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Filipino Nurses are not for sale

Bayan-Europe condemns Duterte’s government commodification of Filipino nurses


28/02/2021

Bayan-Europe expresses its strong condemnation of the Duterte government’s plan of securing COVID19 vaccine from the United Kingdom and Germany, in exchange of lifting the employment cap for nurses to work in those countries. “It is a shame that the Duterte government exploited the dignity of our Filipino nurses, making them a bargaining tool for the utter incapacity of government regarding the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines,” said Gary Martinez, Bayan-Europe Chairperson.

The Duterte government is known to be extortionist. It demanded money from the United States government in exchange for the implementation of the Visiting Forces Agreement. Now, the Duterte government demands vaccines from the United Kingdom and Germany in exchange for the services of the Filipino nurses.

The Duterte government promised the ‘Overseas Filipino Workers’ 5 years ago to end the export of labor by providing jobs and just wages in the Philippines. But Duterte has once again showed his government’s heartless and cruel treatment to our health care workers by treating them as bargaining chips of the Duterte government to access vaccine against COVID19.

From the very start of the pandemic, the Philippine government has never regarded the Filipino medical professionals as important players in the campaign against COVID19. While most world leaders rely on scientific research and expert opinions of medical professionals in their respective countries to address the pandemic, the Philippine government relies on active and retired military officers.

This clique of military officers close to the president, implemented the world’s longest community lock down. They are responsible for the mass arrests of people who demanded the promised aid and support from the government, and the surveillance of political oppositions and dissenters. Instead of promoting mass testing and contact tracing for identification and treatment of those infected; and effective control of the spread of the virus – the Duterte government railroaded the passing of the ‘Anti-Terrorism Act 2020’. The Duterte government ballooned the Philippine debts because of its insatiable borrowings. Meanwhile, the government has allocated significant amount of its national budget to the defense department; and to a task force composed of war-freaks to fight communist insurgency. But it did not instead allocate a bigger budget to the health sector to address the pandemic.

The Duterte government is also known for its harsh treatment to the migrant workers. Last year, when the COVID19 pandemic impacted the hundreds of thousands of land-based Filipino migrant workers and seafarers it resulted in their unemployment in the host countries. But the Philippine government representatives turned them away when they sought the help of the Philippine embassies and consular offices. Here in Europe for instance, there are thousands of Filipino migrants that are unable to receive the promised financial aid from the Philippine government because they are undocumented. The images of Filipino migrant workers stranded in the Middle East scavenging food from trash bins in order to survive are still fresh to our memories. And even when migrant workers are able to return home, the Philippine government is guilty of criminal neglect and abandonment – as hundreds of returning overseas Filipino workers were stranded for months due to lock down. They were forced to stay in the open in the side streets of Manila Airport.

The commodification of our Filipino nurses by this despotic government is in itself an expression of lack of concern on Filipino migrant workers. The dedication of our nurses working to address the COVID-19 virus exemplifies the image of the working Filipinos; sadly, our own government desired to use our Filipino nurses as a means of exchange just to beg for the supply of vaccines… Is this the only solution to address the pandemic crisis?”

said Elnora Held, Gabriela-Germany President.

Bayan-Europe believes that the health of the people is a responsibility of the state and therefore vaccines must be provided for free to the Filipino people by the Duterte government. While Filipino nurses are regarded as key workers who have important role in the care of people affected by COVID19 in the United Kingdom and Germany, the Duterte government should not hold them hostage in exchange of the vaccines. Filipino nurses should not be treated as commodities. Filipino nurses are not slaves and the government has no right to coerced and forced them to work whenever and wherever Duterte wishes.

Philippine Nurses are not commodities!

Stop holding the Filipino Nurses as hostage in exchange of Vaccine!

Gary Martinez

Bayan–Europe Chairperson

Elnora Held

Gabriela Germany President

E-mail: aprilnens@yahoo.de

No Border Assembly

Meeting space to organise resistance against borders


26/02/2021

Who are we?

Since 2020, the No Border Assembly is a Berlin-based weekly meeting-space to organize resistance against borders and deportations. We stand for the following:

  • We believe in total freedom of movement & the right to stay for all: no borders, no deportations!

  • We are convinced of the power of non-state, leaderless movements, collective organizing and practical mutual solidarity.

  • The fight against borders and deportations is linked to fights against any form of oppression (sexism, ableism etc.), the fight against racism, neo-colonialism and capitalism.

What do we do?

Currently, No Border Assembly has some ongoing projects, but it is a space open to any initiative for resistance against borders and deportations, including regular demo’s and actions. Current projects include:

  • we manage the Deportation Alarm, where we publish warnings about upcoming charter-deportations, so there are more possibilities to hide and resist. Also, we keep track of which charter-deportations happened, from which airport and with which airline company.

  • we organise the campaign #Abschiebefrei, which targets Lufthansa as Germany’s biggest deportation profiteer. Most deportations from Germany happen on Lufthansa’s planes and so far we held 2 online social media storms to confront Lufthansa and shame them into stopping collaborating with deportations.

  • we visit Lagers and accommodations where people are resisting their deportations: we have collected different tactics people are using and share them in an info-flyer: Resistance against Deportations

  • we promote Soli-Asyl: the practice of opening up rooms so people can hide from deportation.

  • we organise Anti-Deportation Café: a regular Küfa that aims to be a meeting space and a possibility to gather donations in people’s struggle against deportation.

How to take part

This is an open assembly. Anyone who would like to organise against borders and deportations and can live with what we stand for, is welcome to join our assembly.

News from Berlin and Germany: 26 February 2021

Weekly news roundup from Berlin and Germany

Compiled by Tom Wills

 

BERLIN

Launch of official petition to expropriate big landlords

The race to collect 174,000 signatures and trigger a referendum on the expropriation of Berlin’s biggest landlords has begun. The DW Enteignen campaign is seeking to use Berlin’s ‘Volksbegehren’ direct democracy process to force the city government to take all the housing owned by the biggest landlords (those with over 3,000 properties each) into public ownership. In the latest phase, there is now a four-month window in which to gather support from at least 7% of eligible voters. If that threshold is reached, the question of whether to expropriate the landlords will appear on ballot papers with the elections this autumn. Meanwhile, one year since the introduction of the Mietendeckel rent cap in Berlin, tenants’ representatives have welcomed the news that new apartment prices have stopped climbing, although warn that action must be taken to close loopholes in the law. Source: nd, Junge Welt

Call to ensure right to education for ‘illegalised’ migrant children

The campaign Legalisierung Jetzt (‘legalisation now’) has called for action to make sure children living without papers are no longer shut out of the school system. The group estimates that up to 100,000 people in Berlin do not have official documents, including many children. By law, schools are supposed to accept them and there is an exemption from the usual requirement for public bodies to report on people without papers to the immigration authorities. But schools and district authorities are apparently often unaware of the rules, meaning ‘illegalised’ children are deprived of their education. Source: nd

Suspect of attack on leftist is free to hand out Nazi flyers

A main suspect in the arson attack on Die Linke’s Ferat Kocak has been seen openly distributing neonazi propaganda in Neukölln. Sebastian T was among a group of around 6 people witnessed posting flyers for the party “Der III. Weg” through letterboxes. The man is one of the main suspects for a series of attacks on antifascists and others in Neukölln. He was arrested shortly before Christmas after a long investigation, but soon released. Source:

nd

Berlin launches inquiry into Islamophobia

Berlin has become the first of Germany’s federal states to launch an inquiry into anti-Muslim racism. Dirk Behrendt (Green Party), the city’s senator for justice and antidiscrimination, told the Tagesspiegel newspaper: “It is unacceptable when in Berlin women’s headscarves are ripped off or even small children are attacked.” The inquiry will be carried out by a panel of experts over the course of a year and make “concrete recommendations” for actions to be taken by the city to tackle the issue. Around half of Germans see Islam as a threat, according to a representative survey by the Bertelsmann foundation. Source: Tagesspiegel

GERMANY

CSU politician resigns over facemask bribery claims

The deputy head of Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU party grouping in parliament has left his post amid allegations of bribery. Georg Nüßlein’s immunity as a lawmaker was lifted on Thursday morning and his offices searched for evidence. The tabloid newspaper Bild reported that the CSU politician had arranged a deal with a Coronavirus mask manufacturer – including government orders – in return for a commission of more than €650,000 paid to his consultancy firm. Source: nd

Party divided on key issues as Die Linke conference gets underway

At its national conference this weekend, Die Linke is expected to become the first German party to be led by two women. Janine Wissler und Susanne Hennig-Wellsow are the only two well-known candidates in the leadership election. Wissler hails from the left and has built her profile through close contact with extra-parliamentary movements. On one of the key questions dividing the party, she believes joining a coalition government would offer little hope of effecting a politics of disarmament and social-ecological renewal. Hennig-Wellslow, on the other hand, represents the more conservative “realo” wing that advocates working within the system. The conference will also debate policy, including a proposal from the leadership that calls for an end to all overseas operations by the German armed forces.

Source: nd 1 2

Doctor takes fight for abortion rights to highest court

Kristina Hänel, the doctor who was prosecuted for providing information about abortions on her website, is taking her legal fight to the highest court in Germany. Although abortion is allowed under certain circumstances, a law known as “Paragraph 219a” banned doctors from advertising publicly that they carry out the procedure. After Hänel was convicted in 2017 for defying the ban, she appealed and as a result the law was changed so that doctors may now state that they offer abortions – but not give information about methods. Hänel will now argue that the restrictions are unconstitutional and should be lifted entirely. Source: nd

Catholics rush to leave after Cologne archbishop withholds abuse dossier

Leaving the Catholic church in Germany is a legal matter, and in Corona times that means logging on to a government website to book an appointment in court. In a sign of the unprecedented crisis in the church in Cologne, the server crashed last weekend under the weight of demand. Discontent reached boiling point after archbishop Rainer Maria Woelki decided to withhold the results of an independent inquiry he ordered into the church’s handling of abuse. Source: Junge Welt

Far-Right, Racist Attacks on the Rise in Germany

It’s been just over a year since the Hanau attack, and AfD’s fear-mongering rhetoric is radicalising more Germans to follow suit

Over just the past 2 years, Germany has seen a dramatic ,increase in far-right terror attacks. The list of attacks is too long to include in one article. Since 2019, CDU politician Walter Lübcke was ,assassinated by a neo-Nazi, a bar in Lichtenberg owned by a Jewish German was set ablaze, and Ferat Kocak, a left-wing politician with migrant roots in Berlin, had his house ,firebombed by far-right extremists. These are just some of the incidents, and just over a year ago, the worst attack of them all occurred at 2 shisha bars in Hanau.

Furthermore, nonviolent racism is exceedingly common. Just last month, a ,Union Berlin footballer hurled a racist insult at an opposing player of Afghani roots. These violent and nonviolent attacks are so normalized now that minor incidents are quickly forgotten. How did Germany get to this point and who is at fault?

The Rise of Far-Right, Racist Sentiments

The Aiders and Abettors

The rise in these racist attacks correlates directly with the rise of Alternative für Deutschland (AfD). The far-right populists are the third largest political party in Germany, not just because of racism and xenophobia, but because there are undeniably major problems facing this nation.

The ,gap between Germany’s rich and poor is the highest it’s been in over 100 years, rents are skyrocketing while wages remain the same, many migrants lack economic opportunity, the former GDR remains poorer than the west, and Merkel’s CDU seems to love every minute of it. These genuine issues— caused by a conservative government under the spell of big business, the outsourcing of working-class jobs, and many German nationals simply refusing to allow migrants to truly integrate— have been warped by AfD to paint a drastically different picture.

A picture where, they claim, Merkel and the political establishment are too afraid to say “the truth” about migration and Islam. A government-controlled, secret cabal of powerful figures such as Bill Gates who are destroying Germany and its culture. AfD has flipped the script and placed the blame for the hardships of the working class not on big business, but on other workers who were simply born across a border. AfD’s message has resonated in many of the high-unemployment, low-income areas of the former GDR.

Of course, Germans are being radicalised if they genuinely believe that “globalists” are seeking to destroy their country and way of life through mass-migration. It was only a matter of time before people decided to take violent action to “save Germany.” As long as AfD continues spreading such misinformation, these types of attacks will continue.

The Inaction of Government Institutions

While the Verfassungsschutz is currently ,investigating multiple state-level AfD chapters, the word disappointment can’t even begin to describe the lacklustre response by many public institutions charged with combating racist extremists and their propaganda.

The perpetrator of the Hanau attack, an ethnic German, was ,radicalised by AfD rhetoric and fringe online disinformation. The 49-year old repeatedly ,reached out to local authorities in the months leading up to the attack. Strangely, no action was taken by these authorities to even look into the man’s delusional conspiracy theories. There is a good chance that this attack could have been prevented.

Within the police force, the inaction is especially stark. For a long time, racism within police departments has been a point of contention, but it is difficult to properly measure it. CDU MP Sylvie Nantcha, an Afro-German born in Cameroon, stated that no German police department ,systematically gathers information on “racial profiling cases.” Essentially, there is no way to currently identify how large of a problem racism is within the German police system, making it impossible to actually address it.

These two examples alone of inaction to combat racism and extremists views should be mor than enough reason for concern, but with the growing number of racist attacks, alarm bells should be ringing.

Radical Racists Within the Police

Radical right-wing views within the police have been a big subject recently in Germany as more police officers have begun ,supporting AfD. CDU politician Friedrich Merz recently ,warned that his party is losing the police and the Bundeswehr to the far-right populists.

In recent months, multiple private chat groups between police have been leaked to the public. ,In one such group, 30 officers in the Ruhrgebiet shared a photo of a refugee in a gas chamber, along with Nazi imagery. One has to wonder how many other such chat groups exist, and what racist things are said privately between officers. How deep does this issue go?

To make matters worse, a police chief in Berlin used ,official computers to find out the details of left-wing politicians, politicians who subsequently received threatening letters from extremists. It’s not merely your average cop who’s sharing violent extremist photos, but police chiefs are aiding and abetting these radicals as well.

This seems to be a bigger problem than just a few “bad apples.” Private discussions are hard to monitor, but if ,80% of instances of police violence end with no criminal proceedings brought forth, how is this public institution supposed to be held accountable and root out these bad officers? And what if it’s not just bad officers, but a bad culture?

The False Virtue of Colour Blindness

In addition to the police collecting no data on racial profiling, the German government ,collects no data on race and ethnicity. This makes it almost impossible to have hard data on the 20% rise in racist attacks from 2017 to 2018 to analyse which groups were attacked and which carried out the attacks. There is simply no hard data on this subject, making it impossible to constructively address.

The fact that the German government doesn’t do this is the continuation of a trend that many Europeans and Americans seem to hold dear, colour blindness: The idea that an individual shouldn’t see race, that all humans are the same, and that neither individuals nor governments should label or separate people by their race.

On the surface, it sounds great, but the idea of colour blindness is a fallacy. By pretending that neither individuals, businesses, nor governments see a difference between a white German and a Black German, one is actively delegitimising and ignoring the issues faced specifically by one group. No one who isn’t Black can tell a Black person what their lived experience is, just as only a Muslim really knows what it’s like to be a Muslim.

Colour blindness ignores the fact that many of these public institutions may not be taking racism seriously because the vast majority of those in charge are white Germans. To ensure that these institutions properly reflect the populations they serve, one has to see race. Berlin is a highly diverse city; therefore, its public institutions should be diverse. Seeing colour is vital in achieving this.

Soul Searching is Now Required

Racist incidents against immigrants and Germans of migrant background are on the rise. Right-wing extremists have taken foot in the Bundestag, the police, and other public institutions.

Germany as a nation needs to understand that the public institutions must reflect the diversity of the communities that these institutions are supposed to serve. It doesn’t matter whether it’s something as important as the police or a simple athletic commission such as the DfB, changes must be made. A 35% ,migrant quota in Berlin’s state jobs is currently being debated. This would be an important first step.

However, the aforementioned economic issues must be simultaneously addressed. Whether it’s increasing economic opportunity for migrants and workers in the former east, or building more public housing, something has to be done.

The unfortunate truth is that there will be more racist incidents and attacks in Germany, but the main question is how the nation will address the issues that have led to this rise in far-right, racist sentiments. Will the public institutions progress forward, or will these organisations continue down the same path that has allowed racist and extremist views to flourish?

Putting the Red back in Red, White, and Blue

Why love of country, love of democracy, and love of each other are vital elements of building socialism


25/02/2021

An enduring myth about the political left is that we are not patriots. Right-leaning commentators since McCarthy have claimed that leftists “hate America” or want to destroy the country. Far-right fear mongers paint a ,dire picture of a socialist future. In order to progress with socialist movements in their transference to the masses of the working people, we must counter this grotesque misrepresentation of our ideals.

To this purpose, it is necessary to separate the love of a country from the support for the economic system that stratifies political participation and opportunity for socio-economic mobility. I believe that socialism is a humanistic project that elevates the country and people to higher states of prosperity. I therefore conceptualize socialism as an economic system based on love: that of country, of democracy, and of each other.

Love of Country

Patriotism can be healthy. Love of country roots the individual in a broader community and provides a sense of purpose and belonging – factors that are often missing in everyday life in the 21st century. Coupled with my belief in the capacity of ,governments of the people to overcome the problems we face, I believe that expressions of love and loyalty are not outdated relics of a past age, but useful and healthy mechanisms of social belonging.

But what is patriotism at its core? It is a sense of belonging derived from a shared and common experience of being citizens of a particular country. ,Belonging in a shared project plays an enormous role in creating identity and sustainable contentment in individuals. Coupling our socialist economic and democratic project to a desire to renew our country can only produce positive results, as it will provide expression to our desire to work together for a common cause. It will provide a compass and a map to the millions who want to get involved, but see no opportunities or meaning in doing so.

Socialism is not an alien belief system imported from other lands to invade and destroy what it means to belong to the United States. Our national identity is not fixed in capitalism. Our identity is about a love for something greater than ourselves, and that is precisely what socialism promises: the building up of a greater future.

Love of Democracy

The people of the United States love democracy. The idea is inseparable from our national identity – it is encoded in our DNA and it is who we are. The rule of the few over the many is an infuriating concept, which is what makes the toxic entanglement of business and government frustrating and incomprehensible.

To those of us who were raised with the idea that the people are sovereign, the idea that our votes can be diluted by corporations is incomprehensible. In addition, legislation that would ease our suffering by bringing our government and social services into the 21st century would stand a chance because the lobbyists who fight against it have preferential access to the lawmakers.

It is frustrating, disappointing, and infuriating, and we attempt to convince ourselves that our problems are our own fault, that we didn’t work hard enough or the poor are lazy and get what they deserve. The reality that the ultra-rich are an institutionalized socio-economic group that concentrates and passes wealth to their descendants and that entry into that class is nearly impossible for the working people of our country goes against our feeling of how the United States should be. Who should change this if not the people?

That is why, when I say I am against capitalism, I say at the same time that I am for the United States, for a government of the people, and for a more perfect union. Democracy and liberty, of which we so often speak in our political discourse, will come to fruition through socialism because it is through socialism that the people will have equal access to political power and economic participation.

I believe it is necessary at this point to make a note on the use of force. Unfortunately, socialists are often accused of harboring undemocratic, anti-social tendencies, including the desire to use force to affect political or systemic change. I reject the use of force in its entirety because I believe that force undermines and delegitimizes a political project, no matter what the ideological basis of that project is. This is why coups are roundly condemned in the international order as illegitimate, while free and fair elections are not.

It is respect for legal norms that confer social and political legitimacy on a process of political change. On a more basic level, harming others because of ideological disagreement is an inhumane, cruel tactic that will only beget more violence and will eventually undermine the stability of a political project.

This is an important reason why the socialist projects of Central and Eastern Europe are often criticized by the people who lived in them: not because of ideological, material, or political shortcomings, but because of the states’ use of repression and violence to silence their critics. This is not a way towards convincing people of the righteousness or worth of a project. This is a way to historical infamy.

Therefore, let me say unequivocally that I condemn and repudiate any effort to attempt to change the legal or constitutional system of the United States by force. I should not have to make this declaration, as I believe it is an unfair assumption of the political left that we seek change in such a manner.

My feeling of necessity to make this declaration is perhaps ironic, considering the ,legions of far-right supporters in the US who advocate and actually commit acts of violence against the constitutional order, including during the Capitol riot of 6 January, the anti-lockdown protests of fall 2020 that saw heavily-armed mobs ,occupy state legislative buildings and the brutal attacks against ,Black Lives Matter activists throughout 2020.

The left will retain its legitimacy and show the apolitical and the political center that we are a peaceful group seeking only to raise up our country and our people. In doing so we legitimize ourselves in comparison to the violence of the far-right and show that indeed the country is safer in the workers’ hands.

Love of Each Other

A significant argument that often reoccurs in the anti-socialist, anti-collectivist discourses is that socialism degrades the human spirit and harms the individual. I have already written about how capitalism does this as a matter of course in a ,previous article, namely through the commodification and compartmentalization of everyday life and the erosion of social bonds in the face of profit.

Socialism is ultimately about loving other people enough to help them. This means being ok with paying a little more in taxes because it will help someone access healthcare to live a longer, happier life. It means sharing collective responsibility for economic decision-making so that the gains of an enterprise can benefit everyone who made them possible. It means looking out for the most vulnerable — those who had a rough start or suffered setbacks beyond their control. It does not mean becoming weaker or becoming poorer.

By helping each other we create a richer society capable of maximizing the success and potential of all of its members, and through that surge of new energy and ideas, we will prosper as never before.

I have been a patriot for my country for many years. I carry the United States with me wherever I go in the wide world and consider my passport a prized possession not only because of the ability to travel but because it is a physical link between myself and my homeland.

Though I am happy living abroad, I carry that love with me every day, and it breaks my heart all the more to see how our country and people continue to needlessly suffer because the changes we need are simply not profitable. Our country is sick and runaway, politicized capitalism is causing the illness. To save our country, we must embrace a socialist future.