The International Situation of Afghan Asylum-Seekers
The pullout of U.S. troops in Afghanistan and the subsequent collapse of the Afghan government has generated a wave of Afghan people fleeing incoming Taliban rule. With the Taliban committed to governing according to fundamentalist interpretations of Islamic law, concerns are particularly heightened for women, ethnic and religious minorities, LGBTQ+ people, journalists, and those who supported the fight against the Taliban. Abroad, governments have debated whether and to what degree to accept asylum-seekers, with many seeking to either offshore asylum processing or contain refugees to the immediate region of southwest and Central Asia. For refugees who do make it out, the intensification of anti-immigrant sentiment across the world’s regions in recent years—including the increasing political power of far-right nativist movements—has created new threats for asylum-seekers in their destination countries.
While politicians and analysts around the world bicker over responsibility and blame, Afghans scramble to exit before the full weight of the new Taliban regime comes down. Here is a collection of reporting on the conditions in Afghanistan for those needing refuge, which countries are offering haven, and reactions from the Afghan diaspora.
Global Protests: #BlackLivesMatter / Anti–Police Violence
Nearly four years ago, Outlas published a catalog of media coverage focused on global protests connected to the burgeoning #BlackLivesMatter movement. Today, the murder of Black American George Floyd by the police has re-galvanized demonstrations across the world’s continents, promoting diverse forms of solidarity across movements focused on affirming Black lives, eliminating racism, and ending police violence.
Floyd’s death is one among many that have pushed people into the streets of cities from Honolulu to East Jerusalem, drawing together accounts of the criminalization of people of color and other minority groups around the world. Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, protesters around the world have gathered to interconnect their causes, demonstrating the resilience of a global anti-racism and anti–police brutality movement despite the lull in media coverage in recent years. This collection has gathered more than 150 articles, statements, and multimedia stories documenting the recent surge in protests and their interconnection.
A number of media outlets have mapped the development of demonstrations around the world and compiled media and accounts from protests, summarizing the connections between the diverse sites and expressions of solidarity journalists have uncovered.
The U.S. has experienced more than a week of protests in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. His death was the latest in a series of events that had drawn attention to ongoing violence and threats of violence faced by Black people in public space across the U.S., from racist vigilantism in Georgia to a dead-of-night police break-in and murder in New York. Protesters across all 50 states mobilized to contest police violence, prompting spectacular forms of police repression—including tear-gassing, beatings, tasing, and shootings—captured on video and circulated across social media platforms.
Canada has experienced its own widespread condemnation of police violence in the U.S., organizing massive demonstrations from Vancouver to Halifax in honor of the memory of George Floyd. Participants have also drawn attention to recent fatal incidents involving police—including the recent death of Afro-Indigenous woman Regis Korchinski-Paquet—and the disproportionate effects of police violence experienced by Black and Indigenous Canadians and other Canadians of color.
Afro-Latinx, Afro-Caribbean, and allied Latin American communities have also expressed solidarity with Black Americans, highlighting both the ongoing forms of marginalization experienced by Afro-descendant people in Central American countries and the complex relationships to racism across the Caribbean. Brazil, in particular, has been grappling with an entrenched police brutality problem that overwhelmingly threatens Afro-Brazilians—particularly those living in poor communities. The recent killing of 14-year-old João Pedro has reignited protests, with demonstrators drawing explicit connections to anti-Black police violence in the U.S.
Massive protests across Europe have centered not only the injustice of George Floyd’s death, but also ongoing forms of racism across the continent. In France, George’s death scratched at the wound of the 2016 murder of Adama Traoré in a suburb of Paris. In the UK, protest participants were quick to shut down any attempt to distance the UK from U.S.-style racism, highlighting ongoing discrimination experienced by Black communities in the country. Whether in the commemoration of colonial leaders responsible for the death of millions of Africans or stubborn denials of institutional racism, contemporary manifestations of racism drew the ire of demonstrators of all backgrounds.
Solidarity with protesters in the U.S. found diverse expression across Africa and the Middle East, from a mural in the rubble of an obliterated Syrian building to an open letter signed by dozens of African writers demanding accountability and pressuring African governments to do more. African political leaders, for their part, took the rare step of condemning the situation in the U.S.. But activists across the region also worked to draw attention to local police brutality problems as well, including the killing of autistic Palestinian Iyad Halak by Israeli border security and high levels of violence against women (both by police and by others not held to account by police) in Nigeria.
In the Asia-Pacific region, a range of responses to unrest in the U.S. has emerged. In a tit-for-tat with the U.S. government, Chinese officials have used the situation to draw attention to human rights violations in the U.S. as the U.S. has condemned China for its crackdown on protesters in Hong Kong. Elsewhere, police brutality has been a longstanding issue with respect to the treatment of indigenous communities. Thousands of protesters across Australia and New Zealand expressed solidarity with the #BlackLivesMatter movement while also integrating the long history of anti-Indigenous violence into their calls for change. Similarly, the outbreak of protests in U.S. and the resurgence of global anti-racism consciousness provided an opportunity for activists and members of the Papuan diaspora to highlight the ongoing discrimination and violence experienced by indigenous Papuans at the hands of the Indonesian government.
Report indicates attacks on asylum-seekers down in Germany
According to police, there were 704 cases of anti-refugee violence from January to June, down more than a third from 2017.
The 2018 attacks included 77 on asylum shelters and 627 direct attacks on refugees, resulting in 127 injuries.
The reduction has come as immigration debates continue to erupt along political fault lines, including the introduction of “anchor centers” for asylum-seekers awaiting judicial decisions and the limited restart of family reunifications.
German parliament votes to legalize same-sex marriage
The lower house voted to ratify marriage equality 393-296-4 in a year that has seen Germany attempting to redress historical injustices against its LGBT community.
The vote followed Chancellor Angela Merkel’s softening of her party’s position and allowance of a conscience vote, permitting members of her party to break ranks and vote in favor of marriage equality.
The vote extends full marriage rights to LGBT citizens, including adoption rights.
Chancellor Merkel endorses partial ban on Islamic veils in Germany
Merkel’s announcement is the first public show of support for her party’s call for a ban on full-face veils in public spaces, a proposal Muslim women leaders have pointed out as unnecessary and inflammatory in a nation that already creates strong social pressure not to wear religious veils.
The Christian Democratic Union (CDU) has proposed barring veils including the burqa and the niqab from public spaces including courts and educational institutions and during events such as traffic stops and police checks.
Merkel, who recently announced a run for a fourth term, has increasingly stressed “integration” and “law and order” amidst rising anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, and nationalist sentiments in the country.
As a series of controversial shootings of African-American men by police has renewed attention to the Black Lives Matter movement in the U.S., people around the world have stood in solidarity with black Americans seeking to root out racial profiling, excessive use of force, and lack of accountability in U.S. law enforcement. For some, the demonstrations have been defined mostly by a kind of international allyism, but in many parts of the world, the American movement has prompted reflection on the treatment of local black communities—native, historical, and immigrant—by law enforcement, politicians, and broader society. Here is a look at the global demonstrations and solidarity movements in the name of Black Lives Matter: Continue reading Global Events: Black Lives Matter Protests→
German anti-immigrant party adopts anti-Islam manifesto
The manifesto from the Alternative for Germany (AfD) states Islam is incompatible with the German Constitution and calls for bans on minarets, full-body veils, and calls to prayer.
The AfD holds no seats in the German Parliament, but has members in half of Germany’s state assemblies and polls as high as 14% nationally, causing concern ahead of the country’s 2017 federal elections.
Some 2,000 protesters descended on Stuttgart to disrupt the AfD conference, clashing with police during demonstrations.
Finding Healthcare Justice for Aging Holocaust Survivors
With the youngest among them now in their 70s, Holocaust survivors are facing late-in-life issues compounded by the traumas from the policies of targeted persecution just over seven decades ago. Dementia has returned some to the nightmares of their youth, while social isolation, physical ailments, and other mental health issues stemming from the violence of the period have left many with high care needs as they age.
In the U.S., home to more than 100,000 survivors (most Jewish), politicians have begun calling on the German government to do more for victims, arguing that current caps on assistance leave many survivors struggling. While reparations have expanded since the 1951 establishment of the Claims Conference, questions over who shoulders the burden for late-in-life care have yet to be resolved. The increasing needs that come with aging have reignited debates about Germany’s obligations to those its government systematically disenfranchised, impoverished, and subjected to physical and mental anguish that outlived the liberation of the final concentration camp.
More than half a million in number, Syrian-born Palestinians face a unique and particularly challenging vulnerability when applying for refugee status. While they have been born in Syria, many lack Syrian citizenship (and thus a Syrian passport) due to Syria’s citizenship laws as well as the desire to maintain their Palestinian nationality to retain the right to return to Palestine. Most of Syria’s neighbors have traditionally denied entry to Palestinians as part of complex politics resulting from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As residents of Syria, Palestinian Syrians have faced the same circumstances as other Syrian refugees, and immigration officials have been instructed to extend the same consideration to Palestinian Syrians as other Syrians. Al Jazeera investigates cracks in the process of asylum application and other challenges faced by Palestinian-Syrian refugees.
On New Year’s Eve, hundreds of women were grabbed and sexually assaulted by a group of mostly Algerian and Moroccan men during holiday festivities in Cologne. In the fallout, a contentious international debate exploded, impacted by ongoing tension over Germany’s refugee policy. While both sides have accused the other of information distortion for political purposes, some feminists have shifted the focus to the lax laws that enable such sexual assaults to take place, arguing that such violence has been a problem since long before refugees arrived. With a mere 13% of rape cases resulting in conviction, advocates have sought to change laws that require evidence of overwhelming offensive and defensive physical force for a case to be considered rape. BuzzFeed News examines the intersection of sexism, racism, xenophobia, and feminism in the fight to secure women’s sexual agency and refugee integration in Germany.
In the wake of mass sexual assaults carried out on New Year’s Eve by a small group of Arab and other North African men in Cologne, refugees and their German supporters are having to confront difficult integration issues with the country’s now massive numbers of new residents. Migrants scramble to distance themselves from the criminal behavior of a few and turned to educational programs to tackle cultural differences in everyday life. As far-right groups continue to intimidate immigrants new and old alike, The Guardian examines the challenges facing the new immigrant community.
“There was a big hype two months ago, when it was seen to be cool and trendy to go to a refugee centre and donate old clothes, but this hysteria of joy is now turning into a hysteria of frustration. Just giving a refugee a donated jumper will not turn them into a German citizen. That needs time and both sides must approach each other with flexibility.”
Germany prints constitution in Arabic for new arrivals
Germany has printed an initial 10,000 copies of an Arabic translation of the first 20 articles of its constitution to help support the integration of the more than 800,000 expected to find refuge in the country by year’s end.
Adopted in 1949, the “Basic Law” outlines the most critical political and social features of Germany’s democracy, including secular governance, freedom of religion, and other basic individual freedoms.
German Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel also noted refugees would have to accept the sexual and gender equality and the prohibition on anti-Semitism in the country.