By Cillian Gillespie
The harrowing image of three year old Aylan Kurdi whose dead body was found on a Turkish beach, put a human face to the plight of refugees from the Middle East and North Africa seeking sanctuary in Europe.
His family were from the town Kobane in Rojava, the Kurdish part in Northern Syria. In the last two years this town has come under sustained assault by the forces of ISIS and like hundreds of thousands of people in this region they sought to seek a safe haven from war and persecution.
However they were to become the victims of European Union’s racist policy of “Fortress Europe” which is denying the poor and oppressed people of countries like Syria the democratic right to asylum.
The callous and racist contempt for human life of Europe’s capitalist rulers is sickening. . It stands in stark contrast to the generosity and solidarity shown by ordinary working people towards refugees in countries such as Austria and Germany.
Imperialist intervention creates misery
It is the legacy and continuation of imperialist intervention in the Middle East and North Africa over the last twelve years that is creating a tidal wave of human suffering and anguish. The war in Iraq in 2003, which resulted in the deaths of one million Iraqis, spawned the creation of ISIS and has resulted in the break-up of that county.
In Syria the major capitalist powers, namely the US, Europe and Russia have fuelled its four year civil war by arming and backing the reactionary Islamic fundamentalist section of the opposition and the Assad regime itself.
Profiteering from human suffering
The merchants of death in the form of Europe’s multi-billion euro arms industry have profited enormously from these conflicts. The international transfer of major weapons in the period from 2010 to 2014 rose by 16% compared to the period from 2005 to 2010. Much has been made of the supposed humanitarianism of the Merkel government, yet this same government has overseen Germany becoming the third largest exporter of arms in the world.
Two of the top five recipients of weapons from the arms industry in Europe and the US are the brutal semi-feudal dictatorships of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. These regimes have directly armed ISIS in Iraq and Syria and Saudi Arabia is currently a brutal war against the people of Yemen.
End direct provision
It is right that we as working class people in Ireland show solidarity with the poor and oppressed and defend their right to seek asylum here. Refugees arriving in Ireland should not be made to live in the inhumane conditions that exist for those living in direct provision, who subsist on €19 a week. This practice of ghettoising refugees must be immediately ended and they must be given the right to work.
Homes and decent jobs for all
There is enormous wealth in our society that can cater for the needs of refugees arriving here and indigenous Irish people. We should reject the idea that these groups should be pitted in competition with one another for the meagre resources that we are provided with by this austerity government. Refugees should not become the scapegoats for the failure of this profit driven capitalist system to provide affordable homes and a decent standard of living for working class people.
Today the richest 300 people in Ireland have an obscene wealth of €84 billion and each year the Irish state is paying €8 billion on the interest of a debt created by the speculation of bankers and property developers. Resources such as these should be seized and utilised to fund a massive house building programme to provide affordable homes for all.
We should end the corporate welfare bill that amounts to €9 billion per annum and use the talents of capabilities of Irish and migrant people to invest in a programme of investment in jobs with decent wages and conditions.
Challenge this rotten system
“I, for one, will join in with anyone — I don’t care what colour you are — as long as you want to change this miserable condition that exists on this earth.”- Malcolm X
The fact that there are 60 million refugees on our planet in an indictment of the kind of world global capitalism has created. This a world consisting of wars for profit, repression and obscene poverty that is leading to the enormous displacement of the poor and oppressed.
A democratic socialist society founded on human solidarity and compassion, the kind we have seen from working people in Europe in the last few weeks, would democratically plans the world’s resources to provide dignity, security and a decent life for all.