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 Human Rights & other Irrelevancies

author: - 27.08.2002 22:58

a psychological overview of problems experienced by asylum-seekers.

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 Human rights and other irrelevancies

a psychological overview of problems experienced by asylum-seekers.

The author of this article has been a stateless asylum-seeker for over 20 years.

It’s NOT a nightmare - it’s a reality …… living in a soap opera scripted jointly by Kafka, Machiavelli, Dante, de Sade and Torquemada, being inflicted on asylum-seekers by governments and judiciary ...... and those are the good days!

Most of the time - psychologically - it’s a daily trauma of survivorship in what can justifiably be called the atmosphere of an open-air concentration-camp. It’s soul-destroying and dehumanizing.

We arrive in a host country, usually after a vast amount of personal trauma, uprooting and total disruption of our lives. Many of us have been only psychologically abused and /or tortured; others have been physically and psychologically abused and/or tortured.

In general, the present methods of reception and dealing with asylum-seekers by the host-countries are Machiavellian, inhumane, sadistic and medieval. For asylum-seekers it’s a continuation of the terror we have recently escaped - whatever the degree of that terror – plus the new problems of adapting to a new life-system which induces yet more insecurity and vulnerability, although of a different nature, over an extended time period. This causes increased levels of Dissociative Disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Host countries and aid organizations – due to their treatment of and attitude to asylum-seekers - frequently cause far more traumas than those originally undergone by us within our own countries and during our escape.

We asylum-seekers need – very urgently, sometimes desperately - (even if temporarily) a feeling of acceptance and safety. We also need to find a creative outlet for our energies, (ie) work, in order to re-find our self-worth, to help us integrate into the society of the country of adoption, as well as to contribute to our own /our family’s and our adoptive country’s psychological and economic well-being. (Integration into a new society or country is always a difficult matter, even for voluntary migrants and foreign workers). By denying asylum-seekers our inalienable right to try to find work, by forcing on us a situation of non-status and other humiliating denials of our basic human-rights, only adds to the damage already inherent in our situations. It appears that individuals have to comply with laws, but governments do not.

If any economic and/or other help is given, it’s given reluctantly and in a manner which induces the feeling of rejection and charity, and often also the insinuation that we are guilty because we are seeking asylum.

It is a much saner policy – politically, economically and in human-rights terms – to accept asylum-seekers by giving us, IMMEDIATELY, permission to search for work, plus any other assistance (such as providing psychological and physical healthcare, help in finding adequate accommodation, language classes, job-training, children’s education, etc), to allow us to recover our health, our self-worth, and our meaning in life, and to stop this deliberate policy of marginalization, demonization, dehumanization and criminalization of our status. It is unacceptable to be treated with such deliberate callousness, or to be made into scapegoats for political, racial, religious, xenophobic or other forms of abusive discrimination.

From a purely logical perspective – apart from the human-rights issues – it is in the best interests of the host countries to allow us asylum-seekers to work, pay our taxes, integrate into society (temporarily or permanently), and also so that we can continue – if possible – in our trade or profession, so that we don’t lose touch with new learning experiences, /technology /other progressions in our work-spheres, without which it later creates a situation where it is always much more difficult to re-adapt /retrain and find work. This is a win-win situation for all parties. Most refugees are capable of supporting themselves and their families, and many of us could – at a later stage - employ locals too. However, we are rejected, harassed and not allowed to get on with restructuring our disrupted lives.

Under the current system, (and assuming that the host country does pay anything, which many countries don’t) the host-country wastes tax-payers money by paying long-term social security benefits to people who neither want nor need charity. We certainly do need short-term help until we become self-supporting again, and we certainly have the motivation and incentive to work extremely hard. This would also reduce the stress we are under during the administrative process of normalizing our situation in the host country.

We as asylum-seekers have had the initiative and courage to escape from our specific tragedies, and have endured a lot. Why should we be denigrated and suffer collective-punishment under the deliberate and malicious classifications and epithets assigned to us. We have the right to be treated as law-abiding individuals on our own personal merits. We are not a burden on any state; in fact, quite the reverse. We are an asset, currently and for the future, and should be welcomed.
A large proportion of asylum-seekers will later choose to return to their homelands when it’s safe to do so. They want to be with their families /friends /neighbors /in their own culture and language group. Others are – by temperament – more internationalists, and adapt better to their adopted country on a long-term or permanent basis.
All human beings, by nature, require healthy and creative outlets for self-expression, otherwise the psychological effects are dangerous. Loss of the will-to-live, of autonomy, of direction, of self-esteem, thus inducing apathy, more psychological problems (apart from the ones we have due to being asylum-seekers) physical ill-health, drug /alcohol /other addictions, criminal or other antisocial behavior, violence within the family group and/or externally, depression, suicide. The list goes on …. and on ….. and on………..

Administrative Silence

In many countries there is a phenomenon known as administrative silence .... (ie) the administration simply ignores visits, letters, phone calls, faxes, e-mails, and all other known forms of communication by members of the public /lawyers /anyone else. This practice is used primarily against the citizens of the countries concerned, not only against foreigners and asylum-seekers. Basically, there is no concept of the fact that civil servants (whatever their occupation or seniority) are employed by and are in the service of the public. The public is NOT there to serve the administration. What these individuals and/or governments are showing is outrageous arrogance and contempt for their citizens and others. Everyone is entitled to receive, and if necessary to demand, respect and courtesy from government (and other) institutions and agencies, and from their employees at an individual level.

Max Weber, the German sociologist of the 19th century describing the characteristics of burocracy, stated that a clear separation of personal and institutional interests gives a new meaning to the power of silence and exclusion. Since then, this attitude has been refined and honed and abused by governments /institutions /etc. It’s used as a weapon against citizens and foreigners alike.
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, the 19th-century French writer, stated Government is an unnecessary burden at best, and more likely a tyrannical noose around its subjects' necks. To be governed is to be at every operation, at every transaction, noted, registered, enrolled, taxed, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, authorized, admonished, forbidden, reformed, corrected, punished.

For the terminology administrative silence read psychoterror tactics

(ie) putting peoples lives on hold, to whatever degree and for whatever length of time, whether due to inefficiency /negligence /a deliberate policy of stalling /inattention to the matter /sheer bloody-mindedness, or for any other reason.

I consider that this tactic falls under the heading of a major abuse of fundamental human rights.

For example, in several countries the law offers a so-called remedy in cases of administrative silence. Apparently, if a request submitted to the administration is not resolved within three months, then the applicant may consider that their request has been rejected and such party may then bring the matter before the administrative court. If one attempted this method, no doubt the representative of the government would then merely try to justify the non-resolution of one’s claim, while - by doing nothing - the applicant still hopes that their request or cause will be accepted and resolved, eventually, maybe, by the administration. This is no remedy at all - it’s a sick joke.

I consider that the concept and the application of administrative silence is diametrically opposed to the concept of presumption of innocence and the right to a fair and swift resolution of issues. My premise is that specific legislation needs to be brought in to outlaw administrative silence, and that it's the administration's duty and obligation to resolve the issues, to reply to the public - with precise details - and that if they don't do so then the applicant or subject of the issue WINS the case by default after a period of 2 to 6 months, different categories of administrative processes having different timetables within that framework; NOT that the administration has the right to subject their employers (the public) to power-games. This is the brutal and sadistic Catch 22 principle of abuse of power and assumption of guilt tactic, where the administration plays with the dice always loaded in their own favor because of intra- as well as inter-office politics, fears of making a decision, plus the arrogance of power /etc. Each of these play their part in delaying - or denying – resolutions and/or justice.
It's the administration - if they insist on fighting a default situation of their own making - which should then bring their lost case or cause to the administrative court and explain why they didn't comply with the legal timetable or pertinent laws.

I consider that it is a fundamental human right for everyone – not only asylum-seekers – to be informed by the administration what is happening regarding our specific situation. We are entitled to know, step by step, what correspondence or other communication has been entered into by the administration in respect of our case or cause or application. We are also entitled to receive copies from the administrations of all communications in respect of our lives and to be kept updated on a regular basis, in detail.

Governments – obviously – have the right of discrimination and selection as to whom they receive in their countries, and non-citizens (foreign workers, visitors, asylum-seekers, etc.) have the right to know how their applications are faring, and to a speedy resolution. We also have the right to appeal to the relevant courts of justice in the case of non-acceptance of our legitimate applications.

It’s overdue that all governments, justice departments, the UN, NGO’s and aid organizations were educated to accept the fact that the right to life takes precedence over all and any laws, and the refusal or negation of this right can arguably be classified as a crime against humanity.

In fact, any form of negation of the right to life is - implicitly and explicitly - a death sentence.

In far too many countries, too many lawyers, judges, and others in the legal professions are likely to be pressurized by their government to ignore human rights laws in the name of political expediency. The other part of this crime is that too many of these people - as individuals, and also as part of a group and a system supposedly dedicated to upholding, enforcing and strengthening the rule of law - comply with politicians wishes, rather than being independent and ensuring that human rights laws prevail, despite the politicians and despite politics. For those who fall into the above-mentioned category, this is abject cowardice; an abdication of personal and collective responsibility within that profession; contempt for the inherent meaning of the law and of the principles of justice; contempt for the spirit of the law and of justice; and the grossest contempt for and of life itself.

Are asylum-seekers invited to speak at conferences or lectures organized by governments, lawyers, the judiciary, UN, NGO’s and other refugee-aid organizations?
How many asylum-seekers (or ex-asylum-seekers) are employed directly or indirectly (or as consultants, for example) by any of the governments, lawyers, judiciary, UN, NGO’s and other refugee-aid organizations?
It appears that governments, lawyers, the judiciary, UN, NGO’s and other refugee-aid organizations base their actions - or non-actions - on maintaining and accepting the status quo and the inhumane laws presently in force, instead of challenging the basic premises, concepts, amorality and barbaric realities of the ways in which asylum-seekers are viewed and treated? Surely a more constructive way to deal with this situation is to IMPROVE attitudes /conditions /laws?

The obligations, duties and responsibilities of the UN, NGO’s and other organizations dealing with asylum-seekers are to and in behalf of the asylum-seekers, and NOT to the political and/or other agendas of governments and/or other institutions.

I consider that the basic problem stems from the misconception of the plight of asylum-seekers by many individuals within governmental departments, the judiciary and refugee-aid organizations. as well as by the unfavorable image about us which has been deliberately created by political and media spin-doctors. The rhetoric is always that asylum-seekers are the problem. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t know of ANY war, ANYWHERE, at ANY TIME which has been created by asylum-seekers. Apart from natural disasters, ALL wars, and thus asylum-seekers, are created by governments, and it’s asylum-seekers as victims who are blamed - and then further victimized by governments - for being in that situation!
The terms 'asylum-seekers', 'refugees' and 'illegal immigrants' have now become epithets, and I think that the UN, aid agencies and all others dealing with asylum-seekers should change their terms of reference in order to counter the disgusting political and media propaganda-machines which attempt to demonize and criminalize us for their own twisted political and anti-social agendas.
It’s far too easy to dismissively and contemptuously refer to us as ..... 'Oh, those bloody refugees'.

If we were referred to as 'human beings begging for a safe haven due to their fear of being murdered' or similar phrasing, it would make a great deal of difference to the understanding - and of the concept - of our situation by governments, judiciary, aid agencies and by the general public.

Most governments and organizations dealing with asylum-seekers - (including the UNHCR) - operate under their own specific and separate political agendas, which have very little to do with observing human rights and the many Conventions and laws relating to these rights.
What are the goals /objectives of current government policies and laws which have been promulgated against asylum-seekers?
Why punitive methods instead of rehabilitation?
Why do governments and judiciary choose conflict, coercion, imposition and terrorism instead of co-operation, dialog, inter-dependency, common-cause for compromise (equal benefit) and by sharing responsibility?

"As state capitalism developed into the modern era, economic, political and ideological systems have increasingly been taken over by vast institutions of private tyranny that are about as close to the totalitarian ideal as any that humans have so far constructed. "Within the corporation," political economist Robert Brady wrote half a century ago, "all policies emanate from the control above. In the union of this power to determine policy with the execution thereof, all authority necessarily proceeds from the top to the bottom and all responsibility from the bottom to the top. This is, of course, the inverse of 'democratic' control; it follows the structural conditions of dictatorial power." - Noam Chomsky

What happened to the concept and practice of everyone - including asylum-seekers - having the right to a fair trial, and that they are innocent until proven guilty by an unbiased, apolitical court of justice? The current practices are a perversion and corruption of democracy, law, justice and humanitarian solidarity.

Since national and international human rights are supposed to protect individuals and groups against governmental abuses, governments cannot determine for themselves if and when they apply. It’s like asking the wolves to protect the goats! One cannot speak about the protection of human rights with credibility when one is confronted with the lack of consistency and courage displayed by the international community and its so-called leaders.

When governments and judiciary - especially those of the USA, European and all other so-called civilized, free and democratic countries - set an example of justice in practice within their own societies, then maybe they will be deemed to have some legitimacy and credibility when they talk about ‘JUSTICE’.

Until each government indicts and brings to trial - in legitimate international courts of justice - those of their own leaders and their henchmen who were /are allegedly involved in crimes against humanity, war crimes, state-terrorism, etc., their moral high-ground stance is buried well below 'ground-zero’.

Governments, the judiciary, institutions and other authoritarian bodies do not act cynically. They act with inhumane, calculated, cold-blooded, ruthless, amoral, deliberate opportunism and malicious, contemptuous forethought.

This is one of the principle reasons why people - who are usually not devout masochists wishing to be cannon-fodder for the glory of their leaders’ personal and national ambitions and political agendas - become refugees and asylum-seekers.

Vast numbers of the present members of many governments and humanitarian agencies - plus other citizens of their countries (including the Italian-born king of Spain and various other members of royal families throughout Europe) - were given assistance and asylum by other countries at various times in very recent history. These selfsame individuals – many of whom are now in power in their own countries or within aid organizations - treat current-day refugees in their countries despicably and brutally. Why?

When governments – especially those in the wealthier countries of the world - claim that their processes take so long (be they court-cases or other administrative matters) because the system is overloaded, and /or we are understaffed, and /or any other reasons– let’s be very clear that this is not a lack of political will or any vague excuse – it’s a very specific and deliberate action by that government to withhold funding and other resources from those projects. This is not avoiding – but evading and obfuscating - the real questions and issues. The reality is that it’s control and manipulation by the state in favor of the incumbents in power, certainly not in favor of or in behalf of the citizens who elected them and pay their salaries, and to whom they are accountable.

This means that refugees exist for years and years with no legal work permit, with no financial assistance whatsoever, no medical or dental treatment ....only harassment, obstruction and belligerancy from the governmental and non-governmental organizations where the administrations don’t allow us to comply with 'laws' by deliberately stipulating conditions which are almost impossible to meet, plus the stress and danger of possible arrest every day (or night) because we are without legal papers. Despite the deliberate power-game of withholding documents and other so-called 'legal instruments' or 'permissions', we still survive in spite of the administrations ....although greatly inconvenienced, prejudiced and tyrannized.
Basically, we don’t need ID cards as we know who we are. If the administration insists that we have one then it’s up to them to give it to us. THEY are the ones not complying with the laws. We don’t need anyone’s 'permission' to have our human rights, nor is anyone empowered to grant or withhold these rights; they are innate.

Overall, there is political, legal and judicial connivance in making and enforcing barbaric, brutal, illegal, immoral, amoral and unjust 'laws', all of which is a fraud on citizens and residents. It is due to an almost complete lack of integrity of the institutions of justice and of government which employ and sanctify the actions of far too many individuals who do not act in behalf of - but act against - the freedoms and rights of their employers (ie) the citizens and taxpayers. This is treason in its lowest form, is diametrically opposed to the principles of good governance, and is an abuse of trust.

Or is it, as it appears in far too many cases, that individuals within governments and judiciary are - or act as - perverted, intrusive and totalitarian enemies of the citizens and residents of their countries in order to protect their own personal images, masks, insecurities, fears, power bases and prestige?
Or are these politically and judicially instigated and approved methods of oppressing populations?

The judiciary and legal professions are accomplices of governments which perpetuate injustice and violate the fundamentals and principles of human rights, and which uphold the use of state-sanctioned terrorism, physical or psychological, overt or covert.

What institution's protect citizens and residents from this terrorism?

This is an outrageous abuse of power, the übermenschen-untermenschen (masterrace-subhumans) syndrome inflicted by individuals within these institutions who have (in their majority) lost their humanity, or have willingly abdicated from it.
It’s an outrage inflicted on the whole of humanity, including their own personal humanity, and it appears that the terms ‚honest government’ and 'legal justice' are oxymorons
“When grief turns to anger, when your rage is as useless as your tears, when those in power become blind, deaf and dumb in your presence, when the rest of the world has forgotten you, what are you to do? Must you put away your anger, choke back your bitterness, and cultivate patience, in the hope that justice will eventually prevail? The ill and pain-wracked survivors wait for years. And what if the very government that is supposed to protect you cynically manipulates the law against you? What use then is the law, with all its guarantees? Must you still obey it, while your opponents twist it to whatever they please? If the law is useless, whispers despair, then does it any longer matter if you go outside it? What else is left?”
"You can forgive the man who robs you, but you can't forgive the man you rob. In his haggard features you read your indictment and this makes his face so repulsive that you must keep it under your heels where you cannot see it."
The complete castration of history goes hand in hand with the utter negation of refugee existence, not to speak of refugee suffering. What has accompanied the robbery of these ex-citizens is the denial that it ever took place, or better yet, the denial that the refugee even exists. And when this fails, it is admitted that robbery has indeed taken place, with the refugee as the culprit. Here we no longer have robbery but rape: the total dehumanization and degradation of entire groups of peoples, their histories, experiences, and stories of suffering slandered and maligned. This is more than confiscation of property, land, or home; it is the confiscation of the dignity and humanity of the chief victims of modern colonialism and of wars. Let us see then, in its entirety, the false framework in which the refugees have been framed up, and burst it open at the seams.
This is despotism. "They treat us refugees with hostility and cruelty, deprive us of our rights, offend us without cause, and even boast of these deeds". Civilization has arrived.
These imperious beings, crazed by their absolute power and by the fear of losing it, no longer remember clearly that they once belonged to the race of mankind; they take themselves for a horsewhip or a gun; they have come to believe that the domestication of the 'inferior classes' will come about by the conditioning of their reflexes. But in this they leave out of account the human memory and the ineffaceable marks left upon it; and then, above all there is something which perhaps they have never owned: we only become what we are by the radical and deep-seated refusal of that which others have made of us. The remarks more importantly reflect a deep-seated superiority and racist attitude that permeates society, and play an important psychological role in the dehumanization process. It would be inhuman to detain, torture, shoot and beat fellow human beings, for the sight of a fellow man in chains is appalling to the Western ethos. But once humans are described in bestial terms - 'animalized' - then the problem disappears; if it is discovered that the hands in chains are in fact paws, that the cries of the tortured are only howls, then it is safe to cease idle talk of human rights and attend to other matters. Politics and power tend to dehumanize even the most civilized individuals.who, in order to ease their consciences, get into the habit of seeing the other individual as an animal, accustom themselves to treating the other like an animal, and tend objectively to transform themselves into animals. The utter brutality to which the refugees are exposed, compounded by the most fantastic exercises in denial and feigned ignorance by the governments, judiciary and others, can only be explained in light of this deep and explosive dialectic. It is in fact impossible for individuals or groups to appoint themselves judge, jury and executioner of an entire group without committing grave crimes. The key feature of anti-refugee sentiment is its all-sidedness: every aspect of refugee life is made disorderly, impossible, and chaotic by an injection of one or another element of burocracy. No daily established routine of attending school, going to work, or enjoying leisure time exists; in fact it in a sense it can be said that the burocratic attitude imposes not disorder but a tyrannical order, whereby the refugee is constantly trapped, tense, waiting, and essentially imprisoned in a foreign land. The restriction of movement is the most striking feature of refugee life. Endless legal blockades and curfews enforce the paralysis. Refugees require 'freedom-of-movement permits' to travel. In order to move, one requires permission: simply another way of reinforcing refugee submission. All that remains to be done now is issue 'freedom-to-live' permits, and no doubt they will be in short supply.
Governments, judiciary and other institutions are in the constant process of committing one crime to absolve themselves of another.
But don’t forget about those who support and carry out mass deportation, another manifestation of institutional savagery. The refugees’ struggle for justice and freedom is in fact an indictment of society itself. Those living under a dictatorship at least have the distinct advantage of not being indirectly involved in the unjust violence of their government. And what kind of violence are the present ‘democratic and civilized’ governments of the world exacting upon refugees today? Our shudders are all for the 'horrors' of the minor Terror, the momentary Terror, so to speak; whereas, what is the horror of swift death by the ax compared with lifelong death from hunger, cold, insult, cruelty, and heartbreak?....that unspeakably bitter and awful terror which none of us has been taught to see in its vastness or pity as it deserves
Liberation may have to be achieved not by brandishing this or that document, but through genuine peaceful struggle and solidarity among those who are being deprived of justice.

Long live the inquisition and the übermenschen!

Detention centres, forced expulsion, and forced repatriation are totally unacceptable.

Why are asylum-seekers forced to live in special centres?

Why should asylum-seekers live under such marginalized and humiliating conditions?
This is - in essence - the administration and the judiciary taking away freedom from traumatized people, who have already lost so many freedoms, so that the administration and the judiciary may ..... or may not, possibly, eventually, grant us some freedom.

Is this more Orwellian doublespeak of 'freedom from freedom'?

Gas-chambers are no longer fashionable, nor are they commercially viable.

Why don’t host-countries just reintroduce the guillotine?

This has multiple benefits:- It would save taxpayers having to foot the bill for transportation and other expulsion costs. It could be the base for a new entertainment industry which is beneficial to the local economy. It’s wholesome family entertainment, with reduced entrance fees for children, and which at the same time educates the entire population as to how we asylum-seekers should be viewed and treated. It would also be a rare and wonderful display of honesty to show the world openly what the local political and social agenda really is, so that the citizens and the outside world can never again claim we didn’t know what was happening.

The end result for us asylum-seeker is the same - torture and /or death.

Guillotining us would save us from these agonies, uncertainties, terrors and stress, so this system for eliminating us could thus be marketed by each host-country’s government, media and civil population as a humane act, so keeping their individual and collective consciences clear.

This would give us the ultimate freedom …….. ‘freedom from Life’!

What happened to the concept and practice of 'justice', where everyone - including every asylum-seeker - is innocent until proven guilty by a competent, independent and unbiased court of law?

The reality of the current situation is obvious, but I don't subscribe to it! Isn't it time in civilized and enlightened Europe, USA, Australia and elsewhere, to change these laws and this inhumane and barbaric reality?

I feel obliged to record the problems encountered in the hope that these matters may be rectified for the benefit of current and future asylum-seekers. We are looking for constructive solutions to our problems, and we need some assistance, not homilies. We don’t expect perfection in administrative systems, in laws or in individuals, but we certainly require and demand a betterment of quality in all matters discussed herein, from all the parties concerned.

All civil servants, at all levels, need to be educated to the fact that their citizens generally - and in this particular instance specifically, asylum-seekers - are not fighting AGAINST anything or anyone; we’re struggling - peacefully - FOR our innate human rights to be recognized by so-called democratic and civilized governments and judiciary.

That concept needs to be understood at a very profound level so that the civilian, burocratic and political mind-set can change.

I think it is quite clear that this is not a document of criticism, per se; it is an attempt to bring the state of affairs to the attention of those who have the power - and especially to those who have, primarily, the integrity, humanity and goodwill - to improve the situation. .

From Eur-op news – issue 2/2000 Having Health in Mind

Mental diseases are often linked to unemployment, social exclusion, homelessness or drug and alcohol abuse. Effective methods to prevent mental problems need to become a more pressing issue within EU policies. The Council has asked the Member States to collect relevant data, to implement action promoting mental health and to stimulate research. The Commission should incorporate activities on mental health in the future action program for public health and implement an EU health monitoring system. OJC 86,2000

In Europe and America they came for the Communists
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.
Then they came for the Roma,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Roma.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for the Negros,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Negro.
Then they came for the Asians
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't an Asian.
Then they came for the Arabs and the Muslims,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't an Arab or a Muslim.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't in a union.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant
Then they came for the asylum-seekers,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t an asylum-seeker.
Then they came for me,
and by that time no one was left to speak up

with thanks to Pastor Martin Niemoller for the original version

Human Rights

Most European and other countries are signatories to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as to various other international treaties on Human Rights, but asylum-seekers (and other groups of people) are – in practice – deliberately deprived of these rights. Those of us applying for protection as refugees, stateless-persons, or for other types of asylum, are allowed to be in the host country, but are forbidden to work to maintain ourselves whilst the burocratic machinations drag on. Not only are we not allowed to work; in many of these countries we ourselves have to pay all costs of telephone calls, photographs, stamps, and all other expenses of paperwork, including translations into the official language of the country concerned, and to cope with never-ending burocracy.

We need to work, but host states classify this as illegal. How are refugees supposed to exist when neither work-permits nor financial assistance are given from any quarter? Heavenly manna appears to be off the menu at present! It would appear that we have only the right to die of starvation under the benevolent auspices of all the governmental and human rights organizations, which were allegedly set up to assist asylum-seekers and others. Or perhaps special written permission to die is required!? (Waiting for which permission under the administrative silence game would involve an agonizingly slow and brutal death. Or perhaps - in the name of political expediency - this written permission to die of starvation would be expedited?!)

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

This Declaration is just that, a declaration. It was envisaged that national and international laws would be subject to this Declaration, and that the signing of the Declaration by governments would therefore be nationally and internationally legally binding.

However, because this is merely a Declaration, and because there is no goodwill by governments and justice?? systems to enforce this either nationally or internationally, it’s absolutely worthless, apart from being a decoration with colored ribbons and bow and pretty glittering stars, just to be hung on the walls of signatory states to impress the gullible with fine lying words. It’s merely a camouflage - of pretending to adhere to human rights - and thus a travesty of truth, of justice, of the Declaration, and of everything else that the UN and its component states are supposed to stand for.

The signatories to the UDHR are the self-same governments which have the temerity, audacity and arrogance to squawk about the lack of human rights in other countries!!!

Below is a partial transcript of e-mails between the author and UNHCR.

'So far there is not one person I've met in UN or NGO's in Africa, Asia or Europe who has heard of this passport .... strange .... as they've been issuing passports for 45 years under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights I hope you have a black sense of humor! Some months ago when I spoke to a UNHCR Head of Mission re this document, and after some days of research on their part, the verbal response was

"UNHCR does not look favorably on this passport as it is not a national document issued by a government".

My response for their consideration was “Does this statement imply that UN in general - and UNHCR specifically - does not recognize the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?"

The only reply I received to my question was from UNCHR Geneva stating: “The World Service Authority with which I am acquainted has no standing to issue passports under the UN Charter of Human Rights or in relation to any international law or precedent given the reality that States alone have this authority with certain exceptions made by the States themselves. While this may not be believed to be the ideal situation, issuance of documents without legal standing to persons who truly need to have their legal status addressed and resolved has often resulted in serious predicaments for the persons concerned. I'm afraid we are often left trying to resolve the result. “ - end quote

For further information on the UDHR and freedom issues see

The World Service Authority also issues passports and other documentation to asylum-seekers!

It is governments, therefore, which bear the responsibility for forcing asylum-seekers - and others - to act in a so-called illegal manner in order to sustain life. We have the right to eat, to shelter, and to the basic necessities of life - whatever the legal systems have to say about the matter. Are written legal words more important than human life? Isn’t the basis of democracy the rule of the people by the people for the people? Elections are for the appointment of guardians– citizens don’t vote individuals and political parties into power to be abused by them; governments should be acting as guardian-administrators – not institutionalized and legalized terrorists.

International Bills of Rights

"Let me add that a bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth, general or particular, and what no just government would refuse, or rest on inference." —Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 20 December 1787

The New Unhappy Lords

They have given us into the hand of new unhappy lords,
Lords without anger and honour, who dare not carry their swords.
They fight by shuffling papers; they have bright dead alien eyes;
They look at our labour and laughter as a tired man looks at flies.
And the load of their loveless pity is worse than the ancient wrongs,
Their doors are shut in the evening; and they know no songs.

GK Chesterton - "The Secret People"

Robert Kennedy, South Africa 1966, in the most repressive days of apartheid, at the University of Cape Town …"It may seem futile to challenge the world's misery and ignorance, injustice and violence, but it is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a person stands up for an ideal, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope; and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression."

"Too many vulnerable communities in too many regions of the world now hesitate to look to the United Nations to assist them in their hour of need. No amount of resolutions or statements can change this reality. Only action can" Kofi Annan at the Millennium Summit in NY 2000

"Working at the edge of the development of human society is to work at the brink of the unknown. Much of what is done will one day prove to have been of little avail. That is no excuse for the failure to act on accordance with our best understanding, in recognition of its limits, but with faith in the ultimate result of the creative evolution in which it is our privilege to cooperate." Dag Hammarskjold Secretary-General of the United Nations, 1953-1961


The UNHCR in Geneva has a department specifically dedicated ?? to the affairs of stateless-persons. However, no UN offices, refugee organizations, human-rights groups and other agencies which I’ve contacted in Europe and elsewhere had any knowledge of this department. I informed these organizations about this secret section of UNHCR, and suggested that they pass this information on to other organizations. I also suggested to UNHCR that their publicity department should inform the world of the department’s existence and function. When I asked UNHCR for information about when said department was formed - plus various other questions - they refused to clarify. I also wrote twice to Mr. Ruud Lubbers by certified mail, as well as to both Mr. Kofi Annan and Ms. Mary Robinson, regarding this matter, but their offices haven’t deigned to reply. Meanwhile, the worldwide UNHCR offices and other organizations, because they have apparently not been informed by UNHCR head office

  1. that the department exists and
  2. of the specific rights and the protection programs legally available to stateless-persons

cannot carry-out their functions or give assistance or protection in certain situations to stateless-persons, who are therefore deprived of possibly life-saving help. About a year ago I was informed verbally by officials at one office of UNHCR (outside Europe) that their legal mandate did not cover the protection of stateless-persons, only refugees. This is not only a lack of information, it appears to be deliberate; a withholding of information, disinformation and misinformation, by UNHCR Geneva.

There are also far too many personnel who abuse their positions within the UN. For example, when I initially wrote to UNHCR Geneva asking for protection, it took them over 2 years to reply. The UNHCR branch office in the country where I was then staying refused assistance, and deliberately misled me on many issues. This is the type of contempt with which too many UNHCR employees treat asylum-seekers. Very many other asylum-seekers – many of whom I have assisted with psychotherapy - have recounted similar abuse by UNHCR personnel. At another time – in another country – UNHCR personnel assisted me generously on a person-to-person level, and complained that they could not legally do more. This help was given willingly, despite the fact that - insofar as they were (mis)informed by regional headquarters and/or by Geneva - UNHCR could not, within their mandate as an organization, assist or protect stateless-persons

The UNHCR, having just celebrated its 50th anniversary, has still not managed to celebrate a workable international agreement on the treatment of refugees and stateless-persons in terms of these peoples’ internment in refugee camps for long periods of time – several generations of refugees - without the UN and/or all the world’s governments individually or collectively resolving the situation. One asks; is it the political strategy of many powerful UN member-states that generations of Palestinians and other nationalities should grow up under horrific conditions of being malnourished (in terms of food, education, creativity, work, self-worth, etc.), discontented, oppressed, directionless, frustrated and explosive? Why have individual countries in the world not financed better conditions and/or offered permanent asylum?
The same question applies to other groups of refugees in Asia and other areas of the world, although their incarceration has only lasted for about 25 years.

Why – except as a short-term transit point – are refugees kept in camps or other confined quarters, or, as in many countries (also in Europe), jailed? Why are governments, NGO’s and other aid agencies actively creating, accepting, participating in and supporting this form of ghetto-building, detention-camp style apartheid, and deprivation of human rights?

This abuse of asylum-seekers by host countries could possibly be prosecuted under the United Nations Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Being Subjected to Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

How is it tenable that refugees – whether in refugee camps or not – are forbidden to work? This is an outrageous human indignity, and causes further problems as mentioned previously. This appears to be a deliberate political strategy adopted almost universally by individual countries. Why? Here are individuals who are already traumatized (it’s only the degree that differs) by whatever happened in their countries of origin; many of them have lost family and friends, most of them have lost all their material possessions; all of them have lost (temporarily or permanently) their equilibrium, their orientation, their perspective, their future prospects, their community cohesion, their self-worth, their ………… We are then subjected to further cruelty by the host country, both burocratically and on a more personal level, depending on their host country’s attitude and the political and media manipulation towards foreigners, and especially their attitude towards asylum-seekers. Here are people, some of whom have never ventured beyond their villages in their home countries, some who have never been beyond the frontiers of their home countries, most of whom have no knowledge of other languages or cultures, being subjected to more uncertainty and trauma. Why has the UNHCR and the world community not resolved this repressive attitude? In countries where refugees are in camps, why are they not allowed to work even within this restricted zone?

Why do the UN and its member states - under whatever legal terminology - not recognize as refugees or provide adequate protection and assistance to those people who flee non-state persecutions, nor to those who are classified as displaced persons?

The UNHCR (and the UN in general) – in my experience and opinion - is incompetent and toothless in too many areas of its operations, primarily because the individual governments which control and manipulate the UN deliberately use this body as a scapegoat for denying and escaping their own government’s responsibilities. This is not to negate the wonderful work that is actually accomplished by the UN, despite and in spite of political interference and abuse by contributing governments, as well as the UN’s own internal politics. It’s the personnel – vast numbers of whom work with goodwill and integrity – who actually get things done, despite the constrictions and constraints.

Why does the UNHCR (as well as each of the UN divisions separately) spend billions of dollars annually on self-publicity via movies, full-color magazines and so on? The monies contributed by tax-payers of each country to finance the UN are not donated to be wasted on UN ego-enhancing propaganda campaigns; they’re supposed to be spent for humanitarian purposes. Why is the UN permitted to spend approximately 80% of its total budget on administration, self-publicity and jet-setting? How much of the remaining 20% of this vast budget actually gets through to the ground level, to the people who desperately need the help? These people need food, medication, education, hope, etc., not color magazines and movies to show them how great the UN is - and most of these people will anyway never see copies of the magazines or movies!. How many people world-wide suffer and/or die needlessly because the UN’s priorities are false, and their allocated funds and other resources are abused? (I recommend the book “Lords of Poverty” by Graham Hancock regarding the above and other issues, a copy of which I was given by a UN official.)

The UN is only a pawn to be abused by the power-lords who blackmail and bribe the leaders of this organization as well as the cowardly ‘leaders’ of member-states of the UN into accepting their illegal whims and wars, to ensure UN compliance, and to give ‘legitimacy’ to illegitimate actions. Is this a free and fair international forum, or a hoax and a sick joke played on the tax-payers and others who support the concept of an independent watchdog /ombudsman for the world’s long-suffering people?
The UN - as currently constituted - is a disgrace. It aught to be aborted and restructured from the basement upwards. It needs to be reconstituted under legitimate international law as a first priority, in order for it to become a legitimate forum. This recent Nobel Peace Prize that UN has been awarded is politically motivated. It’s an insult to humanity and a disgrace to the world.

The realistic need worldwide is for ‘pro-life’ and humanistic educational systems from kindergarten onwards ( and most especially and specifically - starting as of NOW - within the world’s governments, judiciary, religious and other institutions, the UN, and other humanitarian organizations) rather than the prevalent and deliberate dogmatic ‘mis-education’ within all societies.

"Next the statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting the blame upon the nation (OR THE GROUP) that is attacked, (OR MARGINALIZED OR UNWANTED) and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war (OR THE DELAYING OR REFUSAL OF HUMANITARIAN AID, ASYLUM OR ANY OTHER ASSISTANCE TO ANYONE, ANYWHERE, and WHENEVER THAT HELP IS NEEDED) is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception." Mark Twain, The Mysterious Stranger, 1916, Ch. 9

(ITEMS IN CAPITALS and BRACKETED are additions by the author of THIS overview)

In Boswell's "Johnson" the story is told of a woman who was seen frying live eels in hot grease in a large pan, on a street in 18th century London. When the eels struggled up the side of the pan, trying to get out, the woman would strike them with a stick, scolding them angrily: "Down, wantons! Down!" The eels, it seemed, just didn't understand their place in the higher scheme of things.
There's a lot of that in the way asylum-seekers (as well as local citizens) are treated.

Welcome - now die 24 July 2001 – AFP

NIGERIA’S national Tae Kwan Do coach Yusuf Yahaya took ill on a South African Airways flight and died after he was refused hospitalisation in Johannesburg because he lacked an entry visa for South Africa. After several hours of uncertainty, he was carried back aboard the aircraft where he had a heart attack and died. An official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that Yahaya had failed to declare his health status before boarding the plane and that, as a result, "the normal immigration laws have to apply." (and he wasn’t even an asylum-seeker!)

"Everything I did, I did for my country." -- Pol Pot

This excuse was - and still is - also used by virtually every politician, everywhere throughout the world. Unfortunately, most citizens believe them, and participate willingly in the atrocities promulgated by their leaders

Fighting the ‘Red Menace’ (or any other categories demonized by states, religious and other institutions at any other time) was/ is patriotic. Supporting and financing mass murderers and criminals such as Papa Doc, Baby Doc, the Shah of Iran, Marcos, the South African apartheid regime, the IRA, Mobutu, Idi Amin, Franco of Spain, Salazar of Portugal, the Greek military regime, Pinochet, Pol Pot, Saddam Hussein, Suharto, the Taliban, many Latin American and other dictators/ regimes, etc., in order to ‘prevent Communism taking over those countries’ (or for any other previous or current ‘reasons’) was/ is also patriotic (and extremely good for business). All of the aforementioned - plus a few other major murderers in our history - are ‘merely juvenile delinquents’ compared to the mayhem and devastation caused by the majority of governments and institutions of today’s wealthier and/or more powerful states and/or religious and other institutions.

What the so-called democratic and civilized governments alone spend on their military and other murderous activities daily, is probably over 100.000 times the amount they spend on food, medical and other humanitarian aid for the benefit of their own populations as well as to help others worldwide.

The amounts of aid given for assisting refugees, displaced-persons and asylum-seekers is miniscule compared with the profits made by the donor countries from their international arms sales, which is part of the cause of the problem in the first place.

Being seen to be donating is good for political propaganda, and for the whitewashing of the realities for the gullible public at home and abroad.

Stop inciting wars, stop bankrupting already poverty-stricken countries, use positive help - financial and other - to build a new infrastructure for each local society and economy, and people will build their own lives at home. This also stops most people from migrating or becoming asylum-seekers.

I think the question of why there are so many of us seeking asylum, as well as the question of which countries bear most responsibility for this state of affairs, has been answered. Also, that having caused the problems, these same states complain that there are so many people seeking refuge, and treat us asylum-seekers abominably.

“They won’t have your names when you ride the big airplane. All they will call you will be “DEPORTEES”.” By Woody Guthrie

Any current or ex-dictator, politician, torturer, mass-murderer, war-crimes suspect, trafficker in women, children, weapons, drugs, etc., need not worry about asylum-seeking problems. Simply present yourself in any country of the so-called ‘civilized’ world - or any other - show your cash or one of your laundered bank accounts, and no one will ask what you do for a living. You are welcomed with open arms.

Looking at the reality of migrants and refugees, there are those - like Victor Hugo, Sigmund Freud, Salman Rushdie, Albert Einstein, and many, many others who were humane and creative beings - unfortunately there are also a micro-minority of individuals who were refugees or migrants who turn out to be mass murderers and suchlike, and who give refugees and immigrants a bad name ....such as Hitler, Kissinger, Albright, etc.

Don’t classify the rest of us with such despotic maniacs.

On a personal level …..when someone crawls onto the steps of your home, bleeding and in need of assistance and nourishment, do you kick and otherwise abuse and interrogate this damaged person, then make them wait and suffer further whilst you - the householder - ponder as to whether you’ll bother giving any help at all, or simply leave the person there to die?

That is the treatment meted out to asylum-seekers by most governments.

We are human beings, not disembodied statistics.

The ongoing drama of refugees trying to reach safety in Australia is no different to the way most governments operate. It’s posturing and manipulation for personal political gain and prestige??, using innocent children, women and men as hostages, and is a tactic used by most governments in varying degrees. The Australian regime, additionally, forces asylum-seekers to live in concentration camps, referred to publicly as 'detention centres' in order to whitewash this outrageous treatment of vulnerable, already traumatized human beings.

These are basically the same reasons - admitted long after the events in question (of course), the issues having been fully or partially known by most governments - for deliberately supporting and/or ignoring the realities of concentration camps, slaughters and genocides in Belgian Congo, South West Africa, Nazi Germany, Cambodia, Palestine, Indonesia, Rwanda, and many, many other countries. It’s political expediency. The national and international legal and judicial apparati also (mostly) remain silent on human rights abuses.

The World's Most Unnecessary?? Protest -CANBERRA, Australia –
A 48-year-old Pakistani man was granted permanent residence in Australia several years ago and has been trying to secure visas for his family ever since. Not realizing that his case had been approved, the man lit himself on fire in protest at the entrance to the parliament building in Canberra. A witness said, "He was rolling around on the ground...but he stopped moving by the time anybody went out there with a fire extinguisher." The man was reportedly upset that his family had yet to receive visas, but according to local papers, the protest was unnecessary because the visas had already been okayed. The man remains in critical condition in a burns unit at Sydney's Concord Hospital.

This is an example of what happens when governments use administrative silence tactics

Are politicians, government administrators and members of the judiciary humane beings?

But of course - in the political, judicial, financial and religious arenas of intrigue and decimation - individuals, groups and nations are irrelevant; we’re merely COLLATERAL DAMAGE.

SNAFU is the real tragedy

The easiest way to deal with undesired information is to ignore it, to pretend that it doesn’t exist. Rulers often kill the messengers who bring bad news, then offer condolences to the surviving family, group or nation, or they find it easier to ignore the messages and the plight of the relevant claimants, or otherwise humiliate, ridicule or punish them, make them scapegoats for the ruler’s own nefarious purposes, showing an almost total lack of humaneness and courage. Truth is unacceptable to these fearful little creatures and one should maybe feel sorry for them, but certainly not accept their behavior.

As long as institutional 'correct procedure' is followed, burocracy approves and commends, no matter how heinous the results of their decisions, because their work and the social hierarchies rest on threats, coercion, and direct use of brutal force.

It’s possible that this article will be excluded from discussion in many circles, for it questions the validity of convenient facts that are most serviceable to the interests of established power; (ie) that we asylum-seekers are worthless criminals, etc., and that we have a negative influence on the community and state.
However well-confirmed the facts to the contrary may be, those facts are frequently regarded as inadmissible, and should (according to those in power) remain outside the spectrums of thought and debate.

This article - if invalid - may possibly be dismissed. If it is valid, it probably will be dismissed ….. by certain parties.

As in the 18th-century doctrine on seditious libel, truth is no defence; rather, truth heightens the enormity of the crime of questioning and/or exposing - specific or general - realities of any ruthlessness, amorality and/or other abuses of authority (individual, collective and/or institutional) as practiced at any moment in time.

We welcome any feedback, and/or your articles or personal experiences, for our monthly news-letter. Your e-mail address and name will NOT be shown in the newsletter unless you expressly request it.

Welcome and keep sharing - this is a self-help group!
Detention destroys asylum seekers' mental health Rachel Nowak, 'New Scientist' Melbourne, 19 December 01

A powerful new alliance of Australian doctors is to call for an immediate and independent clinical assessment of the physical and mental health needs of asylum seekers in the country's detention centres. The action comes after the publication of a controversial article describing severe mental deterioration among some detainees in December's Medical Journal of Australia. Every medical College in Australia, along with other interested groups have banded together to form the Alliance for the Health of Refugees and their Families. Besides seeking independent health assessments of detainees, the Alliance will also lobby for the improved conditions for asylum seekers. This is particularly crucial for children,

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