DAY 260: Decline and fall

November 16th, 2018 § 0 comments

I was thinking these times were unprecedented, what with all this Brexit stuff and other things which I don’t begin to understand; and then I remember (not that I was there) the departure of the Romans from this island in the fifth century, which must have aroused some of the same emotions. With those who were attached to the old empire  and fought to keep the legions, the vino, the bread and circuses none side, against those who hoped for a new start with Hengist and Horsa and such migrants on the other. I hesitate to draw a moral. It is, though, exciting to be living through such times when a drama, half tragedy and half farce (as they usually are) is being played out – with half the Cabinet resigning, and an increasing lingering doubt over whether our poor country can be governed at all – and if it can, who will be governing it by the end of this week How many people really support the pseudo-solution we’ve been offered? The Government, as weight expect, is quick to offer pseudo-statistics:

‘Prisons Minister Rory Stewart found himself performing what may be one of the fastest U-turns in British politics after using a fabricated statistic about public backing for the Prime Minister’s Brexit plan. Mr Stewart, 45, a Theresa May loyalist, was pulled up by BBC Radio 5’s Emma Barnett when he claimed in an interview on Thursday morning that “80% of the British public support this deal”. Asked to back up this claim, he first asked for a chance to “get the language right”, before saying he had been “producing a number to try to illustrate what I believe” because “the people who are rejecting this are 10% on either fringe”.’

. Like C.P.Cavafy, we feel that we need the barbarians, 8267-lec8-1536x865and we don’t have them:

Why this sudden bewilderment, this confusion?
(How serious people’s faces have become.)
Why are the streets and squares emptying so rapidly,
everyone going home lost in thought?
      Because night has fallen and the barbarians haven’t come.
      And some of our men just in from the border say
      there are no barbarians any longer.
 Now what’s going to happen to us without barbarians?
Those people were a kind of solution.

I strongly recommend Prof. Maiani’s article on, describing the recent evolution of European border control at land and on the sea, its growing illegality and inhumanity. To give an extract:

‘France has been pushing back migrants crossing from Ventimiglia,Ventimiglia Italy for years. This practice is illegal. At present, France is only authorized under EU law to carry out terrorism-related checks on what should be an open border. Furthermore, systematic pushbacks of this kind constitute collective expulsions prohibited by the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Lastly, they contravene due process guarantees established by the EU Asylum Procedures Directive and Dublin Regulation, namely the right to make an application for protection, the right to have the responsible EU MS determined through the application of the criteria laid down in the Dublin Regulation, including those based on family ties and on humanitarian considerations, the right to a personal interview and to a reasoned decision; the right to an effective remedy having suspensive effect against a transfer decision.

Uncontested for years, the French push-back practice is now becoming a model for other European countries. With local elections in view, the German minister of Interior has threatened to follow France’s lead and push back asylum seekers at the border with Austria. The Austrian Chancellor promptly followed suit, announcing border closures with Italy and Croatia while advocating, with an exceptionally bad choice of words, for an “axis of the willing” between Germany, Austria, and Italy against illegal migration. Meanwhile, in Italy, the new government decided to flex its muscles and close its ports to boats carrying migrants rescued in the Mediterranean.

In short: minimum consensus for reforming the CEAS seems lacking, unilateral measures threaten the integrity of the CEAS itself and of the Schengen travel area, and a humanitarian crisis is unfolding in the Mediterranean due to uncertainty and conflict around points of disembarkation.

It fell to the European Council to find political ways forward for a European solution to the unfolding crisis. The conclusions eventually adopted at the meeting of 28 June 2018 placed CEAS reform on the back burner and shifted focus to new measures designed to “prevent a return to the uncontrolled flows of 2015 and to further stem illegal migration on all existing and emerging routes.”’

Where will we go with the post-Brexit border, if we ever see it; and will it indeed contain the border

irishborderbetween Ulster and the Irish Republic? Are the Irish to become barbarians again? We are holding our breath.

Bosnia, Croatia, and the newest violent border drawn by the EU.

Refugees stranded in Bosnia allege Croatian police brutality
This year, more than 13,000 refugees and migrants have so far arrived in Bosnia, compared with only 755 in 2017 [Mersiha Gadzo/Al Jazeera]
  • In 2017, 755 refugees and migrants arrived in Bosnia
  • In 2018 so far, that number has exploded to 13,000
  • Many complain of verbal and physical abuse by Croatian police, including theft
  • Croatian police deny allegations
  • UNHCR has received reports of at least 700 people alleging violence or theft

Velika Kladusa, Bosnia and Herzegovina – Brutally beaten, mobile phones destroyed, strip-searched and money stolen.

These are some of the experiences refugees and migrants stranded in western Bosnia report as they describe encounters with Croatian police.

The abuse, they say, takes place during attempts to pass through Croatia, an EU member, with most headed for Germany.

Bosnia has emerged as a new route to Western Europe, since the EU tightened its borders. This year, more than 13,000 refugees and migrants have so far arrived in the country, compared with only 755 in 2017.

In Velika Kladusa, Bosnia‘s most western town beside the Croatian border, hundreds have been living in makeshift tents on a field next to a dog kennel for the past four months.

When night falls, “the game” begins, a term used by refugees and migrants for the challenging journey to the EU through Croatia and Slovenia that involves treks through forests and crossing rivers.

However, many are caught in Slovenia or Croatia and are forced to return to Bosnia by Croatian police, who heavily patrol its EU borders.

Then, they have to start the mission all over again.

Some told Al Jazeera that they have attempted to cross as many as 20 times.

The use of violence is clearly not acceptable. It is possible to control borders in a strict matter without violence.PETER VAN DER AUWERAERT, WESTERN BALKANS COORDINATOR FOR THE INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR MIGRATION

All 17 refugees and migrants interviewed by Al Jazeera said that they have been beaten by Croatian police – some with police batons, others punched or kicked.

According to their testimonies, Croatian police have stolen valuables and money, cut passports, and destroyed mobile phones, hindering their communication and navigation towards the EU.

“Why are they treating us like this?” many asked as they narrated their ordeals.

Karim Abdmeziane, a 34-year-old Algerian, said Croatian police beat him with a baton, kicked him and punched him in the head [Courtesy: Karim Abdmeziane]


“They have no mercy,” said 26-year-old Mohammad from Raqqa, Syria, who said he was beaten all over his body with batons on the two occasions he crossed into the EU. Police also took his money and phone, he said.

“They treat babies and women the same. An officer pressed his boot against a woman’s head [as she was lying on the ground],” Mohammad said. “Dogs are treated better than us … why are they beating us like this? We don’t want to stay in Croatia; we want to go to Europe.”

Mohammad Abdullah, a 22-year-old Algerian, told Al Jazeera that officers laughed at a group of migrants as they took turns beating them.

“One of them would tell the other, ‘You don’t know how to hit’ and would switch his place and continue beating us. Then, another officer would say, ‘No, you don’t know how to hit’ and would take his place.

“While [one of them] was beating me, he kissed me and started laughing. They would keep taking turns beating us like this, laughing,” Abdullah said.

Another refugee shows a large bruise, sustained after an alleged police beating, that has been healing for weeks [Mersiha Gadzo/Al Jazeera]



Muhammad Burada, 16, from Morocco says Croatian police broke four of his mobile phones and beat him with a baton. ‘Everyone here has been beaten. Each officer is like a monster,’ he says [Mersiha Gadzo/Al Jazeera]


A refugee shows his bloodied legs after an alleged police beating [Mersiha Gadzo/Al Jazeera]


A family leaves the Velika Kladusa camp in the late afternoon in another attempt at reaching the EU [Mersiha Gadzo/Al Jazeera]


Shams’ and Hassan’s house, shown in a photo on a mobile phone, that was destroyed in Deir Az Zor [Mersiha Gadzo/Al Jazeera]
A refugee shows his chest injury after being allegedly beaten by Croatian police [Mersiha Gadzo/Al Jazeera]

No Name Kitchen, a volunteer organisation that provides assistance to refugees and migrants on the Balkan route, has been documenting serious injuries on Instagram.

In one post, the group alleges that Croatian police twice crushed a refugee’s orthopaedic leg.

Peter Van der Auweraert, the Western Balkans coordinator for the International Organization for Migration, says he has heard stories of police brutality, but called for an independent investigation to judge how alleged victims sustained injuries.

“Given the fact that there are so many of these stories, I think it’s in everyone’s interest to have an independent inquiry to see what is going on, on the other side of the border,” Van der Auweraert said.

Here’s a from South Sudanese refugees

“The use of violence is clearly not acceptable. It’s not acceptable under European human rights law, it’s not acceptable under international human rights law and it is to my mind also, not necessary. It is possible to control borders in a strict matter without violence.”

A Muslim man prays before attempting to leave the camp for Croatia [Mersiha Gadzo/Al Jazeera]

Hers’s a song by some South Sudanese refugees


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