Germany

Refugees Flee Imperialist War, Face Racism in Europe

From Liberation News

The U.S. government and other western imperialist powers are trying to deflect blame from a growing number of migrant and human rights organizations for their role in what is being labeled “the European refugee crisis,” which has become a growing humanitarian disaster.

According to new figures by the International Organization for Migration, over 332,000 refugees have crossed the Mediterranean Sea this year alone in an attempt to reach Europe—nearly a 40 percent increase over the year before, which was already a record year for immigration into Europe.

Most of the refugees are coming from countries—like Syria—that are currently being militarily targeted by the United States and its allies, or from countries feeling the aftereffects of U.S. military intervention such as Afghanistan and Libya. Others come from countries that have not been militarily targeted by imperialism but suffer from the devastating effects of Western-imposed trade and economic conditions that have led to underdevelopment and poverty.

The IOM states that at least 2,636 people have died attempting to migrate to Europe, but these numbers could be much higher.

The office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva said Friday that “200,000 migrants have landed in Greece alone,” making it the largest point of entry for migrants into Europe.

Just this past Monday, Greece’s coast guard reported that it had found 2,492 refugees at sea off the eastern islands of Lesbos, Chios, Samos, Agathonissi, Farmakonissi, Kos and Symi in only three days.

According to the Associated Press, the vast majority of those arriving in Greece are Syrian and Afghan refugees who are not looking to make Greece their new home but instead see Greece as a first step in a long journey into more prosperous European countries like Germany or Austria. Greece, Macedonia, Serbia and Hungary have seen tens of thousands of refugees traveling through their countries.

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At Munich Conference, US Hawks Press for Military Escalation Towards Russia

From CommonDreams

At a security conference in Munich on Saturday, U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) vigorously pressed for more western military backing of Ukraine and escalation towards Russia, openly clashing with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and pointing towards a deepening transatlantic rift over strategy.

Addressing the conference on Saturday, Merkel declared, “I cannot imagine any situation in which improved equipment for the Ukrainian army leads to President Putin being so impressed that he believes he will lose militarily. I have to put it that bluntly.”

“I understand the debate but I believe that more weapons will not lead to the progress Ukraine needs,” added Merkel, who has pressed for a diplomatic resolution to the crisis.

Graham lashed back at the chancellor, accusing her of turning her back on struggling ally Ukraine, as paraphrased by Reuters.

“At the end of the day, to our European friends, this is not working,” said Graham. “You can go to Moscow until you turn blue in the face. Stand up to what is clearly a lie and a danger.”

Nato’s top military commander, US Air Force general Philip Breedlove, also urged the conference to consider military escalation. “I don’t think we should preclude out of hand the possibility of the military option,” he said.

Merkel’s statements, furthermore, were immediately slammed by Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.).

The verbal sparring takes place as the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama falls under increased pressure from U.S. hawks, including those within the GOP-controlled Congress, to step up its military response to the crisis.

Pressure is mounting despite evidence of war crimes committed by the Ukrainian military, including use of cluster munitions against civilian populations in Donetsk, as documented by Human Rights Watch.

Brazilian Truth Commission Alleges Volkswagen Had Ties To Former Military Junta

From CorpWatch

Based in Wolfsburg, Germany, the Volkswagen group is the world’s second largest automobile manufacturer with a global sales revenue of €197 billion and a profit of €9 billion in 2013 ($256 billion/$12 billion). It employs 570,000 workers and sells around ten million cars a year. Volkswagen do Brasil has been producing cars since 1953 and employs over 24,000 workers in the country today.

“They held my arms behind my back and immediately put me in handcuffs. As soon as we arrived in Volkswagen’s security center, the torture began. I was beaten, punched and slapped,” Lucio Bellentani, a former Volkswagen employee at a company plant in Sao Bernardo do Campo, near Sao Paulo, told the commission about his experiences in 1972.

The Truth Commission was set up by Dilma Rousseff, the president of Brazil, to investigate what the government did to the people who fought against the military regime. The investigation was of particular interest to Rousseff, who was tortured herself.

A final 1,000 page report, which was published in December 2014, documents the killing and disappearing of 434 people. The commission stated that “these are only the cases it was possible to verify … despite obstacles to the investigation, notably the lack of access to armed forces’ documentation, which is officially said to have been destroyed.” Thousands of people were imprisoned for political reasons and an estimated 6,000 people were tortured.

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Amazon staff in Germany extend strike to Christmas Eve

From Canoe.ca

Amazon staff at three German warehouses will extend their strike until Christmas Eve to increase pressure on the online retailer in a long-running dispute over pay and conditions, labour union Verdi said on Friday.

Verdi also filed a lawsuit against a decision by regional authorities to allow Amazon staff in two German cities to work this Sunday as the mail-order group steps up efforts to deliver orders to customers before the Christmas holiday.

Industrial action this week had already been extended until Saturday in four of Amazon’s nine distribution centres in Germany and until Dec. 24 at one warehouse.

More than 2,400 workers took part in walkouts on Friday, Verdi said.

The union has organised frequent strikes at Amazon in Germany since May 2013 as it seeks to force the retailer to raise pay for warehouse workers in accordance with collective bargaining agreements across Germany’s mail order and retail industry.

Verdi said that the lawsuit filed against Amazon meant that the authorities’ approval of the group putting its employees to work this Sunday was effectively void.

“As the Federal Administrative Court only recently stated, work on Sunday has to be reserved for strictly exceptional cases, which we do not see in the case of Amazon,” Verdi board member Stefanie Nutzenberger said in an e-mailed statement.

Amazon, which was not immediately available for comment, has repeatedly rejected the union’s demands, saying it regards warehouse staff as logistics workers and that they receive above-average pay by the standards of that industry.

The U.S. company employs almost 10,000 regular staff at its warehouses in Germany, its second-biggest market behind the United States, as well as more than 10,000 seasonal workers. It can also draw on 19 other warehouses across Europe.

Amazon said on Wednesday that its deliveries had not been delayed by industrial action so far and that it had even extended to midday on Dec. 22 the order deadline for gifts to reach customers in time for Dec. 24 by normal delivery.