Umpteen millennia of human civilization & this is what the European Union (EU) is reducing it all to. These are refugees in an overcrowded tent at Idomeni, Greece on the border with Macedonia. There are 30,000 refugees stranded on that border not allowed to move north.
Turkey is now engaged in attacking Kurds militarily, cracking down violently on press freedom, & allowing its bases to be used for US warplanes in Iraq & Syria. But the European Union (EU) deems it a ‘safe country’ & has brokered an unsavory deal with Turkey to take back refugees on dinghies intercepted by NATO & FRONTEX gunboats in the Aegean Sea.
The EU & Turkey have had a deal since last November that in exchange for €3 billion, visa-free travel for Turkish nationals into the EU, & fast-tracking Turkish entry into the EU, Turkey would prevent refugees fleeing massive bombing from crossing their border with Syria. In the new deal hammered out this week, the Turkish representative tried to extort twice the blood money in return for taking back refugees intercepted at sea or deported straight back to Turkey when they land in Greece.
UN & human rights officials are “deeply concerned” at the “blanket returns” of refugees because they are flagrant violation of international law & EU regulations governing treatment of refugees. They also question how Turkey can be considered a ‘safe country’ for refugees when it already has 2.5 million living in squalid conditions without adequate housing; when it is forcibly deporting Syrians back to a war zone; & when it does not recognize refugee status for those fleeing the war zones of Afghanistan & Iraq & is deporting them.
One wishes the UN would do more than stand there & do hand-wringing, that it would mobilize some sanctions against the EU like they do so often to legitimize war & bombing. But doing more is up to human rights & immigration/refugee rights activists around the world since the UN is now the executive body of neoliberalism, the barbaric phase of capitalism.
Immigration is a human right. Open the borders.
(Photo by Valdrin Xhemaj/EPA)