Back in the summer of 2015, when the troika crushed the Greek Spring, they also sacrificed Democracy and Reason. That summer, even we, who disagreed with the government’s capitulation, believed the SYRIZA administration would at least hold high the principles of Humanism regarding the refugee crisis. Some months later, the EU lost its soul by signing the controversial EU-Turkey refugee deal, to which SYRIZA was a signatory.
The story of Shabbir Iqbal, imminently threatened with deportation to Turkey, is a graphic illustration of the crime that is EU policy on the ‘refugee crisis’ – to which SYRIZA is a willing accomplice. Stories like Shabbir’s expose the true scandal of a policy for which the current leaders of EU countries (including Mr. Tsipras) will one day have to answer to History.
Several months ago, we met Shabbir, the person who today symbolizes DiEM25’s campaign to #StopTheDeal between EU and Turkey. It is a story that is well worth spreading far and wide.
Disgracing and deporting a Good Samaritan
Shabbir is a 40-year-old electrical engineer from Pakistan. One day last December 2015, in the small town where he lived in Pakistan, a local group of Islamic extremists attacked Shabbir’s neighbour, a Christian. Shabbir came to his defence, and for this he was labelled a heretic and forced to flee his town. Several members of his family and close circle have now been murdered by the extremists in a series of reprisal killings, and his wife and children have gone into hiding.
After a horrific journey, Shabbir lives in a state of limbo in Lesvos, Greece, where he has remained since March 2016, his appeals for asylum having been turned down. We have recently learned that over the next few days he is going to be deported under the terms of the EU-Turkey deal. This is despite the fact that if Shabbir returns home, the extremists will almost certainly try to kill him.
There are thousands of people like Shabbir: people trying to escape war, seeking refuge in Europe, a democratic and peaceful place, and instead of help they find denial, walls, concentration camps and deportations.
The US and major European countries responsible for their unacceptable record of failed and unjust wars in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen; for selling weapons to authoritarian and terrorist-friendly regimes like Saudi Arabia; for looking the other way while Erdogan oppresses the Turkish people – bear their fair share of responsibility for the situation that makes refugees abandon their homes.
So, while the West – and the EU in particular – has to change its foreign policy if it is to make permanent progress in solving the ‘refugee crisis’, they can at least begin by abandoning immediately their “refugee camps and then deport” policy; a policy not only in contradiction with Europe’s values of solidarity and humanism, but also with the Geneva Refugee Convention.
The agreement between the EU and Turkey on refugees is just one more proof of how irrelevant the EU leadership is, and one more example of how hypocrisy is becoming an integral part of how the EU deals with major challenges. Just as in the economy, where they invert the truth, making insolvent debts viable and stagnation a solution, the EU characterises Turkey as a safe country and calls concentration camps reception centres, to delude itself that all is well for people trying desperately to escape war and terror.
Negative developments like Shabbir’s deportation together with the desperate loss of hope of refugees in detention, highlight the urgency of putting a stop to the shameful EU-Turkey deal.
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