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The refugee crisis
Issued by: CPGB-ML
Issued on: 12 September 2015

The conscience of the British people has been moved by the picture of the poor dead little Syrian child, Aylan Kurdi, lying on a Turkish beach, drowned along with his mother and brother. His family was fleeing from the horrors being inflicted in Kobane by the terrorist IS organisation. These terrorists have been created and funded by imperialism to further its attempts to overthrow Syria’s legitimate elected government headed by President Assad.

The devastating picture of Aylan followed hard on the heels of news of 71 refugees having been found dead in a lorry abandoned on an Austrian highway at the end of August. As the British people came to realise that these deaths were only the tip of an iceberg of deaths suffered by fleeing refugees, many signed an online petition to demand that the government welcome refugees instead of demonising them.

The British government has responded by promising to take in some 5,000 a year, though it was soon made clear that this grudging minimalist concession is to be curtailed in every way possible, with all the under-18s who are admitted to be deported as soon as they reach that age.

In actual fact, although the government has seemed to be responding to the humanitarian demands of the British public, offering a genuine welcome to refugees would fly in the face of the constant anti-immigrant, anti-asylum seeker propaganda that characterises all European imperialist governments, regardless of the party in power.

Normally, these governments and the imperialist media warn of impending societal breakdown, and bourgeois politicians talk of hordes of invaders. All this rhetoric would make you think that Britain is faced with armed invasion, when in fact it is a question of defenceless refugees fleeing from the chaos and misery that British imperialism and its allies have created with their aggression in the Middle East and elsewhere. Presently, a significant number of refugees are from Syria, where marauding proxy jihadi armies have been tearing the country apart.

While this supposedly 'worst refugee crisis since World War Two' is indeed a humanitarian catastrophe, millions of people have for a long time suffered violence at the hands of imperialism and its lackeys. What is different now is that more and more (though it is still a very small number compared to those seeking refuge in neighbouring middle-eastern countries) are making their way to Europe in order to survive, as the places they used to flee to (Syria and Libya in particular) have been made unsafe or completely destroyed by the latest imperialist wars.

And this is what is increasingly laying bare the reactionary, inhuman nature of the European Union – supposedly a beacon of peace and prosperity in this world. The reaction of this gang of imperialists to its victims turning up at its doors has been an increased militarisation of the outer borders, with barbed wire fences going up and a massively increased – and increasingly aggressive – police and army presence.

Those lucky enough to make it to central and western Europe without drowning in the Mediterranean may still suffocate in the back of a lorry or be beaten and sent packing. The rest are herded into huge prison camps, or end up in makeshift slums (as in Calais). And after all this, they face brutal attack from neo-Nazi mobs and other thugs.

The limitations of social work

In the midst of hysteria and outright violence against refugees, there have also been positive reactions. People are offering to take in refugees and others are flocking to the camps and prisons to offer material aid.

But, however positive such well-meaning gestures of wanting to ease the immediate suffering of the victims of imperialism, it also highlights the limits that plague left-liberal thinking and much of 'the left'.

If we are really serious about helping to end the horrible conditions that refugees and all oppressed peoples of the world find themselves in, we must not stop at aid work, but strike at the root of the problem. It is the system of capitalist imperialism that creates misery throughout the world and forces people to leave their homes and embark on greatly perilous journeys in order just to survive. Even where there is no open war, imperialist exploitation forces people to move in order to survive.

'Bomb Syria – for Aylan'

In a perverse twist, politicians, supported by the media, are now starting to use the refugee crisis to step up their open aggression in Syria. Just as IS, which was itself built up by western imperialism and its allies in the first place, was used as an excuse for direct attacks, certain politicians and commentators have started arguing that the best way to help the refugees is to drop even more bombs on Syria!

In fact, the bombing has already begun – on the pretext that it is targeting the terrorists responsible for the refugee crisis! Unashamedly, the media have been hailing British drone strikes which killed some British-born IS jihadis of with great enthusiasm.

However, any British imperialist campaign to 'rid Syria of IS' is completely overshadowed by their continuing imperialist determination to overthrow Syria's legitimate government – a project in which IS is its tool and ally. If imperialism was anxious to put an end to the psychopathic IS organisation, then why did Washington demand of Greece last week that it should prevent Russian aircraft overflying its country to send military support to the Syrian government in its fight against these brutal terrorists?

There was no crisis of refugees from Syria, Iraq or Libya until imperialism undertook its campaigns to overthrow their governments. Indeed, these countries offered its citizens a high level of security, whatever their religious beliefs, and a good standard of living. Even a relatively honest bourgeois journalist, such as Matthew Parris of the Times, is prepared to admit that imperialism is responsible for the crisis, although in his position he has to blame 'neocons' rather than imperialism in general:

"No wonder the neocons are flapping their arms today. They gave us this crisis, with their lordly confidence that removing Saddam, Gaddafi, Assad – indeed ... Najibullah in Afghanistan – would make things better. Would the world actually be worse today if those men had been left alone? We are dealing with the consequences of liberal adventurism." (Stop crying if you are serious about migrants, 5 September 2015)

'Liberal adventurism' – there's a euphemism for you! We would call it naked imperialist aggression.

The British imperialists try to distract from their warmongering by putting on a 'humanitarian' façade – making a u-turn and declaring themselves willing to accept more refugees. Considering that it is the imperialists' relentless attempts to overthrow the Syrian government that has made many of the people coming to Europe today refugees in the first place, this playing of the humanitarian card is nothing but adding insult to injury!

Furthermore, Cameron has made it clear that his government has no intention of providing shelter to the thousands of Syrians and Libyans who have struggled across Europe and managed to arrive on or near our own borders. They will apparently be left to rot where they are. Instead, the proposed plans will focus on taking young Syrians from specific locations in Turkey – 'refugee camps' that are actually notorious as being terrorist training centres near Syria's borders – and sending them back once they reach the age of 18. It is blatantly obvious that the imperialists are not intent on solving the refugee crisis but are merely using it in their continued pursuit of regime change.

Because of British imperialism’s close alliance with US imperialism and the latter's continuing determination to oust Syria's legitimate government, which could in the present circumstances only be replaced by fascistic fanatics such as IS or any of the other similarly vicious outfits whose cruel fanaticism is driving desperate people out of their homes in their hundreds of thousands to seek sanctuary in Europe's unwelcoming embrace, we can be sure that British bombs are not the way to bring peace back to Syria.

So let us not be distracted by refugee quotas and apolitical aid work. As long as there is imperialism there will be war and misery, and as long as we do not organise to seriously challenge our own imperialist ruling class, we will share part of the blame. Let us unite to bring down imperialism!

Therefore, we demand :

Full backing for Syria's legitimate elected government, headed by President Assad

Full support for the Syrian government and army in defeating terrorism

All military operations in Syria to be under the exclusive control of the Syrian government

No more imperialist interference in the affairs of sovereign states

No more terrorised dead infants

Hands off Syria!

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