Rounding out 2009, here are some of the worst violators of human rights in the world in the past year. No country has a perfect record for its treatment of migrant workers and immigrants but this Hall of Shame contains a list of people and countries who have gone above and beyond the “call of duty.” We can only hope that the new year and new decade brings some fresh new ideas on how governments can control their borders but with respect to human rights. Part 1 is here.
5. The Movement Against Illegal Immigration and the Slavic Union, Russia – The rise of the Russian far-right, led by skinheads who believe in Adolf Hitler, might turn into Putin’s worst nightmare. Several hundred Tajik migrant workers have been killed by Russian with little investigation from the authorities. But official Russian policy towards immigrants has also lurched towards anti-immigrant populism with the financial crisis.
4. Australia – Known to restrict immigration to only whites till 1973 but comprising 25% of migrants, Australia makes our Hall of Shame for turning a blind eye to the hate crimes perpetuated against Indian students all year and repeatedly denying that the series of attacks were racially motivated. A Facebook group called “F*** Off, We’re Full” initiated after the attacks attracted over 65,000 members before it disintegrated. Whether or not Australian PM Kevin Rudd takes a departure from the Pauline Hanson influenced policies of the former John Howard administration remains to be seen.
3. Yishai and Israel – While Operation Broom in Cyprus should also make it here on this list, Israel-a state of immigrants-also makes it to our Hall of Shame for trying to deport the 1200 Israel-born children of undocumented workers. At least unlike the United States, they are willing to admit shamelessly that deporting these children helps preserve Israel’s Jewish identity. Didn’t Hitler say something similar some 60 years ago? It looks like Israel sorely needs a ‘DREAM Act‘ movement.
2. South Africa – Xenophobia might be a response to years of apartheid and isolation, but it is no doubt virulent in South Africa. Immigrants and refugees in South Africa faced a slew of anti-immigrant attacks in 2008 and it took a lot of carpet to cover up the mess. In 2009, some foreign shops were looted and burned after anger over poor government services mounted into violent protests. The Human Rights Watch released a report recently accusing South African medical professionals for routinely denying health care and treatment to thousands of asylum seekers, refugees and migrants against their own laws. Watch District 9.
1. Northern League and Silvio Berlusconi, Italy – The Italians took their xenophobia to a whole new level in 2009. In May, Italy started a ‘repulsion at sea‘ policy against asylum seekers arriving from Libya in violation of international law, and encouraged other European countries to do the same. In July, led by the anti-immigrant Lega Nord, the Italian parliament passed a law to criminalize undocumented immigrants, extend their detention times, and allow citizens the right to ‘patrol’ in order to help the police curb the tide of immigration. Some have likened this new era of policing to Italy under the fascist Mussolini. The icing on the cake is ‘Operation White Christmas,’ openly targeting all immigrants due to their skin color, which leaves even the scrooges at FAIR and the Salvation Army USA behind. It’s not even ‘Italy for Italians.’ It’s Italy for White Italians. Merry X-Mas!