon is, like every other site on the Web, a content play.” Yet this was the moment, Marcus said, when “content” people were “on the way out.” Although the writers and the editors made the site more interesting, and easier to navigate, they didn’t bring more customers.

    The fact that Amazon once devoted significant space on its site to editorial judgments—to thinking and writing—would be an obscure footnote if not for certain turns in the company’s more recent history. According to one insider, around 2008—when the company was selling far more than books, and was making twenty billion dollars a year in revenue, more than the combined sales of all other American bookstores—Amazon began thinking of content as central to its business. Authors started to be considered among the company’s most important customers. By then, Amazon had lost much of the market in selling music and videos to Apple and Netflix, and its relations with publishers were deteriorating. These difficulties offended Bezos’s ideal of “seamless” commerce. “The company despises friction in the marketplace,” the Amazon insider said. “It’s easier for us to sell books and make books happen if we do it our way and not deal with others. It’s a tech-industry thing: ‘We think we can do it better.’ ” If you could control the content, you controlled everything.

    Many publishers had come to regard Amazon as a heavy in khakis and oxford shirts. In its drive for profitability, Amazon did not raise retail prices; it simply squeezed its suppliers harder, much as Walmart had done with manufacturers. Amazon demanded ever-larger co-op fees and better shipping terms; publishers knew that they would stop being favored by the site’s recommendation algorithms if they didn’t comply. Eventually, they all did. (Few customers realize that the results generated by Amazon’s search engine are partly determined by promotional fees.)

    In late 2007, at a press conference in New York, Bezos unveiled the Kindle, a simple, lightweight device that—in a crucial improvement over previous e-readers—could store as many as two hundred books, downloaded from Amazon’s 3G network. Bezos announced that the price of best-sellers and new titles would be nine-ninety-nine, regardless of length or quality—a figure that Bezos, inspired by Apple’s sale of songs on iTunes for ninety-nine cents, basically pulled out of thin air. Amazon had carefully concealed the number from publishers. “We didn’t want to let that cat out of the bag,” Steele said.

    The price was below wholesale in some cases, and so low that it represented a serious threat to the market in twenty-six-dollar hardcovers. Bookstores that depended on hardcover sales—from Barnes & Noble and Borders (which liquidated its business in 2011) to Rainy Day Books in Kansas City—glimpsed their possible doom. If reading went entirely digital, what purpose would they serve? The next year, 2008, which brought the financial crisis, was disastrous for bookstores and publishers alike, with widespread layoffs.

    By 2010, Amazon controlled ninety per cent of the market in digital books—a dominance that almost no company, in any industry, could claim. Its prohibitively low prices warded off competition.

    Publishers looked around for a competitor to Amazon, and they found one in Apple, which was getting ready to introduce the iPad, and the iBooks Store. Apple wanted a deal with each of the Big Six houses (Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin, Random House, and Simon & Schuster) that would allow the publishers to set the retail price of titles on iBooks, with Apple taking a thirty-per-cent commission on each sale. This was known as the “agency model,” and, in some ways, it offered the publishers a worse deal than selling wholesale to Amazon. But it gave publishers control over pricing and a way to challenge Amazon’s grip on the market. Apple’s terms included the provision that it could match the price of any rival, which induced the publishers to impose the agency model on all digital retailers, including Amazon.

    Five of the Big Six went along with Apple. (Random House was the holdout.) Most of the executives let Amazon know of the change by phone or e-mail, but John Sargent flew out to Seattle to meet with four Amazon executives, including Russ Grandinetti, the vice-president of Kindle content. In an e-mail to a friend, Sargent wrote, “Am on my way out to Seattle to get my ass kicked by Amazon.”

    Sargent’s gesture didn’t seem to matter much to the Amazon executives, who were used to imposing their own terms. Seated at a table in a small conference room, Sargent said that Macmillan wanted to switch to the agency model for e-books, and that if Amazon refused Macmillan would withhold digital editions until seven months after print publication. The discussion was angry and brief. After twenty minutes, Grandinetti escorted Sargent out of the building. The next day, Amazon removed the buy buttons from Macmillan’s print and digital titles on its site, only to restore them a week later, under heavy criticism. Amazon unwillingly accepted the agency model, and within a couple of months e-books were selling for as much as fourteen dollars and ninety-nine cents.

    Amazon filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. In April, 2012, the Justice Department sued Apple and the five publishers for conspiring to raise prices and restrain competition. Eventually, all the publishers settled with the government. (Macmillan was the last, after Sargent learned that potential damages could far exceed the equity value of the company.) Macmillan was obliged to pay twenty million dollars, and Penguin seventy-five million—enormous sums in a business that has always struggled to maintain respectable profit margins.

    Apple fought the charges, and the case went to trial last June. Grandinetti, Sargent, and others testified in the federal courthouse in lower Manhattan. As proof of collusion, the government presented evidence of e-mails, phone calls, and dinners among the Big Six publishers during their negotiations with Apple. Sargent and other executives acknowledged that they wanted higher prices for e-books, but they argued that the evidence showed them only to be competitors in an incestuous business, not conspirators. On July 10th, Judge Denise Cote ruled in the government’s favor.

    Apple, facing up to eight hundred and forty million dollars in damages, has appealed. As Apple and the publishers see it, the ruling ignored the context of the case: when the key events occurred, Amazon effectively had a monopoly in digital books and was selling them so cheaply that it resembled predatory pricing—a barrier to entry for potential competitors. Since then, Amazon’s share of the e-book market has dropped, levelling off at about sixty-five per cent, with the rest going largely to Apple and to Barnes & Noble, which sells the Nook e-reader. In other words, before the feds stepped in, the agency model introduced competition to the market. But the court’s decision reflected a trend in legal thinking among liberals and conservatives alike, going back to the seventies, that looks at antitrust cases from the perspective of consumers, not producers: what matters is lowering prices, even if that goal comes at the expense of competition.

    With Amazon’s patented 1-Click shopping, which already knows your address and credit-card information, there’s just you and the buy button; transactions are as quick and thoughtless as scratching an itch. “It’s sort of a masturbatory culture,” the marketing executive said. If you pay seventy-nine dollars annually to become an Amazon Prime member, a box with the Amazon smile appears at your door two days after you click, with free shipping. Amazon’s next frontier is same-day delivery: first in certain American cities, then throughout the U.S., then the world. In December, the company patented “anticipatory shipping,” which will use your shopping data to put items that you don’t yet know you want to buy, but will soon enough, on a truck or in a warehouse near you.

    Amazon employs or subcontracts tens of thousands of warehouse workers, with seasonal variation, often building its fulfillment centers in areas with high unemployment and low wages. Accounts from inside the centers describe the work of picking, boxing, and shipping books and dog food and beard trimmers as a high-tech version of the dehumanized factory floor satirized in Chaplin’s “Modern Times.” Pickers holding computerized handsets are perpetually timed and measured as they fast-walk up to eleven miles per shift around a million-square-foot warehouse, expected to collect orders in as little as thirty-three seconds. After watching footage taken by an undercover BBC reporter, a stress expert said, “The evidence shows increased risk of mental illness and physical illness.” The company says that its warehouse jobs are “similar to jobs in many other industries.”

    When I spoke with Grandinetti, he expressed sympathy for publishers faced with upheaval. “The move to people reading digitally and buying books digitally is the single biggest change that any of us in the book business will experience in our time,” he said. “Because the change is particularly big in size, and because we happen to be a leader in making it, a lot of that fear gets projected onto us.” Bezos also argues that Amazon’s role is simply to usher in inevitable change. After giving “60 Minutes” a first glimpse of Amazon drone delivery, Bezos told Charlie Rose, “Amazon is not happening to bookselling. The future is happening to bookselling.”

    In Grandinetti’s view, the Kindle “has helped the book business make a more orderly transition to a mixed print and digital world than perhaps any other medium.” Compared with people who work in music, movies, and newspapers, he said, authors are well positioned to thrive. The old print world of scarcity—with a limited number of publishers and editors selecting which manuscripts to publish, and a limited number of bookstores selecting which titles to carry—is yielding to a world of digital abundance. Grandinetti told me that, in these new circumstances, a publisher’s job “is to build a megaphone.”

    After the Kindle came out, the company established Amazon Publishing, which is now a profitable empire of digital works: in addition to Kindle Singles, it has mystery, thriller, romance, and Christian lines; it publishes translations and reprints; it has a self-service fan-fiction platform; and it offers an extremely popular self-publishing platform. Authors become Amazon partners, earning up to seventy per cent in royalties, as opposed to the fifteen per cent that authors typically make on hardcovers. Bezos touts the biggest successes, such as Theresa Ragan, whose self-published thrillers and romances have been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times. But one survey found that half of all self-published authors make less than five hundred dollars a year.

    Every year, Fine distributes grants of twenty-five thousand dollars, on average, to dozens of hard-up literary organizations. Beneficiaries include the pen American Center, the Loft Literary Center, in Minneapolis, and the magazine Poets & Writers. “For Amazon, it’s the cost of doing business, like criminal penalties for banks,” the arts manager said, suggesting that the money keeps potential critics quiet. Like liberal Democrats taking Wall Street campaign contributions, the nonprofits don’t advertise the grants. When the Best Translated Book Award received money from Amazon, Dennis Johnson, of Melville House, which had received the prize that year, announced that his firm would no longer compete for it. “Every translator in America wrote me saying I was a son of a bitch,” Johnson said. A few nonprofit heads privately told him, “I wanted to speak out, but I might have taken four thousand dollars from them, too.” A year later, at the Associated Writing Programs conference, Fine shook Johnson’s hand, saying, “I just wanted to thank you—that was the best publicity we could have had.” (Fine denies this.)

    By producing its own original work, Amazon can sell more devices and sign up more Prime members—a major source of revenue. While the company was building the Kindle, it started a digital store for streaming music and videos, and, around the same time it launched Amazon Publishing, it created Amazon Studios.

    The division pursued an unusual way of producing television series, using its strength in data collection. Amazon invited writers to submit scripts on its Web site—“an open platform for content creators,” as Bill Carr, the vice-president for digital music and video, put it. Five thousand scripts poured in, and Amazon chose to develop fourteen into pilots. Last spring, Amazon put the pilots on its site, where customers could review them and answer a detailed questionnaire. (“Please rate the following aspects of this show: The humor, the characters . . . ”) More than a million customers watched. Engineers also developed software, called Amazon Storyteller, which scriptwriters can use to create a “storyboard animatic”—a cartoon rendition of a script’s plot—allowing pilots to be visualized without the expense of filming. The difficulty, according to Carr, is to “get the right feedback and the right data, and, of the many, many data points that I can collect from customers, which ones can tell you, ‘This is the one’?”

    Bezos applying his “take no prisoners” pragmatism to the Post: “There are conflicts of interest with Amazon’s many contracts with the government, and he’s got so many policy issues going, like sales tax.” One ex-employee who worked closely with Bezos warned, “At Amazon, drawing a distinction between content people and business people is a foreign concept.”

    Perhaps buying the Post was meant to be a good civic deed. Bezos has a family foundation, but he has hardly involved himself in philanthropy. In 2010, Charlie Rose asked him what he thought of Bill Gates’s challenge to other billionaires to give away most of their wealth. Bezos didn’t answer. Instead, he launched into a monologue on the virtue of markets in solving social problems, and somehow ended up touting the Kindle.

    Bezos bought a newspaper for much the same reason that he has invested money in a project for commercial space travel: the intellectual challenge. With the Post, the challenge is to turn around a money-losing enterprise in a damaged industry, and perhaps to show a way for newspapers to thrive again.

    Lately, digital titles have levelled off at about thirty per cent of book sales. Whatever the temporary fluctuations in publishers’ profits, the long-term outlook is discouraging. This is partly because Americans don’t read as many books as they used to—they are too busy doing other things with their devices—but also because of the relentless downward pressure on prices that Amazon enforces. The digital market is awash with millions of barely edited titles, most of it dreck, while readers are being conditioned to think that books are worth as little as a sandwich. “Amazon has successfully fostered the idea that a book is a thing of minimal value,” Johnson said. “It’s a widget.”

    There are two ways to think about this. Amazon believes that its approach encourages ever more people to tell their stories to ever more people, and turns writers into entrepreneurs; the price per unit might be cheap, but the higher number of units sold, and the accompanying royalties, will make authors wealthier. Jane Friedman, of Open Road, is unfazed by the prospect that Amazon might destroy the old model of publishing. “They are practicing the American Dream—competition is good!” she told me. Publishers, meanwhile, “have been banks for authors. Advances have been very high.” In Friedman’s view, selling digital books at low prices will democratize reading: “What do you want as an author—to sell books to as few people as possible for as much as possible, or for as little as possible to as many readers as possible?”

    The answer seems self-evident, but there is a more skeptical view. Several editors, agents, and authors told me that the money for serious fiction and nonfiction has eroded dramatically in recent years; advances on mid-list titles—books that are expected to sell modestly but whose quality gives them a strong chance of enduring—have declined by a quarter.

    #Amazon


  • Billions of Euro ‘Disappeared’ From Frozen Accounts of Muammar Gaddafi. They Were Used to Finance War in Libya.
    https://www.globalresearch.ca/billions-of-euro-disappeared-from-frozen-accounts-of-muammar-gaddafi-they-were-used-to-finance-war-in-libya/5658667?platform=hootsuite

    The UN is investigating the alleged embezzlement of up to €5 billion that disappeared from accounts owned by Muammar Gaddafi, the former Libyan leader, according to Belgian MP Georges Gilkinet.

    “UN documents confirm that Belgium failed to comply with a UN resolution on freezing Libyan assets,” he told the Belgian news network RTBF.

    He said that so far, he had received fragmented information from Belgian authorities and that is vital “to clarify the situation, which may lead to a big scandal, because hundreds of millions of euros were sent to unknown individuals in Libya who were not known.”

    RTBF also cited an anonymous source claiming that since 2013 the missing assets from the accounts have allegedly been used to “finance a civil war which led to a major migration crisis.”

    In Belgium, the probe which is headed by investigator Michel Claise comes amid reports that a portion of Gaddafi’s assets could be sent to the Libyan Investment Authority, a sovereign fund.

    Furthermore, a special UN report also suggested that the money was received by the Libyan Investment Authority. As reported by Sputnik, its complex structure makes it almost impossible to find out what these funds were allocated for.


  • 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


  • Somali returned to Libya under Italian policy sets himself on fire

    A Somali man set himself on fire in a Libyan detention centre on Wednesday, according to fellow detainees and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

    The man, who is in his late 20s, reportedly doused himself in petrol from a generator in the centre and lit it, after telling friends he had lost hope of being relocated to a safe country.

    Sources told The Irish Times the man carried out the action after being told he had little chance of evacuation by visiting officials from the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR). The UNHCR said it was trying to verify this.

    IOM spokesman Joel Millman said the detainee had set himself on fire as an “act of protest”.

    “He was admitted into the hospital yesterday in Tripoli in the burn centre for intensive medical care. Our medical team visited him and informed the management that they are willing to support if it is needed,” he said.

    However, a fellow detainee said he believed the Somali man had died. “All refugees have [a] very bad feeling. Today [we’re] not eating at all because so many people have died.” This would be the eighth death in Triq al Sikka centre this year, according to the detainee.

    Tens of thousands of refugees and migrants have been returned to Libya since February 2017, when the country’s UN-backed government entered into a deal with Italy to prevent migration to Europe. Italian politicians have called the deal a success, because it has reduced the number of people arriving on their shores.
    Rife with abuse

    However, for the men, women and children returned to Libya, the situation is bleak. More than a dozen detainees across Tripoli contacted by phone have described detention centres rife with abuse, where they’re fed once a day at most, forced to work, and sometimes beaten or raped. Overcrowding has led to the spread of infectious diseases like tuberculosis.

    A Somali man set himself on fire in a Libyan detention centre on Wednesday, according to fellow detainees and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

    The man, who is in his late 20s, reportedly doused himself in petrol from a generator in the centre and lit it, after telling friends he had lost hope of being relocated to a safe country.

    Sources told The Irish Times the man carried out the action after being told he had little chance of evacuation by visiting officials from the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR). The UNHCR said it was trying to verify this.

    IOM spokesman Joel Millman said the detainee had set himself on fire as an “act of protest”.

    “He was admitted into the hospital yesterday in Tripoli in the burn centre for intensive medical care. Our medical team visited him and informed the management that they are willing to support if it is needed,” he said.

    However, a fellow detainee said he believed the Somali man had died. “All refugees have [a] very bad feeling. Today [we’re] not eating at all because so many people have died.” This would be the eighth death in #Triq_al-Sikka centre this year, according to the detainee.

    Tens of thousands of refugees and migrants have been returned to Libya since February 2017, when the country’s UN-backed government entered into a deal with Italy to prevent migration to Europe. Italian politicians have called the deal a success, because it has reduced the number of people arriving on their shores.

    Rife with abuse

    However, for the men, women and children returned to Libya, the situation is bleak. More than a dozen detainees across Tripoli contacted by phone have described detention centres rife with abuse, where they’re fed once a day at most, forced to work, and sometimes beaten or raped. Overcrowding has led to the spread of infectious diseases like tuberculosis.

    Those detained include pregnant women and children of all ages.

    Sources in #Zintan, a detention centre 180km southwest of Tripoli, said that four detainees have died there within the past month. They say the poor conditions, including a lack of sanitation, have caused or contributed to the deaths.

    In Tripoli, detainees in two centres said their families at home are being forced to send money for them to buy food because managers in the Libyan department for combating illegal immigration (DCIM)-run centres say there is no other way for them to eat.
    Cross the Mediterranean

    Many detainees’ families have already paid ransoms of more than $2,000 to smugglers who held them prisoner, regularly torturing them, before allowing them to attempt to cross the Mediterranean.

    One man said the manager in his centre withholds food depending on his mood and whims. “If the leader of the detention centre gets happy by something in his own personal situation he tries to serve us food, if [he] not get happy he tries to stop it.”

    In September, the UNHCR updated its policy to say Libya is no longer a safe country to return people to. The organisation is currently registering detainees from countries including Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan and Ethiopia, who cannot return home or are unwilling to because of conflict or fear of persecution. Many are hoping for evacuation from Libya, but the number of resettlement places currently offered by other countries is very limited.

    https://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/africa/somali-returned-to-libya-under-italian-policy-sets-himself-on-fire-1.367
    #décès #mort #asile #migrations #réfugiés #réfugiés_somaliens #Italie #expulsions #renvois Libye #détention #centre_de_détention #suicide


  • The Grand Refugee Hotel: The Sequel to My Grandfather’s Germany

    On a visit to one of Germany’s most radical refugee integration experiments, U.S. migration journalist and academic Daniela Gerson went in search of her family history and found an increasingly uneasy relationship between past and present.

    At the #Grand_Hotel_Cosmopolis, an African teenager served cappuccinos to European travelers below clocks telling the time in Kabul, Damascus, Grozny and other global centers of crisis.

    Lamin Saidy – sporting a style he described as “American proper” with tight jeans, lots of earrings and a big smile – was 13 when he fled violence in the Gambia. After he arrived in Germany as a refugee, he was told about this place, where tourists, asylum seekers and artists all share one building. The hotel is run by staff composed of a core group of resident German artists and a diverse team that includes volunteers who may be refugees like Saidy or local college students who want to join the experiment.

    Then, in the fall of 2016, at a meeting in Washington, D.C., on immigration, a public artist gave a presentation on cultural integration initiatives in #Augsburg like none I had seen in more than a decade of reporting on immigration in the United States and Europe.

    The artist flashed images of the migrant job center, cafe and immigrant rights organization called Tuer an Tuer, which helped convince the city to take a stance against large institutional centers. Instead, all asylum seekers in Augsburg have been housed in residences of 100 or fewer people. She also showed photos of the colorful, boundary-bending Grand Hotel. This was Augsburg? It was definitely not the city of my imagination.

    Soon after, my mother forwarded me an invitation. In summer 2017, there was going to be a gathering of Jews from Augsburg and their families to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the synagogue. I set off, eager to explore my family’s past and to see if a city I associated with historic brutality had succeeded in building a more welcoming society as a result.
    A Welcoming Nation

    When I arrived in Munich, the Bavarian capital, I borrowed a friend’s bike and pedaled down to the vast main train station. In 2015, in what was known as the Welcoming Summer, more than 1 million asylum seekers came to Germany and the station was full of arriving migrants. There was such an outpouring of public support for them that they had to close the station to donations.

    Two years later, the backlash was mounting. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government had taken steps to slow the tide of arrivals, limiting countries from which people are eligible for asylum and speeding up deportations of people whose applications had been rejected.

    Munich’s size has helped mask the impact of the refugee influx. Augsburg, founded more than 2,000 years ago, is a different story. With a population approaching 300,000, and a popular destination for refugees and foreign laborers, it was a contender to become the first majority minority city in Germany. Now almost 50 percent residents have a “migration background.”

    After a quick train trip an hour east of Munich, I biked across Augsburg’s picture-perfect main square of churches and beer gardens, passing by women strolling in hijabs and Chechnyan kids racing in circles on scooters. And near one of the largest cathedrals, down a cobblestone street, I found the Grand Hotel Cosmopolis. On first impression, it hardly felt grand, but rather like the 1960s old-age home it once was, converted into a lively Berlin artists’ squatter house.

    In a sun-drenched garden, I joined two of the artist founders and a refugee artist for a vegetarian lunch cooked in the communal basement kitchen. As we ate, they explained that the building had been abandoned for six years when some local artists spotted it and inquired about renting it out as a temporary exhibition space. But the owners, a Protestant social enterprise, said they had already entered into negotiations with the government to house asylum seekers.

    That’s when the idea came up to merge the two concepts, and add a hotel. The artists take care of the hotel, cafe and ateliers. The social enterprise, with government support, provides housing for the migrants.

    Three days after the first asylum seekers moved in, it became clear to the artists this was not just a utopian experiment in aesthetics and communal living when the first deportation letter for one of its residents arrived. “Many of the artists stopped their artistic work,” one of my guides, Susa Gunzner, told me. Instead, they focused all of their energies on learning about immigration laws and how to help the refugees.

    After lunch, I toured the 12 uniquely designed hotel rooms: One was bordello hot pink, another constructed to feel like a container ship, a third had a forest growing through it. My stark room, with a long wooden bench of a bed and simple, low table, struck me as a very elegant prison cell.

    Three days after the first asylum seekers moved in, it became clear to the artists this was not just a utopian experiment in aesthetics and communal living when the first deportation letter for one of its residents arrived.

    Gunzner, who teamed up with an Iranian artist to create the room, told me it symbolized freedom. The room is a homage to a Persian woman who moved with her family to Europe at the beginning of the 20th century and later became a spy against the Nazis. Gunzner pointed out illustrations of trees on the wall from Shiraz. “We are always trying to enrich each other and find out – sometimes through very slow processes – who the other person is,” she told me.

    Left on my own, I walked downstairs to the refugee floor, and passed a half-dozen or so baby carriages crowding the stairwell. I had been warned I was only allowed to intrude if an asylum seeker invited me in. The founders of the hotel like to say they “only have guests – with and without asylum.” I was also struck by the strangeness of putting us all in one building as fellow travelers: people on holiday rubbing elbows with people who have been running for their lives.

    Not far from Augsburg, in the aftermath of World War II, my other grandparents – on my father’s side – landed in a very different type of refugee camp, set up by the United Nations and largely funded by the United States. They were Polish Jews whose families had been slaughtered in the streets and in concentration camps. They survived the war in Siberian labor camps and in Uzbek villages, where my father was born.

    In the desperate limbo of the displaced persons camp, they created a community – my grandfather took part in local governance; my father remembers a pet dog, Blackie, a synagogue and a school. What would my grandmother have said if artists lived upstairs and American tourists stayed for a week or two, temporarily sharing her first home outside Poland, the place where my father formed his first memories? Would she have appreciated the attention, or would she have felt like a monkey in the zoo?
    The Shadow of the Past

    It was not the first time that I had traveled to Germany and discovered echoes of my family’s past in my present, as I grapple with issues of migration, persecution and intolerance today as a journalist and academic.

    A decade ago, I spent a little over a year researching contemporary guest worker policies in Berlin and Bonn. Despite my last living relative who survived the Holocaust reprimanding me that Germany was no place for a nice Jewish girl, I fell for the country’s bike and cafe culture, numerous lakes and deliberate approach to its troubled history. I almost always felt welcome as a Jew. Even my neighbor who was a neo-Nazi was dating a Venezuelan and liked to come over and chat with me. Another neighbor, whose grandfather had been active in Hitler Youth, became one of my closest friends.

    Though I was sometimes disturbed by the recent stance that Germany was not a country of immigration, as well as the focus on integration – this notion some leaders interpreted as demanding that newcomers should cede their other cultural identities – I, in many ways, felt that Germany had dealt with its past in ways that could be a lesson to all nations.

    Ten years later, I visited a Germany increasingly conflicted about its moral obligations as it confronted the refugee crisis. And in Augsburg the juxtaposition of this tolerant, generous nation and the pernicious shadow of its intolerant past were in stark relief.

    I left the Grand Hotel on Sunday morning to meet other descendants of Augsburg Jews in the glorious sanctuary of the synagogue built in 1917. The descendants of those who fled the Nazis, or had the foresight or luck to leave before the war, had traveled from South Africa, Norway, Israel and across the United States. Civil leaders turned out in large numbers to pledge “never again.” It was a familiar message. But the synagogue’s attic museum reminded me how quickly a nation can shift toward hate. For the first time, it felt less like a history lesson and more like a warning that struck very close to home.

    In Augsburg, the juxtaposition of this tolerant, generous nation, and the pernicious shadow of its intolerant past were in stark relief.

    Created in 1985, the Augsburg synagogue houses the first independent museum in Germany dedicated to Jewish history. It tells the story of how there were only 1,500 Jews in Augsburg when the Nazis came, but they enjoyed comfortable local prominence. The synagogue is a clear sign of that position. Congregants built the sanctuary – one of the most beautiful I have ever seen, with its 95ft (29m) dome and an architectural style that spans from Byzantine and Oriental elements to Art Noveau – investing in what they imagined would be a vibrant future in Augsburg.

    I was struck by a slide titled “Integration through Achievement.” The museum describes the dreams of these Jews, and it reminded me of the aspirations of many of the asylum seekers I met during my stay in Augsburg. They did not want just to live free from danger, they wanted an opportunity to be productive, successful German citizens. Chillingly, the museum concludes, the local Jewish communities were “extinguished totally.”
    Looking Back, Looking Forward

    In the year since my visit to the synagogue, I have covered U.S. authorities tearing apart asylum-seeking families as part of a larger, often vicious, crackdown. While I wish I could at least point to Germany today as a model of how to do things differently, the picture is unfortunately not so black and white.

    In German elections last fall, the far-right anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany party – whose senior member maintains that the country should be more positive about its Nazi past – won 13 percent of the popular vote. According to current polls, the party is on track to win around a similar proportion of votes in upcoming regional parliamentary elections in Bavaria on October 14.

    This year, the leader of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s sister party in Bavaria, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, pushed her to clamp down on border policy. In the eastern German city of Chemnitz, far-right protests against immigrants in recent weeks were accompanied by xenophobic tirades.

    In August Seehofer instituted the beginning of a new plan in Bavaria that could soon transform how asylum seekers are treated. In what he described as a national model, the goal is to expedite rapid deportations. Most new asylum seekers will be transported to institutions that can house more than 1,000 people, where they will not be in contact with anyone who is not an official or a lawyer or has specific permission.

    “That’s the opposite of what we tried to do in the last years, now we are going two steps back,” said Tuelay Ates-Brunner, the managing director of Tuer an Tuer. “For people who will be rejected, nobody will see them, nobody will know them.”

    “My first impression was that I felt like I was in a new world,” Saidy told me to the beat of Afro Pop on the jukebox. “The hotel is kind of incomparable.”

    The Grand Hotel is located in Augsburg, an ancient German city on Bavaria’s tourist-trod Romantic Road. It is also the place where my mother’s father was born. He was one of the first boys to have a bar mitzvah in the ornate, domed synagogue in Augsburg – just a few years before the Jews were forced to flee or perished at the hands of the Nazis.

    Nearly a century later, I went to stay at the Grand Hotel – one of Germany’s most radical refugee integration experiments.

    Like so many inherited homelands, Augsburg was a mythical place for me, formed from family memories I had never lived – portraits of stern ancestors, the men with elaborate waxy mustaches, the buxom women with beautifully tailored clothes and lace collars. My Augsburg froze when the Nazis took over.


    https://www.newsdeeply.com/refugees/articles/2018/10/08/the-grand-refugee-hotel-the-sequel-to-my-grandfathers-germany

    #Allemagne #hôtel #réfugiés #travail #migrations #asile


  • Uganda’s refugee policies: the history, the politics, the way forward

    Uganda’s refugee policy urgently needs an honest discussion, if sustainable solutions for both refugees and host communities are to be found, a new policy paper by International Refugee Rights Initiative (IRRI) reveals.

    The paper, entitled Uganda’s refugee policies: the history, the politics, the way forward puts the “Ugandan model” in its historical and political context, shines a spotlight on its implementation gaps, and proposes recommendations for the way forward.

    Uganda has since 2013 opened its borders to hundreds of thousands of refugees from South Sudan, bringing the total number of refugees to more than one million. It has been praised for its positive steps on freedom of movement and access to work for refugees, going against the global grain. But generations of policy, this paper shows, have only entrenched the sole focus on refugee settlements and on repatriation as the only viable durable solution. Support to urban refugees and local integration have been largely overlooked.

    The Ugandan refugee crisis unfolded at the same time as the UN adopted the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, and states committed to implement a Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF). Uganda immediately seized this opportunity and adopted its own strategy to implement these principles. As the world looks to Uganda for best practices in refugee policy, and rightly so, it is vital to understand the gaps between rhetoric and reality, and the pitfalls of Uganda’s policy. This paper identifies the following challenges:

    There is a danger that the promotion of progressive refugee policies becomes more rhetoric than reality, creating a smoke-screen that squeezes out meaningful discussion about robust alternatives. Policy-making has come at the expense of real qualitative change on the ground.
    Refugees in urban areas continue to be largely excluded from any support due to an ongoing focus on refugee settlements, including through aid provision
    Local integration and access to citizenship have been virtually abandoned, leaving voluntary repatriation as the only solution on the table. Given the protracted crises in South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo, this remains unrealistic.
    Host communities remain unheard, with policy conversations largely taking place in Kampala and Geneva. Many Ugandans and refugees have neither the economic resources nor sufficient political leverage to influence the policies that are meant to benefit them.

    The policy paper proposes a number of recommendations to improve the Ugandan refugee model:

    First, international donors need to deliver on their promise of significant financial support.
    Second, repatriation cannot remain the only serious option on the table. There has to be renewed discussion on local integration with Uganda communities and a dramatic increase in resettlement to wealthier states across the globe.
    Third, local communities hosting refugees must be consulted and their voices incorporated in a more meaningful and systematic way, if tensions within and between communities are to be avoided.
    Fourth, in order to genuinely enhance refugee self-reliance, the myth of the “local settlement” needs to be debunked and recognized for what it is: the ongoing isolation of refugees and the utilization of humanitarian assistance to keep them isolated and dependent on aid.


    http://refugee-rights.org/uganda-refugee-policies-the-history-the-politics-the-way-forward
    #modèle_ougandais #Ouganda #asile #migrations #réfugiés

    Pour télécharger le #rapport:
    http://refugee-rights.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/IRRI-Uganda-policy-paper-October-2018-Paper.pdf

    • A New Deal for Refugees

      Global policies that aim to resettle and integrate displaced populations into local societies is providing a way forward.

      For many years now, groups that work with refugees have fought to put an end to the refugee camp. It’s finally starting to happen.

      Camps are a reasonable solution to temporary dislocation. But refugee crises can go on for decades. Millions of refugees have lived in their country of shelter for more than 30 years. Two-thirds of humanitarian assistance — intended for emergencies — is spent on crises that are more than eight years old.

      Camps are stagnant places. Refugees have access to water and medical care and are fed and educated, but are largely idle. “You keep people for 20 years in camps — don’t expect the next generation to be problem-free,” said Xavier Devictor, who advises the World Bank on refugee issues. “Keeping people in those conditions is not a good idea.” It’s also hard to imagine a better breeding ground for terrorists.

      “As long as the system is ‘we feed you,’ it’s always going to be too expensive for the international community to pay for,” Mr. Devictor said. It’s gotten more and more difficult for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to raise that money; in many crises, the refugee agency can barely keep people from starving. It’s even harder now as nations turn against foreigners — even as the number of people fleeing war and violence has reached a record high.

      At the end of last year, nearly 70 million people were either internally displaced in their own countries, or had crossed a border and become a refugee. That is the largest number of displaced in history — yes, more than at the end of World War II. The vast majority flee to neighboring countries — which can be just as badly off.

      Last year, the United States accepted about 30,000 refugees.

      Uganda, which is a global model for how it treats refugees, has one-seventh of America’s population and a tiny fraction of the wealth. Yet it took in 1,800 refugees per day between mid-2016 and mid-2017 from South Sudan alone. And that’s one of four neighbors whose people take refuge in Uganda.

      Bangladesh, already the world’s most crowded major nation, has accepted more than a million Rohingya fleeing ethnic cleansing in Myanmar. “If we can feed 160 million people, then (feeding) another 500,00-700,000 …. We can do it. We can share our food,” Shiekh Hasina, Bangladesh’s prime minister, said last year.

      Lebanon is host to approximately 1.5 million Syrian refugees, in addition to a half-million Palestinians, some of whom have been there for generations. One in three residents of Lebanon is a refugee.

      The refugee burden falls heavily on a few, poor countries, some of them at risk of destabilization, which can in turn produce more refugees. The rest of the world has been unwilling to share that burden.

      But something happened that could lead to real change: Beginning in 2015, hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees crossed the Mediterranean in small boats and life rafts into Europe.

      Suddenly, wealthy European countries got interested in fixing a broken system: making it more financially viable, more dignified for refugees, and more palatable for host governments and communities.

      In September 2016, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously passed a resolution stating that all countries shared the responsibility of protecting refugees and supporting host countries. It also laid out a plan to move refugees out of camps into normal lives in their host nations.

      Donor countries agreed they would take more refugees and provide more long-term development aid to host countries: schools, hospitals, roads and job-creation measures that can help both refugees and the communities they settle in. “It looked at refugee crises as development opportunities, rather than a humanitarian risk to be managed,” said Marcus Skinner, a policy adviser at the International Rescue Committee.

      The General Assembly will vote on the specifics next month (whatever they come up with won’t be binding). The Trump administration pulled out of the United Nations’ Global Compact on Migration, but so far it has not opposed the refugee agreement.

      There’s a reason refugee camps exist: Host governments like them. Liberating refugees is a hard sell. In camps, refugees are the United Nations’ problem. Out of camps, refugees are the local governments’ problem. And they don’t want to do anything to make refugees comfortable or welcome.

      Bangladesh’s emergency response for the Rohingya has been staggeringly generous. But “emergency” is the key word. The government has resisted granting Rohingya schooling, work permits or free movement. It is telling Rohingya, in effect, “Don’t get any ideas about sticking around.”

      This attitude won’t deter the Rohingya from coming, and it won’t send them home more quickly. People flee across the closest border — often on foot — that allows them to keep their families alive. And they’ll stay until home becomes safe again. “It’s the simple practicality of finding the easiest way to refuge,” said Victor Odero, regional advocacy coordinator for East Africa and the Horn of Africa at the International Rescue Committee. “Any question of policies is a secondary matter.”

      So far, efforts to integrate refugees have had mixed success. The first experiment was a deal for Jordan, which was hosting 650,000 Syrian refugees, virtually none of whom were allowed to work. Jordan agreed to give them work permits. In exchange, it got grants, loans and trade concessions normally available only to the poorest countries.

      However, though the refugees have work permits, Jordan has put only a moderate number of them into jobs.

      Any agreement should include the views of refugees from the start — the Jordan Compact failed to do this. Aid should be conditioned upon the right things. The deal should have measured refugee jobs, instead of work permits. Analysts also said the benefits should have been targeted more precisely, to reach the areas with most refugees.

      To spread this kind of agreement to other nations, the World Bank established a $2 billion fund in July 2017. The money is available to very poor countries that host many refugees, such as Uganda and Bangladesh. In return, they must take steps to integrate refugees into society. The money will come as grants and zero interest loans with a 10-year grace period. Middle-income countries like Lebanon and Colombia would also be eligible for loans at favorable rates under a different fund.

      Over the last 50 years, only one developing country has granted refugees full rights. In Uganda, refugees can live normally. Instead of camps there are settlements, where refugees stay voluntarily because they get a plot of land. Refugees can work, live anywhere, send their children to school and use the local health services. The only thing they can’t do is become Ugandan citizens.

      Given the global hostility to refugees, it is remarkable that Ugandans still approve of these policies. “There have been flashes of social tension or violence between refugees and their hosts, mostly because of a scarcity of resources,” Mr. Odero said. “But they have not become widespread or protracted.”

      This is the model the United Nations wants the world to adopt. But it is imperiled even in Uganda — because it requires money that isn’t there.

      The new residents are mainly staying near the South Sudan border in Uganda’s north — one of the least developed parts of the country. Hospitals, schools, wells and roads were crumbling or nonexistent before, and now they must serve a million more people.

      Joël Boutroue, the head of the United Nations refugee agency in Uganda, said current humanitarian funding covered a quarter of what the crisis required. “At the moment, not even half of refugees go to primary school,” he said. “There are around 100 children per classroom.”

      Refugees are going without food, medical care and water. The plots of land they get have grown smaller and smaller.

      Uganda is doing everything right — except for a corruption scandal. It could really take advantage of the new plan to develop the refugee zone. That would not only help refugees, it would help their host communities. And it would alleviate growing opposition to rights for refugees. “The Ugandan government is under pressure from politicians who see the government giving favored treatment to refugees,” Mr. Boutroue said. “If we want to change the perception of refugees from recipients of aid to economic assets, we have to showcase that refugees bring development.”

      The World Bank has so far approved two projects — one for water and sanitation and one for city services such as roads and trash collection. But they haven’t gotten started yet.

      Mr. Devictor said that tackling long-term development issues was much slower than providing emergency aid. “The reality is that it will be confusing and confused for a little while,” he said. Water, for example, is trucked in to Uganda’s refugee settlements, as part of humanitarian aid. “That’s a huge cost,” he said. “But if we think this crisis is going to last for six more months, it makes sense. If it’s going to last longer, we should think about upgrading the water system.”

      Most refugee crises are not surprises, Mr. Devictor said. “If you look at a map, you can predict five or six crises that are going to produce refugees over the next few years.” It’s often the same places, over and over. That means developmental help could come in advance, minimizing the burden on the host. “Do we have to wait until people cross the border to realize we’re going to have an emergency?” he said.

      Well, we might. If politicians won’t respond to a crisis, it’s hard to imagine them deciding to plan ahead to avert one. Political commitment, or lack of it, always rules. The world’s new approach to refugees was born out of Europe’s panic about the Syrians on their doorstep. But no European politician is panicking about South Sudanese or Rohingya refugees — or most crises. They’re too far away. The danger is that the new approach will fall victim to the same political neglect that has crippled the old one.

      https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/21/opinion/refugee-camps-integration.html

      #Ouganda #modèle_ougandais #réinstallation #intégration

      avec ce commentaire de #Jeff_Crisp sur twitter :

      “Camps are stagnant places. Refugees have access to water and medical care and are fed and educated, but are largely idle.”
      Has this prizewinning author actually been to a refugee camp?

      https://twitter.com/JFCrisp/status/1031892657117831168

    • Appreciating Uganda’s ‘open door’ policy for refugees

      While the rest of the world is nervous and choosing to take an emotional position on matters of forced migration and refugees, sometimes closing their doors in the face of people who are running from persecution, Uganda’s refugee policy and practice continues to be liberal, with an open door to all asylum seekers, writes Arthur Matsiko

      http://thisisafrica.me/appreciating-ugandas-open-door-policy-refugees

    • Ouganda. La générosité intéressée du pays le plus ouvert du monde aux réfugiés

      L’Ouganda est le pays qui accueille le plus de réfugiés. Un million de Sud-Soudanais fuyant la guerre s’y sont installés. Mais cette noble intention des autorités cache aussi des calculs moins avouables : l’arrivée massive de l’aide internationale encourage l’inaction et la #corruption.

      https://www.courrierinternational.com/article/ouganda-la-generosite-interessee-du-pays-le-plus-ouvert-du-mo

    • Refugees in Uganda to benefit from Dubai-funded schools but issues remain at crowded settlement

      Dubai Cares is building three classrooms in a primary school at Ayilo II but the refugee settlement lacks a steady water supply, food and secondary schools, Roberta Pennington writes from Adjumani


      https://www.thenational.ae/uae/refugees-in-uganda-to-benefit-from-dubai-funded-schools-but-issues-remai

    • FUGA DAL SUD SUDAN. LUIS, L’UGANDA E QUEL PEZZO DI TERRA DONATA AI PROFUGHI

      Luis zappa, prepara dei fori per tirare su una casa in attesa di ritrovare la sua famiglia. Il terreno è una certezza, glielo ha consegnato il Governo ugandese. Il poterci vivere con i suoi cari non ancora. L’ultima volta li ha visti in Sud Sudan. Nel ritornare a casa sua moglie e i suoi otto figli non c’erano più. É sicuro si siano messi in cammino verso l’Uganda, così da quel giorno è iniziata la sua rincorsa. É certo che li ritroverà nella terra che ora lo ha accolto. Quella di Luis è una delle tante storie raccolte nei campi profughi del nord dell’Uganda, in una delle ultime missioni di Amref, in cui era presente anche Giusi Nicolini, già Sindaco di Lampedusa e Premio Unesco per la pace. 



      Modello Uganda? Dell’Uganda il mondo dice «campione di accoglienza». Accoglienza che sta sperimentando da mesi nei confronti dei profughi sud sudanesi, che scappano da uno dei Paesi più drammaticamente in crisi al mondo. Sono 4 milioni le persone che in Sud Sudan hanno dovuto lasciare le proprie case. Chi muovendosi verso altri Paesi e chi in altre regioni sud sudanesi. In questi ultimi tempi arrivano in Uganda anche persone che fuggono dalla Rep. Democratica del Congo.

      https://www.amref.it/2018_02_23_Fuga_dal_Sud_Sudan_Luis_lUganda_e_quel_pezzo_di_terra_donata_ai_pro

    • As Rich Nations Close the Door on Refugees, Uganda Welcomes Them

      President Trump is vowing to send the military to stop migrants trudging from Central America. Europe’s leaders are paying African nations to block migrants from crossing the Mediterranean — and detaining the ones who make it in filthy, overcrowded camps.

      But Solomon Osakan has a very different approach in this era of rising xenophobia. From his uncluttered desk in northwest Uganda, he manages one of the largest concentrations of refugees anywhere in the world: more than 400,000 people scattered across his rural district.

      He explained what he does with them: Refugees are allotted some land — enough to build a little house, do a little farming and “be self-sufficient,” said Mr. Osakan, a Ugandan civil servant. Here, he added, the refugees live in settlements, not camps — with no barbed wire, and no guards in sight.

      “You are free, and you can come and go as you want,” Mr. Osakan added.

      As many nations are securing their borders and turning refugees away, Uganda keeps welcoming them. And they keep coming, fleeing catastrophes from across this part of Africa.

      In all, Uganda has as many as 1.25 million refugees on its soil, perhaps more, making it one of the most welcoming countries in the world, according to the United Nations.

      And while Uganda’s government has made hosting refugees a core national policy, it works only because of the willingness of rural Ugandans to accept an influx of foreigners on their land and shoulder a big part of the burden.

      Uganda is not doing this without help. About $200 million in humanitarian aid to the country this year will largely pay to feed and care for the refugees. But they need places to live and small plots to farm, so villages across the nation’s north have agreed to carve up their communally owned land and share it with the refugees, often for many years at a time.

      “Our population was very few and our community agreed to loan the land,” said Charles Azamuke, 27, of his village’s decision in 2016 to accept refugees from South Sudan, which has been torn apart by civil war. “We are happy to have these people. We call them our brothers.”

      United Nations officials have pointed to Uganda for its “open border” policy. While the United States, a much more populous nation, has admitted more than three million refugees since 1975, the American government settles them in the country after they have first been thoroughly screened overseas.

      By contrast, Uganda has essentially opened its borders to refugees, rarely turning anyone away.

      Some older Ugandans explain that they, too, had been refugees once, forced from their homes during dictatorship and war. And because the government ensures that spending on refugees benefits Ugandans as well, younger residents spoke of how refugees offered them some unexpected opportunities.

      “I was a farmer. I used to dig,” Mr. Azamuke said. But after learning Arabic from refugees from South Sudan, he got a better job — as a translator at a new health clinic that serves the newcomers.

      His town, Ofua, is bisected by a dirt road, with the Ugandans living on the uphill side and the South Sudanese on the downhill side. The grass-thatched homes of the Ugandans look a bit larger and sturdier, but not much.

      As the sun began to set one recent afternoon, a group of men on the Ugandan side began to pass around a large plastic bottle of waragi, a home brew. On the South Sudanese side, the men were sober, gathered around a card game.

      On both sides, the men had nothing but tolerant words for one another. “Actually, we don’t have any problems with these people,” said Martin Okuonzi, a Ugandan farmer cleaning his fingernails with a razor blade.

      As the men lounged, the women and girls were still at work, preparing dinner, tending children, fetching water and gathering firewood. They explained that disputes did arise, especially as the two groups competed for limited resources like firewood.

      “We’ve been chased away,” said Agnes Ajonye, a 27-year-old refugee from South Sudan. “They say we are destroying their forests.”

      And disputes broke out at the well, where Ugandan women insist they should be allowed to skip ahead of refugees.

      “If we hadn’t given you the land you live on, wouldn’t you be dying in Sudan?” said Adili Chandia, a 62-year-old refugee, recounting the lecture she and others got from a frustrated Ugandan woman waiting in line.

      Ugandan officials often talk about the spirit of Pan-Africanism that motivates their approach to refugees. President Yoweri Museveni, an autocratic leader who has been in power for 32 years, says Uganda’s generosity can be traced to the precolonial days of warring kingdoms and succession disputes, when losing factions often fled to a new land.

      This history of flight and resettlement is embedded in some of the names of local groups around western Uganda, like Batagwenda, which means “the ones that could not continue traveling.”

      The government encourages the nation to go along with its policy by directing that 30 percent of foreign aid destined for refugees be spent in ways that benefit Ugandans nearby. So when money for refugees results in new schools, clinics and wells, Ugandans are more likely to welcome than resent them.

      For Mr. Museveni, hosting refugees has given him relevance and political capital abroad at a time when he would otherwise have little.

      A former guerrilla fighter who quickly stabilized much of his country, Mr. Museveni was once hailed as an example of new African leadership. He was relatively quick to confront the AIDS epidemic, and he invited back Ugandans of Indian and Pakistani descent who had been expelled during the brutal reign of Idi Amin in the 1970s.

      But his star has fallen considerably. He has clung to power for decades. His security forces have beaten political opponents. Freedom of assembly and expression are severely curtailed.

      Even so, Uganda’s openness toward refugees makes Mr. Museveni important to European nations, which are uneasy at the prospect of more than a million refugees heading for Europe.

      Other African nations also host a significant number of refugees, but recent polls show that Ugandans are more likely than their neighbors in Kenya or Tanzania to support land assistance or the right to work for refugees.

      Part of the reason is that Ugandans have fled their homes as well, first during the murderous reign of Mr. Amin, then during the period of retribution after his overthrow, and again during the 1990s and 2000s, when Joseph Kony, the guerrilla leader who terrorized northern Uganda, left a trail of kidnapped children and mutilated victims.

      Many Ugandans found refuge in what is today South Sudan. Mark Idraku, 57, was a teenager when he fled with his mother to the area. They received two acres of farmland, which helped support them until they returned home six years later.

      “When we were in exile in Sudan, they also helped us,” Mr. Idraku said. “Nobody ever asked for a single coin.”

      Mr. Idraku has since returned the favor, loaning three acres to a South Sudanese refugee named Queen Chandia, 37. Ms. Chandia said the land — along with additional plots other Ugandans allow her to farm — has made all the difference.

      Her homestead of thatched-roof huts teemed with children tending their chores, grinding nuts into paste and maize into meal. Ms. Chandia is the mother of a girl and two boys. But over the years, as violence hollowed out her home country, Ms. Chandia started taking in the orphaned children of relatives and friends. Now 22 children call her “mom.”

      A refugee for nearly her entire life, Ms. Chandia arrived in Uganda as a young girl nearly 30 years ago. For years, she worried about being expelled.
      Image

      “Maybe these Ugandans will change their minds on us,” she said, describing the thought that plagued her. Then one day the worry stopped.

      But Mr. Osakan, the administrator who oversees refugee affairs in the country’s extreme northwest, is anxious. There is an Ebola outbreak over the border in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Mr. Osakan fears what might happen if — or when — a refugee turns up in Uganda with the dreaded illness.

      “It would destroy all the harmony between refugees and host communities,” he said, explaining that it would probably lead to calls to seal the border.

      For now, the border is very much open, although the number of refugees arriving has fallen significantly. In one of the newer settlements, many of the refugees came last year, fleeing an attack in a South Sudanese city. But some complained about receiving too little land, about a quarter acre per family, which is less than previous refugees had received.

      “Even if you have skills — in carpentry — you are not given a chance,” said one refugee, Simon Ludoru. He looked over his shoulder, to where a construction crew was building a nursery school. The schoolhouse would teach both local Ugandan and South Sudanese children together, but the workers were almost entirely Ugandan, he said.

      At the construction site, the general contractor, Sam Omongo, 50, said he had hired refugees for the job. “Oh, yes,” he exclaimed.

      How many?

      “Not a lot, actually,” he acknowledged. “I have about three.” Mr. Omongo called one over.

      “Are you a refugee?” Mr. Omongo asked the slight man.

      “No, I’m from Uganda,” he said softly. His name was Amos Chandiga, 28. He lived nearby and owned six acres of land, though he worked only four of them. He had lent the other two to a pair of refugees.

      “They asked me, and I gave it to them,” Mr. Chandiga explained. He patted his chest. “It comes from here, in my heart.”


      https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/28/world/africa/uganda-refugees.html?smtyp=cur&smid=tw-nytimes


  • La sindaca di #Lodi non torna indietro: «Il regolamento resta in vigore». Nuovo caso in Veneto

    Per ottenere il contributo regionale sull’acquisto di testi scolastici in Veneto, i cittadini non comunitari devono presentare, oltre alla certificazione Isee, un certificato sul possesso di immobili o percezione di redditi all’estero rilasciato dalle autorità del Paese di provenienza.

    È quanto si legge nelle «istruzioni per il richiedente» rilasciate a settembre sul sito internet della Regione. Nei giorni scorsi, era scoppiata la polemica su un caso simile a Lodi, dove il Comune ha chiesto un documento aggiuntivo a chi non è italiano per ottenere le agevolazioni sulla mensa scolastica.

    La norma non è però presente né nella delibera di Giunta né nel bando per la concessione di contributi, ma soltanto nelle «istruzioni per il richiedente» rilasciate a settembre sul sito internet per la compilazione della richiesta. A renderlo noto, in un’interrogazione alla Giunta regionale, è il Gruppo del Partito democratico, che chiede una proroga per il termine di presentazione delle domande, che è stata fissata a mezzogiorno di oggi. «La Giunta - afferma l’interrogazione che ha come primi firmatari i consiglieri Francesca Zottis e Claudio Sinigaglia - faccia chiarezza sui contributi per il buono libri: la documentazione richiesta ai cittadini non comunitari sta provocando ritardi e disagi».

    La certificazione richiesta ai cittadini extra Ue è «un passaggio obbligatorio - spiegano Zottis e Sinigaglia - che compare solo nelle istruzioni delle procedure web per la validazione delle domande alla Regione. Tuttavia la documentazione non serve in presenza di un’apposita convenzione tra l’Italia e lo stato di provenienza: bastano delle semplici dichiarazioni sostitutive. Ma le amministrazioni locali neanche sanno quali sono i Paesi con cui sono stati firmati questi accordi, oltre ad aver scoperto in ritardo la necessità di un ulteriore passaggio in quanto non c’era alcuna traccia nel bando. Non si può scaricare ulteriori incombenze e responsabilità sui Comuni. Senza considerare che si rischia di tagliar fuori dai contributi una buona fetta di cittadini non comunitari che invece avrebbe bisogno di un sostegno».

    La replica della Regione Veneto rispetto alla vicenda, sottolinea che la necessità di un certificato ai cittadini non comunitari per usufruire dei buoni per l’acquisto di libri ricalca quanto stabilito dalla normativa statale. Si sarebbe trattato, quindi, dell’applicazione in ambito regionale del Decreto del Presidente della Repubblica 31 agosto 1999, n. 394 tutt’ora vigente.

    La norma regola l’utilizzo degli istituti della autocertificazione di fatti, stati e qualità personali relativamente ai soli cittadini non comunitari, appartenenti a Paesi che non hanno sottoscritto con lo Stato Italiano convenzioni internazionali. In ambito regionale la materia è regolata dalla legge 7 febbraio 2018 n. 2 «Disposizioni in materia di documentazione amministrativa» ai sensi dell’articolo 3 del Decreto del Presidente della Repubblica 28 dicembre 2000, n. 445 «Testo unico delle disposizioni legislative e regolamentari in materia di documentazione amministrativa» e dell’articolo 2 del Decreto del Presidente della Repubblica 31 agosto 1999, n. 394 «Regolamento recante norme di attuazione del testo unico delle disposizioni concernenti la disciplina dell’immigrazione e norme sulla condizione dello straniero».

    Intanto, sul «caso Lodi», è intervenuto Matteo Salvini, attraverso una dichiarazione postata sul suo profilo Facebook: «Basta coi furbetti, se c’è gente che al suo Paese ha case, terreni e soldi, perché dovremmo dare loro dei servizi gratis, mentre gli Italiani pagano tutto?».

    E, dopo le polemiche, arriva la replica della sindaca di Lodi, che non arretra. «Certamente il Regolamento rimane in vigore, la Legge deve sempre valere per tutti - si legge in una nota - dispiace che non tutti condividano il principio di equità che sta alla base di questa delibera, che vuole mettere italiani e stranieri nella stessa condizione di partenza per dimostrare redditi e beni posseduti, né il successivo impegno preso dall’Amministrazione nei confronti dei cittadini che sono nell’oggettiva impossibilità di presentare la documentazione richiesta».

    https://www.huffingtonpost.it/2018/10/15/bimbi-stranieri-esclusi-da-buoni-libro-senza-certificato-ad-hoc-nuovo

    #enfants #enfance #école #discriminations #Italie #mensa #manuels_scolaires #xénophobie #racisme #cantine_scolaire

    • Lodi, l’affondo di Fico: «Chiedere scusa ai bimbi e riammetterli a #mensa»

      Dopo la rivolta contro l’esclusione dei bimbi stranieri l’inversione di rotta del governo. Salvini: «Se i genitori non possono portare i documenti, varrà la buona fede». E Di Maio: «I bambini non si toccano, Bussetti troverà soluzione». Ma la sindaca resiste: «Il regolamento resta in vigore»

      https://www.repubblica.it/cronaca/2018/10/15/news/lodi_dietrofront_del_governo_ai_bimbi_stranieri_bastera_l_autocertificazi

    • Lodi: sospendere la delibera comunale sulle modalità di accesso alle prestazioni sociali agevolate

      Lodi: Amnesty International Lombardia chiede la sospensione della delibera comunale sulle modalità di accesso alle prestazioni sociali agevolate

      Amnesty International Lombardia ha espresso preoccupazione per la delibera approvata dal comune di Lodi, che prevede che ai fini dell’accoglimento della domanda per ottenere le agevolazioni vengano considerati – per i cittadini stranieri – anche i redditi e i beni posseduti all’estero e non dichiarati in Italia.

      Ai fini di tale certificazione, anche in assenza di beni o redditi, è necessario produrre una certificazione rilasciata dalla competente autorità dello stato estero (ambasciata o consolato), corredata da traduzione legalizzata dall’autorità consolare italiana che ne attesti la conformità.

      In una lettera inviata alla sindaca di Lodi, Sara Casanova, il responsabile di Amnesty International Lombardia, Simone Rizza, ha dichiarato che “in conseguenza di tale disposizione, in molti casi si ha l’impossibilità di attestare una situazione patrimoniale di difficoltà, a carico di una considerevole fascia di popolazione debole e sulla base di un criterio inequivocabilmente discriminatorio (…). Gli effetti sono di particolare rilevanza se visti in relazione al servizio di mensa e di trasporto pubblico per i bambini delle famiglie colpite dal provvedimento, il cui diritto allo studio e ad una positiva integrazione con i compagni pari-età rischiano di essere seriamente compromessi“.

      Amnesty International Lombardia ha dunque chiesto alla sindaca di sospendere questa misura al più presto, individuando in via alternativa criteri diversi e comunque non discriminatori.

      https://www.amnesty.it/lodi-amnesty-international-lombardia-chiede-la-sospensione-della-delibera-co

    • Veneto, bimbi stranieri non hanno sconti sui libri senza certificati dei Paesi d’origine

      Nuovo ‘caso Lodi’: i bimbi stranieri vengono discriminati in Veneto: senza certificazioni dei Paesi d’origine che attestino la condizione economica della famiglia non possono ottenere agevolazioni sui libri scolastici. Assessore del comune di Padova: “Lo faccia la Regione la verifica visto che si tratta di una disposizione regionale anche perché ad oggi non c’è un elenco dei Paesi che aderiscono alle convenzioni quindi tecnicamente è una norma inapplicabile e per questo discriminatoria”

      https://www.fanpage.it/veneto-bimbi-stranieri-non-hanno-sconti-sui-libri-senza-certificati-dei-paes

    • Mensa ai bimbi migranti, il dem Guerini: «Non cancellate l’umanità della mia Lodi»

      Sindaco per otto anni, ora a capo del Copasir. Il deputato dem parla del caso-mense scolastiche: «L’immagine che si sta dando non ha nulla a che fare con la nostra comunità che si è sempre caratterizzata per l’impegno verso gli altri»


      https://www.repubblica.it/politica/2018/10/17/news/lodi_l_ex_sindaco_guerini_ora_capo_del_copasir_nostra_citta_sempre_stata_accogliente_-209132976/?ref=twhs&timestamp=1539771237000&refresh_ce

    • Italy’s Salvini forced into U-turn over school lunches for immigrant children

      Far-right minister forced to drop support for edict that effectively excluded children from school canteens

      Italy’s far-right interior minister, Matteo Salvini, has been forced to drop his support for a controversial policy in a northern city that led to the children of immigrants paying more for school lunches than their Italian counterparts.

      The minister came under pressure after a crowdfunding appeal raised €60,000 (£46,000) within a few days to fund school lunches for the children of mainly African migrants in protest against a resolution passed by Sara Casanova, the mayor from Salvini’s League party in the Lombardy city of Lodi, that in effect forced them to eat separately.
      The edict had obliged parents to declare their assets, in Italy and their countries of origin – a difficult if not impossible request for those coming from African countries – in order to qualify for the standard cost of meals.

      Failing to provide the asset details meant they had to pay the highest rate of €5 per child, and with migrants constituting the poorest people in the city, many could not afford to do so. Families were also required to pay €210 per child each quarter for the school bus.

      The resolution, first reported by the Piazza Pulita television programme, meant that for two weeks, more than 300 children were in effect excluded from school canteens across the city and forced to dine at home.

      Activists and leftwing politicians attacked the resolution, with a senator from the centre-left Democratic party, Simona Malpezzi, describing it as “apartheid”.

      Italy’s children’s commissioner, Filomena Albano, urged the city’s council to rethink the policy, telling La Repubblica: “It’s unthinkable to force young children to eat alone, cut off from their classmates, because their parents cannot pay.”

      The aid group Coordination of Equal Duties launched a crowdfunding campaign across Italy that raised €60,000 to ensure school lunches and bus rides for children affected by the resolution.

      Amid the outcry, Salvini relinquished his support for the move, writing on Facebook that “a self-certification of assets” would be enough to guarantee school meals for the children of foreigners.

      He also came under pressure from his government coalition partner, Luigi Di Maio, the leader of the populist Five Star Movement, who praised Italians’ generosity and said “no child should be harmed”.

      In spite of the pressures from the government and the protesters, Casanova has insisted she will not go back on her decision. Although she is likely to accept the self-certification, the resolution will not be dismissed, she told reporters.

      The former prime minister Matteo Renzi described the resolution as a “national disgrace”.

      ‘‘Seeing children discriminated against in the school canteen for economic reasons hurts the heart,” he wrote on Twitter. “Politics based on hate and fear generates monsters.”


      https://amp.theguardian.com/world/2018/oct/15/italys-salvini-forced-into-u-turn-over-school-lunches-for-immigrant

    • Italy’s Tough Line on Immigrants Reaches a School Cafeteria

      At the beginning of the school year, as most of the elementary students chatted over warm plates of pasta in the cafeteria, about a dozen immigrant children unwrapped sandwiches around three tables in a spare classroom with slanted purple blinds, drab office furniture and a form reading, “Students who bring lunch from home.”

      “I wanted to go back to the cafeteria,” said Khadiga Gomaa, a 10-year-old Egyptian girl.

      Khadiga and the others did not belong to an Italian breakfast club of poorly behaved students. They were segregated from the rest of the pupils at Lodi’s Archinti school because they had lost their daily lunch subsidy.

      And that was because they failed to meet a new, and critics say punitive, requirement introduced by the town’s mayor, a member of the governing and anti-immigrant League party.

      In addition to the usual documentation needed for lunch and bus subsidies, the mayor now requires foreigners to prove that they do not possess property, bank accounts or other revenue streams in their countries of origin.

      Without that proof, children cannot get subsidized lunch and instead have to pay five euros a day, which many parents say they cannot afford. But in Lodi’s schools, as in much of Italy, children cannot bring outside food into the cafeteria.

      That meant students who hadn’t paid or received subsidies had to go home for lunch. To avoid burdening parents, the school’s principal allowed the children to bring sandwiches from home and eat them in a separate room.

      Reports of segregation in Lodi — and the violation of the sacred Italian ritual of lunching together — struck an Italian heartstring.

      After a national outcry, Italians raised 80,000 euros to pay for the lunches and school buses of about 200 immigrant children, many of them born and raised in Italy, through December. And many hailed the haul as a first sign of resistance to the League, and to Matteo Salvini, its national leader and Italy’s powerful vice premier, who has cracked down on immigration, hardened opposition to birthright citizenship and spoken harshly about migrants.

      But here in Lodi, a town in the fertile Po River Valley, with a handsome piazza paved with cobbled gray river stones and adorned with a medieval cathedral and neoclassical facades, many locals took another view.

      On Tuesday morning, as the committee that had raised money for the children held a rally in a small piazza directly under the mayor’s offices, Adriana Bonvicini, 60, bought gladioli in the piazza’s flower shop.

      “They are exploiting their children and people’s feelings to get what they want,” she said, gesturing at the square, filled with women in hijabs and flowing African dresses.

      “They are trying to cast us as heartless,” she continued. “They are the cruel ones. It’s a question of justice. They all have five kids each and want a free ride. Remember what Erdogan said.”

      This was a reference to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, who has urged Turkish people living in Europe to “have not just three but five children.” She quoted him, loosely: “We will take over Europe through our women’s bellies.”

      The women around Ms. Bonvicini agreed.

      They argued that it wasn’t so hard for foreigners to get proof from their embassies and that foreigners took advantage of the town’s largess and then complained about it.

      They sounded, in short, like the people who voted for the League in the town and all over the country.

      “Let them govern,” Ms. Bonvicini said, referring to the government.

      But Lodi mothers from Tunisia and Egypt said that they returned home to get the documents and that none existed. A mother from Nigeria said her husband went to the embassy in Rome and submitted the requisite documentation to the city, but had yet to hear back and was struggling to pay the full freight for her child.

      The mayor, Sara Casanova, had the backing of Mr. Salvini (“SHE’S RIGHT!!!” he wrote on Twitter). On Tuesday she was nowhere to be seen.

      She declined an interview request, but told La Verità, a newspaper preferred by the government, that she didn’t require the documentation from people from war-torn nations, and that “we’re not racist and there’s no apartheid here.”

      On Tuesday, the committee’s organizers hung signs showing children with their noses pressed up against a cafeteria window.

      Another sign showed a boy with his hands in the air saying: “Fascism is back. History didn’t teach you anything!!”

      That sign was directed to Lodi’s mayor, whose door they knocked on every two hours with chants of “Open up.” But it could have been a message to the national government.

      Tuesday was also the 75th anniversary of the deportation of Roman Jews to Nazi death camps, but the prime minister’s office wrote that it was the 80th anniversary, and the president of the country’s national broadcaster, who was chosen by Mr. Salvini, wrote of “the celebration of the 65th anniversary.”

      Northern regions controlled by the League have also required immigrants to prove their financial status through the same bureaucratic requirement used in Lodi when trying to get low-cost public housing and subsidies to buy school textbooks. For the demonstrators in Lodi, the town, a famous battlefield for Napoleon, was now a front against the government’s creeping racism and resurgent fascism.

      “I’m sorry for Italy if they think this is equality,” said Imen Mbarek, 30, who said she returned to Tunisia to get the right papers but that they simply didn’t exist. She is now paying full price for school lunch; last year, she said, she paid 1.65 euros a day.

      Hayat Laoulaoi, 35, a Moroccan housewife with a blue headdress and pink cellphone cover, had four children, all but one born in Italy. She said she was unable to secure the required documentation or afford the full freight.

      o she made her son Soufiane, 9, tuna sandwiches that he ate in the separate room.

      She said that after losing the bus subsidy, she walked with him six kilometers to school and that when they saw a bus drive by on the street he asked, “‘There’s a school bus, why can’t we go on it?’”

      As she spoke, her son played quietly with a Transformer toy and said he missed his friend Rayen, a Tunisian boy who still eats in the cafeteria.

      The majority of the students in his school, as high as 80 percent according to school officials, are considered foreigners, even though many of them were born and raised in Italy.

      Eugenio Merli, the principal of the Archinti school — which is named for Ettore Archinti, a former Lodi mayor sent by fascists to die in a Nazi concentration camp — defended his decision to put the children in a separate classroom to eat.

      “Eating in the classroom created a type of separation, but it was a way to help the parents,” he said, adding that he worried that if the children were forced home for lunch, they might not come back.

      This month, he strong-armed the cafeteria’s caterers into letting the students back into the cafeteria, where they ate their sandwiches at separate tables.

      “The kids have a right to be with their friends, not to be segregated,” he said. “They aren’t just going to school to learn. They are also learning how to live together.”

      Outside the school, he greeted Khadiga Gomaa, who was in high spirits. She said she had eaten her first hot lunch with her friends since school started.

      “I had penne pasta, cod and salad,” she said. “It was good.”


      https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/22/world/europe/italy-schools-league.html


  • Trentino and Yugoslavia narrated through a legend: roots of Marshal Josip Broz #Tito in #Vallarsa

    In Trentino there is a valley where the surname Broz is widely diffused. During the second half of the 20th century, a peculiar legend took shape among these mountains. We are in Vallarsa, a few kilometers from the town of Rovereto, where – according to many locals – the origins of Josip Broz, that history will remember as Tito, are to be found. The Yugoslav Marshal was one of the most peculiar and controversial figures of the 20th century: Partisan leader, head of the communist state that split with the Soviet Union, a prominent figure on the international political scene and, above all, leader and symbol of a country that disintegrated violently shortly after his death. The relationship between Marshal Tito and the Vallarsa Valley is being talked about for some time, and not only in Trentino, so that the page dedicated to Tito on the Italian Wikipedia refers to him as “the seventh of fifteen children of Franjo, a Croat who probably originated from Vallarsa”.
    A legend from Obra

    The story originates in the area around the village of Obra, in the Vallarsa Valley, where there is a small settlement called Brozzi. It is said that the Broz surname has been present in the area for centuries. Transmitted orally, the legend spread and evolved over time, assuming different shapes and contours. There is however a version which is more or less codified. It is narrated that a family of the future Yugoslav president lived in a place called Maso Geche, a bit isolated from Obra and nearby settlements. Valentino Broz, “Tito’s grandfather”, took over an old house, transforming it in a family cottage. Valentino had four children. One of them died at a tender age, while Ferdinando, Giuseppe and Vigilio started contributing to the household by working in the fields and as lumberjacks, integrating these activities, as much as possible, with other occasional jobs. Just like for all the other families in that area, emigration was always an option.

    Parochial registers confirm the structure of Valentino Broz’s family. What we learn from memories passed down through the generations is that Giuseppe (according to archives, Giuseppe Filippo Broz, born on August 29, 1853) and Ferdinando (Luigi Ferdinando Broz, born on April 13, 1848) – or, according to other versions of the story, Vigilio (Vigilio Andrea Broz, born on November 27, 1843) – emigrated from Vallarsa to Croatia between the 1870s and the 1880s, most probably in 1878 or 1879. At that time, both territories were part of Austria-Hungary, and in those years many people from Trentino emigrated in the eastern parts of the monarchy. The story of foundation of the village of Štivor, in Bosnia Herzegovina, is probably the best known. According to legend, the Broz brothers were driven to emigrate by the possibility of being engaged in the construction of railway Vienna-Zagreb-Belgrade. Indeed, in those years a new railway line, connecting Bosanski Brod to Sarajevo, was under construction. The first portion was completed in February 1879, and the last one in October 1882.

    Some time later, Ferdinando (or Vigilio) returned to Vallarsa, while Giuseppe married a Slovenian girl, and in 1892 they gave birth to Josip Broz, who became known to the whole world as Tito. The news about Giuseppes’s fate reached the valley, mainly thanks to the information his brother brought home.
    Tito between history and conspiracy

    The legend from Vallarsa is not an isolated case. Since the end of the Second World War in Yugoslavia, but not only, speculations began circulating that Tito might have (had) Russian, Polish, Austrian or Jewish roots. His life, marked from a young age by participation in illegal activities of the Communist Party, sudden movings and use of false names, offered an ideal breeding ground for speculations and conspiracy theories. The doubts about Tito’s true identity, particularly diffused during the 1990s, recently have been reactualized due to publication of declassified CIA document that puts in doubt Tito’s knowledge of the Serbo-Croatian language.

    Apart from dozens of newspaper articles and many publicistic texts, the question of Tito’s origins has never been the subject of proper historiographic research. None of the scholars who seriously occupy themselves with history of Yugoslavia has ever shown any particular interest in this issue. Even the most recent Tito’s biographies, written by world-renowned historians such as Geoffrey Swain and Jože Pirjevec, don’t contain any reference to different theories about his origins, only a traditional version whereby Tito was the son of Franjo Broz, a Croat from Kumrovec in Zagorje, and Marija Javeršek, originally from village of Podreda, in Slovenia. The only partial exception is represented by considerations made by Vladimir Dedijer in his monumental biography of Tito, published in 1981. A former member of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia, sacked at the time of the Affaire Djilas, becoming a professional historian, in his book Dedijer attempts to refute speculations about Tito’s origins, reinvigorated after his death in May 1980.
    The birth and life of a legend

    In attempting to clarify the question, Vladimir Dedijer also makes reference to the Trentine case which, few months earlier, has been reactualized in Italy in an article appeared in the weekly Gente. The article has been published few days after Tito’s death, relying on a story transmitted orally over the years, according to some since the end of the Second World War, when the name of Josip Broz began to appear in the newspapers around the world. In addition to photos of the Vallarsa Valley and Maso Geche, the article contained statements of descendants of the family of Valentino Broz. Don Giuseppe Rippa, the then parson of Vallarsa, played an important role in defining the contours of the story, contributing to a process of consolidation of its credibility.

    It is possible that Vladimir Dedijer has come to know about the Trentin legend thanks to attention given to it in the newspapers of the Italian minority in Yugoslavia. Shortly after the publication of the above mentioned article on the weekly Gente, the weekly newspaper Panorama from Rijeka started showing interest in the story, sending a crew to Vallarsa to find out more details. After talking to Don Rippa and some other local personalities, such as writer Sandra Frizzera, and studying parish registers, journalists from Rijeka have come to a conclusion that there was no evidence of a relationship between Trentin and Yugoslav Brozes. Vladimir Dedijer reacted by publishing Tito’s family tree, compiled by Andrija Lukinović, archivist from the Historical Archive of Zagreb [now called the Croatian State Archive], on the basis of preserved parish registers. Using available data, Lukinović reconstructed the paternal-line geneaology of the Broz family from the beginning of the 17th century, when parish registers were started in Kumrovec. As far as the previous period is concerned, Dedijer remains cautious, nevertheless quoting different sayings whereby the Broz family originated in Bosnia, Herzegovina, Spain, Istria, France or even Italy. In any case, we are talking about the possible settlement in Zagorje more than four centuries ago.

    However, these information have not reached Trentino, where a word began to spread that in the whole Yugoslavia there have been no trace of the Broz surname. The descendents of the family of Valentino Broz continued releasing interviews, telling family stories and anecdotes. Also, it is narrated that representatives of Yugoslav government came to Obra, maybe even Tito himself. Many newspaper articles and reportage talked about physiognomic proximity, claiming that the Trentin Brozes bore a “remarkable resemblance” to Yugoslav leader.

    In 1984 it was decided to create a commission, as part of “The Popular Committee of Obra di Vallarsa”, composed of historians, journalists and the then major, with the aim of clarifying the question through meticulous researches and investigations. However, no definite answer nor concrete evidence has been reached. Did Tito have Trentin origins or not? Over the years, the same information continued to circulate, but the story became gradually consolidated.

    In the same period, the credibility of the story has been publicly recognized by some prominent personalities, such as politician Flaminio Piccoli, who has stated, on the occasion of a congress held in Rome in 1991, that Tito’s ancestors were from Trentino. Representative of the Italian Christian Democratic party (DC) in Trentino at the time, Piccoli asserted that he had “great respect” for Marshal Tito, because “his great grandfather was Trentin, originally from the region around Rovereto”. The story changes again – it was not Tito’s father, but rather his great grandfather who was from Trentino – but it is told by a prominent politician who met Tito personally.

    What also contributed to building credibility of the story were numerous publications dedicated to emigration from Trentino, an issue that, since the 1980s, has attracted increasing interest. Already in 1984, Bonifacio Bolognani – Franciscan friar and scholar originally from Trentino who moved to the United States – mentioned a legend from Obra in his book about emigration from Trentino, published in English. The local writers and historians are those who paid greatest attention to the story: Daniella Stoffella refers to it in her book about emigration from Vallarsa, while Renzo Grosselli mentions it in a study about emigrants from Trentino which is widely read. Remo Bussolon and Aldina Martini revived it in the most important work about the history of Vallarsa. The theory of Tito’s Trentin origins is also being mentioned in different academic essays published in other countries (Frédéric Spagnoli, 2009). We are talking about more or less precise publications, some of which treat the argument with caution, but that, often citing each other, contribute to strengthening the authoritativness of the legend.

    In the meantime, a local section of RAI [Italian public radio and television broadcaster] started to show an interest in the story, relaunching it periodically through tv reports. In 2008, a special program was dedicated to the legend of Obra, and on that occasion journalists from Trentino went to Croatia for the first time to hear the other side of the story. They went to Kumrovec, where they visited the birth house of Yugoslav leader and studied parish registers, trying to learn more about the history of Tito’s family and about his “Croatian father” Franjo Broz. But the question remained: Is it possible that Marija’s marriage with Franjo was her second wedding? Or rather, did she married Franjo after she gave birth to Tito and after Giuseppe Broz died?

    In the summer of 2015, a visit of Tito’s granddaughter Svetlana Broz to Vallarsa, invited to a culture festival to present her book about the Yugoslav wars, becomes the occasion to discuss the issue. Asked during an interview to comment on the theory about Tito’s Trentin roots, Svetlana Broz responded vaguely and compliantly, saying: “That theory is just a theory. I have documentation that proves that my grandfather was born in the Croatian village of Kumrovec, as stated in his official biography. However, I can neither confirm nor deny anything about his ancestors”. In such ambivalent spaces, the legend from Vallarsa continues to live. Narrated and repeated mostly in Trentino, from time to time it arouses the interest of a wider public.
    A story about Trentino and Yugoslavia

    Of all the legends about the origins of the Yugoslav president, the Trentin one is probably most closely related to the history and identity of a local community, unlike the others, often inspired by different conspiracy ideas. It evocates the history of the territory profoundly marked by the migration phenomenon and is paradigmatic of a broader history of emigration from Trentino at the end of the 19th century and of pervasiveness of collective memories in those valleys. Its diffusion beyond the borders of Vallarsa, began in the 1980s, followed a gradual opening-up of Trentino to the international processes and reinforcement of consciousness about its “place in the world”. Above all, it is an integral part of the process of ri-elaboration of the traumatic experience of migration which profoundly marked local community: discovery of illustrious ancestors can help in making a sense of loss.

    At the same time, this legend makes us think about the image socialist Yugoslavia projected abroad, about its perception in Italy and among inhabitants of one of the most remote valleys of Trentino. Considered a hostile country in the post-war period, over the following decades Yugoslavia was increasingly perceived by the Italian public as a close neighbor, so that relationships with the political leadership of socialist country were considered a question of public interest. It is narrated that inhabitants of the Vallarsa Valley had been deeply moved by Tito’s death in May 1980 and that a local parson “had recited the prayer for Josip Broz”. A few years later, when asked for his opinion about Marshal Tito, an inhabitant of the valley pointed out a change of perception: “There is no way to reconcile obscure and bloody events from his early years, ambition, will to power, sectarianism and violence of the first Tito with wise and prudent politician, magnanimous towards his enemies, which was the second Tito”.

    The Trentin roots of Yugoslav Marshal remain a legend. In all those years, no proof has emerged that confirms that Giuseppe Broz, who probably emigrated to Croatia and Bosnia in search of work, was Tito’s real father. On the other hand, the official version of Tito’s biography remains undisputed. But like all legends, regardless of their adherence to reality, the one about “Trentin” Tito immerse us in perceptions, imaginings and memories deposited at the intersection of personal life stories, local vicissitudes and the Great History.


    https://www.balcanicaucaso.org/eng/Areas/Italy/Tito-and-Vallarsa-The-history-of-a-legend-190146

    #histoire #légende #Trentino #Italie #ex-Yougoslavie #Yougoslavie #Obra

    #vidéo:
    https://www.balcanicaucaso.org/eng/Media/Multimedia/Marshal-Tito-and-Vallarsa
    #film

    ping @albertocampiphoto @wizo —> articolo disponibile anche in italiano: https://www.balcanicaucaso.org/aree/Italia/Compa-esano-Tito!-Storia-di-una-leggenda-190146


  • A rational Hamas

    Hamas leader’s interview with Israeli paper caused an uproar. It wasn’t always like that

    Amira Hass

    https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-hamas-leader-s-interview-with-israeli-paper-caused-an-uproar-it-wa

    The interview with Yahya Sinwar, Hamas chief in Gaza, which was conducted by Italian journalist Francesca Borri and published in the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth,” set off a major internet storm in the Gaza Strip and the Palestinian diaspora. What? Sinwar spoke knowingly to an Israeli newspaper? It wasn’t the content that caused the uproar (“A new war is not in anyone’s interest, certainly not our interest”) – only the host.
    >> Israel is incomparably stronger than Hamas – but it will never win: Interview with Hamas leader in Gaza
    Sinwar’s bureau hastened to publish a clarification: The request was for an interview with an Italian newspaper and a British newspaper; the Western media department in the Hamas movement ascertained that the journalist was neither Jewish nor Israeli, and that she has never worked with the Israeli press. There was no face-to-face interview with the above-mentioned journalist, but rather a written response to her questions. The journalist met with Sinwar only for the purpose of a joint photo.

    Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar greets militants in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, after his release from Israeli prison, October 20, 2011Adel Hana / ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Borri, 38, is a freelance journalist who began writing only about six years ago, mainly from Syria. “I think that Sinwar agreed to let me interview him because he knew that I’m a war correspondent and that I would understand when he told me that he isn’t interested in another war,” she told me over the phone from Italy on Friday.
    Her articles have been published in many languages – including in Hebrew in Yedioth Ahronoth. In June, Borri visited Gaza and published an article that was “tough on Hamas,” as she put it. She was haunted by the sight of little children begging, and in her opinion the Islamic resistance movement is also responsible for the terrible deterioration in the Strip. That article was also translated and published in Yedioth.
    And then Borri received a text message from one of Sinwar’s advisers, she told me. Why are you so hard on the Palestinians, he complained. They exchanged several text messages, until she asked if she could interview Sinwar. In late August she came to the Gaza Strip again, to interview him.

    Yahya Sinwar holds his son Ibrahim while he listens to Khaled Mashaal, the outgoing Hamas leader in exile, during his news conference in Doha, Qatar, on Monday, May 1, 2017Adel Hana,AP
    I asked her whether Hamas really didn’t know that the article would be published in Yedioth. “As a freelancer, transparency is important to me,” she said. “It was clear to everyone that the interview would be translated into other languages, including Hebrew. Everyone in Sinwar’s bureau knew that my articles have been published in Yedioth Ahronoth.”

    What caused the outrage was that the wording of the article seemed to indicate that Borri was sent by the Israeli newspaper, and that that’s how the situation was presented to Sinwar. Here is the wording of her first question: “This is the first time ever that you’re agreeing to speak to the Western media – and to an Israeli newspaper yet.” According to Borri, the words “and to an Israeli newspaper yet” didn’t appear in her original question to Sinwar.
    >> ’We can’t prevail against a nuclear power’: Hamas’ Gaza chief says he doesn’t want war with Israel
    On the other hand, she confirmed that Sinwar’s final remark in the article, “and they translate you regularly into Hebrew too,” really was said. “Sinwar spoke to me, and through me to the world. I had the impression that he’s interested in talking through me to the Israelis too,” she said.
    And was the interview really conducted face-to-face and during joint trips with Sinwar and his aides over the course of five days, or in writing, as Hamas claimed. Borri explains: “I never record. I feel that people’s answers change when they see a recording device.” She didn’t travel with him in his car, but she says she did join a convoy of cars with Sinwar through the Strip, yet preferred not to say where.
    On Thursday, in other words before the publication of the full article in Yedioth on Friday, the Al Jazeera website in Arabic already published the text of the written questions and answers that were exchanged, according to Hamas, between Sinwar’s bureau and Borri. A comparison of the written version with the article in Yedioth reveals great similarity between the two texts, with a few differences – mainly a change in the order of the questions and their answers, sentences, declarations and facts that were deleted from the Hebrew version, and a few sentences that were added to it.
    >> Israeli military strikes Gazans who launched incendiary balloons
    The questions and answers in the Arabic version flow, and there is a connection between the replies and the following questions; in other words, a conversation is taking place. According to Al Jazeera, the written questions and replies were exchanged several times between the parties. There is even mention of how during the interview, Sinwar pointed to one of his advisers and said that his son was killed by Israeli fire.
    Borri confirmed in a conversation with me that she combined the replies received in writing, over a period of time, with answers she received orally. Due to the great similarity between the two versions, my impression is that many replies were sent to her in writing. A Gaza resident told me that he was convinced that most of the answers were given in writing because of “the polished wording, the level-headed replies and the rational explanations.”
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    He believes that an entire team thought things through and wrote the answers, not Sinwar alone. He also said that the message in the interview is addressed to the Palestinians in Gaza “who are sick and tired of Hamas rule,” no less than to readers in the West, whom Borri enables to see a senior Hamas official as a leader who cares about his people, rather than as a caricature of a bloodthirsty fanatic.
    And I was left longing for the period when senior Hamas officials gave interviews to the Israeli press and to a Jewish Israeli like me – including Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, Ismail Haniyeh and many others. And I was left with the following conclusion: When Israel doesn’t allow Israeli journalists to enter Gaza, it makes life easy for Hamas.


  • C.I.A. Drone Mission, Curtailed by Obama, Is Expanded in Africa Under Trump

    The C.I.A. is poised to conduct secret drone strikes against Qaeda and Islamic State insurgents from a newly expanded air base deep in the Sahara, making aggressive use of powers that were scaled back during the Obama administration and restored by President Trump.

    Late in his presidency, Barack Obama sought to put the military in charge of drone attacks after a backlash arose over a series of highly visible strikes, some of which killed civilians. The move was intended, in part, to bring greater transparency to attacks that the United States often refused to acknowledge its role in.

    But now the C.I.A. is broadening its drone operations, moving aircraft to northeastern Niger to hunt Islamist militants in southern Libya. The expansion adds to the agency’s limited covert missions in eastern Afghanistan for strikes in Pakistan, and in southern Saudi Arabia for attacks in Yemen.

    Nigerien and American officials said the C.I.A. had been flying drones on surveillance missions for several months from a corner of a small commercial airport in Dirkou. Satellite imagery shows that the airport has grown significantly since February to include a new taxiway, walls and security posts.

    One American official said the drones had not yet been used in lethal missions, but would almost certainly be in the near future, given the growing threat in southern Libya. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the secretive operations.

    A C.I.A. spokesman, Timothy Barrett, declined to comment. A Defense Department spokeswoman, Maj. Sheryll Klinkel, said the military had maintained a base at the Dirkou airfield for several months but did not fly drone missions from there.

    The drones take off from Dirkou at night — typically between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. — buzzing in the clear, starlit desert sky. A New York Times reporter saw the gray aircraft — about the size of Predator drones, which are 27 feet long — flying at least three times over six days in early August. Unlike small passenger planes that land occasionally at the airport, the drones have no blinking lights signaling their presence.

    “All I know is they’re American,” Niger’s interior minister, Mohamed Bazoum, said in an interview. He offered few other details about the drones.

    Dirkou’s mayor, Boubakar Jerome, said the drones had helped improve the town’s security. “It’s always good. If people see things like that, they’ll be scared,” Mr. Jerome said.

    Mr. Obama had curtailed the C.I.A.’s lethal role by limiting its drone flights, notably in Yemen. Some strikes in Pakistan and elsewhere that accidentally killed civilians, stirring outrage among foreign diplomats and military officials, were shielded because of the C.I.A.’s secrecy.

    As part of the shift, the Pentagon was given the unambiguous lead for such operations. The move sought, in part, to end an often awkward charade in which the United States would not concede its responsibility for strikes that were abundantly covered by news organizations and tallied by watchdog groups. However, the C.I.A. program was not fully shut down worldwide, as the agency and its supporters in Congress balked.

    The drone policy was changed last year, after Mike Pompeo, the C.I.A. director at the time, made a forceful case to President Trump that the agency’s broader counterterrorism efforts were being needlessly constrained. The Dirkou base was already up and running by the time Mr. Pompeo stepped down as head of the C.I.A. in April to become Mr. Trump’s secretary of state.

    The Pentagon’s Africa Command has carried out five drone strikes against Qaeda and Islamic State militants in Libya this year, including one two weeks ago. The military launches its MQ-9 Reaper drones from bases in Sicily and in Niamey, Niger’s capital, 800 miles southwest of Dirkou.

    But the C.I.A. base is hundreds of miles closer to southwestern Libya, a notorious haven for Al Qaeda and other extremist groups that also operate in the Sahel region of Niger, Chad, Mali and Algeria. It is also closer to southern Libya than a new $110 million drone base in Agadez, Niger, 350 miles west of Dirkou, where the Pentagon plans to operate armed Reaper drone missions by early next year.

    Another American official said the C.I.A. began setting up the base in January to improve surveillance of the region, partly in response to an ambush last fall in another part of Niger that killed four American troops. The Dirkou airfield was labeled a United States Air Force base as a cover, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss confidential operational matters.

    The C.I.A. operation in Dirkou is burdened by few, if any, of the political sensitivities that the United States military confronts at its locations, said one former American official involved with the project.

    Even so, security analysts said, it is not clear why the United States needs both military and C.I.A. drone operations in the same general vicinity to combat insurgents in Libya. France also flies Reaper drones from Niamey, but only on unarmed reconnaissance missions.

    “I would be surprised that the C.I.A. would open its own base,” said Bill Roggio, editor of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Long War Journal, which tracks military strikes against militant groups.

    Despite American denials, a Nigerien security official said he had concluded that the C.I.A. launched an armed drone from the Dirkou base to strike a target in Ubari, in southern Libya, on July 25. The Nigerien security official spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the classified program.

    A spokesman for the Africa Command, Maj. Karl Wiest, said the military did not carry out the Ubari strike.

    #Ubari is in the same region where the American military in March launched its first-ever drone attack against Qaeda militants in southern Libya. It is at the intersection of the powerful criminal and jihadist currents that have washed across Libya in recent years. Roughly equidistant from Libya’s borders with Niger, Chad and Algeria, the area’s seminomadic residents are heavily involved in the smuggling of weapons, drugs and migrants through the lawless deserts of southern Libya.

    Some of the residents have allied with Islamist militias, including Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which operates across Algeria, Mali, Niger and Libya.

    Dirkou, in northeast Niger, is an oasis town of a few thousand people in the open desert, bordered by a small mountain range. For centuries, it has been a key transit point for travelers crossing the Sahara. It helped facilitate the rise of Islam in West Africa in the 9th century, and welcomed salt caravans from the neighboring town of Bilma.

    The town has a handful of narrow, sandy roads. Small trees dot the horizon. Date and neem trees line the streets, providing shelter for people escaping the oppressive midday heat. There is a small market, where goods for sale include spaghetti imported from Libya. Gasoline is also imported from Libya and is cheaper than elsewhere in the country.

    The drones based in Dirkou are loud, and their humming and buzzing drowns out the bleats of goats and crows of roosters.

    “It stops me from sleeping,” said Ajimi Koddo, 45, a former migrant smuggler. “They need to go. They go in our village, and it annoys us too much.”

    Satellite imagery shows that construction started in February on a new compound at the Dirkou airstrip. Since then, the facility has been extended to include a larger paved taxiway and a clamshell tent connected to the airstrip — all features that are consistent with the deployment of small aircraft, possibly drones.

    Five defensive positions were set up around the airport, and there appear to be new security gates and checkpoints both to the compound and the broader airport.

    It’s not the first time that Washington has eyed with interest Dirkou’s tiny base. In the late 1980s, the United States spent $3.2 million renovating the airstrip in an effort to bolster Niger’s government against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, then the leader of Libya.

    Compared with other parts of Africa, the C.I.A.’s presence in the continent’s northwest is relatively light, according to a former State Department official who served in the region. In this part of Niger, the C.I.A. is also providing training and sharing intelligence, according to a Nigerien military intelligence document reviewed by The Times.

    The Nigerien security official said about a dozen American Green Berets were stationed earlier this year in #Dirkou — in a base separate from the C.I.A.’s — to train a special counterterrorism battalion of local forces. Those trainers left about three months ago, the official said.

    It is unlikely that they will return anytime soon. The Pentagon is considering withdrawing nearly all American commandos from Niger in the wake of the deadly October ambush that killed four United States soldiers.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/09/world/africa/cia-drones-africa-military.html
    #CIA #drones #Niger #Sahel #USA #Etats-Unis #EI #ISIS #Etat_islamique #sécurité #terrorisme #base_militaire

    • Le Sahel est-il une zone de #non-droit ?

      La CIA a posé ses valises dans la bande sahélo-saharienne. Le New-York Times l’a annoncé, le 9 septembre dernier. Le quotidien US, a révélé l’existence d’une #base_de_drones secrète non loin de la commune de Dirkou, dans le nord-est du Niger. Cette localité, enclavée, la première grande ville la plus proche est Agadez située à 570 km, est le terrain de tir parfait. Elle est éloignée de tous les regards, y compris des autres forces armées étrangères : France, Allemagne, Italie, présentes sur le sol nigérien. Selon un responsable américain anonyme interrogé par ce journal, les drones déployés à Dirkou n’avaient « pas encore été utilisés dans des missions meurtrières, mais qu’ils le seraient certainement dans un proche avenir, compte tenu de la menace croissante qui pèse sur le sud de la Libye. » Or, d’après les renseignements recueillis par l’IVERIS, ces assertions sont fausses, la CIA a déjà mené des opérations à partir de cette base. Ces informations apportent un nouvel éclairage et expliquent le refus catégorique et systématique de l’administration américaine de placer la force conjointe du G5 Sahel (Tchad, Mauritanie, Burkina-Faso, Niger, Mali) sous le chapitre VII de la charte des Nations Unies.
      L’installation d’une base de drones n’est pas une bonne nouvelle pour les peuples du Sahel, et plus largement de l’Afrique de l’Ouest, qui pourraient connaître les mêmes malheurs que les Afghans et les Pakistanais confrontés à la guerre des drones avec sa cohorte de victimes civiles, appelées pudiquement « dégâts collatéraux ».

      D’après le journaliste du NYT, qui s’est rendu sur place, les drones présents à Dirkou ressembleraient à des Predator, des aéronefs d’ancienne génération qui ont un rayon d’action de 1250 km. Il serait assez étonnant que l’agence de Langley soit équipée de vieux modèles alors que l’US Air Force dispose à Niamey et bientôt à Agadez des derniers modèles MQ-9 Reaper, qui, eux, volent sur une distance de 1850 km. A partir de cette base, la CIA dispose donc d’un terrain de tir étendu qui va de la Libye, au sud de l’Algérie, en passant par le Tchad, jusqu’au centre du Mali, au Nord du Burkina et du Nigéria…

      Selon deux sources militaires de pays d’Afrique de l’Ouest, ces drones ont déjà réalisé des frappes à partir de la base de Dirkou. Ces bombardements ont eu lieu en Libye. Il paraît important de préciser que le chaos existant dans ce pays depuis la guerre de 2011, ne rend pas ces frappes plus légales. Par ailleurs, ces mêmes sources suspectent la CIA d’utiliser Dirkou comme une prison secrète « si des drones peuvent se poser des avions aussi. Rien ne les empêche de transporter des terroristes de Libye exfiltrés. Dirkou un Guantanamo bis ? »

      En outre, il n’est pas impossible que ces drones tueurs aient été en action dans d’autres Etats limitrophes. Qui peut le savoir ? « Cette base est irrégulière, illégale, la CIA peut faire absolument tout ce qu’elle veut là-bas » rapporte un officier. De plus, comment faire la différence entre un MQ-9 Reaper de la CIA ou encore un de l’US Air Force, qui, elle, a obtenu l’autorisation d’armer ses drones (1). Encore que…

      En novembre 2017, le président Mahamadou Issoufou a autorisé les drones de l’US Air Force basés à Niamey, à frapper leurs cibles sur le territoire nigérien (2). Mais pour que cet agrément soit légal, il aurait fallu qu’il soit présenté devant le parlement, ce qui n’a pas été le cas. Même s’il l’avait été, d’une part, il le serait seulement pour l’armée US et pas pour la CIA, d’autre part, il ne serait valable que sur le sol nigérien et pas sur les territoires des pays voisins…

      Pour rappel, cette autorisation a été accordée à peine un mois après les événements de Tongo Tongo, où neuf militaires avaient été tués, cinq soldats nigériens et quatre américains. Cette autorisation est souvent présentée comme la conséquence de cette attaque. Or, les pourparlers ont eu lieu bien avant. En effet, l’AFRICOM a planifié la construction de la base de drone d’Agadez, la seconde la plus importante de l’US Air Force en Afrique après Djibouti, dès 2016, sous le mandat de Barack Obama. Une nouvelle preuve que la politique africaine du Pentagone n’a pas changée avec l’arrivée de Donald Trump (3-4-5).

      Les USA seuls maîtres à bord dans le Sahel

      Dès lors, le véto catégorique des Etats-Unis de placer la force G5 Sahel sous chapitre VII se comprend mieux. Il s’agit de mener une guerre non-officielle sans mandat international des Nations-Unies et sans se soucier du droit international. Ce n’était donc pas utile qu’Emmanuel Macron, fer de lance du G5, force qui aurait permis à l’opération Barkhane de sortir du bourbier dans lequel elle se trouve, plaide à de nombreuses reprises cette cause auprès de Donald Trump. Tous les présidents du G5 Sahel s’y sont essayés également, en vain. Ils ont fini par comprendre, quatre chefs d’Etats ont boudé la dernière Assemblée générale des Nations Unies. Seul, le Président malien, Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, est monté à la tribune pour réitérer la demande de mise sous chapitre VII, unique solution pour que cette force obtienne un financement pérenne. Alors qu’en décembre 2017, Emmanuel Macron y croyait encore dur comme fer et exigeait des victoires au premier semestre 2018, faute de budget, le G5 Sahel n’est toujours pas opérationnel ! (6-7) Néanmoins, la Chine a promis de le soutenir financièrement. Magnanime, le secrétaire d’Etat à la défense, Jim Mattis a lui assuré à son homologue, Florence Parly, que les Etats-Unis apporteraient à la force conjointe une aide très significativement augmentée. Mais toujours pas de chapitre VII en vue... Ainsi, l’administration Trump joue coup double. Non seulement elle ne s’embarrasse pas avec le Conseil de Sécurité et le droit international mais sous couvert de lutte antiterroriste, elle incruste ses bottes dans ce qui est, (ce qui fut ?), la zone d’influence française.

      Far West

      Cerise sur le gâteau, en août dernier le patron de l’AFRICOM, le général Thomas D. Waldhauser, a annoncé une réduction drastique de ses troupes en Afrique (9). Les sociétés militaires privées, dont celle d’Erik Prince, anciennement Blackwater, ont bien compris le message et sont dans les starting-blocks prêtes à s’installer au Sahel (10).


      https://www.iveris.eu/list/notes_danalyse/371-le_sahel_estil_une_zone_de_nondroit__


  • 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.”

    *


  • UK Labour enables assaults on free speech | The Electronic Intifada

    https://electronicintifada.net/content/uk-labour-enables-assaults-free-speech/25576

    On 28 August this year, the New Statesman published an interview with Jonathan Sacks, Britain’s former chief rabbi, in which he described Jeremy Corbyn, the country’s main opposition leader, as “an anti-Semite.”

    By way of evidence, Sacks cited comments made by Corbyn in 2013, when the Labour leader and long-standing supporter of Palestinian rights allegedly criticized Zionists for failing to understand English irony. An editorial in the same issue of the London magazine claimed that “Corbyn’s remarks conflated a political position and an identity.”

    Even the traditionally Labour-supporting New Statesman, then, was endorsing the anti-Semitism charge.

    My initial reaction to these accusations was to dismiss them. How could anyone believe such nonsense?

    I have known and worked with Corbyn since the late 1970s. I cannot think of any other prominent politician who, throughout their entire adult life, has worked as tirelessly against racism in every form.

    But on reflection, I think a more considered response is necessary. We need to look carefully at any such allegations. Theoretically, at least, they just might be true.

    Corbyn’s remarks were made in reference to an earlier speech by Manuel Hassassian, the Palestinian Authority’s ambassador to the UK. Hassassian spoke in the British Parliament on 15 January 2013.

    We don’t have access to Hassassian’s entire speech but Richard Millett, a pro-Israel activist, recorded it at the time.


  • Study questions Iran-al Qaeda ties, despite U.S. allegations | Reuters

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-iran-alqaeda/study-questions-iran-al-qaeda-ties-despite-u-s-allegations-idUSKCN1LN2LE

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - There is no evidence that Iran and al Qaeda cooperated in carrying out terrorist attacks, according to a study published on Friday that casts doubt on Trump administration statements about close ties between the two.

    FILE PHOTO: Iran’s national flags are seen on a square in Tehran February 10, 2012. REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl
    The conclusions of the study, by the New America think tank, were based on detailed analysis of documents seized in Osama bin Laden’s hideout after U.S. forces killed the al Qaeda leader in 2011.

    The findings clash with recent statements by U.S. President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo suggesting Iran has collaborated with al Qaeda, which carried out the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the United States.

    Debate has swirled over the relationship between Iran, a majority Shi’ite Muslim state, and radical Sunni group al Qaeda since late 2001, when some al Qaeda members fled to Iran after the United States toppled the Taliban government that had sheltered them in Afghanistan.

    The bin Laden files, including a 19-page document not released until last November, show that Iran was uncomfortable with the militants’ presence on its soil, said Nelly Lahoud, the study’s author and an expert on al Qaeda.


  • MI5 head Andrew Parker summons Jeremy Corbyn for ‘facts of life’ talk on terror | News | The Sunday Times
    https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/mi5-head-andrew-parker-summons-jeremy-corbyn-for-facts-of-life-talk-on-t

    Jeremy Corbyn has been summoned for a personal briefing by the head of MI5 on the terrorist threat to Britain amid questions about his approach to national security.

    Andrew Parker, the director-general of the Security Service, is expected to give the Labour leader a “full briefing” on the threat from Islamists in Britain and Isis jihadists returning from the Middle East to plot atrocities on home soil.

    The MI5 boss also wants to prime Corbyn on the extent of hostile Russian espionage activity and the growing threat from far-right extremists.

    Two senior government sources said the meeting was scheduled for Tuesday so that Corbyn could “begin to understand the facts of life” about threats he has a habit of playing down.


  • Jeremy Corbyn must not back down on Palestine | The Electronic Intifada

    https://electronicintifada.net/content/jeremy-corbyn-must-not-back-down-palestine/25341

    Since his election as Labour leader in 2015, Jeremy Corbyn has faced an unprecedented campaign of vitriol from the combined forces of the Jewish Labour Movement, the Board of Deputies of British Jews, right-wing Labour MPs, and pro-Israel newspapers with mainstream press and broadcast media all too happy to jump on the bandwagon.

    In response there has been an impressive show of solidarity from his supporters. Following days of manufactured outrage over comments made by Peter Willsman – Labour veteran and Corbyn ally – the hashtag #WeAreCorbyn trended at number one in the UK and number three worldwide. (Willsman’s crime: to demand evidence from those denouncing Corbyn for anti-Semitism.)

    This reflexive defense of Corbyn shows the level of respect for his hitherto unwavering commitment to social justice and fighting racism. The invective against him has, however, also prevented any real examination of Corbyn’s positions on Palestine -– positions that are far less radical than often presumed.

    More urgently at the present juncture, save for a few dissenting voices (such as The Electronic Intifada’s Asa Winstanley), he has also escaped opprobrium for manifestly failing to push back against the smear of anti-Semitism and for becoming increasingly apologetic for past solidarity with Palestine.

    This can no longer be allowed to stand. The stakes are much too high.

    Reports suggest Corbyn has capitulated to the demand that Labour incorporate into its Code of Conduct all four of the thus-far resisted “examples” of anti-Semitism devised by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). This is despite Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) voting against this in mid-July.

    Ostensibly, a Labour NEC working group is still “consulting” on the issue. However, Corbyn has preempted the final outcome. He has unilaterally announced Labour now has an issue with only “half of one [IHRA] example.” Worryingly, reports suggest Corbyn will seek adoption of the IHRA examples as early as 4 September, conveniently before the Labour Party Conference at the end of the same month.

    These developments reveal the need for an urgent refocusing away from defending Corbyn to the real task at hand: exposing the manufactured anti-Semitism crisis and the IHRA’s assault on the right to criticize Israel.

    Tragically, the fight over the IHRA now looks to have also become a fight against Corbyn.


  • Michael O’Brien’s Anger | The American Conservative

    https://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/michael-obrien-anger-catholic-ireland-sex-abuse

    Le média n’est pas trop ma tasse de thé mais... le sujet est plus qu’important, totalement crucial aujoud’hui où les voix s’élèvent de plus en plus fréquement, et je suis surpris d’avoir raté ce témoignage irlandais le jour où Monsieur le Pape visite l’Irlande.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2iQGczIx6Sg

    “Mr Chairman, I am surprised at the Minister now. First of all Minister you made a bags of it in the beginning by changing the judges. You made a complete bags of it at that time because I went to the Laffoy Commission and ye had seven barristers there questioning me, telling me that I was telling lies when I told them that I got raped of a Saturday, got an merciful beating after it and he then came along the following morning and put Holy Communion in my mouth. You don’t know what happened there . You haven’t the foggiest. You’re talking through your hat there, and you are talking to a Fianna Fáil man, and a former councillor and a former mayor that worked tooth and nail for the party that you are talking about now. You didn’t do it right. You got it wrong. Admit it and apologise for doing that because you don’t know what I feel inside me. You don’t know the hurt I have.

    You said it was non-adversarial. My God, seven barristers throwing questions at us non-stop. I attempted to commit suicide, [turning to his wife] there’s the woman who saved me from committing suicide on my way down from Dublin after spending five days at the commission . They brought a man over from Rome – 90 odd years of age – to tell me I was telling lies and that I wasn’t beaten for an hour non-stop by two of them from head to toe without a shred of cloth on my body. My God, Minister.

    [Turning to Fine Gael TD Leo Varadkar] Can I speak to you and ask your leader to stop making a political football out of this. You hurt us when you do that. You tear the shreds from inside our body. For God’s sake, try and give us some peace, try and give us some peace, and not continue hurting us.

    [Turning to his wife]

    That woman will tell you how many times I jump out of bed at night with the sweat pumping out of me because I see these fellows at the end of the bed with their fingers pulling me into the room to rape me, to bugger me and to beat the shite out of me. That’s the way it is, and sometime, you know what, I listen to the leader of Fianna Fáil. I even listened to the apology. It was mealy-mouthed but at least it was an apology. The Rosminians said in the report that they were easy on us. The first day I went there, the first day I went to the Rosminians in my home which is Ferryhouse in Clonmel, the only home I know, he said you’re in it for the money. We didn’t want money. We wanted someone to stand up and say ‘yes these fellows were buggered, these people were robbed’.

    Little girls, my sister, a month old when she was put into an institution, eight of us from the one family were dragged by the ISPCC cruelty man, put into two cars and brought to the court in Clonmel. We were left standing there without food or anything and the fellow in the long black frock and white collar came along and he put us into a scut-truck and landed us below with 200 other boys. Two nights later I was raped.

    How can anyone, you’re talking about the Constitution, these people would gladly say yes to a Constitution to freeze the funds of the religious orders. This State, this country of ours will say yes to that Constitution if you have to change it.

    Don’t say you can’t change it. You are the Government of this State. You run this State. So, for God’s sake, stop mealy-mouthing because I am sick of it. You are turning me away from voting Fianna Fáil, which I have done from the day I could vote.

    You know me Minister and you have met me on several occasions, so you know what I am like. Remember Wexford?”

    UPDATE: Reader Old West points out that this is exactly the kind of anger we ought to be seeing and hearing from bishops. That’s right! And that’s the thing that I have never, ever understood about this entire damn scandal: why we have yet to see a single bishop respond with that kind of righteous anger. I’m sick and tired of hearing them say how “sad” this is, though sad it is. If they had the slightest empathy with those children, they would react much as Michael O’Brien did. Just think of Pope Francis spoke with even a fraction of O’Brien’s conviction and passion, what it would do. It might just put the fear of God into those cretinous time-servers.

    #église #pédophilie #droit #état_de_droit #viol #cruauté #barbares #impunité


  • Egyptian Chronicles: Corbyn and Rabaa Salute misinformation : The sign’s true story

    https://egyptianchronicles.blogspot.com/2018/08/corbyn-and-rabaa-salute-misinformation.html#more

    The Telegraph says in the report that Corbyn is under fire because he was doing the Salute of the Muslim Brotherhood, the group linked to terrorism in Egypt and the Middle East.
    The news article is currently viral on main news websites and newspapers that can’t stomach the Labour leader like The Sun and The Metro.
    That photo is making rounds on alt-rights and Islamophobia fanatics on social media.

    Now there is a little misinformation here that needs to be corrected.

    Jeremy Corbyn was doing Rabaa the sign which is not an MB salute.
    The four-finger sign of Rabaa was made in 2014 by a Turkish graphic designer to commemorate the victims of Pro-Islamist president Mohamed Morsi’s sit-in’s forcible dispersal in Rabaa and Nahda squares in Egypt on 13 August 2013.

    According to the different human rights organizations, whether Egyptian or international, at least 600 human beings were killed on that day.
    The numbers of the victims are still disputed but at least 600 victims have been officially confirmed by the semi-official National Council For Human Rights.
    The Rabaa sign is associated with the Muslim Brotherhood because its members began to do it in their trials, rallies and protests in Egypt and around the world to commemorate the victims. The group indeed adopted it but it is not their salute

    That sign is banned in Egypt and some have paid a heavy price because of doing it publicly even accidentally.
    I would have ignored this matter but unfortunately, it came at the same time as the anniversary of that sad event that we have been suffering from its consequences up until now. I do not need to post a disclaimar that I am not a Muslim Brotherhood supporter or member.


  • Who needs democracy when you have data? - MIT Technology Review
    https://www.technologyreview.com/s/611815/who-needs-democracy-when-you-have-data

    Hu Jintao, China’s leader from 2002 to 2012, had attempted to solve these problems by permitting a modest democratic thaw, allowing avenues for grievances to reach the ruling class. His successor, Xi Jinping, has reversed that trend. Instead, his strategy for understanding and responding to what is going on in a nation of 1.4 billion relies on a combination of surveillance, AI, and big data to monitor people’s lives and behavior in minute detail.

    As far as we know, there is no single master blueprint linking technology and governance in China. But there are several initiatives that share a common strategy of harvesting data about people and companies to inform decision-making and create systems of incentives and punishments to influence behavior. These initiatives include the State Council’s 2014 “Social Credit System,” the 2016 Cybersecurity Law, various local-level and private-enterprise experiments in “social credit,” “smart city” plans, and technology-driven policing in the western region of Xinjiang. Often they involve partnerships between the government and China’s tech companies.

    The most far-reaching is the Social Credit System, though a better translation in English might be the “trust” or “reputation” system. The government plan, which covers both people and businesses, lists among its goals the “construction of sincerity in government affairs, commercial sincerity, and judicial credibility.” (“Everybody in China has an auntie who’s been swindled. There is a legitimate need to address a breakdown in public trust,” says Paul Triolo, head of the geotechnology practice at the consultancy Eurasia Group.) To date, it’s a work in progress, though various pilots preview how it might work in 2020, when it is supposed to be fully implemented.

    Blacklists are the system’s first tool. For the past five years, China’s court system has published the names of people who haven’t paid fines or complied with judgments. Under new social-credit regulations, this list is shared with various businesses and government agencies. People on the list have found themselves blocked from borrowing money, booking flights, and staying at luxury hotels. China’s national transport companies have created additional blacklists, to punish riders for behavior like blocking train doors or picking fights during a journey; offenders are barred from future ticket purchases for six or 12 months. Earlier this year, Beijing debuted a series of blacklists to prohibit “dishonest” enterprises from being awarded future government contracts or land grants.

    A few local governments have experimented with social-credit “scores,” though it’s not clear if they will be part of the national plan.

    “The idea of social credit is to monitor and manage how people and institutions behave,” says Samantha Hoffman of the Mercator Institute for China Studies in Berlin. “Once a violation is recorded in one part of the system, it can trigger responses in other parts of the system. It’s a concept designed to support both economic development and social management, and it’s inherently political.” Some parallels to parts of China’s blueprint already exist in the US: a bad credit score can prevent you from taking out a home loan, while a felony conviction suspends or annuls your right to vote, for example. “But they’re not all connected in the same way—there’s no overarching plan,” Hoffman points out.

    One of the biggest concerns is that because China lacks an independent judiciary, citizens have no recourse for disputing false or inaccurate allegations.

    In the last two years thousands of checkpoints have been set up at which passersby must present both their face and their national ID card to proceed on a highway, enter a mosque, or visit a shopping mall. Uighurs are required to install government-­designed tracking apps on their smartphones, which monitor their online contacts and the web pages they’ve visited. Police officers visit local homes regularly to collect further data on things like how many people live in the household, what their relationships with their neighbors are like, how many times people pray daily, whether they have traveled abroad, and what books they have.

    All these data streams are fed into Xinjiang’s public security system, along with other records capturing information on everything from banking history to family planning. “The computer program aggregates all the data from these different sources and flags those who might become ‘a threat’ to authorities,” says Wang. Though the precise algorithm is unknown, it’s believed that it may highlight behaviors such as visiting a particular mosque, owning a lot of books, buying a large quantity of gasoline, or receiving phone calls or email from contacts abroad. People it flags are visited by police, who may take them into custody and put them in prison or in reeducation camps without any formal charges.

    #Chine #Surveillance #Social_ranking #Social_credits