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Migration and Struggle in Greece

Posts Tagged ‘USA’

Human Rights Watch: “2009 a Bad Year for Migrants – Deaths, Labor Exploitation, Violence, and Poor Treatment in Detention”

Posted by clandestina on 23 December 2009

source: human rights watch website

(New York) – Many governments’ policies toward migrants worldwide expose them to human rights abuses including labor exploitation, inadequate access to health care, and prolonged detention in poor, overcrowded conditions, Human Rights Watch said today in advance of International Migrants Day, on December 18, 2009.  A 25-page roundup of Human Rights Watch reporting on violations of migrants’ rights this year, “Slow Movement: Protection of Migrants’ Rights in 2009,”  includes coverage of China, Cuba, Egypt, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States.

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Emigrating Afghans…

Posted by clandestina on 4 June 2009

This is a report on the increase in the rates of immigration from Afghanistan, after so many years of humanistic war.  This is also about the effects that Fortress Europe on the victims of this war: they have to pay much more to smugglers to tranfer them to the west (source).

AFGHANISTAN: Sharp rise in attempted illegal migration to Europe

KABUL, 4 June 2009 (IRIN) – Azizullah Ahmadi told IRIN in Kabul how his son Majid, aged 25, paid US$10,000 to a smuggler to take him to a European country where he wanted to start a better life. But his son drowned in the Mediterranean before reaching Greece in 2008.

“He was very disappointed here [in Afghanistan] and believed Europe would give him a prosperous life,” Ahmadi said, adding that his son had borrowed a lot of money for the trip.

Facing unemployment, insecurity and lack of socio-economic opportunities at home, many Afghans, mostly young males, have increasingly resorted to costly and perilous illegal migration to European and other industrialized countries.

Over 18,000 Afghan asylum-seekers were registered in 44 industrialized states in 2008 – a significant increase on previous years, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

“With 18,500 asylum applications submitted by Afghans in 2008, the number is at its highest since 2002 [29,400] and is almost double the figure of the year before [10,000],” said a UNHCR report entitled Asylum levels and trends in industrialized countries in 2008.

“The deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan is likely to be the main reason, along with lack of economic opportunities,” Ron Redmond, a UNHCR spokesman in Geneva, told IRIN.

Some 80,000-85,000 Afghans applied for asylum in 2000-2001 but their numbers dropped significantly after a new US-backed government, which had inspired hope for a stable and prosperous Afghanistan, was established in 2002.

Smuggling by air – more expensive

Illegal migration and human trafficking from the least developed countries to Europe, the USA, Canada and Australia have become more and more difficult and costly in the past seven years, largely because of stringent border controls.

“Before 9/11 smugglers were taking people by air to any European country for $8,000-10,000, but now prices have increased to $25,000-30,000 per person,” said Naqibullah (who only gave his first name), a local travel agent who also acts as an agent for illegal migrants.

However, nothing seems to be deterring some Afghans, mostly young males, who still pay thousands of dollars to smugglers and/or take the riskiest routes to get to their sought-after destinations.

On 29 May a ship carrying over a dozen of Afghan migrants from Indonesia to Australia capsized near Sumatra. Nine passengers were killed and 11 others were missing, Associated Press reported.

Migrants face trials and tribulations of all kinds: Some end up in prisons and/or border detention centres and reportedly have experienced serious physical and mental violence.

Popular destinations

The UK appeared to be the most popular European Union (EU) destination, with 3,730 Afghan applicants seeking asylum in 2008, according to the Statistical Office of the European Commission. Turkey, Italy and Greece were the next most popular, according to the UNHCR report on asylum levels in industrialized countries.

About 12,600 Afghans sought asylum in EU countries in 2008 – the fifth largest group after Iraqis, Russians, Somalis and Serbs.

By contrast, the USA only had 72 Afghan asylum-seekers in 2008. Fewer still migrated illegally to Canada, Australia and New Zealand, apparently because of the cost of getting there (about $35,000 to fly to Canada) and/or geography.

Plea not to deport Afghans

It is unclear how many of the 18,500 Afghan asylum-seekers were granted protection in developed countries in 2008.

However, of the 240,000 asylum applicants (5 percent of them Afghans) registered in 27 EU member countries in 2008, at least 141,730 (73 percent) were rejected and only 24,425 applicants (13 percent) were granted refugee status, according to a statement by the Statistical Office of the European Commission.

At least 560 Afghans whose asylum applications were rejected in EU member countries were forced back to Afghanistan in 2008, according to the Ministry of Refugees and Returnees (MoRR). In addition, over 545 unsuccessful applicants voluntarily returned to Afghanistan from the EU last year.

“The situation in Afghanistan is not suitable and we call on European and other countries not to forcefully deport Afghan refugees,” Noor Mohammad Haidari, a senior MoRR adviser, told IRIN, adding that the government had requested all host countries to treat Afghans based on the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.

MoRR estimates about 500,000 Afghan refugees live in EU countries and over three million in Pakistan and Iran.

Below is a report on the country’s economic situation some months ago (before the harsch winter).  source

Afghanistan: 20 Million People Under the Line of Poverty

Official statistics show that Afghanistan has the highest level of poverty among the South-Asian countries.Afghanistan is now one of the poorest countries on the planet. It takes its place among desperate, destitute nations like Burkina Faso and Somalia whenever any international organization bothers to measure. The official unemployment rate, last calculated in 2005, was 40% percent.

On the basis of the official statistics, the level of poverty in Afghanistan is thirty to forty percent and around 20 million of Afghanistan are living under the line of poverty.

According to recent estimates, it may today reach as high as 80% in some parts of the country.The UN has named the 17th of October as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. Different organizations hold programs every year to put an end to poverty in the world.

But the government of Afghanistan, despite the support of the International Community, has not been able to do something considerable for decreasing poverty.

Governmental authorities say that the shortage of food on one hand and drought in the past few years in several regions of Afghanistan on the other hand, have increased the intensity of poverty in Afghanistan.

“Urgent need for food”

Adrian Edwards, spokesman for the United Nations mission in Kabul, says that presently millions of people all over Afghanistan are in urgent need of food.

As said by Mr. Edwards, “The human conditions in Afghanistan are very serious. Continuous insecurity, drought and booming food prices on the world level are the main cause for the emergence of this situation but the condition in the future months is not tangible. There is no doubt that people are in dire need of food.”

Authorities in Afghanistan say that measures have been taken to prevent the spreading out of poverty in the country but according to experts these measures have not been effective.

Experts say that the absence of a proper program regarding the prevention of poverty and lack of attention to the superstructure of past years have brought about poverty and unemployment to many Afghans.

The tension for the rise of poverty in Afghanistan has increased in circumstances where drought and unemployment have greatly affected the lives of the people and have created scores of problems for them.

The coming of the winter season has concerned many people in this country.

Abdul Jamil, one of the residents of Kabul said that he has no job and that the approaching winter has greatly worried him.

Baz Mohammad, an employee of the National Bank of Afghanistan said that his monthly earnings is not enough for the expenses of his family and doesn’t know how he will overcome the difficulties of the cold in the winter.

This year the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty is being celebrated with the slogan of “Stand Up and Take Action against Poverty”. Different sources agree that the abolishment of poverty needs the united struggle of all the poor as well as rich countries of the world.


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“Every object… every transaction… and almost everywhere they go…”

Posted by clandestina on 1 June 2009

grenze2grenzephotos’s source: http://grenzposten.blogsport.de/mach-ein-foto/

“Every object the individual uses, every transaction they make and almost everywhere they go will create a detailed digital record. This will generate a wealth of information for public security organisations, and create huge opportunities for more effective and productive public security efforts.” 

EU COUNCIL PRESIDENCY

 

This is the Fortress Europe – Dungeon Europe of the future – this is what the bosses want our societies to become.  Much more about the “Stockholme Programme” here (we already posted something about it in this post).  Immigrants and refugees are indeed the guinea pigs for the suveillance mega-state  they visualise. What follows are the informative coclusions of the text “The Shape of Things to Come” – the EU Future Group by Tony Bunyan at Statewatch – without the footnotes. 

clandestinenglish

 

“The Shape of Things to Come” – the EU Future Group”

by Tony Byan

 

 

 

The new programme, scheduled to be called the “Stockholm” programme, will be adopted
by the European Council – a meeting of all the Prime Ministers from the 27 member states
– and will “set in stone” the priorities for home affairs for the following five years.
The “convergence principle” and “state-building”97
The introduction of the “convergence principle” is another step in the building of the EU
state. This is described in the background papers for the Future group as: “the pooling of
sovereignty”. It builds on the “principle of availability” (Hague programme) of all data,
information and intelligence held all agencies across the EU to all other agencies and
outside and the “interoperability” of EU information systems must be compatible so that
all agencies can access each others data
“Convergence” means too shifting from harmonising laws at national level to standardising
training, equipment and information technology across all the law enforcement agencies
in the EU. This ensures “interoperability” and efficiency, and is much cheaper if EU-wide
standards are set and then licences are negotiated with the multinationals. Agencies will
still work at the national level but their environment will be determined (harmonised) by
EU standards and more and more roles will be undertaken at the EU level.
“Convergence” also requires further legal harmonisation so that “obstacles” (eg: judicial
authorisation) to gathering, accessing and transferring data and intelligence are removed.
In the Lisbon Treaty “state-building” is evident in both the creation of bodies and agencies
to act on an EU-wide basis and the creation of administrative and operational cooperation
centrally organised by the EU. “Cooperation” will cover all “criminal offences” and
embrace all agencies. This will include the establishment of measures for the: “collection,
storage, processing, analysis and exchange of relevant information” and for “investigative
techniques” (which means telephone-tapping, bugging, informants, agent provocateurs
etc). 98
Overseeing operational activities will be the new Standing Committee on Internal Security
(COSI) which is planned to oversee and direct all operational matters – with national and
European parliaments only to be “informed” about its activities.99

The new programme, scheduled to be called the “Stockholm” programme, will be adopted by the European Council – a meeting of all the Prime Ministers from the 27 member states – and will “set in stone” the priorities for home affairs for the following five years.

The “convergence principle” and “state-building”

The introduction of the “convergence principle” is another step in the building of the EU state. This is described in the background papers for the Future group as: “the pooling of sovereignty”. It builds on the “principle of availability” (Hague programme) of all data, information and intelligence held all agencies across the EU to all other agencies and outside and the “interoperability” of EU information systems must be compatible so that all agencies can access each others data

“Convergence” means too shifting from harmonising laws at national level to standardising training, equipment and information technology across all the law enforcement agencies in the EU. This ensures “interoperability” and efficiency, and is much cheaper if EU-wide standards are set and then licences are negotiated with the multinationals. Agencies will still work at the national level but their environment will be determined (harmonised) by EU standards and more and more roles will be undertaken at the EU level. “Convergence” also requires further legal harmonisation so that “obstacles” (eg: judicial authorisation) to gathering, accessing and transferring data and intelligence are removed.

In the Lisbon Treaty “state-building” is evident in both the creation of bodies and agencies to act on an EU-wide basis and the creation of administrative and operational cooperation centrally organised by the EU. “Cooperation” will cover all “criminal offences” and embrace all agencies. This will include the establishment of measures for the: “collection, storage, processing, analysis and exchange of relevant information” and for “investigative techniques” (which means telephone-tapping, bugging, informants, agent provocateurs etc). 

Overseeing operational activities will be the new Standing Committee on Internal Security (COSI) which is planned to oversee and direct all operational matters – with national and European parliaments only to be “informed” about its activities.

This analysis only deals with certain aspects of EU state-building, those concerning justice and home affairs and internal security. Another aspect is the proposed European External Action Service envisaged under the Lisbon Treaty which would turn the current European Commission  plus missions around the world into EU embassies with powers of intelligence-gathering.

Yet another example is the EU Security Research Agenda. This is described, in what should be viewed as a complementary study to this one, in Arming Big Brother as: “the development of the security-industrial complex in Europe and in particular the development of the EU Security Research Programme (ESRP). Spawned by the military-industrial complex, the security-industrial complex has developed as the traditional boundaries between external security (military) and internal security (security services) and law enforcement (policing) have eroded.” 

The “digital tsunami and the EU surveillance state” 

The coded language in the main Future group report hides the broader intent which is revealed in other documents, especially the one from the Portuguese Council Presidency. The assumption behind the “digital tsunami” is:

“Every object the individual uses, every transaction they make and almost everywhere they go will create a detailed digital record. This will generate a wealth of information for public security organisations, and create huge opportunities for more effective and productive public security efforts.” 

The implications of this statement are breath-taking. Across the EU – following the 2004 EU Directive – governments have, or are, adopting national laws for the mandatory retention of everyone’s communications data – all forms of communication (phone-calls, faxes, mobile calls including locations) which will be extended to keeping a record of all internet usage from 2009 – even though few are aware this is happening. This allows law enforcement and security agencies to get access to all traffic data – in the UK access is already automated. Access to the content should, under national law, be authorised by judicial authorities – though state agencies have had the technological capability to access content for years.

When traffic data including internet usage is combined with other data held by the state or gathered from non-state sources (tax, employment, bank details, credit card usage, biometrics, criminal record, health record, use of e-government services, travel history etc) a frightening detailed picture of each individual’s everyday life and habits can be accessed at the click of a button.

The harnessing of the “digital tsunami” by public security organisations, as set out in the Portuguese Council Presidency’s paper, means that behaviour will be predicted and assessed by “machines” on the basis of which directions are given to state officials on the spot.

To this must be added the fact that state agencies can access any home or work computer and look at its contents – and, if they can look at its content they could add or alter it too. It was a proposal by the German government in June 2008 which confirmed the ability of the agencies to do this, by seeking the power to authorise online computer searches in private homes through: “remote searches of computer hard drives”.

Taking all these extensive powers of surveillance together it is not too hard to see, for example, why lawyers, journalists and civil society groups might be concerned. The monitoring of a lawyer’s communications and correspondence could reveal the defence’s case and counter-evidence gathered – especially in cases which are politically sensitive. A journalist’s contacts and communications could be watched in order to pre-empt a story or to prepare a plausible denial in advance. While a group organising a protest could find its preparatory work undermined and disrupted and its organisers targeted for detention or arrest – with their demonstrations surveilled by spying “drones”.

“Ordinary” people who “have nothing to hide” are under the illusion that this sweeping surveillance system has nothing to do with them – which is why they will never realise they did not get a job interview because the employer had accessed to a criminal record based on a “spent” conviction or why their application for an insurance policy failed because the company had access to their health record. The European Data Protection Supervisor put it politely when he said of the police and, by implication, all state agencies:

“It is not sufficient to start from the assumption that the police under all circumstances and in all cases operate within the legal limits of their legal obligations”.

There is an assumption, on this and wider issues in the EU, is that “if it is technologically possible why should it not be introduced?” This brings to mind the discussion in the EU over the age at which children should be subjected to finger-printed for passports, visas or ID cards. The discussion in the working parties of the Council of the European Union (the governments) have been based not on moral questions but rather at what age is it technologically possible to collect accurate fingerprints – most want this to be from six years old and upwards, some even want to collect them at birth

At the heart of this issue is the “ownership” of personal data. Is it our personal data, which we “own” and which we may consent to be used for a specific, stated purpose? Or is it “owned” by the collector and holder of the data (internet service provider, airline, bank or credit card companies or state agencies)? For example, the European Parliament is currently discussing a proposal from the Commission on users’ rights relating to electronic communications networks. The European Data Protection Supervisor has raised the question of whether Internet Protocol addresses (“IP”) are personal data, as the Data Protection Directive and the Privacy Directive apply whenever personal data are processed, but:

“If IP addresses are not deemed personal data, they can be collected and further processed without the need to fulfil any legal obligation arising from the two above mentioned Directives. For example, such an outcome would enable a search engine to store for an indefinite period, IP addresses assigned to accounts from which, for example, materials related to specific health conditions (eg: AIDS) have been searched.”

It will be remembered that under the EU Directive on mandatory data retention all ISPs are obliged, from 2009, to store records of all internet usage by everyone in Europe. What if searches for “specific health conditions” are captured and stored by ISPs then accessed by state agencies and further processed by them – who “owns” this data, the individual or the state?

The security-industrial nexus

In the immediate aftermath of 11 September 2001 the EU, and national governments, adopted measures said to be necessary as “exceptional” because of the “war on terrorism” and that they were not permanent but time limited. Seven years on the “exceptional” has become the norm.

What is much clearer now is that 11 September 2001 was used to accelerate a process already underway. Globalisation and its “technological revolution” – nurtured by Western states and developed by multinationals – was ready to break out of the constraints imposed by liberal democratic values. Notions of privacy and data protection espoused as basic values stood in the way of progress. The welfare state, where a benevolent state protected and cared for the people, has been replaced by the market state requiring the social control of market forces, unhindered by rights and regulations. In place of theoretically serving the people, the state now serves the interests of international capital.

Moreover, the “war on terrorism” presented a massive opportunity not just to use its monopoly of information technology but to apply it to new, highly lucrative, areas: The surveillance of travel and communications, new systems for data-sharing, data-mining, interpreting behaviour, the collection of biometrics and readers to check them. The construction of EU-US standards to record, check and hold people’s travel records is intended to set standards which will be laundered to set global standards too – and new markets for the West’s multinationals to pursue and profit from.

EU-USA

Internationally, the prospects are little better. It is often forgotten that 21 of the 27 member states of the EU are also in NATO, which is why the majority are supplying “peace-making” or “peace-keeping” troops in Afghanistan.

Through NATO and other fora the influence of the USA on the EU has grown enormously since 2001. The most significant, largely unseen, influence has been through the numerous high-level meetings between the EU and the USA on justice and home affairs issues. All the evidence shows that this is an unequal relationship with nearly all the demands coming from the US side.

Top EU officials are fond of saving the EU and the USA share “common values”, but do we? What they mean is that the political elites (governments and officials) share the same values.

Now the Future group is proposing that the EU finally “make up its mind” (ie: it has already been discussed) by 2014 on the creation of a: “Euro-Atlantic area of cooperation with the USA in the field of Freedom, Security and Justice”.

This goes way beyond the existing mechanisms for cooperation. Since 2001 six agreements have been reached with the USA – all of them controversial. High-level officials have been meeting regularly though these meetings concern specific issues not every aspect of justice and home affairs.

The Future group’s “area of cooperation” would cover all aspects of justice and home affairs: policing and terrorism, immigration, asylum and border controls, laws and rights of suspects, databases and data-sharing, privacy and data protection. The USA would be sitting at the table with a very powerful voice with its demands and influence hidden from public view.

The politics of EU values

One of the myths that the EU seeks to perpetuate is the idea that it is based on “common values”. Amongst these are “freedom”, “justice”, “fundamental rights” and in this context “privacy” (and data protection). In practice these values have changing meanings according to the general political climate. For example, the “values” of the EU are not the same as they were in 2000 when Austria’s membership of the EU was suspended under the

Treaty because of the inclusion in its government of a fascist and racist party. If the EU still had the same “values” then the membership of the Italian government could have been suspended this summer over its policies of targeting, detaining and deporting on Roma with overt racist statements.

In reality we have an EU in which national governments predominantly come from the centre-right and far-right, 21 out of 27 governments. This, in turn, means that the 106 Official EU documents recording EU-US meetings are censored so that all the views expressed by the US are deleted:  discussions in the Council of the European Union and all its working parties are dominated by representatives (officers and officials) from the very same centre-right and far-right perspectives.

The European Summit (dominated by the centre and far-right) will lay down the new justice and home affairs programme and the Council of the European Union through the Justice and Home Affairs Council (dominated by the centre and far-right) will, as it always does, have the final say on the content of each and every measure.

In the European Parliament the centre-right and its far-right allies can put together the largest parliamentary block which can only be defeated if all the other groups (PSE, socialist, ALDE, Liberal, Green and GUE, united left) vote together – which happens occasionally. With the European Parliament elections in June 2009 there is a possibility that the centre-right and far-right will have a permanent majority.

EU “values” are not “shared” or “common” but those of the ruling elite who assume they can define and propagate as a “consensus” where there is none.

 

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The gradual forging of links between “illegal” immigration and “terrorism” – in Greece as well….

Posted by clandestina on 2 May 2009

This is a Kathimerini article reproduction

clandestinenglish

In its annual report on international terrorism, the US State Department expressed concern about the “dramatic increase” in illegal immigrants entering Greece last year and suggested that the country risked becoming “a transit route for terrorists traveling to Europe and the United States.”

Starting its country report on Greece, the State Department noted that “Greece and the United States have a strong record of counterterrorism cooperation.” It also praised Greek authorities for “cooperating with US officials on information sharing as well as the training of Greek security and customs officials, and judicial personnel.”

But it expressed concern about the implications of the growing influx of immigrants streaming into Greece. “Greece is increasingly an EU entry point for illegal immigrants coming from the Middle East and South Asia, and there was concern that it could be used as a transit route for terrorists traveling to Europe and the United States,” the report said. It also noted that the number of would-be migrants entering Greece through the Aegean “increased dramatically in 2008 and about 100,000 illegal immigrants were arrested.”

The report also makes reference to disbanded terror group November 17, noting that convicted hit man Dimitris Koufodinas had issued a written statement from prison “extolling ‘direct action’ that would ‘strike blows to the capital system.’” It also mentions Revolutionary Struggle and the attacks the leftist group has claimed on a riot police bus in the Athens district of Goudi in December and on the Athens headquarters of oil company Shell in October. Rounding off, the report refers to attacks by self-styled anarchists and to the Athens riots last December, noting that “police officials pursued a more proactive approach to deterring these attacks and arrested perpetrators.”

A Foreign Ministry source in Athens said yesterday that it would examine the report and, “if it deems it necessary, will take the required action.”

Posted in Content Reproductions/ Adaptations/ Translations, Other Groups' and Organisations' Releases, Publications, Long Reports, Analyses, Reviews & Research | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

 
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