African migrants demand the right to stay in Germany

Thousands of African migrants live in Germany with no status. Many have made their way north after fleeing Libya during the NATO war, crossing the Mediterranean to the Italian island of Lampedusa, then to Germany. Over a hundred asylum seekers are in Berlin demanding the abolition of the “district pass laws for residence obligation (LandKreis Residenzflicht)” that forbid the rights to freedoom of movements for refugees in Germany and they demand that Germany give them work permits to work and live in the country. On the ground in Berlin, Roberto Nieto talks to Gwen and Doug about the situation.

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Le Sommet Afrique-Union Européenne de Lisbonne/ Lisbon’s European Union-Africa Summit

(In english and french; en anglais et français)

Voici une dépêche de l’AFP concernant le sommet de Lisbonne. Nous pouvons immédiatement dire que l’élément clef qui caratérise ce sommet, outre les rodomontades et remontrances concernant les respects des droits de l’homme en Afrique, est la volonté affichée de l’Europe de reprendre une position en Afrique qu’elle perd progressivement au profit de la Chine, l’Inde et les États-Unis…

Cela explique les négocations remises de l’avant dans le cadre de ce sommet, et qui sont décrites dans cette dépêche:

Agence France-Presse (tiré de Cyberpresse.ca)

Lisbonne

Européens et Africains ont adopté dimanche à Lisbonne les principes d’un partenariat «d’égal à égal», censé ouvrir une nouvelle page de leurs relations, au terme d’un sommet où l’Afrique a fait entendre ses exigences, parfois avec véhémence, sur cet avenir commun.Des désaccords ont été publiquement exprimés sur les négociations commerciales en cours entre les deux continents, sur le passif colonial, ou encore sur le Zimbabwe, dont le président Robert Mugabe s’est livré à une violente diatribe contre l’Union européenne qui l’avait critiqué la veille.

Le deuxième sommet UE-Afrique «a véritablement tourné une page dans l’histoire», a déclaré le premier ministre portugais José Socrates dans son discours de clôture. «C’est vrai que l’histoire de nos continents est une histoire avec des souffrances», a-t-il reconnu, mais «cette nouvelle page qui s’ouvre est une page vierge sur laquelle nous serons appelés à écrire».

Le président ghanéen John Kufuor, président en exercice de l’Union africaine, a également jugé qu’il s’agissait d’un «événement historique dans les relations UE-Afrique», tout en réclamant que le partenariat adopté soient «sérieusement mis à l’oeuvre».

La «stratégie conjointe», adoptée par 27 pays européens et 53 pays africains (52 de l’Union africaine et le Maroc) et résumée dans une Déclaration de Lisbonne, est accompagnée d’un plan d’action pour les trois prochaines années, avant un prochain sommet prévu en Afrique et que la Libye souhaite organiser.

Pour le président de la Commission de l’UA, Alpha Oumar Konaré, ce «partenariat» a vocation à aider l’Afrique à sortir de son «rapport inégalitaire avec le reste du monde».

Alors que l’Europe reste le premier partenaire commercial de l’Afrique, elle subit de plein fouet la concurrence de puissances émergentes, la Chine en tête.

Près d’un demi-siècle après les indépendances, les relations entre l’Afrique et l’Europe sont bien plus complexes, voire sensibles, que celles nouées avec ces nouveaux partenaires, et les contentieux n’ont pas manqué d’éclater au grand jour.

Au terme de débats riches même si souvent discordants entre les deux parties, le sommet s’est achevé sur un discours véhément de Robert Mugabe, dont la présence avait entraîné le boycott de la réunion par le premier ministre britannique Gordon Brown.

En session plénière, il a dénoncé «l’arrogance» et le «complexe de supériorité» de l’UE et de quatre pays en particulier (Allemagne, Suède, Danemark, Pays-Bas) qui ont critiqué la situation des droits de l’homme dans son pays.

«Le Zimbabwe ne sera plus jamais une colonie», a lancé M. Mugabe, soumis à des sanctions européennes depuis 2002.

La veille, la chancelière allemande Angela Merkel avait déclaré que «la situation actuelle du Zimbabwe nuit à l’image de la nouvelle Afrique», s’attirant les critiques de plusieurs dirigeants africains, qui avaient fait de la présence de M. Mugabe au sommet une question de principe.

Le passif colonial a été un autre sujet sensible. Dans une intervention très remarquée à l’ouverture du sommet, M. Konaré a exigé un «devoir de mémoire vis-à-vis de la traite négrière, de la colonisation, de l’apartheid, du génocide rwandais».

De son côté, le dirigeant libyen Mouammar Kadhafi appelait les Européens à rembourser les ressources «volées» lors de la colonisation ou alors à se tenir prêts à accueillir les migrants africains chez eux.

La question épineuse des accords de partenariat économique a également occupé une grande place lors de ce sommet, M. Konaré dénonçant le «forcing» des Européens dans les négociations avec les pays ACP (Afrique, Caraïbes, Pacifique).

La Commission européenne a fait un geste dimanche en acceptant de discuter début 2008 des inquiétudes de ces pays, qui craignent notamment que l’abaissement progressif des tarifs douaniers sur les importations de produits européens ne fragilise encore leurs économies.

Concernant le Darfour, les Européens ont enfin demandé au président soudanais Omar el-Béchir qu’il facilite le déploiement de la force de paix ONU-UA dont il refuse la composition proposée par les Nations unies.

This is a BBC newsfeed about the Lisbon’s EU-Africa summit confirms the idea that this event took place for the purpose of gaining back a position the EU countries lost on the African continent to the benefit of China (and also India and USA) :

BBC.

EU and African leaders have signed a declaration promoting free trade and democracy at a summit in Lisbon beset by rows over trade deals and Zimbabwe.

As the Portuguese hosts hailed a “new chapter” in relations, Senegal’s president railed against new EU-African trade deals proposed by the EU.

And Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe reportedly accused Europe of arrogance in criticising his human rights record.

The hosts have lauded the summit as heralding a new relationship of equals.

The 67 leaders gathered at the summit agreed to work together to forge a new partnership on issues including security, development, trade and good governance.

The BBC’s Mark Doyle, in Lisbon, says the joint declaration is hugely ambitious in scope, and that clear differences remain on several issues.

Fragile economies

Angry words flew over trade deals – known as Economic Partnership Agreements – proposed to replace existing agreements due to expire at the end of the year.”We are not talking any more about EPAs, we’ve rejected them,” said President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal.

Although some east African nations have already agreed to the deals, many other countries argue that they will damage their fragile economies.

The deals – to replace historical agreements which gave former European colonies preferential trade terms – demand that African countries open their markets to European goods in order to keep tariff-free EU access for their own exports.

The summit was seen as an EU attempt regain lost ground in Africa and combat growing Chinese influence in the continent.

But President Wade said that “Europe is close to losing the battle of competition in Africa”.

Our correspondent says that while China has massively increased its investments in Africa, it does not tend to comment on issues such as democracy and human rights.

‘Arrogance’

The point was evidenced by tensions over the presence of Mr Mugabe, widely criticised for human rights abuses and economic mismanagement in Zimbabwe.Although he is banned from the EU, African leaders demanded he be invited to attend. UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown boycotted the meeting in protest.

On Sunday Mr Mugabe was reported to have lambasted four EU countries for “arrogance” in their criticisms, according to a copy of a speech at a closed meeting obtained by French news agency AFP.

His comments came in response to German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s earlier assertion that his policies had “damaged Africa”.

“It is important that people keep in mind that Africans fought for human rights from oppressive rule,” said Mr Mugabe, who is regarded by many African leaders as the heroic liberator of Zimbabwe.

The meeting was the first EU-African summit for seven years. Previous attempts had collapsed over the question of Mr Mugabe’s attendance.

Portuguese PM Jose Socrates, who earlier lauded the gathering as a “summit of equals”, said it was an achievement in itself that the meeting had taken place.

Émissions Amandla du 20 et du 27 juin 2007/ Amandla shows from June 20th and 27th 2007

Voici les thèmes qui ont été abordés pendant les émissions Amandla du 20 et 27 juin dernier sur les ondes de CKUT 90.3FM (Montréal). Vous pouvez les télécharger ici (lien valide pour deux mois seulement).

Le 27 juin

Entrevue avec Béatrice Umutesi présentant son livre: “Fuir Umutesiou mourir au Zaïre. Le vécu d’une réfugiée rwandaise” – en français. Mme Umutesi est une ancienne réfugiée originaire du Rwanda qui s’enfuit au Zaïre suite au génocide rwandais. Elle travaillait comme coordonnatrice d’ONG avant de fuir au Zaïre. Elle découvre que le Front Patriotique Rwandais (FPR), mouvement de libération qui est aujourd’hui au pouvoir au Rwanda, aurait aussi perpétré des massacres contre les hutus pendant le génocide. La situation rwandaise a donc été plus confuse que ce qu’a bien voulu présenter la presse internationale. Paradoxalement, c’est le FPR que Mme Umutesi dut fuir. Elle quitte pour le Zaïre. Mais la guerre la rejoint avec des soldats du Rwanda qui traversent la frontière pour attaquer les camps de réfugiés. Mme Umutesi dut encore fuir marchant 2000 km dans la jungle congolaise pour trouver la paix.

Décès de Ousmane Sembène (photo plus bas) – en français et anglais. Icône du cinéma africain, né en Casamance (Sénégal). Revue de sa carrière et de sa vie. Il a écrit 5 romans, 5 recueils nouvelles et 14 films.

Les États-Unis cherchent une base pour l’AFRICOM – en anglais. Tel que présenté dans le blog, les pays d’Afrique du Nord refusent d’héberger l’AFRICOM sur leur territoire.

 

L’Union Européenne négocie une entente de libre-échange avec la CEDEAO (Communauté économique des États de l’Afrique de l’Ouest) – en anglais. Une telle entente lierait l’une des plus riches régions du monde avec l’une des plus pauvre. Les négociations ne se font donc surement pas sur une base “d’égal à égal”. L’Europe pourrait avoir un accès total au marché de la CEDEAO.

Comment le monde arabe ignore le Darfour – en anglais. Analyse d’un article paru dans le New Internationalist, intitulé “Salaam Darfur”, et qui critique le silence et même le déni du monde arabe devant les événements du Darfur. Cet article a été écrit par deux activiste arabes: Moataz El Fegiery et Ridwan Ziyada.

 

Le 20 juin

 

Émission entièrement en anglais.

Commentaires sur les discussions entre le Front Polisario et le Maroc sous les auspices des Nations Unies – en anglais. Les discussions se sont faites sous les regards d’observateurs Algériens et Mauritaniens. Elles se sont tenues à la suite d’une résolution de l’ONU datant d’avril 2007. Jusqu’à maintenant, rien n’a bougé, si ce n’est la décision de continuer les discussions en août 2007. Pendant ce temps, une génération de réfugiés vit toujours en Algérie, et beaucoup d’entre eux n’ont jamais vu le Sahara Occidental.

Découverte du pétrole au Ghana – en anglais. Le Ghana espère exploiter son pétrole sans tomber dans le piège de la mauvaise gestion de la ressource.

SIDA et développement en Afrique – en anglais. SIDA et développement ont mauvaise presse en Afrique. Le SIDA n’est pas qu’un enjeu de santé publique, il bloque le développement économique. Même dans un pays riche comme le Botswana, il peut faire des ravages.

Grèves générales en Afrique du Sud – en anglais. L’Afrique Du Sud entre dans sa 18ème-19ème journée de grève générale alors que les syndicats et le gouvernement n’arrivent pas à s’entendre. Des reportages provenant du terrain sont présentés.

Here are the subjects that were addressed in the June 20th and 27th Amandla radio shows on CKUT 90.3 FM (Montreal). You can download the shows here (link valid for two months only).

June 27th

United States try to find an african base for AFRICOM – in english. Countries from Northern Africa don’t want the opening of the base. The subject was addressed in a previous post.

European Union wants to build a free trade deal with ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) – in english. This agreement could link one of the wealthiest zone of the world with the poorest countries of the world. This deal might not be negotiated in equal terms. Europe could have total access to the ECOWAS countries…

Death of Ousmane Sembène (see picture) – in english and french. Born in Casamance Ousmane Sembène(Senegal), he was the first african film director to have an international recognition. Review of his career and his life. He wrote 5 novels, 5 short story book, and 14 films. He died on June 10th 2007.

How the arab world ignores Darfur – in english. Analysis of an article from the New Internationalist (“Salaam darfur”) who criticizes the heavy silence and denial from the Arab world regarding the events occuring in Darfur. It was written by two arabic human rights activists: Moataz El Fegiery and Ridwan Ziyada.

Interview with Béatrice Umutesi author of the book: “Surviving the slaughter. The ordeal of a Rwandan refugee in Zaïre” – in french. Mrs Umutesi is a former Rwandan refugee who fled the genocide and went to Zaïre (today called Democratic Republic of Congo). She worked for an NGO before fleeing to Zaïre. She discovered that the Rwandan Patriotic Front (FPR), the liberation movement in Rwanda who’s now in power, also perpetrated mass murders against the Hutus during the genocide. The situation in Rwanda was therefore more complex than what the international medias depicted. Oddly enough, it’s the FPR Mrs Umutesi had to run from. She fled to Zaïre. But the war caught on her with Rwandan troops crossing the border and attacking refugee camps. She had to run into the jungle and walk 2000 km to find a safe place!

June 20th

Show entirely in english.

Comments on the talks between the Polisario and Morocco under United Nations’ auspices – in english. Talks were held between Morocco and Polisario front with observers from Algeria and Mauritania. They were held following a resolution from April 2007. So far, they lead to nothing concrete and they will continue in August 2007. Meanwhile, a generation of refugees still live in Algeria and most of them were born there and have never seen Western Sahara.

Oil found in Ghana – in english. Ghana hopes to exploit its oil without falling into mismanagement.

AIDS and development in Africa – in english. AIDS and development are treated negatively in Africa. AIDS isn’t just a health issue; it hinders economic development and social capabilities. Even in a rich african country like Botswana, it can be a really serious problem.

General strikes in South Africa – english. South Africa enters its 18-19th day of general strike as the unions and the government can’t find an agreement. Reports from the field are presented.

Voici un court vidéo d’Ousmane Sembène recevant “l’Akira Kurosawa” award au Festvial de film de SanFrancisco en 1993. Here is a short video of Ousmane Sembène receiving the Akira Kurosawa award at the 1993 San Francisco International Film Festival:

Mary Riddell and Europe’s moral and historical duty toward Zimbabwe/ Mary Riddell et le devoir moral et historique de l’Europe envers le Zimbabwe

Voici un commentaire de Mary Riddell dans le Guadian de Londres qui commente le devoir qu’a l’Europe de faire pression sur les dictateurs africains pour qu’ils cessent leurs régimes tyranniques, notamment celui de Mugabe au Zimbabwe. Voici le texte dans son intégralité et qu’on peut aussi trouver ici.

Here is a comment from Mary Riddell in the London Guardian about:”The European Union, 50 this week, [which] has a moral and historical duty to exert diplomatic pressure on Africa’s monstrous leaders” and especially with Mugabe’s tyranny. (You can also find the original text here):

This is a story of war and bunfights. Start with the party thrown by Robert Mugabe to mark his 83rd birthday. Herds of cattle were slaughtered and drums of beer imported for a banquet that filled a football stadium. Outside, the people starved and the morgues filled up. Soon afterwards, Morgan Tsvangirai, the opposition leader, had his skull smashed by the President’s men. In Zimbabwe, the hangover of excess and brutality goes on.

Next Sunday, the leaders of the European Union will gather in Berlin for another celebration, to mark the signing of the Treaty of Rome. Two spectres will haunt the 50th anniversary of a prosperous club. The first is Zimbabwe, the second Darfur. Both languish in the shadow of slaughter and repression, the birth parents of modern Europe.

Africa has changed, too. Today’s version barely resembles the continent whose image dominated the G8 concerts of 2005. Poverty is not history, despite some progress, and nor is tyranny. Some countries grow more vibrant and economically stable, but Africa stands tainted by two monstrous leaders destroying their people as the world looks on.

In Mugabe’s imploded country, bread is rare, torture routine and Tsvangirai’s mangled face a metaphor for a ruined land. In Sudan, General Omar al-Bashir has turned Darfur into a graveyard and presided over what UN investigators last week decried as ‘gross and systematic’ human-rights abuses.

Britain and Europe have promised much to Africa. What, in the face of such outrages, must they do now? Mugabe, the most sinuous of politicians, has played skilfully on Britain’s strident denunciation of his land grabs of 1990. In his version, a narrative bolstered by our right-wing press, only white farmers matter to old colonialists. Many in southern Africa have backed the myth of Mugabe the liberator.

Now, at last, there are murmurs of censure from neighbours including Thabo Mbeki, whose craven complicity up to now may stem from his own resentment over white land ownership in a fragile South Africa. Mugabe’s defiance is undented. ‘Go hang,’ he told the West. In his preference, Tony Blair would be first to swing.

Since condemnation has played into Mugabe’s hands, Europe needs other weapons. Strengthening existing sanctions, such as a travel ban and an assets freeze on key Mugabe underlings is not as feeble as it sounds. Stopping dignitaries from buying their shoes at Gucci and having their varicose veins fixed in Harley Street is often no great blow to the powerful, who can find other options. But outside pressure coupled with the shortening sell-by date of Mugabe’s patronage may make his henchmen question their loyalty to a despot who must know he is close to the end.

Besides tougher sanctions, Margaret Beckett also wants UN human-rights monitors to move into Zimbabwe. But this watchdog, fully committed in Sudan, is in its infancy, while the African Union (AU) is barely three years old. Among such fledglings, the EU at 50 is solidly middle-aged, with the hormonal mood swings to prove it. If it is ever to take a central role in the world, and atone for the meddlesome record of many member states in Africa, now is the time.

A Europe forged from war, atrocity and oppression is ideally placed to help orchestrate the diplomatic pressure that South Africa, Mozambique and Zambia must apply on Zimbabwe. As Tom Cargill of Chatham House says, it should also be lobbying China to act responsibly. Any dialogue between Britain and Zimbabwe has often been conducted at a scream, which has played straight into a dictator’s hands. Some commentators demand, idiotically, that Blair scream louder.

The way forward, instead, lies in the solid diplomacy that has unravelled in the swashbuckling Blair era, as Foreign Office expertise has been parcelled out to the Department for International Development and the Cabinet Office. It is possible to dream of many fates for Mugabe. If hyperinflation does not get him, the grief and rage of the dispossessed may drive his downfall. For now, anno domini still looks the best hope for a country where women are lucky to reach 34 and even a hellish ruler cannot hope for immortality.

Any notion that some silver bullet from the West will finish Mugabe has merely cemented his tenure. But though the Zimbabwe problem is for Africa, Europe has a role to play in applying what pressure it can in Harare and elsewhere on the continent. According to Richard Dowden of the Royal African Society, Mugabe has no bottom line, nor a wish to ‘be part of planet Earth’.

By contrast, Sudan’s General Bashir, though vile and murderous, has a proven track record of buckling under threat. Europe, shamefully, has applied none throughout a government-sponsored war of attrition in Darfur. Four million citizens rely on aid. Collectors sent out for firewood are mainly female, because men get murdered while women may just get raped. And yet not a single useful EU sanction exists. If Bashir’s top brass want to buy their diamonds in the Rue St Honore, as a break from strafing villages, they may do so with impunity.

Clearly, Europe cannot do everything to save Darfur. That does not entitle it to do nothing. It should urgently, and as a minimum, impose travel bans, freeze murderers’ assets and help stifle funding for militias. Instead, foreign ministers have formally expressed concern on 53 occasions, which means that more than 200,000 people have each taken to their graves a micro-sliver of an EU regret. Some punishment. Behind the scenes, Bob Geldof is busy again, helping devise events to kickstart anger and force political action in Europe from this month onwards. Even his critics should be glad, as the death toll rises, that someone has a sense of urgency.

Obviously, the UN has a vital role in Africa, but Europe can act without fear that Russia or China will flout its collective will. It can, and should, look far ahead, partnering the new breed of African leader and helping to train the AU troops that will be needed to keep the peace in countries ripped asunder by the old sort in the decades to come. When the EU’s feeble foreign ministers meet in April, they had better have something positive to propose on both Zimbabwe and Darfur.

The revellers at Europe’s 50th birthday party should remember how it all began. More than half a century since the Holocaust, the first rule of deferred horror still applies. During times of extermination and oppression, the eyes of the world stay dry and blind. But countries uncoupled from the precepts of humanity and the rule of law cannot be left unchallenged as their citizens suffer and die. Europeans, of all people, should know that.