In my political youth in the 1960s & 70s, there were all sorts of activists talking ultra-revolutionary ‘pick up the gun’ rhetoric. It had no appeal to me since I abhor violence & you have to give me credit for recognizing nuts when I see it. But on the other hand, those ‘pick up the gun’ screwballs understood the character of the Democratic Party. Nowadays, the so-called far left is debating whether it’s Sanders or Warren who presents more of an ‘existential threat’ to US capitalism. Capitalism, now in its barbaric phase, may be in existential crisis but it sustains no threat from the left who have morphed from ultra-lefts to whipped puppies.
An anthem from 1975 & the ethos of the civil rights, women’s rights, LGBT, & antiwar movements:
About six or seven years ago, I spent several months at the local University of Texas library studying the immigration & refugee crises. It may not come as a surprise to many of you, but it was a shocker to me to learn that countries do not improvise or formulate immigration policy on their own but that they unmistakably collaborate with each other in how to get away with denying immigration & refugee rights. In every era, the policies from one country to another dovetail &, with minor adjustments, are the same.
Another thing I learned is that when the UN or media throw around estimates of the number of refugees & refugee deaths, they are mostly blowing hot air. There is no agency that monitors or has any grasp of the enormity of the crises. They don’t care enough. Just one example–& a grotesque one it is–no one knows how many Rohingya refugees drowned in the Andaman Sea in their 2015 exodus from Burma & Bangladesh. No agency monitored that crisis; no country intervened to rescue them; no one knows how many drowned. Thousands remain unaccounted for. Another horrifying example is that no one monitors how many African refugees get on rickety boats in North Africa, how many drown, how many actually get rescued or make landing in Italy or Spain.
These Rohingya kids in Bangladesh are who we’re talking about when we talk about the human rights of refugees.
Immigration is a human right. Refugee rights are human rights.
(Photo from World Vision)
Every June 20th is World Refugee Day, designated as such in 2000 by the 193 member nations of the UN General Assembly. There probably is no greater mockery of refugee rights than this ceremonial pity-party because a majority of those 193 nations have created the millions of refugees from every continent by their economic, social, & political policies. Rather than use their considerable resources to provide asylum & services to refugees, the 193 member nations are refusing them entry, assaulting & arresting them, forcibly deporting them, vilifying them as terrorists, criminals, rapists, allowing them to drown, prosecuting those who provide humanitarian assistance, stuffing them into concentration camps, physically, emotionally, sexually assaulting them, trafficking the women & children.
The refugee crises today as a result of war, neoliberal plunder, military occupation, genocide, are a touchstone for the political ethos of our times. Either we organize internationally in defense of immigration & refugee rights or we capitulate to the dark forces of social hatred, racism, nationalism, xenophobia. It’s our choice. To make World Refugee Day more than a pity-party, we must turn it into a day of protests to support refugee rights to asylum & all human rights.
Photo is a despondent African refugee in the Mediterranean.
(Photo by Hereward Holland for UNHCR which uses photos to raise donations but does not stand up for refugees against the policies of the 193 members of the UN General Assembly)
While General Sisi & the Egyptian military must be held accountable for the incarceration, torture, & possible murder of Mohamed Morsi, there also must be an accounting of Morsi’s year as president. We can dispute just how democratic the 2012 election putting him in office was when it was organized by the same electoral apparatus as engineered the repeated elections of Mubarak & in fact of Sisi after he ousted Morsi. But the most important issue is how Morsi conducted himself in office while the military remained in control of government.
For most of his tenure, there were massive protests, continuations of the Arab Spring uprising, involving millions of Egyptians, demanding his removal from office for undemocratic policies, including the new constitution, flooding tunnels to Gaza with sewage, violence against & repression of protesters. In the days leading up to the military coup that ousted Morsi on July 3, 2013, there were protests estimated up to 30 million people demanding his ouster. That the military took advantage of that anger against his regime to oust him does not negate that Morsi was not as beloved a political leader as he is now eulogized.
The point of an accounting of Morsi’s tenure is not to denigrate him or justify the military persecution of him but to place the voices of the Egyptian people regarding him–the Egyptian Arab Spring–as central to the discussion.
OpIndia website just reported that Bangladesh’s plans to deport 100,000 Rohingya refugees to the uninhabitable, monsoon-prone island of Bhasan Char isn’t working out that well. The plan is thus far voluntary & no Rohingya mother has raised a kid foolish enough to do that. According to OpIndia, no one is volunteering because NGO workers in the refugee camps are ‘fear-mongering’ & discouraging volunteers by telling Rohingyas they won’t survive on the island. Like the Rohingya can’t figure that out for themselves? How insulting to them. Sitting here in Texas almost 9,000 miles away it’s abundantly clear.
OpIndia reports that Rohingyas say they would rather die in Cox’s Bazar than move to Bhasan Char. That’s because they stand a chance at having a life & fighting for their rights in Bangladesh whereas life on Bhasan Char would be the equivalent of the concentration camps the US is building for refugees.
There is a feigned sympathy for the plight of Rohingya refugees in the article until the writer brings up India’s attempts to deport 40,000 Rohingya refugees because ‘they’re a threat to national security & prone to radicalization.’ How so? In a non sequitur the writer tells us, “Rohingya Muslims had indulged in brutal killings of Hindus in Myanmar.” Claiming that Rohingya Muslims who were sustaining a wholesale genocide & fleeing for their lives took time out to senselessly kill Hindus in Arakan state resonates with the Hindutva nationalist claim that Kashmiri Muslims took time out from defending themselves against the Indian occupation by committing genocide against Kashmiri Hindus (Pandits).
This photo is of barracks constructed for Rohingya families on Bhasan Char. Would anybody in their right mind volunteer to go there? What about work? What about agriculture? What about livestock? What about those monsoons & the daily flooding? What about a normal life?
(Photo of Bhasan Char from Dhaka Tribune)
A new US State Department policy requires that all visa applicants to the US submit social media, email, & phone number histories for the past five years. This policy is not just an invasion of privacy but is another way governments police & censor our interactions on social media since we have used it to broaden democracy & international solidarity. The more we allow these incursions, the less social media will be a venue for us to communicate & collaborate in the struggles against tyranny. Some claim we are helpless to oppose this. Since when has freedom ever conceded defeat without a struggle?
The journal Counterpunch has a problem with commitment. They don’t know which side they’re on so they play both of them. Their masthead reads “Fearless muckraking since 1993” but it appears they can’t tell muckraking from straight-out muck & horse manure. They’ve become a primary source for Assadist propaganda, including the defense of Russian & Iranian military intervention & vilifying the White Helmet rescue workers as terrorists. They haven’t stooped as low as publishing Bartlett & Beeley but the Assadist academics & journalists they do publish draw from those two dregs as primary sources. Counterpunch editors must think if they talk a good line on that “US regime-change operation” in Syria, they are covering their progressive bases but all they are doing is reducing political discourse to a cacophony & a farce at the expense of millions of people sustaining war, occupation, genocide.
For a while now they’ve been publishing Maoist rubbish denouncing the Tiananmen Square massacre as a “big lie”, defending the autocratic rule of Xi Jinping & calling criticisms of his rule “western propaganda,” mocking the Uyghur genocide as “vile & venomous lies,” vilifying the protests of millions in Hong Kong as anti-communists trying to restore capitalism & calling on Xi to crack down on the protesters. At the same time they publish articles describing the truth about the Uyghur genocide. Do the editors actually believe that on issues of such life & death importance to millions of people they can play both sides of the street?
There are those who call themselves progressive, ‘leftists’, socialists, Marxists who write & shill for the journal–probably because their own stuff gets published there. But most of us want to be able to trust the journalistic integrity, standards, judgement of political editors. So when Counterpunch plays both sides of the street in an attempt to broaden its readership base, we think it contemptible, not muckraking. The difference between muckraking & horse manure is not subtle but Counterpunch editors Jeffrey St. Clair & Joshua Frank don’t know that.
Public outrage & an attempt to undo public relations damage now compels the Belgian government to ‘work toward’ getting visas for the Uyghur woman & her four children who it turned over to Chinese police. The family were reportedly deported back to East Turkestan so Belgium has increased the difficulties for the family to join their father & husband in Belgium when it could have given them asylum in the first place. The more Belgium tries to justify its action, the more their officials sound like braying jackasses.
For those who still hold Robert Fisk & Counterpunch in high regard, in July 2018 that journal republished an article by Fisk (who supports the Assad regime & demeans the Arab Spring uprisings) where he said:
“Idlib has been the dumping ground for all of Syria’s retreating Islamist militias,” who he went on to describe as “Salafist-inspired & western-armed Islamists.”
Actually, Fisk is lying because he knows–or as a journalist, should know unless he has now taken on the role of propagandist–that Idlib was where the Assad regime relocated millions of civilians forcibly evacuated from regions “liberated” by Syrian & Russian bombers & ground troops & by Iranian & Hezbollah militias.
(Photo is screenshot from video of Idlib civilians)