By Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2718

Racist ‘illegal’ pushbacks put migrants’ lives at risk

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Issue 2718
The EUs Fortress Europe turns away refugees
The EU’s Fortress Europe turns away refugees (Pic: Irish Defence Force)

At least 1,072 refugees have been left to die at sea by the Greek coastguard since March this year.

The Greece government follows the same racist logic as Boris Johnson. Greek authorities crammed refugees from detention centres into overcrowded life rafts, and left them at the edge of the country’s territorial waters.

These murderous manoeuvres took place on at least 31 different occasions, according to analysis by the New York Times (NYT) newspaper.

One Syrian refugee Najma al-Khatib, said she was taken from a detention centre on the island of Rhodes.

Najma told the NYT that she and 22 others, including babies, were left on a “rudderless, motorless life raft”. “I left Syria for fear of bombing—but when this happened, I wished I’d died under a bomb,” she said.

The group was eventually rescued by the Turkish coastguard. Francois Crepeau is a former United Nations special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants.

He said the Greek authorities’ policy was a “human rights and humanitarian disaster”.

“These pushbacks are totally illegal in all their aspects, in international law and in European law,” he said.

But this is what the Tories would like to do to refugees coming from France to Britain.


The European Union’s border regime, known as Fortress Europe, has turned the Mediterranean Sea into a mass grave. Those refugees who make it to Europe face racism, detention centres and squalid living conditions.

Frontex—Fortress Europe’s racist border force
Frontex—Fortress Europe’s racist border force
  Read More

Around 600 refugees live in makeshift camps across northern France and Belgium. The Tory government plans to make life deadlier for refugees who try to cross the English Channel.

Johnson said that the Tories would “look at the legal framework” to make it easier to deport people. He complained, “When people do get here, it is very, very difficult to send them away again, even though blatantly they’ve come here illegally.”

This is based on racist lies about “illegal migrants”, the language used to dehumanise people.

Anne McLaughlin, co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Refugees, said it’s “not illegal for people to cross the Channel” and claim asylum.

A letter signed by 25 Tory MPs and Lords called for tougher action against refugees. They claimed, “It is strikingly clear that, rather than a ‘hostile environment’, invading migrants have been welcomed.”

Tory MP John Hayes claimed that the number of crossings from France had reached “really extraordinary numbers”.

France and Germany take more than twice as many asylum seekers as Britain.

The refugees trapped in northern France have fled war and dictatorships, that have often been supported by the West. The only solution is to open the border and let them in safely.

Black Lives Matter in Brighton and Bristol

Around 1,500 people took to the streets of Brighton to demand Black Lives Matter (BLM) last Saturday.

Speakers included Michael Abatan, brother of Jay Abatan who died after a racist attack in the city in 1999. Sussex police were criticised over the investigations and no one has been convicted.

On the same day hundreds of people joined a BLM march in Bristol. It was the first BLM protest in the city since protesters tore down the statue of slaver Edward Colston in June.

Chants of, “Black Lives Matter” and, “Silence is violence” rang out. Meanwhile, around 180 people marched against racism in the small town of Bonnyrigg, near Edinburgh.


Violence has already forced Debora Kayembe, a refugee from the Congo and prominent civil rights campaigner, to move house.

Debora said, “One night, a mob of ten teenagers stood outside our home and chanted, ‘Go home! Go home!’ “My daughter was once called ‘ebola soup’ and my son’s class chanted ‘n****r’ in his face.”

Protesters heard speeches from politicians, Stand Up To Racism, Black Lives Matter and community activists, and a pastor.

None were as powerful as the words of Debora’s 15 year old daughter and Debora herself. The case is receiving a lot of attention in the media.

But the fact that nothing has been done, despite numerous reports to the police of racial abuse, shows the need to keep fighting.

Thanks to Donny Gluckstein

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