Throw Open the Gates of Europe to Refugees!
Long live International Solidarity of the Workers and Poor! Down with the Imperialist Fortress EU! Advance the Arab Revolution to Build Workers and Peasant Republics!
Statement of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 15.9.2015, www.thecommunists.net
- Currently thousands of refugees – many from Syria – are trying to reach the European Union. In recent week tens of thousands have crossed the border. Against the determined campaign of the ruling classes in the EU, this migration has provoked a spontaneous wave of solidarity among huge sectors of the European working class and youth, particularly among many migrants already residing in the EU. This display of solidarity has in turn forced the governments of the EU and much of the media to temporarily change their approach, allowing many refugees to enter the EU. True socialists should, of course, welcome this spontaneous working class solidarity. However, on 13 September the German and Austrian government abruptly made a 180-degree turn and closed the borders. The central task now is not only to help these refugees, but also to create an organized movement based on the working class, the migrant communities, and the refugees in order to strengthen the solidarity against the inevitable backlash of the ruling class.
- For a long time the EU has done everything in its power to block refugees – fleeing war and devastation in their homelands – from entering Europe. They have adopted various measures to strengthen the EU fortress including, setting up internal border controls, increasing the number of border guards, building a wall at the Hungarian-Serbian border, expanding the FRONTEX forces to stop refugees crossing the Mediterranean Sea, and adopting plans which include military operations in Libyan territorial waters and even the deployment of ground forces along the Libyan coast.
- However, the obvious plight of millions of refugees, the so blatantly visible tragedy they have suffered, all this has provoked a spontaneous wave of working class solidarity with them. To give just a few examples: In Austria and Germany hundreds of people go every day to the main train stations, as well as to refugee camps, in order to help the incoming refugees. When the reactionary Orban government in Hungary tried to block the arrival of refugees there, a convoy of 200 cars was formed which drove to Hungary in order to help the refugees reach Austria. Numerous organizations of Muslim migrant communities are organizing huge amounts of material support for refugees. In Iceland the right-wing government provoked a storm of enragement when it announced that the country could take only 50 (!) Syrian refugees. In response, Icelandic people organized a campaign in which 10,000 (!) people publicly pledged to take a Syrian family into their homes! And this in a country with a population of only 330,000 people! On 31 August 20,000 people in Vienna participated in a spontaneous demonstration in solidarity with the refugees. On 12 September similar mass demonstrations took place in additional European cities, including 90,000 in London. What an impressive show of international solidarity which demolishes all myths about the “egotistical nature” of human beings! This is a spontaneous mass movement which formed against the will of all EU governments, against the long-standing campaigns of virtually all bourgeois mass media, and without the support of the “progressive” parties and trade unions.
- As a result of this public display of human solidarity, the European governments have been forced to temporarily give in and allow the refugees enter the fortress. Similarly, various bourgeois media have changed the tone of their coverage. However, there should be no illusions: the ruling classes in Europe will do everything in their power to stop thousands of refugees coming to Europe and to quell this solidarity movement. As we have seen, on 13 September the German government closed its borders and the Austrian government quickly followed suite. The Polish and the Slovak governments have announced that they will only take Christian refugees from Syria – a country where nearly all people are Muslims! Fascist forces in eastern Germany are attacking the homes of asylum seeker. No doubt, we can soon expect to be exposed to media stories about “IS terrorists who are hiding among the refugees” in order to bring “death and horror to Europe.” We have already witnessed in recent years a huge racist media campaign – directed in particular against Muslim migrants. These incitements have resulted not only in daily attacks on Muslim migrants but also in the formation of racist mass movements like PEGIDA in Germany; such campaigns have also given rise to the passing of laws directed against Muslims, for example: the outlawing of specific forms of female Muslim dress; the prohibition of pro-Palestinian demonstrations in France during the last Gaza war; a law recently passed by the government of Austrian which discriminates against Muslims relative to other religious communities, etc. We have every reason to expect that the ruling class and the right-wing racists will intensify such campaigns in the near future.
- Furthermore, the ruling classes in the EU will use the refugee crisis as a pretext to intensify their wars in the Middle East. The US, Britain and France have launched a military campaign against Islamist rebels in Syria and Iraq. They claim that the Syrian refugee crisis is mainly due to the terror of Daesh (the so-called “Islamic State”). However, while Daesh is indeed a blood-thirsty, reactionary Salafi-Takfiri outfit, there is no doubt that most of the deaths and the creation of refugees in Syria have been caused by the horrendous and indiscriminate massacres and aerial bombings of Bashar al-Assad’s army! Millions of Syrians were forced to flee their country long before Daesh was even founded in 2013! In fact, it looks like the Western imperialists will also use the present migration crisis as a pretext to come to terms with the brutal regime of Bashar al-Assad, after a few years of having mostly criticized it. This cynical shift yet further emphasizes how the Western imperialists are in fact an arch-enemy of the Arab and Muslim people!
- What is the reason for the current upsurge in refugees now coming to Europe? It is simply that the ongoing wars, oppression by dictatorial regimes, and social misery in the Middle East and Africa have continued for years and years without an end in sight. Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have been slaughtered during the past four years – most of them by the forces of the Assad regime, a close ally of imperialist Russia which has also collaborated many times with US imperialism (e.g., Syria’s participation in the war against Iraq in 1991; its collusion in the CIA torture program, etc.). The people of Egypt are daily living in horror in face of the brutal military dictatorship of General Sisi – a close friend both of the Western as well as the Eastern great powers. The devastating war of the pro-Western gulf monarchies (with the support of General Sisi) in Yemen has already created 1.5 million refugees. Increasing economic misery, the direct result of the lengthening world-wide crisis of capitalism, the insatiable “land grabbing” by foreign corporations in Third-World nations, and the barbarous austerity programs imposed by the IMF on many Arab and African countries are all taking their toll, forcing more and more people to flee their native lands.
- Until now, most refugees have remained in countries adjacent to the nation they fled. Turkey, a country of 77 million people, is home to 800,000 refugees. In Iran, a country of 78 million people, there are one million refugees. Lebanon, a country of only 4.4 million people is home to 1.1 million refugees. But these relatively poor countries can’t take any more refugees. This is why, from now on, many more refugees will try to reach Europe.
- Socialists in Europe must actively participate in the spontaneous solidarity movement with refugees which we having been witnessing in recent weeks, but must also try to transform it into an organized mass movement of workers, youth, migrants, and refugees. Against the lies that “Europe cannot absorb the refugees” socialists should explain that the imperialist powers are primarily responsible for the misery in these countries. This distress has been created by the European (and other imperialist) corporations, their banks, their financial institutions, their wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and by the brutality of their local allies and puppets in these countries!
- Similarly, socialists in Europe should combine their support for the refugees with active solidarity for the liberation struggles of the workers and poor in the Maghreb and Mashreq. They should organize practical solidarity with the popular struggles in Syria against the blood-thirsty, dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad, in Egypt against the brutal military regime of General al-Sisi, in Libya against the pro-Western puppet “government” of General Haftar, and in Yemen against the foreign aggression of the al-Saud Gang. Such practical solidarity should come together with a socialist perspective of advancing the Arab Revolution to expropriate the imperialist and domestic monopolies, overthrow the local corrupt elites, and create workers’ and fallahin republics.
- Furthermore, socialists should clearly expose the sham that Europe – with a population of more than 500 million persons – can only host 1.6 million refugees, despite its being far richer than countries like Turkey, Lebanon or Iran. As a matter of fact, today there are more than 11 million empty residences in Europe. This is enough to provide a place to live for all the homeless in Europe and still leave over enough empty flats to accommodate at least 7 million refugees! But the capitalist governments will not open the borders of Europe, because their system is for the rich, not the poor. There is no shortage of wealth in Europe. Just remember that the world’s richest 80 persons – amongst them 16 Western Europeans – hold the same amount of wealth as the world’s 3.6 billion poorest people. How many people could live in safety if we would expropriate this little group of super-rich parasites! Against the social-imperialist opposition of the labor bureaucracy and various reformists and centrists, socialists should raise the slogan “Open the Borders to Refugees!”
- The alleged problems of finding accommodation for the refugees demonstrate once more the bankruptcy of the capitalist system. This cannot be otherwise in a system in which enterprises are the private property of a few oligarchs and production does not serve the needs of the people but the profits of a small, privileged minority. This demonstrates yet again the urgent need for a working class revolution in order to transfer the economy from the control of the capitalists to that of the society as a whole and to plan production according to the needs of the entire population.
- The most crucial task for socialists in Europe, beyond simply helping refugees enter the EU and staying there, is to create an organized movement based on the working class, the migrant communities, and the refugees. Socialists should pressure the organizations of the workers’ movement, in particular the trade unions, to mobilize support for the refugees. The workers’ movement should call for a program of increased taxes and the expropriation of the super-rich parasites in order to finance massive public works programs. There should also be established committees of action in workplaces, neighborhoods and schools to organize support for refugees and to oppose the inevitable backlash of the capitalist governments and the fascists. Likewise, the need to build a united front between the workers’ movement, the migrant communities, and refugees is urgent.
- The Austrian section of the RCIT has participated in practical solidarity actions with the refugees from the very beginning of the current wave. In its campaign for the incoming municipal elections in Vienna (the Austrian section is running candidates in the biggest working class district where about half of the population are migrants), the comrades are raising, among other slogans, the call to “Open the Borders for Refugees and Migrants!” Our comrades form links of cooperation with many people who spontaneously participate in practical support or who give us clothes, toys, etc. for refugees in order to help. The RCIT is convinced that the present mass solidarity movement is a huge opportunity for the workers’ movement in Europe to overcome the deep-seated prejudices of the labor aristocracy against people from poor countries of the South and to build links between the native and migrant popular masses. Supporting this movement and advancing the political consciousness of its activist is therefore an important step for our goal to build a revolutionary world party of the workers and oppressed.
* For mass solidarity with the refugees!
* Open Europe’s Borders to Refugees!
* For the rights of refugees and the immediate legalization of all migrants and asylum seekers! For the right of asylum for all those fleeing war, oppression, and poverty in their countries!
* For full citizenship rights and the abolition of all discriminatory laws against migrants – regardless of nationality, race, or religion! Equal pay for equal work!
* No to the EU anti-refugee plans! Down with the EU naval forces in the Mediterranean Sea! Defend Libya against any foreign intervention!
* For committees of action in workplaces, neighborhoods and schools to organize support for refugees and to oppose the backlash of the capitalist governments and the fascists!
* Build a united front between the workers’ movement, the migrant communities and refugees!
* Fight against discrimination of refugees (equal access to housing and the labor market, etc.)! Defend refugees against the state apparatus! Come to the aid of refugees in hiding who are threatened with deportation! Build armed self-defense units to fight against police brutality and racist thugs!
* For a revolutionary migrants movement as part of a new World Party of Socialist Revolution – the Fifth Workers International!
International Secretariat of the RCIT
(*) Fallahin is the Arab plural noun for peasants.
For our analyses on the refugee crisis, we refer readers to:
RCIT: Europe / North Africa: Storm the Gates of Rome! Open Borders for Refugees! Stop the Imperialist EU-War against Refugees! No to the Preparations for an Imperialist Aggression against Libya! 22.5.2015, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/eu-war-against-refugees/
See photos of a solidarity action of the Austrian section of the RCIT here: http://www.rkob.net/wien-wahl-2015/fluechtlingen-helfen/
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