Monday, 31 August 2015

Balkan Migrations

The Balkans map provided by Arid Ocean

The Balkans has changed in the last 20 years. It is somewhat calm and slowly reconstructing despite the occasional bickering between Kosovo and Serbia over the 2008 independence of Kosovo. Bosnia is tensely peaceful. It is one of the few countries in the world that has three presidents from different ethnic groups ruling over a partitioned country. Bosnia is still seen as an example of what a multicultural society could be in other European countries. Bosnia was crossroads of Yugoslavia home to Muslims, Christians and Jews (Serbs, Croats and Bosnians) prior to the war that has since changed its multicultural makeup. On the surface the Balkans look as though it has healed from the Yugoslavia collapse and wars. The magnifying glass tells us a whole different story. A hundred years ago the Balkans entered the global media not for its culture, languages or beauty but for a political assassination that led the First World War. At the end of the 20th century, it was again in the global eye witnessing the collapse of Yugoslavia and its brutal wars. Yugoslavia had been for most the 20th century one of the successful independent, multiethnic and cultural communist countries. No one at the time would've prophesied Yugoslavia's heavy fall from grace (society wise) even after Tito's death. It was only until nationalist politicians from Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia began flaming xenophobic nationalism and bringing up long buried WWII grievances that the wider world noticed Yugoslavia's peaceful existence was cracking.

Eksodi-Albanian Exodus 

Before Yugoslavia's death, the then isolated Albania (as in North Korean styled closed society) was the one falling politically and economically. In 1991 as the Soviet Union collapsed, some 20,000 Albanians jam packed a cargo ship named Vlora from the Albanian coast to shores of Bari, Italy. The Albanian Exodus is it became known in both Italy and Albania terrified and shocked Europe at the time. Seeing images of 20,000 exhausted and scared Albanians fleeing the collapsing Communist government and economic system made the Camp of Saints and Jean Raspail's fear of migration overload come to life. It also eerily foreshadowed the current human ocean of migrants in the Mediterranean and Balkans. The Italians detained thousands including families. Eventually the 20,000 Albanians who asked and demanded political asylum were deported from Italy which was an odorous process in itself. Keep in mind the Albanians were coming from next door (Italy and Albania aren't that far a part on the Adriatic Sea) not half way around the world or from across the sea.

Serbs commemorate largest ethnic cleansing since World War II in Croatia

As with any conflict around the world it led to the largest mass migration of people since World War II. The former Yugoslavians (aka Bosnians, Serbians, Croats, Slovenes, Macedonians) and Albanians fled to Germany, Italy, France, UK, the Scandinavian countries living behind their former lives for an uncertain future. Some of the Balkan migrants thought they were only flee for temporary shelter and would return home. Other migrants traveled literally half way across the world to be resettled in the United States, Canada or Australia. The migrants turned immigrants in their host countries adjusted to the culture, language and societies and rebuilt their lives. A few Serbian, Bosnian, Kosovars returned home after the wars subsided. Most of the migrants didn't return home. Even after 15 years when the war and NATO bombings in Serbia stopped. Who could blame them?
      Serbia was on the receiving end of the 1999 NATO bombings. The Serbs also bore the brunt for the Yugoslavian Army's (made up of Serbs attacks and destruction) of destruction particularly in Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo and to a lesser extant Slovenia. When Serb civilians began migrating in mass into neighboring countries such as Croatia, Kosovo, Serb enclaves in Bosnia and eventually to Western Europe, there was little sympathy in the West for the backlash ordinary Serbs received. It didn't stop Serbs from migrating to Germany, UK, United States, Canada, etc. Not only was Serbia bombed as part of NATO campaign to side with Kosovo but was crushed by economic sanctions and a dictator the late Slobodan Milosevic.

Inside Story: Refugees and Europe's Dilemma Al Jazeera

In your shoes

Flash forward 15 years later, another wave of migrants are pouring across the Balkans following the Serb, Bosnian migrants' near identical path to safety. Serbia and grudgingly Macedonia have waved the twenty thousands + migrants from Syria, Iraq Afghanistan, Pakistan through their borders. Macedonian police have barricaded, chased and shot at the migrant families and kids racing towards Hungary (3,200 daily) via Turkey, Greece and Macedonia. Once in Gevgelija, the migrants have been able to travel on to Serbia and to the Hungarian border towns of Roszoke and Asotthalom. Macedonia and Hungary are at a breaking point in terms of political/economic stress when absorbing migrants passing their territory. Hungarian border patrol are also monitoring and hurriedly constructing the border fence with Serbia. The Syrian migrants are now protesting in Budapest to pass onto Germany after the Hungarians halted trains transporting migrants further North to Austria or Germany. All the while alarmist right wing and nationalist politicians, leaders, pundits and ordinary people are screaming their lungs out about migrant invasions, Western suicide and the end of civilization. Serbia along with Greece, Italy and Hungary are demanding the EU find a workable solution to the large crowds of migrants. Russia has been helping Serbia with setting up refugee camps. The Serbs have worn the migration shoes before and understand the current hell that Syrians, Afghans, Iraqis have escape on a deep, personal level.

Migration is beneficial

In spite of the alarmists seeing boat people and migrant families as the end of Europe's unique identity many social/political and demographic analysts and historians have been saying for decades now that migration is not the end of the world. New migrants coming into the EU to economically well off countries such as Germany, UK or Scandinavian countries is necessary when considering Europe's current demographics. Europe has been aging for years now and is one of the top oldest places in (terms of age) in the world. There hasn't been a second baby boom in Western Europe where most of the fertility rate is far below the 2.1 replacement level for the future generations. The only countries who are ok for now are France that has one of the higher fertility rates in Western Europe.

And UK where immigration has helped UK with population growth, economic productivity, elderly care, construction, low wage works that keeps the power of London and Manchester running. Importantly immigrants bring new ideas and ways of relating to the world especially the non European world's majority people and culture. It is not necessarily a negative. The migrants turned immigrants to the UK have helped to transform London and other cities into multiethnic and culturally rich places. None of the cities have lost their unique local cultures either. The British kids and families of immigrant background have been saying for years that they feel and are British but mainstream alarmists have been treating them as the enemies. Over in France, the 2nd or 3rd generation French belong to the country but are still treated as strangers. Oddly enough, France has witnessed waves of migration into it for centuries. There are many French people who are of Portuguese, Polish, Italian, North African, West African and Greek descendant. Some people's grandparents migrated to France from their respective countries some 100 years ago. The way the National Front is complaining about migrants one would think the 2nd or 3rd generation French families and kids came to France yesterday. Same goes for the UK over the last 50 years. Each country around the world has its own unique culture or society. People have fought to keep their countries and societies special in their eyes. However, history and trade long ago blew the idea out of the water that there is an unwritten rule that countries must remain monoethnic, with a static culture resembling the Small World dancing dolls from Disney Land. The right wing and pundits also forget that renown historical figures and politicians (even now) who are nationalistic or strong leaders didn't originally come from the countries they rule over or represented. Now European governments are scrambling and debating if EU migration policy.

Transformation Japan's Migration Policy to Multicultural Japan. Policy Discussion

A Lesson from Japan on how migration can help society

Japan is the poster child for thinking about the future of society, aging and caring for a post industrial and post baby boom country. Japan has one of the most rigorous immigration policy in the world. Not even a trickle of migrants have been able to complete the requirements to resettle into Japan. With less kids being born in Japan nowadays, demographers predicted with less alarm that Japan's population will drop from 120 million today to 87 million in 2050. Eastern Europe is also following in Japan's footsteps. There are many ghost towns in Japan and Italy that was created due to local youth migration to more prosperous areas within the country, natural disasters, again an aging population, the younger generation's lack of interest to return to their provincial towns, etc. Japanese businesses have turned to robotics to manage some elderly care or mundane tasks where humans are not around. Yes the robots and technology are a brilliant and sustainable way to fix what would be or will become a labor shortage crisis. Yet its one of many solutions.

Iran and United States the pain of negotiations

Iran is the glue that holds Western and Eastern Asia together. It has always been the crossroad of Asia having been a regional power for thousands of years. Iran's modern day borders have shifted very little and are not artificially created by colonialism. Its cultural, linguistic, political and economic influences is felt in China, Turkey, South Ossetia and Oman and even in India.

Iran's nuclear deal explained

Over a decade it took the United States and Iran to sit down for the first time and face one another on the issue of nuclear proliferation and nuclear developments. Beginning in 2003, the United States along with France, Germany, Russia, China and UK or P5+1 persuaded, sweated and pleaded with Iran to abide by the rules set by IAEA on the uses of its nuclear program. The US was particularly admit that Iran reconsider its uses of its own nuclear assets. Iranian uranium could be used only for peaceful purposes. However, Iran had been developing nuclear products for what the United States perceived as non peaceful needs ie nuclear bomb or weapons. Coincidentally, it was the United States that first helped Iran to develop its nuclear program in the 1950s. The media pundits, authors and political alarmists followed the fears of Bush and Obama administers by stirring up fears of an Iranian nuclear fallout, war and holocaust, Iran handling nuclear assets off to terrorist organizations causing havoc in Syria, Iraq not to mention the threat to posed to neighboring countries and Israel. Numerous books and documentaries featured post apocalyptic stories where a nuclear war threatens humanity's existed caused by terrorist groups or typecast country. Sometimes the fictional country was never mentioned but it was always hinted that Iran or Iraq was the standin for the nuclear crazy power hungry nation. There was even a music video featuring John McCain singing "Bomb Iran." Of course the creator didn't realize the irony in the song. The U.S. Congress and Israelis were not happy about the nuclear negotiations since in their eyes it represents appeasement for Iran. Never mind the fact that Israelis and opposing Congressman were not in the room during the marathon negotiations nor appreciate the importance of negotiations between self proclaimed sworn enemies. 

Fears of a nuclear holocaust turned to relief when US secretary John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif allowed diplomacy to replace their fears. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on July 14, 2015 in Vienna, Austria put an end to the nuclear nightmares of the US, France, Germany, Russia and China. Keep in mind all the above countries are currently using their respective nuclear stockpiles for energy use. France in particular is keeping a strong hold on the uranium deposit in Niger to fuel its uranium starved energy supply. Following 2011 Fukushima Disaster, made many countries second guest the joys of clean nuclear energy. If Chernobyl didn't teach anyone on the consequences of having nuclear power coexist in close proximity with humans and nature, Fukushima did. The negotiations were an ordeal of epic portions for the diplomats, host city, journalists, government officials and citizens waiting at home. 

Ishfahan, Iran famous for its square, architecture and being the center of the Persian rug industry going back thousands of years

Iran's roots run deep and its felt around the world

Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution and American Hostage Crisis, Iran and United States have been pulled apart. It often comes as a surprise for someone today to remember that prior to Khomenini and his inspired followers, Iran and United States were best friends and the special allies of the Middle East. Iran wasn't treated as the demonized, rogue nation 30 years ago. Iran in the 1950s and 60s under the Shah Reza Pahlavi was modernized, westernized to an extent and secular. It is still all those things today in 2015. As matter of fact Iranians are some of friendliest in the world and open to new ideas. Many have no problems with cultural ties and connections to United States or other countries. The problem lies with the politicians. Tehran is metropolis of 11.5 million people, has a nightlife and arts and Iran as whole has well developed infrastructure. Iran holds the reputation for not having attack another country in over 300 years when it was known as Persia. Another bonus, the country has a lot of history, has been an empire over three times throughout its 2500+ history. The Persian Empire influenced the language and culture of India and Pakistan. When Iraq gave the world the Hammurabi Code, Iran was introducing everyone to Cyrus, Xeres, Darius, poetry ie Omar Khayyam, Saadi Shirazi that has transcended borders and time. Avicenna is another genius and prolific author whose 200+ published studies on philosophy and science made Persia and its neighbors centers of learning and the envy of the medieval world. Avicenna's works also influenced later philosophy. Modern poets and writers included Forough Farrokhzad, Simin Daneshavar, Mohammad Ali Jamalzadeh, Marjane Satrapi, One of the largest public squares in the world is in Ishfahan while some of the oldest cradles of civilization can be found in Persepolis.

Iran Yesterday and Today, Rick Steves

Rick Steves is a well known travel writer famous for writing tour guides and travel shows on Europe. Several years ago, Steves traveled to Iran prior to the elections. Like many Western travel hosts and authors visiting Iran for the first time, he was blown away by the hospitality, beauty and culture of the Iranian people and the country as whole. He traveled to Tehran, Esfahan, Qom and the countryside to understand Iran fully.

As famed Chef and globe trekker Anthony Bourdain discovered Iran isn't the cartoon villain that media keeps wanting the people to see 

About Iran and ISIS

Netanyahu's recent mini tantrum over negotiations on Iran's nuclear use between the United States and Iran showcased to the world that Israeli government takes its chosen status to the extreme. 
It used to be that Israel always had the first and final say in any decision made in the region. It didn't matter if it was petroleum, political/economic events in Syria, Iraq or Egypt in Northern Africa. The United States generally thought of and consulted Israel either directly and indirectly. Now recent events have hamstringed Israel and slightly strained relations between Israel and United States with ISIS or Daesh and its takfiri cousins creating more chaos in Syria and harassing Hamas and ordinary Palestinians in Gaza. Netanyahu is aware that Israel is isolated physically in the current war between ISIS/Daesh, Kurds and NATO. Israeli concerns and thoughts on the issue are more muted in the Western media prior to 2011 Egyptian, Libyan Revolutions. The United States has been running its affairs in the Middle East without Israel's input. Netanyahu is feeling the cold shoulder hard. So Netanyahu and the right wing Israelis have watched from the sidelines as  the destruction in Syria, Iraq and with its other eyebrow rising ally Saudi Arabia in Yemen continue. The Israeli air force has been bombing Syria. As part of long standing Israeli policy to see Syrian leader Bashir al Assad removed from power and replaced perhaps by a pro Israeli/US leader. On Iran, Israel's stance has been clear from the get go. No compromising with Iran on anything even diplomacy

Iran's revolution foreshadowed today's frascaso in the Mideast

Iran and United States' pressure cooker animosity is a thorn left over from the Cold War. The Islamic revolution set the unofficial standard for events in the region afterwards. It coincided with the 1979 Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan, pre Mujahideen support by the U.S., pre Iran Contra Scandal and long before the Iraq-Iran war or Persian Gulf wars. In some instances, the Middle East and the wider world are still feeling the aftershock of the Islamic Revolution. This does not mean Iran is emphatic to ISIS. Contrary to popular belief, the Iranian government and wider extent Iranian society has been fighting against ISIS and its takfiri cousins in Syria and Iraq. Having experience the oppressive aftermath of their own revolution and destruction from war and sanctions, Iranians are not embracing the Islamic State nor their Wahhabi ideology. Iran is a little more lenient in jurisprudence than Saudi Arabia. 

Friday, 21 August 2015

Konza City Kenya's Silicon Valley takes root

Konza City: Kenya wants it own Silicon Valley/Savannah

Kenya has been doing well economically and politically. With the exception of post 2007 elections violence, Kenya has been building itself up as the model African greatness and success. The country is also racing to become the technological hub of Africa as a whole. Kenyan government has invested in upgrading infrastructure, electric grid in both Nairobi and other regions emphasizing social development in rural Kenya. In the coming decades, the country will become the newest, rising middle class nation and thrive as a technological driven society and the world's fastest growing economy. Kenyans are hitting the ground running. While neighboring East African countries are dealing with their own instabilities and ongoing regional wars, Kenya is leading the way in innovative growth and societal development that is serving the epitome East Africa's future. Kenya has been tipped as the new growth market in Africa surpassing South Africa. It is not stopping in its quest for local created technological evolution.

Kenya sandwiched in between Somalia, Ethiopia, Uganda and Tanzania. Kenya was once part of the Swahili Coast and traded with Medieval sultanates from Yemen, neighboring Zanzibar and Medieval China.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

The Refugees are Coming!

The article below was written by Russian born Andre Vltchek an investigate journalist, philosopher, novelist and filmmaker. In short a documentarian who travels around the world and has spent most of his life and career living between Latin America, Africa and Asia. Vltchek is a rare eyewitness journalist who has immersed himself in the topics and stories he writes about. His critiques of corrupt politics, one sided and short sided foreign policies, and failed projects of Western countries in the Global South or develop countries comes from his own experiences of physically living through the events occurring Asian and African countries. It shouldn't come as a shock that Vltchek innately understands the why, origins and the cause of over a half a million people (representing the real life United Colors of Benetton) wanting a better and dignified life for themselves and families. Enjoy and digest the article below. Originally published on Counterpunch, the article was republished on GlobalResearch. The photos below are also from the Global Research posting.

Get to England or Die Trying by The Guardian Online

Personal stories of a lorry driver and migrants in Calais Camp are featured

The Refugees are coming by Andre Vltchek

I don’t really know, I don’t understand how it feels: to live in a rich European country, which is rich mainly because it has been directly plundering many poor nations around the world. Or it has been plundering by association, through its membership in some extremist organization like NATO. To live there, refusing to acknowledge why it is rich, how it became rich.
Palaces, theatres, railroads, hospitals and parks in that rich country are built on broken skeletons and restless specters, on lakes of blood and shameless theft.
Then, when one looted country after another begins to sink, when there is nothing left there, when children begin dying from hunger and when men commence fighting each other over tiny boulders and dirty pieces of turf, pathetic boats, or dinghies, begin crossing the waterways, bringing half starved, half-mad refugees to the European sea-fronts decorated with marble.
What a horrifying sight! As if a woman, her hair waving in disarray, her lips broken, comes begging a man who raped her after killing her husband – begging for shelter and at least some work and piece of bread. She decided to abandon all her pride, because her children are sick and starving, because it is either this, or death.
That is what you reduced the world to, Europe – you, and your huge, insatiable offspring – North America!
Too egocentric, too cruel, you lost the ability to judge, to feel. All moral standards collapsed. There are no higher principles, anymore, only self-interest.
In Calais and Kos, in Paris, London, Stuttgart, and Prague, I heard the same questions posed with absolutely straight faces: “How are we going to absorb all those hordes of immigrants?”
Almost no one in the West is wondering aloud: “How did the people on other continents manage to endure those long centuries of colonialism and neo-colonialism, of shameless plunder, of slavery, of constant locust-like onslaught of corporate and neoliberal cannibalistic hordes? Wouldn’t a set of keys issued to each and every citizen of robbed, formerly or presently colonized country, be the tiniest, the most basic token of justice?”
Is it morally acceptable that a thief, an arsonist, a rapist, a liar, a serial killer, all in one, would be allowed to live in a mansion, surrounded by slums housing his victims?
In the West, in the Christian West, in fundamentalist West, such arrangement is obviously tolerable.
Most of the citizens of Europe are completely unrepentant. Only few of them are capable of detecting connection between their continent’s wealth, those hundreds of millions of ruined lives all over the world, and the latest wave of immigrants.
A few months ago, my comrade and fellow philosopher, Milan Kohout, lost his temper, after listening to staunchly racist, anti-immigrant guests at a studio of the Czech Television in Prague. He began shouting, live, at both the moderator, and the bigoted speakers.
Insulting letters commenced raining almost immediately: “Why don’t you stick a few of those ni**ers into your own bedroom, you asshole?” Or more threateningly: “You should be hanged for this, you bastard!”
Several weeks after the television appearance, I received his email:
Just letting you know I have been getting so many death threats that I am starting to take them seriously. Even the neighbors from the village we have the summerhouse in are threating us. I do not know whether I should take all this serious or not but I guess I have to be careful…
On the Greek island of Kos, which is now hosting several thousands of refugees from the Middle East and Asia, but which has neither camps nor other facilities for them, a brave medical volunteer (I decided not to use her name, as she was already threatened), described the recent developments:
The situation in Kos is totally out of control. The [right-wing] extremists of Golden Dawn – some of them fully armed – have unleashed pogroms against the refugees. Someone must speak loudly for the Mayor’s responsibilities… who had sabotaged every solidarity effort and possible solution, from the very beginning.
At the other side of Europe, the British Prime Minister is considering to employ the army, lamenting inconveniences being experienced by British holidaymakers. Traffic at the Eurotunnel is slow, often interrupted, as thousands of desperate refugees living in an appalling camp nicknamed “The Jungle” at the outskirts of the French city of Calais, are trying to reach England, some dying in the process.
Great Britain, responsible for the loss of hundreds of millions of human lives worldwide (through its colonial genocides and triggered/orchestrated famines), is now pretending that it is facing a serious “refugee crises”, while there are only some 25.000 asylum applicants on its territory.
As the Morning Star commented:
According to the Refugee Council up to 74 per cent of all asylum-seekers are refused residency in Britain. While numbers have grown since 2008, applications for asylum in 2014 were below 25,000, with those fleeing from conflicts in Afghanistan, Syrian and Eritrea among the highest number of applicants.
In Germany, Netherlands, Scandinavia, Greece, in fact all over the Europe, right wing, xenophobic groups and movements are busy attacking and intimidating defenseless refugees.
Immigrants are portrayed as some menace, or pest, not as a group of desperate human beings – victims of the Empire.
It is mainly because of the collapse of integrity inside the Western political elites, mass media, as well as in academia and art world.
Now, most of those who are speaking in favor of accepting immigrants are doing so self-righteously, “out of charity”, not because they recognize that accepting victims of their continent’s cruelty is their moral obligation; not because they are convinced that breaking the gates of “fortress Europe” would be at least a tiny payment from the monstrous debt towards the world that had been ravished and plundered for numerous centuries.
It is not only what you see in Europe – that tip of the iceberg, that tiny fraction of misery that managed to land on Italian, Greek and Maltese shores.
The world is on the move. Tens of millions are displaced.
The overwhelming majority of the refugees are forced to leave their homelands because of political and economic imperialism of the West.
Syrians, Libyans, Iraqis and Afghanis were bombed to the stone-ages, just because they tried to feed, house and educate their people. In the eyes of the Empire, this was the greatest crime, as all resources are supposed to be used for alimenting Western corporations, banks and military complexes.
Eritreans were debilitated by sanctions and embargoes, right after their long war for independence. 10 million of Congolese people died since 1995, butchered by West’s allies – Rwanda and Uganda – so that Washington, London and Paris could enjoy a free flow of uranium and coltan. Many Congolese people are now trying to flee unimaginable horrors at home. Many Somalis are trying to escape, after Washington destabilized their country, after Kenya invaded its southern part on direct orders from the West, after the EU has been dumping toxic waste at its shores.
Even the plight of Rohingya people in Burma could be traced to the monstrous “divide and rule” of the British Empire in Asia.
For decades and centuries, the West kept overthrowing progressive governments, one after another. It has been murdering great political leaders like Patrice Lumumba, liquidating all attempts to build decent, socialist societies.
Then it would say: “Those ni**ers cannot govern their own countries… All their people want is to come to us, stealing our jobs, straining our social systems.”
It goes without saying that, if left alone, those countries that are now bleeding millions of their own people, “exporting refugees”, would be, most likely, as rich or even richer than the West. It applies to Iran and Iraq, Syria and Libya, perhaps even Congo and Indonesia.
The ongoing “refugee crises” is not a “problem that Europe has to deal with”. Europe is creating the crises. Europe is not “dealing” with anything. It is, as always, cheating, lying and calculating pennies, after stealing billions. Those who don’t see it are either blind or conditioned, alternatively well paid not to see.
If the mother earth gets hit, powerfully, with tremendous destructive force, pieces of it will fly, in all directions. The same applies to countries, to nations. If left in peace, states will find the way to take care of their people.
The present situation is actually just a tiny reflection, an overflow of horrors that the colonized and plundered world has to endure. It is just a tiny bit of that nightmare which is taking place inside Africa, the Middle East and several parts of Asia; a tiny bit thrown back to the face of the Europeans; being brought to and left at their doorsteps.
How come that “they” don’t see it? How come that almost all Western mass media are silent? How come most of present-day philosophers are not addressing, not combining the subjects of neocolonialism and immigration?
What I am saying in this essay is philosophically clear. It would be hard to dispute it. French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre came to several similar conclusions in his “Colonialism and Neocolonialism”, few decades ago. But that was “then”. Now, to combine the plunder of the Planet committed by the West, and the plight of the refugees, appears to be taboo.
But I don’t believe in taboos, as I don’t believe in a knowledge that is strictly “theoretical”.
In the past few years I documented human misery in countless battlefields, and in the refugee camps that are housing exiles from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Bangladesh, Libya and many other broken places.
I often see, first hand, how grotesque, unsustainable, repulsive the situation is: while tiny Lebanon is now a host of over 2 million Syrian refugees, one of the main global bullies, the UK, has lesser than 25.000 registered asylum applicants on its turf!
Even the intellectuals of aggressive NATO country, Turkey, write openly and honestly in the newspapers: “We wanted to act like some smaller regional United States, therefore we should pay for those 1.8 million refugees who were forced to cross the border and settle in our camps.” Turkey is paying. As aggressive as it is, it has at least some dignity left, compared to the West.
There is simply something appalling, hypocritical, twisted, profoundly un-humanistic, in the way Europe addresses the plight of its victims.
Of course “it” is not something new. “It” has deep roots in both Christian dogmas and Christian cultural fundamentalism – the elements that are unyieldingly controlling the minds of the majority of European people. Such fundamentalism has been helping to accept and promote, even glorify, colonialism and neocolonialism, as well as the “exceptionalism”.
Fundamentalism and exceptionalism put their religions (even in the countries that became ‘secular’ on the surface), cultures, races and ways of life on the pedestal. They see “those others” as irrelevant. The suffering of “the others” is trivial, insignificant. Or it simply “does not exist”.
Orwell defined un-Christian, un-white and un-Western people simply as “un-people”, in the eyes of the West.
In Europe, wherever you go, you can read between the lines:
If millions of “them” starve to death, then be it – as long as Germany and France could maintain clean sidewalks and hospitals, and as long as the schools don’t have too many undesirable, foreign elements and influences.
Destruction of the world, killing and starving of millions, is sad but a necessary price to be paid for the high standard of living of the chosen, white, good Christian people in Europe and North America. Let the slaughter be contained to far away places! Let it not appear on the television screens. Let us not see the victims.
And let those dirty and uncivilized beings stay where they are. We don’t want to face them at our resort towns and in our capital cities. We don’t want to see their sores, their wounds, and their puss.
Let everything remain out of focus, as blurry as possible, and at extremely low volume.
As I was told in California, during a conference: “Do not show us graphic images of Africans suffering… Here, people are very sensitive!”
Neocolonialism? Modern slavery? We don’t like these terms. They belong to the Cold War era. They died with the Soviet Union, didn’t they?
As long as the Empire reigns, as long as the West rules over the planet, the refugees will be crossing dangerous waterways on board their fragile dinghies.
Some will die; others will make it.
Those who will make it will be put on trial. What they did is defined as “illegal”. They will have to prove that they are persecuted in their home country, that their lives have been threatened.
A tricky game… A very filthy game… Like in those days of Inquisition, men, women and children facing Western Christian “justice” would have to lie, in order to survive.
They would not be able to say: “I had to escape because your country killed my family”. Or: “Your continent robbed me of my livelihood”.
Fear of persecution… A “genuine” refugee would have to invent his or her imaginary story, his or her torturer: one that is approved by the Empire.
Then, and only then, a refugee would have at least a tiny chance to receive his or her asylum, a shelter and a piece of bread – a tiny bit of what was already stolen from his or her native land.

The Jungle camp in Calais, France.

Calais – anti refugee walls.

Congolese refugees in Goma.

Fainted refugee in Kos (courtesy photo from Kos).

Refugees in Kos Greece (photos courtesy from Kos).

Shia IDP on Madura Island, Indonesia.

Somali refugee in Dadaab camp.

Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. His latest books are: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire” and Fighting Against Western Imperialism.Discussion with Noam Chomsky: On Western TerrorismPoint of No Return is his critically acclaimed political novel. Oceania – a book on Western imperialism in the South Pacific. His provocative book about Indonesia: “Indonesia – The Archipelago of Fear”. Andre is making films for teleSUR and Press TV. After living for many years in Latin America and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides and works in East Asia and the Middle East. He can be reached through his website or his Twitter.

Calais jungle: Refugee camps and walls of national security

Migrating families from Syria on the Road to the West navigating the border of Serbia and Hungary. Photo from Reuters. 

It has been tense throughout the last years France and other parts of Europe. For several months, the intensity has reached a boiling point. From Greece and Turkey to Italy and Libya, over hundreds of thousands people from Eritrea, Ethiopia. Sudan, Syria, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Libya and the Indian sub continent have rowed and drowned across the Mediterranean and crisscrossed Balkans, the Alps and any other physical barrier to find refuge away from the fracasos and chaos in their home countries and regions. Anywhere is better than here or there as the old saying goes. Fighting dehydration, brutal and callous human smugglers, altitude sickness, fleeing border patrol while receiving help and sympathy from local peoples have made many African/Asian migrants more determined to finish their half way around the world journey.

The Jungle of Calais: 

The daily lives of migrants in Calais on English-French border in 2003 but is relevant today

Calais, the small French town on the border between France and England has witnessed the growth of makeshift and now possibly permanent refugee camp on its outskirts. Refugees, asylum seekers and migrants from the border have been coming to the "Jungle" Camp for over a decade. Churches, mini restaurants, houses and gardens have been built over the years and transferred to new residents as former migrants leave for England or wait for asylum in France. The early groups that stayed in the camp were from the Balkans ie refugees from Kosovo War and probably Bosnian wars seeking asylum and safety in the UK. The UK is a popular destination for many migrants who see Britain and English language as the key to their futures. The media beaming British and American culture is recognized the world over. China is trying to challenge that with soft power. Since English is for the time, the lingua franca of the world, London, Manchester and wider UK has attracted many migrants from around the world. London is an international city. Some migrants and asylum seekers have family already living in England, Germany or the Scandinavian countries via legal migration or were born there.

How Immigration has changed Britain

The demographics in Britain or England has been changing for decades now due to immigration. Outside of London, there are both large and smaller towns with residents from immigrant background

There are millions of Britons or British of Caribbean, African, Latino and Asian descendant are 2nd generation citizens (just as indigenous white Britons), have contributed to British culture and cuisine influenced by Indian cooking and Kebab shops, parliament, and the future. The religious representation is just as diverse. Yet, the European wide right wing groups (same cry can be heard in the U.S.) like UKIP and Front National still scream that the future looks bleak and that multiculturalism and migration spells doom for European countries. They do not bother to see the positive benefits of immigrants and the rich diversity. As history and current events attest, island nations and empires tend to absorb cultures and people coming from around the world. Read the Ottoman Empire, Persian Empire and the old Soviet Union.

Fortress Hungary: 

Building a wall to keep migrants out and Hungary for Hungarians. Oddly enough the wall is being built by Hungarian prisoners as the government wants to cut the spending down for tax payers.

Migrants are well aware of the dangers with crossing from Calais to Britain. Many men and women have tried to cross the English Channel via the Tunnel or the Chunnel more known for its Eurostar rail route. Still most migrants hide in between the exhaust or sneak into the backs of hundreds of trucks from delivery to big rigs just to cross over into England. Many have died from carbon monoxide poisoning or being hit by trains. Train and truck drivers going through the Chunnel or through Calais used to be oblivious to the few migrants stowing away on their vehicles. However, the last years the drivers have protested and expressed their frustrations at the migrant crisis. Some have been attacked by migrants. The EU governments have been monitoring the migrants' movements placing strict migration laws and considering reconsider the freedom of movement clause to reinstate border patrols across European countries most affected by migration. Hungary has started to slowly build a wall on its border with Serbia taking the wall of national security approach to dealing with the flow of migrants. Other governments including France and Britain have tried in vain to tie migration with fears of terrorist threats among migrants. Germany has taken a calmer approach by aiding refugees and aslym seekers caught in limbo with housing at abandoned buildings in towns around the country. Some media pundits are comparing the 500,000 people into Europe to the large migrations of people that took place in post-World War II Europe. That is if you ignore the millions of people who found themselves on the wrong side of the Partition of India and Pakistan following a rough exit strategy by Britain from India. Hungary's attempts to quickly build its border fence, the newly built English Channel border fence, French police patrolling the area while playing cat and mouse with determined migrants the necessity of a better and safer lives keeps migrants and refugees racing towards Europe.

Flags, flags: The only flags that matter? Cartoon by Turkish cartoonist Eray Ozbek from cartoonmovement.

Refuge for the tired

Not all the migrants arriving in Italy, Greece/Turkey or Calais are only escaping persecution and war. Some are economic migrants or frustrated post grad students taking a risky leap to preserve their futures for safety at any costs. Others are asylum seekers or stateless. Returning home or stopping in a third country known for abusing irregular migrants and assaulting foreigners is not a favorable option. Some migrants are middle class or unaccompanied children, a few women traveling with children or determined youth. Many migrants are young men whose patience have run out for dealing with continual mountains of corruption and lack of social services in their home countries. Now there are Local governments in Africa and Asia still don't understand their incompetence with social services, bureaucratic redtape and lack of respect for their citizens make many people seek better lives and opportunities abroad. The right wing in Europe and United States don't realize that the migrating people aren't on vacation or permanent nomads. The trek for most migrants either ends in a detention camp in Italy or Greece, sometimes in Spain and by extension in the UK deportation center. For the migrants who manage to bypass fingerprinting at their first country of arrival, head towards Northern Europe where many think the German, Scandinavian, British governments are more sympathetic and comprehend the nightmarish journey faced by migrants even if it is illegal migration. Many refugees who are also migrants are deeply traumatized by decades old war and conflicts. Being hunted down like rabbits by frustrated border patrols or pestered by right wing vigilantes forces the refugees to relive the nightmare and psychological trauma they escaped from in their home countries.

West's busy hands in Africa and Middle East

The migrants coming to Europe see their breach of Fortress Europe as retribution or justice for dehumanizing colonialism and an unequal global economic system that has protected Europe and United States from their own consequences of creating long lasting instability in other countries and to peoples around the world. 

It's not secret that Western countries ie United States, Canada, UK, France have a hand in creating the current and historical chaos across Africa's north and eastern regions and into the Middle East. . Iranians sought political asylum from post 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran. United States supported the mujahideen during the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan that same year. Throughout the cold war, united states supported some of the most abusive and oppressive groups in Africa/Asia. The UK-US invasion of Iraq sparked a national resistance turned brutal occupation across Iraq led by the Kurdish Peshmerga, secular Iraqi resistance forces and Al Qaeda. Out of the near daily bombings in Iraq even after Fallujah was bombed by depleted uranium and heavy artillery bombs from American troops, ISIS was born in 2007. The United States and then counsel general Paul Bremmer forgetting the history of European colonialism and brutal occupations across the region, had the nerve to say that Iraqis were ungrateful and that Iraqis didn't have any reason to resist American occupation. The long standing Israeli occupation in Palestine and Israeli bombings of Lebanon in 2006 coming 10 years after another brutal bombing in 1996, didn't erase the anger and hypocrisy of Iraqis or Lebanese as seeing American occupation as somehow exceptional. The late Libyan leader Maumar Gaddhafi had long prophesied that the end of his rule would open a Pandora boxes of recycling wars, migration and allow the free flow of takfiri groups across the country. Libya is currently split into its original three territories from a hundred years ago. The destruction of Libya by NATO bombing, self entitled local militias engaged in a dangerous Civil War and now Al Qaeda/ISIS affiliates popping up in Sirte and other parts of Libya has caused a kaleidoscope of Libyans, Egyptians, Sudanese, Ethiopians, Pakistanis, Eritreans and Tunisians (who made of one of the largest foreign labor force in Africa) to flee Libya and politically unstable countries Egypt and even the mildly okay Tunisia for Europe. Now the Western-Saudi quest to somehow remove Syrian President Bashir Assad from power, the Saudi Foreign Minister was straightforward about Assad's future Syria led to Libya styled scenario in Syria. The hellish war in Syria had made of 2 million Syrians eternally displaced in their own countries while another 2 million have fled the country for Lebanon and Jordan. The Arab League has been surprisingly muted about the wars and the increase in refugee populations. Lebanon and Jordan are equally stressed out on Syria so is Turkey. All of this has caused more Syrians to risk their lives to migrate to the countries who caused hell on earth to happen. It has nothing to do with hatred. The Syrians, Afghans who are not too far from experiencing similar patterns back home, are joined by foreign workers from Libya on their journey as clandestinos to the Global North.