Refugees: new policies show EU’s lies and hypocrisies

17 July, 2021

Greek police detain a Syrian refugee boy after beating him in a scene that became famous.
Greek police detain a Syrian refugee boy after beating him in a scene that became famous.

Over the past month EU countries such as Denmark and Lithuania have unabashedly espoused new inhumane, if not criminal, policies towards migrants and refugees seeking asylum. Spiegel’s revelations and the European Parliament’s investigation have shown the involvement of border police in Italy, Malta, Greece and the head of Frontex, an EU agency, in real crimes against humanity. But this time there is no crisis or problem. The true face of an EU that routinely uses “Rule of Law” and “Human Rights” as imperialist propaganda is made visible.

Table of Contents

The crimes of Frontex and the border police in the Mediterranean

Greek border police beat a Syrian woman on a boat with a truncheon while another uniformed officer wields a pistol
Greek border police beat a Syrian woman on a boat with a truncheon while another uniformed officer wields a pistol

The most egregious case in recent months is probably one that Spiegel revealed that involved Frontex – the EU’s border guard service. It turns out that Frontex collaborated in sending refugees and migrants to Libyan torture camps at the Italian and Maltese sea borders.

In Greece, Greek police with assistance from Frontex simply threw children and adults into the sea after puncturing their boats and removing their outboards:

Frontex officials, including German federal police officers, stop refugee boats in the Aegean Sea before they reach the Greek islands and hand them over to the Greek coast guard. The border guards then systematically throw the refugees into the sea, either in inflatable life rafts or in rubber dinghies from which they have removed the engine. In this way they ensure that the refugees cannot reach Greek waters again. Greek officials often use violence during the actions, stabbing the rubber boats or firing into the water. In at least seven cases, Frontex units were close to or involved in such pushbacks.

Spiegel

The further investigation by the European Parliament found that Frontex director Fabrice Leggeri, a man trusted by the Macron government, not only knew about such actions but had participated in their organization and ordered the destruction of the files in which they were recorded.

EU response? None. They didn’t even bother to fire the director. The message is clear. And not just for asylum seekers.

Denmark and refugees

Protest against refugee policy. Denmark.
Protest against refugee policy. Denmark.

For more than a century and a half Denmark has made human rights and democracy its battle flag in the European game – sometimes literally. Its imperialist propaganda productions, such as Borgen, are the model of European soft power and the supposedly most advanced social policies.

So advanced are the policies, that they decree that refugees return to Syria in the midst of the second wave of the pandemic.

Now Denmark has opted to have no asylum seekers in its territory. How? It plans to create concentration camps in Rwanda, 9,700 kilometers away from its borders… far away from any publicity about the living conditions and confinement of the asylum seekers. Camps that would be, of course, managed by local companies, well protected by the opaque local authoritarian government, known for the harshness of its detention centers.

Lithuania “invaded”

Lithuania not only will not give refuge but detains and locks up already refugees seeking asylum.
Lithuania not only will not give refuge but detains and locks up already refugees seeking asylum.

The Baltic countries in general have an original sin: when they became independent from Russia, they did not recognize the citizenship of Russian workers who had been brought to work during the Stalinist period and were born there. Nor that of their children and grandchildren. To these, they were given permission to remain in the country where they were born, but not citizenship. In Estonia there are still more than 200,000 people under this forced alien status.

In Lithuania internal migrations had been lower during the Stalinist period, but even so, native-born people who are considered non-citizens total 9%. As of today the Lithuanian nationality law, despite enshrining the principle of nationality by birth, follows the Israeli ethnic model and recognizes nationality to the descendants of Lithuanian immigrants who left the country at the beginning of the century for Argentina or the USA but not to non-ethnic people who were born on the territory of the Lithuanian state being often children of parents also born there.

As can readily be seen, the starting point, an ethnic state, does not agree with the European democratic propaganda.

Lithuania like any ethnic state run by an ultra-nationalist semi-colonial bourgeoisie, has ready racist and xenophobic reflexes. In June, there was an escalation of tension with Belarus over the hijacking of a Lithuanian plane flying over Belarusian territory, carrying the creator of a famous opposition Telegram channel.

The Lithuanian government’s first reaction? Accusing Belarus of getting Syrian and Iraqi refugees to invade Lithuania. In reality, the number of asylum seekers arriving across the Belarusian border barely passed 1,000 in July, but this nevertheless mobilized the solidarity of European states…along with Lithuanian state racism.

But it doesn’t end there: less than two weeks ago the Vilnius government announced it would build a Ceuta-style border wall. And this week, parliament voted to detain arrivals by treating them as criminals rather than asylum seekers.

Does the humanitarian, democratic and progressive Brussels have any problem with this? In Paris, Madrid or Berlin? No. All good. The message comes through loud and clear while the Commission and member states continue to shamelessly organize and fund sensitization campaigns against xenophobia and racism.

Read also: Are Open Borders Possible?