Europe is good at hiding its very big dirty secrets. German news magazine Der Spiegel revealed the inhuman treatment of refugees at European borders by publishing a report on Frontex by the European anti-fraud office OLAF. And that’s not all: The Guardian reports that 92 naked refugees were rescued at the Greek-Turkish border.
Writes Der Spiegel: “The OLAF report led to [former Frontex head Fabrice] Leggeri’s resignation in spring 2022. But what the investigators have uncovered goes far beyond questions of individual liability. Even though it wasn’t the main focus of the investigation, the report relentlessly exposes how Greek border guards in the Aegean Sea abandon refugees at sea on inflatable life rafts to prevent them from exercising their right to apply for asylum.”
Tens of thousands of refugees attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea have perished. The silence resembles the mass killings of Jews, Roma, and other state enemies in concentration camps. Even in my country of birth, Argentina, people elected not to see the abduction, torture, and murder of people by the military dictatorship.
We saw in November the terrible treatment of Middle East refugees on the Belarus-Polish and Lithuanian border, where people and children died of hyperthermia.
Instead of raising our awareness and sensitivity to the cruel, inhumane treatment of others, the EU and politicians in Finland became ever-hardened. For some politicians, the Belarus case was an opportunity to tighten further asylum rights.
Nothing is reassuring that the same inhumane treatment that refugees are facing in the Mediterranean Sea or the Greek-Turkish border won’t happen on our footsteps.
In the last EU elections of 2019, a total of 85 (36.3%) of 234 MEP candidates in Alma Media’s election compass answered that they either “strongly disagree,” “disagree,” or are “neutral” that the EU save migrants who attempt to come to Europe and who are at risk of drowning in the Mediterranean?”
It means, in plain English, that those refugees crossing the Mediterranean can drown since the EU has no obligation to save them.
Shameful and an example of political cowardice.
Finland’s parliament passed in summer the border guard act that severely restricts the human rights of refugees to seek asylum. European Union Institute professor of international law and human rights Martin Scheinin said the new law would send Finland back thirty years.
The ever-difficult situation of refugees and politicians’ hostility towards respecting fundamental human rights and the rule of law force us to increase our vigilance and activism.
*Thank you, Ambrosius Wollsten, @ambrowoll, for the heads-up.
Recommended reading by Wollsten: State Crime Special Issue on Migration and Racist State Violence and Sea-Watch project: An app for the right to asylum.