Brussels 2 March 2020 - Today some media are asking whether it’s right Greek police is launching tear gas against undefended Syrian refugees trying crossing Turkish border to enter the EU: we reached the bottom of the barrel after years of international actors’ inability to stop the war in Syria and take responsibility for its consequences: over 400.000 dead of which 225.000 civilians between March 2011 and September 2019 (figures United Nations); 5 million refugees in the neighbouring countries and 13 million internally displaced.

 

On Saturday at least 10.000 Syrians, many of them mothers with children, tried to cross the Northern Turkish border with Greece and Bulgaria after Erdoğan’s decision to stop EU-Turkey agreement by which Ankara held so far within its borders 3,7 millions Syrian refugees escaping war. Under the agreement 6 billion euros have been paid by he EU to Turkey in exchange of containment of the immigration from Syria and influx of refugees in the 27 countries.

But over these hours refugees are being stopped from entering Greece: more than 100 of them were arrested, while hundreds are trapped between Greek and Turkish borders as Ankara won’t take them back.

After Turkey lost 33 soldiers in the heavy fighting in Idlib, Erdogan breached agreement with the EU by allowing thousands of Syrian refugees to cross Greek and Bulgarian borders and enter the EU. 

Looking for regional standing: Erdogan uses Syrian refugees

as political weapons while challenging NATO, US and Russia

Defending the truth from the battlefield: war reporters gather at Birkbeck with AOAV and Frontline 

London - "There are the deniers of attacks and there also is the lack of political will: Amnesty documents with the purpose that those who engage with certain practices change those practices. But it doesn't matter how much evidence you bring to certain governments, if they don't want to admit it for a variety of political, economic and ideological reasons, they wont". Donatella Rovera, senior crisis response Adviser at Amnesty International, explains how reporting and collecting evidence of human rights and international law violations from war zones clash against the interests of local and international actors and weapons manufacturers. 
 

She talked last Saturday to a crowded hall at Birkbeck College which organised the event-workshop "Conflict reporting in the 21st Century" with AOAV (Action on Arms Violence) and the Frontline Club, and her count of what she witnessed and reported from Libya, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, put a strain on the nearly three hundred and fifty young reporters and students' strength and determination. 

London 4 Jan 2020 - It’s difficult to believe Trump’s number one concern, while he is under impeachment at home, is the take out of Soleimani as a revenge against Iran or to prevent attacks against US personnel in Iraq.


Such a planned, precise, killing of the Iranian head of secretive Quds Force with two missiles launched from a drone probably took no longer than few days to be set, and surely has been planned before hundreds of protesters (reportedly pro-Iran) put under siege US embassy in Baghdad escalating tensions over US military presence in the country. Therefore the drone attack does not look a reaction to immediate threats.

A Republican led executive at risk of survival after the vote of the Congress for the President's impeachment, through this attack in Iraq, ‘externalised’ its crisis by diverting overseas its contrasts with the Congress.


The core of the battle is within domestic borders where the Democratic and Congress speaker Nancy Pelosi, who strongly supported Trump’s impeachment, accused him of breaching trust by hiding to all congressional leaders the airstrike in Iraq and the killing on Thursday Jan 2nd 2020.

Trump’s disimpeachment diverted to 

the Middle East

London, 22 August 2019 - In July, the number of illegal border crossings on Europe’s main migratory routes rose 4% from the previous month to around 10 500, Frontex reports. Overall, the total for the first seven months of 2019 was 30% lower than a year ago at around 54 300.


The Eastern Mediterranean remained the busiest migratory route into Europe with nearly 5.800 detections in July 2019. In the first seven months of 2019, the total number of detections in this region was down 6% from a year ago to almost 28.200.

Despite the overall decrease, the number of arrivals on the Greek islands in the Aegean increased by a quarter in comparison with the same period of last year. Most of the migrants detected on this route were nationals of Afghanistan.


The number of irregular migrants taking the Western Mediterranean Sea route in July rose 22% from the previous month to almost 2.900. The total for the January-July period stood at around 13.000, 41% less than in the same period of last year. Migrants from sub-Saharan Africa accounted for the largest number of detected migrants on this route in the first seven months of 2019.

Central Mediterranean 
The number of migrants passing through the Central Mediterranean in July stood at around 1.100. The total for the first seven months of the year reached nearly 4.900, slightly more than a quarter of the total from the same period of last year. Nationals of Tunisia, Sudan and Pakistan were the most represented nationalities on this route in the January-July period.


Western Balkans
There were 460 detections of illegal border crossings recorded on this route in July. The total for the first seven months reached nearly 5 800, double the figure from a year ago. Nationals of Afghanistan and Iran accounted for the largest share of migrants detected on this route.

Frontex: Eastern Mediterranean is the busiest migratory route into Europe

London - Instability in neighbouring countries and a substantive latency of the UK as active member in the EU decision making processes due to Brexit, gave way to fostering the Union Common Foreign and Security Policy taken into account that British have always opposed strengthening a common defence.

This political phase led to the creation of many instruments starting from the (IcSP) and CBSD and now the European Peace Facility (EPF), a recent step forward in the progressive shift of the EU from its role of traditional ‘soft power’ to one of decisive action in foreign policy taken under the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini. The EPF has been approved last 30 March 2019 and will include military capacity building and deployment replacing the Athena mechanism to give the Union “the capability to contribute to the financing of military peace support operations led by international partners on a global scale” the EU states.

But it’s still unclear what military means would be deployed and the scale of EU members backed military defense actions albeit aimed at preventing conflicts. Though the text approved does not mention lethal weapons, EPF could result into weaponisation of peace operations (prioritising north Africa and Sahel region), de facto buying weapons for partner countries. This raises doubts on the effectiveness of peacekeeping and conflict prevention strategy and on the very founding principles, purposes and role of the EU as peaceful mediator in conflict and crisis zones.

coalition of 14 charities recently expressed “deep concern about European Peace Facility and specifically a component within it to train and equip third-country armies, as well as regional and international organisations, including with the provision of weaponry"... 

International Human Rights charities and researchers express concerns on EU's steps forward on security and defence policy aimed at providing third countries in crisis zones with weaponry. Below logos of the 14 charities who sent an open letter  about the newly approved EPF to High representative Mogherini.

14 charities EPF.png

EPF, the fund of discord that will arm third countries.
A coalition of 14 charities warns over EU inability to maintain peace

Good news for United Kingdom ranking 33rd (+7) and Italy (+3 ) 43rd; Papua New Guinea (+ 15) now 38, Armenia + 19 now 61, Tunisia (+25) now 72, Gambia (+30) 92 in the 180 countries list.

Bad news for Slovakia (-8) now number 35 in the list; Austria (-5) 16th, Czech Republic losing 6 positions now 40, Malta is 77th losing  (-12), Central African Republic  (-33) now 145; Venezuela (-5) 148, Russia (-1)  149.

London, 18 Aapril 2019 - RSF Reporters Without Borders, published today the 2019 Press Freedom Index. Good News for Italy gaining 3 positions now 43rd and UK, + 7 points ranking 33rd. Norway is confirmed first, Turkmenistan last in the long list of freedom of press denial between black, red, orange areas of freedom of speech repression where freedom pays the high price of economic development and GDP boom: China keeps its black ranking 177 in the index of 180 countries and regions listed according to the level of freedom of journalism and information.

Each year RSF give us a snapshot of the media freedom situation based on an evaluation of pluralism, independence of the media, quality of legislative framework and safety of journalists in each country and region. It does not rank public policies even if governments obviously have a major impact on their country’s ranking. Nor is it an indicator of the quality of journalism in each country or region.

RSF Freedom of Press index 2019: 1st Norway, last Turkmenistan. 

The huge red area of freedom of press global denial

African  unsustainable development between EU grants and China loans  

Brussels - Railways, ports, roads. The infrastructures built by China in Africa are impressive and already making immediate impact and long term changes in many African countries.
 

Look at the Bagamoyo Port in Tanzania, for instance, the $11 billion infrastructure funded by China through loans will become the largest port in East Africa with 20 million exchange containers per year. The Chinese government construction firm CMHI expects to complete the port by 2045 with operations starting in 2020. Along with the port, 190 industries are being built in the Bagamoyo area creating a Special Economic Zone with 700 industries. But this huge infrastructure will not be owned by Tanzania...

London, 15 March 2019 - From the Security Council’s membership which should open the door to the increasingly powerful economies such as India Brasil, Japan and the African countries, to a more autonomous General Assembly today still limited by the Security Council in its decision making; from the urgent stop to weaponization to a new funding system ... The United Nations need deep and urgent reforms; but ‘how’ to change a gigantic global structure stuck into its old architecture backdated to the post Second World War and not giving voice, power and representation to all countries of the world, except the Permanent 5 (US, Russia, China, France and UK). 

London calls New York: how to reform the United Nations? PS21 gathered experts at King's College

Kate Allen and Shao Jiang photo Tim Anderson / Amnesty International UK

London 4 June 2019 - Thirty ‘Tiananmen Square’ street signs surrounded Chinese Embassy in London this morning: a symbolic act provocative for the Chinese authorities, who want us to forget the massacre of thousands of innocent protesters, and a reminder to us all not to forget and resist repression in name of democracy. Amnesty UK Director Kate Allen and survivor Shao Jiang (photo) started with this act the anniversary challenging the silent China.

"I have witnessed many tank men trying to stop the army during the massacre" Shao recalls in an upsetting visual memory: the army was also burning something nearby the square and this rises the doubt victims' bodies might have been burnt in order to destroy evidence of the actual death toll. The cruel massacre marked with blood the recent history of China, second global economic power, but among the first for human rights violations. 

30 years on since the violent repression
Amnesty International  UK challenged silence of Chinese government with a vigil outside  Embassy in London

Interview with Iain Overton

London 1st May - We can no longer content ourselves with breaking news or TV debates on terrorist attacks. Suicide bombing is a complex issue deeply rooted in our history, ingrained in international links, infecting the wounds of a political, social and economic global system that does not work. An expert such as Iain Overton, investigative journalist, executive director of AOAV (Action on Armed Violence) leads us step by step along the way of understanding the nonsense of men ready to blow up themselves and pay with their lives 'The Price of Paradise'. 

A book: 500 pages like five hundred steps towards the meaning (that is never a justification) of what leaves us shocked and powerless, every time, whether in New York, Baghdad, Paris, or Colombo.

For us to understand, he made investigations, followed the paths of history, travelled to talk with them: to suicide bombers who survived. Yes, also with Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka telling of a time when killing civilians wasn't their strategy, and why things, then, have changed. 

Behind the explosive belt: Iain Overton leads us to understand The Price of Paradise  

Listed in alphabetical order in millions people.

Argentina, 11 mln - source Indec statistics agency  2018.

Australia, 2.9 mln - source Australian Council of Social Service 2017

Brazil, 50 mln - source Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) 2017

Canada, 4.8 mln - source 2016 Canada census

China, 30.46 mln - source  National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) 2017.

European Union, 118 mln - source (of which 40mln in extreme poverty) Eurostat

The poverty records of G20 countries 

The 'fantastic' G20 in one chart: over 840 million people live in poverty in the so called advanced economies.
That's two thirds of world's total number of people in poverty (1.3 bln)

Enlargement - Turkey: in view of EU membership referendum look at Britain as a leading example 

Photo / ©hellenicleaders 2018 

Erdogan's announcement of a possible referendum on EU membership application might sound, to the Turkish, like a democratic move. This could make Ankara look like European countries such as the UK, making Turkish citizens feel like living in a democratic regime where people are considered decision makers.

Enlargement, Kosovo last in the queue

In the Balkans the breakaway territory of Kosovo is last in the queue to join the EU because the international community remains still split over its 2008 declaration of independence. 

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