Mae Mallory. I #SayHerName

For all of my sisters involved in the work of organizing for justice and freedom, please, if you would, take a moment to read this as a favor to me because it’s too hard for me to hold alone this morning when I can’t stop thinking about freedom fighter, Mae Mallory, a leader of the Harlem 9, a radical Black organizer who pushed to end unfair conditions in New York’s segregated school, a woman who risked her life and freedom in supporting her friend, Robert F. Williams, leader of the North Carolina NAACP and staunch advocate for armed Black self-defense.

Ms. Mae, present when they executed Minister Malcolm, mentored a woman who would later mentor me, Yuri Kochiyama, and at dinner with my Godmother, Safiya Bandele, this week, she shared that when Ms. Mae was near death she said, “I gonna die a Black woman, fat, alone, unloved and unacknowledged.”

It wasn’t as true as she thought it was, but I know the feeling and I know women who have had this feeling, this sense, that their lives and their work will be unaccounted for, disremembered when not disparaged and dismissed. I see this happen in the work all the time and too often by people who say that they are our comrades in struggle, or in the very least, share our worldview.

This is not the only battle we need to engage, but it is one of the most important: ensuring that those who are doing the work and giving the world everything they have to make it more livable are not dismissed by louder, often snarkier voices. Mae Mallory. I #SayHerName.

 

 

(Photo Credit: http://zinnedproject.org) (Video Credit: Vimeo / Schomburg Center Black Freedom Studies)

Confederation Of African Football Must Prioritise Women’s Football!

I’m of the opinion that an African country can win a women’s world cup but the only way they going to achieve this is with more assistance and support from the Confederation of African Football, the CAF, which rightfully must advance women’s football.

Women’s football in Africa is being given a raw deal with only the crumbs of the continent’s massive football budget being signed off for women in football. CAF must step up the game and demand advances to women’s participation in football, across the continent. It’s an injustice to humanity when sportswomen are discriminated against in resource and budget allocation. It’s a worse atrocity when talented, emerging players have no professional league in their country to pursue life as professional women footballers, as do their male counterparts.

Africa was represented at the 2015 women’s football world cup in Canada by Nigeria, Cameroon and Ivory Coast. Much was expected of African champions, Nigeria. The country found themselves drawn in the ‘group of death’ with Australia, USA and Sweden and never made it past the group stages.

2015 Women’s Football World Cup debutants got mixed results with Ivory Coast losing 10-nil to Germany in their opening match and never recovering thereafter. For first time performers, I thought Cameroon was very impressive; their performance in the last 16 of the competitive tournament proved the team’s prowess mixed with inexperience.

So what now for African women’s football? The three teams are back in Africa whilst the quarterfinals continue with no African representative. African women’s football will now prepare for the Rio Olympics qualifiers and the 2015 All African Games to be held in Congo in September.

As the controlling body for football on the African continent, CAF must prioritise women’s football. Girls and women’s participation is growing furiously and competitions must be increased to give the clubs and teams the best opportunities to participate and grow their football skills.

As African women’s football has shown in the Under 20 and Under 17 Women’s World Cups held over the past few years, African countries, especially Ghana and Nigeria, have excelled in these elite events and have medalled when competing with the world’s best in their age groups.

CAF must introduce a continental club competition featuring all national league winners. An African knockout championship for cup winners must also be looked at. Both these competitions will give impetus to clubs to perform regionally and win national titles to qualify to perform in Africa’s prestige women’s football events.

As Nigeria and Cameroon demonstrated at this year’s women’s football world cup, Africa countries are not far behind the top European, North American and Asian playing countries. Superbly talented young players like Nigeria’s Asisat Ashaolo spotlight Africa’s emerging women’s football talent. But Africa’s talented women footballers have to play football knowing they must get a contract to play out of Africa if they want to play professionally. When are professional leagues for women footballers going to take off in some African countries? By now Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa should have initiated women’s pro leagues.

Africa’s women’s national teams play on an ad hoc basis, as when qualifiers are coming up. There are not many qualifiers for Africa’s few continental championships. Players need to be operating competitively all year with small breaks in between. Women’s football is growing fast and development of the game from grassroots to international level is expanding around the world.

CAF has done much to improve and develop men’s and boys’ participation in league football and international matches. So why not for women? CAF cannot be allowed to discard and disregard women in football when the global game is played by both genders.

The struggle within CAF for women’s football to be prioritized, given much bigger budgets and expanded with more resource and people management is very real. CAF’s reluctance to advance women’s football, beyond its present state, impacts on emerging girl footballers, with them maybe never knowing their full talent and capabilities. This is an in justice to Africa’s girls and women in sport!

(An earlier version of this appeared on Cheryl’s blog. Thanks for the collaboration.)

(Photo Credit: http://gsport.co.za)

When you define a person by their diagnosis

On June 26, on the Iowa radio talk show “Mickelson in the Morning,” presidential candidate Mike Huckabee lashed out at the U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts for the logic of his opposition to marriage equality. While comparing same-sex marriage to polygamy, as Roberts did, begs for condemnation, Huckabee’s argument did more harm than good. In moving from his decision one day for the Affordable Care Act to his decision the next against marriage equality, Huckabee argued, Chief Justice Roberts showed that he “needs medication for schizophrenia.”

By exploiting a sensationalized and incorrect image of schizophrenia on public radio, Huckabee fuelled rampant misconceptions and stigmas that cause many of the estimated 2 million Americans who live with schizophrenia an unimaginable burden of hurt and suffering. Stigma is one of the reasons that nearly 70% of Americans with schizophrenia believe they are able to work and that a job would improve their lives, but only around 15% of them have a job.

Mary Giliberti, Executive Director of the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) called Huckabee out:

As political tactic, Governor Huckabee has exploited the stigma that traditionally has surrounded mental illness in order to attack the competence and credibility of someone with whom he disagrees … Such a remark would never be tolerated about needing chemotherapy for cancer or insulin for diabetes. It represents political ‘stigma-slinging’ at its worst. It doesn’t matter whether a person agrees or disagrees with the Supreme Court. It doesn’t matter whether a person is a Republican, Democrat or independent. To use mental illness as a metaphor to win political advantage does a terrible disservice to those who are diagnosed with this condition and often use medication as part of hard-won journeys to recovery. Stigma, perpetuated by any candidate’s statement, can lead to people’s reluctance to seek mental health care and devastating, even life threatening consequences … NAMI hopes that all the presidential candidates will speak out against stigma during the course of the 2016 election campaigns and will support policies to address the failing mental health system for those with schizophrenia and other serious mental health conditions.”

The media contributes to the stigma that surrounds schizophrenia in myriad ways. Apart from cheap laughs or ill-conceived parallels, as the one Huckabee tried to pull off, the media perpetuates misconceptions about mental illnesses in more subtle ways, for example by defining people who live with mental illness by their condition, as if that’s all they are.

Last August, the members of Fountain House, a New York based organization that works with and supports people with serious mental illnesses, called The New York Times to task for “often refer[ing] to people by outdated phrases such as `the mentally ill’ and `schizophrenics.’ Every time these careless labels are used, this language denies our human dignity and adds to the many challenges that people with mental illness already face. If you live with a mental health condition, or you know and love someone who does, you understand that words matter. When you define a person by their diagnosis, that person goes from being a brother, a writer, a sister, or a painter to being merely `the mentally ill’. It’s hurtful.”

 

(Maria Hengeveld will have more to say on schizophrenia, stigma and employment in an upcoming article in The Atlantic later in June.)

(Image Credit: http://www.nami.org)

Sacrificing women asylum seekers on the altar of speed and convenience

 

Since 2003, those seeking asylum who come to the United Kingdom are greeted with what the State delicately refers to as the Detained Fast-Track Asylum System, or DFT. The only thing systematic in DFT is violence, and in particular violence against women. Two weeks ago, the High Court found the system unlawful and should be ended immediately. The State replied that stopping the system would be “inconvenient”, and the high court agreed, granting a stay on the order. Detention Action appealed the delay, and last Friday, the Court of Appeals agreed with them, meaning the system has to close down. The Home Office is in chaos.

The State loves throwing asylum seekers behind bars. In 2013, the latest figures available show 4,286 asylum seekers locked up, via DFT, in Yarl’s Wood, Colnbrook or Harmondsworth. 4,286 human beings seeking help and haven end up in cages. In 2012, Detained Fast Track sent 2,477 asylum seekers to Yarl’s Wood, Colnbrook and Harmondsworth. That’s an increase of 73% in one year. Cruelty and inhumanity are a growth industry.

This is the third time Detained Fast Track has been found unlawful. As Detention Action noted, “The High Court first ruled in July 2014 that the operation of the Detained Fast Track was at the time unlawful. Then, on 16th December 2014 the Court of Appeal found that the detention of asylum seekers who were not at risk of absconding whilst their appeals are pending was unlawful. Yet still the Fast Track continues.”

Now asylum seekers might be able to apply for bail. Having faced war, destitution, sexual violence in their home countries, and often in their homes, having made it to England only to be jailed, having often undergone further intimidation, brutality, including sexual violence, at the hands of the prison staff, these `dangers to society’ might be able to approach the shadowlands of due process. It’s not justice, but at least it’s due process.

The latest High Court trial was heard before High Court Justice Andrew Nicol, who concluded, “In my judgment the FTR [Fast Track Rules] do incorporate structural unfairness. They put the Appellant at a serious procedural disadvantage … What seems to me to make the FTR structurally unfair is the serious procedural disadvantage which comes from the abbreviated timetable and curtailed case management powers together with the imposition of this disadvantage on the appellant by the respondent to the appeal.”

Justice Nicol goes on to discuss what happens when `efficiency’ trumps justice:

“I recall that the SSHD [Secretary of State for the Home Department] opposed the TPC’s [Tribunal Procedure Committee] preliminary view that separate Fast Track Rules should be abolished and the Tribunal judiciary be left with discretion to shorten time limits either on an individual basis or through Practice Directions from the Chamber Presidents. As the TPC’s consultation document had said, `the Home Office is concerned that leaving procedures to the discretion of Tribunal Judges would not deliver the clear, consistent and truncated timetable that the current rules provide for.’

“From the perspective of an executive department that is a perfectly understandable objective, but it is not consistent with a procedural scheme which must give an element of priority to fairness and seeing that justice is done. On the contrary, it looks uncomfortably akin to what Sedley LJ in Refugee Legal Centre said should not happen, namely sacrificing fairness on the altar of speed and convenience.”

Fine words, and a good decision, but there is neither altar nor sacrifice in this tragedy. There was a determination that too many Black and Brown women – mostly African and Middle Eastern – would tip the boat, and so speed and `convenience’ justified the construction of a charnel-house network for those, and especially those women, “Black as if bereav’d of light,” whose only value is to enact death-in-life and then die, either behind bars or somewhere else. Shut it down. #SetHerFree

 

(Image Credit: Detention Action)

Takbar Haddi’s hunger strike for her son and Saharawi independence

Takbar Haddi begins her hunger strike

For forty-one years, we have never known liberty,” says Takbar Haddi as she explains the brutal murder – assassination of her son, Mohamed Lamine Haidala, at the hands of Moroccan settlers. For thirty-six days, Takbar Haddi was on a hunger strike, sitting at the doorsteps of the Moroccan Consulate in Las Palmas, Gran Canarias, where she now lives in exile. She was demanding something as simple, complex, and powerful as simple justice. On June 19, at the insistence of doctors and supporters, she ended her individual hunger strike, but others have taken it up, and so now people across Spain are on one-day hunger strikes. The hunger strike continues.

On January 30, 2015, 21-year-old Mohamed Lamine Haidala came to the rescue of a woman, a neighbor, who was being harassed by five Moroccan settlers. According to many reports, later that night Mohamed Lamine Haidala was killed by those same five settlers, stabbed numerous times. Haidala, who lived in El Aaiun, the capital of occupied Western Sahara, was an activist for Saharawi independence.

Seriously injured, Mohamed Lamine Haidala was taken to hospital, where he was denied anesthesia and painkillers during the procedure; arrested; and hauled off to the police station, where he spent the night sleeping on the floor. He was released the next day.

His situation deteriorated. The family took him from one hospital to another, and each refused treatment. Finally, he was taken, by ambulance, to Agadir, almost 400 miles away, where, again, he was denied treatment repeatedly. On February 8, Mohamed Lamine Haidala died in a hospital waiting room.

The story of occupation continues. Police confiscated Mohamed Lamine Haidala’s body. As of now, authorities still hold his body, and no autopsy has been performed. Takbar Haddi returned to Western Sahara, to no avail. When Takbar Haddi entered into her hunger strike, she demanded that an independent body conduct an autopsy and that her son’s body be returned to the family, so that they might honor his life and memory properly.

During her hunger strike, Takbar Haddi received support and visits from Saharawi independence activists such as Hmad Hmad, Brahime Dahane and Aminatou Haidar. Takbar Haddi said her son visited her in a dream and said, “Mother, find justice for me, mother, find justice for my body.” She then went on to explain, “Every mother knows the pain that one must feel at losing a child and not even knowing where his body lies. My heart is breaking.”

Since Takbar Haddi ended her hunger strike, others have taken it up, beginning with Teresa Rodríguez, Regional Deputy for Podemos Andalucía. They are joining with Takbar Haddi in her pursuit of justice: “For 41 years, the Saharawi have had no right to justice, to life, to anything.”

It is time. It is way past time to listen to the women of Western Sahara and end the occupation and the reign of torture. It is time to break the silence surrounding the violence. How many more must die before we realize our part in the deaths? How many more sons and mothers must suffer torture before we realize our role in the commission of terror? How many more Saharawi women must endure State violence before we realize that we are that State?

What happened to Mohamed Lamine Haidala? Absolutely nothing out of the ordinary. Just another day in the occupation.

 

(Photo Credit: https://www.diagonalperiodico.net)

In Greece, the women cleaners show the way!

Ministry of Finance laid-off women cleaners react as they watch the new Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis announcing that the government will re-hire them, in Athens, on January 28, 2015

In Athens, the women cleaners of the Ministry of Finance knew that what was thrown in the trash was to be disappeared. When the Troika ordered that women like them be replaced by contracted workers in order to save Greece, they knew that their lives were supposed to end up in the trash cans. The women cleaners knew that the structural adjustment programs imposed on Greece with ice cold effrontery were as those that had been imposed catastrophically on many other emergent countries. The Preliminary Report of the Truth Committee on Public Debt has established enough elements to assert the dual role of the Troika: bail out the foreign banks; continue the destruction of public services.

The Troika was formed to extend and legitimize the neoliberal project of transferring private debt onto the public sector.

The public sector means us, and, among us, women are the most affected. The women cleaners knew that the crisis of the public debt was a way to bring ordinary people to their knees. They knew that corruption and fraud were being rewarded and aggravated with the memoranda of the Troika. They knew about the corporate media campaign to “portray the population as deservers of their own wrongdoing.”

Their action in front of the minister lasted until the election of Syriza, and epitomizes the resistance to the looting of Greece by this political system of debt. They already discovered the fictitious contracts with Siemens, German French and US banks and speculators. Thanks to bribes from armaments corporations like Thales, Greece boasted the highest expenditure on armaments of the EU countries, proportionate to the size of its economy. The State bought Leopard tanks without contracts and even bought F16 fighter jets from Lockheed Martin … without the engines.

The Olympic games of 2004 were overbilled using outrageous interest rates. Siemens “loaned” its security system, which never worked, and the list of fraudulent and deceitful contracts is long.

The Preliminary Report also describes the falsification of public deficit and public debt using financial techniques to inflate public debt in 2009. The illegal private contracts disappeared from view, and what was left was that people of Greece had to be punished for this dubious public debt. Déjà vu!

The preliminary report defines four types of debt: illegitimate, illegal, odious, and unsustainable. It concluded that Greece’s public debt was an assembly of the four. It infringed on the fundamental human rights of the Greek population. The Preliminary Report clearly established the impact of the measures, especially for women and migrants: “The crisis hit disproportionately women and migrants increasing involuntary part time work and unfair dismissals due to pregnancy.” The Troika made the world believe that it was moral to cut hospital and health care spending to honor military contracts; that it was moral to send people to their death for an economic shell game. The list of negative impacts of the “bail out” program on human rights is equally long.

The women cleaners knew that all along! They fought with courage to re humanize their lives along with the lives of many, our lives!

Let’s remind the creditor-embezzlers represented by the Troika that we are not fooled and they cannot deceive the civil population anymore, although they are still trying. The Truth Committee on Public Debt is an important process, which can only succeed with popular mobilization. The women cleaners of the Ministry of Finance showed the way.

Turn “Jeff Davis” into Arthur Ashe. Do it now!

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If you live in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, California, or Washington, you might live near Jefferson Davis Memorial Highway. That’s right. From sea to shining sea, from the Rio Grande to the Canadian border, Jefferson Davis is “honored” and, presumably, you are honored to drive in his memory.

In 1913, the United Daughters of the Confederacy designed, planned and sponsored the Jefferson Davis Memorial Highway system, which was to extend from Washington, DC, to San Diego. Their plan was to overlay the Confederacy onto the map of the United States, an ocean-to-ocean highway that would compete with the Lincoln Highway. While the coordinated highway system no longer exists, in each of the states mentioned above, parts of it survive, and under the name Jefferson Davis Highway.

In 2002, when Washington State Representative Hans Dunshee proposed changing the name of Washington’s Jefferson Davis Memorial Highway, he ran into a whirlwind of opposition, because nothing says the Pacific Northwest like … the Confederacy and the war to preserve slavery. As Dunshee noted, “People are saying, ‘Oh, Jeff Davis was into roads for the Northwest.’ That’s their cover. But let’s be clear. This memorial was not put up by the AAA. It was put up to glorify the Confederacy.” The president of the United Daughters of the Confederacy weighed in, complaining that the change would “cause more hard feelings and certainly will not unify our country.”

When Dunshee first discovered the presence of the Confederacy in his home state, he said, “I was astonished that it was there. And then I was disgusted.” Disgust is a good response. Dunshee’s disgust only deepened, once he received calls telling him “to go back to Africa and take all of his kind with him.” Hans Dunshee’s “kind” would be German and Irish.

Nine years later, in 2011, in Arlington, Virginia, the Arlington County Board renamed a part called the Old Jefferson Davis Highway. It’s now the Long Bridge Drive. Why the name change? As then-County Board Chairman Chris Zimmerman explained, “I have a problem with ‘Jefferson Davis’ [in the road’s name]. There are aspects of our history I’m not particularly interested in celebrating.”

While the “Old Jefferson Davis Highway” was part of the original Jefferson Davis Memorial Highway, it wasn’t included in the Commonwealth’s 1922 designation of the Jefferson Davis Highway, and so Arlington County could change the name, once it convinced opponents that perhaps the real “importance of history” is not its repetition but rather its analysis and critique.

Meanwhile, the rest of Jefferson Davis Memorial Highway in Virginia falls under the Commonwealth administration, and so any change there must go through Richmond.

The lesson of history has to be that people can change their histories and themselves for the better; that we don’t happen upon progress, we make progress happen. From Washington, DC, to Charleston to Washington State, make freedom ring. Move from astonishment to disgust to astonishment. Tear down the flag; rewrite the name. In Virginia, turn “Jeff Davis” into Arthur Ashe, a proud son of Virginia of whom we are all proud. Do it now. It’s the least we can do.

 

(`Jeff Davis’ Photo Credit: author’s photo) (Arthur Ashe Photo Credit: Charles Tasnadi / Associated Press)

In New York, for-profit prison healthcare loses another paying customer

New York City recently announced its plans to end its contract with the for-profit prison healthcare provider Corizon Health in the city’s infamous Rikers Island jail complex. The Health and Hospitals Corporation of New York City, which currently operates all of New York City’s public hospitals, will now control Riker’s health care. This decision comes on the heels of Washington, DC, City Council’s decision to reject an offer from Corizon, that had been approved by the city’s own Office of Procurement.

New York City’s comes as a major victory for people who believe that for-profit corporations are the root of all evil when it comes to atrocities of incarceration in the United States. For-profit prison healthcare corporations such as Corizon have a history of malpractice lawsuits, negligence, and horror stories of abuse and torture of the mentally ill that would shock even the most ardent cynics. Accusations against Corizon include leaving a man with diagnosed manic-depressive disorder locked for four days in four-point restraints in a room that was 106 degrees. He died. Another accusation involves a Corizon employee who would withhold food and water from patients she did not like. Corizon’s reputation was so bad, a University of Virginia doctor claimed that releasing a cancer patient into their care was unethical.

While there is no denying the evils of Corizon, the problems with Rikers Island do not begin and end with healthcare. Corizon did not prescribe Kalief Browder with two years of solitary confinement. Corizon doctors did not beat Kalief Browder for a fight he did not partake in, as he awaited trial behind bars for three years for a crime he did not commit. The men who did this to Kalief Browder were government employees not motivated by profit and the almighty dollar, but instead fueled by the violence of incarceration. We can continue to reform this nation’s jails, but the fact remains that we are incarcerating and abusing men and women who are deprived of their humanity and dignity for crimes they did not commit. To paraphrase the curator of this blog, Dan Moshenberg, the best medicine for the people of Rikers is freedom.

 

(Photo Credit: https://resistrikers.wordpress.com)

I appreciate the Christian ethos of forgiveness. But …

I appreciate the Christian ethos of forgiveness. But in the most generally used and accepted meaning of the practice, the protocol of forgiveness requires that one come humbly, make confession of one’s sins, and ASK for forgiveness; and once asked for and penance received and acted upon, forgiveness is granted by God. So as appreciative as I am of this protocol, I am equally troubled by what appears to be our training to almost knee-jerk hand out forgiveness. This is something I worry that works against us, for it seems to demand we forgive but without our right to wholly engage our pain, our need to heal, our right to be restored–and then the time to actually do these things. One cannot dictate another’s healing or grieving process or timeline, and that’s not my attempt here. But I worry that if past is prologue, the way we’ve been trained to say ‘I forgive,’ absent, it appears, critical unpacking, moves the dialogue too fast and us into a supplicating position where we “forgive the sinner, hate the sin,” and then are forced to move forward without the rightful space to restore those who directly experienced this massacre–as well as the impact upon we who were a witness and now, now we all must live with yet another level of terror in our blood–which impacts our health, physical, spiritual, emotional. Forgiveness, I am saying, in this nation, lands too often as a tool of white supremacy.

I am writing this to say I need time to heal. I am writing this to say that if I do, I can’t imagine what those who were in the church that night, or their family and friends and fellow congregants need. This above all, is what sits in my heart this Saturday Mourning.

 

(Head Photo Credit: gossip.com / AP / Twitter / Facebook) (Bottom Photo Credit: Getty Images / Win McNamee)

In France, give the migrants legal documentation!

When the European Court of Human Rights was formed in 1959, many thought that it was a good step toward a more human Europe and hoped it would inspire better behavior beyond Europe. On June 8th, in Paris refugees escaping wars and human rights violations asked where was the European Court of Human Rights as they were thrown forcibly into a police bus on the Rue Pajol in the 18th district of Paris.

Despite a protective cordon formed of residents of the district, Communist Part and Left Front elected officials of Paris, and members of the many associations who bring support to migrants and refugees, the police special unit CRS intervened on the Rue Pajol in the 18th district. The police intervention was violent and destructive.

The refugees regrouped, after the police dismantled a nearby camp. These refugees have traveled far, mainly from Eritrea, Somalia, Egypt, and Sudan, and, since the summer of 2014, about 350 of the hundreds of thousands who have crossed the Mediterranean Sea have landed in this very visible improvised camp under the Parisian metro of Porte de la Chapelle, in the northern part of Paris.

On June 2, the first police intervention moved some asylum seekers to hotels in various areas around Paris and left others. Some came back even though they had a room in a hotel. They felt isolated, and they were starving since the authorities did not include food in their plans. As the executive director of the federation of associations dealing with social rehabilitation explained, at least in Paris, associations would deliver food to the camps.

In France, associations have historically formed a strong civil solidarity structure. Thanks to the work of associations such as France-terre-d’asile, Salam, and others, migrants receive support and food. These associations denounced the hypocrisy and repression but also welcomed the recent changes in the asylum bill that simplify the demand process and remove some of the constraints that were a true conundrum for refugees and plan for more housing structures. Additionally, since 2012, Europeans in France are permitted by law to welcome undocumented migrants in their home. These associations still question both the lack of financial support in this time of financial austerity and the expulsion process.

In fact, France terre d’asile had alerted the authorities of the formation of these camps some time ago, demanding decent solution for the migrant refugees. Today, they condemned a year of inaction that has left migrants living in precariousness and terrible sanitary conditions.

Despite an unprecedented mobilization of associations along with the OFPRA (Office francais de protection des refugiés et apatrides, the French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless People), the State solution was to send the police and inflict violence on migrants.

Many camps have formed in France, especially in Paris and in Calais. Migrants face different legal situations. Some file for asylum, others don’t want asylum in France. But the main issue is to welcome them, explained Danielle Simonnet, a Paris Councilor. Although she judged it too late, she welcomed the proposition of the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, to create transit camps where each migrant would receive the administrative, medical and human support needed. This is a question of pure solidarity, according to Danielle Simonnet, adding that France has not reacted in a timely manner to the situation. Among the refugees of Porte de la Chapelle, 16 of them had proper asylum documentation and still did not know where to go. In France, the law requires providing accommodation to asylum seekers. In addition, Pierre Henry, of France terre d’asile, had to intervene to get refugees out of detention centers, even though it is unlawful to detain them.

So why did the authorities respond with police instead of applying the law and behaving humanely?

Surveillance, policing and austerity are articulations of the current security mentality. The response from leaders of the right and extreme right has ranged from Marine LePen’s send them back to their war-torn countries and apply Australian immigration policies to Nicolas Sarkozy comparing the migrants to a water leak. With their disinformation, these leaders spread fear and intolerance, dehumanizing refugees and migrants. They bully the concept of solidarity. In fact, with 600 000 asylum seekers in 2014 for 500 million Europeans, Europe is not overwhelmed.

Instead, Europe must first end the Dublin II regulation that forces migrants to seek asylum in the country they first entered the EU. This regulation has caused migrants great suffering.

What of the people who live in France and don’t match any of the asylum categories? Danielle Simonet, Pierre Henry and many others respond, “Just give them legal documentation,” let them live decently, put in application the human rights concept!

 

(Photo Credit: http://paris-luttes.info)