Datacide 15 Editorial

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‘Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.’
Article 14.1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

It seems fair enough to deduce from this formulation that the denial of this right to freedom from persecution would constitute a human rights violation. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights formulates some essentials of Western democratic self-understanding. It is not surprising that a country like Saudi Arabia refused to sign it in 1948, stating that the Declaration contravenes Sharia Law. Certainly the right wing populist mass movements led by Marine Le Pen, Donald Trump, HC Strache or Frauke Petry are not defenders of Sharia Law, but in many ways these movements are the other side of the same coin of the ultra-reactionary movements in the Middle East.

These movements in the West go beyond lobbying their own governments to suspend human rights to keep out those who are trying to flee the carnage caused, in many cases, by Islamic fundamentalists. In the US, Trump has been vocal in advocating even worse torture than is already being used by the current administration as well as the killing of whole families. In Germany, politicians from the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) have stated that ‘if necessary’ refugees, including children, should be prevented from entering the country with lethal force. Despite this, Trump is currently the frontrunner of the Republican candidates in the US presidential race, and the AfD enjoys ratings and election success in Germany outdoing any party to the right of the Christian Democrats since the beginning of the Federal Republic.
We’re witnessing a dramatic brutalisation – at least in the rhetoric – of Western politics. [Read more →]

REFUGEE SUBJECTIVITY – ‘Bare life’ and the Geographical Division of Labour

In the border country
They’ve done it all
We kept watch
As they smashed the wall

Swell Maps, “Border Country” (1980)

While trans-national institutions like the IMF, the World Bank and the WTO clear the way for capital to move freely across the globe, European States are barricading their borders as if they expected a foreign army to invade.

In most of continental Europe this means the Schengen agreement, which suspends monitoring of borders between participating countries but gives immigration authorities unprecedented powers of surveillance, search and detention everywhere in the territory, not just at frontiers and ports of entry. Britain, meanwhile, is playing its part with the 1999 asylum Act, quietly pushed through by the Labour government under cover of the ‘anti racist’ Stephen Lawrence Inquiry. (A Home Office Green Paper explicitly links the two initiatives.)
The term ‘asylum seeker’ suddenly replaced ‘refugee’ in media and parliamentary language around the time of last Tory immigration act, finally passed in 1996. Wheras ‘refugee’ implies an active attempt [Read more →]