• Posts 526
  • Pages 4
  • Categories 45
  • Comments 134
  • Words in Posts 665,397
  • Words in Pages 12,901
  • Words in Comments 12,619

Newsletter (in English)

Fortress Europe

Other Languages:

| Categories: Super-Paper

Gran Canaria, Spain: The bodies of three unidentified Africans wash ashore on 28 April. They were among 82 crammed on to a boat desparetly trying to gain entry to Spain. Conservative estimates suggest that at least 500 have died making the perilous journey since 2005 in the hope of finding a job and sending funds to family in their home country.

Glasgow, Scotland: Uddhav Bhandari, a father of two and an asylum seeker from Nepal, doused himself in petrol then set himself alight in mid-March because he was facing a second legal hearing, which he feared would lead to his forcibly returned to Nepal where his life was at risk. Uddhav Bhandari died of his injures on 19 March.

Paris, France: A grandfather of Chinese origin, a sans-papier in France, arrives to collect a grandchild from a primary school in the 19th arrondissement on an early spring day. Outside the school gates police demand to see his identification before forcing him to the ground in broad daylight. Despite graphic footage of the attack appearing on television, the new, right-wing president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, applauds the police actions.

These incidents over the space of a few weeks illustrate the brutal reality of life for refugees and migrants across the whole of “Fortress Europe”. A complex arsenal of immigration controls across the EU mean that people fleeing civil wars, state or religious persecution in the “Global South” must risk their lives to seek refuge. Those who survive face the prospect of detention without charge in immigration removal centres and life on the streets as they are denied both the right to work and access to most state benefits.

Meanwhile, those who come seeking work find themselves “super-exploited” in a twilight zone without the most basic of legal protections in the workplace. On the one hand they find themselves at the mercy of gangmasters, who provide cheap labour for agriculture, hotels, catering and sweatshop manufacturing; on the other, there is constant anxiety about immigration raids.

Politicians across the spectrum declare that tough immigration controls are needed to curb the appeal of the fascist right, but they only give legitimacy to claims that migrants are to blame for unemployment and neo-liberal vandalism to health, housing and welfare provision.

Refugee and migrant workers are themselves fighting back. On 19 April hundreds of Iraqi Kurds and their supporters demonstrated outside a Swedish immigration office to protest against the government’s threat to deport 400 or more refugees back to northern Iraq. In Britain migrant workers have staged dramatic protests against low pay at the HQs of big banks and finance houses.

Such protests need and demand the active support of the existing trade unions – in fact, migrant workers are vital to the future of a battered labour movement. In a world where vast sums of capital can move around the globe at the click of a computer mouse, the labour and anti-capitalist movements must fight to win the free movement of workers across national borders with full citizenship rights.

by George from London,

Leave a Reply