Australia

Refugee Crisis is a Crisis of Imperialism

The widely circulated photo of Aylan Kurdi, a three-year-old Syrian boy whose body was found on a beach in Turkey and whose family was “making a final, desperate attempt to flee to relatives in Canada even though their asylum application had been rejected” by the Harper Government, has caused widespread outrage and forced Western leaders to acknowledge that there is a “refugee crisis”.

In Canada, the leaders of the Liberal and New Democratic parties have used the news of Kurdi’s tragic death, along with the deaths of his five-year-old brother and his mother, to criticize the Harper Government’s response to the Syrian refugee crisis. Trudeau and Mulcair have called on Canada to accept more Syrian refugees, while the Harper Government, with its lust for military action, insists on more illegal bombing raids in Syria and Iraq as the solution to the surge of Syrian refugees.

The real tragedy is the refusal of Western leaders to acknowledge the cause of the refugee crisis – Western imperialism’s genocidal and never ending wars on the people of the Middle East, Central Asia, and Africa.

There are now more refugees than at any time since World War 2, and the number of refugees has increased markedly since the start of the “Global War on Terror”. Wherever the U.S. and its imperialist allies have intervened, whether through direct military action or indirect proxy wars, economic sabotage, and coups, in the name of “democracy”, the “War on Terror”, or the “responsibility to protect”, death and despair have been forced upon millions of innocent people, who have been left no other choice than to abandon their native lands to embark on a dangerous future of desperate struggle.

In Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, Mali, Korea, Vietnam, East Timor, Sudan, Ukraine, and elsewhere the livelihoods of millions have been destroyed by the forces of U.S. and Western imperialism.

In the 1980s, Afghanistan had a “genuinely popular government”, according to John Ryan, retired professor from the University of Winnipeg, that was implementing widespread reforms (Parenti, Michael. “The Terrorism Trap”. Page 56. City Lights Books, San Fransisco, 2002). Labour unions were legalized, a minimum wage was established, hundreds of thousands of Afghans were enrolled in educational facilities, and women were freed from age-old tribal bondage and able to earn an independent income. U.S. and Western imperialism, fearful of that kind of equitable distribution of wealth, supported the feudal landlords and fundamentalist mullahs to sow chaos across the country, bringing rise to elements that later formed al-Qaeda and the Taliban. The Afghan people were once more dealt a severe punishment by the forces of Western imperialism following 9/11, despite a lack of conclusive evidence linking either the Taliban or al-Qaeda to the attacks. 30 years of U.S. intervention in Afghanistan have left the people of Afghanistan impoverished, traumatized, and desperate.

The conflicts in Libya and Syria are eerily similar to the Western destabilization of Afghanistan. In 2011, when the Arab Spring protests swept across the Middle East and North Africa, Western imperialism hijacked legitimate grievances of the masses as a pretext for intervention in the name of the “responsibility to protect” and “democracy promotion”.

Prior to the 2011 U.S./NATO intervention, Libya was among the wealthiest and most stable countries in Africa, with the continent’s highest standard of living. Housing was enshrined as a human right, education and healthcare services were free for all citizens, and the country was pushing to establish an African currency linked to gold to help end the endless cycle of debt and impoverishment of the African masses by Western imperialism. Under the cloak of the United Nations, Western imperialism, using the pretext of protecting the people of Libya from Gaddafi’s murderous rule, launched airstrikes on Libya and allied themselves with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and other Libyan extremists. NATO airstrikes killed hundreds of civilians and forced Libya back into the Stone Age; Gaddafi was mercilessly tortured and murdered by the rebels. Thousands have been killed as rival tribal and extremist factions, some now allied with ISIS, battling for control of the country.

The conflict in Syria has frequently been referred to as “Libya 2.0”. U.S. imperialism with the support of Israel, Turkey, and the Persian Gulf States, trained and financed “moderate” rebels to overthrow the secular and popularly supported government of Bashar al-Assad. The “Free Syrian Army”, i.e., the “moderate” rebels, has been virtually eliminated in the conflict despite millions of dollars in aid from the U.S. and its regional allies. FSA fighters have deserted to the ranks of ISIS en masse, itself a product of the illegal U.S. occupation of Iraq that killed 1 million Iraqis. There is overwhelming evidence that the U.S. and its allies have been actively training and supporting ISIS elements since the start of the proxy war in Syria. It wasn’t until ISIS invaded Iraq with its new Toyota technicals, curtesy of U.S. imperialism, that ISIS was declared a threat to the world. Western imperialism changed its tactic from supporting ISIS to airstrikes on Iraq and Syria, with the support of other Western imperialist states, Turkey (which is also conveniently bombing anti-ISIS Kurdish fighters), Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf States, but without consultation with the Syrian government, Iran, or Hezbollah that have been fighting ISIS and al-Qaeda elements since the start of the conflict. Hundreds of thousands have died in the West’s proxy war against the Syrian government.

From Libya to Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Pakistan and Somalia, U.S. and Western imperialist interventions, coups, and sanctions have displaced and killed millions of people. Physicians for Social Responsibility estimates that in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan alone Western imperialist interventions have caused the deaths of 1.3 million people. It is no wonder then that hundreds of thousands seek asylum elsewhere; however, after traveling huge distances overland and on water, refugees find themselves abused, discriminated against, held in detention, or rejected from Europe, Canada, the U.S., and Australia.

More than 2, 500 have died this year trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea into Europe, while the International Organization for Migration estimates that 30, 000 could die by the end of 2015.

Refugees attempting to enter Europe, even if they are granted asylum in a mainland European country such as Germany, have been met with police violence in Greece, Italy, and other countries on the Mediterranean that are the first landing points for boats sailing from North Africa and Turkey.

Greek riot police have beaten refugees protesting the failure of local governments to process their applications. Conditions are so poor for refugees that while waiting for processing newborn babies have died in Greece.

On the Macedonia-Greece border, where more than a thousand refugees are crossing daily, refugees that broke through the barbed wire fences were shot at with stun grenades, and the Macedonian police have treated refugees as rioters, according to Amnesty International.

Italian police forcibly removed African refugees camping out at the French border after France refused to grant them asylum. Hungary is building a fortified wall, similar to the barbaric wall that divides the U.S.-Mexico border, to stop refugees from crossing the border.

The thousands of refugees that seek asylum in Australia are detained in Australia’s detention facilities in Papua New Guinea and the small island nation of Nauru, dubbed the “Guantanamo Bay of the Pacific”. Refugees can be detained for several years in these facilities, where social workers have observed “profound damage” to those detained through “prolonged deprivation of freedom, abuse of power, confinement in an extremely harsh environment, uncertainty of future, disempowerment, loss of privacy and autonomy and inadequate health and protection services”. An Australian Senate investigation received reports of guards raping women on tape and sexually exploiting children as young as 2-years-old. Just as Britain refuses to assist drowning refugees in the Mediterranean out of fear that it will encourage more migrants to seek asylum, the unannounced policy of Australian authorities is to make refugees suffer abuse and inhumane living conditions to deter them from seeking asylum in Australia, as if Australian imperialism hasn’t inflicted enough suffering on the people of the Middle East, South and Southeast Asia.

U.S. and Western imperialism is the root cause of the “refugee crisis”. Everyday men, women, and children are killed by U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan, U.S. and Western-backed militias in Afghanistan, Syria, and Somalia, European and North American mining and oil conglomerates in Central and Western Africa, or are starved to death in Yemen by the U.S.-backed Arab blockade of the country. Until the genocidal aims of U.S. imperialism, with the support of Canada, Australia, the European Union, and regional allies, are defeated, the “War on Terror” will continue to make life too unbearable for working people in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East to remain in their home countries.

Horrors of Off-Shore Detention Centres

From the Communist Party of Australia

Last week a former Nauru detention security guard testified he had seen male detainees gasping after experiencing the horrible waterboarding torture, and there are continuing reports of the rape and sexual assault of women, girls and young boys.

Many of the guards are former soldiers, described by journalist Martin McKenzie-Martin as involved in a “hyper masculine and immature culture”. They refer to the detainees by identification numbers, not by name.

The women detainees must take showers close to male guards, and must ask them for sanitary pads, because the management maintains they might be set alight and used as weapons during riots!

Morale collapsed within the centre last year after the government announced that no detainees would ever gain Australian citizenship. Incidents of rape, assault, self-harm and attempted suicide increased.

The Abbott government persuaded some detainees with refugee status to resettle on Nauru, offering them rudimentary education, employment and accommodation services. However, that generated bitter resentment among some Nauruan citizens who saw it as an act of favouritism for the “illegals”.

Many resettled women have been attacked. One is dying in hospital after having been raped and beaten. She was left semi-conscious for hours before being discovered and taken to the police station and much later to hospital.

Another woman detainee was set on fire after being raped. Yet another found herself pregnant after an attack. Deeply religious, she sought a termination but then attempted suicide after it was performed at a Brisbane hospital. She was then returned to Nauru.

Resettled women have spoken about the “50-dollar man”, who rapes women and then drops a $50 note onto their bodies. However, the Nauruan courts have recorded no convictions for assaults against detainees.

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US-Australian Bombing Plans: No Invasion of Syria!

From the Communist Party of Australia

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has announced that Australia is about to join the US in bombing Syria. There is a great deal of speculation about where the idea came from. It had already been floated by Liberal backbencher Dan Tehan who heads the Parliament’s intelligence and security committee. The PM claims the suggestion came from Barack Obama a few weeks ago when they were having a phone conversation. The US president was pressing Australia’s final endorsement of the sovereignty-destroying Trans-Pacific Partnership. Fairfax media reported leaks from senior government sources that Abbott had pestered the US for such an invitation.

The move to bomb Syria by the US and its allies is along the lines of Obama’s 2011 “humanitarian intervention” in Libya which saw the real intended outcome: the toppling of the Gaddafi government. The current intention on Syria is in fact invasion from the air. Military personnel on the ground from the US-Australia invading forces are there to help facilitate regime change by the terrorist forces that have been unleashed and given impetus by those planning the air invasion.

In September 2014, when Abbott announced that the Australian military would be returning to Iraq, he avoided giving a direct answer as to whether Australia would join the US in bombing Syria too.

Regardless of the origins of the idea, Australia’s involvement in yet another US war suits Abbott and the Pentagon.

As the president is claimed to have told Abbott from aboard Air Force One, the Pentagon would look kindly on a decision by the Australian government to extend its military’s bombing operations into Syria.

For Abbott, an extension of the war would also be a major distraction from issues worrying voters as the next federal election approaches. Former independent member for New England, Tony Windsor, spoke for many when he discussed Tony Abbott’s motivations and what they mean for the rest of us during an appearance on ABC TV’s Q&A program last week. “I remember him saying ‘I will do anything to get this job’. So, it was about getting the job. And I’m sure I think we are seeing it being played out now with the possibility of war in Syria. To me, that’s more about keeping the job than actually putting up an argument to take this country to another war,” Windsor said.

Of course, the reasons given for considering the “invitation” to bomb Syria include accounts of IS’s continued military progress and its atrocities. The bombing of Iraq has achieved little in that regard but it has contributed to a crisis of more than three million internally displaced Iraqis.

When asked about the legality of entering Syria against the wishes or the internationally recognised government of President Bashar al-Assad, the PM stated nonsensically: “The terrorists don’t respect the border, so why should we?” he said. So, we follow the lead of the terrorists.

People are starting to see through the “right to protect” camouflage the US usually deploys in these situations. Every country that the US intervenes in to protect “democracy” and “security”, descends into chaos and uncertainty. The only predictable result is that functioning and independently-minded sovereign nations are dismembered and converted into a bunch of warring fiefdoms whose desperation “cries out” for great powers to come in and restore “normality”. The secular government of Syria is a prime candidate for this sort of treatment. Russia and China are bigger challenges but, ultimately, are targets for the same strategy.

The people of the world want peace. They want the redressing of historical injustices and economic progress. They don’t want to be washed up on the shores of foreign countries as refugees. They don’t want imperialist powers determining the course of development of their homelands. Australians must speak up now to prevent our involvement in the next stage of this criminal, illegal aggression.

Australian Uranium Mining Company Accused of Contaminating Lake Malawi

From CorpWatch

Paladin Energy, an Australian mining company, has been accused of discharging uranium-contaminated sludge into Lake Malawi, which supports 1.7 million people in three countries – Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania. The company began uranium mining operations in Malawi in 2009 although it suspended operations last year after ore prices fell.

“It is rumored that Paladin secretly have started discharging the so called purified water. Reports from the Beach Village Chairman indicates that this started in late November,” wrote Rafiq Hajat of Malawi’s Institute for Policy Interaction on Facebook. “[At] a radius of 35 km from the Boma, you will be shocked to see fish of different species dead with some communities along the lakeshore collecting [the fish].”

Malawi is the world’s thirteenth poorest country in the world with a life expectancy of 55 years and the government has been keen to figure out ways to increase the national income. When Paladin submitted a proposal to explore for uranium in Kayelekera, northern Malawi, in 2007, Henry Chimunthu-Banda, then Minister of Energy, Mines and Natural Resources, told parliament that the mine could potentially boost the country’s gross domestic product by 10 percent.

Controversy has dogged the Kayelekera mine ever since. “Uranium is radioactive and that with open-pit mining, like the one to be conducted at Kayelekera, the soil drains into rivers and contaminates the water,” Titus Mvalo, a lawyer representing several civil society organizations in Malawi, told Inter Press Service in 2007. “When humans drink the water, it damages kidneys and causes cancer.

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