Volunteers in Greece knew they had to help refugees
I just returned from a Glasgow Campaign to Welcome Refugees solidarity delegation to Greece.
I read about how we helped at a “reception centre” on the island of Lesvos (Socialist Worker, 26 September). The reality was a rickety table under a tree, giving out basic supplies and directions. But what it does is vital.
It seems chaotic, but it’s a brilliant solidarity effort, bringing together volunteers from all over Europe who jump in to help refugees who only have their head above water.
Eric and his family, who set this up, hadn’t been activists. But when they saw refugee boats coming ashore just by where they live they knew they had to help.
And their operation has grown as more and more dinghies arrive. When we were there they were helped by volunteer doctors and midwives.
Efi, another activist we met, used the money we raised to help pay for the funerals of refugees who drowned on the crossing.
She is also arranging a meeting of local activists to put an alternative voice to the island’s tourist trade, which is hostile to the migrants. They want to demand that the Greek government and the European Union provides safe passage for refugees and proper shelter. They hope to call a pro-refugee demonstration.
In Athens we talked with Petros Constantinou from the anti-racist Keerfa organisation. It is one of several groups helping refugees there. Keerfa is using money to help with housing people. Others are helping with schooling and unaccompanied children.
All are worried that the weather is getting worse. The refugees are now so desperate that they may continue trying to cross the Mediterranean through the stormy autumn.
All the groups need more money. People helping refugees need to coordinate what they are doing—between Lesvos and Calais for instance so the appropriate things get to the right places.
Margaret Woods, Glasgow Campaign to Welcome Refugees
Remember the Broadwater Farm riot
Exactly 30 years ago this week was the Broadwater Farm riot in Tottenham, north London. It followed the death of Cynthia Jarrett during a police raid.
Tottenham is known for its riots. Most recently a riot followed the death of Mark Duggan, again at the hands of the police.
Broadwater Farm didn’t happen in isolation. It came a week after the shooting of Cherry Groce had sparked a riot in Brixton, south London. This was the year of the Miners’ Strike. People had the confidence to have a go.
It’s hard to imagine an MP now quoting rioters as Bernie Grant did saying police got a “bloody good hiding”.
The fightback was effective but the police never forgave it.
The police occupied the estate and kicked in perhaps a third of the doors and arrested 400 people.
They were determined to get someone put away for the death of PC Blakelock during the riot. There were no eyewitnesses and no forensic evidence.
Six innocent people were arrested, and three convicted. It was 2003 before Winston Silcott was let out.
The rising forced the police to look into racism. It made the authorities look into the lack of prospects for working class people and black people in particular.
It was a vindication of the need to fight back.
But rioting is not a good way to achieve long term change. It’s part of a wider struggle that involves the working class who have real power.
Gary McFarlane, North London
No return to danger of backstreet abortions
About 5,000 “pro-life” Christian fundamentalists joined an annual national march in Berlin last week.
They want the complete criminalisation of abortion. They want to “secure the survival of the German people”. They rave against “gender dilution” and talk of a “babycaust”.
A counter demonstration of 2,000 blockaded them and halted their march for about two hours.
But on the same day 3,500 anti-abortionists marched in Zurich, Switzerland, almost unchallenged.
If they win it will send women seeking an abortion into the backstreets, threatening their lives.
An 11 year old girl who has been raped would be forced to carry a child to term as recently happened in Paraguay.
We have to fight them.
Rosemarie Nuenning, Marx21, Berlin
Barbarism of Aids drug profiteer
US Company Turing Pharmaceuticals has raised the price of Aids drug Daraprim by more than 5,000 percent.
It acquired the rights to the drug in August and raised the price of a dose from just under £9 to almost £500.
Company boss, Martin Shkreli, justified this outrageous profiteering by saying the company is now “charging the right price that the markets and prior owners missed”.
He was more honest on Twitter, messaging that given the media had “pointed a finger” at him, he had pointed “one back at em, (sic) but not the index or pinkie”. The ruthless and rapacious Shkreli is following the venal logic of capitalism—that nothing is more important than maximising profits.
This is what Rosa Luxemburg meant when she said our choice is “socialism or barbarism”.
Isn’t it time we changed things so that abominations perpetrated by the grasping vermin like Shkreli can’t happen?
Isn’t it time for socialism?
Sasha Simic, North London
Corbyn has to compromise
I have no problem with Jeremy Corbyn compromising on issues. I think most people know he is going to have to give way on some things.
I still want him as leader and feel safe with him at the helm.
Brenda Poole, on Facebook
Your article saying we must leave the European Union (Socialist Worker, 16 June), didn’t seem to mention that it is run by an unelected dictatorship.
I don’t think we need any other reason to get out.
Plus they have effectively outlawed socialist principles, for example by making it illegal for us to renationalise the railways.
Paul, by email
Wrong on how many homes
Your article Should We Limit How Many Migrants are Allowed In? (Socialist Worker, 8 September) makes a serious error.
It is not “tens of thousands” to house in “600,000 empty homes”. A 2012 Gallup survey projected 45 million people would want to come. That is 75 migrants per empty home.
This does not justify keeping immigrants out, but does require that housing is allocated on the basis of need.
Timothy Baldwin, Selby
Experience of immigration
Based on past experience, most countries were filled by immigrants and imperialists and colonialists.
Refugees are only immigrants and using Islamophobic excuses to prohibit them is just plain stupid.
Vira Amalia, Indonesia
Is it really a strange act?
Did David Cameron have sex with a pig? That’s natural. Same species!
Alan Creswell-Laing, on Facebook