AT the Idomeni crossing from Greece into Macedonia refugees are clashing with Macedonian soldiers and police, as they try to reopen the border near their makeshift camp in the northern Greek border village of Idomeni, so as to proceed into Europe.
300 people have been injured by Macedonian police firing teargas, stun grenades and rubber bullets at them, said ‘Doctors without Borders’. The teargas from the clashes has spread to the nearby camp where children are suffering from respiratory problems, and where two people have already set themselves alight in protest at their treatment.
Even the Greek ‘left’ Syriza government has had to protest that ‘The indiscriminate use of chemicals, rubber bullets and stun grenades against vulnerable populations. . . is a dangerous and deplorable act.’ Macedonia is a candidate member of the EU and is now working hard battering refugees to win the start of full accession talks from Brussels.
More than 10,000 men, women and children have been stranded on the border between Macedonia and Greece after the deal between the European Union and Turkey to keep refugees out of Europe came into effect in late March.
Under the deal, all refugees are to be handed over to the Turkish state, with one Turkish-selected Syrian refugee to replace every Syrian returnee. For this trafficking service the Turkish government is to receive 3bn euros plus. Even the United Nations has had to point out that this trafficking deal is illegal.
Meanwhile violent clashes are erupting in Greek detention camps where those who are about to be returned are being forcibly detained. Refugees throughout Greece are rising up against being returned to Turkey, at the same time as Greek workers are demonstrating every day against the government’s assault on their jobs, wages, pensions and also against privatisations, after the Port of Piraeus has been sold off to China.
The UK is at the centre of this developing war on refugees. It has sent naval ships to forcibly return boats conveying refugees from Libya to Greece and Italy! The refugees are to be returned and the boats sunk! At the same time the UK is turning a blind eye to the child refugees in Calais who have a recognised right to join relatives in England but who have been ignored.
England’s Children’s Commissioner, Anne Longfield, has written to the French government asking for urgent action to be taken in relation to an estimated 150 unaccompanied minors in the refugee camp in Calais. Under European regulations, known as Dublin III, child asylum seekers can have their claims transferred to another EU country if they have relatives there.
Longfield wrote: ‘The camp is an incredibly dangerous place for an unaccompanied child,’ and expressed concern about a failure to find and trace a reported 129 lone children who have gone missing since the French authorities dismantled parts of the camp and moved the inhabitants in early March.
A French embassy spokesman responded: ‘As the Children’s Commissioner is rightly pointing out, there are indeed several dozens of lone minors in Calais who have links to the UK and, according to the Dublin agreement, would have the right to enter Britain to be reunited with their relatives there.’
The French authorities added: ‘They are not locked in and we cannot prevent them from leaving should they wish to do so while they are waiting for the UK to decide on whether to admit them.’ Both states are washing their hands of the child refugees, who have a right to come to the UK!
The working class of the EU, already under full attack from the various EU governments and the European Commission, must fight for the rights of refugees and demand that they be allowed to enter the EU as they wish. Otherwise the struggle to defend their own rights will be drowned by a rising tide of state-supported, anti-refugee xenophobia.
The truth is that the refugee crisis is a product of the imperialist powers’ savage attacks on Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria. The working class must ally itself with, and support, the rights of refugees, and the rights of oppressed nations by overthrowing the EU and replacing it with the Socialist United States of Europe, that will put an end to capitalism and welcome all refugees.
Dutch workers have just rejected the EU in a referendum – the UK working class should do the same on June 23!