Jason Stanley writing in the Boston review:
On July 24, 1939, a few months before my father turned seven, he boarded a plane at Berlin’s Tempelhof Airport. After arriving in Southampton, England, he and his mother, Ilse Stanley, joined many others on the New York City–bound SS Deutschland. As I write this I look at a picture of him sitting at dinner with his mother on that ship. He is smiling but also shrinking into his chair. He had been in hiding since November 8, 1938, Kristallnacht, when he witnessed the burning of the synagogue where his grandfather, Magnus Davidsohn, had been the chief cantor for twenty-seven years.
Davidson had been close with the parents of Ernst vom Rath, the German diplomat who was assassinated in Paris by a Jewish man furious about the treatment of the Jewish people in Germany. On the evening of Kristallnacht, my great-grandfather and his wife visited with their friends, who assured them that they did not blame the Jews for their son’s murder.
Despite the good intentions of my great-grandparents’ friends, though, what Joseph Goebbels called the “righteous indignation” of the German people led to an orgy of violence directed at the synagogues of Germany. After that point, Jews were no longer safe on the streets of Berlin. The Nazis used the pretext of vom Rath’s death to permanently exclude the Jewish people from the German people. From then on, “us” did not include us. After Kristallnacht, we had been removed permanently from public view, thereby masking our fate from our fellow Germans.
Kristallnacht is often represented as a radical break with what came before. In fact it was not. Since 1936 many thousands of Jewish citizens of Germany had been taken to secret prisons, such as Sachsenhausen, under the pretext of treason against the German people. As my grandmother, Ilse, recounts in her 1957 memoir The Unforgotten, few even in the Jewish community realized what was really occurring. The open anti-Semitic provocations became ever more intense during these periods, with the clear intention of goading some German citizen of Jewish faith to act out in despair and violence. Vom Rath’s murder became that excuse for violent reprisal, an incident that would be used to permanently remove Germans of Jewish faith from public spaces and ultimately to exile or death.
Read the rest of the piece here.
New Home Office rules mean that from Monday 26th January, asylum seekers whose cases have been turned down will need to travel to Liverpool to submit fresh evidence in support of their claim – no matter where they are in the country. As asylum seekers are some of the poorest people in the UK – many are destitute – this will, in many cases, put justice out of their reach. It’s worth noting that a sizeable number of cases that are initially turned down go through on appeal. (I will try to find figures later.)
An Early Day Motion has been tabled Julian Huppert. If you feel so inclined, you could write and ask your MP to sign it.
Women for Refugee Women have published a depressing report on conditions in Yarl’s Wood Detention Centre, which houses immigrants who are either waiting to have their claims assessed, or – more often – waiting to be removed after their claims have been unsuccessful. It’s not clear that detaining people as if they were criminals is an appropriate course of action. The government has repeatedly come under fire from refugee organisations for detaining people who are survivors of sexual abuse, pregnant women, and children (to name just three groups). But even setting that issue aside, it is abundantly clear that detained people should be treated with dignity and respect. Unfortunately – and no doubt, unsurprisingly, given what we know about human nature, power and corruption – that isn’t happening. According to the report, women detainees have been racially abused. There are some reports of sexual assault. The women are also repeatedly humiliated by male guards who watch them in intimate situations such as showering, being on the toilet, dressing, and so on. If you think this is unacceptable, you might write to your MP about it. Or drop a line to the Minister for Secuirty and Immigration, who is currently James Brokenshire.
The UK government has cut the annual legal aid budget by £320m, and plans to continue cutting it by £220m each year until 2018.
As anyone with two brain cells to rub together will realise, the cuts have affected the most vulnerable members of our society, who can not afford to pay for professional legal representation, and end up having to represent themselves in court, opposite trained barristers.
But what does this mean in concrete terms for the individuals who are affected?
Here’s one story.
Noela Claye is a rape survivor from Sierra Leone. The legal aid cuts made her experience of going to court much more traumatic. She had been denied expert legal representation and psychiatric evidence which would have recorded and corroborated her experiences, so she was forced to go through the details of the rape in front of the judge. She faced vigorous and at times cruel cross-examination and broke down frequently… Ms Claye won her case, but because the Home Office have appealed, she is going to have to go through it all again at another hearing and still without legal aid.
Ms Claye is being supported by Women Against Rape – a grassroots organization that provides support, legal advice and advocacy for all women and girls, and the All African Women’s Group.
There is still time to write to Theresa May to ask that she withdraw the Home Office’s appeal against Noela Claye. (The link leads to more information about Ms Claye’s case, including details about the rape.)
You can read more about cuts to legal aid and their effects here.
I can’t begin to tell you how pleased I am that Team GB has managed to get another of those pesky brown people off our shores and back to where they came from! Thank goodness for that! And thank goodness for Theresa May, the Home Secretary, who made this happen! I’m so pleased that someone in government is brave enough to stand up for their principles, no matter what the cost.* Mr. Muaza is from Nigeria (which is part of the British Empire anyway, so I can’t really see what the man is complaining about) who claims he was being bothered by a terrorist group called Boko Haram, who have already killed two members of his family. Luckily for all of us in good ol’ Blighty, our asylum procedures include the wonderful ‘fast-track system’ which means we can get more of these people out of our country quickly! (Although the bleeding heart liberal do-gooding Guardian-reading types are always complaining that a couple of days isn’t sufficient to gather all the necessary evidence to put forward a proper asylum case. But this is tosh, because asylum-seekers are all benefit cheats who are only here to get free dental treatment on the NHS and steal our jobs.) Mr. Muaza claims he was treated unfairly, and has been starving himself for 100 days and can no longer see or stand up. He had to be carried out to the private jet that deported him on a stretcher. Thankfully, Theresa May saw through this cynical ploy to exploit the system, and had no truck with his complaining. I’m going to write to her now to ask if she could pay for my neighbours to be removed because they look a bit too brown to be here and I certainly don’t want my taxes being spent on their teeth. Go Team GB!
* An estimated £50,000 for the private jet that was used, plus whatever money is paid to hold someone in detention for over three months, and the legal fees required to carry out the legal processes that have made Mr. Muaza’s removal possible.
MEET 12.30PM TRAFALGAR SQUARE – MARCH TO DOWNING STREET
The United Families and Friends Campaign (UFFC) is a coalition of families and friends of those that have died in the custody of police and prison officers as well as those who are killed in immigration detention and secure psychiatric hospitals. It includes the families of Roger Sylvester, Leon Patterson, Rocky Bennett, Alton Manning, Christopher Alder, Brian Douglas, Joy Gardner, Aseta Simms, Ricky Bishop, Paul Jemmott, Harry Stanley, Glenn Howard, Mikey Powell, Jason McPherson, Lloyd Butler, Azelle Rodney, Sean Rigg, Habib Ullah, Olaseni Lewis, David Emmanuel (aka Smiley Culture), Kingsley Burrell, Demetre Fraser, Mark Duggan and Anthony Grainger to name but a few. Together we have built a network for collective action to end deaths in custody.
During the late nineties the families of the most controversial deaths in police custody victims came together to form UFFC. Since then we have campaigned for justice for our loved ones and our efforts have yielded some results. The police self-investigation of deaths in custody, previously overseen by the Police Complaints Authority, was replaced by the Independent Police Complaints Commission. The Attorney General was forced to undergo a review of the role of the Crown Prosecution Service. We continue to monitor these developments. Since last year, and in particular through the case of Sean Rigg, the IPCC has been found not fit for purpose.
No reforms or reviews have ever addressed the lack of justice in outstanding cases such as Joy Gardner, Brian Douglas and Shiji Lapite, to name a few. These are human rights abuses and must be dealt with accordingly. Nothing can replace due process of law and with so much overwhelming evidence against police officers accused of murder or manslaughter, the question remains why have they not been convicted? UFFC has supported cases such as Ricky Bishop, Roger Sylvester, Mikey Powell and Harry Stanley. In recent years other high profile cases such as those of Ian Tomlinson, Jean Charles De Menezes and Sean Rigg show how the IPCC and the CPS have continued to fail us. In the last two years alone we have had the deaths of David Emanuel (aka Smiley Culture), Kingsley Burrell, Demetre Fraser, Lloyd Butler, Mark Duggan and Anthony Grainger. The deaths have not stopped and nor shall we. Our Annual Remembrance Procession will take place on 26th October 2013.
UFFC is supported by Migrant Media, Newham Monitoring Project, Pan African Society Community Forum, 4wardEver UK, Garden Court Chambers, Institute of Race Relations, INQUEST and Defend the Right to Protest.
The UUFC facebook page with more information is here.
Many countries hold migrants in internment camps whilst they await ‘processing’. It’s very usual for conditions to be poor. In some places, they’re brutal. It’s very, very common for people to be held for a long time – longer (in some cases, much longer) than the country’s official procedures state.
Greece has been rounding up its migrants recently, and holding them in terrible conditions. People are being held in rooms that are not big enough for the amount of people being held to even lie down. Men, women and children are interred. In some places, they are being held in the same facilities as convicted criminals. Some have been held for several months with no access to asylum procedures. Sanitary conditions are appalling. Hunger and disease are rife. Migrant protests have become increasingly desperate with people on hunger strike, and sewing their lips together in protest at their treatment. Protests are met with extreme brutality. Police have used tear gas in enclosed rooms, and beaten migrants with clubs, leaving them with broken bones.
You can, and should read, more from the Second Council House of Virgo.
As readers will know, Greece is suffering as a result of the global recession. History has shown us time and again that with recession comes social unrest, and repression. Well, things are currently looking pretty ugly in Greece right now.
Operation Zeus in August last year marked the start of an ugly reminder of a European past that we thought we had long buried. Nearly 60 years after the end of the Second European War, migrants were round up from the streets of Greece and shoved unceremoniously into internment camps. In May, women working in the sex industry were pulled from the streets, forcibly tested for HIV, publically humilitated and imprisoned. In March, they rounded up drug users from the streets of Athens and put them too into camps. Last month in Thessaloniki they came for transgendered people.
You can read more from Second Council House of Virgo.