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Robbing Refugees & Media Lies

http://www.helpfreetheearth.com

January 2016

DENMARK ROBS REFUGEES

More than one million refugees have entered the European Union in 2015. They are escaping the genocide of western governments that have depopulated their countries and turned their cities into rubble...all paid for with OUR TAX DOLLARS.

Denmark's daylight robbery of refugees defies international outrage as they press ahead with plans to force refugees to hand over valuables in return for providing sanctuary.

Danish authorities can now ransack the belongings of refugees and migrants and seize cash and valuables worth more than 10,000 Danish kroner (1,340 euros).

The Danish Foreign Minister Kristian Jensen was summoned to Geneva by the UN Human Rights body to explain his country's shift in policy. The UN refugee agency, the UNHCR has warned that the new bill could fuel fear and xenophobia, while Amnesty International has condemned it as a "discriminatory practice" singling out refugees already traumatized by war.

The seizure of jewelry and cash from refugees and migrants, is just one small component of the center-right minority government's campaign to deter people from showing up and asking for asylum.

BULGARIA ROBS, TORTURES REFUGEES

Law enforcement officials in Bulgaria have been accused of returning migrants to Turkey, often after stealing their belongings. Human Rights Watch says some refugees were also subjected to brutal violence.

Human Rights Watch interviewed 45 asylum seekers and migrants from Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq, who described their experiences while traveling from Turkey to central Europe through Bulgaria last year.

"Bulgaria needs to end the abuse and unlawful treatment of people seeking protection in Europe," Lydia Gall, Balkans and Eastern Europe researcher at Human Rights Watch (HRW) said. "The Bulgarian government should immediately put a stop to summary returns, investigate allegations of abuse and pushbacks and hold those responsible to account," she added.

HRW's research revealed that 26 of the refugees interviewed had been beaten by police or bitten by police dogs. Nearly all were stripped of their possessions, sometimes at gunpoint by people wearing Bulgarian police uniforms and insignia.

DETENTION CENTER ABUSE

Fourteen asylum seekers, including three underage refugees, described poor conditions in Bulgarian detention centers in Busmantsi and Elhovo. "The guards would yell, 'Why do you come to our country?' … The food was scarce, there was never enough to eat," 16-year-old Sina told researchers.

Similar complaints against Bulgaria are not new. Last November, the Belgrade Center for Human Rights, funded by Oxfam, also reported cases of beating and torture of refugees. Bulgaria's government, however, said abuse was not part of its policy and that it would investigate any sign of violence against refugees.

The European Commission opened proceedings against the country in September after it was found to have violated the qualification of international protection, which requires granting refuge to anyone who faces potential torture or inhuman treatment in his or her home country.

Returning refugees violates the 1951 Refugee Convention, the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Union Charter of Fundamental Rights, which guarantees right to asylum. Appropriating refugees' belongings also violates Bulgaria's domestic law.

SIX MEDIA LIES ABOUT REFUGEES

The recent attacks in Paris have opened the floodgates of anti-Muslim and anti-refugee sentiment.

1. ISIS fighters are refugees

One of the biggest (unfounded) fears of the crisis has been that ISIS fighters will try and sneak into Europe disguised as refugees. In early September 2015, those fears were apparently realized. In a widely-shared Facebook post, Peter Lee Goodchild put two images of the same man side-by-side: one taken during his time fighting in Syria, the other as he crossed into Europe. “Remember this guy?” he wrote, “Posing in ISIS photos last year – now he’s a “refugee.” Are we suckers or what!”

In fact, the only suckers were the ones who believed the post. The man Goodchild had identified as an ISIS recruit was really Laith Al Saleh, a commander of the Free Syrian Army – a group that has spent the last few years fighting against ISIS. After making enemies out of both Islamic State and al-Qaeda, he’d finally been forced to flee Syria for his safety. When the BBC confronted him with his epically moronic mistake, Goodchild was forced to apologize.

2. Refugees have wealth and health

Ever since the crisis began, angry people have been furiously retweeting images of refugees with smartphones, or wearing nice clothes, or owning nice possessions. The argument goes that the money they have means they can’t possibly be refugees. After all, if they have money, they have no reason to flee their home. Therefore they’re just migrants looking for handouts.

This argument misunderstands what a refugee is to a near-hilarious degree. In a war as total and devastating as the one in Syria, wealth, status and possessions are no protection against dying in the most-horrible way imaginable. You’re just as likely to end up under a barrel bomb if you own a nice watch than if you’re too poor to eat. Prior to the war, most Syrians were actually relatively well off. During WWII, many of the Jews who fled Hitler’s insanity were middle class or even actively wealthy. This doesn’t make any of them less worthy of their refugee status.

3. Most refugees aren't from Syria

Despite the devastating war there, many remain unconvinced that Syrian refugees make up the bulk of those arriving in Europe. Some even dispute they make up a significant percentage. In mid-September, the Daily Mail ran a headline crowing that the EU’s own figures proved only 20% of those reaching Europe were from Syria. Their article took the concept of cherry-picking data and ran with it to ludicrous extremes.

Rather than look at both Italy and Greece – the two main entry points for refugees and migrants – the Mail chose to specifically look at Italy. This is important as Greece has had hundreds of thousands more refugees cross its borders, and is the main entry point for those fleeing Syria. The Mail also only tracked data up to mid-June, before the crisis went supernova. By including both Greece and the last four months, the percentage of migrants arriving as Syrian refugees rise to 51%.

Nor are the remaining 49% simple economic migrants. UN figures show a further 14% come from war-torn Afghanistan, and another 8% are fleeing the psychopathic dictatorship in Eritrea. Many of the rest are from places like Boko Haram-controlled northern Nigeria, ISIS-controlled Iraq, and Darfur (where a genocide is underway).

4. All refugees are Muslim

One of the biggest assumptions people make about the refugees is that they’re pretty much all Muslim. After all, the argument goes, they’re mainly coming from Syria, Afghanistan and Eritrea. As Muslim countries, it stands to reason those fleeing them should be Muslims too, right?

Not even close. While there certainly are many Muslims among those entering Europe, plenty of other religions are represented too. The population of Syria, for example, is at least 10-12 percent Christian, with another 2-3 percent members of the Druze minority – an Abrahamic faith that believes in reincarnation. In Eritrea, nearly two thirds of the population identify as Christian, while about half of all Nigerians are members of the faith. In Iraq, Yazidis and Zoroastrians are chief among those fleeing ISIS, with 70,000 Yazidis alone having fled by August 2014. A small but significant number of Kurds fighting and fleeing ISIS are members of the PKK; a Communist, atheist organization.

There are definitely lots of Muslims currently entering Europe, but there are plenty of other religions in there too. But even if the refugees were only Muslims, that wouldn’t make their reasons for fleeing any less understandable.

5. Europe will be overwhelmed

By July, 340,000 refugees and migrants had crossed into Europe in 2015. Before winter sets in and makes crossings effectively impossible, it’s thought the number could reach as high as 500,000. That’s a huge number of people: more than the entire population of Iceland. It’s the highest influx of refugees into the EU ever recorded. With such massive numbers, people are taking to social media to declare Europe will be completely overrun by the refugee “swarms”.

The people making these claims have failed to take one thing into account: the European Union is massive. Not just ‘big’, but stupendously, crazily huge. By landmass, the EU would be the 7th largest country on Earth. By population, it would be the third largest, after only China and India. Compared to the EU’s 503million inhabitants, the number of refugees entering is tiny. The highest estimate of 500,000 entering this year would still account for less than 0.1% of the total population – a figure that doesn’t include the many who are refused entry and deported.

The reason the number feels higher is because many of the refugees are currently concentrated in a small number of countries and camps. Once refugees are distributed fairly around the EU, this worry should dissipate.

6. Hoardes of refugees are coming to America

Outside of Europe, you would think the reaction to the refugee crisis would be calmer. That hasn’t exactly been the case. While most of the country has debated the crisis sensibly, a vocal minority of far-right Americans have become convinced a government plot is underway to overwhelm the country with Muslims. According to them, 100,000 Syrian Muslims will be brought in annually, until the United States is completely overwhelmed.

We would say “it’s a good story, but…” except it isn’t even remotely good. It’s simply a story, fabricated to scare people. US immigration controls following 9/11 make it incredibly difficult for Syrians to enter the country, even as asylum seekers. In September, the White House formally announced it would take 10,000 Syrian refugees in 2016. That’s a number far lower than some German cities are taking. It’s also a surprisingly low number for the US. America absorbs around 70,000 – 80,000 refugees every single year, without breaking stride. There’s no reason to think an extra 10,000 Syrians will change that. In fact, you could argue it’s a humanitarian duty.

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