The Dramatic Life of Refugees: Winter, Rejection, Crime, Radicalization, Terror and Death

THE BRUTAL WINTER is aggravating the situation of thousands of refugees (including children), who are living under extreme weather conditions along European borders. In Places like in Lesbos (Greece) and Belgrade (Serbia), the snow falls and the temperature is as low as 20-degrees celsius(-4°F).

Numerous European governments have offered shelter to an insufficient number of refugees (many of them children). UN’s and Medicines Sans Frontiers have criticised the European Union for not preparing properly for the life-threatening winter weather.

“Europe should stop making the lives of migrants and refugees more miserable,” a statement from Medicins Sans Frontieres read.

Saving lives must be a priority and we urge state authorities across Europe to do more to assist and protect refugees and migrants,” a UNHCR spokeswoman, Cecile

The UN is warning that an important number of refugees may soon die if the European Union does not assist them. Refugees often do not have the adequate clothing, food and shelter to withstand the low temperatures.

“Children are particularly prone to respiratory illnesses at a time like this. It’s about saving lives, not about red tape and keeping to bureaucratic arrangements,” Sarah Crowe, a spokeswoman for the UN children’s agency UNICEF told a UN briefing in Geneva. “The dire situation right now is Greece.”

As if that were not enough, refugees are suffering abuse by police agents and criminal gangs, including kidnappings, physical abuse, threats and extortion.

UN’s has reported 5 confirmed deaths since the start of the year, two Iraqi men and a young Somali woman in Bulgaria, and a 20-year-old Afghan man, who was crossing the Evros river between Turkey and Greece.

The UN has reiterated its call on the European Union to assist all refugees as soon as possible before it becomes a catastrophe.

“The UN Refugee Agency is today reiterating its call to accelerate the moving of asylum seekers from the Aegean islands to the Greek mainland,” Edwards said at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.”The need for better protection will become all the more acute this weekend when temperatures on the islands are expected to drop. We are worried,” said UNHCR spokesman, Adrian Edwards.

“We are worried,” Adrian Edwards, a spokesperson for UNHCR said in Geneva.”Slowness in registration or identifying vulnerable individuals and, previously, a shortage of suitable spaces on the mainland have been factors delaying moves. Among other things this has contributed to serious overcrowding of facilities built for far fewer people, and increased protection risks,”

NGO’s and numerous international organisations are insisting that to refuse assistance to refugees is a violation of international law. Apparently, European countries are more interested in domestic affairs than in refugees. In countries like Germany, the growing social discontent against refugees has forced the government to debate whether to expel thousands of refugees or not.The decadence of Angela Merkel and the upcoming German presidential elections will influence the final decision. 

In many cases, the traditional and far-right media are contributing to the criminalisation of all the refugees coming from the Middle East. 

Brief Analysis of two cases:

1.BREITBART’S FALSE ARTICLE.

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ON JANUARY 3rd Virginia Hale, a journalist from Breitbart News, wrote the following false article:

“Revealed: 1,000-Man Mob Attack Police, Set Germany’s Oldest Church Alight on New Year’s Eve” 

“At New Year’s Eve celebrations in Dortmund, a mob of more than 1,000 men chanted ‘Allahu Akhbar’, launched fireworks at police, and set fire to a historic church,” Breitbart News reported.

Breitbart also claimed that a video posted by a Ruhr Nachrichten journalist showed them holding up a flag of al-Qaeda and Isis collaborators. In fact, the video shows the contrary, a man holding a flag widely flown by those opposing the current government.

The local newspaper, Ruhr Nachrichten, said that its online reporting on New Year’s Eve had been distorted by BreiBart to produce “fake news.”

The justice minister of Hesse state, Eva Kühne-Hörmann, said“the danger is that these stories spread with incredible speed and take on lives of their own.”

Tens of thousands clicked and shared the false Breitbart.com story with the headline,“Revealed: 1,000-man mob attack police, set Germany’s oldest church alight on New Year’s Eve”.

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Days later, Breitbart supposedly amended the article to make a few corrections.

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However, it decided to keep all the falsehoods spilt over Syrian refugees about terrorism. Since its creation, Breitbart has become the American newspaper, which most fabricates false stories.

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NOTE: The chief strategist and Senior Counsellor for the presidency of Donald Trump, Steve Bannonis the co-founder of Breitbart. Com. It suggests that he will use his new position to amplify fake stories to criminalise honest immigrants.

2.MODAMANI’S CASE.

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MONTHS AGO, the far right propaganda, like Noch.info, from Germany and other countries suggested that Angela Merkel had taken a selfie with a terrorist, “Anas Modamani, a Syrian refugee”,  The false claims soon spread on social media and went viral. 

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The 19-year-old was accused of terrorism and other criminal activities, including him being one of the perpetrators of the March bombings in Brussels, and was linked to the Christmas market attack in Berlin. The accusations were soon catalogued as false, but the people of social media refused to halt the spread of the false news related to his case, allowing many users to continue spreading it even in the present day.

On his part, Modamani has recently sued Facebook for not doing enough to stop the fake news and reestablished his honour.

Modamani Stated, “I was first linked to the attacks when my picture was circulated, claiming I was one of the Brussels attackers due to perceived resemblances between us,”

“When the claims started being circulated on social media, I was in Munich visiting friends.

“Some friends advised that I stay at home and avoid going out in public, which I did.

“Others encouraged me to go to the police and report what was being said about me.

“But I kind of just hoped it would go away on its own.”

“Facebook is doing a very poor job with fake news,”

“Not all fake news is illegal, but when it amounts to slander, as I believe this does, then it should be taken down.”

“Facebook has repeatedly refused to take the posts down, saying they do not violate the company’s rules,” Modamani’s lawyer said.

A Facebook representative said: “We received a takedown request from Mr Jun alleging that a specific item of content on our platform violates Mr Modamani’s right of personality.”

“Access to that reported content was quickly disabled, so we do not believe there is any basis for him to seek an injunction.”

Germany’s justice ministry is considering new policies to crack down on “fake news” by making Facebook and other social media companies criminally liable for failing to remove hate speech.

“Facebook should be treated as a media company rather than a technology company,” the justice minister said in November.

As in the previous case, some newspapers have amended the false articles, but Modamani’s honorability will never be fully restored.Thousands of people accused him of terrorism and spread it on the social media and not everyone who uses social media read newspapers, which means that there are still many people, who still think that he is a terrorist. Modami’s case shows the enormous influential capacity that social media has over people.

NOTE: The president-elect Donald Trump won the last U.S. elections thanks to several factors like the incompetence of Hillary Clinton. However, Trump would not have won the election without false news and the social media to spread them.

The cases of fake news mentioned in this article, represent a sample of hundreds of thousands that are spread everyday on social media. For many organisations, the main goal is to convince European citizens that refugees are terrorists and criminals. Unfortunately, there is a significant number of people, who already believe those falsehoods.

EUROPEANS POLITICAL LEADERS and citizens tend to forget that, during the WWII, thousands of Europeans fled to countries like Syria, Egypt and Palestine(the Middle East) seeking shelter. The refugee camps in the Middle East were operated by MERRA (Middle East Relief and Refugee Administration) 

246f8479-6675-478c-905c-615e9602d7cd.pngUS Army General Allen Gullion and Fred K. Hoehler, Director of the United Nation’s Division of Displaced Persons predicting the movement of European refugees of World War II.

Seventy years ago, the Middle Eastern community warmly welcomed hundreds of thousands of European refugees who needed shelter. Today, to the contrary, European countries are neglecting refugees from the Middle East, alleging security issues. They believed that some terrorists are camouflaged among refugees. However, the facts show that majority of the terrorist attacks in Western countries were perpetrated by locals, who radicalised themselves.

Experience from many conflict zones teaches us that the longer these refugees are left to languish in despair in camps, the more prone they become to radicalization.

In fact, these camps are often used by terrorist organisations to attract new members. Without them, terrorism might soon be defeated. The best way to fight terrorism is by assisting refugees. European society should not forget the assistance that the Middle East gave them in the past.

The different communities in the world should work together to better understand each other regardless of their political and religion orientations.

After all, we are all human beings.

By Josep.

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Racism Is Not the Solution to Your Problems

The rise of fascism, represented by the anti-immigration political party and the lack of critical thinking in our society, is making people adopt racists positions. In many cases, it coincides with the destruction of the middle class and global impoverishment, which is usually accompanied by feelings of loneliness and hopelessness. In this context of degradation, anti-immigration organisations successfully deliver false promises of rescuing citizens from their existing poverty, to take back what belongs to them. For that to happen, they attribute high unemployment, criminality and terrorism with immigration.

Many times antiimmigration organisations count on the inestimable help of the mainstream media, which, without even realising, serves as a medium to spread their message. Donald Trump is the personification of anti-immigration sentiment that the media excessively focuses on, which helps them achieve their goals. In this case, the media informed negative things related to his past misconduct, but the excessive coverage made people think that they were being manipulated.

Let’s now scrutinise some of the anti-immigration claims to better understand whether their arguments are valid or not:

1. Immigration and crimes:

Anti-immigration organisations are regularly linking crimes to immigration. However, the available reports depict that in western countries, immigrants are less likely to be criminals than natural citizens.

In Germany, where the arrival of refugees has been massive, the German Federal Office of Criminal Investigation (BKA) announced in 2016 that crimes committed in 2015 by refugees stood at the same level as those committed by native Germans.

Government report Police Crime Statistics 2015.

https://www.bka.de/EN/CurrentInformation/PoliceCrimeStatistics/2015/pcs2015.html?nn=39580

(The statistics of 2016 have not been published yet. However, different sources suggest that the next reporting could be manipulated by the government to justify the expulsion of refugees, the same year that Germany will hold presidential elections, and because Merkel is losing popularity. I will inform you about the real report and any case of evidence of manipulation by increasing the immigration criminality, I will show it here)

“The majority (of refugees) do not come here with the intention of committing crimes. They come to Germany to find protection and peace.”

Immigrants have always been a convenient scapegoat,” – Walter A. Ewing, a senior researcher at the American Immigration Council, a nonprofit group in Washington.

As we can see, the anti-immigration theories are unsubstantiated by government reports.Although I am focusing on Germany because it has experienced the mass arrival of immigration, this tendency is similar in the rest of western countries.

2. Immigration and jobs:

Despite the general opinion that immigrants steal our jobs, immigration has a positive impact on a country’s  economy. It happens because of several factors:

  • 1. In many European countries, the education and health systems are semi-free, as the population is getting older, the cost of maintenance of the systems is increasing while the tax collection to maintain it is decreasing. In such a scenario,  immigration helps to replace the ageing working population and this increases the needed contribution to maintaining this “free system.”
  • Note: In the U.S. there is no a free educational or health system, the government allege that it would supposedly lead to an increase in taxes. However, the reduction of the annual military investment would allow the government to implement a free educational and health system to enable people to have equal opportunities.
  • 2. Immigrants are always willing to do those important jobs related to the cleaning, construction, agriculture etc. sectors that locals are not. It is clear then that without immigration there would be a lack of services that in the end would provoke the collapse of the system.

3. Immigration and rape reports:

There is a general concern that the entrance of refugees into western countries will increase the raping cases.However, so far there is no clear evidence that that may happen. It is mainly caused by the mainstream media that sometimes misleads citizens by distorting the reality. For example, the mass-raping case during the New Year’s Eve 2015:

The mainstream media reported without verifying it that the German government announced that hundreds of immigrants (refugees) mass-raped women in Colonia. For that to happen, supposedly, hundreds of refugees would have gathered in the downtown of Colonia to mass-rape women. However, later it was found that the immigrants were mostly from North Africa (not refugees) and that anti-immigration organisations organised it to spread fear into society.

4. Terrorism:

Anti-immigration organisations are trying to criminalise all refugees and immigrants by  suggesting that all of them are terrorists. Unfortunately, there are millions of citizens who believe these falsehoods.

No one neglects the fact that from all the refugees waiting to enter into western countries, there are some hidden terrorists, but they are just a few, and the majority of refugees, who have already been living under hard conditions for years, cannot wait to receive international aid anymore.

International terrorism is a threat to our society, and the international community should find the way to eliminate it. Nevertheless, it is important to note that most of the terrorists who committed terrorist attacks in western countries were locals.

By supporting racist positions, our society is losing its common sense. The existing financial, security, employment and political problems do not come from the immigration. These problems are usually originated by governments, anti-immigration, and financial institutions, which for years have been undermining the confidence that citizens once had on them.

Anti-immigration organisations are benefiting from the existing chaos due to a lack of critical thinking in our society.And unless the mainstream media stops boosting them, racism will increase to levels never seen before in history. 

Immigration is necessary and positive in many aspects of our lives. Without it, as mentioned earlier, the system would collapse, and the citizens would suffer. It is important to remember that immigrants are human beings like you and me. Life brings many changes, and anyone may become an immigrant overnight. Even racist and intolerant people, if forced to migrate, would expect respect from others.

There is a lot of work to needed to be done with all those who support anti-immigration positions. The arguments on anti-immigration are baseless, and there is no clear evidence to support what they say. However, there is always light at the end of the tunnel, and if our society can teach them to think critically, then there will be some hope to halt the global rise of fascism.

Understanding, compassion, tolerance, and critical thinking are the solutions to many problems.

Do not forget to vote: