European left rejects racism, backs asylum rights

Issue 
Rally for refugee rights. Freiburg, Germany. Photo: Tony Iltis.

“Too many people have already lost their lives in the Mediterranean sea, more than a thousand this week, which is a major crime against humanity,” The Party of the European Left (EL) said in a April 20 statement. “We need to stop it immediately!”

The EL, a group made up of left-wing parties from across Europe, said: “We reject any attempt to solve the so-called 'migration problem' by an increased militarisation.”

Rather, the EL demanded “the ensurance of immediate legal access to European countries for people trying to escape wars and unbearable living conditions”.

For its part, the European United Left-Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL), which groups together left-wing members of the European Parliament , issued a statement that day expressing “its horror at the news of yet another tragedy in the Mediterranean.”

GUE/NGL President Gabi Zimmer said: “Our thoughts are first and foremost with those who perished on Europe's doorstep and with the families and friends of the victims.

"Europe needs EU migration and asylum policies that ensure safe and legal access to the EU for both asylum-seekers and migrants. These repeated tragedies on Europe's doorstep are the result of current EU policies which are in complete contradiction to European values and fundamental human rights ...

“What we want to see is a robust common European search-and-rescue operation in the central Mediterranean. More border patrols will not help prevent more tragedies. Simply calling for more cooperation with third countries is a false solution to the crisis.”

Zimmer also condemned humanitarian aid being blocked in budgetary discussions in the Council because some member states do not want to play their part. She also criticised attempts to criminalise brave efforts from civil society to save migrants.

GUE/NGL also called for the EU and its governments to recognise the role they have played in the destabilisation of Libya which has allowed human traffickers to exploit the most vulnerable.
The EL statement noted: “The lack of legal and secure ways in reaching and entering Europe facilitates human trafficking, an action that not only traumatises the mere notion of human identity and civilisation, but has also become a most profitable business worldwide and a major threat for the survival of its victims...

“Both [the] European Union and every single European government are obliged to respect and implement all international and European Human Rights Conventions they have already signed.

“After all, European colonisation policies, neoliberal Free Trade Agreements and military interventions in the form of 'war against terrorism' are among the key factors leading to the deteriorating conditions that [drive] people leave their homeland, an abominable European legacy that weighs heavily especially upon Africa, and therefore forces us to change European policies towards people coming from this continent.

“We reject the possibility of xenophobia and racism becoming the pillars of European societies and we fully embrace the universal appeal of international solidarity, justice, equity and respect of human rights.”

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