Italy

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.

Tragedy in the Mediterranean: Immigration and the Crimes of Capitalism

From In Defense of Marxism

The death of more than 800 people who drowned when a small fishing boat capsized 60 miles south of the Italian island of Lampedusa late on Saturday brings the death toll to of people among people attempting to reach Europe by boat in 2015 alone to 1,600. This tragic event highlights the dramatic situation that has developed in Africa and the Middle East after years of imperialist meddling.

lampedusaThis latest “accident” is a direct result of the cut to the funding of the EU search and rescue missions last year. In a clear sign of the “democratic” nature of the often celebrated “British values”, the British government was the first to withdraw from the mission causing it to be abandoned altogether.

Baroness Anelay, Minister of State of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the Cameron government, has openly stated that ,”We do not support planned search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean [and] believe that they create an unintended ‘pull factor,’ encouraging more migrants to attempt the dangerous sea crossing and thereby leading to more tragic and unnecessary deaths.” (Washington Post, April 21, 2015)

What the Baroness is saying is in fact that the EU must not provide a rescue service and leave thousands of people who could easily be rescued, to die in order to scare away immigrants from coming to the EU. The message is clear: “If you try to cross the sea you will die”.

The official Italian sea and rescue operation, known as “Mare Nostrum”, was brought to an end in October of last year and was replaced by the much more limited joint EU Triton “border protection” operation, run by Frontex, the EU’s border agency. The new Triton operation was provided with only a third of the resources available to “Mare Nostrum”.

As a consequence of the closing of the previous rescue service there have been about 17 times as many refugee deaths in the Mediterranean Sea from January to April of this year compared to the same period last year, according to initial estimates from the International Organization for Migration.

If the statements of Baroness Anelay were bad, those in the gutter press, mouthpieces of the ruling class, have been even more blunt about where they stand. Journalist Katie Hopkins, openly stating what the establishment tries to dress in fine language, has said that boats with immigrants should be met by gunships not rescue ships. She then went on to say: “Make no mistake, these migrants are like cockroaches. They might look a bit ‘Bob Geldof’s Ethiopia circa 1984’, but they are built to survive a nuclear bomb. They are survivors”.

After the deaths on Saturday she defended her previous statements saying “Why do we take on everyone else’s problems? We can’t afford to take on these problems. We need to push these boats back.”

Here you have the true voice of the Capitalist class. Behind all the talk about democracy and human rights is the most ruthless calculative cynicism. Being completely discredited by their severe attacks on working people and the ongoing scandals about their lavish and disgusting lifestyles – which includes widespread child abuse and murder – the establishment is trying to whip up a racist mood in order to distract attention from the real issues and find a base to lean on. Never mind a few thousand people dying in the meantime.

Why is there mass immigration today?

Last year, around 170,000 migrants crossed the Mediterranean to get to Italy and as many as 3,500 died. The International Organisation for Migration in Italy estimates that since 2000 over 22,000 migrants have lost their lives in an attempt to reach Europe in search of a better life.

The question is: why are immigrants willing to go through such a dangerous journey, risking everything, as well as leaving their whole life, family, friends and culture behind in order to come to Europe? The real source of immigration is poverty, misery and the barbarism produced by imperialism and its wars in the Middle East and Africa, and the extreme desperation that flows from all this.

According to a new report by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and the the Huffington Post, projects funded by the World Bank over the past decade “have physically or economically displaced an estimated 3.4 million people, forcing them from their homes, taking their land or damaging their livelihoods.”

The report also finds that “The World Bank and its private-sector lending arm, the International Finance Corp., have financed governments and companies accused of human rights violations such as rape, murder and torture. In some cases the lenders have continued to bankroll these borrowers after evidence of abuses emerged.

“Ethiopian authorities diverted millions of dollars from a World Bank-supported project to fund a violent campaign of mass evictions, according to former officials who carried out the forced resettlement program.

“From 2009 to 2013, World Bank Group lenders pumped $50 billion into projects graded the highest risk for ‘irreversible or unprecedented’ social or environmental impacts — more than twice as much as the previous five-year span.”

At the same time millions of people have been killed and displaced by the wars in Iraq, Syria, Libya Afghanistan and others. A recent report by Physicians for Social Responsibility recently revealed that at least 1.3 million people have been killed in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan as a result of the so called war on terror. The report states:

“This investigation comes to the conclusion that the war has, directly or indirectly, killed around 1 million people in Iraq, 220,000 in Afghanistan and 80,000 in Pakistan, i.e. a total of around 1.3 million. Not included in this figure are further war zones such as Yemen. The figure is approximately 10 times greater than that of which the public, experts and decision makers are aware of and propagated by the media and major NGOs. And this is only a conservative estimate. The total number of deaths in the three countries named above could also be in excess of 2 million, whereas a figure below 1 million is extremely unlikely.”

In Iraq alone this has led to 3 million refugees who live in the most desperate conditions. The report says the frequent deaths from the refugee camps are not accounted for and do not occur in the study.

Not only is this situation continuing, but new fronts are being opened at a steady rate. The barbaric bombing of Yemen has already caused thousands to die and more than 150,000 people to flee from their homes. In African countries where the west has been involved in countless civil wars, the situation is not different. This festering wound will continue to exist for many years to come and leave a permanent mark on the lives of all the working people of these countries. These are the conditions which lead to a layer of desperate people fleeing to Europe in the hope of finding some kind of stability and a future for their children.

The hypocrisy of the bourgeois is clearly revealed by these figures. It is a sign of the complete impasse of capitalism which is a threat to humanity in the west as well as in the rest of the world. By whipping up a mood of racism and hatred they are trying divide the workers and poor and play them off against each other while conveniently covering up their own criminal role.

It is not the immigrants who are dismantling the welfare states in the west, it is not immigrants who are laying off workers, it is not immigrants who are avoiding taxes or receiving billions of dollars, pounds and Euros worth of direct or indirect subsidies and bailouts. None of the people involved in the countless corruption scandals, involving billions of pounds, which we witness everyday are in prison. In the meantime, a worker or an unemployed person who bends the rules to get a few pounds or Euros more a month to make ends meet, is treated like the worst scum.

The enemy of the western working class is not immigration, but the ruling classes at home. It is their desperate drive to defend their privileges and increase their profits which is the greatest fetter to humanity. In a society where all the productive capacity exists to eradicate poverty, want, hunger and unemployment, these people are worsening the situation and pulling society backwards – in many places towards barbarism. The only way out of the increasingly desperate situation for all working people, to end austerity, wars and mass displacement, is to end the capitalist system which spawns it. End the rule of the rich.

No to the Murderous Migration Policies of the EU

Joint Statement of the Communist Party of Greece, Communist Party of Italy, Communist Party of Malta, Communist Party of the Peoples of Spain

At the initiative of the KKE, the Communist Parties of 4 European countries of the Mediterranean, which are receiving the largest waves of refugees and immigrants, denounce the political line of the EU and point to the causes of the problem, as well as the direction of the communists’ struggle on this issue. The joint statement is as follows:

The KKE, CPI, PC Malta, PCPE wish to stress the following regarding the unspeakable tragedy unfolding in our countries’ seas in relation to the refugees and immigrants:

The ongoing tragedy has a “name”: it is the political line of the EU and other countries, like the USA, that is responsible for the wars in the Eastern Mediterranean, Middle East and North Africa. This tragedy is rooted in the capitalist system itself, on this terrain we have the manifestation of poverty, the class exploitation and oppression of the working class and peoples by reactionary regimes, the sharpening of the imperialist contradictions, which cause the imperialist wars and interventions.

The imperialist interventions and wars developed in Syria, Libya, Iraq, Mali and other countries of the Middle East and Africa have a deep impact in the people of those countries who are forced to risk their lives by displacing themselves to other areas.

The problem of the waves of immigration cannot be solved without dealing with the causes that create them. The “fences”, Frontex, and the other repressive measures merely increase the number of the dead and the slave traders’ prices.

The governments of the so-called European “South”, “right” and “left”, bear enormous responsibilities because they participate in this crime, they participate in the imperialist plans of NATO and the EU.

We are struggling for relief measures, so that the governments immediately ensure humane temporary reception centres for the refugees as well as the provision of travel documents so that these people can reach the countries that are their real destinations. We must defy the Dublin Regulations and the Schengen Treaty.

In addition, we stress that this issue cannot be dealt with in separation from its causes. Our peoples’ struggle against the imperialist interventions of the EU and NATO, against the rotten capitalist system itself must be strengthened