openDemocracy https://www.opendemocracy.net/ en How the US presidential election lost its glory https://www.opendemocracy.net/godfrey-hodgson/how-us-presidential-election-lost-its-glory <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>For a veteran observer of the American political scene since the 1960s, Monday’s first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is not just anticlimax and disappointment: it is unimaginable.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549501/PA-28736223_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Donald Trump, September 2016. Steve Helber/AP/Press Association Images. All rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549501/PA-28736223_0.jpg" alt="Donald Trump, September 2016. Steve Helber/AP/Press Association Images. All rights reserved." title="Donald Trump, September 2016. Steve Helber/AP/Press Association Images. All rights reserved." width="460" height="327" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Donald Trump, September 2016. Steve Helber/AP/Press Association Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>I was one of the original ‘boys on the bus’. In 1964, 1968 and 1972, I endured the appalling regime of 4am baggage calls to leave hotels in almost every state of the Union, oceans of indifferent coffee, fast food, and exhausted and exhausting candidates endlessly repeating ‘the speech’. My reward was an unparalleled Grand Tour of all the United States (except only North Dakota and Alaska) and face time with such legendary heroes of the American political pantheon as Barry Goldwater and George Wallace, Richard Nixon, Lyndon Johnson and Robert Kennedy. </p> <p><span>For a veteran of those critical years, Monday’s first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is not just anticlimax and disappointment: it is unimaginable. Not that the candidates I followed more than 50 years ago were either politically or personally impeccable. But they were serious people, serious politicians painting more or less solid pictures of how they wanted their country to be and to behave, accepting in greater or lesser measure a responsibility to all their fellow citizens.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Two very different politicians will meet on Monday. Hillary Clinton, to be sure, stands closer to the traditional candidates of a past that was certainly not golden. She has real personal credentials, achievements, policy positions, most of which she stands by, even if she is more than a little hubristic and embarrassingly impressed by money. Symbolically, as a woman candidate for the White House, she represents the righting of an historic wrong. There is still an uncomfortable sense that ultimately she is where she is, after all, because of whom she married, and because of the way she handled a domestic dispute many years ago. She is talented enough to have done it all on her own. But she didn’t.</span></p> <p><span>As for Donald Trump, let’s just say that he has no political or government experience whatsoever. He is where he is because he has made a lot of money, though far less than he claims, and because he has shown prowess at bullying and insulting people on and off television. So far, his policies are series of barks and boasts, of insults and innuendo and appeals to the lower angels of his fellow citizens’ natures. He makes George Wallace and Barry Goldwater look like Augustan statesmen by comparison.</span></p> <p><span>It is customary to blame many of the evils of the day on social media, and it is true that the otherwise improbable ascent of Trump to the antechamber of glory owes much to the angry discontent revealed and no doubt also stimulated by Twitter and its fellows. Old-fashioned media must take some of the blame too. Any journalist can see that the Donald is ‘good copy’. He can be relied on to say, and sometimes to do, such outrageous things every day that he has dominated political reporting in the United States since the 2016 campaign began; poor Hillary Clinton (poor is not quite the right word) had to faint to get the coverage her rival receives routinely. &nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>There is a pervasive feeling across the United States (not to mention across the world) that this is a seriously unsatisfactory presidential election. Donald Trump, for many – boorish, indifferent to truth, and totally without political experience – is more obviously unsuitable. But Hillary Clinton, for all her ability, good intentions and experience, is nearly 70, she is the wife of a former president, and serious questions have been raised about her own truthfulness, not to mention the awe in which she holds investment bankers. She still seems to many a strangely arbitrary choice for the Democrats. (That explains the astonishing success of a 74-year-old self-proclaimed socialist from Vermont.) Many who are delighted to see a woman so close to the White House still wonder why this particular woman should have been chosen ahead of more than 117 million other adult American females.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>The origins of the unseemly nature of this campaign go back long before the events of 2016. The causes of what so many Americans now see as a dysfunctional system include the anger and sense of abandonment felt by a large share of the population, at least since the financial crisis of 2008-9; the acute ideological polarization of the parties; the end of virtually all restraints on the role of money in elections; and the withering away, not of the state, but of the political parties.</span></p> <h2><strong>When the candidates capture the party</strong></h2> <p><span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549501/PA-28742172_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="The stage is set for Monday&#039;s presidential debate. Patrick Semansky/AP/Press Association Images. All rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549501/PA-28742172_0.jpg" alt="The stage is set for Monday's presidential debate. Patrick Semansky/AP/Press Association Images. All rights reserved." title="The stage is set for Monday&#039;s presidential debate. Patrick Semansky/AP/Press Association Images. All rights reserved." width="460" height="320" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The stage is set for Monday's presidential debate. Patrick Semansky/AP/Press Association Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>As someone who has been writing about American politics since 1962, I have seen much of this coming for a long time. For a start, the role of the two great historic parties has changed. Once they chose the candidates. Now the candidates capture the party. It began with Jack Kennedy in 1960. He and his advisers revived the moribund primary system – only 16 states then retained the primary, a Progressive nostrum of the early twentieth century. Old Joe Kennedy’s money enabled them to use the system as it had never been so effectively used before to show that his son could win votes all over the country. For example, if he could take West Virginia, the most Protestant state, that would help to destroy the idea that a Catholic could not be elected.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Two years later, as a young White House correspondent, I toured the north-east with president Kennedy. At every stop he paid elaborate respect to the local party chieftains, most of them ‘lace curtain Irish’, grave Catholic </span><em>pères de famille</em><span> in expensive suits. He addressed them respectfully as Mr Green of Philadelphia, Mr Bailey of Connecticut, Mr Lawrence – that was governor Lawrence of Pennsylvania – and so on. But these were not for him, so it seemed to me, valued party colleagues whose support he was seeking, so much as satraps of conquered provinces.</span></p> <p><span>When I first arrived in Washington, if a foreign friend asked me what divided the Republicans from Democrats, I used to tell them it all went back to things that had happened in the 1860s: slavery, emancipation, war and reconstruction. Before long, that had all been changed by things that happened in the 1960s. In Franklin Roosevelt’s day, the Democratic party was an ideologically incoherent coalition between southern whites, mostly ultra-conservative, and non-Protestant immigrants and their descendants (Irish, Italian and Polish Catholics and German, Polish and Russian Jews) who were predominantly liberal. The Republicans could expect the votes of national and local, mainly Protestant elites and their admirers. (It was one of my professors at the University of Pennsylvania, E. Digby Baltzell, who invented the term WASPS for white Anglo-Saxon Protestants.) As a result, while the Republicans were overwhelmingly the party of business, there were moderate and even liberal Republicans in Congress and across the States.</span></p> <p><span>In 1963 when I was interviewing Robert Kennedy, I asked him why the United States, unlike almost every other democracy, did not have a party system that opposed progressives and conservatives, Haves and Have-nots. He fished out a shoebox from the bottom drawer of his desk. It was full of filing cards on which he had written his reasons for thinking that that could never happen in America. The country, he said, was simply too big, too divided by race, ethnicity and culture. I was impressed. But in fact he was wrong.&nbsp;</span></p> <h2><strong>The money power</strong></h2> <p><span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549501/PA-28747474.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Hillary Clinton, September 2016. Matt Rourke/AP/Press Association Images. All rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549501/PA-28747474.jpg" alt="Hillary Clinton, September 2016. Matt Rourke/AP/Press Association Images. All rights reserved." title="Hillary Clinton, September 2016. Matt Rourke/AP/Press Association Images. All rights reserved." width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Hillary Clinton, September 2016. Matt Rourke/AP/Press Association Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Even as we spoke, it was changing. After the Johnson Voting Rights Act of 1965, African Americans began to vote massively even in the Deep South, and to vote Democratic. They pushed the centre of gravity of the Democratic party to the left. So southern white conservatives joined the Republican party, pushing it to the right. Once the safest of Democrats, white southerners are now reliable Republicans.&nbsp;</span></p> <p><span>Lyndon Johnson’s overwhelming victory over Barry Goldwater in 1964 hid the fact that a new, ideologically conservative Republican party was emerging to confront a newly ideologically progressive Democratic party. It was recruited by popular resistance to African-American emancipation, by the reaction against the Sixties upheavals of the peace and women’s movements and by the creation of new conservative institutions by a new breed of conservative intellectuals and neo-conservatives like Bill Buckley and Irving Kristol.</span></p> <p><span>In 1968, decisively though not easily, Richard Nixon won the White House. The liberal consensus of the post-New Deal years was over. The financing of presidential politics changed. Once politicians could count on money from the parties. Now, to campaign by buying television ads, they found their own funding from donors. There had always been rich men in America politics, since George Washington himself. But mostly they were major economic powers, men like Andrew Mellon in the 1920s and Nelson Rockefeller in the 1950s and 1960s. Now there was a new generation of money men, Texas oil men and the Californians who would be Ronald Reagan’s kitchen cabinet. They were bred far from Wall Street, and they used their money to choose the politicians </span><em>they</em><span> liked.</span></p> <p><span>In a series of stages from </span><em>Buckley v. Valeo</em><span> in 1964 to </span><em>Citizens United</em><span> in 2010, newly conservative majorities on the Supreme Court set free the money power. Giving money to political candidates, said conservative justices, was no longer a shameful necessity, but a political right, like voting.</span></p> <p><span class="mag-quote-right">Giving money to political candidates, said conservative justices, was no longer a shameful necessity, but a political right, like voting.</span></p> <p><span>The amount of money spent on political campaigns increased exponentially. By the millennium, the first information political journalists would give about a new figure on the political scene was no longer what his or her policies were, but how much money they had to spend. Senators I knew admitted with a wry smile that they were dragged off the floor of the chamber by their staff to spin the Rolodex phone index and ask potential backers for hard cash. Although liberal Democrats were not without individual donors, and labour unions, though much diminished, could still find tidy sums, the really big money came from the right and the far right at that.</span></p> <p><span>Men like the brewer, Joseph Coors, the casino king Sheldon Adelson (“when you have all the marbles you can make the calls”) and the Koch brothers poured money into the campaigns of right-wing politicians on an unprecedented scale. The movement known as the Tea Party, often portrayed as a spontaneous grassroots upheaval, was largely created by money from the Koch brothers. It is quite possible that Donald Trump exaggerates how much money he has; estimates of $10 billion and above are almost certainly fantasy; but Trump can afford to be his own Koch.</span></p> <p><span>It was not only in the field of campaign finance that the Republicans used the courts to change the rules of the political game. The most dramatic example was the result of </span><em>Bush v. Gore</em><span>, the 2000 lawsuit over the fairness of recounts in Florida that was decided by a conservative majority in the Supreme Court. The matter is hotly argued. But it is at least arguable that the younger Bush owed his years in the White House to five justices of the Supreme Court.</span></p> <p><span>Patiently, Republicans in the states have ‘gerrymandered’ electoral districts to improve their prospects. Today no more than one in ten of the 435 seats in the House of Representatives will be seriously contested by both parties. At the same time the Republicans have had some success in persuading the courts to restrict the right to vote. Because of this and because of the complexity of the electoral process, the </span><em>New York Times</em><span> </span><a href="http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/08/01/us/elections/nine-percent-of-america-selected-trump-and-clinton.html">reported</a><span> on 1 August that only 14% of the eligible voters in the United States voted in the primaries. Only 9% voted for either Ms Clinton or Mr Trump. That’s one pretty direct explanation of why an ‘outlier’ like Trump can win the nomination of a major party.</span></p> <h2><strong>The media diet</strong></h2> <p><span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549501/PA-28751780.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="The stage for Monday&#039;s debate. Julio Cortez/AP/Press Association Images. All rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549501/PA-28751780.jpg" alt="The stage for Monday's debate. Julio Cortez/AP/Press Association Images. All rights reserved." title="The stage for Monday&#039;s debate. Julio Cortez/AP/Press Association Images. All rights reserved." width="460" height="309" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The stage for Monday's debate. Julio Cortez/AP/Press Association Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>It is perhaps no wonder that so few Americans identify with either of the candidates that have been presented to them by a system that is not only flawed, but visibly more flawed than it was 50 years ago. Certainly cynicism about the news industry has grown. By May 2015 a CBS/</span><em>New York Times</em><span> poll recorded that more than 80% of respondents thought the role of money in elections was excessive.</span></p> <p><span>The role of media was undiminished. But the character of the media environment has changed since the years in which Teddy White’s </span><em>The Making of the President</em><span> sprinkled the Kennedys with gold dust. American television became so obsessed with politics in those days, not by the pure light of reason, but because of a public relations problem. In 1959-60, the reputation of the networks was besmirched by the scandals of rigged quiz shows. In 1961 Newton Minow, the new regulator sent in by the Kennedy administration, called television a “vast wasteland”. CBS and NBC threw themselves furiously into restoring their reputation. “My job”, said the great Fred Friendly, “was…to restore the prestige of CBS…tarred by the quiz scandals.” They hired dozens of new producers, some poached from newspapers, for their news departments. They put on ambitious, immensely expensive documentary series about the triumphs and even the shortcomings of American democracy. And in 1963, before the Kennedy assassination, both doubled the length of the all-important nightly national news show from 15 minutes to 30. To be sure, this was in part a manoeuvre to capture revenue from their own affiliate stations. But it opened an age when news was genuinely popular viewing in the United States.</span></p><p class="mag-quote-left">Only 9% voted for either Ms Clinton or Mr Trump. That’s one pretty direct explanation of why an ‘outlier’ like Trump can win the nomination of a major party.</p> <p><span>In 2016, media in the widest sense thrive. People communicate with each other in unimagined ways. They can switch on music like tap water. They watch sports, boxed sets, various grades of pornography. Social media proliferate. But this rich diet does little to enhance the reputation of politicians. In this context, millions watch, amused and horrified, as Donald Trump stubbornly maintains that Barack Obama was not born in the United States, and reporters grind on with laborious inquiries into whether Ms Clinton used private e-mails when she was secretary of state.</span></p> <p><span>No doubt when, or if, the first woman is elected president of the United States, there will be excitement. There should be. But for now, from the once glamorous process of choosing what American journalists still call “the leader of the free world”, the glory has departed. &nbsp;</span></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/natalia-antonova/trumputin-what-russia-can-teach-us-about-us-election">Trumputin: What Russia can teach us about the US election</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/david-held-kyle-mcnally/path-to-authoritarianism-collapse-of-politics-of-accommod">Path to authoritarianism: the collapse of the politics of accommodation</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/todd-gitlin/interrupting-trump-s-strut-is-only-start">Interrupting Trump’s strut is only a start</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> United States </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> United States Democracy and government Godfrey Hodgson Mon, 26 Sep 2016 16:28:17 +0000 Godfrey Hodgson 105598 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Au Conseil des Droits de l'Homme, au Haut-Commissaire aux Droits de l'Homme et à l'Assemblée Générale des Nations Unies https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/signataires/au-conseil-des-droits-de-lhomme-au-haut-commissaire-aux-droits-de-lhomme-e <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Face au racisme mondial, un group d'experts et d'activistes expriment leur soutien au Group de travail des esperts Nations Unies sur la situation des personnes d'ascendance africaine.</p> </div> </div> </div> <img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u561905/7121928457_06ed91cdaa_k-w920.jpg" width="100%" /> <p class="image-caption" style="margin-top:0px;padding-top:0px;"> Reparations. Tyler Merbler//flickr.cc(by)</p> <p><strong>Au Conseil des Droits de l'Homme, au Haut-Commissaire aux Droits de l'Homme et à l'Assemblée Générale des Nations Unies</strong></p> <p>Au moment où les revendications internationales s’élèvent de plus en plus à travers le mouvement «&nbsp;La vie des Noirs comptent&nbsp;» et les réclamations aux réparations eu égard aux conséquences de &nbsp;l'esclavage et du colonialisme , nous, les soussignés, exprimons notre ferme soutien au Groupe de travail des experts des Nations Unies sur la situation des personnes d'ascendance africaine. Nous exhortons l'ONU à insister plus vigoureusement sur la mise en œuvre effective de la Décennie Internationale des Personnes d'ascendance Africaine [2015-2024]. Nous demandons également à l'ONU de répondre univoquement au croissant appel international pour la justice et les réparations.</p> <p>Le Groupe de travail est le résultat des résolutions prises lors de la Troisième Conférence Mondiale des Nations Unies Contre le Racisme à Durban en Afrique du Sud en 2001. L’article 7 de la Déclaration et du Programme d'action de Durban:</p> <p><em>«&nbsp;Prie la Commission des droits de l'homme d’envisager la création d'un groupe de travail ou un autre mécanisme des Nations Unies pour étudier les problèmes de discrimination raciale que rencontrent les personnes d'ascendance africaine vivant dans la diaspora africaine et faire des propositions pour l'élimination de la discrimination raciale contre les personnes d'origine africaine»;</em></p> <p>L'existence du Groupe de travail des experts des Nations Unies sur la situation des personnes d'ascendance africaine est essentielle pour mettre en œuvre les clauses de la Déclaration de Durban et le Programme d'action - qui reste l’instrument le plus complet concernant les Droits de l'Homme et contre la discrimination raciale.</p> <p>Le Groupe de travail est un mécanisme crucial de l'ONU pour rendre compte des faits et effets du racisme structurel contre les peuples africains, y compris les Africains et les personnes d'ascendance africaine dans le monde&nbsp;; pour faire entendre leur voix et soutenir les efforts de la société civile pour lutter contre les formes du racisme anti-noir que subissent les peuples africains et les personnes d’ascendance africaine et pour conseiller les gouvernements sur la façon d’empêcher la discrimination et de garantir la pleine et égale jouissance des droits pour les peuples africains à travers le monde.</p> <p>Tel que défini par le Conseil des Droits de l’Homme de la Résolution 9/14 de 2008, il appartient au Groupe de travail:</p> <p>(A) D’étudier les problèmes de discrimination raciale que rencontrent les personnes d'ascendance africaine vivant dans la diaspora et, à cette fin, de recueillir toutes les informations utiles auprès des gouvernements, des organisations non-gouvernementales et d'autres sources pertinentes, y compris par la tenue de réunions publiques avec elles (les institutions abordées);</p> <p>(B) De proposer des mesures pour que les personnes d’ascendance africaine aient facilement accès aux instances juridiques ;</p> <p>(C) De faire des recommandations relatives à la conception, la mise en œuvre et l'application de mesures efficaces pour éliminer le délit de faciès que subissent les personnes d'ascendance africaine;</p> <p>(D) De faire des propositions pour l'élimination de la discrimination raciale contre les Africains et les personnes d'ascendance africaine dans toutes les régions du monde;</p> <p>(E) De répondre à toutes les questions se trouvant dans la Déclaration de Durban et son Programme d'Action concernant l’intégrité physique et morale des Africains et des personnes d'ascendance africaine.</p> <p>Ce mandat est capital puisque les peuples africains ont été victimes du crime contre l'humanité que sont l'esclavage et les systèmes de colonialisme et continuent d'être victimes de leurs conséquences. Partout dans le monde, les peuples africains continuent à être particulièrement victimes de la discrimination raciale fondée sur l’Afrophobie, la discrimination structurelle, l'exclusion, la relégation à l'invisibilité et la marginalisation. Le rôle du Groupe de travail des Nations Unies est ainsi fondamental en ce qu'il offre d’un côté une expertise sur la façon dont les histoires et les effets de l'esclavage et du colonialisme continuent d’avoir un impact sur la vie des peuples africains et d’un autre côté, sur le genre de mesures nécessaires pour déconstruire ces vestiges.</p> <p>Ce Groupe de travail est non seulement important singulièrement pour les personnes d'ascendance africaine, puisque dans le long terme son travail aidera à briser la hiérarchie raciale, mais en plus, généralement, il permettra de renforcer l'unité de la famille humaine et d'assurer la pleine intégration de l'égalité et de la justice en tant que principes fondamentaux des Droits de l'Homme.</p> <p>Parmi les nombreux accomplissements du Groupe de travail se trouve la mise en place de la Décennie Internationale des Nations Unies pour les Personnes d'Ascendance Africaine de 2015 à 2024. Dans le cadre de cette Décennie, le Groupe de travail a également œuvré pour l’organisation d’un Forum International Permanent des Nations Unies Pour Les Peuples Africains et une Déclaration des Droits des Peuples Africains.</p> <p>Nous manifestons notre vive inquiétude devant les agissements entrepris par certaines forces pour tenter &nbsp;de mettre fin à l'existence du Groupe de travail. Nous sommes également très préoccupés par le fait, qu’à ce jour, peu de reconnaissance internationale a été accordée à la Décennie établie par les Nations Unies. La négligence avec laquelle la Décennie a jusqu'ici été accueillie&nbsp; est symptomatique d'un manque de volonté de faire face et de rendre justice aux conséquences durables du colonialisme et de l'esclavage.</p> <p>Considérant tout cela, nous exhortons vivement le Conseil des Droits de l'Homme, le Haut-Commissaire aux Droits de l'Homme et l'Assemblée Générale des Nations Unies à affirmer, tant en paroles qu’en actes, leur soutien à/au:</p> <ol><li>Groupe de travail et de renforcer son mandat en veillant à ce que ses membres soient recrutés parmi les plus grands experts et les plus grandes expertes issus des communautés afrodescendantes dans le monde; </li><li>La Décennie Internationale Des Personnes D'ascendance Africaine de 2015 à 2024, y compris l'élaboration d'une Déclaration des Droits des Peuples africains et la mise en place d’un Forum International Permanent pour les Peuples Africains;</li><li>Une conférence internationale des Nations Unies sur la justice et les réparations liées aux méfaits de l'esclavage, des génocides et du colonialisme.</li></ol> <p>Signataires:</p> <p>1. Action for Equality, Support, Antiracism (KISA), Cyprus</p><p> </p><p>2. Richard Adams, Chairman of the Board, Institute of the Black World (IBW), USA</p><p> </p><p>3. ADEFRA Grassroots e.v., Germany</p><p> </p><p>4. African Diaspora Youth Network in Europe (ADYNE)</p><p> </p><p>5. African Empowerment Center, Denmark</p><p> </p><p>6. Afro-Colombian Solidarity Network (ACSN), Colombia</p><p> </p><p>7. AK Panafrikanismus - Panafricanism Working Group Germany, Germany</p><p> </p><p>8. The Anti-racist Academy (ArA), Sweden</p><p> </p><p>9. James Early, Institute for Policy Studies Board, USA</p><p> </p><p>10.&nbsp; Arturo Escobar, Kenan Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA </p> <p>11.&nbsp; Asociación de Consejos Comunitarios de Guapi (ASOCONGUAPI), Colombia</p> <p>12.&nbsp; Asociación de Consejos Comunitarios de Timbiquí (ASOTIMBIQUÍ), Colombia</p> <p>13.&nbsp; Asociación para la Defensa del Medio Ambiente y la Cultura Negra (ASO MANOS NEGRA), Colombia</p> <p>14.&nbsp; Autoridad Nacional Afrocolombiana (ANAFRO), Colombia</p> <p>15.&nbsp; Prof. Sir Hilary Beckles, Chair of the CARICOM Reparations Commission, Jamaica</p> <p>16.&nbsp; Gurminder K Bhambra, Professor in Sociology, University of Warwick, United Kingdom</p> <p>17.&nbsp; Black Study Group, United Kingdom</p> <p>18.&nbsp; Blaksox, United Kingdom</p> <p>19.&nbsp; Fernne Brennan, Senior Lecturer in Law at the University of Essex and Senior Advisor to the Expert Advisory Group for the Slave Trade Reparations project (STeR), United Kingdom</p> <p>20.&nbsp; Caribbean Philosophical Association (CPA)</p> <p>21.&nbsp; Monica Carrillo, Director of LUNDU Centro de Estudios y Promoción Afroperuanos -- Center for Afro-Peruvian Studies, Peru</p> <p>22.&nbsp; Augustus Casely-Hayford, Historian, Curator and Broadcaster, United Kingdom</p> <p>23.&nbsp; Empress Ijahnya Christian, Ethiopia</p> <p>24.&nbsp; Conseil des Communautés Africaines en Europe et en Belgique , Belgium</p> <p>25.&nbsp; Conseil Représentatif des Associations Noires (CRAN), France</p> <p>26.&nbsp; Imaniyé Dalila Daniel, Artist, Martinique</p> <p>27.&nbsp; Dr. Ron Daniels, President of the Institute of the Black World (IBW) and Convenor of the National African American Reparations Commission (NAARC), USA</p> <p>28.&nbsp; Decades of Heroes for the Elimination of Racism and Oppression (D’HERO), The Netherlands</p> <p>29.&nbsp; Marcelo Dias, President of the Reparations Commission of the Bar Association of Brazil -- da Ordem dos Advogados do Brasil / Seção Rio de Janeiro (OAB/RJ), Brazil</p> <p>30.&nbsp; Ejim Dike, Executive Director of the US Human Rights Network, USA</p> <p>31.&nbsp; Alejandra Egido, President of Todo en Sepia Asociacion de Mujeres Afrodescendientes en la Argentina (TES), Argentina</p> <p>32.&nbsp; European Network Against Racism (ENAR)</p> <p>33.&nbsp; European Network of People of African Descent (ENPAD)</p> <p>34.&nbsp; Fight Racism Now (FRN), Sweden</p> <p>35.&nbsp; El Foro Interétnico Solidaridad Chocó (FISCH), Colombia</p> <p>36.&nbsp; Forum of European Muslim Youth and Student Organizations (FEMYSO), Belgium</p> <p>37.&nbsp; The Frantz Fanon Foundation, France</p> <p>38.&nbsp; Manuel Garcia-Orozco, Chaco World Music Nueva York, USA</p> <p>39.&nbsp; Global Afrikan Congress UK (GACuk), United Kingdom</p> <p>40.&nbsp; Stephen Haymes, Associate Professor of Educational Policy and Research, DePaul University, USA</p> <p>41.&nbsp; Zita Holbourne, National Co-Chair and Co-Founder of Black Activists Against Cuts UK (BARAC UK), PCS Union National Executive and member of TUC Race Relations Committee, United Kingdom</p> <p>42.&nbsp; Grupo de Academics e Intelectuales en Defensa del Pacifico Colombiano (GAIDEPAC) -- Group of Academics and Intellectuals in Defense of the Colombian Pacific, Colombia</p> <p>43.&nbsp; Gus John, Associate Professor of Education at the University College London and member of the African Union Sixth Region Technical Committee of Experts, United Kingdom</p> <p>44.&nbsp; The Immigrant Parents &amp; Guardians Support Association (IPGSA), Ireland</p> <p>45.&nbsp; Initiative Schwarze Menschen in Deutschland (ISD), Germany</p> <p>46.&nbsp; El Instituto Mexicano de Derechos Humanos y Democracia A.C (IMDHD) -- The Mexican Institute for Human Rights and Democracy, Mexico</p> <p>47.&nbsp; Justice 21, Bulgaria</p> <p>48.&nbsp; Alnoor Ladha, Executive Director of The Rules, South Africa</p> <p>49.&nbsp; Cristian Baez Lazcano, Director of Afrochilena Lumbanga, Chile</p> <p>50.&nbsp; Firoze Manji, Daraja Press, Kenya, Québec -Canada</p> <p>51.&nbsp; Migrant Tales, Finland</p> <p>52.&nbsp; Movimento Negro Unificado (MNU), Brazil</p> <p>53.&nbsp; Narrative Eye, United Kingdom</p> <p>54.&nbsp; National African American Reparations Commission (NAARC), USA</p> <p>55.&nbsp; Carlos Alvarez Nazareno, President of Agrupación Afro Xango, Argentina</p> <p>56.&nbsp; Miguel Angel Avila Nazareno, Coordinator General of Proceso AfroAmerica XXI - Ecuador, Ecuador</p> <p>57.&nbsp; New Urban Collective (NUC), Netherlands</p> <p>58.&nbsp; Denise Noble, Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Black Studies at Birmingham City University, United Kingdom</p> <p>59.&nbsp; Operation Black Vote (OBV), United Kingdom</p> <p>60.&nbsp; Organização para Libertação do Povo Negro (OLPN), Brazil</p> <p>61.&nbsp; Oxford Pan-African Forum (OXPAF), United Kingdom</p> <p>62.&nbsp; Pan Africanism Working Group, Germany</p> <p>63.&nbsp; Pan African Movement for Justice, Sweden </p> <p>64.&nbsp; Mai-Elka Prado, Founder of Festival Afrolatino de Nueva York, USA</p> <p>65.&nbsp; Amilcar Priestley, Director of Afrolatino Project, New York, USA</p> <p>66.&nbsp; Proceso de Comunidades Negras en Colombia (PCN), Colombia</p> <p>67.&nbsp; Raad van Afrikaanse gemeenschappen in Europa afdeling Vlaanderen, Belgium</p> <p>68.&nbsp; Rhodes Must Fall Oxford (RMFO), United Kingdom</p> <p>69.&nbsp; Azeneth Báez Ríos, President of De Mujeres Afrochilenas Hijas de Azapa, Chile</p> <p>70.&nbsp; Don Rojas, Director of Communications, Institute of the Black World (IBW), USA</p> <p>71.&nbsp; Kitimbwa Sabuni, Secretary General, the Afro-Swedish National Association, Sweden</p> <p>72.&nbsp; Lisa Scott, CEO of Afropresencia, Nueva York, USA</p> <p>73.&nbsp; Kris Sealey, Associate Professor in Philosophy and Director of the Peace and Justice Studies Program at Fairfield University, USA</p> <p>74.&nbsp; Robbie Shilliam, Professor in International Relations, Queen Mary University of London</p> <p>75.&nbsp; Stephen A. Small, Associate Professor of African American and African Diaspora Studies, University of California Berkeley, USA </p> <p>76.&nbsp; Soul Rebel Movement, Netherlands</p> <p>77.&nbsp; <a href="https://www.facebook.com/Antumi.Toasije">Antumi Toasijé</a>, Centro Panafricano and Centro de Estudios Panafricanos, Spain</p> <p>78.&nbsp; Opal Tometi, Executive Director of Black Alliance for Just Immigration and Co-founder of Black Lives Matter, USA</p> <p>79.&nbsp; Stanley C. Trent, Associate Professor in Education, University of Virginia, USA</p> <p>80.&nbsp; Aminata Dramane Traoré, Author and former Minister of Culture and Tourism of Mali, Mali</p> <p>81.&nbsp; The Ubele Initiative, United Kingdom</p> <p>82.&nbsp; Hanétha Vété-Congolo, Professor of Romance Languages and Literature and Chair of the Africana Studies Program, Bowdoin College, USA</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> BeyondSlavery BeyondSlavery Signataires Letters to BTS Mon, 26 Sep 2016 15:48:13 +0000 Signataires 105593 at https://www.opendemocracy.net An open letter on the UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent https://www.opendemocracy.net/beyondslavery/see-signatories-below/open-letter-on-un-working-group-of-experts-on-people-of-african- <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In the face of rising racism, scholars, activists and civil society organisations express their support for the UN Working Group on People of African Descent, and call on the UN to heed the call for reparatory justice.</p> </div> </div> </div> <img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u561905/7121928457_06ed91cdaa_k-w920.jpg" width="100%" /> <p class="image-caption" style="margin-top:0px;padding-top:0px;"> Reparations. Tyler Merbler//flickr.cc(by)</p> <p><strong>To the Human Rights Council, the High Commissioner for Human rights and the General Assembly of the United Nations</strong></p> <p>In the midst of growing international calls that Black Lives Matter and the enduring legacies of enslavement and colonialism be repaired, we – the undersigned – express our strong support for the UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, urge the UN to more vigorously insist on the effective implementation of the International Decade for People of African Descent 2015-2024, and also call on the UN to heed the growing international call for reparatory justice.</p> <p>The Working Group is a result of the third UN World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa, 2001. Article 7 of the <em>Durban Declaration and Programme of Action </em>calls upon the Commission on Human Rights</p> <p>to consider establishing a working group or other mechanism of the United Nations to study the problems of racial discrimination faced by people of African descent living in the African Diaspora and make proposals for the elimination of racial discrimination against people of African descent.</p> <p>The existence of the UN Working Group of People of African Descent is critical in the continued implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action – which remains the world’s most comprehensive human rights instrument against racial discrimination.</p> <p>The Working Group is a unique UN mechanism to monitor structural racism against African peoples – including Africans and people of African descent – around the world, give voice to and support civil society efforts to fight the highly racialised forms of racism that African peoples are subjected to and to advise Governments on how to ensure non-discrimination and the full and equal enjoyment of human rights for African peoples around the world.</p> <p>As defined by <a href="http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Racism/WGAfricanDescent/Pages/WGEPADIndex.aspx">the Human Rights Council Resolution 9/14 from 2008</a>, it belongs to the mandate of the Working Group:</p> <p>(a) To study the problems of racial discrimination faced by people of African descent living in the diaspora and, to that end, gather all relevant information from Governments, non-governmental organisations and other relevant sources, including through the holding of public meetings with them;<br /> (b) To propose measures to ensure full and effective access to the justice system by people of African descent;<br /> (c) To submit recommendations on the design, implementation and enforcement of effective measures to eliminate racial profiling of people of African descent;<br /> (d) To make proposals on the elimination of racial discrimination against Africans and people of African descent in all parts of the world;<br /> (e) To address all the issues concerning the well-being of Africans and people of African descent contained in the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.</p> <p>This mandate is critical since African peoples were victims of the crime against humanity of enslavement and systems of colonialism and continue to be victims of their consequences. Around the world African peoples continue to be particularly vulnerable to racial discrimination based on Afriphobia, structural discrimination, exclusion, invisibility and marginalisation. The role of the UN Working Group is therefore also unique in that it offers expertise on how the histories and effects of enslavement and colonialism continue to shape the lives of African peoples and the sort of measures that are needed to repair these legacies.</p> <p>This role of the Working Group is not merely important for people of African descent, but in the long-run it serves to break down racial hierarchy more generally, strengthen the unity of the human family and ensure the full integration of equality and non-discrimination as fundamental human rights principles.</p> <p>Among the many accomplishments of the Working Group is the establishment of the UN International Decade for People of African Descent 2015-2024. Within the framework of this Decade, the Working Group has also been responsible for pushing for a UN Permanent International Forum for African Peoples and a Declaration for the Rights of African Peoples.</p> <p>We are very concerned that today there are forces that want to undermine the existence of the Working Group. We are also very concerned that so far there has been little international recognition of the UN Decade and its objectives. The neglect that the Decade so far has been met with is symptomatic of an unwillingness to face up and bring justice to the enduring legacies of colonialism and enslavement.</p> <p>Given all this, we strongly urge the Human Rights Council, the High Commissioner for Human rights and the General Assembly of the United Nations to in word as well as in deed assert its support for:</p> <ol><li>The Working Group, and <em>also further strengthen its mandate by making sure that its members are recruited among the foremost experts in the world on people of African descent</em>;</li><li>The International Decade for People of African Descent 2015-2024, including the development of a Declaration for the Rights of African Peoples and a Permanent International Forum for African Peoples;</li><li>An international UN conference on reparatory and restorative justice for enslavement and colonialism.</li></ol> <p>Signed by,</p> <p>1. Action for Equality, Support, Antiracism (KISA), Cyprus</p><p> </p><p>2. Richard Adams, Chairman of the Board, Institute of the Black World (IBW), USA</p><p> </p><p>3. ADEFRA Grassroots e.v., Germany</p><p> </p><p>4. African Diaspora Youth Network in Europe (ADYNE)</p><p> </p><p>5. African Empowerment Center, Denmark</p><p> </p><p>6. Afro-Colombian Solidarity Network (ACSN), Colombia</p><p> </p><p>7. AK Panafrikanismus - Panafricanism Working Group Germany, Germany</p><p> </p><p>8. The Anti-racist Academy (ArA), Sweden</p><p> </p><p>9. James Early, Institute for Policy Studies Board, USA</p><p> </p><p>10.&nbsp; Arturo Escobar, Kenan Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA </p> <p>11.&nbsp; Asociación de Consejos Comunitarios de Guapi (ASOCONGUAPI), Colombia</p> <p>12.&nbsp; Asociación de Consejos Comunitarios de Timbiquí (ASOTIMBIQUÍ), Colombia</p> <p>13.&nbsp; Asociación para la Defensa del Medio Ambiente y la Cultura Negra (ASO MANOS NEGRA), Colombia</p> <p>14.&nbsp; Autoridad Nacional Afrocolombiana (ANAFRO), Colombia</p> <p>15.&nbsp; Prof. Sir Hilary Beckles, Chair of the CARICOM Reparations Commission, Jamaica</p> <p>16.&nbsp; Gurminder K Bhambra, Professor in Sociology, University of Warwick, United Kingdom</p> <p>17.&nbsp; Black Study Group, United Kingdom</p> <p>18.&nbsp; Blaksox, United Kingdom</p> <p>19.&nbsp; Fernne Brennan, Senior Lecturer in Law at the University of Essex and Senior Advisor to the Expert Advisory Group for the Slave Trade Reparations project (STeR), United Kingdom</p> <p>20.&nbsp; Caribbean Philosophical Association (CPA)</p> <p>21.&nbsp; Monica Carrillo, Director of LUNDU Centro de Estudios y Promoción Afroperuanos -- Center for Afro-Peruvian Studies, Peru</p> <p>22.&nbsp; Augustus Casely-Hayford, Historian, Curator and Broadcaster, United Kingdom</p> <p>23.&nbsp; Empress Ijahnya Christian, Ethiopia</p> <p>24.&nbsp; Conseil des Communautés Africaines en Europe et en Belgique , Belgium</p> <p>25.&nbsp; Conseil Représentatif des Associations Noires (CRAN), France</p> <p>26.&nbsp; Imaniyé Dalila Daniel, Artist, Martinique</p> <p>27.&nbsp; Dr. Ron Daniels, President of the Institute of the Black World (IBW) and Convenor of the National African American Reparations Commission (NAARC), USA</p> <p>28.&nbsp; Decades of Heroes for the Elimination of Racism and Oppression (D’HERO), The Netherlands</p> <p>29.&nbsp; Marcelo Dias, President of the Reparations Commission of the Bar Association of Brazil -- da Ordem dos Advogados do Brasil / Seção Rio de Janeiro (OAB/RJ), Brazil</p> <p>30.&nbsp; Ejim Dike, Executive Director of the US Human Rights Network, USA</p> <p>31.&nbsp; Alejandra Egido, President of Todo en Sepia Asociacion de Mujeres Afrodescendientes en la Argentina (TES), Argentina</p> <p>32.&nbsp; European Network Against Racism (ENAR)</p> <p>33.&nbsp; European Network of People of African Descent (ENPAD)</p> <p>34.&nbsp; Fight Racism Now (FRN), Sweden</p> <p>35.&nbsp; El Foro Interétnico Solidaridad Chocó (FISCH), Colombia</p> <p>36.&nbsp; Forum of European Muslim Youth and Student Organizations (FEMYSO), Belgium</p> <p>37.&nbsp; The Frantz Fanon Foundation, France</p> <p>38.&nbsp; Manuel Garcia-Orozco, Chaco World Music Nueva York, USA</p> <p>39.&nbsp; Global Afrikan Congress UK (GACuk), United Kingdom</p> <p>40.&nbsp; Stephen Haymes, Associate Professor of Educational Policy and Research, DePaul University, USA</p> <p>41.&nbsp; Zita Holbourne, National Co-Chair and Co-Founder of Black Activists Against Cuts UK (BARAC UK), PCS Union National Executive and member of TUC Race Relations Committee, United Kingdom</p> <p>42.&nbsp; Grupo de Academics e Intelectuales en Defensa del Pacifico Colombiano (GAIDEPAC) -- Group of Academics and Intellectuals in Defense of the Colombian Pacific, Colombia</p> <p>43.&nbsp; Gus John, Associate Professor of Education at the University College London and member of the African Union Sixth Region Technical Committee of Experts, United Kingdom</p> <p>44.&nbsp; The Immigrant Parents &amp; Guardians Support Association (IPGSA), Ireland</p> <p>45.&nbsp; Initiative Schwarze Menschen in Deutschland (ISD), Germany</p> <p>46.&nbsp; El Instituto Mexicano de Derechos Humanos y Democracia A.C (IMDHD) -- The Mexican Institute for Human Rights and Democracy, Mexico</p> <p>47.&nbsp; Justice 21, Bulgaria</p> <p>48.&nbsp; Alnoor Ladha, Executive Director of The Rules, South Africa</p> <p>49.&nbsp; Cristian Baez Lazcano, Director of Afrochilena Lumbanga, Chile</p> <p>50.&nbsp; Firoze Manji, Daraja Press, Kenya, Québec -Canada</p> <p>51.&nbsp; Migrant Tales, Finland</p> <p>52.&nbsp; Movimento Negro Unificado (MNU), Brazil</p> <p>53.&nbsp; Narrative Eye, United Kingdom</p> <p>54.&nbsp; National African American Reparations Commission (NAARC), USA</p> <p>55.&nbsp; Carlos Alvarez Nazareno, President of Agrupación Afro Xango, Argentina</p> <p>56.&nbsp; Miguel Angel Avila Nazareno, Coordinator General of Proceso AfroAmerica XXI - Ecuador, Ecuador</p> <p>57.&nbsp; New Urban Collective (NUC), Netherlands</p> <p>58.&nbsp; Denise Noble, Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Black Studies at Birmingham City University, United Kingdom</p> <p>59.&nbsp; Operation Black Vote (OBV), United Kingdom</p> <p>60.&nbsp; Organização para Libertação do Povo Negro (OLPN), Brazil</p> <p>61.&nbsp; Oxford Pan-African Forum (OXPAF), United Kingdom</p> <p>62.&nbsp; Pan Africanism Working Group, Germany</p> <p>63.&nbsp; Pan African Movement for Justice, Sweden </p> <p>64.&nbsp; Mai-Elka Prado, Founder of Festival Afrolatino de Nueva York, USA</p> <p>65.&nbsp; Amilcar Priestley, Director of Afrolatino Project, New York, USA</p> <p>66.&nbsp; Proceso de Comunidades Negras en Colombia (PCN), Colombia</p> <p>67.&nbsp; Raad van Afrikaanse gemeenschappen in Europa afdeling Vlaanderen, Belgium</p> <p>68.&nbsp; Rhodes Must Fall Oxford (RMFO), United Kingdom</p> <p>69.&nbsp; Azeneth Báez Ríos, President of De Mujeres Afrochilenas Hijas de Azapa, Chile</p> <p>70.&nbsp; Don Rojas, Director of Communications, Institute of the Black World (IBW), USA</p> <p>71.&nbsp; Kitimbwa Sabuni, Secretary General, the Afro-Swedish National Association, Sweden</p> <p>72.&nbsp; Lisa Scott, CEO of Afropresencia, Nueva York, USA</p> <p>73.&nbsp; Kris Sealey, Associate Professor in Philosophy and Director of the Peace and Justice Studies Program at Fairfield University, USA</p> <p>74.&nbsp; Robbie Shilliam, Professor in International Relations, Queen Mary University of London</p> <p>75.&nbsp; Stephen A. Small, Associate Professor of African American and African Diaspora Studies, University of California Berkeley, USA </p> <p>76.&nbsp; Soul Rebel Movement, Netherlands</p> <p>77.&nbsp; <a href="https://www.facebook.com/Antumi.Toasije">Antumi Toasijé</a>, Centro Panafricano and Centro de Estudios Panafricanos, Spain</p> <p>78.&nbsp; Opal Tometi, Executive Director of Black Alliance for Just Immigration and Co-founder of Black Lives Matter, USA</p> <p>79.&nbsp; Stanley C. Trent, Associate Professor in Education, University of Virginia, USA</p> <p>80.&nbsp; Aminata Dramane Traoré, Author and former Minister of Culture and Tourism of Mali, Mali</p> <p>81.&nbsp; The Ubele Initiative, United Kingdom</p> <p>82.&nbsp; Hanétha Vété-Congolo, Professor of Romance Languages and Literature and Chair of the Africana Studies Program, Bowdoin College, USA</p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> BeyondSlavery BeyondSlavery See the signatories below Letters to BTS Mon, 26 Sep 2016 15:46:55 +0000 See the signatories below 105585 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Why the real test for Colombia’s peace begins after the demobilization process https://www.opendemocracy.net/democraciaabierta/annette-idler/why-real-test-for-colombia-s-peace-begins-after-demobilization-proce <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Timoleon Jimenez, leader of FARC, will formally sign a historic peace deal today, hoping to end 52 years of civil war in Colombia.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/PA-28745652.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/557099/PA-28745652.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="363" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>An elderly man places a white flag on his hat during a concert for peace in Carmen de Bolivar, Colombia, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016. AP Photo/Fernando Vergara. All rights reserved. </span></span></span></p><p>Colombia’s armed conflict, the longest-running in recent global history, left more than 220,000 people dead and about&nbsp;<a href="http://www.unhcr.org/en-us/news/latest/2016/4/570cf4706/unhcr-include-refugees-displaced-colombia-peace-talks.html">6.7 million displaced</a>&nbsp;within the region. A cease-fire agreed on 29 August 2016 had already formalized the end of combat activities between state forces and the FARC, formally known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia&nbsp;— and all hostilities against civilians. After decades of brutal violence and several failed peace processes, this was reason enough to celebrate. The formal signing of the peace deal today in presence of 2,500 invited guests from Colombia and abroad, including 15 state leaders and representatives of international organisations, suggests that this time that the two main sides are serious about peace.</p> <p><strong>Who are the players in Colombia’s security landscape?</strong></p> <p>Challenges for peace remain, not least in the form of an Oct. 2 vote, when&nbsp;<a href="https://theconversation.com/a-momentous-peace-deal-with-the-farc-so-what-next-for-colombia-64452">Colombians will decide whether to accept the peace deal</a>. Yet long-term stability in the country will depend on a variety of players:</p> <p><strong>The FARC —&nbsp;</strong>Last week, the FARC held their 10th Conference during which their leadership approved the accord, paving the way to dissolve themselves&nbsp;as an armed group and become a political movement. Even though FARC rebels have already moved to “pre-concentrate” themselves, the official demobilization process, which will last for 180 days, is yet to start. Certainly, “Day D”, the day the process kicks off, will only be after Sunday’s plebiscite. However, it might also take longer: one controversial issue that has been discussed at the FARC’s conference was the Amnesty Law that still needs to be approved by Congress. This decision may only be taken in the next few weeks and may delay “Day D” even further. Moreover, members of the FARC’s Front 1 are still&nbsp;reluctant to demobilize, and others may follow the dissident group. </p> <p><strong>Other violent non-state groups —</strong>&nbsp;The FARC is the largest non-state armed group in Colombia — but not the only one. One danger is that the FARC’s demobilization will have a “balloon effect” on the operational sites of other groups, including the ELN, Colombia’s second-largest rebel group, and numerous right-wing and criminal groups. If the state does not establish its presence quickly, these groups may move to the regions the FARC leave behind and&nbsp;<a href="https://theconversation.com/colombias-deal-with-the-farc-could-bring-peace-or-create-a-power-vacuum-48130">fill the power vacuum</a>. These groups may also recruit demobilized FARC combatants or forge alliances with newly emerging groups in areas they already control.</p> <p>The world will be watching the 22 normalization zones and six camps spread across the country — the territories where the FARC is&nbsp;supposed to demobilize and lay down weapons. Meanwhile, the other regions will receive less attention, even though armed actors will continue to operate there. As discussed in the <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2016/06/28/tk-tk-colombias-margin-states-and-the-peace-process/">Monkey Cage</a>, the state historically had abandoned many of these areas — which evolved into strategic zones for transnational organized crime, especially the illegal drug trade.</p><p class="mag-quote-left">The world will be watching the 22 normalization zones and six camps spread across the country — the territories where the FARC is&nbsp;supposed to demobilize and lay down weapons.</p> <p>The desert-like north at the Colombia-Venezuela border, for example, constitutes a no man’s land to most Colombians and foreigners. However, this state neglect turned illicit activities into a legitimate income source and attracted many entrepreneurs of violence. In southern Colombia, armed groups exert&nbsp;<a href="http://www.stabilityjournal.org/articles/10.5334/sta.er/">strong social control</a>&nbsp;over large areas, impeding any information, including on human rights violations, from leaving the region. Here, the war has confined, rather than displaced, citizens.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.politics.ox.ac.uk/materials/publications/15409/securing-peace-in-the-borderlands-colombia.pdf">FARC ex-combatants</a>&nbsp;and other groups can easily move to such territories to “govern” them and engage in&nbsp;<a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.5334/sta.er">illicit business deals</a>.</p> <p><em>[</em><a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2016/06/28/tk-tk-colombias-margin-states-and-the-peace-process/"><em>What will the peace process mean for Colombia’s border regions? The government will have to start governing.</em></a><em>]</em></p> <p><strong>The armed forces —</strong>&nbsp;The Colombian armed forces will have to protect FARC ex-combatants in the normalization zones and camps, while continuing&nbsp;<a href="https://theconversation.com/a-momentous-peace-deal-with-the-farc-so-what-next-for-colombia-64452">military operations against the ELN</a>&nbsp;and other violent non-state groups. The normalization zones will cease to exist after 180 days, and the lines between ex-FARC members and other groups are likely to become increasingly blurred. After decades fighting the “enemy,” the armed forces may be reluctant to let ex-combatants go off and live their own lives. FARC guerrillas have been collaborating with other armed groups, which are still targets of military operations.</p> <p>The armed forces also have a crucial role in providing marginalized areas with infrastructure and basic services, but if this is to enhance truly sustainable development, these interventions need to go along with strengthening civilian capacities. Past efforts such as Colombia’s&nbsp;<a href="https://bogota.usembassy.gov/plancolombia.html">Consolidation Plan</a>&nbsp;in 2007, which aimed to recover territory previously held by rebels, had a minimal effect: Many regions saw military interventions, but no follow-up development of civilian institutions.</p> <p><strong>The United Nations —&nbsp;</strong>While the normalization zones are running, a U.N. Security Council-mandated mission will monitor and verify the demobilization of the FARC, including the laying down of its&nbsp;weapons. Then a three-year U.N. mission under the mandate of the General Assembly will continue to verify and monitor that ex-combatants comply with their responsibilities and receive due protection.</p> <p>The U.N.&nbsp;mission will need to coordinate closely with other U.N. agencies and nongovernmental organizations, which will be working on the reintegration process and the protection of civilians. But civilians may feel that measures to ensure the physical security of former FARC fighters and provide them financial benefits favor the ex-guerrillas over noncombatants. Thus, balancing these efforts is key to avoiding new grievances.</p><p class="mag-quote-right">The U.N.&nbsp;mission will need to coordinate closely with other U.N. agencies and nongovernmental organizations, which will be working on the reintegration process and the protection of civilians.</p> <p><strong>Regional players —</strong>&nbsp;Sustainable peace and security will also depend on other players in the region. Violent non-state groups, including Mexican cartels, have started to fill power voids across Colombia’s borders. While the armed forces are constrained by principles of territorial sovereignty, and the United Nations has to adhere to national mandates<a href="http://www.3quarksdaily.com/3quarksdaily/2014/02/the-margins-at-the-centre-of-the-farcs-future.html">, the activities of these groups extend beyond borders</a>. Although not conflict actors per se, their actions can easily destabilize the region, increasing the risk of a relapse into civil war. Colombia, therefore, needs to promote a regional security architecture, through bilateral military and police cooperation and regional organizations respected by both Colombia and its neighbors.</p> <p><strong>Marginalized communities —</strong>&nbsp;Colombia’s marginalized communities also have an important role in the peace process. Once the normalization zones phase out, these communities will be particularly vulnerable to acts of retaliation and abuse by any violent group that may attempt to occupy those spaces. Given that the Colombian state lacks legitimacy in the eyes of many of such community members, this vulnerability is particularly concerning for sustainable peace. Local voices from places such as&nbsp;Putumayo, Arauca, Catatumbo and La Guajira, some of the country’s most neglected regions, all&nbsp;<a href="http://www.politics.ox.ac.uk/ke-feature/annette-idler-discusses-her-research-on-peace-negotiations-in-colombia.html">remain skeptical</a>&nbsp;that the government will be able to meet its promises.</p> <p>Their skepticism toward the state’s suggested support is understandable. I witnessed the lack of roads, electricity and basic services in these regions. Furthermore, in Norte de Santander, misinformation campaigns — possibly the work of corrupt local elites and various violent non-state groups — make people believe that the country will be handed over to the FARC. In such places,&nbsp;<a href="https://ora.ox.ac.uk/objects/uuid%3A5c8e5068-4de8-4a53-bdab-1f847f438f05">intimidating text messages</a>, threatening pamphlets and ominous posts on social media have already been effective at influencing public discourse and silencing defiant voices —&nbsp;long before the polarizing plebiscite campaign started.</p> <p>These strategies will gather more steam if the Colombian government cannot communicate clearly what benefits the peace deal will bring to those communities. The government must show that it will deliver on its promises to mitigate people’s fear of an uncertain future.</p> <p>In the very short term, if Colombia’s people on the peripheries have greater trust in the Colombian state, that would help pave the way to a “Yes” in the October plebiscite, which would set the course for the six-month demobilization period. This would deprive newly emerging violent groups of social support, while empowering democratic processes. It is also key to reducing new grievances, similar to those that were at the root of the civil war in the first place and thus would help to prevent Colombia’s violent history from repeating itself.</p> <p>For this peace agreement to have a long-lasting impact, the challenges that all these players face need to be addressed and the two parties must continue to walk the talk on Day 180+1: The government must meet its promises and the FARC must fully step away from armed activities and hostilities against civilians.</p> <p><em>This slightly revised post</em><em>&nbsp;</em><a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2016/09/08/why-the-real-test-for-colombias-peace-begins-after-the-demobilization-process/">originally appeared</a><em>&nbsp;</em><em>in The Monkey Cage at The Washington Post on 8 September, 2016.</em></p><p><em><strong><em>If you liked this article follow us on&nbsp;<a href="https://www.facebook.com/latinsectionofopendemocracy/">Facebook</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/demoabierta">Twitter</a>.</em></strong></em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/kristian-herbolzheimer/colombia-missing-actor">Postconflict in Colombia (16). The missing actor</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/sophie-haspeslagh/can-colombia-s-farc-leave-weapons-behind-and-turn-to-politics">Postconflict in Colombia (17). Can Colombia’s FARC turn to politics?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/democraciaabierta/nelson-camilo-s-nchez/post-conflict-in-colombia-18-amnesty-and-pardon-in-peace-pro">Post-conflict in Colombia (18) Amnesty and pardon in the peace process </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> Ideas </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> DemocraciaAbierta DemocraciaAbierta Civil society Conflict Democracy and government Ideas International politics latin america Annette Idler Mon, 26 Sep 2016 14:53:01 +0000 Annette Idler 105596 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The damage done by the EU’s revolving doors https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/harry-blain/damage-done-by-eu-s-revolving-doors <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>José Manuel Barroso is not the only senior European official to go through the “revolving door” into the corporate and financial world.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/PA-21326311.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/PA-21326311.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Jose Manuel Barroso, and other EU leaders. Paimages/Geert Vanden Wijngaert. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>José Manuel Barroso, the former president of the European Commission, has recently accused his former employers of being <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/19cd6e58-669b-33bf-ba57-1bf6a89d20d2">“discriminatory.”</a>&nbsp;</p><p>This is not an issue about his pension or the generous <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/eu/9971786/Baroness-Ashton-will-be-paid-400000-by-the-EU-to-do-nothing.html">“transitional allowance”</a> that <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/eu/11266362/Herman-Van-Rompuy-will-be-paid-over-500000-by-the-EU-to-do-nothing.html">other commissioners</a> have been able to claim, but about his <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/sep/12/juncker-asks-eu-ethics-panel-to-investigate-barrosos-goldman-sachs-job">referral to an ad hoc ethics committee </a>tasked with investigating his new role as Chairman of Goldman Sachs International. </p> <p>The former Portuguese Prime Minister insists he has been unfairly singled out. “I have not been engaged to lobby on behalf of Goldman Sachs and I do not intend to do so”, he <a href="https://euobserver.com/opinion/135127">told</a> the current Commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker. He has also pointed to the fact that he has not taken up the Goldman role within the 18-month “cooling off” period that EU rules demand – instead <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/aug/29/eu-staff-petition-attacks-former-ec-president-over-goldman-sachs-job">he held out for 20.</a> </p> <p>These arguments have not proved convincing. <a href="https://www.change.org/p/for-strong-exemplary-measures-to-be-taken-against-jm-barroso-for-joining-goldman-sachs-international">A petition</a> started by EU employees “for strong exemplary measures to be taken against José Manuel Barroso for joining Goldman Sachs” has gained over 140,000 signatures, forcing EU officials to respond. </p><p>Mr Juncker <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/c8ac2d7a-7b2f-11e6-ae24-f193b105145e">described</a> Goldman Sachs as “one of the organisations that knowingly or unknowingly contributed to the enormous financial crisis between 2007 and 2009,” adding “one does wonder about this particular bank [Barroso] has ended up working for.” The French president <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/3a93d8e2-49d6-11e6-b387-64ab0a67014c">used stronger language</a>: “Mr Barroso is joining Goldman Sachs?” he said. “Legally, it’s possible. But morally, and this is about the person, it’s unacceptable.”</p> <h2>“Maybe not this bank”</h2> <p>However, Mr Barroso is not the only senior European official to go through the “revolving door” into the corporate and financial world. Indeed, <a href="https://corporateeurope.org/revolving-doors/2015/10/revolving-doors-spin-again">one in three</a> of the commissioners from his second administration took this path; ending up with organisations like Bank of America Merrill Lynch, the private equity firm CVC and the mining company Nyrstar. </p><p>When Barroso’s first administration left office in 2010, <a href="https://corporateeurope.org/blog/whatever-happened-mccreevy-verheugen-et-al">six out of the thirteen</a> departing commissioners went almost immediately into the corporate sector or lobby jobs. The tendency, if anything, is accelerating: the Corporate Europe Observatory’s <a href="https://corporateeurope.org/revolvingdoorwatch">revolving door database</a> is constantly adding new faces – both revolving “in” from lobbying to public service, or revolving “out” like Barroso. </p> <p>Jean-Claude Juncker did not appear to criticise Barroso because of a fundamental concern with “revolving doors.” “Personally I do not have a problem with him working for a private bank”, <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/c8ac2d7a-7b2f-11e6-ae24-f193b105145e?desktop=true&amp;segmentId=7c8f09b9-9b61-4fbb-9430-9208a9e233c8">he said.</a> “But maybe not this bank.” </p><p>In this view, the issue is the questionable judgement of one individual, not a deeper culture within the EU’s institutions. But given the extent of the revolving door between European public service and the private sector, these more serious questions cannot be overlooked.</p> <h2><strong>Finance</strong></h2> <p>One of the reasons for the particular concern over Goldman Sachs is the bank’s controversial role in Greece’s debt crisis. As Robert Reich <a href="https://www.thenation.com/article/goldmans-greek-gambit/">describes</a>, in 2001, as Greece searched for ways to conceal the full extent of its public debt in order to join the Eurozone, “Goldman Sachs came to the rescue, arranging a secret loan of 2.8 billion euros for Greece, disguised as an off-the-books ‘cross-currency swap’.” &nbsp;Greece was able to hide a huge proportion of its debt, Goldman received a generous fee, while Greece’s “off-the-books” debt mounted. </p> <p>Yet despite Goldman Sachs’ role in enabling Greece’s dodgy accounting methods, the bank has provided recruits for powerful EU positions, and hired prominent European officials. The president of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi, was <a href="http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/goldman-sachs-banker-government-world-rule-323748">Managing Director at Goldman Sachs International</a> from 2002-2005; former EU Competition Commissioner Peter Sutherland was their non-executive chairman for nearly ten years; while Mario Monti, Italy’s former unelected “technocratic” Prime Minister, had previously gone from the European Commission to a role as <a href="http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/eurozone-crisis-hidden-hand-goldman-sachs-247864">“international advisor to Goldman Sachs.”</a></p> <p>Goldman is not alone. Edgar Meister joined the ECB’s Administrative Board of Review <a href="https://www.corporateeurope.org/economy-finance/2014/11/deutsche-bank-supervisor-ecb">“just days”</a> after leaving Deutsche Bank’s asset management branch DWS, while <a href="https://corporateeurope.org/revolvingdoorwatch/cases/sharon-bowles">Sharon Bowles</a>, a Liberal Democrat MEP for nine years, joined the London Stock Exchange Group after leaving Brussels. <a href="https://corporateeurope.org/revolvingdoorwatch/cases/eddy-wymeersch">Eddy Wymeersch</a>, former chairman of the Committee of European Securities Regulators (CESR), subsequently moved to the Association for Financial Markets in Europe (AFME), one of Europe’s “biggest finance industry lobby platforms.” </p> <p>Indeed, Jonathan Hill, until recently Britain’s EU commissioner, in charge of Financial Services, was <a href="https://www.theparliamentmagazine.eu/articles/news/cameron-nominates-ex-lobbyist-uks-eu-commissioner">formerly a prominent lobbyist</a> catering to a variety of financial sector clients, such as HSBC. His push for an EU “Capital Markets Union” was <a href="http://www.afme.eu/Capital-Markets-Union/">enthusiastically supported</a> by groups like AFME, which has praised the Commission’s plans for “relaunching sound securitisation markets” and “pursuing pension reform.”</p> <h2><strong>The environment</strong></h2> <p>The fossil fuel industry is also <a href="https://corporateeurope.org/revolving-doors/2015/11/brussels-big-energy-and-revolving-doors-hothouse-climate-change">well-connected in Brussels</a>. Marcus Lippold, for example, has gone from coordinator for international energy relations with the European Commission’s Energy Directorate to “Principal Representative for Europe and Russia” at the world’s biggest oil company, Saudi Aramco. Prior to his Commission job, he was employed by ExxonMobil. </p> <p>The revolving door swung in the other direction in early 2015, as <a href="http://corporateeurope.org/revolvingdoorwatch/cases/aleksandra-tomczak">Aleksandra Tomczak</a>, formerly of the World Coal Association, became the EU’s coal policy coordinator. Months before, Spain’s Miguel Arias Cañete was appointed the European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy in November 2014 – he previously <a href="https://www.foeeurope.org/Canete-conflicts-interests-continue-concern-230914">chaired and held shares in two oil companies</a>. In the run-up to the Paris Climate Conference, Cañete <a href="http://www.desmog.uk/2015/11/10/fossil-fuel-companies-dominate-eu-meetings-climate-and-energy-policy-report-shows">held one meeting with the renewables sector for every 22 with the fossil fuel industry</a>. </p> <p>Unsurprisingly, the EU’s “climate action” agenda after Paris has disappointed many green campaigners. In February, Green MEP Claude Turmes was amazed that the European Commission’s “first initiative after COP21” included “a fossil fuel package on EU Energy Security.” “Is it a bad joke?” <a href="https://twitter.com/ClaudeTurmes/status/699558722691944448?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">he asked</a>. </p><p>Friends of the Earth also <a href="http://www.euractiv.com/section/climate-environment/news/commission-gives-green-light-to-fracked-gas-imports/">criticised the EU</a> for giving the “green light” to fracked gas imports from the United States, while the European Investment Bank has been questioned for supporting the proposed 3500km Southern Gas Corridor , <a href="http://www.climatechangenews.com/2016/04/14/europes-keystone-xl-planned-gas-pipeline-is-reckless/">“Europe’s Keystone XL.”</a> The now-dying Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) has also raised alarm, particularly EU proposals aimed at <a href="http://www.energypost.eu/pursuit-free-energy-trade-trans-atlantic-trade-investment-partnership-ttip-endangering-action-climate-change/">free energy trade</a> across the Atlantic and expanding the ability of corporations (<a href="http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2987946/ttip_the_most_dangerous_weapon_in_the_hands_of_the_fossil_fuel_industry.html">often fossil fuel companies</a>) to sue national governments. </p> <h2><strong>“Nothing surprising”</strong></h2> <p>There are many more examples of the revolving door in other areas of EU responsibility. The new head of the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA’s) Communications and External Relations Department has <a href="http://www.foodnavigator.com/Policy/EFSA-comes-under-fire-for-latest-revolving-door-industry-recruitment">moved directly</a> from a senior role with the UK’s largest food industry lobbyist; in 2013, a former deputy director-general at the Commission’s Agriculture Directorate <a href="https://www.theparliamentmagazine.eu/articles/news/eu-must-take-far-tougher-action-halt-revolving-door-phenomenon">went on to</a> “provide consulting for agribusiness firms and associations”; and <a href="https://www.ft.com/content/8412aed0-425c-11e0-8b34-00144feabdc0">a former head of the European Medicines Agency</a> moved, in 2011, to a consultancy advising “pharmaceutical companies whose products his previous role would have evaluated and authorised.” </p> <p><a href="https://euobserver.com/opinion/135127">“Barrosogate”</a>, then, should be seen in this context. But do the EU’s revolving doors actually matter? &nbsp;EU rules have not been broken and the law certainly hasn’t. No one has been bribed and – in a phrase that <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2015/04/24/the-phony-quid-pro-quo-standard/?utm_term=.79c9d4d58ef2">defenders of the Clinton Foundation will be familiar with</a> – there is no evidence of any “quid pro quos.” </p> <p>Nonetheless, the appearance of conflicts of interest in public office has mattered for centuries. Tom Paine <a href="https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rights-Man-Dover-Thrift-Editions/dp/0486408930">conveyed this view</a> in the <em>Rights of Man</em>, describing how “the manner in which the English Parliament [sic] is constructed, it is like a man being both mortgagor and mortgagee… it is the criminal sitting in judgement upon himself.” In more modern terms, it is like banks being regulated by former bankers, or food safety standards being set by former food lobbyists. </p> <p>If José Manuel Barroso were the only one to move from being “mortgagor” to “mortgagee”, there wouldn’t be a problem. The problem is that many would now agree with the European politician who said Barroso’s move was “nothing surprising”, because “the EU does not serve people but high finance.” These words came from <a href="https://www.euractiv.com/section/global-europe/news/barrosos-new-job-described-as-greatest-boon-for-europhobes/">Marine le Pen,</a> whose movement – and others like it – will continue to benefit from the revolving doors that are increasingly part of the European Union’s political culture.&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/lorenzo-marsili-barbara-spinelli/reclaiming-europe-from-powers-that-be-interview-">Reclaiming Europe from the powers that be: an interview with Barbara Spinelli MEP</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/manuel-nunes-ramires-serrano/barroso-from-europeanist-to-global-banker">Barroso: from Europeanist to global banker</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Harry Blain Mon, 26 Sep 2016 12:05:23 +0000 Harry Blain 105568 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Theresa May and the love police https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/jennifer-allsopp/theresa-may-and-love-police <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In Theresa May’s “One Nation” we are all border guards. Her vision of the Big Society will make us all shrink.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>I heard the news of Ahmed’s* death over email. 24 years old, he had been deported from the UK, his home of eight years, in the days before. I had received an email from him in which he warned me that he “could be dead” accompanied by a scanned copy of his Home Office deportation order, a suicide note of sorts. A colleague responded to my concern with the devastating news: “sadly I believe him to be dead. He had been completely let down and ground down by this country”. The final words Ahmed said to my colleague were haunting, "I have been released forever".</p> <p>The news of Ahmed’s likely suicide followed an email that I’d received earlier in the week from another colleague which documented the suicide attempt of another young migrant. It has left him hospitalized for the second time in weeks. Meanwhile, Bilal* a successful engineer who grew up for most of his life in Britain tells me that as he awaits the outcome of his asylum appeal that could see him deported to a country he barely knows he has started to cut himself with a knife.</p> <p>Self-harm, anxiety and depression are <a href="https://www.pre-school.org.uk/news/2016/05/refugee-children-are-vulnerable-poor-mental-health-study-claims">well documented</a> among migrant refugee populations as a result of past and present traumas, yet I hadn’t anticipated this kind of occurrence in my University research ethics application when I began my PhD. Quite simply, you don’t expect your research participants to die, and especially not if they are youth or children. Responding to the ‘reflexivity’ we as researchers are encouraged to display, I sat down on the floor of my home and I wept. I wept for Ahmed’s life and for the family who – having been multiply displaced in Afghanistan’s <a href="http://edition.cnn.com/2016/06/30/asia/afghanistan-violence/">ongoing</a> war – would not even know to mourn for their son.</p> <p>Our country has failed Ahmed and many like him. And in one of the most worrying developments of all, there is increasingly little we can do about it. In recent years in a Europe-wide trend known as the ‘<a href="http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/STUD/2016/536490/IPOL_STU(2016)536490_EN.pdf">criminalization of solidarity</a>’, we as <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/nando-sigona/uk-migration-policy-we-need-to-talk-about-citizens">ordinary citizens</a> have lost our right to care about and help other people like him. In a seismic shift that has barely made the morning papers, we have lost our <a href="http://detentionaction.org.uk/campaigns/defend-the-right-to-love">right to love</a> certain categories of migrants.</p> <p>Home Secretary Theresa May who this week announced her <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jun/30/theresa-may-launches-tory-leadership-bid-with-pledge-to-unite-country">leadership bid</a> for the direction of the Tory Party and our country has been at the helm of this moral devolution. And in the coming months and years, her election could usher in the so-called “<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/daniel-trilling/inside-theresa-mays-hostile-environment">hostile environment</a>” <em>writ large</em>.</p> <p>openDemocracy 50.50’s migration platform, <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/5050-people-on-move">People on the Move</a>, has documented in detail the violent legacy of Theresa May, the longest serving Home Secretary in recent British history and self-styled creator of the deterrence regime. I invite you to read it: unprecedented <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/anonymous-interviewee-and-jennifer-allsopp/death-at-yarl’s-wood-women-in-mourning-women-in-fear">deaths</a> in – and the <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/jerome-phelps/crisis-of-harm-in-immigration-detention">expansion of</a> – immigration detention without time limit, widespread <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/amanda-gray/poverty-human-rights-abuse-in-uk">destitution</a> among new refugees, <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/anna-dixie/double-standards-dispersal-and-pregnant-asylum-seekers-in-britain">dispersal of pregnant women</a> away from their partners, the deportation of <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/lisa-matthews/young-afghans-in-uk-deportations-in-dead-of-night-to-war-zone">former care leavers</a> to war zones, <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/jennifer-allsopp/anti-deportation-campaigns-‘what-kind-of-country-do-you-want-this-to-be’">dawn raids</a>, migrant children traumatized by <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/sarah-campbell/uk-immigration-control-children-in-extreme-distress">enforced separation</a> from their parents, racism sparked by <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/john-grayson/welcome-to-britain-go-home-or-face-arrest">“Go Home” vans</a>, the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/sarah-campbell/yarl’s-wood-legal-black-hole">harassment</a> of refugee survivors of sexual violence…</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/hhh_0.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Drawing by Sylvie, 8 years old, whose father is in immigration detention. Source: BID"><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/541754/hhh_0.png" alt="Drawing by Sylvie, 8 years old, whose father is in immigration detention. Source: BID" title="Drawing by Sylvie, 8 years old, whose father is in immigration detention. Source: BID" width="393" height="453" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Letter by Sylvie, 8 years old written while her father was in immigration detention. Source: BID</span></span></span>Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre, marred by scandal, stands as a legacy of May's enduring obstinacy and devastatingly cool composure in the face of human suffering.</p> <p>Moments of empathy pierce this landscape on the part of bureaucrats who have been implementing May’s new regime. At an asylum tribunal in 2015 a Home Office representative expresses grief to me over the suffering of a child who was paralyzed when a lorry ran him over on the M40. He’d just escaped from the truck in which he had been smuggled when it hit him. “They’ll build an underpass for badgers but not asylum seekers”, he tells me. “Poor guy”.</p> <p>Having argued passionately for the deportation of a refused asylum seeking teenager fearing FGM, another Home Office official whispers to me, “God, I’m glad it’s not my daughter”.</p> <p>Bureaucrats outside of the immigration system are also uncomfortable with the shifting tone of the debate ushered in by May and largely uncontested by her political peers. Landlords are <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/john-grayson/forced-evictions-racist-attacks-meet-new-landlord-security-company-g4s">weary</a> of being coerced into racial profiling of would-be tenants, and University Professors <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/education/2014/mar/02/universities-border-police-academics">lament</a> having to police their foreign students like proxy border guards. For May’s <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jun/30/theresa-may-sets-out-one-nation-conservative-pitch-for-leadership">One Nation</a> is one with rigidly policed boundaries and borders that cut right into the private lives of its citizens. Rob Lawrie may have been <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/rob-lawrie-former-soldier-who-smuggled-afghan-girl-out-of-calais-refugee-camp-spared-jail-a6813121.html">spared jail</a> earlier this year for his “crime of compassion” in seeking to reunite a Syrian refugee girl with her family in Britain, but the ordeal, he commented, “has ruined my life”. The stress of the trial and consequences on his own family life drove Rob to attempt suicide. It’s a deterrent to the most soft-hearted of us who seek to do the right thing in a system that feels at times to be so deeply wrong.</p> <p>May’s stubborn reign has cost us multiple freedoms and marked an unprecedented attack on civil liberties, most commonly referenced in relation to the so-called ‘<a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/12194441/Snoopers-Charter-Parliamentary-vote-on-the-investigatory-powers-bill-live-updates.html">Snooper’s Charter’</a>. But it is <a href="https://www.liberty-human-rights.org.uk/human-rights/what-are-human-rights/human-rights-act/article-8-right-private-and-family-life">Article 8</a> of the much beleaguered ECHR – the right to family and private life – where her most enduring legacy lies and will no doubt grow in the coming years if she can weather this final storm. In her 2011 speech at the Conservative Conference, she launched her attack by declaring that the right had been ‘perverted’ before seeking to bully the courts into reducing its effect through parliamentary pressure and the 2012 Immigration Act. “In the interests of the economy, or controlling migration or public order, those sort of issues, the state has a right to qualify the right to a family life” she asserted. Remember, human rights were then reduced to <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-15160326">#catgate</a> for a while: "We all know the stories about the Human Rights Act... about the illegal immigrant who cannot be deported because, and I am not making this up, he had a pet cat."</p> <p>Under other measures the private and family lives of citizens have also been curtailed. Rules introduced under May to restrict immigration mean that half of the women in the UK have lost their right to live in the UK with a foreign spouse because they <a href="https://www.jcwi.org.uk/blog/2016/01/27/over-half-british-women-would-be-blocked-bringing-non-eea-spouse-partner-uk-under">do not earn</a> over the economic threshold of £18,600.</p> <p>Bourdieu famously said that Sociology is a martial art. Researching the lives of migrants and refugees in the UK feels like we are fighting a war with no arms. For Theresa May’s Go Home Office has proven itself to be particularly immune to evidence. The ‘Go Home’ vans have been shown to have fostered <a href="https://mappingimmigrationcontroversy.com/page/3/">more fear</a> and distrust than reassurance among even the most anti-immigrant voters; the ‘hostile environment’ has increased racism, and done all but nothing to <a href="http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/Documents/college-social-sciences/social-policy/iris/2014/working-paper-series/IRiS-WP-1-2014.pdf">deter</a> would-be fellow citizens from seeking sanctuary on our shores. Meanwhile, while all other European countries have heeded the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/5050/jerome-phelps/crisis-of-harm-in-immigration-detention">evidence</a> that indefinite detention is ineffective, exorbitantly expensive and causes severe suffering and harm, the UK continues to <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/jennifer-allsopp/sun-sandand-indefinite-detention">expand</a> its estate. Yes, often our research falls on doggedly deaf ears. </p> <p>We try to give the little dignity we can to our fellow human beings in documenting their struggles and successes in the hope that evidence may change the state of things or even the way that history remembers this moment of our making. As my colleague writes upon telling me the news of Ahmed, “For me, I tell myself doing this sort of work you know that however hard you try you can't always find a solution and the blame for that lies squarely with our hostile government, but if someone feels a bit less alone and a bit more supported along the way then I feel something has been achieved, however small. Sorry for the sad news.”&nbsp;</p> <p>Theresa May <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jun/30/theresa-may-launches-tory-leadership-bid-with-pledge-to-unite-country">boasted</a> in the launch of her leadership campaign yesterday that she had flown to Jordan to seek guarantees that radical cleric Abu Qatarda would not face torture. But her well-oiled deportation regime means that there are no such guarantees for young men like Ahmed. The UK will make no record of Ahmed’s suicide because it didn’t happen on British soil; but rather – we believe – once the plane touched down in the war-torn landscape of Afghanistan’s capital. The UK government does nothing to monitor the fate of returnees or deportees, though external evidence reveals that some deportees to Sri Lanka have faced <a href="https://www.hrw.org/news/2012/05/29/uk-suspend-deportations-tamils-sri-lanka">torture</a> and that hundreds of those returned to the war zones of Afghanistan and Iraq face no choice upon arrival but to <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/us-afghanistan-migrants-insight-idUSKCN0T50E020151116">re-migrate</a> at great risk.</p> <p>Unlike the dozens of migrants and refused asylum seekers who have taken their lives in detention centres at alarming rates in recent years, Ahmed spent the night on the phone to a volunteer at a local charity who tried to calmly talk him through his fears. We need to hold onto this love that May seeks to police. Otherwise in May’s “One Nation” we will all be border guards; and her vision of the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Society">Big Society</a> will make us all shrink.</p><p> <em>*The individuals’ names have been changed to protect anonymity.</em></p><p>This article was first published in July 2016.<em><br /></em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/anonymous-interviewee-and-jennifer-allsopp/death-at-yarl%E2%80%99s-wood-women-in-mourning-women-in-fear">Death at Yarl’s Wood: Women in mourning, women in fear</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/beatrice-botomani/refugee-women-in-uk-pushing-stone-into-sea-0">Refugee women in the UK: Pushing a stone into the sea</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/jerome-phelps/crisis-of-harm-in-immigration-detention">A crisis of harm in immigration detention</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/ch-ramsden/seeking-liberation-seeking-comfort-women-migrants-in-uk">Seeking liberation, seeking comfort: women migrants in the UK</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/sarah-campbell/uk-immigration-control-children-in-extreme-distress">UK immigration control: children in extreme distress</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/nando-sigona/uk-migration-policy-we-need-to-talk-about-citizens">UK migration policy: we need to talk about citizens</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/georgia-cole/refugee-or-economic-migrant-join-dots-theresa-may">Refugee or economic migrant? Join the dots Theresa May</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/lisa-matthews/on-edge-of-nation-sitting-on-border">On the edge of a nation, sitting on the border</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/jennifer-allsopp/refugee-crisis-demilitarising-masculinities">The refugee crisis: demilitarising masculinities </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/ben-du-preez/migration-to-british-isles-human-map-of-suffering">Migration to the British Isles: a human map of suffering</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/500-eritreans">500 Eritreans</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rahila-gupta/border-agents-in-house-of-god">UK border agents in the house of God</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/silvia-petretti/i-am-one-of-those-foreigners-living-with-hiv-in-uk">&quot;I am one of those foreigners&quot;: living with HIV in the UK</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/eiri-ohtani/immigration-detention-expensive-ineffective-and-unjust">Immigration detention: &quot;expensive, ineffective and unjust&quot;</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/zoe-gardner/women-seeking-asylum-closing-protection-gap">Women seeking asylum: closing the protection gap</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/nic-eadie/real-cost-of-detaining-migrants">The real cost of detaining migrants</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/judith-dennis/not-minor-offence-unlawful-detention-of-unaccompanied-children">Not a minor offence: the unlawful detention of unaccompanied children</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/melanie-griffiths/immigration-detention-in-media-anarchy-and-ambivalence">Immigration detention in the media: anarchy and ambivalence</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/marissa-begonia/hope-of-migrant">Hope of a migrant</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/rita-chadha/migrant-vs-nonmigrant-two-tier-policing">Migrant vs non-migrant: two tier policing</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/francisca-stewart/foreign-national-prisoners-fear-of-being-forgotten">Foreign national prisoners: the fear of being forgotten</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/jeremy-bernhaut/one-year-on-from-%27go-home-vans%27-flop-has-home-office-learned-anything">One year on from the &#039;Go Home vans&#039; flop: has the Home Office learned anything?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/lorna-gledhill/fleeing-fgm-bodies-on-frontline">Fleeing FGM: Bodies on the frontline</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/tom-vickers/academics-speak-out-against-uk-immigration-bill">Academics speak out against the UK Immigration Bill</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/sile-reynolds/justice-for-asylum-seekers-back-to-drawing-board-ms-may">Justice for asylum seekers: Back to the drawing board, Ms May</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/agnes-woolley/citizenship-deprivation-new-politics-of-nationalism">Citizenship deprivation: A new politics of nationalism?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/john-clayton-and-tom-vickers/black-male-care-leaver-seeking-asylum-access-to-higher-education-i">Black, male, care leaver, seeking asylum: access to higher education in Britain</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/hannana-siddiqui/ending-stark-choice-domestic-violence-or-destitution-in-uk">Ending the stark choice: domestic violence or destitution in the UK</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/eiri-ohtani/isa-muazu-hunger-striker-and-us-monster">Isa Muazu, the hunger striker and us, the monster</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/clare-sambrook/truth-about-sexual-abuse-at-yarls-wood-detention-centre">The truth about sexual abuse at Yarl&#039;s Wood detention centre</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/kate-blagojevic/justice-in-uk-back-to-1930s">Justice in the UK: back to the 1930s? </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/jerome-phelps/lonely-death-of-jimmy-mubenga">The lonely death of Jimmy Mubenga</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/lisa-matthews/young-afghans-in-uk-deportations-in-dead-of-night-to-war-zone">Young Afghans in the UK: deportations in the dead of night to a war-zone </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> Equality </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 UK Democracy and government Equality 50.50 People on the Move 50.50 Editor's Pick 50.50 Voices for Change gendered migration 50.50 newsletter Jennifer Allsopp Mon, 26 Sep 2016 11:27:33 +0000 Jennifer Allsopp 103535 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Egyptian women: depression or oppression? https://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/sophie-anmuth/egyptian-women-depression-or-oppression <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Women continuing to push for change in Egypt are bearing the psychological toll of a rigid post-revolution politics and society.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>“When there is no school, my family keeps me at home and it’s like a jail. I have been depressed for a very long time now, but they would not allow me to seek help,” explains Hagar (not her real name), a 23-year old student of literature and philosophy from Cairo university. “My father beats me up because he disagrees with my ideas on everything, society and politics. The only way out I can see is to try and escape marriage and leave the house, even though for the moment I can’t even so much as suggest the idea to my family.” Hagar is one of the many Egyptian women who suffer from depression or other psychological disorders, stemming from a desire to shake off the weight of tradition and expectation from their families and society.</p> <p>Tension within families has mounted over recent years in parallel with Egyptians’ struggles for freedom, as young women seek independence and agency over their own lives and bodies. Comments can be commonly heard to the effect that for religious reasons, a woman is not free to dress or behave in any way she wants—of course, people say, this should also apply to men, yet for social reasons the burden invariably falls more heavily on women.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/A Tahrir Square protest against the Military Trial for civilians, September 2011. Credit - Oxfamnovlb.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/A Tahrir Square protest against the Military Trial for civilians, September 2011. Credit - Oxfamnovlb.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>A Tahrir Square protest against the Military Trial for civilians, September 2011. Credit: Oxfam Novib. </span></span></span></p><p>“Most girls may leave the family house only when married. Marriage is a compulsory institution, that perpetuates the patriarchal system,” says Sohila Mohamad, who seven months ago founded Femi-Hub, an organisation to help women make transitions to an independent life. However, she notes that contrary to her initial expectations of focusing on job or flat-hunting for young women, they have first had to deal with what makes them want to flee the house: namely, “their fathers, husbands, brothers— cases of domestic violence, emotional, physical, sexual abuse.” There is a sense that controlling female behaviour or venting frustration on women close to them has become a second-best for many Egyptians who feel dispossessed of control over their own lives. At the root of this dispossession are&nbsp; entrenched economic and political factors, but these social and familial dynamics have come to mirror Egypt’s military regime (the only system of rule the country has known for decades), relying on relationships and power structures of force and obedience.</p> <p>Egypt’s high levels of domestic and gender-based violence, including mass sexual assault, are <a href="https://www.amnestyusa.org/research/reports/circles-of-hell-domestic-public-and-state-violence-against-women-in-egypt">well documented by human-rights groups</a>, with almost fifty per cent of married women reporting abuse (though the majority of cases go unreported). Mostafa Hussein, an Egyptian psychiatrist, says that this has in turn lead to post-traumatic stress disorder among victims or the uncovering of existing psychological problems, triggering latent anxieties and insecurities. Hussein recalls an extreme case several years ago during his residency at a state hospital, when a poor family from Cairo brought their catatonic 12 year-old daughter to the burns department. The girl had already been taken by her family to see several sheikhs for her condition after she stopped speaking and became completely expressionless. The sheikhs had attempted various traditional healing treatments, culminating in one administering burns to her hand in order to “snap her out” of her state. The wound was so bad it brought them to the hospital, where ICU doctors instructed the family to take their daughter to the psychiatric ward. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Femi-Hub logo and slogan &#039;Living, home, freedom&#039;. Source - Femi-hub Facebook page.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Femi-Hub logo and slogan &#039;Living, home, freedom&#039;. Source - Femi-hub Facebook page.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="169" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span> <br /> “The understanding of mental health problems is not widespread in Egypt,” Hussein says. “People from uneducated backgrounds would rely on religious figures before thinking of psychologists or psychiatrists—but it happens in all walks of life”. As he explains, after three weeks of medication, his adolescent patient started talking again and finally told the staff her story. “Her family wanted her to get married and she was already living in an abusive environment, with probably an incestuous relationship in the family,” he recounts. Monthly check-ups after her release showed gradual improvement, but after the third month, the young women began displaying troubling signs again. “We found out that they had chosen her another husband. She stopped coming to the ward after that.”<br /> <br /> There are no statistics documenting mental health issues in Egypt. Psychiatrists suggest that a perceived increase in mental health problems could be linked to the fallout of the country’s political struggles, as well an increased overall awareness of the issue—albeit still among a limited class of people. And while awareness of mental health is growing, broader knowledge of and access to healthcare has yet to take hold. (Anecdotal reports of mental health problems seem to be reflected in <a href="http://www.madamasr.com/sections/politics/egypt-no-help-suicidal">statistics which indicate that Egypt witnessed 400,000</a> attempted suicides in 2011— quadruple the number recorded the previous year.) <br /> <br /> Yet for fellow psychiatrist, Nabil el Qutt, the issue is bigger than therapy. “It requires social change,” he says. El Qutt recalls one of his recent patients, describing an attractive and intelligent student of politics and economics who he diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and depression. She was suicidal and self-harmed, but after attending his clinic for several months, following individual and group therapy and taking antidepressants, she appeared better. She found a job while studying and started a relationship. However, a year after she stopped coming to see El Qutt, her mother called to say she was self-harming and had again attempted suicide. He called her several times to fix an appointment but she never showed up. “The conflict was between her and her family, her uncle more precisely, who was controlling everything she did. I told her mother to let her live more freely but to no avail,” he recalls. </p> <p>“This young woman had taken part in the 2011 uprising, if she hadn’t, maybe she would have adapted more easily to the society,” El Qutt speculates. “Many think they are depressed, but depression is about internal conflict. They actually live in an oppressive society, with an oppressive government. All the people who supported democratic change and saw their dreams crushed may feel that they suffer from depression, when they are reacting to external circumstances.”</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Protestors in Cairo denounce President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, July 2013. Credit - AFP PHOTO, GIANLUIGI GUERCIA.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/535193/Protestors in Cairo denounce President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, July 2013. Credit - AFP PHOTO, GIANLUIGI GUERCIA.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Protestors in Cairo denounce President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood. Credit: AFP / Gianluigi Guercia. </span></span></span><br />There are many young women who participated or were swept up in the years of political activity that flowed from the toppling of Hosni Mubarak in 2011. Ideas circulated freely and crossed the borders of class, religious and political beliefs. Quietly, without necessarily joining a women’s rights movement, many also claimed a greater degree of independence. Some battled for the apparently simple right to go out with their friends—but, even then, the curfew issue was frequently unbreakable. Some want to live alone, which is an often unattainable goal but made easier if a women works or studies in a different city from her family. Many have also refused arranged marriage (or <a href="http://egyptianstreets.com/2014/11/23/arranged-marriages-in-egypt-haven-or-last-resort/">“gawaz salonat”</a>) or insisted on determining their own degree of religiosity. But the country has since 2011 undergone push-back on some fronts, with the new lives that were almost obtained snatched away from Egyptians. Many sense that with its free-falling economy and several years of chaos and political repression, Egyptian society is generally tenser, and more violent. This perception may also stem from the fact that people have now actively asserted themselves and demanded their rights, which many (especially from lower social classes) may not have done in the past. </p> <p>Hagar also credits the 2011 uprising with what she describes as a shift in her beliefs and personality— a “metamorphosis” into who she really is. Aged seventeen at the time of the revolution, she like many others from her generation, recounts how the events reshaped her worldview. She began questioning everything, from the propaganda she would hear on TV to the rules and protocols she was instructed to obey by her family and society. “By nearly jailing me at home they think they are protecting me until I get married,” she explains, “but I don’t see getting married as my goal in life. Very often your parents prevent you from doing something not because they’re first and foremost convinced it is wrong, but because they’re afraid of what the people would say.” <br /> <br /> Hagar can tell her mother about her professional dreams of becoming a journalist, but other subjects are off-limits for her conservative interlocutor: smoking, for example, is taboo, while the prospect of sex before marriage would see Hagar deemed out of her mind. Many young women say they are puzzled at their mothers’ reactions—mothers who at their own age worked three jobs, came home late, or themselves decided not to wear the hijab. Some attribute this shift in perceptions of women’s role to successive waves of conservative religiosity: first inspired from Saudi Arabia for Egyptian families who either fled Sadat or migrated to the Gulf for work, and later by a post-Iraq war wave of opposition to the West. </p> <p>In this environment, Hagar feels compelled to lie in order to live according to her principles. Explaining her decision to remove the veil (which she was obliged to wear from age twelve) two years ago, Hagar says that she at first didn’t tell her parents that she was taking it off outside her home, but grew increasingly unhappy at the sense that she was living a double life. “So I started talking to them about it, trying to convince them with logical arguments. But it didn’t work so I keep hiding it from them. They first accused me of having become a Christian, then an atheist,” she says. “I can’t talk at all to my father, who acts as if he would like to beat me into submission.” Since the day Hagar got into an argument with a father over a pro-regime TV host who she despises, he stopped talking to her. “He expects me to apologise for my opinion. He thinks the internet and the university ruined me.”<br /> <br /> Nonetheless, even Hagar thinks that with time, things might improve. She expects that she will find a job and leave home—that she will face tremendous opposition from her family, who may not talk to her for a while, but that eventually they will concede. She knows of Femi-Hub and has heard other stories of women managing to live independently, despite enduring extreme initial hardships.</p><p>Another patient of Nabil El Qutt is one such reason for hope. The daughter of very conservative parents, the young pharmacist joined a leftist party and stopped veiling. Her parents railed against everything she did, and even took her to a doctor for a virginity test. She sunk into severe depression and began self-harming. Nonetheless, she eventually managed to leave her family home and no longer felt the need for therapy. She even convinced her mother leave her own emotionally-abusive husband.</p> <p>It is in these outcomes that some silver-lining can be found for the present conflicts. “Domestic violence and gender-based oppression may not have increased recently, but it feels like it because we do talk more about it,” Sohila Mohamad says.&nbsp; For her, women no longer feel as ashamed about coming forward about the oppression they face or the psychological toll it takes on them. There is more social awareness, and more solidarity. More women seek help and in turn help others, unwilling to spend their lives in despair.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/nicola-pratt/gendered-paradoxes-of-egypt%E2%80%99s-transition">Gendered paradoxes of Egypt’s transition </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/hania-sholkamy/why-women-are-at-heart-of-egypt%E2%80%99s-political-trials-and-tribulations">Why women are at the heart of Egypt’s political trials and tribulations</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/transformation/chitra-nagarajan-shannon-harvey-adam-ramsay-ezekiel-incorrigible/activists-talk-menta">Activists talk mental health</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/zainab-magdy/egyptian-women%27s-rights-no-time-for-dissent">Egyptian women&#039;s rights: no time for dissent</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/zainab-magdy/egyptian-women-performing-in-margin-revolting-in-centre">Egyptian women: performing in the margin, revolting in the centre</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/5050/zainab-magdy/day-you-catch-fish-speaking-out-on-domestic-abuse">The Day You Catch the Fish: speaking out on domestic abuse</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5050/hania-sholkamy/from-tahrir-square-to-my-kitchen">From Tahrir square to my kitchen</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Egypt </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> 50.50 50.50 Egypt 50.50 Gender Politics Religion Women and the Arab Spring 50.50 Our Africa 50.50 Contesting Patriarchy gender justice fundamentalisms feminism Sophie Anmuth Mon, 26 Sep 2016 11:24:31 +0000 Sophie Anmuth 105502 at https://www.opendemocracy.net On megalomania and despair: is Sisi really nuts? https://www.opendemocracy.net/arab-awakening/sarah-el-sheikh/on-megalomania-and-despair-is-sisi-really-nuts <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The Egyptian state has composed what looks like a closed circuit of public despair and emotional drainage. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-24250625.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Julie Jacobson/AP/Press Association Images. All rights reserved."><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/549460/PA-24250625.jpg" alt="Julie Jacobson/AP/Press Association Images. All rights reserved." title="Julie Jacobson/AP/Press Association Images. All rights reserved." width="460" height="308" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Julie Jacobson/AP/Press Association Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>“God created me a doctor... a doctor able to diagnose the case... He created me like this. I know the truth and I see it. Hear it from me. Even the world now, they are all saying "Listen to him...".” &nbsp;</p> <p>This was Egypt’s president, Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5nitY4-un3E">speaking</a> about his unprecedented wisdom and special abilities. He continues to describe himself as the “physician of philosophers” and “idol of the world’s politicians, intelligentsia, media experts, and the world's greatest philosophers, if you like”. He can also predict Egypt’s future, <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ddaxkKv8hQ">according</a> to the dreams he has at night. </p> <p>If Sisi sees himself at the center of world leaders’ and philosophers’ attention, one can only imagine how much his own people are in trouble. Egypt’s President has never, in a single speech, failed to shower his audience with his exaggerated self-appraisal or paternal authoritarianism. These speeches usually come after a crisis that necessitates emergency political and/or economic measures and actions. </p><p>This year there have been numerous heated debates on whether two islands in the Red Sea should be handed over to Saudi Arabia. Sisi, in one of his speeches, told <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GWyWxgv0AQY">a bedtime story of his mother</a> advising him not to envy others’ belongings? Is this any way to help his public understand and often overlook their outrage at the handover of a piece of their country to another?</p> <p>Earlier this year, while giving a speech on austerity and the deteriorating economic conditions, the Marshal assured the public that if he could be sold for the benefit of the country, he would <a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/02/egypt-sisi-mocked-offering-sell-160225045549263.html">put himself up for sale</a>. In the same speech, he brazenly enjoined the public <a href="http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2016/02/25/Egyptians-slam-Sisi-after-listen-to-me-only-speech.html">to listen to him only</a>. </p> <p>The way Sisi speaks about himself, his dreams and his special abilities, invoking things like evil forces, sounds like phrases from some fantasy movie. People initially react with jokes and sarcasm, and only after seeing how steadily the Egyptian economy is deteriorating, do many of them realize that it is not a joke. </p> <p>What’s perplexing is the considerable degree of public acceptance, and even support, that he elicits for this nonsense. Is it charisma? Could it truly be unprecedented wisdom that is keeping Sisi’s audience somehow hooked? I am not arguing the absence of an increasing opposition, but rather attempting to decipher his ability to confidently come up with ever more stories of 'wisdom' and still maintain the public’s apparent acceptance every time he decides to take it a step further<em>.</em></p> <p>Why don't his supporters, whether among the elite or the public, see the insanity in Sisi's so-called gifts? And what is the contract that brings the two, the megalomaniac leader and his blinded followers, together to form this contemporary sociopolitical hegemonic bond?</p> <h2><strong>Nurturing megalomania</strong></h2> <p>It is hard to believe that Sisi, being this supposedly strategically exceptional leader who mobilized millions in his support, does not know what he is doing. He led a successful coup against one of the most established political groups in the region – the Muslim Brotherhood – &nbsp;and managed, over a very short period of time, to oppress a world-promising ‘revolution’ (January 2011). <em></em></p> <p>However bewildering from the outside, nevertheless within the context of military attitudes, one realizes he is not the exception. </p> <p>It was not long ago that one military general claimed he had found the cure for <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/28/egypt-military-aids-cure-device-backtrack">&nbsp;AIDS, HIV and Hepatitis C</a>, all with the approval and propagation of his military institution. On a similar level of absurdity, another military general spoke of creative (naturally planned) <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z5sNjP6zPJw">preventive war tactics</a> in cases of a nuclear attacks from Israel. The idea was that Egypt is blessed with a north-western wind and if Israel were to attack Egypt with “something”, the wind would take it back towards Israel. Yes, this was actually said. All with utter conviction and self-congratulatory self-worth. </p> <p>The same general also spoke of an intense battle on one of his military missions in which he had to <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xmVnCpv0oJU">chase rats</a>. It is only then that one sees each of these people manifesting a seemingly interrelated phenomenon: ‘megalomania’. The fact that each of these incidents, among others, has been recorded and streamed for the public to see means that they are no exception and that there is little sense of shame on the part of the military institutions. Quite the reverse.</p> <p>One of the main features of military institutions is that they are very hierarchical, in a deifying, top-down sense. If one serves in the military for extended periods of time, it is quite likely that one forgets what it feels like to be second-guessed, mistaken or criticized. </p> <p>In the military, if you fail to salute your senior, you are interrogated and maybe even punished. If you fail to obey ‘his’ orders, you will definitely be punished. I am speaking of the silliest, absolutely trivial orders, not qualifying, opposing or criticizing your senior. After extended periods of time of being in a ‘yes, sir’ environment, climbing up the military ladder, it’s safe to assume, due to human adaptability, that one might forget what it feels like to be wrong. Is this when megalomania sets in? </p> <p>The problem is further intensified with the absence of any sort of scholarly reference, deteriorating education over decades and rising ignorance. The sole source of what is right, nay righteous and sensible, becomes his almighty - the general’s words. A general, not to mention a marshal, can speak and lecture subordinates about any topic in any field. Should one dare second-guess an army official, she/he will most likely be accused of treason, and if he is from within the military institution he is also most likely to be punished. </p> <p>Essam Heggy, for example, <a href="http://edition.cnn.com/2014/02/27/world/africa/egypt-aids-cure-claim/">criticized the AIDS device</a>&nbsp;'invented' by a military general for not deploying scientific methodology. The scholar was <a href="http://www.almasryalyoum.com/news/details/572193">accused of</a> treason, misleading the public, and conspiring against his own country.</p> <p>Can you imagine then what the combination of ignorance and utter impunity can possibly achieve between them? </p> <h2><strong>A desperate public</strong></h2> <p>If unconvincing nonsense is uttered at the drop of a hat, what is it that makes the audience listen and believe in what is being said? Elitist figures; politicians, media men, celebrities, etc… support the political leadership of Egypt for two main reasons. First, they are by default less affected by the state’s negative socioeconomic decisions. Second, they are more likely to benefit from lip-serving the ruling leadership.</p> <p>What about the average Egyptian man and woman? What is it that makes them hang on to this malarkey? They pay the price with every decision taken. Are they hypnotized somehow by the unprecedented wisdom of their leader? Or do they truly believe what is on offer to them?</p> <p>I suspect the secret lies in a recipe of hope and despair. Sometimes in desperation for change, one hangs on to any sign of hope, even if it is false hope. This irrational wishful thinking hangs onto something, anything, or anyone that promises a better tomorrow. Tomorrow becomes a metaphor for a time that may never come. It almost does not matter, as long as the promise is renewed the next morning. </p> <p>While the people may be too cynical and wary to be truly satisfied with this reality, they are also far too emotionally exhausted to face the reality of being manipulated with false hope again. </p> <p>After a promising revolution, five governments, two parliamentary elections and two presidential races (with all the controversy around the legitimacy of each), each filled with much promise, the people are too tired to rise up against the ugly social reality. &nbsp;</p> <h2><strong>Salvation - state of oppression</strong></h2> <p>Not everyone believes the leader’s mad statements, and even those who believe them just cannot be fully hypnotized. A larger framework has to be set in place to stifle the people’s consciousness in the moments when they realize they are fed up with being lied to. This is where<strong> </strong>Sisi’s military, police and judicial state come in to play.</p> <p>By demonizing everyone who speaks against the state, the state exclusively possesses the right to be the righteous. By raising the flag of being in danger and ‘fighting terrorism’, the Egyptian state is, so far, getting away with oppressing thousands in jails and ignoring any public questioning about its own alleged promises. </p> <p>General Kamal Amer, for example, commenting last August on the deteriorating economic conditions, decided on behalf of the people that the <a href="http://www.youm7.com/story/2016/8/16/%D8%B1%D8%A6%D9%8A%D8%B3-%D9%84%D8%AC%D9%86%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AF%D9%81%D8%A7%D8%B9-%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A8%D8%B1%D9%84%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%86-%D8%BA%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%A1-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A3%D8%B3%D8%B9%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%AB%D9%85%D9%86-%D8%B1%D8%AE%D9%8A%D8%B5-%D8%AC%D8%AF%D8%A7%D9%8B-%D9%84%D9%84%D8%A3%D9%85%D9%86/2844900">rise in prices was a very reasonable cost for the safety and security</a> that Sisi’s state <em>offers&nbsp;</em>the people. Not surprisingly, the cost of 'thinking' of opposing the state has sky-rocketed as oppressive measures have simultaneously been set in place: <a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2016/07/egypt-hundreds-disappeared-and-tortured-amid-wave-of-brutal-repression/">political imprisonments</a>, <a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2016/07/egypt-hundreds-disappeared-and-tortured-amid-wave-of-brutal-repression/">forced-disappearances</a>, and <a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/middle-east-and-north-africa/egypt/report-egypt/">group sentences</a>. </p> <p>Thus, the Egyptian state has constructed what looks like a closed circuit of public despair and emotional drainage. </p> <p>Reminiscent of Karl Marx's description of religion as the “opium of the people”, I would say that this ‘false hope’ has become the opiate and slow death of the people’s aspirations for an actual better tomorrow. The people will remain afraid of the unknown until they face this reality, that they are being led on by false hope.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/arab-awakening/hesham-shafick/whatever-happened-to-egyptians-iv-note-on-getting-sexy-for-marassi">Whatever happened to the Egyptians, Pt.4: would-be aristocrats</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/arab-awakening/maged-mandour/genealogy-of-effendy">The genealogy of the Effendy</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/arab-awakening/farah-hallaba/ramadan-and-police">Ramadan and the police</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/arab-awakening/rockaya-abdel-hady/on-patriotism">On patriotism</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/arab-awakening/ahmed-zakaria/erratic-nation-is-not-only-here">Other erratic nations of our time</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/arab-awakening/ahmed-zakaria/hatred-for-authority-and-self-loathing">Hatred for authority and self-loathing</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/arab-awakening/hesham-shafick-mohamed-hasan/fascist-history-of-egyptian-revolution-iii-fascism-phase">A fascist history of the Egyptian revolution III: phase two, from the numinous to the real</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/arab-awakening/ahmed-zakaria/thin-line-between-pride-and-shame">The thin line between pride and shame </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/arab-awakening/sarah-el-sheikh/missing-element-in-egypt-sense-of-belonging">The missing element in Egypt: a sense of belonging</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Egypt </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Arab Awakening Middle East Forum Arab Awakening Egypt Culture Democracy and government Sarah El Sheikh Mon, 26 Sep 2016 10:10:59 +0000 Sarah El Sheikh 105559 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Release Ilgar Mammadov https://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/rebecca-vincent/meet-ilgar-mammadov-azerbaijan-s-prison-president <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>As Azerbaijan votes on constitutional amendments today, let’s not forget the country’s political prisoners.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/555493/images-cms-image-000019809.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="263" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Ilgar Mammadov has been in prison since 2013. Source: <a href=www.meydan.tv>Meydan.tv</a>. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>As Azerbaijanis go to the polls today for <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-09-22/azeri-leader-set-to-entrench-rule-in-referendum-to-extend-term">a problematic constitutional referendum</a>, the country is in the midst of <a href="https://www.indexoncensorship.org/2016/08/azerbaijan-renewed-human-rights-crackdown-ahead-referendum/">an unprecedented human rights crackdown</a> — again. Or, more fittingly, still. Having locked up the country’s most prominent critics, all but extinguished the political opposition, established nearly total control of the media, and paralysed independent civil society, president Ilham Aliyev is now poised to consolidate power through a vote expected to serve as a serious blow to any remaining vestiges of democracy in Azerbaijan.</p><p>Since Aliyev came to power in 2003, he has overseen wave after wave of repression, targeting one group of critics after another with increasing frequency and intensity as the years have progressed. The human rights situation in the country has been especially dire since 2009, when the two-term presidential limit was removed by constitutional referendum. This move paved the way for Aliyev’s re-election to <a href="http://www.osce.org/institutions/110015?download=true">a third term in office via a seriously flawed vote in 2013</a>.</p><p>In the run-up to the October 2013 presidential election, the Azerbaijani authorities worked particularly aggressively to silence criticism and dissent. They firmly quashed a series of pro-democracy protests in early 2013, using excessive force to disperse the peaceful actions, and detaining dozens of protesters. The period was described as Azerbaijan’s <a href="http://www.rferl.org/content/azerbaijan-month-of-protests/24888023.html">“hot January”</a>, and led to months of targeting of activists involved with those protests and others deemed to be a threat to the regime. Azerbaijan’s jails swelled with new cases of political prisoners — among them Ilgar Mammadov, leader of the opposition Republican Alternative (REAL) movement, who was arrested in March 2013.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">Still behind bars three and a half years later, Ilgar Mammadov, 46, has largely been overlooked by the international community</p><p>Although Mammadov was imprisoned on trumped-up charges of inciting violent protest, the authorities’ real reason for targeting Mammadov seemed clear. Not only had he attempted to challenge Aliyev by running in the presidential election, but he had questioned the very legitimacy of a third term in office for Aliyev. Mammadov, and the REAL movement more broadly, had become too critical, and too visible for the authorities to ignore.&nbsp;</p><p>Still behind bars three and a half years later, Mammadov, 46, has largely been overlooked by the international community, which has not rallied behind him to the same extent as perhaps <a href="http://www.eurasianet.org/node/79606">more “celebrity” cases of jailed journalists and human rights defenders</a>. But Mammadov’s continued imprisonment serves as a constant reminder to Azerbaijan’s political opposition of the <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/od-russia/arzu-geybulla/exclamation-mark-that-terrified-azerbaijani-authorities">serious consequences for those who dare to challenge the Aliyev regime</a>. It also demonstrates very clearly the low regard that the Azerbaijani government has for its international obligations, <a href="http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/06/11/how-azerbaijan-and-its-lobbyists-spin-congress/">despite presenting itself as a reliable international partner</a>.</p><p>Now, with Azerbaijan in the midst of a fully renewed human rights crackdown, against the backdrop of an economic crisis, and with another spate of repression likely to follow this constitutional referendum, the absence of a viable political opposition in the country is perhaps more damaging than ever before. Mammadov deserves seriously increased international attention and a renewed burst of efforts for his release.&nbsp;</p><h2>A pro-western alternative</h2><p>Like many figures in the Azerbaijani opposition, Mammadov first became politically active in the late 1980s as part of the national independence movement prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union.&nbsp;</p><p>Mammadov was a student at Moscow State University at the time, where he completed a degree in political science in 1993, and went on to study at Central European University in Budapest, finishing a degree in political economy in 1997. Mammadov joined the National Independence Party, where he served as deputy chairman from 1998 to 2003 when he left the party over policy disputes. He remained politically independent until starting the REAL movement in 2009.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left caption-small'><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_small/wysiwyg_imageupload/555493/Ilgar_Mammadov.jpg" alt="" title="" width="160" height="181" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-small imagecache imagecache-article_small" style="" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Ilgar Mammadov in 2011. CC A-SA 4.0 Emin Asgarsoy / Wikimedia Commons. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>Mammadov was one of the first local contacts I established after arriving in Baku in June 2006 — my first diplomatic posting as a political officer at the US embassy. </p><p>The year prior, Mammadov had left his position as a political assistant at the US embassy, and stood as an independent candidate in the November 2005 parliamentary elections. </p><p>In addition to his former post at the US embassy, Mammadov has held roles as an analyst with the International Crisis Group, a board member of Open Society Institute-Assistance Foundation Azerbaijan, a board member of the Natural Resource Governance Institute, and director of the Council of Europe School of Political Studies in Baku (a position he retained until his arrest).</p><p>By the time I arrived in Baku, Mammadov was working as a political analyst and blogger, and running projects related to public access to information. He was a frequent interlocutor of the embassy, someone whose opinions we often sought in response to developments in the country. He was extremely talented — highly educated, well-spoken, charismatic and impassioned. His own views were distinctly pro-western, and he knew both how to talk to a western audience and how to explain western values to the local population. Mammadov was young and ambitious, and it was clear that his star was rising.&nbsp;</p><p class="mag-quote-center">The last time I saw Mammadov in person was in December 2012, just days before I would unknowingly leave Baku for the last time</p><p>According to Altay Goyushov, a historian and member of the REAL board, <a href="http://ilgarmammadov.livejournal.com">Mammadov’s blog</a> — the first of its kind in Azerbaijan — quickly became incredibly popular among Baku’s chattering classes. Goyushov said the site brought together all the key figures in Azerbaijan’s opposition politics, who used it as a policy debate forum. The blog began to influence public opinion, and eventually led to the formation of REAL in January 2009 in response to the government’s proposal of a series of constitutional amendments that were put to a vote in March 2009.&nbsp;</p><p>Most significantly, the constitutional amendments adopted in 2009 removed the two-term limitation that had been in place for the Azerbaijani presidency. These changes cleared the way for Aliyev to remain in office indefinitely. Mammadov was among the most vocal critics of the changes, even arguing against them on ANS TV — a rare opportunity for national broadcast of an opposition perspective. Goyushov said that appearance would later become even more popular, being widely shared and viewed again following Mammadov’s arrest in 2013.&nbsp;</p><h2>Mammadov’s arrest</h2><p>The last time I saw Mammadov in person was in December 2012, just days before I would unknowingly leave Baku for the last time. (My Azerbaijani residence permit <a href="http://littleatoms.com/ghosts-baku">would be illegally revoked in connection with my human rights work on the ground</a>.) When I met Mammadov that December, he was fully expecting to be arrested at any moment, as a group of MPs were pursuing a criminal defamation case against him for calling the Azerbaijani parliament a “zoo”.</p><p>Mammadov was indeed <a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2013/02/azerbaijan-stop-score-settling-arrests/">arrested less than three months later</a>.&nbsp;The charges were even more ludicrous than the initial defamation accusation. After travelling to the region of Ismayilli to look into a protest that had erupted in response to local corruption, Mammadov was charged with inciting the protest himself, allegedly with the use of violence.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/555493/images-cms-image-000023161.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="263" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>June 2016: Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly delegates visit Ilgar Mammadov in prison. Source: <a href=https://www.meydan.tv/en/site/news/15344/>Meydan.tv</a>.</span></span></span>Following a trial marred with due process violations, Mammadov was <a href="http://www.rferl.org/a/caucasus-report-azerbaijan-opposition-jailings/25306224.html">sentenced to a staggering seven years’ imprisonment</a>. Tofig Yagublu, a journalist and deputy chair of the opposition Musavat party, who had travelled to Ismayilli with Mammadov, stood trial alongside him and was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment on similar charges, although he was released early by presidential pardon in March 2016.</p><p>But Mammadov’s real crime? Daring to challenge president Aliyev. Mammadov had already announced his intention to stand as a presidential candidate during that year’s election. In fact, he attempted to run from jail, but was thwarted when the Central Election Commission claimed that <a href="http://m.apa.az/en/domestic-news/azerbaijani-cec-refuses-to-register-ilgar-mammadov-as-presidential-candidate-updated">4,982 of the 41,247 signatures gathered in support of his candidacy were invalid</a>.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">In the three and a half years that Mammadov has now been jailed, the space for dissent has shrunk considerably in Azerbaijan</p><p>Further, Mammadov and other leading REAL movement figures very publicly argued that constitutional amendments adopted in the 2009 referendum did not apply to president Aliyev, but to his successor, thus calling into question the very legitimacy of Aliyev’s third term in office. Mammadov was also the only leader of an opposition group to participate in the unsanctioned protests that took place during Azerbaijan’s “hot January” just prior to his arrest in 2013.</p><p>In the three and a half years that Mammadov has now been jailed, the space for dissent has shrunk considerably in Azerbaijan. And yet he has remained vocal, finding ways to continue posting on his blog about political developments in the country, and refusing to write a letter to president Aliyev asking for pardon — a step that has reportedly been effective in some other cases of political prisoners. Mammadov has paid a heavy price for refusing to be silenced; ahead of the November 2015 parliamentary elections, <a href="https://www.hrw.org/news/2015/11/02/hrw-submission-un-committee-against-torture-azerbaijan">reports surfaced that he had been tortured by prison officials</a> — beaten, dragged and kicked, resulting in serious injuries and broken teeth.&nbsp;</p><p>Due to the complete lack of rule of law in the country, as with all other political cases in Azerbaijan, Mammadov’s only hope for justice was from the European Court of Human Rights. The Court’s judgment, issued in May 2014, <a href="http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/eng?i=001-144124">did not disappoint</a>: the Court declared Mammadov’s detention to be politically motivated and ordered the Azerbaijani government to release him. The judgment took effect in October 2014. However, nearly two years later, Azerbaijan continues to flout the Court’s decision, in blatant breach of its obligations as a Council of Europe member.</p><p>The Council of Europe has taken significant action in an attempt to secure Mammadov’s release — including numerous statements by Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland, who also launched <a href="http://www.humanrightseurope.org/2015/12/council-of-europe-launches-investigation-into-azerbaijans-human-rights-compliance/">a rare investigation</a> into Azerbaijan’s compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights, and numerous interim resolutions of the Committee of Ministers, which discusses Mammadov’s cases at its weekly “Meetings of the Ministers’ Deputies” as a standing agenda item.</p><p>But ultimately, the inability of the Council of Europe to hold Azerbaijan accountable as a member is now undermining the credibility of the entire body, and if unaddressed, may lead to Azerbaijan’s expulsion from the organisation.&nbsp;</p><h2>The middle-class opposition&nbsp;</h2><p>Although its popularity certainly seems to be growing within Azerbaijan, little is known internationally about the REAL movement. In 2014, one foreign commentator labelled the movement <a href="http://www.eurasianet.org/node/68206">“Azerbaijan’s illiberal opposition”</a>. Eldar Mamedov pointed to comments made by REAL’s then co-leader Erkin Gadirli stating that homosexuality was “a choice”, and later calling for the assassination of Armenian officials for their role in the 1992 Khojali massacre. But this criticism is roundly rejected by REAL board members, who maintain that the comments in question were Gadirli’s personal views and did not reflect REAL’s policies. Gadirli <a href="https://www.meydan.tv/en/site/politics/1658/Erkin-Gadirli-Removed-from-Position-in-ReAL.htm">was removed from his position</a> as co-leader shortly after the comments in question, but remains a member of the REAL board.&nbsp;</p><p>Indeed, the term “illiberal opposition” seems unfair when examining the movement’s policies. A more fitting description comes up when speaking to most local commentators: that REAL has filled a gap as Azerbaijan’s middle-class opposition, and one that appeals to the country’s educated youth. Natiq Jafarli, an economist and REAL board member, said the movement had become one of the leading opposition bodies in the country due to its appeal to the middle class, professionals, students and youth. Rasul Jafarov, a human rights defender and REAL board member, says that to him, REAL is the “most free, most democratic institution” in Azerbaijan, which may explain the attraction of REAL to many others in Baku’s human rights community.&nbsp;</p><p>Altay Goyushov, historian and REAL board member, describes the movement as Azerbaijan’s “only liberal opposition”. He said REAL was the only opposition group that had published its policy programme, which included promotion of Euro-Atlantic integration; establishing a truly representative government; and ideals such as rule of law, anti-corruption, a free-market economy and secularism. Goyushov argued that this focus on policy, rather than uniting around a single personality, made REAL different from Azerbaijan’s other opposition groups.</p><p>Representatives of REAL are reluctant to comment on the movement’s exact membership figures, but insist that support has grown significantly over the course of Mammadov’s imprisonment, which has given REAL greater visibility. REAL’s Facebook page <a href="https://www.facebook.com/respublikaci">currently has 14,000 followers</a> — a significant feat in a country where a simple “like” of a critical page or post can result in arrest or other serious consequences. In 2013, the movement collected more than 41,000 signatures in support of Mammadov’s presidential bid.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/555493/PA-18396229_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="312" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>As Azerbaijan's economy continues to slow down, we can expect to see repression ramp-up against dissent. (c) Sergei Grits / AP / Press Association Images. All rights reserved.</span></span></span>Mammadov is not the only REAL member to be targeted. In 2014, Rasul Jafarov was arrested and <a href="https://www.article19.org/resources.php/resource/37931/en/azerbaijan:-rasul-jafarov%E2%80%99s-conviction,-the-latest-human-rights-violation">later sentenced to six and a half years’ imprisonment on spurious charges</a> of tax evasion, illegal entrepreneurship, and abuse of power. He spent 18 months behind bars before his early release by presidential pardon in March 2016. Other REAL members were targeted professionally; for example, Altay Goyushov and Erkin Gadirli were fired from their positions at Baku State University, and Khalid Bagirov <a href="http://www.ibanet.org/Article/Detail.aspx?ArticleUid=aedca0d9-30d5-4c68-ac47-7f4f03276ced">was disbarred as an attorney</a>.</p><p>More recently, on 12 August, Natig Jafarli was arrested on the same charges that had been used against Rasul Jafarov and other civil society figures — illegal entrepreneurship, tax evasion and abuse of power. In a surprise move, Jafarli was <a href="https://www.irfs.org/news-feed/real-movement-executive-secretary-natig-jafarli-released-from-detention/">released by a Baku court on 9 September</a> — however he remains under a travel ban, and the criminal charges against him still stand. He could face between three and eight years’ imprisonment if convicted. Jafarli told me that he believes he was targeted due to the government’s worry over REAL’s growing influence in the country and appeal to Azerbaijan’s youth.&nbsp;</p><p class="mag-quote-center">It is people like Mammadov who will pay the price for western inaction</p><p>All REAL board members have been questioned in Jafarli’s case, and <a href="http://en.apa.az/azerbaijani-news/accidents-incidents-news/azerbaijani-prosecutor-general-s-office-issue-statement-on-natiq-jafarli-s-arrest.html">the statement</a> by the General Prosecutor’s Office on Jafarli’s arrest named Ilgar Mammadov — a move interpreted by some observers as a warning that a new criminal case could be opened against Mammadov, perhaps in an attempt by authorities to circumvent the European Court of Human Rights’ judgment in his case.</p><p>While Jafarli remained detained, two young rank-and-file members of REAL, Elshan Gasimov and Togrul Ismayilov, <a href="https://www.irfs.org/news-feed/real-members-togrul-ismayilov-and-elshan-gasimov-arrested/">were detained on 15 August</a> immediately after collecting leaflets to be used in REAL’s campaigning related to the constitutional referendum. The movement was not calling for a boycott, rather for citizens to take part and vote against the proposed changes. Gasimov and Ismayilov were sentenced to seven days’ administration each, which resulted in REAL suspending its collection of signatures related to the referendum. Board members viewed it as involving undue risk for ordinary members, with little chance of success, given that authorities had already <a href="https://www.irfs.org/news-feed/central-election-commission-denies-registration-to-musavats-campaign-group/">denied registration to other opposition groups</a>.&nbsp;</p><p>One thing is certain: the Azerbaijani authorities are determined to silence Ilgar Mammadov and the broader REAL movement, and are employing various tactics in an attempt to do so. Given past patterns of repression around election periods in Azerbaijan, the authorities’ moves against REAL seem likely to increase, rather than abate, following the constitutional referendum, to punish REAL for speaking out in the run-up to the referendum, and to hinder the movement’s chances of campaigning effectively in any elections to follow.</p><h2>Western inaction&nbsp;</h2><p>Now, while Mammadov has sat in prison for more than three and a half years, Azerbaijanis are voting on a series of problematic constitutional amendments <a href="http://www.rferl.org/a/azerbaijan-aliyev-proposed-constitutional-amendments-caucasus-report/27867826.html">that would effectively consolidate power in the country’s already dominant presidency</a>. </p><p>Once the changes have been adopted — and observers have little doubt that they will be, given that Azerbaijan <a href="http://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/azerbaijan">has not held a single fair and free election under Aliyev’s rule</a> — early presidential, and possibly parliamentary, elections could be triggered within a matter of weeks. Another flurry of flawed votes could prove irreversibly damaging to Azerbaijan’s already fragile democratic movement.</p><p class="mag-quote-center">If the international community is serious about its stated commitment to promote and protect democracy and human rights in Azerbaijan, it must ensure that its actions match its words</p><p>All of this occurs while western leaders continue to shake Aliyev’s hand and smile for photos, carrying on with business as usual with a regime that is systematically failing to uphold its international human rights obligations. Western officials seem <a href="http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2015/07/22-tusk-meeting-azarbaidijan/">largely accepting of the myth portrayed by the Aliyev regime</a> and <a href="Azerbaijan&#039;s failed rebranding">its lobbyists</a> that the international community needs Azerbaijan more than Azerbaijan needs the international community — a claim that rings hollow as the Azerbaijani government seeks international financing in the midst of domestic economic crisis.</p><p>Meanwhile, it is people like Mammadov who will pay the price for western inaction. A man who has spent his entire adult life promoting democratic values, who has worked for the US government and the Council of Europe, is being let down by precisely those institutions, and is being left at serious risk in an Azerbaijani jail cell despite a solid international legal case for his release. The west is failing to prioritise Mammadov’s case and the cases of Azerbaijan’s dozens of other political prisoners, while inexplicably walking on eggshells to placate a regime that ultimately needs western support more than ever before.</p><p>If the international community is serious about its stated commitment to promote and protect democracy and human rights in Azerbaijan, it must ensure that its actions match its words. Measures like individual sanctions against Azerbaijani officials responsible for human rights officials — as called for in <a href="http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//NONSGML+TA+P8-TA-2015-0316+0+DOC+PDF+V0//EN">a resolution of the European Parliament</a> and in <a href="https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/4264/text">a bill tabled at the US Congress</a> — should be pursued.</p><p>The Aliyev regime should not be given anything that it wants from the west — whether international loans or an invitation to the White House under a new administration — without first implementing concrete democratic reforms, starting with the release of Ilgar Mammadov and all other political prisoners in Azerbaijan.</p><p><em>Azerbaijan’s post-Soviet memory politics are great at uniting society. Too bad it’s against external enemies. Read more&nbsp;<a href="https://opendemocracy.net/od-russia/sabir-akhundov/azerbaijanism">here</a>.&nbsp;</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/arzu-geybulla/exclamation-mark-that-terrified-azerbaijani-authorities">Meet N!DA, the exclamation mark that terrified the Azerbaijani authorities</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/od-russia/dominika-bychawska-siniarska/azerbaijan-s-unconstitutional-future">Azerbaijan’s unconstitutional future</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/mike-runey/nardaran-affair">Azerbaijan&#039;s Nardaran affair </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/od-russia/sabir-akhundov/azerbaijanism">“Azerbaijanism”</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/gabriel-levy/break-silence-on-azerbaijan-oil-workers-deaths">Break the silence on Azerbaijan oil workers’ deaths</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/od-russia/robert-ledger/eu-s-lack-of-unity-and-strategy-is-being-felt-in-azerbaijan">The EU’s lack of unity and strategy is being felt in Azerbaijan</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/rebecca-vincent/dont-forget-azerbaijan-s-political-prisoners">Don&#039;t forget Azerbaijan&#039;s political prisoners</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/od-russia/arzu-geybulla/azerbaijan%27s-failed-rebranding">Azerbaijan&#039;s failed rebranding</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> oD Russia oD Russia Rebecca Vincent Politics Human rights Azerbaijan Mon, 26 Sep 2016 08:53:52 +0000 Rebecca Vincent 105583 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Barcelona: city of refuge https://www.opendemocracy.net/mediterranean-journeys-in-hope/cameron-thibos-ignasi-calb-ram-n-sanahuja/barcelona-city-of-refuge <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Barcelona seeks to welcome refugees and migrants into the fabric of the city, but its efforts have been stymied by the national government.</p> </div> </div> </div> <iframe width="460" height="259" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/690Mzz8goyc?rel=0&amp;controls=0&amp;showinfo=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe> <p class="image-caption" style="margin-top:0px;padding-top:0px;">Ignasi Calbó and Ramón Sanahuja discuss the division of labour between local and national actors when it comes to welcoming refugees. Duration: 2:09.</p> <p><strong>Cameron: Welcome to openDemocracy. How would you describe what Europe is facing at the moment?</strong></p> <p><strong>Ignasi:</strong> We always talk about the five myths relating to the ‘unprecedented crisis around refugees’ in Europe.&nbsp; We think, firstly, that this is not a refugee crisis. It is more a crisis for asylum, or the right to asylum – or one could say a humanitarian crisis, not so huge in terms of numbers, but it is a management crisis. Secondly, it is not unprecedented. Look at Bosnia in the 90s or Rwanda, or Congo, or the Central African Republic.</p> <p>We would love to have a European asylum or migration policy because we are pretty sure that this would increase the rights of migrants or asylum-seekers in Spain, but there is not a European answer because European states have their own policies. But in Europe the arrival of newcomers seems suddenly to have shocked people – even though we have seen this before. If you look at the economic migrants who came in considerable numbers during the affluent years in Spain, this was around 30,000 or 40,000 in one year. So we think there is an over-exaggeration of the crisis, and this suggests that it is more of a political crisis than a refugee crisis.</p> <p><strong>Cameron: There are several layers of competence dealing with this political crisis: city councils, state governance, European Commission. How are they working ? Are they working well together, or against each other?</strong></p> <p><strong>Ignasi:</strong> The states do everything through legislation. They plan these sweeping laws, and major policies of welcoming, but they do not take sufficiently into account the fact that migrants and asylum seekers aim for cities, they ask for services in the cities, and they seek a living and a future there. So there is an irreconcilable gap between the state laws and what is actually happening on the ground.</p> <p class="mag-quote-right">There is an irreconcilable gap between the state laws and what is actually happening on the ground.</p> <p>We always say – and Ramón is always very clear on this – that the answer is a properly functioning multi-layered governance. We cannot continue to ignore each other. We are asking for more information, we want to have a political say and input into the decisions around finances and resources, so that we can implement policies for what we are now facing in our cities. And we don’t have this at present.</p> <p><strong>Ramón:</strong> The problem is that the European Union is not strong enough to impose this multilevel governance on every state in the EU. Some states have a good internal set-up, with different levels working together and to solve problems through cooperation. This is the way it should be done.</p> <p>But in many other states, including Spain, this doesn’t happen. Take the comments from my good colleague from Karlsruhe, Germany – it is the same problem. They don’t speak to the state. The state doesn’t speak to the <em>Länder</em> (Germany’s federal states). And a lot of distress and misfortune has to take place before the local areas get what they need. It is the same when it comes to funding. There are of course considerable funds for refugees at the European level. In some countries, this funding is held by the state; in others, at state level and also the regions; in some others, Holland for example, cities receive this funding. This disparity really doesn&#39;t make sense.</p> <img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u555228/15513732910_4c7274f5a5_o.jpg" width="100%" /> <p class="image-caption" style="margin-top:0px;padding-top:0px;">Barcelona. Stéphane Neckebrock/Flickr. (CC 2.0 by-nc-nd)</p> <p>Integration, which is always a multi-faceted business, naturally happens at the local level. Nobody would challenge that premise because it is an evident reality. But these policies at the level of the European Union and the state do not really take this into account. They are more focused on flow control than on integration. </p> <p><strong>Ignasi:</strong> We are always talking about how to integrate people, how to welcome migrants and refugees into the European Union, but at the same time we put up physical and legal barriers to prevent them from entering. This is kind of a contradiction.</p> <p><strong>Ramón:</strong> There are so many examples! </p> <p><strong>Ignasi:</strong> Too many. It doesn&#39;t make sense! </p> <p><strong>Ramón:</strong> For example, from the local point of view we know that family regrouping is very good for the integration of migrants. Why? Because it’s normal. It’s not a secret that everybody wants to live with children, a husband and wife together – a family. It’s good for all sorts of reasons – psychological, emotional, political reasons. But some countries are making this family reunification more difficult, therefore are making the lives of many migrants in our cities more difficult, and their integration process more difficult.</p> <p class="mag-quote-left">Trying to make the life of a migrant or an asylum seeker harder really doesn’t mean that they are going to leave.</p> <p>This is one example.&nbsp; There are so many others. Another example is the business of return. The European Union spends a lot of money and invests a lot of money in return, voluntary return and so forth. But perhaps there isn’t much demand for that. Yes, some migrants wish to return. But why focus mainly or only on that? It is not a solution for the cities or most of the people who live in the cities.</p> <p><strong>Ignasi:</strong> Trying to make the life of a migrant or an asylum seeker harder really doesn’t mean that they are going to leave. You just make their lives even worse. That is very very bad from a political point of view, and from the point of view of social cohesion. You are just going to make people angry, and we have already seen what happens in Brussels and in France if you turn people against the state and against the people who should be welcoming them. If you make things harder for them, they soon ask, “why shouldn’t I be allowed to live like anybody else, like other citizens?” </p> <iframe width="460" height="259" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/HrEh1psFNbM?rel=0&amp;controls=0&amp;showinfo=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe> <p class="image-caption" style="margin-top:0px;padding-top:0px;">Ramón Sanahuja discusses how Europe's cities can effectively welcome and integrate migrants and refugees. Duration: 2:24.</p> <p><strong>Cameron: What is the city of Barcelona doing to help make integration possible, and is the national state helping or hindering that project?</strong></p> <p><strong>Ignasi:</strong> Politically, Barcelona has an advantage, in that the last 30 years or so of democracy, local policies on integration have remained more or less the same. &nbsp;over the last three years or so. No one who has come into the government of Barcelona has said that the policies we have are useless. One individual might be more left-leaning, the next more rightist, but overall, there has been some consistency. This is very important for city policies. </p> <p>Now again we are trying to make some adjustments to fit the reality. For example, we are not going to create parallel structures for refugees and asylum seekers. There is a difference in legal status if you are a refugee or an asylum seeker, you have the right to work. Illegal migrants don’t have this right. But taking the various factors into account, we are trying not to differentiate between these people and other citizens, because otherwise this could lead to social conflicts and to unrest. </p> <p><strong>Ramón:</strong> One of the most important lessons we have learned over the last 15 years is that we have to provide welcome policies from the moment zero, and embrace everyone who comes to the city regardless of their legal status. If they are legal, regular, or not – it doesn’t matter. You have to start working with them immediately to include them in access to the health services, the educational facilities, the sports facilities and the libraries. And providing language lessons so that they have more opportunities to work.</p> <p class="mag-quote-right">Investments in migration has never been seen as expenditure in Barcelona.</p> <p>This is something that, as Ignasi has mentioned, successive local governments have maintained should be the approach, and they have refined these policies over many years. That is an asset that we have as a city. We have to work more on educational opportunities for the second generation; housing, yes. Of course, in some other issues where we are not performing so well… </p> <p><strong>Ignasi:</strong> No, but the thing is that investments in migration has never been seen as expenditure here. It has been seen as an investment in social cohesion. And this is very important, because if you can do it from moment zero, that means that social cohesion is vastly improved, and it is not very expensive to do it in this way.</p> <p><strong>Ramón:</strong> It is much cheaper to invest beforehand in sound policies than pay for it afterwards, when you have riots because of ethnic tensions in a neighbourhood. That’s when you have to spend a great deal on major policies to quieten things down, and you lose out.</p> <p><strong>Ignasi:</strong> And that isn’t just a question of money. It is about whether you treat people like human beings.</p> <p><strong>Ramón:</strong> It’s a matter of human rights.</p> <p><strong>Ignasi:</strong> For example, granting citizenship from moment zero is an incentive for people to integrate sooner rather than later.</p> <p><strong>Ramón:</strong> We do have some parts of our society who are sceptical about the benefits of diversity, or critical of diversity. Especially elderly people with less education don’t understand these issues very well, as our surveys tell us, and we have to explain things very carefully. Our mayor, Ada Colau, is really leading the way in conveying a positive and convincing message for everybody, and especially for these people. You can have other politicians who would convey an opposite message to them, and this is very easily done. But our mayor is delivering the right message to convince people to create social cohesion.</p> <p><strong>Ignasi:</strong> She encourages them not to see migrants and refugees as competitors for social services, but to see them as other people who are also poor. It is to do with her own social background, because she was an activist in her former life, and she was talking to everybody and saying,“ OK. Your enemy is not the outsider. The enemy is inside – the banks, etc…</p> <p><strong>Ramón:</strong> …it’s the Troika who imposes the budget cuts – but it isn’t the migrant who is the problem behind the crisis in the social welfare state. It is not our neighbour, who is suffering the same situation as the rest of us. This message is really important!</p> <p><strong>Cameron: How do you work on these programmes in the libraries and educational institutions and so forth? Do you subsidise these programmes at the city level, or work closely with them to deliver these services?</strong></p> <p><strong>Ignasi:</strong> The city of Barcelona has always worked closely with these organisations. That’s also city policy. You don’t subsidise their activities just to distance yourself from the problem. Associations, NGOs – they know the territory very well, so they have a lot to say on city policies as well. They know the best way of integrating them, so they are one of the tools we have for integrating people. The association scene in Barcelona is enormous. You have everything. Without civil society, if we only had official policy, we wouldn’t achieve anything. We’d be lost.</p> <p class="mag-quote-center">Without civil society, if we only had official policy, we wouldn’t achieve anything.</p> <p><strong>Ramón:</strong> We have a network of 160 NGOs that work to deliver welcome policies in the neighbourhoods. They provide legal assessment, or advice for people – for example on how to access the health system – etc. There’s all kinds of NGOs, from the church to the neighbourhood associations, sports, etc. – anybody who wants to deliver information and services to refugees and migrants can be part. They can also receive smaller or larger pots of funding for their projects from the city. </p> <img src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u555228/27866361601_f78745b175_o.jpg" width="100%" /> <p class="image-caption" style="margin-top:0px;padding-top:0px;">Barcelona city hall. Josep Bracons/Flickr. (CC 2.0 by-nc-nd)</p> <p><strong>Ignasi:</strong> We’re also attempting to attract the informal associations now, like social activists, and bring them in as well. </p> <p><strong>Ramón:</strong> For example, a public servant can do a very good job handing out information. But if this information is provided by an NGO – which can approach individuals and invite them to chat over a cup of tea, or invite them to participate in an activity, or to watch a football match, whatever! – this creates a bond. As civil servants we obviously cannot invite them to do such things, but an NGO can do that. This can create some very strong connections within the community, and that leads to integration and social cohesion. </p> <p><strong>Cameron: You’ve said that multi-level governance would be great, but it’s currently lacking. Are you working horizontally, and trading lessons learned between cities?</strong></p> <p><strong>Ignasi:</strong> To an extent. The program is very young, it’s only been working since September or so. On top of that, City Hall isn’t the easiest place to work. There are a lot of restrictions. We have a network of cities, but as you might know there have been a lot of elections recently in Spain. So we’ve made a few preliminary steps, but right now we are waiting to let that settle and then we’ll see how the landscape is. We’ll be making a big push on that next year.</p> <p><strong>Ramón:</strong> At the European level, we are members of the EUROCITIES group – it’s kind of a lobbying group for big cities. We are trying to promote some initiatives there, and hopefully will influence the European Union as a whole in some way. Our mayor had some meetings with European commissioners, thanks to EUROCITIES. We’ll see if anything comes out of that. We are also part of the strategic partnership called the ‘European Agenda’.</p> <p><strong>Ignasi:</strong> We’re attempting to use that tools that we already have or the associations that we’re already in, but we are also creating new ones. That said, it would make no sense to create yet another network of cities. There are already hundreds of them.</p> <p><strong>Ramón:</strong> I’ll tell you something. At this moment, the City of Barcelona is much better coordinated with the European Union than with the Spanish state. We have been in Brussels two or three times a year to discuss different issues. But since 2011, I – the director of welcome policies in Barcelona – haven’t been invited to Madrid by the ministry for anything! Before there were meetings. But since 2011, we don’t exist. There’s nothing!</p> <p class="mag-quote-right">At this moment, the City of Barcelona is much better coordinated with the European Union than with the Spanish state.</p> <p><strong>Ignasi:</strong> It’s incredible. What the Spanish state is doing is unprecedented. You tell this to anybody in Europe and they say ‘what?! You’re not talking to the state? They didn’t invite you in all this time to discuss your policies and your activities?’ We are invited abroad all the time – if we wanted we could be doing conference the entire year – but not in Spain, not in Madrid. It’s truly incredible.</p> <p><strong>Ramón:</strong> The European Union has this figure, called the national contact points. They are officials, usually from a ministry, who are charged with delivering information from the European Union not just to the national government but to all the different levels of government. So when we go to Brussels, they say, ‘well, haven’t you talked to your national contact point?’ and I have to respond, ‘I have no idea who that is. I’ve never gotten an email or anything! Who is this national contact point –&nbsp;please tell me!’ This is the reality.</p> <p><strong>Cameron:</strong> So it’s not that the Spanish government is hostile to local programmes, they’re just not interested.</p> <p><strong>Ramón:</strong> No, not hostile to local governments, I think.</p> <p><strong>Ignasi:</strong> In my point of view, they are hostile to the concept of coordinating with the others. What they do is say no to Europe, and then privatise the assistance. There’s no other policy than that, and there’s no will to create one. There has also been very little debate about that in the electoral campaigns. </p> <p><strong>Cameron: How many people have come to Barcelona in the past years?</strong></p> <p><strong>Ramón:</strong> In the city of Barcelona, in a 10 year span we’ve had probably had about 200,000 new arrivals.</p> <p><strong>Ignasi:</strong> Some years it was 40,000 a year –&nbsp;quite a bit.</p> <p><strong>Ramón:</strong> Since then, the figure has been more or less stable. But that doesn’t mean that people aren’t coming, just that people are arriving and leaving at about the same rate. We are expecting an increase in the next two years though. Currently Spanish people are leaving Spain to find work, but that will increase demand for labour here and pretty soon migrants will be coming to fill those spaces. Labour markets are funny things like that.</p> <p><strong>Cameron: So you’d say that, at the end of the day, this ‘crisis’ is indeed manageable?</strong></p> <p><strong>Ramón:</strong> Yes.</p> <p><strong>Ignasi:</strong> Of course, absolutely. </p> <p><strong>Ramón:</strong> What would London be without migration? London <em>is </em>migration. Paris is migration. <em>Cities are migration, and cities would not exist without migration</em>. It’s our gasoline. Of course it’s manageable. You can do it in a very liberal way, with no rules. This approach has some dangers. Or you can try to improve cohesion through policy, which I think is a win-win situation for everyone: for the city, inhabitants, the economic actors, the migrants themselves, and for the rest of the inhabitants. I mean – I still have problems in the streets everyday because of a lack of cohesion. Because diversity clashes, because the balance is off.</p> <p>There is still work to do, but immigration is unstoppable. It’s linked to demographics and economic cycles. Laws can make immigration more difficult or easier for people, but it won’t stop it. Even Britain with Brexit and all these isolationist policies – despite all of this people will still come. They will arrive by Heathrow and Gatwick and many other entry points, and if there are economic opportunities they will work. It’s like the law of gravity. You can’t fight against that. All you can do is create policies that will either do something positive for everyone, or make it all more difficult.</p> <p>There are small segments of society that will benefit from making immigration, integration, and cohesion more difficult – like politicians who will get more votes in the short term – but the cost is the production of a large amount of social distress that will lead to tensions. Like we saw after the Brexit vote, all these xenophobic attacks where migrants were getting shouted at in the streets. It’s not good – for anybody.</p> <fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-anoth-sidebox"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="https://opendemocracy.net/mediterranean-journeys-in-hope"><img style="padding-top: 10px;" src="//cdn.opendemocracy.net/files/u555228/MJIH-icon-140%402x.png" alt="" width="100%" /></a></p> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/mediterranean-journeys-in-hope/janina-pescinski-cameron-thibos-en-khong-alex-sakalis-rosemary-bechler/introducing-this-weeks">Introducing <em>Cities of Welcome, Cities of Transit</em></a> <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/mediterranean-journeys-in-hope/bue-r-bner-hansen-cameron-thibos/welcoming-refugees-despite-state">Welcoming refugees despite the state</a><br /> <span style="font-size:90%;">BUE RÜBNER HANSEN </span> <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/mediterranean-journeys-in-hope/cameron-thibos-ignasi-calb-ram-n-sanahuja/barcelona-city-of-refuge">Barcelona: city of refuge</a><br /> <span style="font-size:90%;">IGNASI CALBÓ and RAMÓN SANAHUJA</span> <hr /> <a href="https://opendemocracy.net/mediterranean-journeys-in-hope/cameron-thibos-anna-terr-n-cus/toward-more-humane-european-asylum-sys">Toward a more reasonable European asylum system</a><br /> <span style="font-size:90%;">ANNA TERRÓN CUSÍ</span> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Mediterranean journeys in hope Mediterranean journeys in hope Cities of Welcome Cameron Thibos Ramón Sanahuja Ignasi Calbó Mon, 26 Sep 2016 00:00:00 +0000 Cameron Thibos, Ramón Sanahuja and Ignasi Calbó 105239 at https://www.opendemocracy.net