Racketeering made in the EU – preying on the most vulnerable

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SHAFAQNA – From Saudi Arabia’s blood-trailing to Western powers’ engineered outrage over Madaya to pursue one very neocons’ narrative of military interventionism with sectarian undertone in the MidEast, Europe had to add its own political devolution to the mix …

As of January 2016, Switzerland – the same Switzerland which dodged Nazism by playing the ostrich – will seize war refugees’ possessions to help pay with their upkeep, mapping its move on Denmark, another war capitalist. While officials will certainly rationalize their position by advocating financial hardship, limited resources, and the stress new populations carry on their own nationals, such a policy betrays unpalatable exploitation.

Legalizing racketeering does not make less unsavoury and amoral, it only dresses it in a veneer of respectability and legality – how far down the rabbit hole has Europe falling into to even fathom implementing such inhumane policies? Ethnocentrism and latent Islamophobia aside, officials are actually selling their public a form of slavery – the exploitation of those most vulnerable on account their destitution made them easy target.

How are governments less despicable than actual human traffickers? Why isn’t the public up in arms over such a loathsome attempt to further stigmatize war refugees, after the suffering and horrors they were made to endure under the terrible rule of Daesh aka ISIL is beyond me?

Wasn’t it enough that most refugees had to lose everything to war and human traffickers? Did Western governments need to further humiliate and dehumanize their plight by reducing them cattle to be ferried, managed and handled? – all for a profit of course, nothing is for free those days, not even human decency!

The head of Europol reported this week that human smugglers made a record profit of between $3bn and $6bn in 2015. It would appear western governments are determined to cut a slice of that cake to make up for the trouble of accommodating misery.

Bearing in mind that much of today’s refugee crisis is actually a result of Western military interventionism in the Middle East and their patronage of “moderate” radicals in Syria, I think the word hypocritical and criminally cynical come to mind.

A report by the Independent read as follow: “The business of human smuggling is now in the “Champions League” of criminal enterprises in Europe, Rob Wainwright said, close to rivalling the trade in illicit drugs. New research by the EU’s law enforcement body based on debriefings with 1,500 asylum-seekers, refugees and economic migrants showed that 90 per cent had paid a criminal gang to reach Europe.”

Now refugees will have to pay governments … what an upgrade that it is in this updated dystopian Europe.

Unashamed the Swiss authorities published an administrative statement in which they enounced: “If you have property worth more than 1,000 Swiss francs when you arrive at a reception center you are required to give up these financial assets in return for a receipt.”

While Bern has withdrawn behind a dignified silence among  its mountains rights groups have strongly condemned the new legislation.  Stefan Frey from refugee aid group Schweizerische Fluechtlingshilfe called the move “undignified, before noting that the practice “has to change.”

The state migration service SEM justified the move to the Swiss broadcaster SRF, saying the new law will make sure that asylum seekers and refugees will contribute to their upkeep, where possible. Here is how and SEM spokesperson rationalized theft and abuse:”If someone leaves voluntarily within seven months this person can get the money back and take it with them. Otherwise the money covers costs they generate.”

Switzerland is not alone here, Denmark was actually the one European country  to set the tone for this new let’s-abuse-war-refugees song and dance. Last week, Danish lawmakers passed a bill that would allow the authorities to seize cash and jewelry belonging to refugees, in return for living in asylum centers. “We want to limit the inflow,” Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen, whose right-wing Venstre party is behind the plan.

Proposed in late 2015, the bill provisions for the  Danish authorities to strip war refugees from their possessions. But do not despair the refugee-stripping bill has been amended to exempt engagement rings, family portraits, and badges of honor. Well that’s nice, thank you Denmark for the human touch!

When even the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) could not stomach Denmark’s new legislation on account it would only further enflame xenophobia across not just Europe, but the world, you know that Rubicon has been crossed. After the UNHCR is the same agency which stood by in silence while Saudi Arabia systematically rained death on IDPs and civilian populations in Yemen after it organized a humanitarian blockade.

“The proposals presented by the government are evidently aimed at conveying a message to make it ‘less attractive’ to seek asylum in Denmark, and is a deeply concerning response to humanitarian needs. The signal Denmark’s introduction of restrictions sends to other countries in the world […] is worrisome and could fuel fear, xenophobia and similar restrictions that would reduce – rather than expand – the asylum space globally and put refugees in need at life-threatening risks,” read a statement from the  UN refugee agency.”

The problem goes beyond a simple desire to manage one’s border – it has to do with an ethnocentric belief that Europeans, ie the White race is far more superior to all others to even bother offering a helping hand for free. I would even postulate that it is a twisted formed of reverse colonialism, whereby certain segments of the population will be forced into a state of semi-slavery due to their refugee status.

While I understand that governments have to contend with limited resources, funding wars never proved a problem. What about we fund social cohesion for a change and trust that people will ultimately be more profitable to an economy if treated with dignity.

Refugees are not lychees – they are people who suffered a terrible tragedy. Do you blame cancer patients for looking frail? Do you blame the victims of an earthquake for building their homes on tectonic plates? I would assume not!

Refugees are people! They laugh, they cry and like you and me they have rights.

By Catherine Shakdam – This article appeared first in the American Herald Tribune

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