Socialist Worker

European rulers plot new clampdown on refugees after Aquarius docks in Spain

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2609

The Aquarius rescue ship that rescued 629 refugees

The Aquarius rescue ship that rescued 629 refugees (Pic: Ministerio de Defensa/Flickr)


Hundreds of refugees arrived in Spain on Sunday after more than a week stranded in the Mediterranean Sea.

Italy’s racist government refused charity-run rescue ship Aquarius permission to dock last week. It meant that 629 refugees were trapped on board after their rescue off the Libyan coast—including at least 123 unaccompanied minors, 11 children and seven pregnant women.

Hundreds more are likely to suffer a similar experience.

The Italian government has said it will refuse to let in more refugees. Interior minister Matteo Salvini tweeted, “While the Aquarius ship goes toward Spain, 2 other NGO ships with Dutch flags have arrived near the Libyan coast.

“We know that Italy does not want to be complicit in the business of clandestine immigration and they will have to look for other ports to go to.”

The leader of the racist League party has previously threatened to expel half a million migrants.

Aquarius docked in the port of Valencia in south eastern Spain. Monica Oltra, left wing vice president of the Valencia regional government, said, “The Mediterranean Sea must not become a mass grave.”

European Union (EU) Fortress Europe policies have already turned it into a mass grave.

And French president Emmanuel Macron has now agreed to make it even harder for refugees to make it into Europe.

Criticism

He had initially offered some mild criticism of the Italian government’s handling of the Aquarius crisis. And French deputy prime minister Carmen Calvo said some of the 629 refugees could settle in France.

He had accused the Italian government of “cynicism and irresponsibility” because he feared it would “set a precedent” of other European countries taking in refugees. Under current EU rules, they have to seek asylum in the first European country they arrive in.

Macron met with the Italian prime minister and agreed to push for EU migrant prisons in North African countries, such as Libya. He said thatrefugees with “no possibility of obtaining asylum in Europe” should be processed in their “home countries”.

If they successfully push through this plan, it could mark the beginning of another crackdown—and more deaths.

The refugees trying to cross the Mediterranean are fleeing the West’s imperialist wars and poverty. Those who make it across alive are then met by barbed wire, tear gas and appalling living conditions.

Over 1,000 are trapped at Britain border in Calais by the Tories and Macron. The only solution is to open the border—and let the refugees in. And that means building a movement against racism that can pressure the Britain and EU rulers to do that.

Refugee week: solidarity visit to Calais organised by Stand Up To Racism and Care for Calais Go to Facebook event for details: https://www.facebook.com/events/201611507314654/

German coalition rocked

Racism against refugees pushed from the top has fuelled the rise of racists and fascists.

German chancellor Angela Merkel narrowly avoided the collapse of her Christian Democrat/Social Democrat coalition on Monday.

Merkel’s CDU rules alongside the CSU, its more right wing sister party in the state of Bavaria.

Interior minister Horst Seehofer had threatened to withdraw from this historic alliance unless Merkel sealed the border to refugees. He’s now given Merkel a two-week ultimatum to come up with an EU-wide solution.

Seehofer is hoping to outflank the AfD party—half of whose MPs are fascists—in the upcoming regional elections. He pulled out of a summit last week to meet with Austrian Tory chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who’s in coalition with the fascist Freedom Party.

Kurz called for an “axis of the willing” of Germany, Austria and Italy to secure Europe’s borders.

Merkel and the EU are not opposed to this. She has called for more security at the EU’s external borders to stop refugees.


Fury over US detentions

Donald Trump tried to dodge anger at the forced separation of undocumented migrant parents and children at the Mexican border last week.

Hundreds of children are imprisoned in metal cages inside an old warehouse in southern Texas. Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy towards undocumented migrants means adults who are caught are sent to jail (see pages 10&11).

“The Democrats forced that law upon our nation,” Trump told a White House press conference. “I hate it.

“I hate to see separation of parents and children.”

In reality, Trump is using the border crisis to push for a much more deadly immigration clampdown. “The Democrats can change the whole border security,” he continued at the conference. “We need a wall.

“We need border security.”

The Democrats and some “moderate” Republicans have hypocritically attacked Trump’s separation policy.

Former Republican first lady Laura Bush jumped in to criticise Trump as “immoral” and “cruel”.

She then added, “I live in a border state, I appreciate the need to enforce and protect our international boundaries.”

While Trump has ramped up attacks on migrants, he is building on previous administrations’ racist immigration policies.

Trump’s racism is another reason to join the Together Against Trump demonstration on 13 July when he visits Britain.


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