A Few More Words on the “Refugee Crisis”

Firstly, here’s a public service announcement: Since I am about as bad at regular blogging as your average Hungarian opposition politician is at even perceiving opportunities for efffectively countering the government, I will try out a new plan. I’ll concentrate on regularly updating the Facebook page of this blog and keep up with the occasional longer articles. In case you are interested, you can find the page at the following link

Voilá

And now, just to be a complete hypocrite, I will now write another post about the Refugee Crisis, because I feel that there is still not enough sources that explain what the hell is going on in an intelligent way.

As you, my dear readers might have realised, the swathe of land that stretches from Western Sahara to the Tribally Administered Regions of Pakistan has been a fan that was not just hit, but so thoroughly inundated with shit that it now  bears a striking resemblance to Tony Abbott’s brain. It isn’t really easy to attribute blame or establish a causality of events that led to what is  happening now. The War on Terror definitely did not help (unless you are Osama Bin Laden circa 10 September 2001, in which case you’d be overjoyed to see how Neoconservative stupidity paved the way of establishing fundamentalist caliphate in the heart of the Middle East), nor did the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the Saudi and Pakistani secret services working together to create the Taliban, using the money of a United States that couldn’t give two fucks about what was happening, as long as the Soviet troops kept on dying. Generally speaking, I have no idea who thought that propping up the theocratic Saudi Arabia would be a good idea and they wouldn’t use their safety to spread their own dangerous version of Islam around the world. Then again, maybe the breaking up of the Ottoman Empire and the subsequent wave of colonisation did not help either.

Of course, I do not mean to be partial. No-one forced the mass murdering dictators that popped up after decolonisation to become mass murderers and the jihadis are beyond basic human sanity. There are plenty of locals at fault here as well.

Anyways. Here we are, on 14 September 2015, with a gigantic mess on our hands. Afghanistan is still a failed state, now with tens of thousands of former NATO contractors having been left there to be hunted down and massacred, who would rather stay alive and flee for safety. The only word that can describe Syria is “tragedy”. Assadist forces are fighting the Non-Radical Free Syrian Army with the help of Hizbullah, which is sometimes bombed by Israel even though it is also fighting against ISIS and the post-Al Queda Al Nusra Front, who are fighting the Kurds, who are being viciously assaulted by Turkey (which might cause itself to slide into civil strife), who, along with Saudi Arabia are most probably helping ISIS. Meanwhile, the NATO-trained and armed Iraqi army just packed up and went home.

Millions of Syrian refugees have fled to other parts of their country and about three and a half million are in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. They live in gigantic camps that are kinda run by UNHCR. There is one big issue here: the UNHCR has completely ran out of money. As a UN organisation, it relies on the funds donated by member states, who couldn’t be arsed to contribute enough. Therefore, the refugees, to whom these countries cannot provide even medium-term safety decided that they had to do something.

This is where the EU comes in, it being one of the richest supranational entities in the world. These people, thought that maybe these rich, civilised nations that are always banging on about human rights and such would be able to provide them with asylum. They are kinda right, the EU is able to shelter a lot of refugees. If Lebanon is chugging along with on third over one third of its population being refugees, then the EU should be able to house even the whole population of Syria (theoretically, I might add), which would add a whopping 4% to the total EU population of 507 million.

But the EU does not want refugees. It is in the middle of a partially self-made crisis (which would be worth another full post) and just like any time of economic downturn, it brought the most reprehensible political forces out of the dank subterranean caverns they inhabit. These Nigel Farages and Orban Viktors are very good at making their voices heard, even if they don’t reflect the voices of the populations they claim to represent. But they are not the main issue. The EU Establishment, with Germany at the helm, is fiercely protective of a deeply flawed regulation that is at the heart of the issue: it is called Dublin III.

I am yet to find any explanation about why this horrendous piece of legislation deserves any protection. IT was basically created to make asylum claims clean-cut: you have to request asylum in the state where you entered the EU. Now let’s look at the map. Where are the rich nations? North-Northwest. Where are the poor ones? The South-South-East. If a horrific civil war broke out in Iceland or Greenland, the refugees piling onto boats would have very good chances of finding safe refuge. Coincidentally, Iceland, Canada or Franz Josef Land aren’t exactly at risk of protracted warfare. Which means that should war break out in the South-East, an area known to be, khm, somewhat unstable, nations like Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary or Italy should house all the refugees. What an unfortunate coincidence!

Yeah, right.

None of the South-Eastern nations are really capable of providing asylum to any significant amount of people. They are ravaged by austerity and other forms of capitalist exploitation, their political classes are corrupt and often malicious and their infrastructure is sub-par to say the least. The refugees are simply not granted the rights enshrined by the UN Refugee Convention and no reasonable observer would say that these places are safe for large numbers of refugees.

So, just to recap: We have Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, which are full and where the local governments and the UNHCR are overwhelmed. We have the EU periphery and the Balkan States, which are incapable and unwilling to provide asylum and there is the EU Core that acts welcoming, but is only waiting for its chance to push all the folks back to the periphery. It is worth noting that while Germany seems all cutesy, it is still insisting on Dublin and has a rather bad record of actually granting asylum. Yeah, they’ll welcome the people who make it across their borders (while preparing the paperwork to push them back), but they are also insisting on the periphery governments to stop such things from ever happening.

(But what about the rich Saudi Arabia, why can’t they host refugees? Yeah. Because moving from the pretty laissez-faire, cosmopolitan Syria to the theocratic hellholes where they view non-locals as slaves is  an option. Or, as an Afghan refugee, crossing Syria-Islamic State-Iraq is even a possibility. Next please.)

Therefore, FIDESZ is actually right when they claim that they are doing things by the EU book. They are just doing the dirty work of Germany. Not that anyone asked them to make it extra filthy, with the state railways literally scamming refugees by selling expensive tickets to trains that will never take them, with makeshift refugee camps and with the border fence that can only stop local wildlife but not a human being with at least one functioning arm. If  a refugee wants to cross a border, then the border will be crossed, no matter how much of the meagre and useless Hungarian police and the even more ridiculously tiny army will want to stop them. Most of the Syrian refugees who made it this far are probably smarter and better educated than the average Hungarian policemen after all. Plus, they kinda want to survive.

And now we get to the other stumbling block. Unless they have a visa, no refugees can enter the EU legally. There is no way for them to do so. They can’t exactly pop in the consulate in Damascus, all them explosions and bullets are way too inconvenient and no airline would take them, as, due to another wonderful piece of EU legislation, the same airline would have to cover for their return ticket should they be refused entry. Therefore, the EU has created a gigantic industry of people smugglers and caused tens of thousands of deaths simply because they conveniently forgot about the fact that refugees should be allowed to enter safe countries. even without papers. Currently in Hungary, we have a situation where an organised syndicate of people smugglers are operating literally metres from the largest concentration of policemen since time immemorial. Sadly, taking refugees, whose “illegal” entry should not be considered illegal as per the aforementioned UN convention into custody is more important than stopping actual crimes.

Then, there are voices sounding the alarm over the death of Christian Europe and an invasion by brown people who will bring Sharia and ban bacon. I think I can fairly confidently state that these voices are stupid and no cultured person should even bother replying to such nonsense. Europe is not Christian and even the whole population of Syria wouldn’t make a dent on continental demographics.

So, how to solve the crisis? It is actually not that hard:

  • Calm the fuck down
  • Repeal Dublin and start an aggressive political campaign to convince people that the EU is not only capable, but is obligated to host refugees, whose numbers are relatively small and who can be settled throughout the Union, granted that they have to be treated fairly in all member states.
  • Create means for refugees to reach the EU safely. Establish processing centres in international air- and seaports and provide transportation. The refugees would actually pay for it most of the times anyway, so it isn’t that much of an investment. This would end people smuggling.
  • Ignore the Orbáns, the Le Pens and the rest of the xenophobes. They are an issue the EU has to deal with another time. People’s lives are at stake here.
  • Try to come up with a well thought-out diplomatic solution to the crises, involving almost everyone around. Yes, even Putin and Assad.
  • Do not bomb anyone.
  • Seriously, not a single bomb.

Of course, this will no happen. Instead, Germany has now decided that, after eliminating the concept of solidarity from EU common practice through its horrendous treatment of Greece, it will also fuck up one of the main pillars of the Union, the elimination of borders. Other nations are already following suit, and the asshats like Viktor Orbán can feel vindicated and will just be emboldened by such acts. The political forces (the masses, to be honest) on the side of international law and the refugees are providing huge amounts of material and financial aid, but haven’t yet grasped the fact that it is policy that needs to change and that no amount of shoes or sandwiches will solve the causes of the crisis. At least in Hungary, the political opposition is too deeply invested in its unquestioning pro-EU stance to be able to say anything relevant on the matter. I suppose this is true for most of Europe. This is what happens when you only have Liberals to oppose Right-wing policies.

At least now we have a Corbyn on the horizon to show them what real opposition looks like. Reason thunders in its volcano.

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Asylum

“And now the cynical ones say that it all ends the same in the long run
Try telling that to the desperate father who just squeezed the life from his only son
And how it’s only voices in your head and dreams you never dreamt
Try telling him the subtle difference between justice and contempt
Try telling me she isn’t angry with this pitiful discontent
When they flaunt it in your face as you line up for punishment
And then expect you to say thank you straighten up, look proud and pleased
Because you’ve only got the symptoms, you haven’t got the whole disease
Just like a schoolboy, whose head’s like a tin-can
Filled up with dreams then poured down the drain
Try telling that to the boys on both sides, being blown to bits or beaten and maimed
Who takes all the glory and none of the shame”

Elvis Costello – Tramp The Dirt Down

As I write, thousands highly civilised human beings are lying on rags in a pedestrian underpass, trying to get some rest. TIt is a very mixed bunch, a classless society of former doctors, students, teachers, shopkeepers and assholish teenagers who happen to have wound up in the newly renovated labyrinthine underground space near Keleti railway station that made little to no sense up to this point in time, but now it provides shelter for the masses huddled around a transportation hub that provides no transport for them.

Their country, a nation of about 22 million people just ceased to exist. Let that sink in for a while. Imagine if Romania just vanished. Wouldn’t that be weird? I mean, Syria is still there on the maps that are beamed into billions of homes every day in newscasts, you can find it on Google Maps or Wikipedia, but for all intents and purposes, it is as gone as Alderaan. Roughly a third of its population, maybe more, has been internally displaced and millions were forced to leave the country altogether. Its cities are ruined to an extent that hasn’t been seen around these parts since the Second World War. Marauding gangs of mass murderers are fighting for the last scraps of land in a dystopian reality that isn’t that far away. Once the war is over, there might once again be a functional state at the same location, but for now, there is nothing. The people, the best minds off a generation will be far away across the world or under the earth.

This evening I came home from the makeshift refugee camp, dropped my stuff, opened my fridge, got my bottle of chilled water and some fresh fruits and had a bit of a meal for myself. None of these activities would be alien to these folks, but they don’t have homes, fridges or stuff any more. These people are us, Europeans. Well, technically the are not, but let’s not get nitpicky.  They are our grandparents who survived the 1940s, spread all over the continents and the world to escape the horrors of their homelands. This experience should not be alien to any European who ever had talks with older family members. Yet, Europe is acting as if this was something new and unusual.

These people walked, sailed and swam through thousands of kilometres, with little to no help, through summers and winters, rain and scorching heat to get to the gates of Europe, a land of plenty, a land of human rights, a civilized land. Had they been rich Westerners with soft drink logos on their shirts, they’d get at least a TV show deal out of their grand adventure from East to West. They could talk about local foods, the landscapes, the parties, the blisters on their foot and the time when they had to get new shoes Fedexed in. But these people, the refugees (not migrants!) see the gates shutting in front of their eyes. Before they can enter, before they can receive any official aid, they have to be processed like complex carbohydrates.

Something went really wrong somewhere. The European Union has always been a bureucratic mess. We all heard stories of regulations governing the curvature of cucumbers and the holes in the cheese. It was still a beautiful mess, founded on the principles of diversity, liberty and justice. But somewhere along the line, amidst the piles and piles of papers, someone could have realised that maybe filling out the proper forms should not be the first priority while other peoples’ daughters are giving birth on the side of the road and other peoples’ sons are willingly submit themselves to be packed into minivans like sardines, hoping that there might be an off chance of them not suffocating in the darkness. Paperwork can wait, paperwork could wait.

Of course, this all has a purpose, for the so-called leaders of Europe, a bunch of wealthy psychopaths so far removed from reality that they can almost hold the hands of the gods they are invoking. I’ve seen the fat frog Viktor Orbán croaking from a podium about the need to protect Europe from the people who need Europe’s protection. I’ve seen him having a penis contest with Donald Tusk over the appropriate Christian attitude. I’ve seen Angela Merkel insisting that the proper procedures should be followed and I’ve seen David Cameron whining from the other side of the continent about how he and his country simply cannot do even a fraction of what the great and powerful nation of Lebanon is contributing. And let’s not even mention the great princes of the Gulf States, with their gold-plated supercars who seem to have forgotten about the whole Ummah thing (unless of course it’s about bankrolling ISIS), or the United States, which seems to be rather OK with keeping that Ocean between itself and the shit it stirred.

These people, all of them, are the scum of the Earth, the lowliest parasites who would sell their own mothers for a half percent gain at the polls. These mighty people are now holding emergency sessions, meetings, press conferences and briefings so that they can skirt around actually doing something. They act out deluded power fantasies, fancying themselves the Defenders of Christian Europe, the Great Humanitarians or the Sole Voice of Reason, strutting around like disgusting, old peacocks in designer suits, too deluded by their own power to actually stand the fuck up and use that power to help the people begging at their doorsteps.

In Europe we have the money, we have the space, we have the means to provide asylum to these tortured people from not that far away. We can do this. The best proof is the outstanding reaction of the populations, who acted faster than their leaders and are pouring tonnes and tonnes of food, blankets, tents, diapers and other everyday items into self-organised collection points, from which they are distributed in an efficient and organised fashion. It is wonderful to see how ordinary people of the Age of Austerity are using their meagre wealth to fuel and run a gigantic logistical operation because there is no-one else to do it and because they are decent fucking human beings. These people are the pride of Europe. These people are the true leaders and these people are the ones who proved that the European Union has failed. It failed its people, whom it should be representing, it failed the refugees whom it should be protecting and it failed its ideals that it should not be forgetting.