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.

Leader of Group For Afro-Iraqi Rights: ‘A Lot of Iraqis Still Call Us Slaves’

Saad Salloum (Niqash)
African Iraqi, Salem Shaaban, heads the Movement of Free Iraqis, an advocacy group for black Iraqis here. He tells NIQASH about his organisation’s strategy and its plans to raise the political profile of African Iraqis.
African-Iraqi men sing after their group "Free Iraqi Movement" was approved as a political party to run in the coming local elections in Basra, 420 km (260 miles) southeast of Baghdad December 6, 2008. Inspired by Barack Obama's election in the United States, some black Iraqis plan to run in a forthcoming election, to end what they call centuries of discrimination because of their slave ancestry.  Picture taken December 6.  To match feature IRAQ/BLACKS     REUTERS/Atef Hassan (IRAQ)

African-Iraqi men sing after their group “Free Iraqi Movement” was approved as a political party to run in the coming local elections in Basra, 420 km (260 miles) southeast of Baghdad December 6, 2008. Inspired by Barack Obama’s election in the United States, some black Iraqis plan to run in a forthcoming election, to end what they call centuries of discrimination because of their slave ancestry. Picture taken December 6. To match feature IRAQ/BLACKS REUTERS/Atef Hassan (IRAQ)

There are an estimated 1.5 million African Iraqis in Iraq today but they are hardly ever seen in the country’s political, and even its social and cultural, life. A former champion boxer, Salem Shaaban, heads the Movement of Free Iraqis, or Ansar Al Huriyah, an organisation that advocates for Iraqis of African origin. Shaaban talked to NIQASH about the challenges his organisation faces as it tries to improve the profile of Iraqi Africans and combat discrimination against them. And he outlines a change of strategy that he hopes will see the Movement of Free Iraqis join up with some of the country’s larger political parties.

NIQASH: Can you tell us some more about your organisation?

Salem Shaaban: The planning conference for the Movement of Free Iraqis – the first organisation of its kind to defend the rights of Iraqis of African origin in Iraq and the Middle East – was in 2009 and it was held directly after Barack Obama’s victory in the US Presidential elections. During that conference, we formulated our founding principles and announced the names of board members – this included two women board members.

NIQASH: We know that the organisation often sends candidates to campaign for election. What other things have you been doing?

Shaaban: The Movement has held a number of seminars and workshops to discuss issues related to the challenges faced in a society divided along factional and sectarian lines. But really, raising the morale and the profile of Iraqis of African origin and increasing their role in society is our most important task.

NIQASH: And what does the Movement of Free Iraqis want? Are your aims political?

Shaaban: We don’t necessarily want to see more Iraqis of African origin in politics. We would rather develop some sort of mechanism that can address discrimination against us. A lot of people still call us “abed” [which means “slave”] and that is insulting. It’s a way of thinking about us that is deeply rooted in this culture.

Our people are still suffering because they live in social isolation. This makes them reluctant to participate in public life because they know they’re going to be abused. It keeps them uneducated and illiterate, in isolation. So it’s difficult to even think about participating in politics or having people go to school with confidence, so they can work and gain positions that would increase their self confidence.

NIQASH: How would you assess the level of your success in electoral competition?

Shaaban: During the 2010 provincial elections in Basra, I was nominated to run, along with other members of the Movement of Free Iraqis. I think that because I am a well known athlete in Iraq I was able to win a lot of votes. I was an Iraqi boxing champion in the 1970s. My colleagues also won votes but none of us were able to get an actual seat on the provincial council. Other parties in Basra have a lot more resources and did a lot of campaigning as well as distributing money and aid to voters. We were unable to offer anything except our electoral promises.

I was also nominated to compete in the 2011 elections on the list for minorities. But the list is a Kurdish one and I didn’t get any support from them. Additionally the amount of money that the electoral commission wanted as a financial guarantee was beyond me. Smaller parties and independents simple cannot compete with the bigger parties that have such tremendous financial resources.

NIQASH: have you considered building alliances with other, larger political parties?

Shaaban: Yes. If we had done this earlier we might have been able to win seats on the provincial council in Basra. In the future we will work with bigger parties. Partially this is also for protection. After Jalal Thiyab was assassinated [in April 2013; Thiyab, the founder of the Movement, was often referred to as “the Martin Luther King of Iraq”] a lot of people were reluctant to compete in the elections. Additionally the larger parties will help us with financial support. In this way we hope to overcome our biggest challenges.

 

[Video/Pictures] Neo Nazi’s In Germany Have Been Attacking Refugee Buses & Housing

Screen Shot 2015-08-23 at 2.26.45 PM

Photo: Christian Ditsch Photography: http://bit.ly/1JetSPr

[BAI Note: The following is a translation of a first hand account of the past two nights in Heidenau, Germany ( Near Dresden). Minor edits have been made for readability. Scroll down for video]
Photo: PM Cheung - Photography

Photo: PM Cheung – Photography

.

“About my visit to Heidenau” – From PM Cheung – Photography

 In my career as a photographer I have seen and been in many close call situations, but what I experienced in Heidenau made me very thoughtful and frankly speechless.

As if highly aggressive Neo-Nazis, who being protected by the dark (night) bombarded the refugee housing in a massive way with bottles, stones and fireworks were not bad enough, I found that the so called “Besorgte Bürger”  were even worse.

[BAI Note: Right wing protesters and online activist try to get rid of their Neo-Nazi image by referring to themselves as worried citizens – besorgte Bürger. This has in itself become a synonym for Neo Nazis].

Groups of people, families with children even, who mingled with the Nazis and under the influence of a lot of alcohol encouraged them ( Nazi’s) when they threw rocks or the likes towards the housing or the police. For one or two of the more “well placed” throws there was even applause.

Continue reading

South Asians, Islamophobia, anti-blackness and the internalization of racism

sikh

Originally Posted in: Consented
Written by

One facet of the white domination of ethnic minorities in Britain has been divide and rule. Instead of ethnic minorities all uniting together against oppressive white racism, some ethnic groups look to align themselves with white people, in order to gain certain privileges.

This is not always the fault of said communities, but more a reflection of the way people are forced to internalize their racism within this model of “multiculturalism”. Proximity to whiteness is seen as desirable within a society where structural racism makes it difficult for those who are not white to progress.

One community that has done this more effectively than most is the British Indian community, particularly Hindus and Sikhs. They have taken on attitudes of anti-blackness and Islamopbobia, to gain proximity to whiteness and the acceptance of many British people. Part of this springs from colonial ideals of “chosen races”.

I remember when I was studying my undergraduate degree at SOAS, one imperialist white class-mate spoke to me about how his grandfather fought alongside Sikhs, as if this was something we should bond over and as if this was something I should be proud of. Good old Sikhs, following the white man into battle. Yet rather than being something to be proud of it is a sign of how South Asian’s were enslaved by the British and forced to fight under the pretence of “liberation” and “democracy” despite the fact their own country was occupied.

Continue reading

[Video] Texas Police Attack Black Children at Pool Party

Screen Shot 2015-06-07 at 9.05.00 AM

From Bay Area Intifada

Written by Jabar

This is truly shocking. A McKinney, Texas police officer has been suspended after video emerged of police violently attacking black youth who were attending a pool party in a Dallas Fort Worth neighborhood.

In the video, a white police officer can be seen chasing and corralling black children while screaming profanities at them. Things escalate quickly as the out of control white police officer attacks a young black female for seemingly no reason. The white officer can be seen grabbing the young girl and tossing her around before pulling the girl’s hair and smashing her face into the ground. The officer then kneels on the child with all his weight in complete disregard for the child’s safety or any sense of professionalism. At one one point in the video, the raging white officer can be seen pulling his gun on the children. Adding an extra level of disgust and inappropriateness is the fact that this officer is on top of a female child who is wearing nothing but a two-piece bathing suit. Continue reading

[Video] Hilarious! Racist Phoenix Mosque, Armed Protest Organizer Makes Pathetic Plea for Support

From Bay Area IntifadaScreen Shot 2015-06-02 at 8.10.05 PM

Written By Jabar

This is HILARIOUS.

Jon Ritzheimer, the US Marine who organized and mobilized a couple hundred armed racists, Bikers, Neo-Nazi’s and other charming US patriots/ Islamophobes to stand in front of a Phoenix, Arizona Mosque and shout threats and obscenities during prayer services has released a video on Facebook, practically in tears, about how hackers have turned his life upside down.

In the video he claims hackers have stolen his identity,  his credit cards and social security numbers, made fake Facebook profiles, and fake wepay and gofundme accounts. Ritzheimer  says that the event blew up in his face. “The stress is killing me and my family… I went there (the Mosque) with a gun on my hip expecting to die. That a terrorist was going to kill me. I fully, fully expected to die that night” said Ritzheimer, unaware of his hypocrisy. Continue reading

White Cop Does Not Kill Black Motorist, Becomes National Hero

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 10.32.56 PM

White Cop Does Not Kill Black Motorist, Becomes National Hero ( Or: Why America Should Not Be Saved)

Posted by Bay Area Intifada

Written by Jabar

In 2015’s United States of America, a white police officer that does NOT shoot and kill a black motorist is considered a hero. In recent mainstream media (MSM) reports a white police officer named Matt Okes is being praised as a “hero” for not brutalizing or killing a young black male, Joseph Owusu, who was pulled over to the side of a road due to a flat tire.

Joseph, a Virginia Tech University student and son of Doctor Nada Owusu, has become famous overnight for not becoming the next victim of police murder.

The sheer fact that this story has been shared nearly a million times on social media and has been picked up by MSM tells another story altogether. One in which dark people; young and old, male, female and trans, are being considered lucky to walk away unscathed from encounters with police in the US. This shows a wild desperation in not only MSM, but in the PR departments of local, state and federal agencies to push banal “feel good” stories upon the US populace. Their message: “See? Good cops still exist.”

The truth of the matter is that some basic reasoning would prove to anyone willing to consider the facts that GOOD COPS DO NOT EXIST.

Continue reading