As the Death of Three-Year Old Syrian Refugee Aylan Kurdi Appals All Decent People, Please Sign the E-Petition Asking the UK Government to Accept More Refugees

3.9.15

Aylan Kurdi, the three-year old Syrian boy whose body washed up on Bodrum beach in Turkey. The photo, understandably, went viral and has led to calls for greater support for refugees in Europe, and particularly in the UK, which, by far, has failed to match German generosity.Please sign and share this e-petition to the British government, calling for more asylum seekers to be accepted into the country, as the UK tries to turn its back on this huge humanitarian crisis.

Amazingly, it has gone from 27,000 signatures last night to over 112,000 signatures this morning, making it eligible for a Parliamentary debate. Please keep signing and sharing it, however, so that the government knows the depth of feeling in this country. UPDATE 4pm: It has now reached 200,000 signatures.

***** 

I’m not posting the photo above of the dead body of three-year old Syrian refugee Aylan Kurdi for sensationalist reasons, but simply because, when it went viral yesterday, it did so because millions of people identified with it, whether they were parents or not.

I am a parent. My son is 15 years old, but I remember vividly when he was three, and when I saw, yesterday, the photo of Aylan’s lifeless body washed up on Bodrum beach in Turkey, I felt his loss viscerally.

I was at that beach just two weeks ago, aware that refugees from Syria were trying to make their way to Europe via the Greek islands, and aware that some of them were dying in search of a new life.

I was already appalled by my government’s disdain for the huge number of refugees leaving Africa and the Middle East — many from countries we have helped to destabilise (Syria and Libya, for example). In May, for example, as the death toll in the Mediterranean reached 1,800 this year, Theresa May, the home secretary, was refusing calls for an EU quota for refugees, and disagreeing with a suggestion by the EU’s High Representative, Federica Mogherini, that “no migrants” intercepted at sea should be “sent back against their will.” The BBC reported that she said, “Such an approach would only act as an increased pull factor across the Mediterranean and encourage more people to put their lives at risk.”

She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that “many of the people coming across the central Mediterranean were not refugees, but economic migrants from places such as Nigeria, Eritrea and Somalia” — an appalling and unfair generalisation, when Eritrea currently has the worst human rights record in the world, and Somalia is a country ravaged by war.

Last week, after it was reported that more than 80 Syrian and Palestinian refugees, many of them young children, had drowned in the Mediterranean, a petition addressed to Theresa May, ‘No more drownings. Immediate sanctuary for those fleeing from war‘, was launched on Change.org, which currently has over 160,000 signatures (up from 135,000 last night).

Please sign and share this petition, and please also sign and share a new petition on Change. org, launched by the Independent, addressed to David Cameron. The petition, ‘Britain must accept its fair share of refugees seeking safety in Europe‘, currently has over 44,000 signatures (up from 13,000 last night), and states, “Millions of men, women and children are fleeing the Middle East and Africa to find safety in the West. The Independent believes Britain must no longer turn a blind eye to their plight and must work with other European Union countries to set and welcome a quota of refugees.”

The timing could not have been more apposite. As the photo of Aylan Kurdi went viral, David Cameron attempted to defend Britain’s inaction, in a display of heartlessness that was astonishing, under the circumstances.

“We have taken a number of genuine asylum seekers from Syrian refugee camps and we keep that under review,” Cameron said, “but we think the most important thing is to try to bring peace and stability to that part of the world. I don’t think there is an answer that can be achieved simply by taking more and more refugees.”

Given how Britain has been involved in Syria — first supporting the opposition to President Assad, and then turning on them — it is extraordinarily hypocritical of Cameron to try and wash his hands of the Syrian refugee crisis.

And, of course, anyone looking at who has done what would discover that, while Germany is pledging to take in 1% of its population — that’s 800,000 asylum seekers — the UK has taken in just 216 Syrian refugees.

As the Washington Post noted, “Of the 4 million Syrians who have fled their country since the war began, including hundreds of thousands who have poured into Europe, the number who have been resettled in Britain could fit on a single London Underground train — with plenty of seats to spare. Just 216 Syrian refugees have qualified for the government’s official relocation program, according to data released last week. (Tube trains seat about 300.) British Prime Minister David Cameron has reassured his anxious public that the total number won’t rise above 1,000.”

Please also, if you haven’t already, sign and share the e-petition I mentioned above, ‘Accept more asylum seekers and increase support for refugee migrants in the UK,’ which was launched on August 13. When I signed it last night, it had 27,000 signatures, within two hours it had reached 48,000 signatures, and this morning I awoke to find that it now has over 112,000 signatories.

Like all e-petitions, it needed 100,000 signatures within six months to be eligible for a Parliamentary debate, but, as I mentioned above, please keep signing and sharing it so the government knows that its callous disregard for the refugees fleeing Syria and elsewhere is not shared by the British people. The petition states, “There is a global refugee crisis. The UK is not offering proportional asylum in comparison with European counterparts. We can’t allow refugees who have risked their lives to escape horrendous conflict and violence to be left living in dire, unsafe and inhumane conditions in Europe. We must help.”

I hope you agree with the sentiments in these petitions, and that, like me, you want people’s humanity and empathy to triumph over the kind of mean, small-minded racism and xenophobia that has been thriving of late. No child should be dying like Aylan Kurdi, and if we all pull together and tell our governments that we will not be silent, and that we demand action, we may just be able to make the world a slightly better place, one in which small children are not dying because of our indifference to their suffering.

Note: If you want to do more, please visit this page on the Independent‘s website, “5 practical ways you can help refugees trying to find safety in Europe,” which includes links for making donations, and for getting involved with grass-roots groups visiting Calais to help those in the refugee camps there.

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers, whose debut album, ‘Love and War,’ was released in July 2015). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign, the co-director of We Stand With Shaker, calling for the immediate release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison, and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by the University of Chicago Press in the US, and available from Amazon, including a Kindle edition — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here — or here for the US).

To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he can also be found on Facebook (and here), Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Also see the six-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, and The Complete Guantánamo Files, an ongoing, 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011. Also see the definitive Guantánamo habeas list, the full military commissions list, and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.

Please also consider joining the Close Guantánamo campaign, and, if you appreciate Andy’s work, feel free to make a donation.

116 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    Last night I began promoting a number of petitions calling for the British government to do much more for the refugees fleeing Syria and elsewhere than it has to date – Germany promises to take in 800,000 people, the UK has taken a few hundred. I’ve now put all that information into an article, and encourage everyone in the UK to sign the e-petition to the UK government, which last night had 27,000 signatures and now has over 112,000, making it eligible for a Parliamentary debate. Please keep signing to show Cameron and his colleagues how much we despise their callousness: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/105991

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Amazing. In the last few minutes, the number of signatories on the e-petition has gone from 112,000 to 118,000. Seriously, let’s make this the biggest e-petititon since they were introduced: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/105991

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    It’s now on 121,860 signatures. I do hope the government doesn’t close it down now it’s reached the required number of signatures to be eligible for a Parliamentary debate. That would be very cynical – but it wouldn’t be surprising, would it?

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Fathima Mohamed Farook wrote:

    I really do appreciate all your efforts Andy but I Feel a lot of shame on part of all the might rich middle eastern countries who behave like they are custodians and protectors of the middle east. But come crisis they send a plane with supplies and that’s the end of their responsibility.

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    I take your comments on board, Fathima. It is a great shame that phenomenally rich Gulf countries are doing so little.

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    Allyson Bird wrote:

    I totally support you. I got some crap on my wall for showing images but images live on to tell the story..I felt words were not enough.

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, agreed, Allyson. As a writer, I know, sadly, how many more people can be reached with a photo than with words, but I press on regardless. On this occasion, though, the photo shouts out for justice and compassion, and as many people as possible need to see it.

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    Allyson Bird wrote:

    I’ve prepped my post again. (Another poor boy on beach one yesterday) Supported it. I’ll be fully ready if they come back. ‘Images change history. The man in front of the tank in Tienanmen square. The child in 1972 after the nepalm attack Vietnam. The pictures of Belsen. NZ tv defended the use of image over words today and so do I.’

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    It is iconic just like those images you mention, Allyson. I also think of the hooded man on a box in Abu Ghraib. I campaign to close Guantanamo, and guess what? There’s not a single image from Guantanamo that has been leaked to shock the world’s conscience and lead to unassailable demands to shut it down.

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    A very moving comment by my friend HP Albarelli:

    A little boy lying face down in the water just inches from shore. He’s maybe two or three years old. Alone, face down, dead. He could be anyone’s son but he’s not. Two men arrive and look down at him as he rocks slightly back and forth. He could be sleeping, lying on his stomach, his head turned to the left, his little arms at his sides. He could be anyone’s son but he’s not. The little boy is well dressed in shorts and a red sweater. He still has his shoes and socks on. The waves push him gently toward shore. One of the men takes the little boy’s photo. The other man, after a bit, picks the boy up awkwardly. How do you pick up a dead child? He could be anyone’s son but he’s not. He’s our son, everyone’s little drowned boy, and we are as awkward as the man when it comes to looking at him and touching him. Our son…

  11. Andy Worthington says...

    E-petition now has 130,815 signatures! Please keep signing and sharing.

  12. Andy Worthington says...

    When my friend Mahfuja BeKind shared this, she wrote:

    Germany is pledging to take in 1% of its population — that’s 800,000 asylum seekers — the UK has taken in just 216 Syrian refugees.

    Absolutely embarrassing and shameful.

    Read Andy Worthington’s take on this and sign the petition.

  13. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Mahfuja. Just doing my bit. The e-petition to the UK government is extraordinary. It had 27,000 signatures when I signed it last night. It’s now on 131,642 signatures. Please encourage everyone to sign and share it, to show the government who we are, and why they are so out of touch with our essential humanity: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/105991

  14. Andy Worthington says...

    Allyson Bird wrote:

    Four million refugees need help. Words will not save them. Images will. On NZ television I saw a policeman playing football with a child in Hungary and when a women was comforting her daughter a nurse gently bathed the mother’s neck with cold water on a hot day.

  15. Andy Worthington says...

    Allyson Bird wrote:

    ‘UNHCR: Total number of Syrian refugees exceeds four million for first time’: http://www.unhcr.org/559d67d46.html

  16. Andy Worthington says...

    And on that basis, the question now is how much European countries should be doing. The Guardian asks, “How many refugees should the UK take in?” and Patrick Kingsley, migration correspondent, proposing 2 million refugees as the figure that Europe should agree to take, states, “in order for this to work, Europe would have to spread the newcomers throughout our 500 million members. This need not herald the collapse of European civilisation – the west absorbed 1.3 million refugees after the Vietnam war without a social apocalypse. But it would need every country to take its proportionate share of the burden, and it would require every country to adopt the same asylum policies and procedures – to make sure that refugees would not move between EU states in the way they do today, in search of a more humane system. To this end, since the UK’s population of roughly 60 million is 12% of Europe’s 500 million, it follows that the UK would take in 12% of my suggested 2 million incoming Syrians, Eritreans and Afghans: 240,000.”
    That sounds like a good starting point to me.
    See: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/sep/02/how-many-refugees-uk-take-migrant-crisis-europe-yvette-cooper

  17. Andy Worthington says...

    In the same vein as Fathima’s comments at 4, above, Mohammed Feesabilillah Arts Sadiq wrote:

    Our leaders should be ashamed. Read this article by the BBC on why the Gulf isn’t taking in more of our brothers and sisters:

    ‘Migrant crisis: Why Syrians do not flee to Gulf states’
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-34132308

  18. Andy Worthington says...

    From that BBC article:

    As the crisis brews over Syrian refugees trying to enter European countries, questions have been raised over why they are not heading to wealthy Gulf states closer to home.

    Although those fleeing the Syrian crisis have for several years been crossing into Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey in huge numbers, entering other Arab states – especially in the Gulf – is far less straightforward.

    Officially, Syrians can apply for a tourist visa or work permit in order to enter a Gulf state.

    But the process is costly, and there is a widespread perception that many Gulf states have unwritten restrictions in place that it make it hard for Syrians to be granted a visa in practice.

    Most successful cases are Syrians already in Gulf states extending their stays, or those entering because they have family there.

    For those with limited means, there is the added matter of the sheer physical distance between Syria and the Gulf.

    This comes as part of wider obstacles facing Syrians, who are required to obtain rarely granted visas to enter almost all Arab countries.

    Without a visa, Syrians are not currently allowed to enter Arab countries except for Algeria, Mauritania, Sudan and Yemen.

    The relative wealth and proximity to Syria of the states has led many – in both social and as well as traditional media – to question whether these states have more of a duty than Europe towards Syrians suffering from over four years of conflict and the emergence of jihadist groups in the country.

  19. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted the link to the Independent’s petition last night (now on 54,000 signatures), I wrote:

    Let’s shame David Cameron and the UK government into doing much more to assist the people suffering in this huge humanitarian crisis. I don’t want that poor boy who washed up on that Turkish beach – at Bodrum, where I was just two weeks ago – to have died in vain, and for my country to have stayed resolutely flint-hearted, because disgusting, unacceptable racism is so prevalent in the UK these days.

  20. Andy Worthington says...

    Sputnik Junior wrote:

    Especially since it wasn’t Germany’s war that drove them from their homes in the first place, but the war that the states and the UK shared.

  21. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, exactly, Sputnik Junior. The hypocrisy is startling – and a savage indictment of the current political situation in the UK.

  22. Andy Worthington says...

    Allison Lee-Clay wrote:

    Vienna did a lousy job of publicizing their massive pro-refugee-migrant demo from this week. At least 20K people walked the streets, & then hosted a greeting event at the train station…

  23. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for that, Allison.

  24. Andy Worthington says...

    David Knopfler wrote:

    Germany, regardless of which party is in power, generally behave like the model social democracy envisioned by the Marshall Plan, which in turn was an extension of FDR’s New Deal. Just imagine what a force for good the US might have been if McCarthyism had been shut down on day one. I defy David Cameron to look at those pictures of a small drowned child washed up on a Turkish beach, and then make the same speech he glibly made today. For a nation that likes to wear its Christianity on its sleeve when it suits, this “no room at the inn” stuff is pitiless.

  25. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, well said, David.

  26. Andy Worthington says...

    Yann Riguidel wrote:

    The first country that should take refugees are the USA because these people are mostly fleeing from what USA has created. France and UK should also take their part in this for what they have done in Libya. all the countries involved in the “second gulf war” should also participate. Israel should for its bombardments of Syria. Saudi Arabia also. These refugees should be allowed to go anywhere they want in the countries that have created their nightmare so maybe next time we’ll think twice before destroying countries.

  27. Andy Worthington says...

    Excellent. Well said, Yann – and hello from London! “These refugees should be allowed to go anywhere they want in the countries that have created their nightmare so maybe next time we’ll think twice before destroying countries.” That’s perfect.

  28. Andy Worthington says...

    Pamela Hardyment wrote:

    Half a million economic migrants came to the UK last year. It’s all about money. Don’t ask Dave about humanitarian crises..he doesnt even know how to spell it, but he spells money, munitions, and monopolies really well

  29. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, he does, Pamela, just like the disgusting, small-minded, greedy, verminous scum that he and his cabinet are. I hope his heartless response to the crisis yesterday will be the moment he falls from grace.

  30. Andy Worthington says...

    Asif Rana shared this on Facebook, and wrote:

    An excellent piece from my friend Andy Worthington. Please read, share, and continue to get signatures. Thanks.

  31. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Asif. The petition now has 141,940 signatures. It’s getting 5,000 signatures every 15 minutes. Please let’s get it to 250,000, 500,000, 1 million. I will not let David Cameron, his flint-hearted cabinet, the racist media (softening today, the hypocrites) and those of my fellow citizens who have fallen into bigotry define who I am, or who all the other decent people in this country are.

  32. Andy Worthington says...

    E-petition has reached 150,000 signatures. Now let’s get it to 250,000! https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/105991

  33. Andy Worthington says...

    Another 35,000 signatures in the last two hours. It’s now on 185,180 signatures.
    Let’s get it to 300,000 by the end of the day!
    https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/105991

  34. Andy Worthington says...

    Simon Penfound wrote:

    MOAS – Migrant Offshore Aid Station – DONATE
    http://www.moas.eu/donate/ PLEASE DONATE WHAT YOU CAN INSHALLAH !

  35. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for that, Simon.

  36. Andy Worthington says...

    Abduljaleel Bain wrote:

    God bless you Andy for this and all your other activist work. Let’s all keep up the pressure on our own and other governments. We can’t afford to allow this one to go quiet

  37. Andy Worthington says...

    No, absolutely not, Abduljaleel. Good to hear from you, btw. It’s been years since we’ve seen each other!
    My feeling is that we’re reaching some sort of tipping point – indicating some good things and some terrible things. Politically, we’ve got socialists like jeremy Corbyn suddenly being very popular, but we’ve also got rampant racism and xenophobia and this latest refugee crisis is a serious test for all decent people (and one which may Brits, and the government, are currently failing). And as Emma Thompson explained on Channel 4 News last night, this crisis – as well as being connected to western militarism – is also connected to the environmental disaster we are facing, but which cynical vested interests are still trying to deny. It’s all connected.

  38. Andy Worthington says...

    David Schwittek wrote:

    I wish I could sign, Andy, but I’m a Yank! However, I will share it!

  39. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, David. You can also share this fundraising page if you like. Anyone anywhere in the world can help out: http://www.moas.eu/donate/

  40. Andy Worthington says...

    A good article by John Harris in the Guardian, ‘This refugee crisis was a test for David Cameron. He’s flunked it’:
    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/sep/03/refugee-crisis-test-david-cameron

    Here are the opening paragraphs:

    This is not something I write very often, but I agree with David Miliband. In his capacity as president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, his stern words about the refugee crisis and the UK’s pitiful response were admirably clear and concise, and full of moral urgency: precisely the kind of intervention, in fact, that it would be nice to hear from a few more front-rank British politicians.

    Perhaps Miliband’s most cutting point was his argument against those commentators and politicians who still insist that the current emergency is down to “migrants”. That word, he says, “suggests these people are voluntarily fleeing, whereas in fact, if you’ve been barrel-bombed out of your home three times, life and limb demand that you flee. It’s not about being politically incorrect in using the term migrant. It’s simply incorrect.”

    It really is, but the British discourse on migration and asylum has long been awash with conflations of the two, usually for the most self-serving of purposes – and over the last 20 or so years the politics of all this has become hopelessly contorted. The terms “refugee” and “asylum seeker” may denote different things (crudely put, an asylum seeker only becomes a refugee when some or other official agency decides as such), but it’s telling that the R word, with all its moral connotations, has all but disappeared from our national vocabulary. Moreover, from the 1990s onwards, the endless coupling of “asylum seeker” with the word “bogus” embedded the idea that anyone seeking sanctuary was more often than not a fraud. From there, it was a short step to people fleeing war and oppression not being seen as a discrete group at all, and the shoving of refugees into the dehumanising (and borderline meaningless) category of “migrants”.

  41. Andy Worthington says...

    The petition to Theresa May, ‘No more drownings. Immediate sanctuary for those fleeing from war’, now has 185,815 signatures. Please sign and share! https://www.change.org/p/rt-hon-theresa-may-mp-no-more-drownings-immediate-sanctury-for-those-fleeing-from-war

  42. Andy Worthington says...

    And the Independent’s petition to David Cameron, ‘Britain must accept its fair share of refugees seeking safety in Europe’, now has 97,264 signatures. Please sign and share this too! https://www.change.org/p/david-cameron-britain-must-accept-its-fair-share-of-refugees-seeking-safety-in-europe

  43. Andy Worthington says...

    Here’s a good leader column from the New Statesman:
    http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/uk/2015/09/leader-wretched-earth

    The wretched of the earth

    Britain must accept more asylum-seekers, and create a sustainable plan for their integration into wider society.

    The quality of our public discourse on asylum is lamentable. The Conservative government, preoccupied with its absurd immigration caps and targets (all missed), has shown little leadership on the issue. In an excellent speech on 1 September, Yvette Cooper correctly denounced the “political cowardice” of ministers for failing to respond adequately and compassionately to the plight of asylum-seekers fleeing turmoil in North Africa and the Middle East. She contrasted the government’s inaction with Britain’s proud traditions of welcoming incomers and the most desperate refugees.

    Yet those who agree with Ms Cooper should also accept that admitting large numbers of asylum-seekers – she suggested that Britain should take in 10,000 people fleeing the Middle East – would pose considerable challenges to public services, housing and social cohesion. It is not enough to accept more asylum-seekers. There must be a plan for their integration into wider society, by helping them to learn English, find work and pay taxes. Above all, what is required is not a panicked, short-term response to the immediate crisis but an EU-wide solution for the long term.

    The British government, however, does not seem interested in helping to find one, which was why Ms Cooper’s call for a country of 65 million to admit 10,000 asylum-seekers seemed so bold. For all its difficulties, Britain is richer than most other countries in the EU. It can afford to do far more than its intransigent approach to admitting asylum-seekers suggests. Between 2010 and 2014, 15 EU countries admitted more asylum-seekers per head of population than the UK.

    In 2014, the UK granted asylum to just 14,000 people, compared to the 47,500 taken by Germany. This year, as many as 800,000 are expected to apply to Germany. Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that the refugee crisis “will concern us far more than Greece and the stability of the euro”, and German regional leaders have agitated for greater federal funding and faster processing of asylum claims. Such an approach is absent from much of the rest of the continent: many European nations seem to have resolved that the best way to deter asylum-seekers is to treat them deplorably. The Dutch government has announced plans to cut off the supply of food and shelter for those who fail to qualify as refugees.

    Nor has the EU distinguished itself. A proposal made in May for member states to admit 40,000 asylum-seekers between them has collapsed. The EU has also failed to engage other nations in a larger multilateral response to alleviating the crisis: the wealthy Gulf states, which keep their borders firmly closed to the desperate of Syria ought to be shamed into action. As many as 2,500 people have died attempting to cross the Mediterranean this year; across the EU, the number of applications for asylum reached the record figure of 626,000 in 2014 and it will be even higher in 2015.

    David Cameron can legitimately say that he is operating in a climate of great hostility to migrants and asylum-seekers – just read the tabloid headlines. Yet leadership is about informing public opinion, not merely following it. The Prime Minister has a rare opportunity to shape a more enlightened and compassionate public discourse.

  44. Andy Worthington says...

    The e-petition to the British government, calling for the UK to take in many more refugees, has reached 200,000 signatures. Let’s get it to 300,000 signatures by the end of the day!

  45. Anna says...

    About 30 years ago, when I first spent a year in Africa and saw how local people were treated when trying to get a visa in our consulates – if they even managed to get to the teller that is – I was appalled and realised to what extent Apartheid was implemented by Europe. It was just that the signposts ‘only for whites’ were not on the beach, in the bus or in the park, but in a virtual form in our embassies: “You’re OK but we do not want you as a neighbour, we’ll help you by giving you some pittance, as long as you stay where you are”.

    I then saw this image in my mind – which anyone is welcome to actually draw – of a huge dam with at its bottom a leaking tap, dripping single ‘others’ and our authorities obstinately bent on reducing those leaks to zero, at any cost. Bent also litterally and so absorbed by this, that they do not notice how high above their head, above the edge of the dam, a tidal wave of such desperate ‘others’ from other continents is building up and that if nothing is done about that, sooner or later the dam will burst and there will be no way of stopping the wave from crashing across.

    Now the first cracks have appeared, and what do our authorities do : more of the same, try to fix those cracks rather than opening some valves to let them in legally, which would also ease the pressure and give all a chance to think rather than panic. It was evident, that as soon as TV would infiltrate even the most remote villages of the world and people would see how rich we are and how wasteful, they would – rightly – conclude that we have plenty to spare. It was utterly naive to think that because in colonial times occupied nations humbly accepted their fate as they had no way of fighting it physically, their children and further generations would continue doing so. Everyone wants a better life if not for oneself, then at least for one’s children. So much for ‘illegal economic migrants’. If we do not want them, maybe we should have considered that when our ancestors did not ask permission form those countries to come and grab their resources and enslave their citizens, as a much worse kind of ‘illegal immigrants’. Not just a few hundred years ago, but of our memory, 50 or 60 years ago. Not to mention continuing corporate exploitation to this day. One cannot just go and settle in other countries and then whine if someone else wants to settle in ours.

    Most of them however, are refugees from wars. There should not even be any discussion about treating them humanely on a continent which has seen so many refugees over the past 100 years and should remember what it feels like to be persecuted with no safe place to go. Quota I suppose must be based on various factors, including total population, population density (the Netherlands or Scandinavia have very different elasticity in that respect), GDP or some other measure of economic resilience (Greece or Britain). Of course, if all our governments would limit military spending, they could easily accomodate these refugees and would contribute to stopping the root causes for fleeing.

    I am appalled by the smug and twisted rhetoric of most politicians : when they want to involve the army/razorwire fences etc to stop the flow of refugees, it supposedly is merely to fight the people smugglers. Which would like to suggest that if we manage to eradicate smugglers (about as fat a chance as of terrorists being eradicated by the same bragging governments), that would magically mean that there are no more suffering refugees, supposedly because we do not see them anymore? In the meantime, all this muscle flexing rhetoric – including Hungary’s – only increases the need for refugees to resort to illegal smugglers as a last resort, so we actually encourage the smuggling (getting someone illegally across a border) and by the same token human trafficking (selling them into some form of slavery or bondage instead of delivering them to the agreed place).

    If not for a smuggler, I would most probably not be there, nor my brother, who both were born after the war, nor probably my mother and eldest brother who in 1940 were smuggled across the Russian-German border and in order to reach the neutral country where my father was interned. The smuggler first took all she had to spare, then wanted to kill her but she managed to persuade him not to do so. There was no sea to cross, but she no doubt would have done it if necessary. Now that was WW II, completely lawless and there was no way for anyone in occupied countries to get a legal visa, so smugglers had a – crooked – reason to exist. Today Europe has peace and there is no reason whatsoever for smugglers to be able to exploit human suffering the way they do. They way we let them do it.

    Without in any way wanting to categorize refugees from different countries, I see another nightmare coming true : Afghanistan having been ‘stabilised’ by some 50 countries, none of these will now admit that they have been lying all that time and how much of a failure it has been and therefore Afghan refugees are never mentioned as people ‘deserving’ refugee status. While the insecurity there is steadily increasing and many young men have the choice between being ‘drafted’ by the taliban, being killed or fleeing the country.

    I sent a mail to the Hungarian government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs who talked about ‘illegal migrants’, to remind him of 1956 Hungarian refugees : intcomm@me.gov.hu. Each government has a ‘contact’ address, let’s use them, starting of course with our own but also others, as after all we are supposed to be a united Europe with shared responsibilities.

    In Germany and Austria there are already actions to offer hospitality to refugees, so they can get a rest in a friendly place, were it only during the period when all the legal matters must be finalised. Those of us who have spare room, (heated) holiday cottages etc, could take some for a much longer period. This also is another way to put pressure on our governments by removing one of the excuses for limiting refugee numbers.

  46. Andy Worthington says...

    That’s a very powerful commentary, Anna – and it’s important for people to hear stories about previous refugees, like the story of your family and millions of others. Thank you. I am crying right now. I just saw Aylan’s father and his aunt on Channel 4 News. The poor man. Their boat capsized, and he managed to sweep up his wife and his two children in his arms, only to discover that they were already dead. The boys’ aunt, who lives in Canada, had been trying to get Canada to accept them, but had been turned down. She said that their mother had told her on the phone recently about how scared she was to travel by boat – but she had done it, of course, because the family was desperate.
    So horrible. We need action for these poor people, and we need it now.

  47. Andy Worthington says...

    On my Facebook page, I had a few comments from people saying Britain had done enough. You can check out the thread here: https://www.facebook.com/andyworthingtonUK/posts/10153659725598804

    This was my response:

    I’m very disappointed to see people saying that Britain has done enough. We have done almost nothing. Just a few hundred Syrian refugees have been taken in by the UK, whereas it would make sense for us to take hundreds of thousands, as part of the acceptance of, say two million people throughout Europe as a whole. I agree that the US should do its part, and I also think the Gulf countries should step up as well, but in the real world, right now, all of these people are arriving in Europe – and that’s where we are.

  48. Andy Worthington says...

    Chuck Luckenbill wrote:

    Heart breaking!

  49. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, exactly, Chuck. That’s the correct response, followed by asking, “What can we do now for these poor people?” Nothing else.

  50. Andy Worthington says...

    Rana Abdul Majid wrote:

    signed it

  51. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Rana. I’m delighted to see that the e-petition now has 259,594 signatures. 300,000 is definitely possible by the end of the day.

  52. Andy Worthington says...

    Yoshimi Owen wrote:

    Ahhhh….US and NATO…not funny anymore.

  53. Andy Worthington says...

    If they ever were, Yoshimi!

  54. Andy Worthington says...

    John John wrote:

    Why not send them aid? Taking in people is not doing, it is the opposite of doing, it is hoping the government will do something because people don’t want to be responsible for doing.

  55. Andy Worthington says...

    There are certainly good reasons to be trying to provide as much support as possible near to where people are fleeing from, John, but the people we’re all talking about now are already in Europe, and this huge influx of people needs dealing with appropriately. Right now, this is a humanitarian crisis on an enormous scale, and there’s nowhere to send people back to, so right now we have to deal with it, however much in future we might want to do things differently.
    That, incidentally, will have to involve us bringing our insane militarism to an end, but also finding ways to try to make life better in numerous countries that people are currently leaving in significant numbers. And that’s a big problem, because we constantly exploit countries around the world to maintain western corporations’ profits.

  56. Andy Worthington says...

    John John wrote:

    I agree with the gist of that but not all conflicts are caused by the West (the brutal Assad regime and the factionalism, tribalism and sectarianism of Syria has caused its own problems).

    If one does not relocate these people, or stop their flow to the money rewards they are expecting, there will be no stop to the illegal and dangerous flow. All that can be expected is to get them as close as to where they are from (Syrians to Turkey, etc.) and to give them assistance. Unless the idea is that Europe needs to destroy itself in some weird self hating flagellation to cover for the fact that it is causing far more havoc and suffering every day than this represents.

  57. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, but the reality is that it’s proving impossible to prevent people from making desperate efforts to get to where they think a better life awaits. Erdogan let huge numbers of refugees into Turkey, and then instead of staying they have risked their lives getting to Europe.

  58. Andy Worthington says...

    E-petition reaches 268,433 signatures. 300,000 is definitely possible tonight! https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/105991

  59. Andy Worthington says...

    Excellent news: 305,155 signatures reached. Now to get to 500,000, by the end of tomorrow!

  60. Andy Worthington says...

    Fathima Mohamed Farook wrote, in response to 5, above:

    I am sorry I did not sign your petition because I really cannot accept the fact that Rich middle eastern kings make gold toilets for their fancy and cant help these poor neighbors of theirs. But you are doing a great job, may god be with you.

  61. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks again, Fathima. I appreciate the supportive words – and your disgust at the heartlessness of the leaders of rich countries in the Gulf.

  62. Andy Worthington says...

    Urging people to sign the Independent’s petition, which now has over 200,000 signatures, I wrote:

    Please sign and share. It is disgusting that Germany is taking 800,000 asylum seekers, while the UK has taken just 216 refugees from Syria, and David Cameron says we’re doing enough. We aren’t, and we should do much, much more.

  63. Andy Worthington says...

    Gloria Colon wrote:

    Also considering the responsibility of the UK in the invasion of Iraq and destabilization of the Middle East that came after that

  64. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, exactly, Gloria. It’s very important to remember that. You would think, listening to David Cameron and all those in the UK trying to keep Fortress Britain intact that we have had nothing to do with the destabilisation of the Middle East. What a disgrace.

  65. Andy Worthington says...

    Gloria Colon wrote:

    America and the UK are responsible for the destabilization of the Middle East. These refugees are coming from Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria. France is responsible for Libiy and the killing of Ghaddafi and these french MOFU want to close the borders to refugees too

  66. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, every well put, Gloria. I am sorry about my country’s contribution, and implacably angry that they will not even admit it. Arrogant colonial scum to the end.

  67. Andy Worthington says...

    Naseera Mohamed sent a graphic that shows the number of refugees taken by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Emirates and Bahrain – zero!
    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=891015987656487&set=p.891015987656487&type=1&theater

  68. Andy Worthington says...

    That’s a thorough indictment of the indifference of those regimes, Naseera. Thanks you for sharing. The leaders of those countries ought to be profoundly ashamed.

  69. Andy Worthington says...

    So the Independent’s petition, ‘Britain must accept its fair share of refugees seeking safety in Europe‘, now has 209,248 signatures. Please sign and share! https://www.change.org/p/david-cameron-britain-must-accept-its-fair-share-of-refugees-seeking-safety-in-europe

  70. Andy Worthington says...

    The petition addressed to Theresa May, ‘No more drownings. Immediate sanctuary for those fleeing from war‘, now has 223,764 signatures. Please sign and share this too! https://www.change.org/p/rt-hon-theresa-may-mp-no-more-drownings-immediate-sanctury-for-those-fleeing-from-war

  71. Andy Worthington says...

    Avaaz has also launched a petition here: https://secure.avaaz.org/en/no_more_drownings_uk/?bZSlAbb&v=64424
    It currently has 39,788 signatures, and it says:

    We, citizens from across Britain, call on you to urgently hold a full day debate in the House of Commons on the current refugee crisis and move fast to introduce a policy which drastically increases the numbers of refugees our country gives sanctuary. This is the biggest refugee crisis since World War II and we want Britain to throw these desperate families a lifeline. We call on you to respond with humanity and compassion to make our nation proud.

    Please sign and share this one too!

  72. Andy Worthington says...

    38 Degrees is also encouraging everyone to write to their MPs: https://speakout.38degrees.org.uk/campaigns/refugees-speakout

    They say:

    It looks like David Cameron is working up a plan to welcome some Syrian refugees to the UK. Together, we need to make sure the plan is as good as possible. We don’t want Britain to be the kind of country that turns its back as people drown in their desperation to flee places like Syria.

    So let’s stand up for Britain’s long tradition of helping refugees fleeing war. If tens of thousands of us write to our MPs, demanding no more drownings, we can force the government into action.

    Please can you email your MP now? It’ll just take a minute but it could be our best chance to force the government to help people fleeing from war and violence.

    Go to the page, enter your postcode and take it from there.

  73. Andy Worthington says...

    Monique D’hoohge posted a link to ‘Britain to take more refugees as Cameron bows to pressure after more than 100,000 back our campaign’ in the Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/britain-to-take-more-refugees-as-cameron-bows-to-pressure-after-more-than-100000-back-our-campaign-10485195.html

  74. Andy Worthington says...

    Still not much on the table though, Monique:

    An announcement – possibly involving Britain accepting more than a thousand refugees from UNHCR camps on the border of Syria – is expected within the next 24 hours. The details will be closely scrutinised by refugee charities which have urged the UK to welcome tens of thousands of homeless Syrians …

    The Government has faced criticism from other European capitals over its failure to accept Britain’s “fair share” of up to 160,000 refugees who are set to be re-settled under an emergency EU scheme.

    Ministers have also refused to join a UN programme for resettling the most vulnerable refugees, instead setting up its own programme that has admitted just 216 vulnerable Syrians over the past year. By contrast, Germany has accepted 35,000 Syrians through the UN programme, Canada more than 10,000, Australia 5,600 and Switzerland 3,500.

    Nils Muinieks, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, said: ‘I am seriously concerned by the British Prime Minister’s position that the UK should not provide protection to more refugees from the Middle East,’ he said ‘The truth is that at the moment the UK is doing much less than other European countries.’

  75. Roy Samuel says...

    SILENCE IN THE FACE OF EVIL IS ITSELF EVIL: GOD WILL NOT HOLD US GUILTLESS. NOT TO SPEAK IS TO SPEAK. NOT TO ACT IS TO ACT.
    — Dietrich Bonhoeffer

    From the Holy Bible:

    *[[Pro 24:11]] TLB* Rescue those who are unjustly sentenced to death; don’t stand back and let them die. Don’t try to disclaim responsibility by saying you didn’t know about it. For God, who knows all hearts, knows yours, and he knows you knew! And he will reward everyone according to his deeds.
    *[[Psa 82:3]] NASB* Vindicate the weak and fatherless; Do justice to the afflicted and destitute.
    *[[Isa 58:6-7]] NASB* %v 6% “Is this not the fast which I choose, To loosen the bonds of wickedness, To undo the bands of the yoke, And to let the oppressed go free And break every yoke? %v 7% “Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry And bring the homeless poor into the house; When you see the naked, to cover him; And not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
    *[[Isa 1:17]] NASB* Learn to do good; Seek justice, Reprove the ruthless, Defend the orphan, Plead for the widow.
    *[[Isa 1:17]] MSG* Learn to do good. Work for justice. Help the down-and-out. Stand up for the homeless. Go to bat for the defenseless.
    *[[Jas 4:17]] NASB* Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.
    *[[Deu 10:18-19]] NASB* %v 18% “He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing. %v 19% “So show your love for the alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.

  76. Roy Samuel says...

    Perhaps taking in those refugees, may help Britain wake up from its stupor and decadency..
    God tests nations in these…

    Isa 58:1 ​…….Tell my people what’s wrong with their lives, face my family Jacob with their sins!
    Isa 58:2 ​They’re busy, busy, busy at worship, and love studying all about me. To all appearances they’re a nation of right-living people– law-abiding, God-honoring. They ask me, ‘What’s the right thing to do?’ and love having me on their side.
    Isa 58:3 ​But they also complain, ‘Why do we fast and you don’t look our way? Why do we humble ourselves and you don’t even notice?’ “Well, here’s why: “The bottom line on your ‘fast days’ is profit. You drive your employees much too hard.
    Isa 58:4 ​You fast, but at the same time you bicker and fight. You fast, but you swing a mean fist. The kind of fasting you do won’t get your prayers off the ground.
    Isa 58:5 ​Do you think this is the kind of fast day I’m after: a day to show off humility? To put on a pious long face and parade around solemnly in black? Do you call that fasting, a fast day that I, GOD, would like?
    Isa 58:6 ​”This is the kind of fast day I’m after: to break the chains of injustice, get rid of exploitation in the workplace, free the oppressed, cancel debts.
    Isa 58:7 ​What I’m interested in seeing you do is: sharing your food with the hungry, inviting the homeless poor into your homes, putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad, being available to your own families.
    Isa 58:8 ​Do this and the lights will turn on, and your lives will turn around at once. Your righteousness will pave your way. The GOD of glory will secure your passage.
    Isa 58:9 ​Then when you pray, GOD will answer. You’ll call out for help and I’ll say, ‘Here I am.’ “If you get rid of unfair practices, quit blaming victims, quit gossiping about other people’s sins,
    Isa 58:10 ​If you are generous with the hungry and start giving yourselves to the down-and-out, Your lives will begin to glow in the darkness, your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight.
    Isa 58:11 ​I will always show you where to go. I’ll give you a full life in the emptiest of places– firm muscles, strong bones. You’ll be like a well-watered garden, a gurgling spring that never runs dry.
    Isa 58:12 ​You’ll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew, rebuild the foundations from out of your past. You’ll be known as those who can fix anything, restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate, make the community livable again.
    Isa 58:13 ​”If you watch your step on the Sabbath and don’t use my holy day for personal advantage, If you treat the Sabbath as a day of joy, GOD’s holy day as a celebration, If you honor it by refusing ‘business as usual,’ making money, running here and there–
    Isa 58:14 ​Then you’ll be free to enjoy GOD! Oh, I’ll make you ride high and soar above it all. I’ll make you feast on the inheritance of your ancestor Jacob.” Yes! GOD says so!

  77. Andy Worthington says...

    Thank you, Roy, for those reminders of why people should care for those less fortunate than themselves – and I think it’s important to remember that we should be looking after those who are suffering here (the poor, the unemployed, the disabled) as well as extending compassion to refugees fleeing death and destruction.
    At the moment, however, people have been encouraged to be self-obsessed and to strip themselves of any vestige of compassion and empathy, and the government (and all those MPs who didn’t vote against the most recent welfare-slashing bill) and the media have had a large part to play in that. I am often ashamed to be British these days – and the Prime Minister is still not providing necessary leadership, and far too many people are still dismissive of other people’s suffering.

  78. Andy Worthington says...

    David Knopfler wrote:

    Both the Guardian and the Independent are all over this today. I think we might have reached a tipping point but let’s make sure it doesn’t just end with petition signing. The Guardian in particular refers to two organisations on the ground – and the Refugee Council have a neat device to add a support for refugees logo to your FB page to get this thing comprehensively viral and put Cameron on more than just his back foot

  79. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, David​. Here’s the Guardian on what people have been doing – and what they can do now: http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/sep/03/britons-rally-to-help-people-fleeing-war-and-terror-in-middle-east

  80. Andy Worthington says...

    Petitions must always be the start rather then the end of action for worthy causes, David, but big numbers on these petitions have got through to the government. There’s a show of solidarity in London next Saturday, September 12, that people in London should attend: https://www.facebook.com/events/1047978998546751/
    I am constantly aware of how much racism, xenophobia and aggressive self-obsession have become the hallmarks of modern Britain, and this crisis needs to be the trigger for change. We need to open our hearts, and we need to change our government, so the warmongers, war profiteers and corporate exploiters of the developing world are stopped.

  81. Andy Worthington says...

    David Knopfler Snowball effects, I’m all for Andy 🙂 #RefugeesWelcome

  82. Andy Worthington says...

    And if Jeremy Corbyn wins the Labour leadership election, he’ll be in a great position to emphasise pacifism, compassion, empathy and an ethical foreign policy from day one, David!

  83. Andy Worthington says...

    Hello, friends. This morning, the e-petition to the British government calling for the UK to take in many more refugees has reached 360,442 signatures. I still think getting to 500,000 today is possible, and that it’s worth as many people as possible showing the government – and those of our fellow citizens who have lost touch with compassion and empathy – that we will not stand idly by while those less fortunate than ourselves are suffering, and children are dying. https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/105991

  84. Andy Worthington says...

    David Knopfler wrote:

    Andy, everything tends to interconnect… I’ll be in Germany on the 12th – but I hope it makes a difference – I think it all does

  85. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, I think things are interconnecting very much at present, David. We have socialism back on the table, and huge popular support for it from people starved of an alternative to turbo-capitalism, and we have a Prime Minister – looking, I must admit, slightly embarrassed about it – preferring to pander to the UK’s racists (partly, of course, encouraged by his own party and the right-wing media) rather than showing proper leadership – compassion, understanding, empathy and support – and only starting to change his tune in the face of massive opposition. We now hear we’ll be taking in thousands, but that needs to be tens of thousands.

  86. Andy Worthington says...

    ‘Refugee crisis: UN says Britain will take 4,000 more Syrians’ – in the Guardian:
    http://www.theguardian.com/world/live/2015/sep/04/refugee-migration-crisis-live-eu-biggest-test-since-second-world-war

  87. Andy Worthington says...

    And here’s a sensible list of what has caused the refugee crisis, and what might be appropriate responses, by Patrick Kingsley, the Guardian’s migration correspondent: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/04/10-ways-to-manage-the-migration-crisis

  88. Andy Worthington says...

    David Knopfler wrote:

    Absolutely correct Andy – the information on the demo page itself sums that up very well. The Refugee Council also twittered an interesting link that gives some background to how fortress Europe stumbled to this untenable position…
    ‘The refugee crisis facing fortress Europe’ by Petra Gümplová on Open Democracy:
    https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/petra-gumplova/refugee-crisis-facing-fortress-europe

  89. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks again, David. That looks like a very good article.

  90. wil Ko says...

    Don’t keep looking over your shoulder to see what other countries are doing and using that as an excuse for the UK to do nothing – that isn’t the issue – If you are British, you should do your best regardless of what others are doing

  91. Anna says...

    Beware of Cameron bearing gifts. He wants to take more refugees, but only from existing refugee camps outside Europe. That brings back dark memories of Kosovar refugees being similarly ‘selected’ from refugee camps in Macedonia: the US picked the brightest brains and those with the highest education, UN camp officials took bribes to move refugees up the list for resettlement in European countries.

    Of course any refugees saved is good and better than none. However, selection criteria should be based on needs.
    The refugees’, not ours …

  92. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for your comments, Wil. Unfortunately, the UK has decided that talking in refugees will only encourage more to come – as though the millions who have already left Syria can be ignored. Thankfully not every other country thinks the same way, but it makes me ashamed to be represented by people like David Cameron and his colleagues.

  93. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, David Cameron is not to be trusted at all, Anna. He sways with the wind and has no principles that he will not discard if it looks like it will make him more popular – or perhaps less unpopular would be more accurate.
    I am disgusted that the UK is not only doing almost nothing – the latest news appears to be that Cameron is deigning to take 4,000 refugees – but also that those already in Europe are being ignored by the British government because taking any of them would, they say, only encourage more to come. And of course when the hypocrisy is added in – the fact that the UK has contributed directly to this plight – my anger becomes implacable.
    And of course you’re right to note that British officials will be vetting those they take from refugee camps outside Europe. The candidates for being accepted as refugees will probably have to take some sort of exam (I’m only half-joking).
    The Tories, yet again, have been establishing that they have no redeeming features whatsoever. What a disgrace.

  94. AAkash says...

    Its really amazing job bro.i am from Bangladesh. your work will spread in the world.may Allah bless you and keep in you in the right track. best luck.

  95. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, AAkash. Good to hear from you.

  96. Anna says...

    Hi Andy,

    My turn for a national mea culpa. Poland ‘wants to accept refugees (which they stubbornly tend to call migrants) but on its own terms rather than accept EU quota.
    The PM, Ewa Kopacz, has called a meeting of a ‘Governmental Crisis Management Team’ for tomorrow (Saturday) to discuss this issue, so messages to put them on the right track would be useful. This is the official PM
    e-mail : kontakt@kprm.gov.pl.
    Plenty of arguments for foreigners and particularly Brits to challenge her (politely 🙂 :
    “With so many Poles living in Britain, there certainly is sufficient space to accomodate a few thousand refugees?”
    “As a member and massive beneficiary of the EU since more than 10 years, how about giving back to some of those even more in need?”
    “Human rights apply to all, irrespective of religion, so stop discriminating against muslims.”

    And for those with less time to spare, there are two ready made open letters which only need a signature. Unfortunately only in polish, so you’d have to take my word for it being OK:
    – One to the government, urging acceptance of refugees “Poland has a moral obligation to give asylum to refugees”
    http://www.krytykapolityczna.pl/artykuly/kraj/20150831/polska-ma-moralny-obowiazek-udzielic-uchodzcom-azylu

    – The other is a sort of poll/petition to the PM, putting emphasis, that by accepting only Christian Syrians (which of late is not emphasized …) she is breaking both Polish and international anti-discrimination laws :
    http://www.petycjeonline.com/tak_dla_przyjmowania_osob_uciekajcych_przed_przeladowaniami
    Make them realize, that the whole world is watching!

  97. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Anna. Disappointments all round, then. Cameron, as I’m sure you’ve seen, is suggesting that the UK will take a few thousand people from camps on the Syrian border, but is perfectly happy not to take any of the poor people who have made it to Europe and are in desperate need of some support.
    He seems to think there’s now a sliding scale for how deserving refugees are, above and beyond the endless cynical spin involved in describing refugees as “economic migrants”, as our leaders love to do.
    I’m also rather sickened by the anti-Muslim comments – in Hungary, for example – and the pro-Syrian Christians comments of Nigel Farage, who was back on British TV screens today. The BBC should be ashamed of letting him anywhere near a camera or a microphone right now.
    The struggle for justice and fairness continues.

  98. Andy Worthington says...

    The e-petition to the British government calling for the UK to take in many more refugees has now reached 395,887 signatures. Can we get it to 400,000, and then 500,000 tomorrow? David Cameron’s miserable suggestion that the UK will take a few thousand refugees from camps on the Syrian border – but no one at all from the hundreds of thousands currently on the European mainland – is simply not acceptable, and we need to make that clear.
    https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/105991

  99. Andy Worthington says...

    The Independent’s petition to David Cameron, calling for the UK government to “work with other European Union countries to set and welcome a quota of refugees”, now has 298,401 signatures, Can we get it to 300,000 now, and 400,000 tomorrow? It’s important as Cameron and the UK establishment are intent on not being part of an EU quota at all, and just unilaterally accepting a very small number of refugees from camps near Syria.
    https://www.change.org/p/david-cameron-britain-must-accept-its-fair-share-of-refugees-seeking-safety-in-europe

  100. Andy Worthington says...

    Here’s a detailed and thought-provoking analysis of the situation by Paul Mason in the Guardian, ‘This refugee crisis is too big for Europe to handle – its institutions are broken’: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/sep/04/this-refugee-crisis-is-too-big-for-europe-to-handle-its-institutions-are-broken

    Some excerpts:

    [E]ven as the news organisations agonise over the terminology – migrant or refugee – the distinctions on the ground are becoming pointless. Some migrants trapped in Greece for months or years, not from Syria and already denied asylum, have joined the trudge through the Balkans: they would rather take their chances in the German asylum system than in the Greek one, especially if the right returns to power in Athens this month. If you go to Victoria Square in Athens, where migrants cluster to seek out traffickers, you will meet people from other conflicts, people we’ve not been so hospitable to: Kurds, Afghans, oppressed minorities from Central Asia or Iran, people from Darfur and Eritrea. They are, by definition, asylum seekers – but the EU’s asylum system has already rejected most of them.

    When I interviewed migrants in Morocco in 2013 preparing to make the sea crossing to Spain they were clustered into makeshift homes together, regardless of status: the political dissident from Gambia, the bricklayers from drought-hit Niger, the women fleeing poverty in west Africa who now faced racism and sexual violence in Morocco itself.

    The disorder we have allowed to assemble at the borders of Europe does not easily divide into “economics” and “war”. The conceit that we can segment those coming here into the “deserving and undeserving” is going to shatter as their claims are processed.

  101. Andy Worthington says...

    Some thoughts on the the Independent’s petition on Change.org – advocating for action from the UK government rather than just reporting on the crisis – which has over 300,000 signatories so far: https://www.change.org/p/david-cameron-britain-must-accept-its-fair-share-of-refugees-seeking-safety-in-europe
    Setting up the petition allows the Independent to send emails to everyone who has signed the petition, so, for example, an email last night directed signatories to the latest article in the Independent about the crisis. That means that there’s some canny marketing going on, but I don’t want to be cynical about what the Independent has done. I’ve actually been desperate for ‘liberal’ (i.e non-right wing) newspapers to embrace issues as advocates, rather than reporting the news ‘objectively’ and only allowing opinions on the comment pages, since the Iraq invasion in 2003, when the Daily Mirror had a daily WMD-o-meter on its front page, showing how many days it was since the war began, and no WMDs had been found.

  102. Andy Worthington says...

    I just came across this powerful poem, by Laura Tharion, in Sydney, Australia, about the refugee crisis and the death of Aylan Kurdi, the three-year old Syrian boy who drowned trying to reach Europe from Turkey, and I wanted to share it with you. Laura captures perfectly for me the selfishness of those in the West who claim we don’t have room for refugees created, in large part, by our own warmongering and ongoing economic colonialism.

    So you lie dead, curled in the sand
    in your poppy red shirt,
    and little brown shoes,
    laced lovingly by fearful hands,
    who faced a paper boat and
    the cold embrace of a soulless ocean
    as the safest cradle offered.
    Hands that dared hope
    you would walk again on soft green grass,
    and paddle laughing in the licking shallows
    of a sun-kissed beach,
    not facedown cold
    with flooded lungs.

    And we have room.
    Room in the corner of our eyes
    for a budding tear,
    quickly uprooted.
    Room in our newsfeed for
    a momentarily gutting photo.
    Room in our graveyards.
    But we don’t have room in our homes,
    room in our schools,
    room to push you smiling on a swing
    inside our playgrounds.
    We don’t have room in our hearts.

    We don’t care that you are dead.
    We care only for the inconvenience of
    our own discomfort,
    relieved to no longer need
    to sacrifice the crumbs you would
    have quietly gathered from beneath
    our bloated tables,
    or endure your living presence
    enrage our blind and hungry god
    of economic growth.
    We are vacuous,
    but we have no room.
    So you lie curled in the sand,
    in your little brown shoes.

  103. Andy Worthington says...

    Andi Vincent wrote:

    Thanks for sharing Andy!

  104. Andy Worthington says...

    You’re welcome, Andi. Someone had cut and pasted it as a comment, and I was so impressed that I did a search to find out where it came from. I think it’s gone viral – or, rather, as viral as words can. As we know, most human beings respond to pictures rather than words!

  105. Andy Worthington says...

    Dejanka Bryant wrote:

    Yes, so powerful. Shameful treatment of living human beings drowning to escape death.

  106. Andy Worthington says...

    It’s as big test for us in Europe, isn’t it, Dejanka? Do we care for others, as both religion and socialism would have us do, or do we insist on trying to raise the drawbridge on Fortress Europe? To me, the latter is like the gated communities that have developed over the last 30 years – a sign of a horrible isolationism, and an increasing “uber-class” of those who have the most, and who get aggressive and intolerant about their supposed “entitlement.”
    That said, we need to see much more action from the US to take refugees, and the Gulf countries to play their part too – but most of all we need new governments in the West, who believe in implementing peace and not waging war, and who also believe in bringing to an end our hugely damaging economic imperialism. Both are the most significant factors in the creation of this huge crisis.

  107. Andy Worthington says...

    Dejanka Bryant wrote:

    Definitely, Andy. Only in London 400 000 obscenely rich people live. They are so powerful to shape our future. On the other side, desperate working class can’t afford to buy even studio flats while Boris is throwing people from their owned flats in council estate buldings for he aims to demolish them and build a complex of luxury flats. At times of desperation, it is easier to blame immigrants than the government totally divorced from reality. Did you read the latest article by Peter Oborne? He was spot on!

    ‘The only way to stem this tide is to stop our Middle East meddling: In a haunting dispatch from Syria, PETER OBORNE reveals the real reason the refugees keep coming’:
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3223044/The-way-stem-tide-stop-Middle-East-meddling-haunting-dispatch-Syria-PETER-OBORNE-reveals-real-reason-refugees-coming.html

  108. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, thanks, Dejanka, for the reminder of how everyone except the very rich are suffering through the policies of our greed-obsessed, warmongering governments. I hadn’t see Peter’s article, so thanks for the link. He’s a very powerful voice for sanity.

  109. Andy Worthington says...

    Carol Anne Grayson wrote:

    This is also a powerful poem re refugees…
    ‘“Home” by Somali poet Warsan Shire perfectly depicts the refugee crisis’:
    https://activist1.wordpress.com/2015/09/05/home-by-somali-poet-warsan-shire-perfectly-depicts-the-refugee-crisis/

  110. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Carol. Yes, that’s a very powerful poem. Thanks for sharing it.

  111. Andy Worthington says...

    Ahlam Al-whatever wrote:

    Very powerful words, particularly the sentence ‘we care only for the inconvenience of our own discomfort’ couldn’t be more true! People are complaining that the image of that poor baby is distressing to show up on our feeds, that there’s no space for any more immigrants in Europe. Many would rather turn a blind eye to the current events and live blissfully in ignorance just so we’re not inconvenienced with the harsh reality or the knowledge that we can do something, but would rather not, as there’s no economic benefit for the potential hosts. But why are these countries in such turmoil? Isn’t it due the the greed, meddling and economic benefit of the western world? I think the countries that meddled including the UK and the U.S. have a duty and responsibility to help these refugees and shouldn’t have to wait to be pressured by the general public who have the heart and morals these government lack, in order to do what’s right.

  112. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, I agree, Ahlam​. That line struck home to me too. That, and, “We are vacuous, but we have no room.” The more I look at the extent to which we – the US, the UK and other NATO countries – have destabilised the refugees’ home countries (Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq), the more apparent it is to me that we have an obligation to help – and also that there’s need for a new way of thinking about our foreign policy – both militarily and in terms of economic exploitation. I hope Jeremy Corbyn wins the Labour leadership contest so he can keep a sane alternative in the public eye.
    I also recommend Caroline Lucas’s thoughts on the crisis (another politician I admire): http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/sep/04/welcome-more-refugees-than-cameron-contemplating

  113. Andy Worthington says...

    Yann Riguidel wrote:

    As long as we won’t fight the ones who’ve created these wars, we’ll be accomplice

  114. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, we need a radical change of goverments throughout the West, Yann. Out with the warmongers, and the turbo-capitalist exploiters of everyone and everything. But that would mean the West would become much less rich, and the greedy, selfish, sociopathic 1% – and all the lemmings who think that one day they’ll get rich too (they nearly all won’t) – are obsessed with preserving their bloated, destructive privilege. How do we have a paradigm shift in people’s mentality – and not one that involves a drift to the right? The rise of the SNP and Corbynmania are hopefully providing signposts in the UK, but the entrenched power bases will play dirty to prevent their cosy, corrupt ivory towers from being assailed.

  115. anna says...

    Re 102 – Heart wrenching poem that says it all. Thank you for posting it Andy.

  116. Andy Worthington says...

    You’re welcome, Anna. I came across it on Facebook first thing in the morning, and, curious as to who had written it, I tracked Laura down, and found myself imagining her writing each line – her empathy for Aylan and other refugees, and her understated but very powerful condemnation of the indifference of far too many people in the West.

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
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