Global Solidarity With The Refugees

By Yazan Al-Saadi & Elia El Khazen

al-Manshour

We know all the numbers that need to be known.

We are aware of all the ratios of refugees to citizens in every country, from Lebanon to the UK, Libya to Greece, Macedonia to Canada.

We have seen all of the ruling class directly blame the refugees for their own policies’ shortcomings. The “refugee crisis” they insultingly call it, as if these desperate men, women, children and elderly were but a oncoming storm or a swarm of locus, an act of nature.

We have seen them channel the legitimate anger of workers towards acts of islamophobia, racism and petty nationalism, blaming the “other” for what neoliberalism’s destruction, gleefly utilized by legions of ruling elites, have brought onto us.

We have stood firm against the attempt of many authorities, and their ilk, to smear refugees entering various countries, describing them as an “invasion”. This label in particular is especially revolting when it in fact was various forms of historical and contemporary invasions, instigated, armed and politically covered by our own countries, that are why refugees were, and to continue to be, fleeing from their homes.

We have witnessed respective governments launch grenades and tear gas, fire rubber bullets and live rounds at refugees. We have witnessed these authorities watch silently as refugees helplessly sank in their boats, or cornered the refugees in pathetic ‘reception centers’ encircled by barbwire and are checkpoints. Any parallels with concentration camps arising from these scenes are clearly excused and to be expected.

These authorities have unashamedly denied paperwork, basic rights and services, affronted human dignity by their common use of torture, detention without trial, murder by negligence, and their constant vomiting of absolute hate against vulnerable refugees.

Our own government in Lebanon has gone even further by implementing a sponsorship system in which visa is only granted if tied to a property owning Lebanese citizen. Syrian refugees registered by UNHCR are forced to sign pledges not to work and to return to Syria when their expensive permits expire or when the Lebanese government demands it. Syrian refugees, and other so-called foreigners of the lower class, are subjected to illegal curfews that pepper the most affluent quarters of the country. These classist measures will only serve to compound abuses that are already burdening refugee communities.

As the Balkan route has been shut to more than 40,000 refugees and rendered their lives similar to the wretched squalor of Calais refugee camps in France, over a million refugees in Lebanon live under equally dire conditions every day. Already, as various reports have shown, the restrictive system has caused over 70 percent of Syrian refugees to fall below the poverty line. Many of them work in dangerous conditions for mediocre pay, with little to no benefits or legal protections, and they are in constant threat of arrest. Large numbers of Syrian refugees are trapped in a cycle of debt and indentured servitude, in addition to suffering from daily emotional, sexual, and physical abuses, in a nation that does not allow them free mobility within its borders.

Ultimately, the Syrian refugees are being punished for the Syrian revolution, an uprising that has captivated the world and polarized most of the ideological Left.

The traditional and Stalinist Left, both in the Arab world and in the West, have helped carry the message of Bashar el-Assad, which demonized courageous Syrian communities who rose up against his brutal and illegitimate regime. The echo his claims of a “security threat”, while others have repeated the horrendous discourse that these refugees are a ‘weapon’ in the hands of armed groups. While there are many different groups to blame, it is the Left, especially, that have made these refugees easy pray for neighboring and Western governments to ostracize, marginalize and exploit in the most offensive and inhuman ways.

This xenophobic discourse has also encouraged distracting competition between migrant workers and local workers, who are tricked into clashes with each other over mere scraps that fall off the ruling class’s bountiful table. In such a time, when the Leftist solidarity is needed most with the refugees, many of its members have betrayed the inherent principles under the justification of pragmatism and political allegiances. They can defend themselves in whatever way they think fit, but the fact of the matter remains: they are useful idiots for power-holders of today’s status quo.

A plethora of iNGOs and local NGOs are also partners in enabling this grotesque state of affairs, in which their actions have permitted the ruling class to reap the benefits of the absence of local states when it comes to services. INGOs and NGOs mainly turn a blind eye as oppression remains supreme, and only seek to offer cold comforts and small bandages to deep, deep wounds. For these organizations, it is the donor that is the priority rather than the refugees.

In the new chapter of the War on Refugees, the Lebanese government, along with its Turkish and Greek counterparts, have signed on to be foot-soldiers at the gateway to “Fortress Europe”. These ‘minions’ of the European strongholds are guilty of crackdowns on refugees merely to appease ridiculous European notions of “the spillover effect” of the Syrian revolution that threaten their tightly-held shores.

This is essentially why governmental aid are tied to magnitude of crackdowns, the ferociousness of security batons cracking skulls, and the containment of refugees in the not Western, ‘Global South’ parts of the world. The politicization of aid is but one cog in this dark machine. It will only result in the creation and furthering of more and more informal, abusive conditions for refugees, for children, for countless men and women.

For all these reasons and so much more, this Saturday is the first time since last year, when refugees stubbornly and rightly broke through Europe’s ever-expanding walls, that mass movements across 15 European countries along with Lebanon and Australia have coordinated various demonstrations to show solidarity with refugees in all places.

Join our call for solidarity. Organize in your city against the oppression, crackdown and scapegoating of refugees by your authorities. Challenge discrimination in all its forms.

Only solidarity prevails in the face of xenophobia, islamophobia, racism, sexism and classism.

Long live the refugee, the 21st century’s vanguard, who challenges the tapestry of repression by simple acts, and by their very humble existence.

Refugees of the world, we are with you. Refugees of the world, unite.

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Afghan refugees on hunger strike; demand border opening.

2/28/16
A group of around 150 Afghanis in Victoria square, central Athens, go on hunger strike. They demand that the northern borders of Greece leading into Macedonia are opened to let them in. They announce their plan to march by foot from Athens to the border, which is more than 500 km away.

Afghanis go on hunger strike – Athens from Ross Domoney on Vimeo.

#RefugeeSolidarity: Want to Volunteer on Lesvos?

First of all, THANK YOU for considering the trip. All help is needed. But please note there is currently no central coordination on Lesvos. You must read the information and decide which group(s) to work with. Join Information Point for Lesvos Volunteers if you haven’t yet.

 

Next, check the following documents:

 

  1. Information for Volunteers on Lesvos (shortlink: bit.ly/voldoc; FAQs, logistics, trip prep and more)
  2. Google map of Lesvos (shortlink: bit.ly/lesvolmap)
  3. Short-Term Volunteers spreadsheet (shortlink: bit.ly/lesvolsheet; add your name and dates to coordinate with others)

 

These will give you an overview to get started. They are frequently updated, so check back periodically.

 

When you’re closer to departure, check on these two lists:

 

  1. Donations Needed (shortlink: bit.ly/lesvoldonate; work in progress–check back frequently!)
  2. Volunteers Needed (shortlink: bit.ly/lesvolneeded; work in progress-check back!)

 

Refugees and everyone working on Lesvos appreciate your efforts! We can’t wait to see you!

 

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these documents and links are referred to elsewhere; they’re listed here for easy reference

 

information for volunteers

 

information for refugees

Solidarity With The Greek Struggle

By Sam Hamad

CD9uZ9iUkAEcTbtJust because the SYRIZA government has solidarity with Al-Sisi, as opposed to those who resist his regime, and enthusiastically sign racist, imperialistic ‘counter-terrorism’ deals with the fascist mass murderer, doesn’t mean that I can’t or won’t support resistance to the Troika’s determination to impose more devastating austerity on not leftist pin-ups like Alexis Tsipras or Yanis Varoufakis, but on the already shattered Greek people. These are the clear dynamics of the upcoming referendum. I resolutely oppose those who want to use the crisis caused by the avarice of finance capitalists to reshape societies in the image of those very same finance capitalists, and, therefore, within the context of this struggle, I support all those who oppose the cruel strategy of austerity.

On the other hand, SYRIZA’s deals with Sisi ought not to be ignored, as it has been by most of their supporters in the international left (it certainly won’t be forgotten by revolutionary Egyptians), as it tells you much about the political nature of the party (it certainly kills the idea that they’re somehow ‘radical’ beyond the dynamics of the anti-austerity struggle), but, to be biblical about it, I do rather agree with the sentiment of ‘do unto others’ etc. etc.. To not support the Greek people’s struggle against austerity based on their elected government’s support for fascistic counter-revolutionary tyrannies would make you as bad as SYRIZA in this regard. Solidarity with the oppressed, whatever it’s worth, ought never to be selective. I want to be better than them.

Greek anarchist group says it shot up Israeli Embassy

Screen Shot 2015-02-10 at 3.18.21 PMFrom ekathimerini.com

The guerrilla organization Group of Popular Fighters has claimed responsibility for a shooting attack on the Israeli Embassy in Athens in December, the police said on Wednesday after collecting a memory stick with the group’s proclamation from a trash bin in Nea Smyrni.

The police were tipped off to the location of the memory stick by staff at Efimerida ton Syntakton newspaper who received an anonymous call late on Tuesday. A newspaper employee visited the location indicated by the caller but found nothing and alerted police who discovered the device and were examining it on Wednesday.

Ballistics tests on bullet casings found outside the embassy in Psychico in December showed they were fired from two Kalashnikov assault rifles used in a similar attack on the German ambassador’s residence in Halandri in December 2013. Group of Popular Fighters claimed responsibility for that hit and for a shooting at the Athens offices of the New Democracy party in January 2013.

Why refugees to Greece are sewing their mouths shut

Screen Shot 2015-08-23 at 2.56.33 PM
On Location: Why refugees to Greece are sewing their mouths shut
 

ATHENS — Greek authorities call them migrant pre-removal facilities, but they look more like prisons. Many of the residents are locked up not for committing a crime, but rather simply for trying to get asylum in Europe. For this, they say they’re held months, packed scores to a room, and often beaten.

“We didn’t have any choice so we started a hunger strike, we sewed up our mouth and we stopped eating and drinking,” said Farhad, who has asked not to be identified, fearing retribution for speaking out. “Anyone will do whatever it takes to get his freedom. Some people have tried to commit suicide to get free, others went crazy in there.” Continue reading

[Photo Gallery/ Teaser] Exarcheia Neighborhood Athens

Athens, Greece

Following up on a conversation that was a triggering point for a refugee and Bay Area Intifada contributor to pack their bags, get out of the open air prison we call the US of …. ugh ugh ugh and travel to various flash points in the current refugee struggle taking place in Europe – BAI would like to share a simple photo gallery that gives a glimpse into the anti-authoritarian community of Exarcheia, Athens and the pretty spectacular street art that it is literally covered in.

In the coming weeks, BAI intends to release a series of articles on various issues within these communities… basically to figure stuff out through first hand experience, rather than more ish talking and assumptions. So have a look:

Image

Portrait of Pavlos Fyssas, aka Killah P, antifascist rapper murdered by Golden Down members on 17 September 2013.
Photo by MKFor more info: http://roarmag.org/2013/09/pavlos-fyssas-killed-golden-dawn/ 

Image

A memorial at the exact spot where 15 year old student Alexis Grigoropoulos was murdered by police on 6 December 2008, which sparked the largest and most intense uprising in recent Greek history.
Photo by MK

Continue reading