Friday, January 29, 2010

News Roundup: Italy- Riots, Racism, and Deportation

[Photo: NY Times]

A tragic clash between African immigrants and Italian youths/ mafioso/ police has set off a debate about Italy's harsh stance on migrants, its reluctance to take on the mafia, and disgraceful racism that is exploited by this government's actions.

BBC was there on Jan. 8th: African Migrants Riot Over 'Racist' Attack in Italy
Several people have been injured in rioting that broke out in southern Italy after an attack on immigrant farm workers by local youths. The migrants, mainly Africans, clashed with police after taking to the streets of the Calabrian town of Rosarno.

More in depth coverage from the NY Times: Race Riots Grip Italian Town, and Mafia is Suspected
More than a thousand African workers were put aboard buses and trains in the southern Italian region of Calabria over the weekend and shipped out to immigrant detention centers, following some of the country’s worst riots in years.

The Economist weighs in: Southern Misery
In a few days, it will seem as if they were never there. On January 11th bulldozers in the southern Italian town of Rosarno began obliterating the wretched dwellings from which more than 1,000 African crop-pickers had fled or been evacuated by police over the weekend. Left behind were seven of their fellows, recovering in local hospitals from gunshot wounds and savage beatings inflicted by Italians. It was an ethnic clearance of Balkan swiftness, nastiness and comprehensiveness that shocked many Italians and prompted them to question their society’s attitudes to race and colour. Only a handful of black or Arab immigrants remained in Rosarno. And within 24 hours, one had his car torched.

Great Editorial from the NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/25/opinion/25saviano.html

There are native Italians who reject mafia rule as well, but they have the means and the freedom to leave places like Rosarno, becoming migrants themselves. The Africans can’t. They have to stand up to the clans. They know they have to act collectively, for it’s their only way of protecting themselves. Otherwise they end up getting killed, which happens sometimes even to the European immigrant workers.

It’s a mistake to view the Rosarno rioters as criminals. The Rosarno riots were not about attacking the law, but about gaining access to the law.

USCRI's World Refugee Survey 2009

[Photo: US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants]
Every year the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants publishes their World Refugee survey, a great resource for stats and facts on the refugee populations and their treatment in virtually every country in the world.

Check it out here: World Refugee Survey!

Some highlights from this years report:
* The Thai navy dragged disabled boats full of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar out to sea and abandoned them to the sun and sea.
* Xenophobic mob attacks in South Africa killed dozens of foreigners and drove tens of thousands from their homes.
* Hamas rocket attacks launched from Gaza provoked an Israeli invasion, including indiscriminate attacks, that killed more than 1,400 Palestinians
* Malaysian officials continued to sell deported refugees into slavery.
* Kenya continued its attempts to stem the flow of Somali refugees by forcing hundreds back across the border, beating many and demanding bribes from them.
* Egyptian border guards shot and killed more than 30 African migrants trying to cross into Israel.
* Turkey continued to deport hundreds of asylum seekers back to their countries of origin without any chance at protection, and in one incident drowned four people by forcing them to try to swim across a swift river into Iraq.
(From the USCRI site)